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David Horowitz and the Attack on Independent Thought

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Article/book #: 34488
Title: David Horowitz and the Attack on Independent Thought
By: Robert W. McChesney  
Published in: Common Dreams
Date of issue: Tuesday, 28 February 2006
Topic(s) addressed: People/entities mentioned in this item:


David Horowitz’s new book, "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America," was published in early February to considerable fanfare encouraged by a tidal wave of promotion from the right-wing echo chamber. This is the same echo chamber that made “swift boat” a household word in September 2004. The book itself is sloppy and unimpressive, an apparent rush job.

The criticism of me, for example, consisted of two out-of-context quotes from articles where I criticize the news media and the Bush Administration. This is presented as prima facie evidence that I am a dreadful teacher who uses the classroom to harass students to adopt my political views, my campus-wide, student-elected teaching award notwithstanding. By the same “logic,” quotations could be taken from many professors in America, and nearly all conservatives, to establish that they propagandize in the classroom. By Horowitz’s evidentiary standards, Harvard’s Stephan Thernstrom, who endorses The Professors on its cover, should be ridden out of academia as a narrow-minded bigot who abuses students who disagree with his pointed views.

In short, the book is clueless about how classroom teaching actually works; it would astound him to learn that many professors with strong political views – of whatever stripe – go to great lengths to provide an open classroom. The people Horowitz vilifies in his book know exactly what it is like to hold unpopular positions – to be attacked as “dangerous” for going against the dominant interests of society -- and we tend to have considerable empathy for those who disagree with our political views in our own classrooms. In fact, that explains why Horowitz’s lengthy and much-publicized campaign to locate conservative students who have been harassed in the classroom by left-wing professors has produced few, if any, credible witnesses. But, as I will argue, this is a ruse, so that lack of evidence means no more to Horowitz than the lack of WMD did to Bush and Cheney as they planned the invasion of Iraq.

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