During my appearance on the Hannity and Colmes Show to promote my new book, The Professors, Alan Colmes suggested I had “cherry-picked” the 101 professors I profiled, a charge made earlier by Michael Berube. The idea is that I combed faculties to find 101 aberrant professors and consequently my book mis-represents the state of affairs in the academy . Anyone who has actually read my book would know otherwise. I devote an entire chapter to explaining “Why The Professors Profiled In This Volume Are Representative.” I inform readers that I could just as easily have written a book about 1001 or 10,001 professors who abuse their classrooms, turning them into political soap boxes. In my book I estimate that there are 30,000 professors nationally who fit the profile of the professors included, which is a very conservative estimate. The figure is probably closer to 60,000. I explain why this is so in the book. However, as an impressive piece of anecdotal evidence, which is not in the book, I offer here an email I received from a Department Chair at the University of Michigan, who was not included in The Professors and wants to be, and who volunteers that there are “thousands” like him on faculties all over the country. This is a professor who thinks that Cuba is a “vibrant democracy” and its bankrupt economy a model for others, and who teaches a course in “Biology and Human Affairs” where he indoctrinates students in the glories of the totalitarian worldview:
From: John Vandermeer [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 09, 2006 10:45 AM
Subject: Appearance Inquiry
Dear Mr. Horowitz:
A friend forwarded to me your list of the 100 most dangerous professors. I must take issue with your decision on the people at the University of Michigan, where I am a professor of biology. You list Juan Cole and Gayle Rubin as the only two professors here who merit inclusion in your list. While I do agree that Juan and Gayle are certainly dangerous from your point of view, I must argue that I should be included at least on par with them, perhaps even more dangerous. Sometimes there is a tendency for people like you to ignore professors in the Natural Sciences as potentially subversive. This is a mistake in general, and especially a mistake in my case. Let me summarize my subversive activities.
I regularly teach a course entitled "biology and human affairs," and have been teaching this course for almost 30 years. It is a course that treats not only biology but the effects that various subjects in biology have on the human condition. Thus I present material related to genetics and race, the biology of race and gender and how that is relevant to affirmative action, questions of global warming and the Bush administration's foolish attempt to confuse the issue in the public's mind, questions of global hunger and European imperialism (including U.S. imperialism). In short, I cover all the material that would be undoubtedly offensive to the right wing of the country. Indeed, it has been rumored in the past that the course is informally known as "commie bio" amongst the general student body. How could that not be considered dangerous from your point of view. Every year I present this material to about 200 students. Why does this not qualify me for your list?
During the Reagan years, when the CIA was engaged in its illegal war against Nicaragua, I went to Nicaragua and taught agronomy students biology, attempting to help the struggling Sandinista government, and I have been vociferous in defense of Cuba’s right to exist and its impressive agricultural system, which I have seen first hand on several visits to that country. I also give talks around town about the Cuban agricultural system and its vibrant democracy, which I contrast with the moribund democratic system (at least that of which remains) of the United States.
I do hope you will reconsider and add my name to your list. I do realize that you have a big problem by restricting yourself to the 100 most dangerous professors when there are thousands of us all over the university system. But upon reflection I hope you will see that my record does indeed qualify me as dangerous. You may think that I am just an egomaniac, but I honestly think that I am more dangerous than either Juan or Gayle, and certainly more dangerous than Paul Ehrlich from Stanford.
Thank you for consideration of my request.
Margaret Davis Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology