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Challenging the One-Party Classroom By: FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, March 12, 2009


At a time when the American public has become increasingly alarmed by “activist government,” another threat to America’s prospects has garnered less scrutiny: activist education. But as David Horowitz demonstrates in his new book, One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America's Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy, co-authored with Jacob Laksin, the misuse of higher education for political ends – symbolized by curricula that present left-wing politics and activism in the guise of education – is a pervasive threat to the country’s democracy. The book examines 12 major universities from the universities across the country and analyzes more than 150 courses whose orientation is unapologetically leftist and whose basic objective is clearly to indoctrinate students. To reinforce the findings of the book, Horowitz is now embarking on a national campaign that will take that message to the places most hostile to it: America’s universities themselves.

Horowitz’s campaign, which calls on universities to “Take Indoctrination Out of Education,” seeks to restore traditional academic values to higher education, and to remind professors that their primary responsibility is to teach students how to think, not what to think. As part of the two-week tour, Horowitz will make appearances at schools across the country, including most of the 12 schools surveyed in One-Party Classroom. The tour begins with a speech at the University of Missouri on April 3. Horowitz will then make appearances at the University of Chicago (April 6), the University of Arizona (April 7), Arizona State University (April 8), the University of Texas at Austin (April 9), Temple University (April 14), the University of Pennsylvania (April 15), Penn State (April 16), and Columbia University (April 17). Summarizing the goal of the tour, Horowitz says, “The aim is to draw attention to the debasement of our universities and the transformation of large sections of the country’s schools into political propaganda mills, and the growing threat to our democracy that these developments represent,” Horowitz said.

That this threat is real is decisively demonstrated by One-Party Classroom, which features an exhaustive analysis of indoctrination courses on 12 university campuses, including, among others, the University of Colorado, the former of residence of ethnic studies professor and arch-radical Ward Churchill. As One-Party Classroom shows, however, Churchill was only the most conspicuous symbol of professional misconduct and academic delinquency that is widespread within the university.

Thus, the book examines the course Sociology 5006 (“Feminist Theory”), taught by avowed Marxist professor Martha Gimenez and reflecting her radical politics. By its own description, the course is “designed” as a study of “Marxist feminist theory,” which students are expected to contrast with other schools of “postmodern feminism” in order to evaluate “their relative contributions to the understanding of the connections between class, gender and race and the contradictory implications of identity politics in the context of the global economy.” Each of the assigned readings for the course, moreover, is written by feminist theorists and polemicists offering Marxist critiques of global capitalism. Denied any opportunity to consider alternative points of view, students in the course are presented only with perspectives that match the professor’s Marxist politics – the very definition of indoctrination. It is one of many such courses at the university.

Courses Horowitz and Laskin examine at Duke University confirm their thesis about the degree to which indoctrination has replaced education. Duke’s Department of African and African American Studies is particularly illustrative of the consequences of political extremism in the faculty ranks. According to its own mission statement, the department was created to advance “social justice,” a term favored by the political Left to describe the full scope of its activist agendas. But while the department is a failure when judged by objective academic criteria, it has succeeded in fomenting a racially polarized climate and a culture of black victimhood on the Duke campus. For instance, one course offered through the department, AAAS 49S- 01 (“Plantations”) urges students to consider the school’s campus in the context of a slave plantation. “What is a plantation and why do some citizens of Durham view Duke as a plantation?” asks a typical question in the course. This background of racially charged indoctrination helps explain why, in 2006, 88 professors rushed to demonize white students from the Duke lacrosse team for a crime they did not commit, citing their race as sufficient proof of their guilt.

It is a measure of the academic decline in the nation’s universities that many schools do not even bother to disguise the indoctrination taking place in their lecture halls. One especially blatant example comes from California’s University of Santa Cruz, a notorious redoubt of academic radicalism. The Santa Cruz course catalog, for example, describes a seminar offered by its “Community Studies Department” as follows: “The goal of this seminar is to learn how to organize a revolution. We will learn what communities past and present have done and are doing to resist, challenge, and overcome systems of power including (but not limited to) global capitalism, state oppression, and racism.” As the authors point out in One-Party Classroom, this is a declaration of political intent, not the description of a scholarly inquiry. In the radical 1960s political agitators bellowed their revolutionary slogans from behind the barricades; today they do so from behind the lectern.

It would be consoling to think that such courses are the exception, that indoctrination is practiced by a few isolated professors. In fact, such courses, and many more like them, can be found in the syllabus of every one of our major universities. University administrations deserve no small share of the blame for that reality. For too long, they have been silent about the intellectual bias and academic corruption that has overtaken their campuses. In reaching out to students, professors, and alumni, David Horowitz’s “Take Indoctrination Out of Education Tour” aims to make sure that silence is no longer an option.




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