One of the subjects taught by Ball State University professor George Wolfe - who directs the university's center for peace and conflict studies - is anger restraint.
Wolfe these days finds it necessary to practice what he teaches.
He and his center are being accused by nationally known conservative author, commentator and strategist David Horowitz of hating America and supporting terrorism.
Wolfe called the charges "absurd" and "shameful."
"Every terrorist I know of ... uses violence," Wolfe said in an interview. The peace and conflict studies program at BSU teaches non-violent alternatives to conflict resolution. "I don't know of any terrorist that uses non-violence," Wolfe said. "So that pretty much exonerates our program" of charges that it backs terrorism.
The professor added, "The restraint of anger is the antithesis of being a terrorist. So if anything, what we are doing is creating understanding and disseminating knowledge to prevent terrorism rather than fomenting it."
Horowitz recently authored an article about Wolfe in Horowitz's on-line journal, FrontPage Magazine, which Horowitz says is visited 1.7 million times a month.
"There are 250 peace studies programs in America like the one at Ball State," Horowitz wrote in the article's conclusion. "They teach students to identify with America's terrorist enemies and to identify America as a Great Satan oppressing the world's poor and causing them to go hungry."
The article ended, "There are equally many (BSU) Provost (Beverley) Pittses, defending the fraudulent academic credentials of the political activists who conduct these indoctrinations and who are academically illiterate in the subject matter itself. The question is: how long can a nation at war with ruthless enemies like bin Laden and Zarqawi survive if its educational institutions continue to be suborned in this way?"
In a related article, FrontPage Magazine writer Thomas Ryan linked Wolfe, his center and his students to the "pro-terrorist" Muslim Students Association and the Young Communist League.
Ryan's article concluded, "The peace studies program at Ball State is not an academic course but an indoctrination and recruitment program operating at taxpayers' expense and under the false cover of an educational program. Worse, it is indoctrinating students and recruiting them to agendas that are anti-American, anti-military and friendly to the terrorist enemy intent on destroying us."
Academic Bill of Rights
Such publicity has resulted in Wolfe receiving so much hate e-mail from Oregon, Florida and other places that he has had to close down his e-mail. "My e-mail is impossible to manage," Wolfe said. "One person said I should move to a communist country."
The controversy started when conservative Ball State student Brett Mock, who took one of Wolfe's classes, filed a complaint with Students for Academic Freedom accusing Wolfe of being biased. SAF is a national organization founded by Horowitz to expose politically biased college professors and administrators.
In a letter to SAF, Ball State Provost Beverley Pitts defended Wolfe, who Horowitz pointed out is a saxophone professor. Horowitz complained that Pitts did not even bother to interview Mock, the student, during her investigation of his complaint.
"Bev Pitts dismissed the problem and has shown she doesn't have much interest in seriously examining the complaint," Horowitz said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "This is why I'm going to press for an academic bill of rights (to be adopted by the state Legislature) in Indiana. I'm not going to let this go. If the educators themselves will not address the problem, the only redress one has is to try to alert the people of Indiana to the problem."
'Well-known political agenda'
Horowitz, who might speak at Ball State next semester, has begun examining the peace studies program at Purdue University, where the student newspaper recently refused to publish an advertisement submitted by Horowitz.
During his investigation of the peace studies program at Ball State, Horowitz spent $60 to buy a used copy of the textbook used by Wolfe, Peace and Conflict Studies by David Barash and Charles Webel.
"The textbook lends credibility to the student's complaint," Horowitz said. "Bev Pitts characterized the textbook as balanced, but the authors themselves say it is not balanced."
Horowitz quoted from the book's preface: "Accordingly, we wish to be up front about our own values, which are frankly anti-war, anti-violence, anti-nuclear, anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment, pro-environment, pro-human rights, pro-social justice, pro-peace and politically progressive."
Wolfe pointed out that Horowitz failed to mention in his article that the authors of the textbook went on in the very next sentence to speak of the importance of attempting to understand all sides of complex debates.
Pitts' staff referred questions to Heather Shupp, university spokesman, who said Mock never filed a complaint with the university. Instead, she said, the student complained to Students for Academic Freedom, an organization "with a well-known political agenda."
Shupp also called it "incredible" that a course supporting terrorism would be approved by the university, which has a "pretty good system of checks and balances" and oversight regarding the courses it offers. The textbook is widely used at American universities, Shupp said.