"Does the Academic Bill of Rights Protect or Threaten Academic Freedom? A Debate between David Horowitz and Kurt Smith"
September 19, 2006
Mr. Gary Hardcastle; Bloomsburg University; Asst. Prof Dept. of Philosophy and Director of the Institute for Culture and Society
Dr. Jessica S. Kozloff; Bloomsburg University; President -- Moderator for this debate
Mr. David Horowitz; The David Horowitz Freedom Center; President
Dr. Kurt Smith; Bloomsburg University; Associate Professor of Philosophy
Gary Hardcastle: Good evening, and welcome to Bloomsburg University's Mitrani Hall. We're about to begin. I invite everyone to take their seats, please.
My name is Gary Hardcastle, and I'm an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy here at Bloomsburg University. I am the Director of the Institute for Culture and Society. Tonight's debate about academic freedom is jointly sponsored by the Institute for Culture and Society and the American Democracy Project here at Bloomsburg, and it's made possible with the support of the Office of the Provost and the hard work and planning of many people. Please join me in thanking these many people for making this event possible.
Well, we're all very excited about tonight's debate, so let's get to it.
It's my pleasure to introduce to you the President of the University of Bloomsburg and our moderator for tonight's debate, Dr. Jessica S. Kozloff.
Moderator: Thank you very much.
Good evening, and welcome to our debate this evening, which culminates the activities of Constitution Day here at Bloomsburg University.
During the day, we've explored a number of issues related to the United States Constitution. Tonight, we continue those important discussions by exploring whether an academic bill of rights might threaten or protect the cherished rights of students and faculty to freedom of expression on the nation's college campuses.
One of our debaters tonight is Mr. David Horowitz, author of The Academic Bill of Rights. He is being debated by one of our university professors, Dr. Kurt Smith, who has [inaudible - technical difficulty] written in opposition to this document.
Since 2004, [inaudible - technical difficulty] dozen state legislatures have considered propopals stemming from the concepts in the Academic Bill of Rights, although none has been approved legislatively. Colorado and Ohio legislatures worked out agreements with public colleges and universities to ensure that students were aware of their rights and existing grievance procedures, and Pennsylvania, our own commonwealth, decided to study the idea as evidenced by last year's series of legislative hearings across the Commonwealth. The Higher Education Act now before the United States Congress includes language drawn from the Academic Bill of Rights.
One of the underlying values of any university, and certainly this university, is the importance of intellectual inquiry, particularly the respect for varying points of views on significant issues of our day. It is in this spirit that I welcome and introduce our distinguished speakers, and I invite you to welcome them to center stage.
Let me introduce both of them briefly.
David Horowitz has been described in a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education as "one of the country's most famous converts to conservatism." He has authored more than 20 books.
A long-time activist, he was previously a founder and very involved in the New Left Movement of the 1960s. Horowitz served as Editor of the radical magazine, Ramparts. As detailed in his autobiography, Radical Son, Mr. Horowitz became disillusioned with the left and underwent an intellectual transformation, as he puts it, to a point where today he is now rewarded as a leading conservative advocate.
In 1988, he co-founded and is now President of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, recently renamed The David Horowitz Freedom Center, a nonprofit organization that promotes conservatism.
In the 1990s, he created the Individual Rights Foundation, which led the battle against speech codes on college campuses.
He is also the Founder of Students for Academic Freedom, a national watchdog group that helps college students document when professors introduce their politics into the classroom. As mentioned earlier, he is the author of The Academic Bill of Rights.
Dr. Kurt Smith is an Associate Professor of Philosophy here at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. He received his B.A. in Philosophy at the University of California at Irvine and his M.A. and Ph.D. at Claremont Graduate University, specializing in the 17th and 18th century philosophy. His work can be found published in several scholarly peer-reviewed journals and books.
Dr. Smith has received two NEH grants for his research and is currently an elected Associate of the Center for the Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He has presented his research at sessions of the American Philosophical Association, most recently presenting work at the Colloquium of the New England Early Modern Reading Group, co-sponsored by Harvard and Brown Universities.
Dr. Smith was among those who testified at the hearings held by Pennsylvania's Select Committee on Academic Freedom in Higher Education conducted across the Commonwealth. At Gettysburg College, he presented a paper that took a critical look at HR-177, the House resolution establishing the select committee that conducted those hearings. Again, those hearings stemmed from, in many regards, Mr. Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights.
And in the most recent issue of Academe, you will find his article, "A Philosopher Looks at the Academic Bill of Rights."
Once again, please help me welcome these individuals.
Now, let me attend to just a few housekeeping arrangements before we move to the opening statements and what I know is going to be a very invigorating and lively discussion.
Joining me here at the table are four students representing three organizations here at Bloomsburg University. They're going to assist me in moderating tonight's debate. Let me introduce them.
From left to right, although I understand that has nothing to do with anyone's political persuasion, [Amanda Bailey] from the Political Science Student Association; to her right and my left is [Chris Boss] from the Philosophy Club; to my immediate right is [Ashley Cuko] -- Ashley, did I say that right? Thank you. -- from the Forensics Club; and to her right is [Christie Westbrook], also from the Forensics Club. And will you please help me thank these students for helping me tonight.
The format for the debate will be as follows. Each speaker will have five minutes to make an opening statement. An agreement before the debate has determined that Dr. Smith will begin first. He will also then have the opportunity to give his summary last.
After the opening statements, I will ask each speaker to respond to questions that have been developed with the help of faculty and students here at BU. Each speaker will have three minutes to respond to my questions, and then his opponent will have two minutes to respond to the question or the answer. The students with me will time each of the responses and will give the speakers a warning signal when there is less than a minute or 30 seconds.
We have chosen this format so that we can cover as many questions as possible. However, I have told both of our speakers that should we get into a discussion which they feel deserves more than the time allotted, if they will simply ask me if we can extend the discussion, we will do so as long as we can assure that each speaker will have equal time in answering, and I'll make the determination of how much additional time that we will give them.
Now, it's time to begin our debate. As I said, it's been determined that Dr. Smith will begin the opening statements. So, Dr. Smith, please begin our debate with your opening statement.
Dr. Smith: Thank you.
In an article published just four days ago, David Horowitz renewed his vicious attack on American higher education. He spins a tale of liberal professors gone wild who have conspired to indoctrinate America's youth in leftist ideology. Conservative faculty members are silenced, and a blacklist is kept by liberal professors to ensure that no conservatives are hired. Conservative students are abused in the classroom and given poor grades for not buying the leftist party line.
A typical example of abuse, he says in the article, was reported by Penn State Student Kelly Keehan in testimony submitted to the Pennsylvania Select Committee on Academic Freedom. Kelly, he reports, was enrolled in a Women's Studies class, where students giving a presentation forced her to consider the possibility that abortion is morally acceptable. The professor, making matters worse, forced the students to chant the word abortion over and over, which brought Kelly to tears. She claimed that there was no place in the class for a pro-life opinion. Kelly received a failing grade for criticizing the presentation, in a follow-up assignment. Clearly, she was being punished for -- or not following the leftist party line.
As we will hear from Mr. Horowitz tonight, if legislated, the Academic Bill of Rights would protect Kelly and her academic freedom, for according to Principle 3, students cannot be graded on the basis of their political or religious beliefs. Moreover, the Academic Bill of Rights would guarantee a place for Kelly's viewpoint in the classroom. As Principle 4 asserts, students must be provided with a diversity of viewpoints, even, and perhaps especially, those that differ from the professor's.
We will also hear that, if legislated, the Academic Bill of Rights will protect professors and restore intellectual diversity in higher education. As Principle 1 asserts, faculty shall be hired, fired, promoted, and granted tenure on the basis of competence, with a view toward fostering plurality of views. No faculty shall be hired, fired, and so on on the basis of political or religious beliefs.
The above protections, says Mr. Horowitz, should be easily embraced by all since they pretty much state what is already expressed in several statements of the American Association of University Professors.
So why do professors and administrators oppose the Academic Bill of Rights in such great numbers? Mr. Horowitz contends that they do so because if legislated, it would steal the power away from those liberals who currently hold it.
For sake of argument, let's grant Mr. Horowitz the following -- the Academic Bill of Rights is needed only if the state of American higher education, [is] as he describes it.
I will argue here tonight that the American higher education is not as he depicts it or describes it. If I am right, it follows that the Academic Bill of Rights is not needed.
So let me fire the first shot by noting two things.
First, I spoke with the State Representative, Representative Larry Curry, who is co-Chair of the select committee that conducted the hearings on academic freedom here in Pennsylvania. He confirmed something that I suspected -- no testimony was ever provided to the Committee by Kelly Keehan of Penn State.
I also spoke with administrators at Penn State. They confirmed that no complaint had ever been filed by a student that matched the one reported by Mr. Horowitz. And in doing some extra checking, they found that nothing like the events described by Mr. Horowitz ever took place in a Women Studies course.
So as has been the case so many times, Mr. Horowitz's supporting evidence turns out to be, at best, unverified anecdote; at worst, simply nonexistent.
So why the fake anecdote stories? Why the attack on the higher education? And this leads to my second remark.
The push for the Academic Bill of Rights is politics, plain and simple. A month following the attacks of 9/11, the neoconservative organization calling itself The American Council of Trustees and Alumni put out a report titled Defending Civilization, and it opens, and I'm quoting, "In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Americans across the country responded with anger, patriotism, and support of military intervention. The polls have been nearly unanimous, 92% in favor of military force, even if casualties occurred, and citizens have rallied behind the President wholeheartedly, but not in academe."
The Academic Bill of Rights must be understood in light of a neoconservative campaign to rein in what it claims to be the only remaining institution that hasn't given its unwavering consent to make war. The Academic Bill of Rights is not about protecting Kelly or students or professors or academic freedom or fostering intellectual diversity. As should become clear here tonight, it is about securing the place for right-wing propaganda in the classroom.
Moderator: Thank you. Mr. Horowitz, you now have five minutes for your opening.
David Horowitz: Good evening. I want to thank Professor Hardcastle and his group for inviting me and your gracious President for spending some time with me, where we exchanged our views.
Contrary to what The Voice reported, I have never sponsored legislation that would allow students to sue their professors. I have never sponsored legislation that would have any teeth, and I don't intend, actually, to sponsor any more legislation. The idea of the legislation was to get the attention of college administrators to enforce existing academic freedom policies that are not enforced.
And, in fact, the academic freedom hearings in this state have had a beneficial effect on this university already. As your President informed me when we met this afternoon, a clause has been inserted into something that's called "Grades, Quality Points, and Quality Point Averages" in the Student Handbook. Students will be graded solely on the basis of their performance in courses and not on the basis of their political or religious beliefs. So everybody -- every student at this university has benefited.
And I can tell you from my conversations with students, after I met with the President, there are professors at this university that grade students for their political beliefs, and that should stop.
My intention was to, as I say, stimulate university administrations to do the right thing.
Professor Smith brings up Kelly Keehan. I deliberately put her name in the testimony because I knew she would come forward if anybody asked her.
Lawrence Curry is a Democrat who opposed the formation of the hearings and who sabotaged them all through the hearing process. He appeared as the featured speaker at two faculty union rallies denouncing the hearings as McCarthy hearings even though not a single professor was ever named, and the purpose of the hearings, as announced by the Chairman at the beginning of each session, was to look at university policies and to see if they're being enforced.
I'd ask this question -- is there anybody in this audience who knows what the academic freedom policy of Bloomsburg University is and where to find it? No. And the reason is this -- and certainly no students know. The reason is that it has a perfectly -- I would like to amend it somewhat, but it's a good academic freedom policy. It says professors should not -- they may teach their point of view -- whether that point of view is left or right, I’m all for that -- but they must not introduce controversial matter that's irrelevant, or it has no relation to the subject.
That academic freedom policy is an AAUP policy, but you can only find it in the faculty union contract with the university, which no student is going to be curious enough to look into, and that means that students at this university, as of now, really have no academic freedom rights.
Kelly Keehan didn't complain because the academic freedom policy at Penn State does not apply to students. And, in fact, if you want to understand my -- the entire campaign is this. If professors are expected to behave professionally in their classrooms, not to indoctrinate students, not to force students to come to their viewpoint on controversial issues, if that's what professors are expected to do -- and that actually is the academic freedom policy of all public universities in Pennsylvania -- then students have a right not to have their professors inflict their points of view on them.
A final exam at this university had an essay question, which wasn't a question. It's to explain why the United States is wrong in Iraq. That is an abuse of students' academic freedom, and that is what I intend to help change in this state.
As a result of the hearings, Temple University has adopted a new academic freedom policy. It's based on their existing policy, but it provides a grievance machinery for students that explicitly relates not just to grades but to professorial conduct in the classroom, that it should be respectful of students who disagree with the professor on matters that are controversial. Professors can teach about controversies, but they shouldn't advocate on one side of them for the obvious reason that they have a lot of power through the grades and that they can intimidate students. The purpose of an education in a democracy is to teach students how to think, not what to think.
Moderator: Thank you.
Dr. Smith, in your testimony before Pennsylvania's Select Committee on Academic Freedom in Higher Education, you claim that those state universities, like Bloomsburg University, receive public funds; their classrooms are not public spaces. Rather, the classroom is a space in which a faculty member's views on his or her field are greatly privileged -- I believe you used the word -- over the views of his or her students.
First of all, is this an accurate representation of your argument? And if it is, how do you respond to the question that students need some kind of level playing field or protection if faculty members do have this privileged position?
Dr. Smith: Well, I think that what I was arguing at the -- it is, by the way, an accurate summary of my argument.
The undergraduate classroom is not the public space. It's not the town council meeting where, let's say, a student and a professor meet at the town council meeting to debate public policy. The U.S. Constitution and Pennsylvania Constitution guarantee that both, as adult citizens, have equal protection under the law and they are able and have a right to express their views.
A classroom is not a public square like this; rather, a classroom is a place of instruction, and there is going to be an asymmetry in authority or in power in that kind of space. The professor comes to the classroom with experience and training, which is credentialed, right, by way of the degree, and that professor belongs to the community of scholars and is not giving their own personal view about things, even though I would like to quote from the Statement on Professional Ethics.
This is from the American -- well, from the AAUP. "In the enforcement of ethical standards, the academic profession differs from those of law and medicine, whose associations act to ensure the integrity of members engaged in private practice. An academic profession, the individual institution of higher learnings provide assurance and so normally handle questions concerning proprietary." And this is -- the idea is that even in law and medicine, it's going to be different than in the classroom to some degree.
"But the primary responsibility of a professor in the subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it," right? Now, a professor and a student are going to differ perhaps as to what the view is, but the professor's opinion is not just opinion but is actually rooted in scholarly background. So there is an asymmetry.
What you do is you protect students from abuse, let's say, by having grievance procedures and policies in place that would allow them to -- allow them protection. And we have those things, of course, all in place, and they are enforced, from what I understand. The hearings here in Pennsylvania proved that.
Moderator: Thank you. Mr. Horowitz, you have two minutes to respond to that.
David Horowitz: I agree that it's not equality in the classroom, which is especially why students need protection for their academic freedoms. An academic freedom is freedom within a professional discipline. When you go to your doctor, you don't expect to get a lecture on the war in Iraq, so why should you get one from your English professor? And English professors do this all the time in universities. The classroom is not a political soapbox. It's not a place to support Senator Santorum or Casey. That's not what the classroom is for. I don't have a disagreement about what the professional responsibility is or that the teacher has an expertise that they should teach.
My complaint is that teachers teach outside their expertise when they rant about weapons of mass destruction or George Bush in courses that are not about the war in Iraq or the American presidency.
So all I'm asking is that professors observe academic matters, and I might say that that could also go for the debate. I have been -- and Professor Smith is one of the people who has done this -- I mean I've been compared to Joseph McCarthy, Hitler, Mao for the views that you've heard expressed here. It's been a very unprofessional sort of discourse, and if the AAUP would step in and say, "Yes, we do not want professors having -- in a women studies course having the class chant, "Abortion, abortion, abortion," then I don't have a problem and I can retire.
Moderator: Thank you. Now, the next question is --
Dr. Smith: May I respond? I thought I had -- do I have a minute or no?
Moderator: We'll give you one minute, and then we'll have to give Mr. Horowitz a minute, also.
Dr. Smith: I would be with Mr. Horowitz if we knew for a fact that this happened in the class -- I'm talking about the Kelly Keehan case -- where the professor forced students to chant, "Abortion, abortion, abortion," because it seems to me kind of a silly thing to be doing. The problem is we don't have any evidence at all that this happened other than a story that Mr. Horowitz tells us, and this is over and over again.
I think that, also, as well, I think Mr. Horowitz would be wise to take his own advice. He has a master's degree in English Literature in 1961. He's never taught a course. He's not a faculty member at any university, never has been, never has sat on a hiring committee, and yet, he expresses this sort of sense of expertise in higher education.
Moderator: Thank you. Mr. Horowitz, would you like to respond?
David Horowitz: I'd like to see a show of hands. How many students in this audience have been in a class where a professor has gone off on the war in Iraq, George Bush, Republicans, or Conservatives, that was not about the war in Iraq? Okay. Now, either you call all these students liars, or you should retract these slanders that Curry is very good at about [inaudible].
Thinking it's irrelevant, I don't -- you know, anybody can read the AAUP's statements on academic freedom or the books on academic freedom. I've just raised this issue. I haven't attempted to step into any professional [demay] and discuss your expertise in 17th and 18th century philosophy, nor do I intend to.
This is part of the public debate. This is a public institution. Taxpayers in this state pay a lot of money under the assumption that professors are going to be professors. You wouldn't want to support a public hospital where when you went in for open-heart surgery, you were operated on by a dentist. That same rule applies to English professors. You can pick on that department --
Moderator: Thank you, Mr. Horowitz.
David Horowitz: -- who lecture on the war in Iraq.
Moderator: I'm going to go on now and ask you a question that was given to me by one of our students here at the university, and this is the question.
"Many of my most effective professors have helped me understand issues better by deliberately taking an unpopular position in order to encourage dialogue on highly controversial issues. Should they be disciplined for that?"
David Horowitz: I have -- in all of my writings, I have never proposed any kind of discipline for professors or any kind of remedies, actually, under this because the entire purpose of my Academic Freedom movement is to get the academic community itself to do the right thing. And I haven't even invented what the right thing is. I have taken all of the precepts of my -- my Academic Bill of Rights is just a model. It's not meant as anything else. I've taken all of the precepts about Academic Freedom from the Academic Freedom tradition of the American Association of University Professors.
I personally believe -- and even though Professor Smith has said unkind things about me, I believe that within the academic community, if these issues are aired, if the president of this university will sit down with professors who have infringed these -- or whom students have a complaint about -- let's put it that way -- with the students, that the professors here, no matter what their politics, will generally in an overwhelming majority, do the right thing.
The problem with this whole campaign has been that from the outset, ideologues, radicals in the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers went nuclear on me from the very outset, and so the discussion has never really been able to take place.
Students raised their hands here about professors behaving inappropriately in the classroom. Let's have the discussion on this campus within this community without me. You don't need me for this. I'm just a stimulus here. And I am sure that fair-minded teachers, whatever their political -- I have no problem with left-wing professors, and I've said that in my books and in my writings. I have a problem with teachers who abuse their position in the classroom, often without realizing that they're doing so, and that's why the Academic Bill of Rights is meant to codify academic freedoms so that students understand them, the community understands them, and we restore academic manners to the academic community.
Moderator: Dr. Smith?
Dr. Smith: How many students out there have ever heard good things said about the government in their classes? Well, then, it looks to me that it isn't just one-sided, and you might say that it's inappropriate to even say good things about the government in a classroom. But I wonder if that is really the issue. Is the issue really that a professor says something bad about President Bush? It seems to me the case that I remember you writing about once was a physics professor or a biology professor who said something bad about George Bush, but we don't know what the context was. That was the problem.
It could have been that it was after President Bush said on television that biology professors ought to teach both sides of the controversy, teach the controversy, he said, referring to intelligent design and evolution. And it could have been that a student had asked, "What did you think about what the President said?" And in a biology class, the professor said that he didn't think the President knew what he was talking about," which someone might interpret as a bad thing said about the President. But it seems to me it would have been entirely appropriate at that moment for the professor to have responded to an open question like that. He wasn't asserting anything. He didn't tell the students that they ought to believe that Bush ought to be voted out of office or anything like that.
Moderator: Thank you. This next question --
David Horowitz: Could I just -- I just want to --
Moderator: Well, we'll give you both one minute then.
David Horowitz: [Inaudible] whatever.
Moderator: Start the time.
David Horowitz: I've written good things -- I've written good things about university professors. I wrote actually good things about two universities, Kenyon, which is a very liberal college, and Reed, which is a left-wing college, because they were teaching their subjects and they were teaching them in an appropriate manner. So I don't really have any problem with that.
My position on intelligent design is that it has no place in a biology curriculum or any scientific curriculum. Maybe in the philosophy of science, it could have a position, you know, if the President is wrong on that. Again, this can be handled if there's goodwill in the university community. I have faith that there is or I wouldn't be wasting my time doing this.
Moderator: Dr. Smith, do you want to --
Dr. Smith: No.
Moderator: -- use another minute? Okay. I have -- my next question for you was e-mailed to me by a faculty member this morning, so it's somewhat lengthy, it's faculty representation here.
Dr. Smith: I understand.
Moderator: Let me try to get through as quickly as I can.
"Just yesterday -- well, the September 19th edition of Inside Higher Education has an interesting story about our debate topic. It's reported that the Journal of Public Opinion Quarterly has just published an analysis of professorial politics that suggest a growing shift of the professoriate toward a more centrist position, citing the change from 16.5% in 1989 to almost 20% now of professors who claim a centrist ideology. However, even this study, which argues against legislation stemming from Mr. Horowitz's position, states that there are more liberals, 56%, than conservatives, 24%, on college faculties.
Another academic who says he is opposed to the Academic Bill of Rights, Daniel Klein, recited in his article, "Klein states that his research on party registration yields clear evidence about lopsided ratios in the professoriate. Klein argues that while we should not have an Academic Bill of Rights legislated, there is an imbalance in humanities and social science departments that requires change from within. I realize you probably haven't read these studies, but I wondered if you could just comment on the general concept that there is a liberal bias and we need change from within?"
Dr. Smith: I did look, actually, at this new study that you cite, which does say that there is, in fact, still an asymmetry in what professors describe themselves in terms of, so there are more professors who would describe themselves left of center than right of center. So that's -- that proportion or disproportion, you might say, is still there.
It's just not as exaggerated as we find in the other studies that had been done earlier that folks have referred to in the hearings, in fact, on academic freedom that show that there was this really large difference between what sometimes is referred to as liberals and conservatives or more liberals than conservatives. Sometimes, it's referred to as Democrats versus Republicans. That's another phrasing.
But it does show -- this new study showed that, of course, that professors who are describing their own beliefs, right, we don't know whether or not they really are these -- this way. Rather, they describe themselves as being left of center or right of center. I guess the biggest problem with this is that we don't know what everyone means by center here. That's one of the problems that we're having with all of these studies, by the way. And this is, I think, a big problem when -- especially what's happening with the study that you just mentioned. You're looking at data that comes earlier, and then like I think it was in the '80s, and then data that came in the '90s, and even then, I’m wondering if what people would have meant generally in the '80s about what accounts for center means the same for folks in -- today, let's say, or in the '90s about center.
So my worry is that -- I'm not sure what the statistics really show us, but is that -- the question, I guess, the big question is, is that discrepancy? And I grant that there is this discrepancy. Is the discrepancy relevant? I mean that's what you have to show, and I think that's what Mr. Horowitz has to show. He has to be able to show that that translates somehow into the classroom, where what's going on then in the classroom is indoctrination, as he says, in leftist ideology given that, of course, we have this great amount or this great number of leftists, of course, as they're described, in these things. And I don't think that's ever been proven.
We're not quite sure how that inference ever got made, but it's out there, and I take it that the Academic Bill of Rights is an attempt, at least, at trying to remedy the discrepancy, and here's how -- by eventually requiring universities to hire more conservative voices so that it would basically balance out and resemble, I guess, what you see in the general public.
Moderator: Thank you. Mr. Horowitz?
David Horowitz: No, I have -- the first tenet in the Academic Bill of Rights is that you can't hire or fire professors on the basis of their political views, so I'm not [inaudible] affirmative action hiring program for conservatives, and I agree with Professor Smith that the issue is not the imbalance, although it's obvious and it's clear that there is one, but what goes on in the classroom.
I did stimulate a lot of these studies because when I began and I said there is a problem on campuses of a lack of intellectual diversity, people said, "There is no problem."
So I'm--that was just one way of showing that there's a problem. I've obviously convinced people that there--at least there is this disparity. I have in mind, for example, a criminal justice course, which I learned about this evening at this University, in which only one point of view is taught. And that is that criminals are actually society's rebels and that the term "criminal" is a means of social control. It's to define deviancy from the oppressive norm of American society as criminal.
And, of course, there's a whole movement that Angela Davis is leading, which says that all minority criminals in this country should be freed because they are political prisoners. That's a point view. I don't happen to respect it, but it's a legitimate point of view that should be in the classroom. But it shouldn't be the only point of view.
Moderator: Thank you.
Kurt Smith: May I respond?
Moderator: Yes, you may have a minute.
Kurt Smith: Well, Mr. Horowitz will claim that the Academic Bill of Rights would forbid the hiring of professors based upon political affiliation. But that's not what he says even before the Pennsylvania House Committee. He says there that what he would like to see is an institute - a separate faculty inside the University. Call it what you will. You can call it the Center of Conservative Studies. You can call it the Center of the Study of Free Institutions--where the litmus test here would be that these were conservatives that were doing the teaching.
And we see this idea of balance. In an interview at Temple, he says, "Liberals cannot teach conservative viewpoints without ridiculing them. In order for students to get a fair shake in the classroom," right, "conservative professors have to be hired in order to teach those conservative views. Otherwise the students aren't getting a fair shake."
Moderator: Thank you.
David Horowitz: I need to--.
Moderator: --Yes, you get a minute, too.
David Horowitz: The opposition is always putting words in my mouth. I never said anything like that. I have sponsored interdisciplinary departments called Centers for the Study of Free Institutions. So you'd--at UCLA, the professor who is sponsoring this is a Lieberman Democrat. I guess I can't say that anymore since Leiberman's been driven out of the party. I don't care what their politics are. And I don't care whether they're conservatives or liberals. The idea is to study the economic, moral, political, and philosophical foundations of free society. What's wrong with that?
And I never proposed a Department of Conservative Studies. But there is a Department of Feminist Studies at Santa Cruz, which is just a political party posing as an academic department.
Moderator: My next question is for Mr. Horowitz. And it was also emailed to me by a faculty member, but it's much briefer. I'd like Mr. Horowitz to address his transformation from an anti-war editor of Ramparts to a neo-con opponent of liberalism. Is it possible that your anger at your former liberal colleagues has colored your view of the Academy?
David Horowitz: Do I look angry? The--I am a liberal. That should be evidenced. My Academic Bill of Rights is a completely liberal - in the classical sense - document. I've written a lot about why I left the left. The bottom line is that the left has--says very nice things. Social justice sounds very good. But every time leftists put these doctrines into practice, they kill tens and millions of people and make [total] confidence bankrupt. It doesn't work.
The worst thing that has been done to black people, for example, in this country since slavery was called the Welfare System. It's Republicans that liberated millions of poor minority, and, of course, also white, people from dependency on the welfare state, gave them the dignity of earning their way, and the independence of it. And if there were any justice in this country, there would be statues of Newt Gingrich in every inner city in America for having liberated all of those people.
So I really haven't changed my agendas, which is to help the powerless and the poor. It just happens that free market economics and--that's called conservative--who gave conservatives this name--that a conservative does it infinitely better than leftists do. Leftists run every inner city of size in America. Philadelphia, Harlem, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Chicago, have all been run by progressives and leftists and Democrats for 100 years. Everything that's wrong with the inner cities of America progressives and Marxists and Democrats are responsible for. That's why I vote Republican.
Moderator: Dr. Smith, you have two minutes to respond to that.
Kurt Smith: Thank you. The largest number of people who benefit welfare are white children, not African Americans. I don't ever--I just don't understand some of the things he says. All three branches of government are dominated by the Republican party. I don't see how the leftists are in control of a whole lot these days.
Moderator: Thank you. The next question is for Dr. Smith and it's from a student. Dr. Smith, what steps would I as a student take if I believe I've been subject to indoctrination in the classroom or graded unfairly because of my political beliefs? I am particularly concerned that the participation grade is so open-ended that it can be abused. Shouldn't students be told at the beginning of each class that there is some protection?
Kurt Smith: I guess they could be told at the beginning of the class. I would recommend that this student read the pilot because it's actually in there - the grievance procedures. I also would say that they go online and find these. The grade policy, from what I understand, actually has the sentence that students will not be assigned grades based on religious and political affiliation. So it's there in writing. And so, if the student believes that in fact a grade has been assigned to them based upon political--a political disagreement they had, say, with their professor in class, they have every right to grieve.
And the grievance procedures are laid out in--I mean, they're boring and they're detailed, but they're there. And students should be made aware of those. I guess professors could certainly do a service by mentioning in the syllabi and so on that there are these procedures. I say in my syllabus--my students will show you my syllabus right now--that--at the end of my syllabus I say, know your rights and that you have the right to complain about what I say, what I'm doing in class, or what I say to you in office hour, if you feel that I have offended you.
And I let them know that it can--the first line of, you might say, settling any issue is to talk with the professor first. But I tell students right there in writing that if they feel uncomfortable talking with me, they can talk to the Chair of my department in full confidence. And he will bring up things to me to make sure that I correct these things.
But if they don't like what the--as it says in the pilot, if they don't like what the Chair of the department has to say, or whether the Chair of the department did anything to rectify the issue, they can go to the Dean of the college and go all the way up through the President and to the Board of Trustees. There is no reason for students to feel as though they're victims. And I understand that some of them may feel intimated, but there are ways of dealing with that. And that's what I would encourage them to do.
I don't think that--however, that students have shown me anyway since my time here that they are afraid. They are bold and they're assertive. And they will let you know if they think that what you've said offends them or not. I mean, you see the applause in the audience already for some of the things Mr. Horowitz says. They don't seem to be afraid at all, which--and I'm glad they're not.
Moderator: Thank you. Mr. Horowitz?
David Horowitz: Well, students don't know their rights and what--as I said--is in the Faculty Union Contract, such as it is. I think that students coming into the University--to expect them to know the difference between indoctrination and education when obviously there are so many--and there are many professors confused about the same-- is asking a lot. To ask them to depend on the benevolence of the academic ruling class is asking a lot. I have spoken to enumerable students who are intimated and feel if they come forward they're going to be punished by professors. Usually, they're in a major. Usually, it's--it could be the infringement takes place in their major.
I think that--although, as I said, I have learned of political grading in this school. I think that's a minor aspect of the problem. When you go into a class and you are taught that America is a racist, sexist, depressive society, and that criminals and terrorists are actually rebels--justified rebels against an unjust society and that terming them criminals or terrorists is a means of social control by the oppressive ruling class, and that's all you're taught, you could get an A in that course by spouting it back. But you have been indoctrinated. You haven't been taught a single thing.
Moderator: Would you like to respond?
Kurt Smith: Yes.
Moderator: I had a feeling that you might. Let's take a minute there.
Kurt Smith: Well, I would like Mr. Horowitz to enlighten us as to the difference he sees between indoctrination and education because I hear this a lot. And I'm baffled by the idea that any kind of advocacy or any kind of view that would be anti-David Horowitz is now considered indoctrination. And I just--I guess I would wonder what he thinks about the difference and what he would say is the difference between indoctrination and education.
Moderator: Mr. Horowitz?
David Horowitz: This is--gets thrown at me all the time. If you disagree with David Horowitz, you are indoctrinating. I have said on 100 occasions, I have written in my books, that a leftwing point of view is a legitimate point of view in a university. I have no problem with liberal bias. I have no problem with leftwing bias. I have a problem when professors close down controversial issues by advocating on one side of it. Education is teaching students how to think, not what to think.
You go to the exception--you go the University of Havana or the University of [indiscernible] and they--you're going to receive doctrine. You go to a women's studies course at almost any women studies department in this country, you're going to receive doctrine. You don't get an education. And Americans have a right to an education, which means that the professor can teach about controversial issues, but not impose one side of the controversy on their students.
Moderator: Would you like--this seems to me to be the heart of the debate here. So we're going to extend a little bit of time on this topic. And I'm going to give both of these gentlemen two minutes to respond, and then we are going to move on. Dr. Smith?
Kurt Smith: Thank you. Mr. Horowitz will say that he's just tired of seeing indoctrination and that just goes on when professors require or somehow force students to believe what they say. But where is this going on? We held hearings here in Pennsylvania where students had every opportunity to come forward. Not a single case came forward that proved anything close to indoctrination, let alone widespread indoctrination. Not a single case.
So where is this--where's the boogeyman here? And I don't understand how this works. Mr. Horowitz makes the claim, and then when we demand to have evidence, the anecdotal stories come. And they come into the thousands. Go look at Students for Academic Freedom website and you will see them. But are any of them substantiated? Are any of them--have any of them been verified? Have any of them been investigated by--in a formal process where if--I can tell you this right now. If we could see that all of these cases after being investigated were true and were verified true, I would be with Mr. Horowitz tomorrow. And then, we would be on this campaign.
But the thing is, it isn't a picture of reality. That is the one thing I don't understand is how it is you can sit here and talk to grownups like this who know better, and yet still succeed in making these claims.
Moderator: Thank you. Again, two minutes for you, Mr. Horowitz.
David Horowitz: Sure. First of all, the hearings were not about indoctrination. As I said, the Chairman said this is about university policies and institutional policies. So we were forbidden from identifying particular courses and particular professors, although I did give extensive testimony about entire programs, like the Heritage Program and Writing Program at Temple. The Temple Department of African American Studies is a department devoted to the theory of Afrocentrism, which is a completely fraudulent intellectual theory, although people are getting Ph.D.s in it, which holds that Egyptians were black, which they weren't, and that the Greeks stole all of their knowledge from the Egyptians.
On my website at frontpagemagazine.com, I published on Friday and again today, or yesterday, but you can easily find it under "Indoctrination U" on my website, extensive analyses of programs at the University of Colorado and the University of Texas, which are nothing but indoctrination. I give one example - Modern Marxist Theory at the University of Colorado says this class is going to apply the insights of Marxism to contemporary theories. Now, I have written many books on Marxism. In my view, it is a completely discredited doctrine. But one thing it isn't - it is not Newtonian physics. It is a controversial point of view and needs to be taught that way, not as though it were a science.
That is indoctrination and I don't need a student coming forward to tell me that, although--well, I just don't. It's there. You apply--it's like applied conservatism. That's going to be the course. That's not an academic course. That's a course to train students in a particular doctrine.
Moderator: Thank you. I have one more question for each of our debaters, and then we'll move to their summary statements. The next question is for Mr. Horowitz. The Academic Bill of Rights aims roughly speaking to keep politics out of the classroom. But many views, while not being political views themselves, have overtly political dimension. Consider histories of anti-Semitism, for example, or anthropological theories of race, and modern biological theories of human evolution. How then can the aims of the Academic Bill of Rights be achieved without a dramatic rewriting of the academic curriculum?
David Horowitz: That's a very good question and I wish there were a forum where we could have the discussion. The principle I am proposing is quite simple. And that's just that teachers should not advocate their political agendas in the classroom, particularly in classes where it's irrelevant, but even in classes where politics like political science might be relevant. You teach a controversy. You don't have to--the teacher who has the grading power and the authority because the teacher has more knowledge than the students should not be imposing a--one side of a controversial issue on students.
The issue of anti-Semitism as an issue is, I guess, what you're asking, or racism. It's not really controversial. I mean, we don't have a racist party in the United States or in the Academy. I would never say that there are no gray areas, which is why I wouldn't legislate any of this. This is something to be discussed in the university. But I have shown, and I'm going to continue to show, in study after study that there are entire academic programs that are just ideological indoctrination.
Women's Studies happens to be one of them. The study of women is a legitimate subject. But there are conservative feminists, if you want to call them that, and radical feminists, if you want to use that term. To teach--you teach the controversy over--are women oppressed in America? Is gender a decisive factor in our society? Is there a glass ceiling? These are questions that should be looked at in a dispassionate academic way. Instead, an answer to the questions is imposed on students. Any student signing up for a Women's Studies course will have this imposed on them and taught as though it's a doctrine.
This is no--this is just like the University of Havana, where there's an orthodoxy that you learn. I don't think that Professor Smith teaches an orthodoxy in 18th and 17th Century Philosophies. I hope he doesn't. But there are vast areas of the modern university where this is done. Peace Studies. There are 250 Peace Studies programs in America. There's not a single one that has a Professor of Military Science on the faculty. Why? Because all the Peace Studies that I have looked at - and I have looked at a ton of them - are anti-military and usually anti-American. That is that America is the oppressor and the problem in the world, and the terrorist are freedom fighters. And I kid you not about those courses.
Moderator: Dr. Smith?
Kurt Smith: But who determines the controversy, when you say teach the controversy? Is it the professor or is this exactly what the Academic Bill of Rights is going to make sure isn't going to happen? And that is, if the professor gets to make the decision, based upon his or her expertise and training and education. Rather, the worry is that students, and being given equal footing by way of the Academic Bill of Rights, would have equal say. Representative Paul Clymer here in Pennsylvania has said that he wishes that the Academic Bill of Rights could be legislated so students would have grounds for suing their professors if their professors teach evolution and not creationism. Now, where is he getting that from except from the wording in the document?
But he's not the only one. Representative Dennis Baxley of Florida argued for the very same thing. This is--in fact, this is going on in 15 other states--about. That vacillates. I've heard 20 and I've heard 12. But 15 is the last count I heard.
So in teaching balance in the classroom, right, and the professor is no longer allowed to determine what gets taught in the classroom because, obviously, they are biased and they are offering only their own view, now what? We teach Holocaust Denying? Right? Is that one of the things we have to do now? We have to now consider the possibility that the Holocaust really didn't happen and take this seriously in a classroom. This would be madness. This is what people, I think, are reacting to in the Academic Bill of Right. I don't think that they are reacting to it because they think somehow it's going to take their power away, so liberals can control the establishment.
Moderator: Would the two of you both like to continue this for a minute?
David Horowitz: I seem to be fated to--I have to answer for things that I don't believe, that I haven't written, that are not in my Bill of Rights. I don't even know who that Clymer is. Holocaust denial is a kooky theory. But the Academic Bill of Rights says significant scholarly opinion is what you have in the classroom. But there are Holocaust deniers teaching on American faculties, and the AUT and the professoriate says nothing about them. There's one at DePauw, there's one at the University of Illinois, there's one in Los Angeles.
So it's--my legislation is not meant to be legislation. I do not know of a single bill actually at the moment on the Academic Bill of Rights that's in process anywhere. The bill was to wake up the faculty and the administration. Always the solution is--I have great respect for the principle of shared governance. I have never challenged the way the university is administered. And I wish that the opponents of this bill would look at the issues, stop calling all students who complain liars, which they do, and--.
Moderator: --Thank you, Mr. Horowitz.
David Horowitz: [Let's just discuss it.]
Moderator: Dr. Smith, we'll give you a minute, too, if you'd like it.
Kurt Smith: Is Mr. Horowitz then ready or prepared to say then that his Republican colleagues are just wrong about what the Academic Bill of Rights says? Because I just said to you what Representatives Paul Clymer and Dennis Baxley, both Republicans, have said.
David Horowitz: Republicans are capable of saying all kinds of ridiculous things, just the way Democrats are. Yes, they are wrong.
Kurt Smith: Okay.
David Horowitz: And I told them. I don't know Clymer, so I didn't tell him.
Moderator: All right.
David Horowitz: But I talked to Dennis Baxley about it.
Moderator: Thank you very much. We're going to move on now. And you could come back to this in your summary statement, if you'd like. Our last question then is to Dr. Smith. And this is--comes from some of the students who were in the academic discussion panel this afternoon, Dr. Smith. Would you please give a brief definition of what you think academic freedom is? And would you address the issue of is there a difference between freedom of speech and academic freedom? Where does one start and the other end?
Kurt Smith: Well, I do believe that there's a difference, as I said earlier, between the classroom and the public square. And so, this is where I would draw the difference--that an academic freedom applies to the professor inside the classroom and in respect to their research. And that's exactly what the AAUP claims. Now, there is a--you might say, the invention of a kind of freedom for students that is found in the Academic Bill of Rights. But it's already covered in terms of policies and so on to protect students from abuse.
But the idea is that in--a student--in the students being said to them--let's say, in a biology class--that look, if you write an essay or you answer the questions that are connected to evolution that I'm asking you to examine. If I--if you write anything about intelligent design and you refuse to answer any of the questions, let's say, in evolution, I'm going to have to give you a bad grade. Right? And the student does not have then an equal say as to how that exam and the grade should go. And I don't think they should be given legal standing to be able to sue the professor, if in fact they get a bad grade for their own religious or politic belief in the classroom.
In the public square--let's say we're debating town--let's say we're debating public policy about funding for science. Then the student and the professor going to Washington, D.C. or let's say, going to Harrisburg or going to the Town Council here, have equal rights and have equal protection. And they can both express to the powers that be their view, and try to argue their case. Nothing--that's freedom of speech. But there's something very different about what goes on in a classroom.
And it is not a democracy. Students don't get to vote for their grades, what gets read, and what gets studied. Right? And it is something that the professor controls. But that isn't a totalitarian government. That is--that's education, and the professor has the position of authority and responsibility because of their education and training.
Moderator: Thank you. Mr. Horowitz?
David Horowitz: Sure. Academic freedom is the freedom within a professional discipline under a professional discipline. It is not a license for professors to share their ignorant opinions about the war in Iraq in philosophy courses or courses in the history of the Civil War. Here's the difference. If you are a preacher and you go into church on Sunday and preach a sermon that God doesn't exist, you will be looking for a new job on Monday, First Amendment or no. If you are a soldier who is serving in active duty in Iraq and defending the First Amendment rights of all of us, you are not allowed to go into OpEd pages of the newspaper and complain about the war or about your military command.
An institution, like the university or like the military or like the church, has a mission. And if the professionals do not submit to the discipline of the mission, they will destroy the mission. The mission of a university is education - teaching students how to think, not what to think. If ideologs are allowed to take over our universities, they will destroy them.
Moderator: We will--we'll now move to our closing statements. And as we agreed before the debate, Mr. Horowitz will begin first and he will have five minutes to make his summary statement.
David Horowitz: Oh. I'm sorry. It's very hard to hear.
Moderator: I'm sorry. It's now your turn and we go--.
David Horowitz: --Well, I can't debate--the problem with this whole controversy is that the opposition refuses to debate the actual issues and denies the evidence. It doesn't take a blind person to see that there are students here who had professors to--who think their professors did inappropriate things in the classroom. Yet this university has no mechanism for dealing with that problem. Adopting the Temple Trustees' Bill of Rights, which is not my Bill of Rights, would be a real step forward with the grievance machinery, putting in there every student who comes to this university gets an orientation in what sexual harassment is, what inappropriate and offensive speech to minorities are.
How about also teaching them what academic freedom is and what they should expect from their professors in the way of professional behavior? How about supplying them with the grievance machinery? And how about a reporting system that does not stop at the professorial level because professors have the grade power over them and can punish them. That would solve all of these problems.
Instead of talking about intelligent design, which as I said, it's an interesting, perhaps challenged [indiscernible] though. I've watched the debates. I'm utterly persuaded that intelligent design is not only not a scientific theory, but it's not really a very effective challenge to evolutionary theory. It has no place in a scientific classroom. Holocaust denial is the same. It's a kooky theory that Jew-haters propound. Neither should a teacher be teaching that--I don't know--black people are inferior and should be put in chains again. Nothing that I've ever proposed should lead to this.
Again, legislation--I have said from the outset, all of my bills, such as they were, and there were at a time 15 of them, were all resolutions. No teeth whatsoever. In the Higher Education Authorization Act, it's just like a sense of Congress. Please let your students have the freedom to make up their own minds. That's all I've done. I put--the reason I went to the legislators is because I first went to the universities and I got this deaf ear business. There is no problem. I guess all students who say there is a problem are liars and we're just going to go on with our business. I have created national controversy over this. Now we have the discussion. Now the time is for the university to [remedy] itself, to step forward and start to enforce academic standards.
You have professors teaching in this--the Peace Studies Program, for example, at Ball State, which teaches that a military is bad, non-violence solves everything, is--the head of the program is a professor of the saxophone from the Music Department. He doesn't even have a musicology degree. He's a performance artist. And actually, he gave a speech attacking me where he played a saxophone with a composition he had written himself called, "Weapons of Mass Destruction." I think he's a kind of a loon. But still, he has no academic credential.
[Ward Churchill] was an ethnic studies professor. His degree is an M.A. in Drawing. He's a painter. How is that a credential for teaching ethnic studies? Yet, he was the Chairman of the department earning $120,000 a year with--as you probably know, he had three classes a week, three hours in the classroom a week, $120,000, four months paid vacation, and speaking engagements by other professors offering him $4,000 a speech across the country. So he's probably making $200,000 a year. This is massive consumer fraud. And I have set myself the task of doing something about it. And with your help, we will.
Moderator: Dr. Smith, you have five minutes to conclude.
Kurt Smith: Thank you. As I said in my opening, I believe that a lot of this is connected, and others do, too, to something that was put together by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni in their report right after 9/11 where it became very clear to them that universities were not onboard with going to war. And so, something needed to be done about that. And I believe that Mr. Horowitz is part of this campaign. He was brought on I think at some point in 2003. Here's exactly what this report that I would imagine he is allied to--in fact, I would be surprised if he wasn't. What the role of--what role universities should have - this is according to this group - is to transmit great ideas and central values of our civilization. So you might have heard his little mantra. Universities should never--what--teach students what to think, but how to think. And everyone claps because we all agree with this idea that we shouldn't be brainwashed.
But it seems to me that, obviously, there are some things that fit into the "what" to think. Because according to this neoconservative group, what I'm supposed to teach in the classroom are great ideas and central values of our civilization. Why? We believe that Americans will fight for their survival only if they know what they are fighting for.
So I do believe that if Mr. Horowitz were to have his way, the space would be opened up in the classroom for folks to be able to insert the other side of the story, as he likes to say it, even though I think it's already being talked about in classrooms. I would say that these anecdotal stories, even the hands going up--I'm not calling students liars for saying that these things happen in class. Now, the question is this. Have they been investigated? Because at this point, the rest of us can only go off of their trustworthiness. And I don't know any of the students who have raised their hands as far as I saw. And so, they would have--I don't know whether I can trust them. I'm not saying that I'm going into it not trusting them. And who would?
But the deal is file the formal--file the formal grievance, go through the investigation, and if it proves to be true what you say, then we have something to go on. But I don't call them liars simply because I don't accept their testimony here tonight. It has to be investigated first. That's the way it's really done. I'm really always surprised at this idea that Mr. Horowitz says that professors always teach out of ignorance. Things--what classrooms is he going to where he is seeing this done?
But I think, like I said, he should follow his own advice. Because it seems to me that someone without any training or expertise in higher education should probably not be so bold in asserting what's wrong with higher education without that expertise. And when all the experts in the field claim that they don't believe the problems are there that he claims are there, he just comes back and says, well, obviously, they're going to say that. They are trying to protect their own hides. So we end up basically in a McCarthy-like situation, which is what people have noted, and that is accuse people of wrongdoing and then make them prove that they didn't do it. But it's impossible to do that.
And it's not the American way, I don't think. But it is really a very effective political strategy, which by the way, and you should buy it, his book--it's in here exactly how to do this. Because the more you know about this sort of thing, I think maybe the better off we'll all be. Because this is, I think, dishonest. It's good politics. Perhaps a good political strategy. I don't know if I would call it kind of good politics. But it's not anything that happens in the Academy. It's not--it doesn't even look like anything that academics are trained to do. And this is exactly why I think people react to Mr. Horowitz. Because what he's doing is unacademic, and yet he's in an academic environment feigning to be an academic. And this is what I think we all have trouble with.
Moderator: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Horowitz and Dr. Smith. I want to thank my timekeepers. You've helped us keep on task, and we had a lively debate. Thank you very much. You were very helpful. I also want to thank the organizers of the debate - Dr. Hardcastle and [Dr. Strein] in particular. This debate is what the Academy is all about. I want to thank the audience for your both enthusiastic and respectful conduct tonight. You've been a delight to have with us. I want to invite all of us to go upstairs and have some refreshments and speak to our speakers in the lobby.
And, once again, can we give a round of applause and appreciation for--.
[End of Audio.]