Symposium: Ward Churchill: A Symbol of Higher Education · 03 March 2005

By Jamie Glazov-Frontpagemag.com-03/04/05

Ward Churchill's vilification of the 9/11 victims "as little Eichmans" crystallized, once again, the agenda of the hard Left in the terror war. It also served as a reminder of how the academic campus is full of radical professors who browbeat their students with their extremist views and stifle any possible dissenting voices. Was the real lesson behind the Churchill incident, therefore, that educational standards need to be restored to our college campuses and that diverse viewpoints need to be allowed to flourish?

To discuss this issue with us today, we are joined by:

Ross Gregory Douthat, a reporter-researcher for the Atlantic Monthly and the author of the new book, Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class;

Thomas Brown, an assistant professor of Sociology at Lamar University. He is a registered Democrat and a board member of his local ACLU chapter. He is astonished to find himself taking part in the "vast right-wing conspiracy," as a consequence of pointing out some egregious inaccuracies in Ward Churchill's scholarship;

Ben Shapiro, the author of the new book Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth, which he wrote after four years in the trenches at liberal UCLA, where he sat through hundreds of hours of professor liberal-speak. Brainwashed is the final product of that harrowing experience;

and

Tim Wise, the race and ethnicity editor for LIP magazine and author of two new books: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (Soft Skull Press, 2005), and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White (Routledge: 2005);

FP: Ross Gregory Douthat, Tim Wise, Thomas Brown and Ben Shapiro, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.

Mr. Douthat, let me begin with you.

What were your general thoughts regarding the whole Churchill incident? What do you think it said about the state of academia and of academic freedom in American today?

Douthat: I think it's easy to overestimate the importance of this incident. Insofar as it matters, it's as a reminder of how many kooky left-wingers have tenure at prestigious colleges, and if it leads to a push for a little more political diversity in American universities, that's all to the good. But at the same time, it's a sign of how marginal the radical Left is in American society. There was a time, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, when many, many public figures (especially in academia) held these kind of America-as-Nazi-Germany views. But now, fortunately, such views have been almost completely marginalized. After all, who had heard of Ward Churchill before this incident? He styles himself a revolutionary, and postures about overthrowing the evil American regime -- but all he can really claim to be is an obscure academic teaching in an obscure "ethnic studies" department, and influencing a small, self-selected, like-minded group of students. Nobody reads his books, nobody cares what he has to say, and the only way he can get attention is by making ridiculous comments about an American tragedy. And the attention we give him only validates him -- now he gets his fifteen minutes of fame, and while it will probably hurt his academic career (such as it is), even if he loses his job he can spend the rest of his life claiming to be a martyr, and giving lectures on how the McCarthyite post-9/11 witch hunt destroyed his career. Or something absurd like that. He's certainly not worth defending -- but he's also barely worth attacking.

So do Churchill's comments crystallize the far Left's agenda in the terror war? Sure. But they also crystallize the fact that the far Left's agenda doesn't really matter.

FP: Thank you Mr. Douthat. If only the far Left's agenda didn't matter - as you say. I wish you were right.

But kindly allow me to temporarily stray off the specific subject of academia to make a crucial point in this context, because, in the end, it is directly connected to why the Churchills in academia matter so much.

There is a fifth column here in the United States cheering on the Islamist terrorists in this terror war. They are causing immense destruction and damage, just as they have always done. The far Left's agenda surely mattered during the Vietnam War: even former North Vietnamese officials have admitted that the anti-war movement in America can take credit for communism's victory in South Vietnam and, therefore, for the tragic bloodbath that followed in Southeast Asia.

The far Left is by no means marginalized. Michael Moore and Tom Haydon are calling for the victory of the other side in Iraq. They have mass support. The likes of Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter have made the Iraq war a partisan issue and have come down on the side of the Moores and the Haydons. That is the Democratic Party we are talking about.

If the Bush administration does not stay steadfast, the far Left can very easily succeed in this war as it did in the last and perpetrate a U.S. abandonment of freedom and democracy in another region -- to the hands of terrorists and tyrants. Iraqis will be left in the hands of Islamo-fascists and the bloodbath that will follow in Iraq and in that region might very well be a resurrection of Pol Pot's killing fields.

The far Left's agenda at home has caused much destruction and threatens to cause much more. Look at the attack on the Patriot Act by the legal Left. If they had their way, there would have been more 9/11s. And the battle for Homeland Security continues, as the Left does everything in its power to make us vulnerable to attack.

Look at how the legal Left succeeded, in early 2004, in having a federal judge in Los Angeles strike down one of the Patriot Act's crucial provisions, which sought to block support for foreign terrorist groups. The lawsuit was spearheaded by Michael Ratner's Center for Constitutional Rights. The dangerous results of that decision are clear.

Today, leftist groups such as the National Lawyers Guild and radical lawyers such as David Cole work day and night trying to weaken U.S. efforts to strengthen our borders and tighten our immigration security.

The far Left matters. It left us vulnerable to 9/11. Let me just isolate one fact for now: it took seven years for the FBI to arrest Al-Arian because of the Left, and God knows how much damage just that one individual perpetrated during that time. It took seven years because it was only due to the new provisions implemented by the Patriot Act that made an arrest possible. The new provision allowed criminal and intelligence investigations to co-operate with one another. And why weren't they allowed to co-operate - especially after the World Trade Center Bombings of 1993? Because the Left wanted a wall between criminal and intelligence investigations -- and Attorney General Janet Reno made sure to put it there in July 1995.

Thus, after Al Qaeda officially declared war on us in 1996, the FBI was not allowed to communicate with other intelligence agencies. And this bizarre and outrageous reality was precisely why the FBI in Minneapolis was not allowed to break into the computer of Zacarias Moussaoui. If it had been allowed to do that, then two of the 9/11 hijackers would have been identified along with the Hamburg cell that planned the attack. I'll leave it to the imagination what might have very well been prevented after that.

Look at Lynne Stewart's recent conviction. We have the Left right here at home, including our lawyers, aiding and abetting an enemy that is trying to destroy us.

So forgive my tangent, but this is where we get back to our central topic: academia. It means something that terror-abettors such as Lynne Stewart are most popular on American campuses. She is seen as icon there. Now she will become even more venerated.

So Mr. Douthat, I fear that the Ward Churchills of academia are no joke. They matter. They propagate a certain message and those who wish to do this country harm get vital support from them.

Douthat: I didn't mean to suggest that there aren't people on the radical Left who are actually hampering the country's war effort -- and of course, such people should absolutely be called out and opposed. Because Michael Moore, for instance, has a wide audience for his films and is embraced by prominent Democrats, his disgusting attitude toward Saddam Hussein's government and the Iraqi "resistance" is worthy of attention and condemnation. And the same is of course true for actual criminals like Lynne Stewart.

But Ward Churchill is not Michael Moore, nor is he Lynne Stewart. He's not a lawyer working to eliminate the Patriot Act, or hamper the FBI or the CIA. He doesn't have "mass support," because no one knows who he is -- or didn't, until he made this pathetic bid for publicity. Why validate his desire for the spotlight? Why make him a martyr? Let him go back to pretending to be an Indian and fantasizing about revolutions that will never happen. The only way that people like him can become a threat to U.S. security is if they acquire a soapbox from which to trumpet their idiocy. There's no need to give it to him.

FP: Fair enough, but people like Ward Churchill engender far more destruction and have much more support than many people may think.

Mr. Wise, what's your view of Mr. Douthat's comments and my own so far? Feel free to focus on whatever you think is significant, but kindly comment on what we need to try to stay focused on: Ward Churchill and what he represents about academic freedom on the American campus.

Wise: Oh good Lord.

First, to imply that the Churchill affair is evidence of how professors "browbeat their students," and seek to "stifle" opposing views is absurd. Ward did not read his essay, about which everyone is so apoplectic, to his students, nor (to my knowledge) was it assigned in class, nor did he shout down anyone in his classes who might have disagreed with it, assuming they even knew of its existence. The only attempt to stifle opinions is the assault on Ward himself, by folks who seek to either have him fired for his words, or blocked from speaking on campuses for the same reason, or who are threatening to kill him. To imply it is Churchill doing the browbeating is the strongest evidence of psychological projection I have witnessed in a long time.

So, as to the question regarding his article's larger meaning for the state of academia--a question that has been ignored thus far, in favor of the moderator's more favored issue (namely, how can we use this incident to discredit everything to the left of Zell Miller as inherently pro-terrorism)--the answer is, it has no bearing whatsoever, and says nothing about the state of academia.

Before explaining my thoughts on this further, I feel compelled to respond to a few of the more ridiculous comments which have thus far littered the discussion, ignoring for the time being the intrinsic irony of Mr. Douthat calling Ward Churchill obscure and suggesting that no one has ever heard of him before.

First, to say that Lynne Stewart is an "icon" of academia, as was stated by the moderator, signifies nothing so much as that hallucinogenic drugs do exactly as advertised. I would venture to say that the vast majority of academics don't even know who she is. I just spent the past few days on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, at Madison--which I'm sure the moderator considers a bastion of left-wing intolerance--and I'm quite certain that had there been a statue of Ms Stewart being constructed, I'd have known it.

As for the notion that the left is prepared to sell out Iraqis, just as "we" sold out Southeast Asia, leading to the bloodbath of Pol Pot, it should probably be remembered that Pol Pot's rise to power in Cambodia was aided principally by the U.S. government's support for the murderous thug, Lon Nol, and that it was the evil communist North Vietnamese who liberated Cambodia from his tyranny, even as the Reagan Administration armed a "resistance" movement that included representatives of the Khmer Rouge.

And of course, as for Iraq, the left never supported Saddam Hussein: that was the right too. On a personal note, the first time I ever wrote anything in opposition to the Iraqi dictator was in 1985, when, I should point out, I was all of 16. This was long before David Horowitz ever said anything bad about him. After all, the right's hero was supporting him all during the 80s, even at the height of his butchery.

Now, as to what Churchill's views say about academia, this is like asking what the Enron and WorldCom scandals say about capitalism: an extrapolation that I'm guessing the right wouldn't like very much. If anything, corporate misconduct is far more common among capitalists than the kinds of statement Churchill made are among academics. I mean, corporate fraud, embezzlement, etc. cost the country hundreds of billions of dollars annually--far more than street crime, for example--and polls of corporate executives regularly indicate that business types would break laws even more often if they thought they could get away with it. Yet, I doubt the moderator or Mr. Douthat think this suggests something inherently pernicious about the free market.

As for implying that Ward's comments say something about the evil of the left more broadly this too is vapid to the point of hilarity.

Ward's words no more indict the left than Ann Coulter's inherently indict the right. Yet last month she said we should nuke North Korea because it would be "fun." Of course the right is not distancing itself from her, so I guess this means all conservatives endorse the incineration of innocent civilians. Or when she said the 9/11 hijackers should have flown into the New York Times' offices, right wingers everywhere laughed and raised a glass of Chardonnay to their mini-skirted doyen, without hesitation. What does that say about the sickness of the right?

Likewise, not one prominent conservative condemned The Bell Curve when it was released a decade ago, (and several praised it openly) in spite of the fact that it says quite clearly that blacks are less intelligent than whites and Asians, and this is largely due to hereditary, genetic factors: a compendium of sociobiological nonsense, discredited long before, and since its publication. Charles Murray is still a member of the right in good standing, so I guess this means all conservatives are bigots.

See how this game works?

FP: Well, Mr. Wise, I guess it would be an understatement to say that we disagree on what is happening in academia, what the likes of Ward Churchill represent and the danger they pose.

The whole reason there is an organization Students for Academic Freedom pushing for an Academic Bill of Rights is because of what people like me were victimized by for years on the university campus: discrimination for having conservative views and never being given the other side of the story by leftwing professors who control the curriculum and teaching etc.

It means something that Lynne Stewart frequently lectured at academic events. And it means something that it was after she was indicted that she became more popular and received increasing invitations to speak at myriad universities, law schools etc. The whole account of campus promotion for Stewart is told in the new booklet Campus Support for Terrorism, (eds. David Horowitz and Ben Johnson).

Mr. Wise, I guess we'll both make an effort not to get too off track, but I have to touch on your argument regarding Cambodia for a second. Blaming Pol Pot's genocide on the United States is yet another example of how the Left always exonerates itself from the human blood that its own ideas spawn. It is simply a historical fact that the Khmer Rouge would not have achieved significant gains in Cambodia had it not been for the help of their North Vietnamese mentors (against whom they would turn only later). Pol Pot would never have come to power if the U.S. had succeeded in its military objectives throughout the region. The Khmer Rouge were fanatic Stalinists whose intellectual leaders, who had all been radicalized in France's universities (they called themselves Angka Loeu - "the Higher Organization"), had meticulously planned their leftist social engineering experiment far before the American bombing of Cambodia.

In any case, Mr. Shapiro it's your turn. What do you make of the discussion so far? You've written a book on the Left's indoctrination of students in the universities. Tell us a bit of how you think the Churchill incident fits into this problem.

Shapiro: I think that Mr. Wise and Mr. Douthat are both underestimating the frequency with which incidents like this occur. For every Ward Churchill who gets called out, there are two who don't. And those two are probably more dangerous than Churchill, since, as Mr. Douthat has pointed out, Churchill is an obscure ethnic studies professor. I can tell you that at UCLA, for example, I had a political science professor who stated in class that John Locke could probably be read to justify the attacks of September 11, an English professor who compared the suffering of 19th century African-American slaves to that of so-called Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, at least two more who defended Chairman Mao, and so on. Radical leftism is far from uncommon on campus.

As far as anti-Americanism on campus goes, we would do well to remember that Professor Nicholas De Genova's statements at Columbia University wishing for a "million Mogadishus" were made before a crowd of hundreds of Columbia University students, and that thirty other Columbia faculty members were sitting on the same panel. None of the other faculty reportedly criticized De Genova's statements at the time, other than to argue with him about whether "peace" was patriotic. If Professor Wise argues that Lynne Stewart is no icon of academia, I wonder if he'd care to challenge the assertion that Noam Chomsky is. Or Edward Said. Or Michael Moore. Anti-American all, and revered at universities the nation across.

It's a lame attempt for Mr. Wise, by the way, to pretend that Churchill's bias didn't enter the classroom. This is a common argument of the academic left, and an almost-universal falsehood. It's always surprising to me that even though leftism is based on the view that all truth is subjective, that every statement made by anyone is infused with that person's point of view and past environment (hence the term ethnocentricity), professors and journalists are still somehow able to keep their biases out of their work. Just because Churchill didn't read his column in class doesn't mean he kept his views out of the classroom. More honest academics admit this. American Association of University Professors' General Secretary Mary Burgan explains that to separate bias from teaching would be "impossible . . . It is the job of the faculty to decide which critical, relevant and commanding [viewpoints] to concentrate on in the classroom."

Mr. Wise's exceptions-don't-make-the-rule argument is "vapid to the point of hilarity." It's a common habit to caricature the arguments of the other side in order to set up a straw man, but it's not intellectually honest. There's a big difference between arguing that all leftists agree with Churchill that September 11 victims were "little Eichmanns" (which no one here has claimed), and arguing (as the moderator has done) that the basic anti-Americanism inherent in Churchill's words represents something larger for the left. There is no denying that a broad swath of the left is anti-American -- the "blame America first" crowd (Mr. Wise seems to be a member). Here's what Ann Coulter's acceptance says about the right: we don't think a military solution in North Korea should be unthinkable. Here's what Ward Churchill's acceptance says about the left: we sympathize with the enemies of America.

FP: Thank you Mr. Shapiro. Well, Prof. Brown, you come to this issue from an interesting angle. You have stated that you have been shocked recently to find yourself part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" because of your writing on Churchill. Perhaps you could start with that to illuminate things for us.

Brown: First, lest someone take it seriously, let me stress that I invoked the "vast right wing conspiracy" with tongue in cheek. I take that conspiracy theory no more seriously than I take the "tenured radicals punishing conservative scholars" conspiracy theory.

While I believe that Churchill is professionally unfit to function in his current position--due to his propensity for making up data--I am distressed that my findings are being deployed as ammunition in a broader assault on the academy. I am suspicious of implications that the academy is in the grips of a leftist conspiracy to exclude conservative thought. The surveys I've seen bandied to support this complaint usually cherry-pick from the country's elite universities. I would need to see evidence from a more rigorously selected sample of the entire national professoriate before I even start to take this thing seriously.

I also reject the validity of the surveys I've seen so far. I don't see how the political orientation of a chemist--or a mathematician, or an electrical engineer--would bias teaching in that field. It seems completely irrelevant to the subject matter. Even in the more politicized arena of social science, simply holding a political viewpoint does not mean that you impose it upon your students. I bend over backwards to exclude bias from my teaching, to acknowledge my bias where I cannot exclude it, and to inform my students that they are always free to disagree with me without harming their grade.

As a novice teaching assistant at Johns Hopkins, I once gave a grade of B to a rather unimpressive essay by a conservative student. If she had written from a liberal perspective, I would have given a C for the same essay. I upgraded her to make certain my own perspective had not been unfair to her. Turning the grades in to my professor-who was also a moderate liberal-I remarked that I was surprised to have read only one conservative essay in the entire pile. He immediately pulled her essay out and-without reading it-upgraded her to an A, for the exact same reason. You see how easy it is to argue from your own biographical store of anecdotes?

Mr. Shapiro seems to take his hypothesis for granted. I want to see evidence that has not been cherry-picked. Can you really prove that more conservative scholars are turned away from the academy than liberal scholars? I rather doubt it.

If you still don't accept that politics does not always translate to discrimination within the academy, and you want to find the conservative academics, look to the branch campuses of the state universities. Look to the private religious colleges. Look to the departments of engineering, or business, or economics. Move to a state in the Deep South. You will find plenty of conservative scholars in such environments. Sociology is one of the most liberal disciplines in the academy, and yet the sociology program in which I teach boasts one registered Republican out of three full-time faculty. Our adjunct staff of two includes a religious conservative minister.

I suspect that the argument that students must endure browbeating by the extreme left in order to earn a degree is oversold. Students who are unwilling to engage with a professor whose political orientation differs from their own do have the option of avoiding those particular schools, those particular majors, and those particular classes. No CU student is compelled to take a class with Professor Churchill. On the contrary-he appears to be wildly popular with the CU students. So why not let the Invisible Hand guide the offerings in the marketplace of ideas?

But rather than writing the dissertations and publishing the peer-reviewed papers, the right instead wants to use the government to impose ideological "diversity." How hypocritical is that? What is really going on here is a naked grab for power within the academy--power that hasn't been earned through merit--for a group that can hardly be called disadvantaged.

Mr. Shapiro argues that "a broad swath of the left is anti-American." You could just as easily label a "broad swath" of the right as anti-American. Consider Grover Norquist and his followers, who refer to the federal government as a beast they want to starve. Moving even further to the right, we find the neo-Confederates, who want to secede from the union, form an undemocratic, theocratic government, and reinstate white supremacy. And even further to the right, we find the bombthrowers, such as Tim McVeigh and the theocratic militia movements.

Ward Churchill's ideology has far more in common with Tim McVeigh than it does with Ted Kennedy. It would be outrageous to blame McVeigh on the mainstream right, and it is equally outrageous for Mr. Shapiro to blame Churchill on the left. It is meaningless to try to situate these self-styled revolutionaries on the simplistic Left-Right continuum that we use to describe mainstream politics. They are off the grid altogether, and they would be the first to tell you so.

Are "leftist" revolutionaries more likely to have obtained tenured sinecures than "rightist" revolutionaries? Again, I would need to see reliable data before accepting that conclusion. But even if true, this is not evidence of a deep structural problem that needs to be remedied by instituting affirmative action for deprived conservatives. Rather, it is the consequence of a specific historical conjuncture that is already fading away, and unlikely to repeat itself in the foreseeable future. I personally cannot support hiring any scholar with a history of committing political violence or actively conspiring to commit political violence against American citizens and residents. But such people are at most a tiny fraction of the national professoriate. Let's deal with them one by one, as individual bad apples, rather than indicting the entire academy as complicit. As a liberal member of the academy, I totally reject any responsibility or affinity for people like Churchill. His presence in the academy delegitimates the rest of us.

FP: Before the counter-argument begins, you have found some disingenuous inaccuracies in Ward Churchill's scholarship. Can you talk a little bit about these and what you think their significance is?

Brown: I have been studying ethnic nationalist movements in the US for some years. I read Ward Churchill not as an example of leftist scholarship, but as an example of extremist political polemic. Churchill has developed a story line across several different essays and books, in which he accuses the US Army of committing genocide against the Mandan Indians in 1837. Churchill claims that blankets infected with smallpox were taken from an Army infirmary in St. Louis, and sent to the Mandans. He claims that a "post surgeon" told the Indians to scatter, implying that this was a strategy to spread the disease. He claims that the Army then withheld vaccine.

Each of these charges is disconfirmed by Churchill's own citations. Just last week, one of Churchill's cited sources--Professor Russell Thornton of UCLA--told reporters that he strongly objects to Churchill's misrepresentation of his work. There is no disputing that during the 19th century, US military forces did commit what we today would call war crimes against selected bands of Indians. As Thornton remarked to InsideHigherEd: "The history is bad enough-there's no need to embellish it." In this specific instance, unless Churchill has access to an unknown, uncited source, he appears to have invented all of the above details to support his charges of a genocide that wasn't.

Making up data is the most egregious violation of scholarly norms. Making a false charge of genocide is simply immoral, in my world view.

FP: Thank you Prof. Brown.

It appears that several members of this panel literally live on different planets from one another. I spent eleven years in academia and I know that I, along with any and every other conservative I know, experienced vicious discrimination for holding non-leftist views. I was warned repeatedly during my Ph.D. that if I were to be "too hard" on the Soviets in my doctoral thesis, that I may never even get an academic job.

I don't remember any professors talking aloud about how much they loved Ronald Reagan and capitalism. I don't remember any pro-Contra and pro-American demonstrations on campus. I do remember being inundated, over and over again, by almost every professor and in almost every course, with the theme that capitalism was evil and that America was its symbol. I do remember sitting in my graduate lounge and saying aloud that I admired Ronald Reagan and the deafening silence and horror (and my own personal excommunication) that followed. The same would not have occurred if I tried to explain the positive aspects of Stalinism and tried to put it "into context."

Yes, there may have been a few exceptions, but I know of no students or professors that ever had any different experience. And I wager that if you took a survey, and these exist, you will find that the large majority of professors on the academic campus are, to say the least -- and I say this with humor -- not adamant pro-Bush fanatics.

I can't believe this phenomenon is even up for debate. In any case, Mr. Douthat, your thoughts on the discussion so far?

Douthat: I agree that liberal bias among college faculties, like liberal media bias, is so obvious as to be barely worth debating. Of course there are quite a few more conservatives at the minor branches of state universities, or at religious colleges, than there are the big state schools or the Ivies -- just as there are more conservative journalists at small daily newspapers, or niche political magazines, than there are at the New York Times or ABC News. But if you're looking at the elite levels of academia (where, sadly, Professor Churchill teaches), you'll find some conservative economists, a few conservative historians and political scientists, and that's about it. As to whether this is because conservatives tend not to go into academia or because liberals discriminate against them once they're there, well, I'm sure it's a little of both. The two tendencies reinforce one another pretty neatly.

That said, I think Professor Brown is right to draw a distinction between mainstream academic liberalism -- which is regnant on most campuses and most departments -- and strident academic leftism, which tends to be confined to certain schools and certain disciplines. Ward Churchill may teach at the University of Colorado, but he's not teaching history and economics or any of the major areas where your average undergrad is likely to take a class. He's teaching ethnic studies, and the students he's teaching are probably a largely self-selecting pool of kids, who'd be inclined to sympathize with his nutty notions regardless. Whereas I would suspect that while the history faculty at the University of Colorado are probably mainly liberal Democrats, very few of them would support violent revolution against the U.S., or think Bush is Hitler, or view someone like Michael Moore as anything more than an occasionally useful but often repellent propagandist.

Overall, I think most academic bias -- like most media bias -- increasingly partakes more of the center-left than it does of the far left, which tends to make it a soft, rather than a hard bias. And while I have no doubt that our moderator's experience of campus life in the 1980s was typical, I think he might be surprised at the extent to which much of academia has since come to terms with, say, market capitalism, if not with Bush or the GOP. (The fall of the Berlin Wall played a not-insignificant role in this.) Particularly at elite universities, and particularly once you get outside the more self-consciously lefty disciplines, there are an awful lot of Clinton Democrats in the faculties, and still more in the student bodies.

But of course, even if the political center on college campuses only skews center-left, rather than revolutionary-left, this still opens up a lot of academic space for radicals on the left that simply doesn't exist for radicals on the right. Sure, there are neo-Confederates out there, but they're running obscure magazines and websites and being disowned by most mainstream conservatives whenever they emerge into the public eye. (As for Grover Norquist et. al., I have my differences with the starve-the-beasters, but I'm not really sure how wanting to shrink the size of government is at all comparable to calling for a "Million Mogadishus" . . .) Whereas their counterparts on the left have tenure at Colorado. Or Columbia. Or wherever. I'm not quite as alarmed by this prospect as our moderator and Mr. Shapiro, not least because I see the influence of these people as being in marked decline, but it's certainly not something that colleges should be proud of. Particularly given that "diversity" is supposedly the guiding philosophy in the academic world.

Finally, I'm not sure why my own (admitted) obscurity makes me unqualified to call Professor Churchill an obscure academic, which he certainly is.

FP: Mr. Wise?

Wise: Well, I think that Professor Brown makes several excellent points about the absurdity of extrapolating from surveys of questionable methodology (which show a disproportion of Democrats or even "liberals" among faculty), to the idea that the campus professoriate is awash with leftists. As an actual leftist, I only wish we were as powerful as some suggest. I speak on about 75 campuses a year, and find that for every professor who attends and seems to agree with my positions, there are several who come and who don't, and many more of course who don't attend at all. I would imagine this is pretty typical for most left-leaning activists and educators who are on the circuit, so to speak.

When I was in college, at Tulane (where charges of political correctness were common against the supposedly leftist faculty), I had mostly liberal profs to be sure (in large part because of the classes I took), but among the books I was required to read in those classes, were George Gilder's Wealth and Poverty, Charles Murray's Losing Ground, Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State and Utopia, and at least two books by Milton Friedman. I can't fathom that somehow, it is only at Tulane where left-leaning profs expose their students to alternative ideas, and indeed, having discussed this very topic with several thousand students across the country over the past decade, I know it is not atypical, irrespective of the particular experiences of Mr. Glazov and "all" conservative students he ever knew...

The idea that conservatives are "victimized" for their views is laughable, especially coming from folks who upbraid people of color for claiming to be victimized by racism, accusing them of adopting a "victim mentality," in fact. I guess conservatives are oppressed worse than black and brown folks ever were! It's ok for some to claim victimization, but not others, irrespective of the weight of historical evidence, see.

And as for the Academic Bill of Rights, let's be real here. One of the stipulations is that professors must expose students to the broad range of scholarly opinions on a certain subject, thereby muting their own biases, but this notion is so ill defined as to be untenable. Who decides, after all, what is scholarly opinion? By the standards typically accepted by academics (of all ideological persuasions)--namely, publication in one's field, in peer-reviewed journals--many right wing and conservative views simply wouldn't qualify because their authors usually don't seek peer review, preferring to publish with ideological publishers, conservative websites, etc. So, for example, Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein's Bell Curve wouldn't qualify because they deliberately avoided peer review (with good reason, I might add).

Likewise, Dinesh D'Souza, David Horowitz, Dan Flynn, Don Feder, Walter Williams, Shelby Steele, John McWhorter, and even Abigail Thernstrom, rarely if ever publish in peer-reviewed journals (at least when it comes to the subjects for which they have become principallly known). So, should professors have to teach their views, just because they are out there, or should real academic scholars be able to decide who is and is not scholarly? Should professors discussing racism and racial inequality in America really have to teach a discredited book like The Bell Curve just because lots of people bought it?

Likewise, are Students for Academic Freedom really pushing econ departments to require their professors to expose students to Marxism, which most certainly do NOT do currently, or pushing for Business schools to hire more leftist professors, who take a more skeptical view of corporate capitalism? Of course not. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily saying they should. Certain academic disciplines tend in one direction or another, having nothing to do with "exclusion" of those with different views. I mean, how many Marxists really want to teach in Business schools? Probably not many; likewise, not many on the right even believe in Sociology as a discipline, let alone Women's Studies, Ethnic studies, etc., which they think are unnecessary, unable as they are to recognize how the voices of such persons have been marginalized in more "mainstream" disciplines.

As for Chomsky, Said or Michael Moore being academic icons, this is silly. Chomsky and Moore get lots of speaking gigs on campus, to be sure, and Said did before his death, but Said was recognized as an academic scholar in his field by peers including those who disagreed with him; and Chomsky is usually attacked simply for being "anti-American," (an ad hominem devoid of content), while his ideas are rarely engaged by anyone. In any event, his books are very rarely taught in college classrooms, and I don't know of any places where Moore's books are taught. I mean, this is silly.

As for Mr. Shapiro's comment that Ann Coulter's ruminations about nuking North Korea merely imply that a military solution should not be unthinkable, this is monstrous and demonstrates the moral and ethical depravity of many on the right. She didn't say that. She said we should nuke them because it would be "fun" and send a message to the world. That is far more disgusting than anything Ward Churchill said in his column, as was the comment by conservative commentator Jay Severin last year, that we should tell the Arab world that unless "they" stop killing our soldiers in Iraq, we will drop three nuclear weapons throughout the region, destroying all the holiest sites of Islam and killing 10 million people. But of course, no conservative ever speaks out against that kind of thing.

Mr. Douthat's claim that the right's extremes are disowned by responsible conservatives--as with the neo-Confederates--is also patently false. Haley Barbour's victory in Mississippi last year was directly due to the support of members of the neo-Confederate and openly racist Council of Conservative Citizens, who he refused to disavow despite their having called blacks a "retrograde species of humanity" on their website. Likewise, Trent Lott was a member and contributor to their publication until he got outed several years ago and then quit in embarrassment.

And one of the CCCs board members, Jared Taylor, has been praised by David Horowitz, in the pages of FP, despite his (Taylor's) belief that blacks are inferior to whites, among other things. Although Horowitz criticizes Taylor's white nationalism as a capitulation to identity politics, he still seems compelled to call him "author of a pioneer book of political incorrectness on race...a very smart and gutsy individualist...a very intelligent and principled man."


Charles Murray's research in the Bell Curve, for example, relied heavily on the work of an openly racist professor from Ireland named Richard Lynn, who has called for the "phasing out" of inferior cultures, as well as Philippe Rushton of Ontario, whose "scholarship" includes the claim that black men have larger penises than white men because phallic size is inversely related to brain power. Yet not one prominent conservative slammed the Bell Curve, and several praised it openly.

So perhaps when the right practices the "responsible and judicious" scholarship that it preaches to the rest of us, I'll begin to take this whole rant about the academic left more seriously.

To continue reading this symposium, click here.


Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Soviet Studies. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz's new book Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of the new book The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev's Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.