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Discounting the Facts, Part II By: Jacob Laksin
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, June 15, 2006


Anatole Anton
Bettina Aptheker
Regina Austin
David Barash
Marc Becker

The following are specific responses to the book regarding individual professors profiled in its pages:

Anatole Anton

Mr. Horowitz does not provide a single footnote in his chapter on Anatole Anton and nothing in this chapter addresses Professor Anton’s research or teaching.

Here is how Professor Anton is introduced in The Professors: Professor Anton is co-coordinator of the Radical Philosophy Association, an anti-capitalist group of Marxist professors who "believe that fundamental change requires broad social upheavals but also opposition to intellectual support for exploitative and dehumanizing social structures, [including] capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, disability discrimination, environmental ruin, and all other forms of domination." [11] Note that the Radical Philosophy Association presents itself as a professional association of philosophers and that Anatole Anton is an official of this organization. If this isn’t evidence of a confusion between scholarship and activism, what is?

Mr. Horowitz claims that the Radical Philosophy Association "opposes U.S. economic and military aid to Israel, on grounds that such aid is ‘perceived’ as supporting ‘the enem[y] of Muslim nations.’" Mr. Horowitz cites no evidence to back up this claim. Professor Schmitt [who is a member of the RPA and has volunteered this comment] responds, the "RPA has no position on aid to Israel that I know of. I am quite certain that we have no position on supporting ‘Muslim nations.’"

It may be technically true that the RPA has no official position on divestment from Israel, but the RPA’s official internet listserve routinely circulates anti-Israel divestment petitions. This appears to be a distinction without a difference. A review of the RPA’s official website further refutes Professor Schmitt’s claim that the RPA takes no position on Muslim nations. Writings that appear on the RPA’s official website echo the views of extremist author William Blum in describing the American policy toward Muslim nations as seeking the "indiscriminate killing of Muslims"; depict Islamic terrorism as the creation of the United States; and oppose on any grounds all forms of military intervention against "Muslim nations." To the extent that no contrary perspectives on Muslim nations are offered, it seems fair to describe these views as reflecting official RPA policy.

Mr. Horowitz claims, "the Radical Philosophy Association supports Cuba’s Communist dictatorship." Mr. Horowitz cites no evidence to back up this claim. Professor Schmitt responds, "Some people in RPA support Cuba; others do not."

According to its own website, the RPA beginning in 1990, has been the principal organizer of an annual conference in Havana "that has helped to try to undermine the U.S. blockade of Cuba by establishing contacts between Cuban and North American philosophers and social scientists." [12] This is not only an official endorsement of Cuba’s position on relations with the U.S., but it is also an effective endorsement of the Cuban dictatorship’s ban on independent scholarship.

Mr. Horowitz only quotes half of the RPA’s mission statement. The full mission statement reads: "Our efforts are guided by the vision of a society founded on cooperation instead of competition, in which all areas of society are, as far as possible, governed by democratic decision-making. We believe that fundamental change requires broad social upheavals but also opposition to intellectual support for exploitative and dehumanizing social structures." [emphasis added] The second half of Mr. Horowitz’s quote is spliced in from another section of the RPA website, through the use of the word "[including]."

The expanded mission statement serves only to obscure the fact that the RPA believes in, among other ambitious goals, the overthrow of capitalism and the engineering of human nature in accordance with its utopian goals. As the evidence of the last century attests, these goals, when implemented, have without exception resulted in the establishment of totalitarian regimes and the deaths of millions of victims of those regimes. The RPA’s attempt to frame its radical revolutionary mission as an expression of democratic ideals is a familiar propaganda tactic employed by radicals to rehabilitate their historically discredited political vision.

These are all the claims made against the profile of Anatole Anton in The Professors.

Bettina Aptheker

Mr. Horowitz claims that Professor Aptheker "deeply regretted" the fall of the Soviet system. Professor Aptheker responds, "When socialism ended in the Soviet Union and other European countries, I regretted that the movements to create a democratic and humane socialism had failed. I opposed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, for example, in 1968 while a member of the National Committee of the U.S. Communist Party."

In short, Professor Aptheker agrees that she expressed regret at the collapse of the totalitarian Soviet regime responsible for the deaths of millions. How exactly is this a refutation of David Horowitz’s charge?

Mr. Horowitz claims that Professor Aptheker was "expelled from the Communist Party in 1991 after the failed coup against Gorbachev." Professor Aptheker responds, "I was a member of the Communist Party from 1962 to October 1981 (not 1991). I left the Party because of profound disagreements with it, most especially on the issue of women’s liberation."

Professor Aptheker may well have left the Communist Party in 1981, and if so the book is mistaken on this point. However, this error by no means misrepresents Professor Aptheker’s political views. Professor Aptheker is a member of the Central Committee of the "Committees of Correspondence" a Communist splinter group led by Angela Davis, her faculty colleague at the University of California, Santa Cruz. As Professor Aptheker also noted in her 1989 book, Tapestries of Life, "temperamentally, I am a communist." [13]

Mr. Horowitz claims that Professor Aptheker "authored an article in The Wave pledging support for Palestinian terrorists, whom she euphemistically described as ‘antioccupation activists.’" Professor Aptheker responds, "I have never, ever supported or called for the support of terrorists, Palestinian or otherwise. [emphasis added] The reference quoted was not to Palestinians but to Israelis active in the effort to end the occupation of Palestinian territories."

This is a transparent deception. In the referenced article, she clearly expresses support for both Israeli and Palestinian "activists," many of whom not only work in support of Palestinian terrorist groups but are themselves frequently members of those same groups, and who consider the killing of Israeli civilians a legitimate method of ending "the occupation of Palestinian territories." In the same article, Professor Aptheker sympathetically describes the First Intifada -- the Palestinian uprising categorized by terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians -- as an insurgency against "oppression."

Mr. Horowitz claims that Professor Aptheker "informed [UCSC] students" that "‘our agenda should be to overthrow Bush.’" Professor Aptheker responds, "I am inaccurately quoted: I called for the overthrow of George W. Bush ‘by all constitutional and democratic means up to and including impeachment.’" Mr, Horowitz fails to note that Professor Aptheker made these comments outside of the classroom.

Professor Aptheker is accurately quoted, at least if the 2003 report filed in the UCSC campus newspaper is any guide ("Hundreds gather for teach-in about the war" April 7, 2003). There Professor Aptheker is quoted as saying that "[o]ur agenda should be to overthrow Bush." There is no mention of any reference to "constitutional or democratic means." Furthermore, Professor Aptheker’s complaint elides the reason her 2003 remarks were quoted in the book --- they were part of a broader and more fanatical tirade against the Bush administration. As noted in The Professors:

Appearing at an April 2003 faculty teach-in against the Iraq war, Aptheker proclaimed, "This was in Iraq is an obscenity." Aptheker also claimed to see similarities between the political strategies of the United States under George W. Bush and those of Nazi-era Germany. "We should make no mistake between the kinds of diplomacy Hitler's regime engaged in during the 1930s and the kinds of diplomacy the Bush administration has engaged in. There are direct parallels, and it's very frightening," said Aptheker. "Our agenda should be to overthrow Bush," she informed UCSC students. [14]

As the above excerpt demonstrates, The Professors makes very clear that Professor Aptheker delivered these remarks at a campus teach in, refuting the Free Exchange authors’ false claim that the book "fails to note that Professor Aptheker made these comments outside of the classroom." If the Free Exchange authors further mean to imply that Professor Aptheker keeps her extreme political views separate from her role as an academic, they are profoundly mistaken. For instance, as The Professors details, Aptheker charged in the Summer 2003 issue of The Wave, the newsletter of the UCSC Women’s Studies Department, that the Bush administration is "[i]mplementing a proto-fascist program of racist abuse directed especially toward peoples of Arab heritage, while giving license to the worst forms of persecution of all peoples of color…" [15]

Mr. Horowitz claims that Professor Aptheker "does not have a single work of reputable scholarship to her name," dismissing her highly regarded work Woman’s Legacy: Essays on Race, Sex, and Class in American History as "ostensibly scholarly." Aside from a quote from the poet Adrienne Rich, Mr. Horowitz does not cite any evidence to back up his dismissal of Professor Aptheker’s book Woman’s Legacy as "ostensibly scholarly." Professor Aptheker responds, "this was a scholarly book. It was, in fact, my dissertation. The members of my dissertation committee at the University of California (Santa Cruz) were Hayden White, a world-renowned historian; Donna Haraway, a world-renowned scholar in the history of science; and Diane Lewis, a professor of medical anthropology with a particular emphasis on African American communities. "The book was widely and favorably reviewed, including in the Journal of American History and the American Historical Review (although this reviewer was critical of some aspects of the book) … It was published by the University of Massachusetts Press, and, of course, refereed by scholars in the field, as are all such university press books." Professor Aptheker adds, "I am also the author of another book called Tapestries of Life: Women’s Work, Women’s Consciousness and the Meaning of Daily Existence (University of Massachusetts Press, 1989), which is often used as a text in many women’s studies and critical gender studies courses, and remains in print."

This catalogue of testimonials merely shows how extensive and profound is the corruption of academic life. A collection of essays is not a PhD dissertation, except in a corrupted academic environment like that at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The description of Woman’s Legacy as an "ostensibly scholarly effort" is an accurate description of Professor Aptheker’s book. A scholarly treatment of the American women’s movement would not begin, as Professor Aptheker’s book does, by tendentiously hailing its subject for "challenging both the patriarchal and class relations of property which for so long have determined women’s destiny" as well as glowingly praising those feminists who "have a commitment to Marxist theory and Socialist praxis". [16] Nor would it make the patently polemical claim that "male supremacy" permeates "all our institutions and all areas of life, and is especially pervasive within the family," as Woman’s Legacy does in its very first chapter. [17] And no serious scholar would advance the claim that the oppression of women and blacks in the United States is "rooted in the historical development of capitalism in the United States," only to justify this dubious assertion by pointing to her "Marxist point of view." [18] The Professors is thus amply justified in calling Women’s Legacy "little more than a review of Aptheker’s politics," especially since Professor Aptheker makes a similar admission in her book, where she writes that it was "incited by some aspect of my political activism". [19] Perhaps Professor Aptheker puts it best: "This work then is not academic or scholarly in the sense of being remote from my life and my political commitments…it is also partisan, activist, and inherently autobiographical." [20]

The fact that Hayden White, a Marxist professor of Comparative Literature; Donna Haraway, a feminist and self-described neo-Marxist; and Diane Lewis, whose scholarship focuses on "ethnicity, gender, and class structure" all considered Woman’s Legacy a genuine contribution to scholarship is hardly mysterious. The same can be said of the fact that Professor Aptheker’s Tapestries of Life is assigned as a text in women’s studies courses. Since these courses have a frankly political agenda, it is no surprise that they assign texts with frankly political agendas like this one, whose author admits in her introductory chapter that a "lesbian sensibility," rather than any fealty to scholarly values like objectivity, "informs my core ideas." Doubtless this explains why women’s studies courses, which are aggressively ideological in their orientation, do not hesitate to assign books like Tapestries of Life.

Mr. Horowitz claims that Professor Aptheker’s "introductory course at U.C. Santa Cruz on feminism, which she has taught since 1980, turns Marx’s ‘historical materialism—the idea that society progresses through successive stages from feudalism to capitalism to socialism into a theory of sexuality, and turns sexuality into a species of political consciousness-raising." Mr. Horowitz cites no evidence to back up this claim. As Professor Aptheker points out, "Mr. Horowitz’s review of my course ‘Introduction to Feminisms’ bears virtually no resemblance to it. The course is an introductory survey (lower division) of feminist studies. It is interdisciplinary and covers a range of issues including women’s history, immigration and the global economy, violence against women, reproductive rights, Jewish women and the legacy of anti-Semitism (not every year but often), women’s body image, women’s health, and so on. There is one lecture devoted to sexuality, which includes lesbians as well as transgendered people, and others not in the normative mainstream."

Leaving aside the issues of immigration, global economy and anti-Semitism -- matters in which Aptheker, as a professor of Women’s Studies, has no professional expertise -- the so-called "interdisciplinary" issues taught by Professor Aptheker are unrelated except for the fact that they dovetail with her vision of feminist identity politics, which is, in fact, the underlying theme of the course. To describe it as a "species of political consciousness-raising" seems accurate.

Mr. Horowitz claims, "Aptheker’s course syllabus describes lesbianism as the ‘highest stage of feminism’ (an obvious homage to Lenin’s Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism)." Mr. Horowitz cites no evidence to back up this claim. Professor Aptheker responds, "the course syllabus has never described lesbians as ‘the highest stage’ of anything."

The author was shown a copy of Professor Aptheker’s course syllabus by one of her students. Perhaps she has changed the contents of the course since this student took the course. In any case, it remains, even in her present description, a course designed to indoctrinate students in a sectarian viewpoint. This is neither academic, nor scholarly, nor professional.

Mr. Horowitz claims that Professor Aptheker’s introductory course on feminism is "filmed at university expense." Mr. Horowitz cites no evidence to back up this claim. Professor Aptheker responds, "this course was filmed in its entirety, not with university funds but by private donations raised by alumni who initiated the request that it be filmed."

This is another exercise in deception. In addition to private funds, the project was sponsored by UCSC's Women’s Studies Department, which started a letter-writing campaign to raise money for the project, collecting at least $4,000. [21] This is university money that in turn went toward financing the filming of her course. In other words, it was filmed in part at university expense.

Mr. Horowitz writes that "on the website RateMyProfessors.com, one of Aptheker’s less than happy students complains that she focuses ‘way too much on personal history— relied on pseudo celebrity status to entertain the class.’" Professor Aptheker responds, "Student reviews of the course have been very positive both online and in the official evaluations the university conducts. These too are available for public view. Some students are critical; most find the class very helpful. I received a Distinguished Teaching Award from the UCSC Alumni Association in 2001." Professor Aptheker adds, "and yes, I do share personal stories, and stories."

This is further support for the portrait of corruption in the contemporary academy set forth in The Professors and it is difficult to explain its inclusion in a report purporting to analyze its errors.

These are all the claims made by "Facts Count" and Professor Aptheker against profile of Professor Aptheker in The Professors.

Regina Austin

Mr. Horowitz claims that, "Asked in a 1999 interview to describe how she views her

role as a legal scholar, Professor [Regina] Austin answered that it ‘should start with the premise that black people are at the center of the universe and go on from there.’" Mr. Horowitz fails to note that the question Professor Austin was responding to was, "how do you believe the work of a minority feminist legal scholar should be different from other scholars?" In his retelling, Mr. Horowitz leaves out the words "feminist," "minority," and the fact that the Professor Austin was being asked a question specifically about how her work "should be different from other scholars." Then, in Professor Austin’s answer, Mr. Horowitz leaves out her qualifying statement: "That’s not to say other people are excluded. It’s simply to say that we all start somewhere…."

There are many ways to answer the question put to Professor Austin that do not start with one racial group at the center of the universe. Moreover, Professor Austin’s work – which is based on critical race theory – is an exemplification of exactly this attitude. The additional context in no way undermines the point of the quote as recorded in The Professors, namely that Professor Austin sees her role as an academic as advancing a political perspective, whether as a "feminist" or as a "minority". If anything, the expanded quotation reinforces it. Given that Professor Austin describes the premise of her work as being "that black people are at the center of the universe" -- an explicitly race-centric platform that the authors of the report apparently consider appropriate for a university professor -- her claim that it does not exclude others is self-negating.

These are all the claims made by "Facts Count" against the profile of Regina Austin in The Professors.

David Barash

Mr. Horowitz claims that Professor David Barash’s co-author, Professor Charles Webel, teaches at the University of California-Berkeley. Professor Webel is not now and has never been a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. As his co-author Professor David Barash points out, this is "a fact Mr. Horowitz could have learned had he bothered to read the ‘about the authors’ page."

It is David Barash who needs to reacquaint himself with his own book. The "about the authors" page in Professors Barash and Webel’s text Peace and Conflict Studies, notes that Professor Webel "has taught at the University of California at Berkeley." [22] A biography of the authors used by several leading book distributors, including Amazon.com, lists Professor Webel’s position as "lecturer in the School of Social Welfare at Berkeley." It may well be the case that Professor Webel is no longer a teacher at Berkeley. But he was, apparently, when he wrote the book and considering that even one of the largest book sellers made this mistake, and that Webel is not the subject of this profile, the error is trivial.

Mr. Horowitz claims that Professor David Barash "is not a trained historian, economist, or sociologist but a psychologist, while his co-author Professor Webel is a philosopher. Consequently, the text they have written is not only ideologically one-sided, it is professionally incompetent." (41)

Professor Barash responds, "There is nothing whatsoever inappropriate about a psychologist and a philosopher writing a text on peace studies, especially since there are virtually no Ph.D. programs in the field; hence, there are very few people with doctoral degrees in Peace Studies. The book’s legitimacy can be judged, at least in part, by the fact—acknowledged by Mr. Horowitz—that it is widely used throughout the country.

"Moreover, I have written 25 books relevant to peace studies, including Understanding Violence (Allyn & Bacon), Approaches to Peace (Oxford), Introduction to Peace Studies (Wadsworth), and The Arms Race and Nuclear War (Wadsworth). I’d guess that most academics – regardless of their politics – have if anything fewer professional qualifications to teach their subjects."

Professor Barash is actually an academically trained animal biologist (and psychologist), which makes his argument even more unconvincing. A reasonable expectation for an academic field centering on the complex matters of war and peace is that the professors tasked with its instruction have an academic background in related scholarly disciplines. Professors Barash and Webel do not. Instead, they are representative of the widespread tendency in modern academia to teach political ideology at the expense of disinterested scholarship. Certainly this is the conclusion one must draw from tendentiously one-sided texts like the authors’ Peace and Conflict Studies. It is similarly false to claim, as Professor Barash does, that the widespread use of his book in Peace Studies programs is in any sense an accurate measure of its academic legitimacy. If anything, it is but further confirmation of the extent to which fields like Peace Studies are prepared to redefine highly debatable political opinions as a form of acceptable scholarship.

Mr. Horowitz claims that in Professor David Barash’s book Peace and Conflict Studies, "No indication is provided to the uninformed student that these might be extreme views, nor is there any indication that there are other possible ways to view these issues." Professor Barash responds that to the contrary, "We [the authors] make a conscious effort to provide alternative views throughout the book." The authors are frank about their own perspective; in the introduction, they write, "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."

The criticism in The Professors stands. The authors’ description of their perspective is at once self-serving and specious. No thinking individual would describe themselves as reflexively in favor of war and violence or, conversely, opposed to the environment, human rights, peace, or progress. Yet the authors’ suggest that only their left-wing political agenda is compatible with these social goods without acknowledging the fact that one may have different solutions -- including, on occasion, war -- while aspiring to the same ends. Put another way, they obscure the complexity surrounding issues of war and peace and provide no "indication that there are other possible ways to view these issues." The text itself is innocent of references that would contradict its leftwing views.

Mr. Horowitz claims that, in Professor David Barash’s book Peace and Conflict Studies, "the Cuban Missile Crisis is discussed without the authors ever mentioning the cause of the crisis—the Soviet missiles." To the contrary, Professor Barash points out, "the first mention of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the book begins, ‘The most dramatic example of nuclear chicken occurred during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the Soviet Union attempted to install medium-rage nuclear missiles in Cuba."

David Horowitz has already addressed this criticism in an article for FrontPageMag.com, writing: "In fact, Barash and his co-author do attribute the Cuban Missile Crisis to Kennedy bravado, as the passage from his text that I actually quoted in The Professors shows. However, the Soviet missile buildup in Cuba is also mentioned in Barash’s book in a paragraph about the crisis, which is separated by a hundred pages from the one I quoted – which is why I missed it. On the one hand, Barash is right that I did miss that second passage. On the other, this passage only reinforces the comments I made about Barash’s text. In discussing the emplacement missiles (in a sentence or two), Barash and his co-author minimize its significance as a factor in the crisis in order to 1) present the confrontation from the perspective of the Soviet dictatorship and 2) adopt a stance of moral equivalence that will discredit the policies and position of the United States."

Mr. Horowitz quotes Professor Barash as writing, "’To a very large extent, the problem of world hunger is not so much a production problem, so much as it is a distribution problem.’" Mr. Horowitz then writes, "What the authors mean by this is that poverty is caused by the private property system and free market capitalism which results in economic inequality and that its cure is socialism which redistributes income." Mr. Horowitz cites no authorities or quotations to back up his interpretation of "what the authors mean.

This criticism conspicuously ignores the fact that The Professors proceeds to enlarge on this very observation, citing Professor Barash’s views in Peace and Conflict Studies. The book notes that: "[t]he Peace and Conflict Studies text relentlessly condemns the economic inequalities that characterize market systems, even though these systems are responsible for prodigious agricultural surpluses and for raising billions of people out of poverty, facts the authors systematically ignore. The authors also ignore the question of whether providing economic incentives to the creative and the productive, which results in this inequality isn’t worth the cost. Instead, the authors identify the culprits responsible for world poverty (and thus for the conflicts this suffering causes) in terms that would have pleased Marx and Lenin: ‘The greed of agribusiness shippers and brokers, plus control of land by a small elite leaves hundreds of millions of people hungry every day.’" [23]

In sum, the authors view the institution of private property and the free-market economy more broadly as leading causes of poverty, an assessment that can reasonably be classified as socialist. It is difficult to see what sin the book has committed in calling attention to this simple fact.

Mr. Horowitz quotes Professor David Barash as writing that terrorism is "’a contemporary variant of what has been described as guerrilla warfare, dating back at least to the anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist struggles for national liberation conducted in North America and Western Europe during the late 18th and early 19th centuries against the British and French Empires.’" Mr. Horowitz then writes, "In other words, the American Founders were terrorists, and the terrorists in Iraq can be viewed as patriots (as radicals like Michael Moore have actually described them)." Mr. Horowitz cites no evidence, his own opinions notwithstanding, that Professor Barash views the Founding Fathers as "terrorists" and the terrorists in Iraq as "patriots." Professor Barash affirms, "We don’t say that the ‘insurgents’ in Iraq can be viewed as patriots … although in fact, we suspect that many of them do view themselves that way."

David Horowitz’s analysis of the authors’ writings is accurate. The authors seem incapable of distinguishing between genuine national liberation movements, such as the American revolution to establish democracy, and terrorist campaigns conducted against civilians and civilian infrastructure in order to prevent the emergence of democratic government. Instead, they regard all guerilla movements, regardless of their tactics or motives, as essentially the same. This is precisely the kind of simplistic and simple-minded logic that leads less sophisticated political radicals like Michael Moore to describe Iraqi terrorists as the equivalent of American patriots. Contrary to David Barash’s claim, David Horowitz accuses neither him nor his co-author of specifically making this comparison. He merely points out that, in a work of ostensible scholarship, they endorse the exact line of reasoning on which it rests. In fact, The Professors shows that they go further than that, openly proclaiming themselves adherents of the moral equivalency that "one person’s ‘terrorist’ is another’s ‘freedom fighter.’" [24]

Mr. Horowitz quotes Professor David Barash, "’For many frustrated, impoverished, infuriated people—who view the United States as a terrorist country—attacks on American civilians were justified in precisely this way: making no distinction between a "terrorist state" and the citizens who aid and abet the state.’" Mr. Horowitz then writes, "In other words, America is a terrorist state and the terrorists are liberators of the world’s oppressed." Again, Mr, Horowitz cites no evidence, other than his own opinion, that Professor Barash actually believes "America is a terrorist state and the terrorists are liberators of the world’s oppressed." Professor Barash responds, "again, note his ‘in other words’ ploy. We said that ‘For many frustrated, impoverished, infuriated people—who view the United States as a terrorist country,’ not that the U.S. is a terrorist country! We stand by what we said: many people around the world do in fact view the U.S. as a terrorist country. That’s a big problem for us, and one that Mr. Horowitz not only refuses to confront (his right), but one that he would deny our students the opportunity to confront …and to this he has no right."

Professor Barash, as he admits, considers the criticism of the United States as a "terrorist state" substantive and important enough to merit a discussion not only in his books but also in his classes. It may well be true that anti-American terrorists see the United States in just this way. Of course, they also see killing Americans, Jews and all non-Muslims more generally as the religious obligation of all devout Muslims. But Professor Barash does not appear to be advocating greater debate on this topic. The fact that Professor Barash sees the first of these as a subject ripe for classroom inquiry suggests that he attributes to it a certain plausibility. Reinforcing this impression is everything Professor Barash writes in his text about capitalism and American foreign policy.

These are all the charges made by "Facts Count" and Professor Barash against the profile of Professor Barash in The Professors.

Marc Becker

Mr. Horowitz criticizes Professor Marc Becker for making "numerous trips to condemn ‘Western intrusion’ in Ecuador," because, according to Mr. Horowitz, Ecuador is "one of Latin America’s most stable democracies." Professor Becker responds, "next to Haiti and Bolivia, Ecuador is the least stable democracy in Latin America."

The state of Ecuador’s political affairs may be debatable, but it is hardly critical to the profile of Professor Becker in The Professors. What it is critical, and what he seems unwilling to defend, is the fact the he frequently interjects stories about his participation in protests against free trade for Latin America into his course about Latin American history at Truman State University, a classic example of the kind of politically inspired pedagogy critiqued in the book. Professor Becker’s objections would be more convincing if they centered on the substance of that critique rather than differences of opinion of only marginal relevance.

Mr. Horowitz accuses Professor Marc Becker of harboring "antipathy toward the United States." Professor Becker responds, "Although I am clearly and unequivocally opposed to the current Bush administration’s policies of imperial aggression and violations of constitutional and international law, it is unclear how that translates into an antipathy toward the United States itself…. I value an active and engaged citizenship, and through my words and actions attempt to model behaviors to realize Truman State University’s goal of cultivating students who aspire ‘toward the best for oneself, one’s family, one’s society, and the world.’"

Professor Becker asserts that the charge of "antipathy toward the United States" rests on his declared aversion for the Bush administration and its policies. But his views of the Bush administration are nowhere mentioned in the profile. What is mentioned is his belief that Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America "launched an era of modern colonialism, rape, pillage, genocide, cultural destruction, slavery, economic and environmental devastation." [25] In so far as Professor Becker’s revisionism aggressively exaggerates America’s faults (and alleged faults) and finds no redeeming qualities in its history, it seems fair to adduce it as evidence of an "antipathy toward the United States."

Mr. Horowitz accuses Professor Becker and the other professors he profiles of "the explicit introduction of political agendas into the classroom." As an article in the Truman Index reported, when asked how he knew what went on in Professor Becker’s classroom, "Horowitz said he has not talked to any students of Becker, but he thinks it isn’t necessary because Becker makes his views and questions very clear on his website." Mr. Horowitz continued: "I don’t have to be in his class or interview somebody from his class to know that there’s something wrong here."

The words quoted here from The Professors -- "the explicit introduction of political agendas into the classroom" -- do not appear in Professor Becker’s profile. Nor is Professor Becker mentioned on the page from which the quote is taken. As it happens, Professor Becker does introduce his political agendas into the classroom, a fact revealed by the campus newspaper the Truman Index, which has reported:

Becker brings his passion for equality and justice to the campus and classrooms of the University. "He is so passionate about events and the role the U.S. has had in them," [one of his students] said. "He is an original thinker, unafraid to voice his opinions. I respect that." (emphasis added) [26]

Similar testimony comes from Professor Becker himself. On his homepage at Truman State University, Professor Becker has written: "While Horowitz condemns me for bringing my experiences on the streets of Latin America into a Missouri classroom, it is these direct observations which help me light a fire of passion for Latin American history among my students. Without such direct experiences, the educational experience would become much more akin to the filling of a pail." [27] As noted in The Professors, these "observations" amount to nothing more than Professor Becker’s recounting his participation in anti-free trade protests and his contempt for free-market capitalism.

A closing thought from Professor Becker… "As I note in my statement of teaching philosophy, ‘it is more important to teach students how to think than what to think.’ I maintain that it is important for professors to engage students ‘with alternative viewpoints that challenge existing assumptions and encourage critical thinking.’38 But I also provide students with tools and space to draw their own conclusions, even if it leads a student to the conclusion that Mr. Horowitz is right and my classrooms are indoctrination sessions."

Professor Becker’s description of his teaching methods obviously contradicts the teaching methods he employs in the classroom. How is a passionate commitment to one side of a controversial issue, when expressed by a teacher, compatible with this general statement of an educational philosophy? Either he acts as a professional and does not try to lead his students to conclusions on controversial issues in the classroom or he does.

These are all the charges that "Facts Count" and Professor Becker make against the profile of Professor Becker in The Professors.

To continue reading this article, click here.


Jacob Laksin is managing editor of Front Page Magazine. His email is jlaksin -at- gmail.com


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