If anyone has experienced every aspect of the political spectrum, it's David Horowitz. He started his young life, like many in the '50s, as a card-carrying communist, while he was a student at Columbia University.
Now that has changed. He's now a card-carrying conservative and the chief crusader for academic honesty for our students. He says his goal is to remove the political agenda from college campuses in general and from the classroom in particular. When he shows up at a university like UC Berkeley and other "bastions of leftist thinking," the activists swarm like bees to shout him down. That helps make his point: Too many colleges and universities are overrun by a group of simplistic, undereducated snobs who care only for the establishment of a super-left-wing ideology in this country. (This group includes both students and faculty.)
When young people leave college and get a job in the private sector, most lose their lust for super left politics and start moving toward the center.
They learn life is not all milk and honey to be laid in front of us for the picking by our politicians. We actually learn that working to produce a better life for yourself and others is much better than putting in a day's work only to have politicians take 90 percent of it to feed themselves and their lackeys, leaving you close to poverty.
David Horowitz is promoting a students' bill of rights requiring college instructors, from full professors to teacher aides, to stick to their areas of expertise in the classroom. It requires students to be graded on their academic merit and not on their political or religious beliefs (or lack of religious beliefs). The House has passed his bill; a similar bill is pending in the Senate.
Similar laws are pending in several states, including Pennsylvania, where a major battle is shaping up between those advocating total academic freedom and those calling for a propaganda-free education where all sides of an issue are explored in depth.
Horowitz outlined his program in a new book, "The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America." He claims the academics cited in his book push students to revolt and cause social problems in an effort to bring about a more socialist America. (Those cited by Horowitz in his book, by the way, are fighting back, claiming his research is filled with errors and fabrications.)
Horowitz's new book supporting the Academic Bill of Rights suggests two goals:
1. Remove political agendas from campus life and ensure students not face any discrimination because of their political leanings.
2. Require professors to stick to their areas of scholarly expertise in the classroom and to grade students on academic merit without consideration of their political leanings.
Academics believe Horowitz and the Congress are treading on the academic freedom guaranteed on a number of campuses through out the country. Even more worrisome to academics are states like Colorado, Ohio and Tennessee, where laws are pending to protect students from propagandizing professors.
When you talk to students at places like Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard and Yale, they'll tell you they take in what the professor is saying and write reports on what he wants to read. Occasionally professors with an ax to grind are found in places like Butte College or Chico State, but overall, these types of campuses tend to be less politically active and less politically correct.
Because there is less of a political agenda on more rural campuses, students actually acquire a better education than their peers at some of the more prestigious schools. A growing number of employers want students from smaller campuses because those students generally have a better work ethic. On smaller campuses, students tend to be more career-oriented and don't want to deal with politics.
What has the politically correct crowd worried is Horowitz' message is resonating with a growing group of students as he moves across the country. More students are standing up for what they believe is their right to a fair and propaganda-free education, as opposed to the political indoctrination handed out at some schools.
Last year, sophomore Alfred Fleuhr sued Penn State, saying he feared he would be punished if he expressed his conservative beliefs because the university would "view them as intolerant' under campus policies."
Penn State administrators also urged a campus Republican group to back away from a planned event to challenge illegal immigration because "many would find it offensive." Horowitz says a student at Northern Colorado University was told to write an essay on why President Bush is a war criminal. Instead, the student wrote an essay on why Saddam Hussein is a war criminal and got a failing grade.
Horowitz said when he talks to left-leaning academics the same way they talk to other people, they get offended. For the most part, that makes him feel good, because they rarely hear any criticism in the lofty towers of academia.
It's good to know Horowitz is out there telling students they have someone who is as well-educated as any academic with significantly more experience in the real world and a greater background bringing home the truth about life in America.
He founded Students for Academic Freedom, based in the nation's capital. He also founded the Center for Popular Culture in Los Angeles. Unlike most academics, Horowitz has seen it all. First communism then he "grew up." Now he's in academia's face, and they don't like it.
The Horowitz journey is one that even the intellectual snobs that populate "academia land" can appreciate. If they don't start backing off, Congress and the states will do it for them. All because David Horowitz stood up and told it like it is.
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