David Horowitz was among the first Americans to grasp just what a malignant tumor academic leftism would be. That’s probably because, as a Sixties radical himself, he really understood the “progressive” mind. He has been battling to stop the spread of the cancer for many years and his latest book, The Left in the Universities is a collection of his writings on that fight.
In this Martin Center Clarion Call, Mark Bauerlein shares his thoughts on the book.
Regarding the influence of leftism on the campus, he writes,
The leftist notions that had lost out in public life (for example, that socialism would work beautifully if only the right people were in power) retired to the quad where tenured radicals could reiterate them to rising generations who didn’t know of their record of ineffectiveness. There, Horowitz believed, the professors sent half-educated graduates into society who were enthusiastic about progressive reform and identity politics. Certain zones of the campus (especially the humanities and the various “studies” programs) had become indoctrination centers. If they weren’t curbed, the political errors of the past would be repeated in the present.
To combat the spread of leftism, Horowitz spoke and wrote continually. Then, about a dozen years ago, he conceived of a legislative attack on it and called it the Academic Bill of Rights. Naturally, the Left fought it tooth and nail, with the kind of underhanded tactics we’ve come to know all too well. The Association of American University Professors was nasty in its opposition, as Bauerlein recounts.
It is clear from the document that the methodologies and perspectives must meet academic standards; for instance, teaching economics not just from a Marxist perspective but including libertarian and other common, respectable positions as well.
But the AAUP distorted this academic plurality into an immoral free-for-all:
No department of political theory ought to be obligated to establish “a plurality of methodologies and perspectives” by appointing a professor of Nazi political philosophy, if that philosophy is not deemed a reasonable scholarly option within the discipline of political theory.
As Horowitz notes, this was not a misunderstanding. It was an Orwellian accusation. It raises a fantastical prospect (“we must hire a Nazi”) in order to sweep the Bill of Rights off the table.
Speaking the name David Horowitz sends “progressives” into fits of rage almost as much as Charles Murray or Ben Shapiro. That’s a good reason to get and read his book.