Response to Michael Berube
February 23, 2005
Michael Berbue has written a blog response to my comments in Frontpage about our picture grid which has got leftists like him climbing walls. It's not much of a response since it merely repeats the same squeal about putting radical Islamicists in the same database (and therefore on the same picture grid) as Michael Moore, Ward Churchill and Barbra Streisand. But of course Moore and Churchill are on the record as supporters of the Zarqawi "resisters" referred to by them as "patriots" and "revolutionaries" and deserved avengers of "root causes" -- and of course so are a very large number of leftists. Of course there are leftists who are not supporters of the radical Islamicists, but so what? As I pointed out Stalin put an ice pick in Trotsky's head for calling for a revolution against Stalin's police state. Does that mean one shouldn't put them in a database on Communism and post their pictures on the same Communist grid?
The striking thing about Berube's response is his unwillingness to join the intellectual argument. I have written an entire book called Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and American Left which describes the common agendas of the left and analyzes at length the writings of his friend Todd Gitlin who I describe 1) as a leftist who has attacked the Chomsky left (which shares the affinity of Churchill and Moore for our enemies) and 2) yet someone who regards America in terms pretty similar to those of Hamas, Churchill, Chomsky and Moore. Not a single leftist has bothered to engage the views in this book, so why should I expect Berube to engage the arguments of my explanation for the inclusiveness of the database.
But of course Berube and Gitlin and academics like them inhabit a monolithic academic universe where they don't have to answer their critics because they've effectively purged them from the faculties of the universities they so gracelessly dominate.
Which brings me to the second and third themes of Berube's blog -- I fibbed about my invitation to Hamilton and about my Academic Bill of Rights. My appearance on O'Reilly did present me with a problem. I had called Maurice Isserman a leftwing academic I knew at Hamilton and asked him to invite me to speak on campus which he graciously did. O'Reilly was asking me a question the gravamen of which is can I get faculty invitations to speak on campuses. I have spoken on somewhere between 250 and 300 college campuses in the last 15 years. The invitation from Isserman is the only faculty invitation I have ever received and I initiated it, forcing Maurice into the position of refusing me or saying yes. He could have refused me but he didn't, so in writing about it I tried to be gracious to him. On O'Reilly I didn't have time to explain all this and so I glossed over it because it was truer to say that I had to be invited by students (and the second time I went that was exactly the case) than to say the faculty there -- the Kirkland project in particular, which is what we were talking about -- would invite me.
Berube also claims I misrepresented the facts when I said that he, Gitlin and Fish vetted the Academic Bill of Rights and gave it a pass. This is absolutely true. And even by the account Berube gives (and which is reported in Graham Larkin's column to which he refers) none of the three of them had any objection to the Academic Bill of Rights. What they do object to is the fact that I have taken it to state legislatures. Fair enough. But let's maintain the distinction.
Let's also face the fact that the reason it has been taken to legislatures is that not a single university administration has been willing to adopt it. The legislatures are necessary for this reason alone: university faculties and administrations refuse to do the right thing. But then as a leftist Berube would understand this. Entrenched power does not surrender its prerogatives without a fight.