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Orwell 101 By: David Horowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, July 11, 2008

A couple of years ago, a student in a Peace Studies course at Ball State, taught by jazz saxophonist George Wolfe, claimed that Professor Wolfe used his class to promote a political agenda, using the classroom to argue against all forms of violence except revolutionary violence, assigning a one-sided text which argued among other things that the word “terrorist” was another term for “guerrilla” and could be applied to the American founders, and offering extra credits and better grades to students who supported his viewpoints. The facts are reviewed here.


At the time, I did not take a position on the student’s claims about Wolfe’s classroom behavior but instead posted an article by him in FrontPage Magazine describing his complaints. I did write a critical review of the 500-page class text Wolfe had assigned, which purported to review hundreds of years of historical events and analyze the causes of war and peace, and which was written by an animal psychologist and a philosopher who boasted in the introduction to their text that was a partisan argument by progressive activists, and that Peace Studies itself was field devoted to instilling the tenets of progressive activism in its students. “The field [of Peace Studies] differs from most other human sciences in that it is value-oriented, and unabashedly so. 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.”


When the student’s article appeared in FrontPage, the Ball State administration and faculty instantly came down on his head like a ton of bricks. He was warned by the chairman of the Political Science Department not to write any more articles for FrontPage or to talk to the press. He was ridiculed by his professors in class. When I wrote an editorial questioning the credentials of a jazz saxophonist to teach issues of war and peace, the Vice Provost at Ball State, Beverley Pitts defended him saying he was a member of the board of the Toda Institute for Peace Research. The Toda Institute turned out to be an organization created by Soka Gakkai, an international Buddhist cult. Backed by his university, and with the support of the local press, Wolfe went on a campaign to smear me as a “political extremist” and “McCarthyite.”


Now Wolfe has written an article for a Ball State University publication called, “Arguments Against the Horowitz Agenda.” (Unlike Wolfe, I will actually cite his text so that readers can judge it for themselves. His article contains no citations of anything I have actually said, nor does it addresses anything remotely resembling any agenda I have ever advanced or been associated with. Consequently it is not really an argument against anything except Professor Wolfe’s fantasies.)


The article begins in a vein that is sustained throughout: “Of all the universities across the United States who were subject to attack for liberal bias by political extremist David Horowitz, in only one did senior administrators publicly come to the defense of their faculty and their academic programs. Vice President for Academic Affairs Beverly Pitts, President Jo Ann Gora, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Randy Hyman, and Joseph Losco, Chair of the Department of Political Science, are to be commended for their public stance against political extremism and their efforts to refute the false accusations directed towards Peace Studies at Ball State University.”


You would never guess from this statement, that their stance was against an undergraduate student whose crime was questioning what he felt was an unfair classroom situation and whose views they tried to suppress. My role in this was merely to give this student a platform to air his complaints, and to support them by an analysis of the textbook he was required to read.


As it happens, however, I have never attacked any university – in the United States or anywhere else – for “liberal bias.” Or left-wing bias. Ever. In my widely-read book on the university, The Professors, which was made notorious by unscrupulous academics like Wolfe, I state quite clearly: “This book is not intended as a text about left-wing bias in the university and does not propose that a left-wing perspective on academic faculties is a problem in itself. Every individual, whether conservative or liberal, has a perspective and therefore a bias. Professors have every right to interpret the subjects they teach according to their individual points of view. That is the essence of academic freedom.” (See below.)


Not one left-wing academic who has attacked my academic freedom campaign, and there have been many, have ever acknowledged that I ever made such a statement, let alone that my public record shows that these are, in fact, my views and what I am prepared to defend.


Because of the views expressed above, I make it a practice of never using the term “bias,” nor have I ever called for the firing or punishment of any professor for their political views. On the contrary, I publicly defended the First Amendment rights of Ward Churchill when the Republican governor of Colorado called on his university to fire him for his political views. I defended Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, when he was removed as the dean of the new law school at UC-Irvine after conservatives complained about his left-wing opinions. (He was subsequently re-instated.) Moreover, my Academic Bill of Rights – the same that Professor Wolfe regards as an agenda of McCarthyite extremism – states in no uncertain terms: “No faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs.”


The two books I have written on academic freedom, along with the scores of articles amounting to tens of thousands of additional words, are entirely and without exception based on the classic 1915 “Declaration on the Principles of Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure” of the American Association of University Professors.” In short, my academic agenda – the “Horowitz agenda” that professor Wolfe describes throughout his article as “McCarthyite” – is entirely liberal in the sense of the word used by John Dewey, A.O. Lovejoy, and the other academics associated with the 1915 statement and with subsequent academic freedom statements it inspired.


Professor Wolfe’s article is itself an example of exactly what he decries: a political smear by an unprincipled demagogue. Wolfe’s article consists of a series of ad hominem attacks on a straw man – a “political extremist” of his own manufacture, and depends on a version of events that studiously avoids any examination of the facts involved. This is the way he argues, “According to my colleague, Political Science professor Joseph Losco [the same professor who threatened the Ball State undergraduate if he opened his mouth to complain about his treatment by Professor Wolfe], Horowitz’s tactics are “reminiscent of something that would take place in the McCarthy era or the period of the John Birch Society of the 50’s and 60s.” Talk about guilt by association!


Wolfe justifies this McCarthyesque smear in the following way:  “David Horowitz, in using extremist language that accuses peace studies professors like myself of supporting terrorism, and falsely accusing the Ball State Muslim Student Association of having ties to terrorist organizations, is clearly evoking the Patriot Act in an attempt to intimidate Americans who believe it was a mistake to invade Iraq or who identify themselves with the religion of Islam.” In other words, because I cited a textbook that equated contemporary terrorists with America’s founding fathers, and pointed out what is an indisputable fact – that the Muslim Students’ Association is a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood and part of its network – I must be a member of some “Patriot Act” conspiracy to intimidate Americans from dissenting on the war in Iraq.


This is a classic McCarthyism. The fact is that I have written many articles – and a recent book – which affirm the legitimacy of dissent over the war policy in Iraq. If reading is too onerous a task for Professor Wolfe he could have viewed my hour-long speech on C-SPAN or a similar speech I gave in Santa Barbara which is currently posted at www.FrontPageMag.com. In both these speeches, which are about my book Party of Defeat and the war in Iraq, I say, “Criticism of government policy is essential to a democracy, and criticism of war policy is [particularly] important because the stakes are so high.” But Professor Wolfe isn’t interested in facts because he is an ideologue and for him people like me who disagree with his progressive views are enemies to whom no decencies are owed.


Does the professor behave differently in his classroom? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

David Horowitz is the founder of The David Horowitz Freedom Center and author of the new book, One Party Classroom.

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