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Out of Ivy By: Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, April 20, 2006


Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Travis Rowley, a Rhode Islander and recent Brown University graduate. He is the author of the new book Out of Ivy: How a Liberal Ivy Created a Committed Conservative.

 

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FP: Travis Rowley, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Rowley: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

FP: Your book Out of Ivy offers us a unique inside look behind the walls of an Ivy League institution. Before we get into the details, can you give us a background on yourself and what propelled you to write this book?

Rowley: Sure. I am from Narragansett, RI, and a graduate of a highly competitive, all-boys, Catholic preparatory high school. From there, I was recruited to play football for Brown University, and I jumped on the opportunity to play college football within the Ivy League. That is, in fact, an important piece of information when talking about Out of Ivy.

Within the book, I try to stress the fact that I arrived at Brown with very little political knowledge or interest. I was a straight-A student, but I was an athlete more than anything else. I was equipped only with the values I had learned through Catholicism and athletics, but my personal belief system was something that I had never really thought too much about. I was never really forced to defend it, but at Brown that's exactly what I found myself doing. In many ways, my alma mater endorses the exact opposite of everything I was brought up to believe in. Being so politically and intellectually ignorant on so many popular campus topics, I was forced to sit back and keep my mouth shut-which was difficult for me because I was also a very opinionated and competitive individual. Somehow I ended up as a controversial opinion columnist for the university newspaper, and I thought my story would make for a pretty interesting book. I was a young, opinionated, right-minded athlete who was unexpectedly thrown into one of the nation's most passionately liberal institutions. Out of Ivy is not only an inside look at elite academia, it's also a microcosm of America's ongoing culture wars. It's an opportunity for people to better understand the sharp contrast between liberalism and conservatism.

FP: Tell us a bit more about how you started off as a politically apathetic student and ended up confronting Brown's campus left.

Rowley: I was a junior by the time I finally decided to criticize particular segments of the campus. Again, I was a football player, and that took up a lot of my time. So rather than immediately join some leftist student-group, I was forced to be a spectator of campus activism at first. There was always a lot of controversy on Brown's campus, and I spent a lot of time observing the behavior of my classmates. I had an immediate repulsion to them for a lot of reasons. It wasn't that I was pro-life, and they were pro-choice. Or that I was against affirmative action, and they were in favor of it. Those weren't even opinions that I had formed or cared about. My objection to liberal activism was more about my classmates' zealotry, and the fact that I knew I was forbidden to disagree or disapprove of them. In other words, I had a negative reaction to the ethic and demeanor of liberals before I even disagreed with liberal thought. I found Brown's leading liberal forces to be deviant, oppressive, and improper before I reached any other conclusions. Ironically, they were viciously labeling everyone but themselves as mean, dumb, and racist. But I saw it in reverse. In fact, Out of Ivy documents the campus left's hypocrisy, and their readiness to lie, smear, stereotype, and discriminate-all accompanied by their assertion that they were the fluffy-hearted champions of tolerance and understanding.

The incident that triggered my involvement in campus controversies was the 2000 presidential election. Some Brown students, including members of the Brown Democrats and the International Socialist Organization, traveled down to President Bush's Inauguration to protest his controversial victory. When they returned to Providence they were bragging about giving President Bush the middle finger as he walked by them. The entire campus seemed to think of them as heroes returning from some sort of glorious charge against evil. But again, I saw it in reverse. So I wrote an opinion piece for the Brown Daily Herald that condemned the protest, and very simply observed the indecency of flicking off the President of the United States. The reaction to my column was unbelievable. I received harassing phone calls, and was repeatedly called a racist, a sexist, and a homophobe-for saying that you shouldn't give the President the finger!

As it turned out, this over-reaction to what I saw as an opinion grounded in decency and common sense was typical liberal temperament. Brown's campus left wasn't much different from many other leftist groups. They made it a habit to smear anyone who disagreed with them on any issue. And from that point on, I considered myself engaged in a battle with campus liberals. I continued to criticize them, and tried to discover the roots of their behavior and beliefs. And because I suddenly found myself in the middle of campus controversies, I was also forced to quickly define my own values in order to argue effectively against them. Here is where readers are able to follow the political development of a politically naïve student, armed only with gut feelings and his own personal sense of right and wrong.

FP: What would you say are the key ingredients of leftist ideology?

Rowley: The immediate ones that come to mind are Hypocrisy, the belief that there are one set of rules for leftists, and another set for everyone else. And Elitism, a sense that they are not only smarter than everyone else, but are inherently more caring than the populace, and that they are the only ones who feel passionate about their beliefs. But I truly believe that the underlying driving force behind leftist philosophy is a disdain for America. In fact, the entire book leads up to this one conclusion. The book is peppered with entertaining stories about my clashes with various components of the campus left, but that's merely the setting I have used to deliver the more important message concerning the intentions of hard-core liberalism. Brown's campus left wasn't made up of mild American liberals. This is the Far Left we're talking about. They are much more devious than the person who simply believes in taxing the wealthy a little more than we tax the poor. I didn't know it at the time, but I was arguing with Communists, Marxists, anti-Christians, and anti-Americans. Hatred for America was a very difficult scheme to decipher for a politically ignorant student, but I eventually found the campus left to be operating off of the intellectual premise that American liberty, Christianity, capitalism, and the United States were the root causes of all world tragedies.

To prove this, the campus left made a tireless and incessant effort to undermine America by constantly reminding everyone of certain people's claim to victim-hood, oppression caused by the American system. Homosexuals were victims. Minorities were victims. Women were victims. Muslims were victims. Indians were victims. Anyone who dared to question this premise-that certain people were injured by America's past and present-was doomed for what liberals saw as the appropriate social consequences. Their problem was, that once they marked particular people as victims, they were forced to point out the perpetrators who had inflicted such harm. If you listened closely, you would hear them saying that it was straight, white, and patriotic Christians who were to blame-the American mainstream. 9/11 couldn't have more perfectly demonstrated the reason why liberals fought so hard to maintain an image of victim-hood for certain types of people.

They desired to create a natural impulse for everyone that would prompt them to blame their own country at any turn of tragedy. I was a senior when the World Trade Center was bombed, and no other event could have exposed leftist intentions better than an incident that prompted America to defend itself. Only a few days after the terrorist attacks Brown professors and students, fearing our military retaliation, began to assert our role in causing the attacks. They were unashamedly screaming that we deserved what happened to us, that America was also a terrorist state, and that America causes pain and suffering throughout the world.

FP: Tell us your thoughts on David Horowitz's fight for academic freedom. What do you think about the academic bill of rights and the whole battle overall to bring intellectual diversity to the campus?

Rowley:  I've always kept an eye on Mr. Horowitz and his skirmishes with campus radicals. Actually, Mr. Horowitz's clash with Brown's campus left in 2001-concerning reparations for slavery-was one of the events that inspired me to pay more attention to my alma mater's political climate. No other event could have more perfectly exposed the type of dishonest political games Brown students are taught to play, and just how far the University is willing to go to enslave the minds of its students.

That's why I chronicle the Horowitz controversy -- as it's called at Brown -- in Out of Ivy. When Mr. Horowitz was finally allowed to speak at my alma mater in 2003 he told the audience that you can't get a good education when your school is only telling you one half of the story. That statement made so much sense to me. Most of all, it seemed to be a statement of humility, asserting that nobody has a monopoly over truth. I found this to be the exact opposite attitude of Brown's liberals. Up until that point, anyone who disagreed with them on any issue was deemed stupid or racist -- no questions asked. Mr. Horowitz's lecture was a deep breath of fresh air to Brown conservatives, despite the fact that the campus had to be dragged through one of the most venomous debates ever seen on Providence's College Hill. It actually prompted a handful of recent alumni to form the Foundation for Intellectual Diversity, an organization dedicated to continuing the fight for intellectual tolerance on Brown's campus.

Because I've seen the problems Mr. Horowitz speaks of first hand, I find it difficult to disagree with him on these issues. He seems to have a firm grasp on the history and evolution of higher education. What I have attempted to do with Out of Ivy is take readers through the halls of one elite university, with the hope that it will be a testament to what Mr. Horowitz has been saying all along about the sad state of the academy. His academic bill of rights is hardly an extreme proposition. It may be revolutionary, but not extreme. It's a principled stance that merely reminds campus citizens that colleges are not supposed to be political parties. Students should not be coerced into thinking a certain way by professors who constantly demonize particular political figures, and mock certain political ideals. Professors aren't paid to dismiss their students into political rallies that conflict with class time. Tuition payments have never been paid to ensure that students can go to class to learn what a horrible nation they live in. Aside from the importance of the call for intellectual diversity that would counter leftist philosophy, Mr. Horowitz has also been pointing out that a college classroom has a unique and specific purpose, one that doesn't include political indoctrination. Yet, Mr. Horowitz encounters such fierce opposition on nearly every college campus precisely because universities are exactly what he accuses them of being. The intellectual dominion leftists have on these campuses is crucial to the survival of their agendas. The last thing they need is honest and open debate, and for leftist professors to be restricted from corrupting the education of their students.

FP: Travis Rowley, thank you for joining us today.

Rowley: Thanks for having me.

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Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.


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