David Horowitz delivered the following speech at this year's Restoration Weekend, held November 16-19 at The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. -- The Editors.
I began the academic freedom movement about three years ago. I probably did it because you can take the boy out of the radical movement, but you can’t take the radical movement out of the boy. This is where I began in the 1960s and it’s a happy return for me.
You probably don’t realize what’s happened on our university campuses, because I myself am continually shocked by it. You can go to the University of Texas at Austin, a world-class university in a state that is very red, and get a degree in radical politics. You will take courses with people like Dana Cloud, who is a self-described Bolshevik. If you go to her academic website, it shows an activist with a fist in the air. Cloud is a Marxist and member of the International Socialist Organization. When I spoke at the University of Texas at Austin, she led a demonstration inside the speech and – this is a professor – had to be hauled out by the campus police.
At the University of Texas at Austin, there are about six or seven cooperating departments that all contribute courses to qualify students for a degree in radical (anti-American, sympathy-for-the-Islamic-jihad politics), though it isn’t called that. We have a website called Discoverthenetworks.org, which is an encyclopedia of the Left. If you type in “Academia,” and then go to “Indoctrination Studies,” you will find a list of universities. Among them is the University of Texas at Austin. The list includes courses and you will find there one taught by Dana Cloud called, “Communications and Social Change.” Students in this course learn the history of the radical movement entirely from the point of view of Marxist radicals. Both sources and commentaries reflect the views of this left. There is not a critical essay included in the curriculum. Along with the recent history of contemporary radicalism you get an appropriate dose of radical ideology, without critical commentary. At the end of the course as a concession to the fact that it is an offering of the Communications Department, you will learn how to conduct radical propaganda.
If you go to Arizona State, you can major in a program offered by a department called the School of Justice and Social Inquiry. Here you will be taught that, if the social order is unjust – and I can assure you that in this course, you are taught that the American social order is unjust – then criminals are actually rebels and the term “criminal” is just a label used by the patriarchal ruling class as a method of social control to keep the rebellious oppressed in line.
If you take a course in Peace Studies – and there are 250 of these programs nationwide – you will learn that the word “terrorist” is actually another term for “freedom fighter,” because terrorists are fighting against an unjust global order over which the United States presides.
You will learn at any major university in this country that America is the Great Satan and that terrorists are freedom fighters, and then you will learn how to fight the Great Satan.
We held an academic freedom conference last year in Washington, where we had a panel of students one of whom was the chair of College Republicans at the University of California, Davis. His girlfriend bet him $50 that he would not be able to handle the politics in a Women’s Studies course. So he took the bet and signed up for the Introduction to Women’s Studies class. On the first day – this was during the recall vote in California – the teacher had the class chant, “No on Arnold! No on Arnold!” In class. He dropped the course and signed up for a course on terrorism. On the first day he learned that the greatest terrorist in the Middle East was Jesus Christ. This is a travesty of education but it is not uncommon on today’s college campuses.
We had a student at Temple University, who took a course in modern Chinese history. The professor’s opening remarks were that Communism had been given a bad name in this country and that he was going to teach them how Mao Zedong – who killed 70 million people, in peacetime – was a great leader.
The problem is that there are something like 6,000 American universities. Besides myself, there’s Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin, and we are often physically attacked and almost invariably verbally defamed when we appear at universities. Floyd over there is my bodyguard, as well as Ann’s, and he has done the same service for Michelle. Leftist ruffians have ensured that if you are a conservative speaker you will never know what might be coming at you. When I spoke recently at Ball State University, it was only a cream pie. I didn’t even see the person who was charging us, but the chief of campus police and Floyd and the policemen present saw her coming and interposed themselves between us, and were drowned by this cream pie. Not a big deal, but three suits had to go to the dry cleaners, and a police officer was cut apprehending the culprits. Refreshingly, they were arrested and had to post bail.
This is the sad state of our campuses. Three years ago, I began an academic freedom campaign to try to restore academic manners and standards to our debased universities.
When I was a youngster, I attended a Communist Party school called the Jefferson School of Social Science on 12th Street in New York. My teacher was Herbert Aptheker, the Communist Party’s leading theoretician. The Jefferson School of Social Science – its totalitarian approach to educational method along with its worldview – is now a major part of the curriculum of universities across the country, including in such conservative states as Texas.
I had to figure out how to confront this problem with an eye to fixing it. What I did was devise an Academic Bill of Rights, which is a very liberal document, based on very simple principles.
As you know, teachers have lifetime jobs. It means you have to deal with the fact that you’re going to have a lot of leftists on university campuses. The Ward Churchill case is instructive. Here is an evidently deranged individual who is a department chair earning $120,000 a year, not counting the thousands of dollars in speaking fees he earns when like-minded professors invite him to give talks on university campuses – at taxpayer and student expense.
As you know, Churchill called the victims of 9/11 “Little Eichmanns” in an article on the internet. But of course that is what he teaches: that America is a genocidal nation comparable to Nazi Germany. I point out in my talks on college campuses that this shows his utter contempt, for example, for all those Mexicans and Haitians who are desperately trying to get into this country. The obvious question is why – to be exterminated?
So, when the public discovered what Ward Churchill was teaching, my good friend Bill Owens, who was governor of Colorado, called for Churchill to be fired. That immediately set off all the First Amendment people, and rightly so. Any reasonable liberal and certainly most conservatives, do not want the governors of states hiring and firing professors.
Churchill is also an academic fraud. He doesn’t have a Ph.D., which is the Higher Ed teaching credential. His degree, an M.A., is in graphic arts. He’s a painter. If you want to see liberal racism in action, here it is: We’ve got a guy whose qualification for teaching Ethnic Studies is that he is a painter, but he’s also a raving leftwing ideologue. Hire him! Let him teach the minority kids. Perhaps they won’t know the difference.
The Ethnic Studies field is a field of Ward Churchills. Hank Brown, a former U.S. Senator who’s president of the University of Colorado, has been trying to get rid of Churchill now for a year. His administration convened a panel of liberal professors who determined that Churchill is a fraud, a plagiarist, and a liar. But he’s still on that faculty. That’s how hard it is to get rid of incompetent professors.
Given this situation, what do you do? My answer was this: Let’s see if we can make them act like professionals. You don’t go to your doctor and expect to get a lecture on the war in Iraq. So why should you get one from your English professor? It’s just unprofessional. Let’s assert some professional standards. Let’s start with the principles behind academic freedom and tenure.
Academic freedom is not about free speech. If you are a preacher and you go into church on Sunday and preach a sermon that God does not exist, you will be looking for a new job on Monday, First Amendment or no. If you are a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan, defending our First Amendment rights, you do not have the First Amendment right to write an op-ed piece criticizing your commander or the war. You can’t write about it because it’s understood – it’s part of our culture to understand – that when someone works for an institution that has a professional mission, you cannot allow the chaos of the First Amendment inside that institution. The employees, those who carry the mission, have to behave professionally.
If you’re a nurse in an operating room and in the middle of the operation you get up on a chair and give a speech about why nurses should get better pay, you will not be invited back into that operating room. Every one in our society has a certain accountability – as the accountants at Enron have learned – every institution apparently except universities.
Consequently, I devised an Academic Bill of Rights that would ensure that students received professional instruction from their teachers. I took the Bill of Rights to the chairman of the trustees of the SUNY system in New York, which has 400,000 students and 69 campuses. The trustees were appointed by Governor Pataki who hired a conservative president. That’s a handful of people surrounded by a sea of radicals, which is what the political face of the university is. In attempting to get the Academic Bill of Rights adopted by the SUNY administration, I discovered that the university authorities are completely powerless vis-à-vis their radical faculties. The radical faculties run the university.
If Larry Summers, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal and the most powerful university president in the history of the modern research university, could be fired within four years by a radical minority representing only 10% of the faculty who voted to censure him and then to destroy him, I knew that there was no university president who could stand up to this totalitarian faction (totalitarian because what triggered their censure was a politically incorrect idea that Summers had proposed).
When I witnessed the paralysis of the SUNY administration I decided to go to legislatures because I knew that there had to be some leverage, some pressure on the university presidents to stand up to these radicals.
Of course, the radicals struck back. They called me a McCarthyite, even though my proposals were quintessentially liberal, and I have never proposed the firing of any professor for his or her political ideas. They’ve attacked me as a Maoist, even though they worshipped Mao when he was alive and slaughtering millions. Even conservatives have been uncomfortable with the legislation, because they have failed to understand that the reason for going to legislatures is not to have government run universities but to get attention and thereby create public pressure on university presidents so they can go to their faculty – this actually happened in the state of Colorado – and say, “David Horowitz and the right-wing legislature are attacking us; I can save the university by implementing the Academic Bill of Rights in a proper manner.”
The good news is that, within three years, we’ve created 200 student organizations and made intellectual diversity a national issue. At Princeton, the student body voted in its majority for the Academic Bill of Rights, despite the outrageous attacks on it as right-wing plot by Horowitz and the McCarthyites.
But the biggest development we’ve had so far has been in Pennsylvania.
A young freshman legislator in Pennsylvania, Gib Armstrong, who is here today, was approached two years ago at a Republican Party picnic by an Iraq war veteran. She had signed up for a physics course at one of the state universities. Her physics professor, in class, attacked the military and the war in Iraq, which made her understandably uncomfortable. She approached Gib and asked him if that was appropriate. Gib said it was not and called me, since I had received enough publicity for the Academic Bill of Rights to be recognized in Lancaster Pennsylvania. Together we set about changing the educational face of Pennsylvania. Gib got legislation passed to create an Academic Freedom Committee of the Pennsylvania House and we proceeded from there.
It has never been my agenda to legislate what universities do. Even it were a good idea, which it isn’t, it’s impossible. Most state legislatures meet only once every six months. The Texas legislature meets only once every two years. These legislators deal with issues of roads, energy and other big ticket items. What goes on classrooms is not something they understand well, nor is it something they can afford to focus on.
So we held hearings and, of course, the Democrats voted almost party line against the authorization, even though it was a completely liberal idea. The idea is: Be professional. If you have kids in the class, give them both sides of a controversial issue. This should not be controversial, but among leftists who hide behind the label “liberal,” it is.
The Democrats denounced the committee. The Democratic chair, the minority chair of the committee, appeared at two union-sponsored rallies attacking his own committee as McCarthyite, even though not a single professor was called or named, because that was not its agenda. The Democrats kept up their attacks on the committee throughout the sessions which lasted nine months. At the very first session, constitutional lawyer David French told them that 15 state universities in Pennsylvania were violating, through speech codes, the academic freedom rights of their students. After this testimony, a Pennsylvania State Representative named Dan Surra said the committee hearings were “a colossal waste of time.” Then he told a New York Times reporter the hearings were “a hunt for Big Foot.” This was the committee Democrats’ point of view throughout the hearings and remains so today.
The upshot is that we have a committee report which will be ratified on Tuesday, November 21, 2006. The report describes the bad state of affairs in the State of Pennsylvania. It concludes that its inquiry revealed that there was not a single academic freedom provision that protects students in the entire State of Pennsylvania, which is probably true for entire country. It notes that in response to the hearings Temple University has adopted what is probably the only student specific bill of rights relating to academic freedom in the country. The report calls for the creation, for the first time, of an academic freedom provision for students. It says that every state university should review their academic policies and make them “student specific.”
The fact that we have achieved this major reform – that David Horowitz was actually right – is so frightening to the university community that they have denied the fact. The spokesman for Temple University told InsideHigherEd.com that the new Temple Policy on “Faculty and Student Rights and Responsibilities” was just a clarification of existing rules, which is an easily proven lie.
The second Committee recommendation was that there should be grievance machinery put in place at all state universities specific to academic freedom concerns.
The third is that students should not have to appeal to the department that they’re majoring in, which is what is usually required, resulting in few student complaints for fear of reprisal.
The fourth is that every student, when they attend student orientation, will get information about their academic rights. Most of them don’t even know what academic freedom is. At student orientations, they get indoctrination in sexual diversity and ethnic diversity; now they’re going to also be informed about intellectual diversity.
Finally, the Committee recommends that the State of Pennsylvania revisit these matters in two years and see what’s been done.
It’s like a consent decree. We have now inserted a process in the State of Pennsylvania to promote the principles of academic freedom.
I have been to other states. I’m not going to telegraph which states, but I can assure you that in one very large state, I have full support for this agenda from the trustees of the statewide university system, the governor of the state, the speaker of the House, and the relevant members of the Appropriations Committee. And we will have the same lineup in three or four other states.
The biggest problem we face is the difficulty people who should be with us have because of the noise created by the Left. The Left is very good at this. They tar and feather you to persuade people not to listen to what you’re saying.
But, there are still decent liberals in this country and, once we get a few states going, they will respond. They will respond and they will support this.
The Left is a minority. The radical Left that hates this country is a very powerful minority on university faculties, as Larry Summers learned, but the Larry Summers liberals are much more significant in the university community. They are intimidated at present. They have to understand that they can stand up to the Left and survive. We are going to teach them that with our campaign.
My model for what the university should be is the Columbia I went to in the 1950s. My parents were Communists. I was a Marxist. At Columbia, I wrote Marxist papers, but I never had a comment on my papers that reflected my professors’ contempt for my Marxist views. They graded me on how well I knew the evidence, and how cogently I constructed my arguments. I never – not one time in one class – ever heard a professor express a political view.
At every university I go to, I ask, “Are you taught that there are race, sex, and class hierarchies?” The hands always go up because that is what they are taught. It’s an idea derived from the Communist Manifesto. If you haven’t read the Manifesto, it means you haven’t been at a university in 30 years because students have to read the Communist Manifesto, though they’ve never even heard of Hayek or von Mises, who had more insight into capitalist societies in their little fingers than Marx had in his entire being.
If you remember the beginning of the Communist Manifesto, it says that the history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles. It goes on to talk about nobles and plebians, aristocrats and the serfs, slave masters and slaves throughout history. Then, Marx adds, there’s the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
In other words the idea of hierarchies is to back up a call to civil war. That’s what the Communist Manifesto is about. It’s an incitement to civil war. What you and I see as a democratic system with a lot of social mobility, Marx saw as a hierarchical system identical to slavery. That’s why he called workers “wage slaves.” That’s why to him, revolution in modern democracies was necessary.
Marx’s view makes up the standard curriculum in our universities today. My response is, “Well, if you believe in race, class, and gender hierarchies, where do you place Oprah Winfrey in your hierarchies?” She is the richest woman in America. She is also the great-great-granddaughter of a slave, the great-granddaughter of a sharecropper, a sexually abused child and a woman with a weight problem.
Allow me to explain this last point. When I visited Bowling Green University, there was a huge front page story in the campus paper on “lookism” as the means by which fat people were oppressed. So you have to ask yourself how it was possible in a lookist society like ours that there was a point where two overweight women – Oprah Winfrey and Rosie O’Donnell – dominated afternoon TV. I have to point out, of course, that Oprah didn’t get this job by Affirmative Action. She got it by being an authority figure to millions of lower middle class white women who had never been to a sensitivity training class. There’s nobody in the history of the universe besides Oprah who has wielded such authority as to be able to tell people to buy a book and make that book a bestseller. That authority translates into an industry and is one of the reasons she’s the richest woman in America.
Here, then, is a black, overweight great-granddaughter of a sharecropper who has such authority based on people’s respect for her intelligence, even though she’s black, even though she’s a woman, even though she’s fat. That just blows apart all of the academic theories of oppression and domination. It’s obvious that they have kept conservatives off of their faculties so they can maintain their own absurd views. All we want, for our reform effort, is to make a place in the university for critical ideas that will challenge their totalitarian orthodoxies and provide students with a look at the real world instead.
We have started a national movement. Now, every university in the country is discussing intellectual diversity and the Academic Bill of Rights. We have done that in three years and we have done that with basically three people.
This is the really good news about the universities. We have just begun the fight. By the way, we have not had even one story about this in the Weekly Standard or National Review. This how outside the box this movement is, and this is also our biggest problem. We’ve even been attacked by the Wall Street Journal. I spent an hour with an editorial writer from the Journal trying to explain that this legislation is to get attention; it’s not to get actual statutory legislation.
Ruth Malhotra will be talking to you on Sunday as well. Ruth was a political science major at Georgia Tech. George is a red state, Georgia Tech is a big military industrial complex supplier and you’d expect it to be conservative. Ruth was an A student. She was taking a public policy course and she told her professor that she was going to David Keane’s Conservative PAC conference the following week. The professor, said, “Well, you will fail my course,” and proceeded to fail her. We managed to reverse that. But again, we can’t just be running around to every university putting out fires.
We are engaged in a war to defend ourselves against a global jihad. During the Cold War, the Left identified with the Soviet Union and the Communist cause; now they identify with the Islamofascist cause. They would not want to be called Islamofascists. They even delude themselves into thinking that they are advancing the cause of gays and women by supporting jihadis who hate women and kill gay people. But that is just their delusion and we should not humor them by pretending that they are not self-declared enemies of this country when they call Islamofascists “freedom fighters” and run interference for their cause. What they are doing now is really no different from their defense of Stalin and Mao when they were slaughtering millions – not only innocent people, but Communists, too. The Left’s present war against America is just a replication of the past.
For all its faults and warts, this is the most wonderful political and economic system in the world. There are three main battlefronts in the war against us. The first is national security and the War on Terror. The second is the battle to establish and secure our national borders, to protect the American culture, which has produced our democratic system. This can be done by enforcing a legal process by which people become citizens. Such a process creates a sense of obligation on the part of new citizens towards the culture they are entering and to the social whole.
The third battlefront is the schools. We have begun this battle. We invite you all to support us and join us. Thank you.