David Horowitz recently spoke about the importance of academic freedom at Washington University in St. Louis. Below, we reproduce a story about the speech from Washington U's official newspaper, Student Life, as well as a blog entry from an audience member written the day after the speech. -- The Editors.
Controversial Author Calls for More Conservative Faculty
by Alison Curran
Author and political commentator David Horowitz stirred emotions among the University audience Wednesday with his radical views on academic freedom. Horowitz, the second speaker in the fall Assembly Series, voiced his controversial opinions in regard to university education and the war on terror.
"You can't get a good education if they are only telling you half the story, even if you're paying $30,000 a year," Horowitz said. He linked a one-sided education for students at the University and elsewhere to the "dwindling minority" of conservative faculty members, labeling such an education an "utter disgrace." He noted that that such a system deprives all students of a decent liberal arts education.
Many professors abuse the classroom by introducing political agendas, Horowitz said. "Professors," he said, "should distinguish between their rights as a citizen and obligations as a teacher." Universities hire professors to teach students how to think, not what to think, Horowitz added.
Horowitz aimed to combat the injustices he sees in the academic arena with the Academic Bill of Rights he authored in 2003. The Academic Bill of Rights presents academic freedom and intellectual diversity as "values indispensable to the American university."
"I want to see integrity restored to academic institutions," Horowitz told his audience. Fixing the problem is as simple as eliminating political discrimination against students, Horowitz said. He stressed the need for trust between professors and students and proposed that professors mask political opinions in the classroom.
Horowitz also explored the topic of the current war on terrorism. "The Democratic party has gone so far off the deep end on its criticisms of George Bush, who has liberated 40-50 million Muslim people," Horowitz said. He told listeners he could not understand how one couldn't support America's war for freedom in Iraq.
Strong reactions from both students and staff were apparent throughout the presentation. Heads shook and spectators grumbled as Horowitz continued to describe the "serious problem" he feels Washington University has in offering students a liberal education, as well as while he shared his opinions on the current war in Iraq.
"I was a little disappointed that [Horowitz] didn't seem to stay on any particular topic," said senior Joe Adamson. In response to Horowitz's claims about Washington University, Adamson noted, "He didn't seem familiar with Wash. U. and just assumed that we are similar to Penn State and Ohio State. We have a much different culture and he had no backing for that charge."
Other students found the Academic Bill of Rights interesting.
"I think his idea for a student bill of rights is good, but he was too extreme," said freshman Rita McNamara.
Horowitz hosted a book signing following his presentation and then a hour long discussion session to continue conversation with audience members. Horowitz spoke as the second of 11 scheduled speakers for the 2005 Fall Assembly Series. He will be followed by Hernando de Soto on Monday, September 19.
Yesterday was an interesting day. Snake and I went to this. I mostly went for the fireworks, which we got. The place is a chapel, with the grandest set of organ pipes I've ever seen. Not only that, there was an organist for gods sake, who started playing several minutes before the proceedings. David Horowitz, in a church, Bach in the background being played on the fanciest organ west of the Mississippi. That in itself is worth the price of admission. (Of course, the whole time I was wishing it were Rick Wakeman I was there to see, belting out The Six Wives of Henry VIII.) So, the fireworks. No pies, but a physics professor allowed himself to be drawn in by Horowitz and proceeded to make an ass of himself. Horowitz is like some fire and brimstone preacher, extremely passionate, and mincing no words. He starts out by saying he's going to tick people off, then proceeds to do so. It's like watching a train wreck. Horowitz reminds me of my big brother at the dinner table, doing things on the sly to get his younger sisters to act out and get in trouble, meanwhile escaping dad's wrath. He has his shtick spit and polished. It's really not hard to outsmart a college student, and there were the usual stupid comments by them, which he tackled with a righteous indignant yawn. It's the professors I'm sure he's there to spar with, and he wouldn't be disappointed with yesterdays performance. The guy was the typical 50-year tenured prof, tweed, elbow patches, British accent - the whole nine yards. But the guy was pissed, and it's hard to retain that practiced Mr. Chips persona after allowing some snot-nosed ex-radical spouting conservative non-pc rhetoric to get under ones skin. Shortly after his banter with Horowitz, he got up to walk out, and Horowitz piped up saying "professor you might want to hear this before you leave", and Mr. Chips dashed back to the microphone and proceeded to lose every ounce of dignity in his carefully studied demeanor.
Yep, quite the show. If you're somehow university affiliated, I recommend a trip to the Horowitz campus tour. Good entertainment overall.
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