I had a conversation over the weekend with the two reprsentatives of the American Association of University Professors. One was Graham Larkin a professor of art history at Stanford and the other was Marcus Harvey, the AAUP's West Coast field representative. Our debate took place on a San Diego affiliate of Air America. The show was hosted by Craig Elsten whom I salute as one of the few self-styled "liberals" I've encountered who was actually fair-minded and tolerant.
Unfortunately, fair-mindedness was not much in evidence in the debate itself. Both Larkin and Harvey dug in their heels to deny the obvious, that liberal arts faculties in America are dominated by the political left. In fact they are dominated to such an extreme degree that among junior faculty at Larkin's university leftwingers outnumber conservatives by a ratio of 30-1 -- a skew that at the very least raises questions about a political blacklist. Marcus Harvey attempted to explain this fact away by suggesting that professors vote Democratic because Democrats support education funding. Perhaps he failed to notice that George Bush signed the largest education bill in American history recently. But even to argue this is to indulge the absurdity. A look at any college catalogue, a persual of the curriculum of any Black Studies, Women's Studies or Peace Studies department -- let alone history, sociology or anthropology -- at any major university in America would reveal a leftwing agenda that only dishonesty could deny. If university professors are only left in their support of education bills, why were there no professor teach-ins in support of the Iraq war, since there were hundreds of opposition teach-ins featuring faculty speakers? Why didn't Larkin himself reel off half a dozen conservatives in his own department to refute the conention (instead he challenged the methodology of the studies that have been done)? The answer is obvious and the fact that faculty leftists like Larkin deny it only makes it that much more difficult to respect their intellects.
Larkin has written a 3,500 word attack on me on the California AAUP website called What's Not To Like About the Academic Bill of Rights. Not a word of this diatribe mentions an actual statement from the Academic Bill of Rights. Instead it is an attack on me personally and on imaginary demands of the academic freedom movement for "balance" and equal representation (there are no such demands). Larkin even claims that the academic freedom movement is proposing an affirmative action program for conservatives that would force him to hire his ideological enemies. This is also pure invention.The Academic Bill of Rights specifically forbids hiring faculty on the basis of political viewpoint. How does one deal with dishonesty at this level?
Most of Larkin's attack is on my alleged compartmentalization of all ideas into only two categories, left and right. Again this is pure invention. It is worse than that because nowhere in the Academic Bill of Rights or in any of the literature put out by Students for Academic Freedom and available on its website is there the slightest suggestion that there are only two points of view or that they have to be balanced. The studies conducted used the categories Democrat and Republican only to have tangible categories to demonstrate that there was indeed a problem (and the studies said this explicitly) -- not to suggest that they exhausted the possibilities of intellectual discourse.
Larkin happened by talk I gave to Hoover Institution funders about the war in Iraq. Being an ideological leftist, he could only handle a few minutes of my talk. Even reporting that honestly was too much for him. He suggests that my audience was bored. In fact, I got a standing ovation. But this has nothing to do with the Academic Bill of Rights. Larkin's ad hominem attack is just one form of leftist denial of the one-party state it has created in the university. And this is just the beginnig of its denial of the abusive situation it has created for many students which the Academic Bill of Rights is designed to correct.
The AAUP was once an institution with a proud tradition of defending academic freedom. All that is left of that tradition is its determined defense of academic terrorists like Sami al-Arian and anti-Semitic supporters of terrorists like Tariq Ramadan. The AAUP was absent from the fight against speech codes in the 1990, the greatest infringement of academic freedom in fifty years. The AAUP has declared war on the Academic Bill of Rights by grossly misrepresenting it as an attempt to impose political standards on the university. There is not a word in the Academic Bill of Rights that suggests the imposition of political standards on the university. Moreover, nothing prevents universities from adopting the Academic Bill of Rights and thereby pre-empting any legislation. I have dealt with the AAUP's deliberate misrepresentations of the Academic Bill of Rights here and there is no need to repeat them. The AAUP is not acting in good faith because it is defending an entrenched bureaucracy which is responsible for the abuses the Academic Bill of Rights is designed to correct. The AAUP opposes the Academic Bill of Rights because it has no interest in protecting students' academic freedom. It is a professorial guild with a political agenda, and this agenda is threatened by intellectual diversity and a pluralism of ideas.