Phi Beta Cons

An Important Moment at the MLA

A few days ago at the MLA Convention in San Francisco, David Horowitz and I joined Cary Nelson, Director of the AAUP, and Norma Cantu of UT-Austin for a panel on academic freedom. The panel chair, Brian Kennely, had invited Horowitz, giving him a prize opportunity to square off with some of his harshest academic critics (particularly those in the MLA Radical Caucus). The MLA leadership lent its support in planning the event and ensuring that all participants got a fair hearing.

Yes, there were a few insults from questioners (calling Horowitz a “liar”), and we disagreed on several points, but overall the occasion was civil. Conservative critics of the academy owe some genuine thanks to Kennely and the MLA leadership. Clearly, they are interested in hearing a wide variety of opinions and allowing tense face-to-face encounters in a collegial atmosphere.

Note: This post has been corrected. It previously stated that “the current MLA leadership, including President Gerald Graff and Director Rosemary Feal, had invited Horowitz.”

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