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Lessons in Disaster By: Chris Yogerst
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Most of us who have gone through a four-year undergraduate program in the liberal arts know how English and communication studies can often devolve into a discussion of less than scholarly subjects. In recent years, there has been a lot of attention drawn to the tendency of academics to wade into personal politics. David Horowtiz, founder of the Horowitz Freedom Center, has been speaking at college campuses for years about these tendencies.

Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, senior editor for Frontpagemag.com, recently co-authored One Party Classroom, which examines current scholarly indoctrination at major universities. It is the follow up to Horowitz’s Indoctrination U, in which he exposed many universities for violating academic standards. It reads like his previous work, The Professors, as it surveys 150 courses that follow a general rule: teach students what to think, not how to think.

Horowitz states that, “the roots of the present situation lie in the political history of the 1960s and its aftermath.” Many political activist students filtered into graduate school and are now running most of the departments throughout the country. Activist students at UC Santa Cruz were awarded Ph.D.’s for non-academic work, including Angela Davis, who was on the FBI’s most wanted list at one time, and Black Panther leader and felon, Huey Newton. This kind of activity led to a shifting viewpoint on education that the book exposes. Universities now embrace radical viewpoints in certain areas of study such as women’s studies, geography, African American studies, and sociology. Many of these courses are described as part of “a political movement.”

The authors understand that all professors are going to have a bias of some kind. The problem is that they let this bias run their classroom, which leads to a lack of professionalism on many campuses. When controversial subjects are only taught from one perspective, it no longer promotes independent and critical thinking.

A sociology course at the University of Colorado (as well as others in this study) uses Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Nickel and Dimed, which is an attack on capitalism. Adam Shepard, who was assigned this book in school, set out to disprove the entire premise. He began at a homeless shelter with $25 in his pocket and wanted to see where he would be in a year without using his know contacts or mentioning his college degree. By the end of one year he had a job, truck, and $5,000 in savings. Ehrenrich’s faulty book is required (because it comports with the radical thoughts of the professors) and is presented as fact in many courses Horowitz and Laksin examine.

For the most part, the courses in question address problems the faculties believe are socially constructed. These courses usually include black studies, sociology and feminist studies. All of the research presented in these fields concludes that men (or specifically white men) oppress certain races or genders. However, there is no intellectual question explored, as the classes push such ideologies as pure fact.

Horowitz and Laksin never insinuate that such subjects should not be taught, but rather two sides of scholarly views should equally balance them. John K. Wilson, writer for the Illinois Academe (read his review here), feels that One Party Classroom is trying to suppress liberal speech altogether. He states that, “One-Party Classroom is a perfect example of why uneducated outsiders such as Horowitz should not be able to decide what courses qualify as academic.” Anyone who has read Horowitz or heard him speak knows he is not against suppressing speech at all. The accusation is ironic as everywhere Horowitz goes to speak, there are people who try to censor him.

He was recently at the University of Texas when the usual heckling took place (full article here). He was called out for heading “witch hunts” in the McCarthyian sense. Horowitz recently sat down with me for an interview, when asked about this he replied, “they describe themselves.” The reaction to his new book speaks loudly of the “fairminded” professors who don’t want to teach but rather preach. Instead of trying to prove their innocence, many professors would rather dismiss Horowitz by calling him names instead of opening a useful discussion.

One Party Classroom will leave you no longer wondering why questionable professors like inconsiderate “scholar” Ward Churchill and domestic terrorist William Ayers even have jobs. It is no secret that universities have increasingly been moving to the left and Horowitz and Laksin expose why, if left alone, higher education is on the brink of disaster.

Chris Yogerst is currently pursuing a master's degree in critical studies in film and television from Regent University. He holds a B.A. from The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in film studies and English.

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