Paranoia, Lies, and David Horowitz
David Horowitz has a blog entry where he calls me a “paranoid professor” and then admits his title is inaccurate: “He is not himself a professor but he is an academic,” whatever that means. Horowitz also makes the common error of stating that Illinois Academe is “a publication of the American Association of University Professors.” Illinois Academe, which I edit, is published by the Illinois AAUP, not the separate national AAUP organization.
But my key complaint about Horowitz is not these small inaccuracies or his insults against me: “I'm attributing paranoid tendencies to Wilson because in person he's a civilized individual and I don't like to call him a liar.” I would like to thank David Horowitz for displaying the kindness of calling me insane rather than a liar. Being called paranoid by David Horowitz is like being called an asshole by Dick Cheney.
What bothers me is Horowitz's denial of everything he's stood for. Horowitz complains, “no matter how many times I say that I do not advocate and would be adamantly opposed to governance of the university by legislatures or any other outside agency, people like you refuse to believe me.” There's a reason why I refuse to believe Horowitz. It's because he's lying. Can the man who formulated the Academic Bill of Rights and tried to have it passed by state legislatures seriously claim that he is “adamantly opposed to governance of the university by legislatures”?
Recall that Horowitz tried to get the Academic Bill of Rights enacted by legislators around the country after seeking to have trustees at only one institution enact it: the State University of New York. Is Horowitz now repudiating his past activities and urging legislators to oppose imposing the Academic Bill of Rights on universities? If he is, that's major news. But somehow I suspect that Horowitz is just engaging in more deception.
It's undoubtedly true that Horowitz would prefer to have faculty themselves engage in political repression. That's probably because he has failed miserably to convince trustees and legislators to enact his reforms. In his interview with me, Horowitz claims that he wants “faculty peers” to ban the courses he dislikes. But in his new book, and in everything he has said in the past, Horowitz has a very different answer.
In his chapter on Columbia University (which he calls “Uptown Madrassa”), Horowitz writes, “faculty activists have had to violate (and administrators have had to ignore) explicit Columbia regulations that obligate professors to observe an academic discipline in the classroom.”(63) Repeatedly, over and over again, Horowitz declares that these courses violate the university’s policies on academic freedom and demands that administrators and faculty step in to stop them: “It is disturbing that the university has allowed them to proceed for so long.”(231) He writes about “the abdication of university authorities and the shirking of their legal obligations to students and the public.”(253) He concludes, “Most disturbing of all is the unwillingness of administrators and trustees to defend their institutions and enforce the professional standards of a modern research university.”(278)
If Horowitz relies solely on “faculty peers” and doesn't want administrators and trustees to intervene and suppress “political” courses, why does he repeatedly denounce administrators and trustees for failing to intervene and "enforce" Horowitz's delusions about professional standards?
As I note in my book, Patriotic Correctness: Academic Freedom and Its Enemies, this is not the first time Horowitz has deceived people about his repressive goals. Horowitz proclaimed in 2004, “There is no enforcement proposed in the Academic Bill of Rights. This would be up to the institutions that adopt it. Horowitz even declared, “My Academic Bill of Rights explicitly excludes private institutions,” despite the laws proposed in Ohio, Tennessee, and other states imposing it (and requiring grievance procedures) on private colleges that were enthusiastically supported by Horowitz.
If Horowitz is now opposed to legislative interference, why does his Students for Academic Freedom website continue to promote the legislation imposing it on colleges?
If Horowitz is opposed to legislative interference, then it's strange that his website promotes the Students for Academic Freedom Handbook which states, “The passage of a state statute, however, creates a new law, usually proscribing or requiring certain behavior, and imposing penalties for non-compliance. Both are approaches that many state legislators could pursue, and you and your SAF organization need to be ready to support and assist legislators in their efforts.”(page 41) Does that sound like someone who is “adamantly opposed to governance of the university by legislatures”?
I am happy to debate Horowitz anytime, anywhere, in any forum. I would certainly like to hear him explain his contradictory statements and why anyone should believe what he says.