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The Ideological University By: Brett Mock
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, October 05, 2004


(Below is an e-mail correspondence between Ball State University Daily News columnists David Swindle and Brett Mock. We provide these exchanges to further illuminate the prevalence of leftist indoctrination on our college campuses. From left-wing textbooks and classroom lectures, to enforced political activism -- even giving extra-credit to protest against David Horowitz -- the university has taken on political re-education as its primary goal. FrontPage Magazine has been at the forefront of exposing the situation at Ball State University, and our stories have paid dividends on campus. Still, there is much work to be done, as this exchange demonstrates. -- The Editors).

DS:  First of all, I'm a little curious... Why would a right-winger such as
yourself be minoring in "Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution"? If
you believe passionately, 100% that the use of force is often
necessary in foreign policy, why are you minoring in a philosophy that
holds the opposite to be true? In other words, what is a hawk like you
doing in the doves' nest?


BM: I chose to pursue the Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution minor for a variety of different reasons, however, the two that are most important are that I wanted to supplement my Political Science major with a unique minor (plan to attend law school and pressure to impress is a part of getting there) and national defense policies, and how to ultimately result in a peaceful world, are things that interest me.  What I don't understand from your analysis is why a class, introducing a Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution minor, would contain ONLY the study of peaceful means of resolving conflict.  In the undergraduate student catalogue, the minor is described as:

The interdisciplinary Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution minor addresses the sources of war, social oppression , and violence and the challenges of promoting peace and justice. It also examines proposals, such as mediation, to promote redress of grievances. (emphasis added)

In this description I find that it is entirely reasonable to believe that we would focus on the "causes of war and violence," as well as the "challenge of promoting peace and justice."  These are the two areas of the course and minor that entrigued me.  Based on the description, and the name of the minor, it clearly is not necessary to cut out violent means of resolving conflict as a part of the challenge of promoting peace and justice.  Also, as an introductory course to a minor it is absurd to not cover any of the ways to resolve conflict using force.  How are students to understand why peaceful means are "better," if that is what Professor Wolfe chooses to argue, unless they can evaluate successful means using violence and successful means without it?  I would imagine that that would be a part of the examination of peaceful means of resolving conflict.  For educational purposes, here is the description of the course itself:

Interdisciplinary study of methods of achieving peace within communities and among nations; history of peace movements and the causes of conflict; and analysis of principles to resolve conflict using case studies. (emphasis added)

Nothing in this course's description gives a potential student the idea that violent forms of resolving conflict won't be included in the "study of METHODS of achieving peace" or in the "analysis of principles to resolve conflict."  It does mention a study of "peace movements," which also interested me... as I've said, I am open-minded... but this mention of peace movements is the only part of the course description that could support your argument.  In context, the description tends to suggest that it will only be a part of, not the purpose for, the course.

More importantly, however, when studying conflict resolution, the intentional disregard of violent means smacks of indoctrination.  During WWII I don't think anyone, including Professor Wolfe, would be able to logically argue that Hitler's actions could have been stopped through peaceful means and demonstration.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor I don't think Professor Wolfe, or anyone else, can logically argue that a peaceful response to Japan would have been appropriate or successful in ending our conflict with them.  Finally, after the attacks on 9/11 I don't think anyone can logically argue that peacefully apologizing to Osama Bin Laden, and trying to understand why he doesn't like us, after he and his group masterminded the murder of over 3,000 civilians, would be an appropriate response or would end any conflict with him.  After all, he labeled the United States a "paper tiger" and used that observation to gain confidence in his ability to take pot shots at us.

Clearly, peaceful means of resolving conflict are not ALWAYS appropriate and will not ALWAYS be successful.  Nothing in this course's name or description would give a student entering the class the idea violent forms of resolving conflict will constantly be ignored and pushed aside.

If, however, he wanted to only pursue the study of peaceful means of resolving conflict, he could indicate that in the title and course description and/or he could set up a class or minor for Peace Studies; not one that claims to focus on the ways through which conflict can be resolved.


DS:  In going into those kinds of courses wouldn't you expect the ideology
to be somewhat leftist? Isn't that like a communist student taking a
course in capitalism? Of course capitalism is going to be promoted as
the only option. The course wouldn't be about other economic systems.

BM: I disagree with your analogy concerning a communist taking a capitalist class, partially for all the reasons I've already given, but also because I don't think any study of capitalism would or should be done unless it compares itself to other economic and social systems.  I would imagine that students studying economics, and a class on capitalism, would examine its inherent differences from socialist or communist economies, and social structures, and attempt to show its strengths and weaknesses in comparison to those systems.  From my experience in classes of this nature, the environment I just described was prevalent and, in my estimation, appropriate.

DS:  Also, why didn't you drop the course when you found out what it would
be like? During the first week of courses, you have the option to drop
the class without penalty and switch to something else.

BM: I didn't drop this course because nothing in the first week of class suggested that we would never study violent means of resolving conflict, and more importantly, that such a view point would not be allowed in the class at all.  Anyone who has taken a class can realize that in the first week you often can't tell where it is going to go... in some classes you can and others you can't, and in this one I couldn't.  In fact, it appeared to me that the radical slant became more and more prevalent as the semester went on... once you have the fish hooked start reeling them in, right?

More importantly, there is no defensible reason why I should have been put in that position to begin with.  The only reason I would need to drop the class is because the professor refused to consider more than one side or one way to resolve conflict.  He took this so far as to lower my grade if I tried to bring in other points of view or ways of resolving conflict.  He forced EVERYONE in the class to write about and present on books that only supported peaceful means of resolving conflict.  I find that interesting, because he had a chance to encourage a meaningful discourse concerning the challenges in resolving conflict and the different methods of doing so... yet forced only one side to be represented.  Students who would finally have a chance to speak in front of the class, and let their opinions be heard, were silenced... and forced to discuss only one method of resolving conflict... the one the professor agreed with.  The fact that you are someone who sees the value in a healthy debate would make me think that you would find this remarkably one-sided as well, when it has no justifiable reason to be.


DS: "For example, Professor Wolfe explained that violent responses to
violent aggression are never acceptable."

The analogy that comes to mind is, "OK, we're in an upper level
Spanish class. From now on out you're not allowed to speak English in
class." Isn't the whole point of peace studies the simple idea that
violence is never acceptable?

BM: The spanish class analogy fails in this situation because the course was never presented as a class that would include only one side of this issue.  In a foreign language course it is no secret that a student will be challenged to learn a new SKILL... that is speaking another language.  In this case, the course was presented as an examination of the methods of resolving conflict and the challenge of promoting peace. Professor Wolfe chose to do something other than that entirely.  Imagine taking an introduction to economic systems course and studying ONLY socialism.  Not only do you study only socialism but the professor does not let you examine ANY OTHER economic system even if you want to.  More so, the professor lowers your grade if you argue, in any way, for the benefits of capitalism and how it has been shown in certain areas to be superior to socialism.  That is a more accurate description of what was going on in the classroom.  Obviously that is morally wrong and an abuse of a student's academic freedom.  Why?  Because the student took the course to study economic systems, studied only one, and was forced to support that system unconditionally in order to get a good grade in the class.  More so, students that already supported the system personally were given extra credit for doing an outside of class project that defended socialism as the best economic policy in the world.  While students that did not believe that and would not lie to themselves and to others about their beliefs, were not given an option to get extra credit through a project concerning a different economic system.  That is just wrong, and it should be easy to see that.

Final issue on the spanish class analogy.  Again, in a foreign language class the professor's job is to develop in students a new skill.  Spanish, as a language, is tangible in that either you know how to speak spanish correctly or you don't.  You can test this in multiple different ways.  Studies concerning conflict resolution are not used to develop a skill but to educate students on the challenges of promoting peace and justice.  There are multiple ways of promoting peace and justice, multiple ways through which conflict can be resolved, and differing ideologies that support those ways.  In other words, the material in this course is ideological... it concerns ones opinions about conflict resolution.  No one, including the professor, has the right to totally neglect one opinion for his own agenda.  For you to argue that a spanish professor has an agenda would be a joke... well yeah... he/she wants to teach students spanish.  To argue that a conflict resolution professor has an agenda is reasonable, if his or her actions illustrate the agenda and attempt to indoctrinate students.  A study of conflict resolution did not take place.  A study of the methods of resolving conflict, of the challenges of promoting peace and justice, were absent.  Instead, the professor used the classroom as his own political soapbox to push HARD his ideological opinions on the students in the classroom and would not permit any reasonable debate or discussion of the issue from the other side; at least without shooting such debate or discussion down himself and alienating those students that chose to share their ideas and opinions.  Spanish obviously doesn't apply.


DS: "This seemed to me to be indoctrination rather than education."

Isn't all education indoctrination? In my Virginia Woolf class, isn't
my teacher indoctrinating me with the idea that Virginia Woolf is one
of the greatest writers of the 20th century? In my and Amanda
Carpenter's political campaigns course, isn't Prof. Scheele
indoctrinating us with ideas about how a successful campaign is to be
run? In my early western political thought course with Prof Losco,
isn't he indoctrinating me with the ideas that
A) These political thoughts are still relevant and important
B) This is what they mean and how to interpret them.

BM: None of your examples of "indoctrination" are valid either.  In your "Virginia Woolf class" you knew what the material of the class would be before you entered.  It was made clear that the course would cover the works and writing styles, maybe even the historical significance, of Virginia Woolf's writing.  In essence, the course is set up as a forum through which the professor will show you Virginia's Woolf's accomplishments and why they are significant.  In this sense you are really only being given information, asked to study it and try to know Virginia Woolf's work at the end of the class, and learn from her and your professor in some way in the process.  As Virginia Woolf is the subject it would only make sense that you would discuss only Virginia Woolf.  I have explained to you how this does not parallel with the Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution class already.  But also I want you to understand that when you are tested on Virginia Woolf you are likely tested either on your ability to write about her, or to identify things about her or her writing.  In other words, you are not asked a question that forces you to weigh Virginia Woolf's writings against all other writers in history and then, ultimately, come to the conclusion that V. Woolf was the best... or your grade would be lowered.  Ideology... versus knowing the facts about V. Woolf and her writing style.

In your political campaigns class, being taught how to run a successful political campaign is also not indoctrination.  Similar to the Spanish course... you are being taught a skill.  Scheele is teaching you how campaigns have been successful in the past, how political campaigns are carried out, etc.  You are getting the down low on political campaign, a back-stage look at it.  Then you are asked to show your understanding of political campaigns through tests, papers, and such... I would assume.  Skill v. ideology.  If Scheele chose to turn the political campaigns class into a soapbox that said... Bush's campaign is dirty and a horrid example of a political campaign... Kerry's campaign in a wonderful example of how things should be done... and then force you to agree with him in the class or lower your grade.  Ahh... you are now experiencing attempted indoctrination.  He is trying to force you to believe and agree with his IDEOLOGY... not how to successfully run a political campaign (a skill).

In your western political thought course you are not being indoctrinated because, essentially, you are taking a history course.  You are given the writings and philosophies of early western political minds, asked to examine and try to understand those philosophies, and tested to see if you really know it.  You are in a knowledge based class now... you must prove you are knowledgeable about the course material... not that you AGREE with it.  If Professor Losco decided to tell you that Locke is the greatest early western political thinker of all-time.  If he tried to tell you that all others are irrelevant and when you said... well I think Machiavelli is the greatest political thinker of all time... and he said... "Ahh... you obviously don't understand the philosophies of Locke then... I will have to count you off on this paper/test."  Now you are experiencing indoctrination.  No longer is the class about knowledge... it is about the imposition of an ideology.  Which is not the purpose of the classroom.


DS:  By signing up for these classes and continuing with it, am I not
saying, "I want to be indoctrinated with this ideology"?

BM: Your "signing up for it" idea, and how it is "saying" that you want to be indoctrinated, fails in a couple of ways.  First, I have shown you that no indoctrination is occuring in those classes, so you couldn't be signing up for it.  Second, I highly doubt most students sign up for a course because they want to agree with everything the professor says when they leave.  When I sign up for a class I hope to become more knowledgeable on the subject that interests me.  I hope to take something positive from the classroom.  I hope to be challenged by the material and to be able to enter into intellectual discourse on it.  Unfortunately, there is no challenge when only one side is presented, nothing positive is gained when you are silenced and have your grade threatened for your beliefs and opinions, and little knowledge is gained because you can't apply the material you are exposed to to anything but a very narrow set of thoughts and ideologies that the professor agrees with.


DS:  "For the rest of the semester we worried as to whether our views would
hurt our grades."

Can't you study and argue for positions that you personally disagree
with? Isn't that a great way to learn? Isn't debate one of your
things? Surely you've debated on the side of issues with which you
disagree. How is this any different?

In early western thought I'm going to have to present on Macchiavelli.
Do I agree with "the ends justify the means"? Hell no, but I'm sure
I'll be able to put up one tough argument for it.

BM: I do think it is good to expand your thoughts by studying and even, at times, making arguments for things you don't necessarily agree with.  For the last eight years I have done that at every debate tournament I have ever attended.  It is certainly a positive experience to see the other side of an issue.  But... this fails to recognize the most important issue.  There was no debate in the class.  No two sides were presented.  A single ideology was imposed on every student in that classroom for the length of the semester.  If you expressed an idea... ANYTHING... that the professor didn't personally agree with you would be docked points.  For example, throughout the class Professor Wolfe assigned papers on various different issues.  These papers were more informal and were meant to stimulate thought about whatever prompt Professor Wolfe would assign.  This is a great method and way to learn... way to go Professor Wolfe.  However, when I wrote a paper concerning corporal punishment when raising children, I challenged the idea that "non-violent" means of disciplining a child can always work, after I demonstrated that I understood how peaceful means operate.  I explained how I thought spanking while I was growing up actually benefited me in many ways, though I would have argued with it then.  I also explained that as a child I was very manipulative, an only child, and if I knew nothing of any real significance would happen if I acted up/out... nothing would stop me from doing just that.  Unfortunately, in some cases corporal punishment is the best method of disciplining a child, by my observations and opinions.  Upon grading the paper Professor Wolfe had many written comments about my opinions and ideas, and lowered my grade because he thought I didn't really understand how peaceful means of disciplining a child or resolving conflict worked if I thought it could be manipulated.  WHAT?  Nothing I said in the paper said that "obviously peaceful means of conflict resolution don't work" and nothing in my paper said "only corporal punishment is free from a child's manipulation."  I said nothing that would have given any level headed person the idea that I was entirely shrugging off the concepts or that I didn't fully understand them.  Professor Wolfe lowered my grade because he wanted me to believe that at NO TIME can peaceful ways of conflict resolution be manipulated.  In other words, "It is fool proof Brett, and until you understand that I'll have to lower your grade."

I called him out on this, after class, explained that my opinions had nothing to do with a misunderstanding of peaceful means of resolving conflict and ended up getting the grade I deserved.  However, upon taking the chance that I did, by "arguing" with the professor, I had to worry that I would be on the wrong side of him from the very start.  I had to worry from paper number one that my opinions would be regarded as wrong and that if I stated them I would receive a lower grade.  Not only that, but it left me, and anyone else that experienced his grading bias, feeling isolated from the professor and as though I had to stroke his ideological biases to receive the grade I deserved.

Understand also, that your presentation on Machiavelli is simply demonstrating that you are familiar with and have a grasp on his philosophies.  You list the main ideas of Machiavellian philosophy and how it responds to other early western political philosophies.  You demonstrate your knowledge of Machieavelli.  In my class you would have to write a paper about a book that discusses conflict resolution and present that book and its opinions as factual information, even when you know it is not or disagree with it.  You can not bring any argument into it and you have no choice but to choose a book that says, "the U.S. is terrible because of its exercise of violence when resolving conflict and any one with a brain would see the only way to resolve conflict is through peaceful means."  You were FORCED to read ideologically biased material and pass it off as your own thoughts, in front of your peers.  You weren't just observing the way someone else looked at it... you were presenting it as your own opinion... cause if you didn't really convince the professor that you believed it... you just might receive a lower grade for not understanding the authors arguments and the flawless brilliance of peaceful forms of resolving conflict.  An ideology was being imposed on you... not just given to you for observation.


DS:  "Professor Wolfe would not allow any serious study of the reasons for
the use of force in response to an attack." Isn't that because the
course is not about reasons for the use of force?

"In other words, students like me had to read a book we disagreed with
and then report on the book parroting back views we did not agree with
or face a hostile professor with the power of grading us and do so in
front the entire class, whose views were also shaped by the
professor's intolerance of any dissenting view."

What if you had to give an oral presentation on Mein Kampf? Would you
be willing to do that? What's wrong with doing a report on ideas that
you disagree with? Would you be willing to give a report on, say,
creationism? Arguing in favor of that?

BM: On Mein Kampf:  I would do a report on Mein Kampf, explaining its historical significance, the movements it initiated, and the arguments and ideas that it articulated.  But I wouldn't present Mein Kampf in a class that had a Nazi professor who forced me to do so and to act like I believed it to receive a good grade.  No one should have to do that.  Indoctrination and demonstrating knowledge of a book, speech, philosopher, or subject are entirely different.  And also, I would not argue that Mein Kampf was good or that Hitler was right... under any circumstance... not even just pretending.

Further, you're misunderstanding of this whole issue is that you still think it was just "giving a report."  You fail to understand the significance of the environment Professor Wolfe created through his assigned readings, grading biases, and absolute intolerance for any point of view in his class that would even hint of arguing with his beliefs.  Anyone can go in front of a class and explain, "give a report," about creationism... what it stands for, where it is rooted, and explain what creationists argue.  But if an atheist who fully believes in evolution had to get in front of the class and say... "creationists are brilliant and clearly show us why evolution is wrong" because if the student did not the professor would lower his/her grade. That would be wrong.  You can't force an IDEOLOGY on someone.  If you force them to study materials and know about the arguments that are made in philosophies they disagree with that is fine.  But to force them to agree with it, or at least convincingly act like it, or suffer the consequences is wrong.


DS:  "I was ever conscious of the fact that I had to deliver a report that
Professor Wolfe would like or suffer a lower grade."

In the workplace, aren't you often required to do things that you
don't like? If your boss tells you to do something, then you have to
do it. If you refuse, you get fired. That's how it works.

BM: On the workplace:  Understand that the classroom and the workplace are very different places.  In the workplace you are doing your job, performing tasks that have been assigned, and might have to put up with ideological differences in the way things are run or even philosophical differences concerning politics, religion, etc.  However, you do have the right in the workplace to disagree with your boss or anyone else on a topic, you can read whatever newspapers or sources you want, and you can continue to have your own ideologies without fear of repercussion.  If you were fired from a job solely because of differences in political ideologies, you have the right to sue your past employer for discrimination.  Guess what, if the only reason you were fired was because of differences in political ideology... you would win, the company would have to more than make up for your losses... and it is possible your "boss" could get fired altogether.

In the classroom professors have a bit more to hold over a students head.  If you do not appease the professor or live up to his/her expectations, you will receive a lowered grade.  You are absolutely being judged/graded on your comprehension of the course material and your ability to demonstrate your comprehension of it.  That is all fine and dandy if it is not abused.  However, when a professor like George Wolfe chooses to force his ideology on you things are different.  If you fight against the professor you risk a lowered grade... and a hit to your GPA.  For a student his/her GPA is his/her record, like a police record.  If the student receives a lowered grade and his/her GPA is lowered, the student could fail to get into a graduate school/law school or whatever educational institution he/she wants to attend next.  Maybe the lower GPA won't stop him/her from getting into graduate school, maybe it will just make it so he/she is passed up at a higher quality school that he/she aspires to attend.  The student now has to settle for just getting in somewhere and fails to reach his/her goal.  Now, in most cases "that's how it works," it's just the way it is.  But when your GPA and grade suffer because you refuse to conform to your professors ideology, something is desperately wrong.  More imporant than the owered grade you might suffer is that you are being slighted.  A student is intentionally receiving only a portion of the story on a topic that has many different sides... an abundance of ideologies.  In the classroom, if an ideology is forced, the student has been stifled... put in his/her place and his/her desire to learn suffers... learning is no longer fun and rewarding.

By the way, don't ever argue that because things are like this "here" that it should be like that "here too."  That line of thinking and reasoning gets you no where.  If a person's boss forced an ideology on someone, not just required them to complete tasks, it would be just as wrong there as it would be in the classroom.


DS:  "Every article that was assigned in class gave reasons why U.S.
foreign policies were wrong and were root causes of what happened on
9/11."

Well... I don't know about whether our foreign policies are wrong or
not -- that's debatable -- but what really isn't is that the root
cause of Al Qaeda and Islam terrorism is our foreign policy. They may
not agree with our values, but they won't go to war with us over
Britney Spears. There's mountains of evidence that the reason they're
at war with us is because they believe that through our foreign
policies we've been waging a war on Islam. If you want to get into the
debate on this point, I welcome it, there's mountains of hard factual
evidence -- from Middle East opinion polls to statements from bin
Laden himself -- backing this up. It's one of the central theses of
the book I've been reading -- "Imperial Hubris." The "they hate our
freedoms" and "they want to destroy Western civilization" arguments
are bald-faced lies without substantial evidence to back them up.

BM: As far as your root of terrorism dialogue... I would be willing to debate that issue with you at a later time.  But you aren't going to bait me with a small paragraph making undocumented claims and then get a large, intricately documented response.  I disagree with you here David... and I would argue it has much more to do with a hatred of our comfortable way of life, capatalist systems, and the power we have in the world.  So... that's what you think... this is what I think.

And I'm sorry but "Imprerial Hubris" is not a reliable source, even in the outer depths of the imagination.  If you think so, start citing thoughts from anonymous sources as the reason for your beliefs in the Daily News... see what kind of response you get on that one... from both sides.


DS:  "In order to receive full credit in the class you must choose to be
involved in one of the programs he actively promotes."

By enrolling in the course, aren't you saying that you're interested
in these subjects and might want to be in one of these groups?

BM: Full-credit:  Unfortunately your argument about being interested in one of these groups is no longer valid because I have shown you that the course, through its own description, does not say that this type of ideological bias is going to exist in the class.  I have explained that this was not a "peace studies" class but also concerned "methods of resolving conflict."  It did not say peaceful methods of resolving conflict but the study of them in general.  I don't need to go back here.  Obviously this was never suggested by anything in the course description.  Also, once again you have the issue of indoctrination.  If Professor Wolfe really wanted us to be involved with an extra-curricular activity that would involve focusing on resolving conflict he could have opened it up to ideas students would come up with or find.  However, he was only interested in imposing his ideological biases through groups he oversees... he only wanted another avenue through which he could impose on you his belief that peaceful means of resolving conflict is the way to go.  It would be one thing to promote those groups in his class... but entirely another to make your involvement in one of them a part of successfully completing the course (this was a big chunk of the grade by the way).


DS:  OK. Now, you're all about students having "academic freedom." My
question for you is, "Well, don't you?" You're free not to take this
course. You're free to drop the course when you realize what it is and
what it demands.

BM: Academic Freedom:  Unfortunately you fail to understand what academic freedom really is.  You discuss freedom in general.  I don't have to go to class, I don't have to enroll in class, I can drop a class... whenever I want to.  I might have repercussions for those actions, which I discussed above, but sure... I can do whatever I want whenever I want.

Academic freedom concerns the right to be free of ideological indoctrination in the classroom.  There is no justifiable reason or excuse for Professor Wolfe's actions.  You try to take the responsibility off of him and place it on me but fail to recognize the issue in doing so.  The issue is that actions like Professor Wolfe's shouldn't be a part of an educational institution.  An atmosphere like the one in the Introduction to Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, has no place in higher education.  Forcing ones ideologies on students from a position of power is immoral and shouldn't happen... there is no excuse for it.  There is nothing any student can gain from it, and there is no reason the administration at a university should encourage it, or tolerate it.


DS:  If this course was required for you as a political science major then
I'd be a bit more sympathetic. But you chose to take it of your own
free will.

BM: David, as I said, while this course was not a part of my Political Science major, it was a part of a minor that I hoped would supplement my major.  It was a part of my efforts to gain a quality education and strengthen my portfolio.  And there is no excusable reason why anyone, given any situation, for a major, minor, or an elective, should have to put up with the kind of indoctrination I was exposed to in that classroom.  The forcing of an ideology of students in any class in inexcusable... regardless of the ideology.  Students should also be guaranteed academic freedom and should not have to worry about confonting a classroom environment like the one found in George Wolfe's class.




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