Home inFocus A Survey of Challenges on Campus

A Survey of Challenges on Campus

David Horowitz Winter 2008
SOURCEinFocus Quarterly

Institutions of higher learning across America are rife with leftist professors who intentionally distort scholarship with ideology. The administrations of these institutions, which claim to champion liberalism and human rights, too often tolerate racist, anti-Christian, anti-Western, anti-American, and pro-jihadist ideas.

Leftist Indoctrination

Professors Neil Gross and Solon Simmons noted in a recent Harvard University study that 95 percent of liberal arts professors are likely to share liberal or left wing approaches to social issues. This is a pervasive problem that must be remedied.

In 2007, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) raised concerns about a four-year-old complaint by a group called the Committee for a Better North Carolina (CBNC). The group noted that incoming freshman at the University of North Carolina were required to read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickled and Dimed, a tract on poverty and the evils of the capitalist system, as part of a summer reading program. The CBNC complaint not only objected to the assignment of an extremely partisan text, but also argued that it was a case of “indoctrination.”

It must be noted here that CBNC did not argue that the Ehrenreich text should not have been assigned. Rather, it argued that if college freshmen were going to be required to read a partisan text on a contested issue, they ought to be provided with a contrasting point of view. According to the AAUP’s own statements on academic freedom, the assignment of two or three texts in this context would have been the appropriate educational practice, although in this case the AAUP refused to concede even this point.

The assignment of any one book is not a prima facie case for indoctrination, and the AAUP was right to point this out in its report. However, CBNC had a legitimate concern. The assignment of a single polemic by a socialist author could certainly be viewed as an attempt to enforce an existing faculty prejudice.

Rather than take the CBNC complaint as an opportunity to examine the fine points of the case and improve standards, AAUP rejected the CBNC complaint, then took the opportunity to disparage its critics, demonstrating an utter indifference to the importance of academic discourse or the freedoms that make it possible.

The AAUP’s indifference is condemnable. Nickled and Dimed was assigned not by an individual teacher, but by the university. Moreover, the Ehrenreich text was part of a series. The previous year’s required reading was a book about the Quran that prompted public outcry for its perceived one-sided, liberal views on the nature of Islam. The AAUP report committee was aware of these facts, but refused to consider them.

In the end, while CBNC could not prove there was indoctrination on the basis of this assignment, the AAUP could not prove there was none. While this remains a source of debate, the AAUP’s indifference to serious allegations of indoctrination remains a concern that applies to campuses across the country.

Stifling Dissent

A few years ago, a student in a Peace Studies course at Indiana’s Ball State University, taught by jazz saxophonist George Wolfe, claimed that Professor Wolfe used his class to promote his leftist agenda. He reportedly offered extra credit and better grades to students who supported his viewpoints.

Wolfe also assigned a 500-page text to his students written by an animal psychologist and a philosopher claiming that peace studies itself was a field devoted to instilling the tenets of progressive activism in its students. According to the introduction, “The field [of Peace Studies] differs from most other human sciences in that it is value-oriented, and unabashedly so. Accordingly we wish to be up front about our own values, which are frankly anti-war, anti-violence, anti-nuclear, anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment, pro-environment, pro-human rights, pro-social justice, pro-peace, and politically progressive.”

The student wrote an article about Wolfe’s class that we published at Front Page Magazine (FrontPageMag.com). Rather than respect his right to free speech, the Ball State administration and faculty came down on him. The chairman of the political science department warned him not to write any more articles or to talk to the press. The student was also reportedly ridiculed by his professors in class.

Finally, when I wrote an editorial questioning the credentials of a jazz saxophonist to teach issues of war and peace, the vice provost at Ball State, Beverley Pitts, responded in Wolfe’s defense. Notably, she stated that Wolfe was a member of the board of the Toda Institute for Peace Research. What Pitts did not mention was that the Toda Institute was an organization created by Soka Gakkai, an international Buddhist cult.

Backed by his university, and with the support of the local press, Wolfe launched a campaign to smear me as a “political extremist” and “McCarthyite.” He wrote an article for a Ball State University publication called, “Arguments Against the Horowitz Agenda.” In it, he lauds the Ball State administration for rushing to his defense. “Of all the universities across the United States who were subject to attack for liberal bias by political extremist David Horowitz,” he wrote, “in only one did senior administrators publicly come to the defense of their faculty and their academic programs.” He personally thanked a number of university figures for “their public stance against political extremism and their efforts to refute the false accusations directed towards Peace Studies at Ball State University.”

Wolfe then launched a smear against me: “David Horowitz, in using extremist language that accuses peace studies professors like myself of supporting terrorism, and falsely accusing the Ball State Muslim Students Association of having ties to terrorist organizations, is clearly evoking the Patriot Act in an attempt to intimidate Americans who believe it was a mistake to invade Iraq or who identify themselves with the religion of Islam.”

In other words, because I pointed out what is an indisputable fact—that the Muslim Students Association is a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood and part of its network—I must be part of a “Patriot Act” conspiracy to intimidate Americans from dissenting on the war in Iraq.

The fact is that I have written extensively affirming the legitimacy of dissent over the war policy in Iraq. I have clearly stated that, “criticism of government policy is essential to a democracy, and criticism of war policy is [particularly] important because the stakes are so high.” But Professor Wolfe wasn’t interested in facts. For him, people who disagree with his views are enemies to whom no decencies are owed.

The Islamist Agenda

Last May, I spoke at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. As a welcome, the Muslim Students Association (MSA) circulated a flyer titled “Getting to Know David Horowitz,” featuring a caricature of a Jew in the classic anti-Semitic style of the Nazi posters of the 1930s, now ubiquitous in the Arab world. The flyer described me as an “Israeli apologist and Judeofascist,” and claimed that I ran an ad in the campus newspaper alleging that the UWM chapter of the MSA “is an extremist organization engaged in violent jihad.”

What the ad actually stated was that the MSA was created by the Muslim Brotherhood and is part of a jihadist network. In fact, there are more than 150 affiliated MSA chapters on college campuses nationwide, all funded by student activities fees and undisclosed outside sources. At the University of Pennsylvania, the Muslim Students Association boasts a $50,000 annual budget. Of this total $20,000 comes from student fees. By contrast, College Democrats and College Republicans at Penn receive no student funding.

In an effort to make students aware of the dangers of the jihad that has been declared against the West, the David Horowitz Freedom Center submitted a “Declaration Against Genocide” last spring to 100 chapters of the Muslim Students Association on campuses across the country, including the chapter at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Declaration asks its signers to condemn the terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas, and to condemn hatred against Jews. This is particularly difficult for MSA members since Hamas is also a Muslim Brotherhood organization.

We gave the 100 MSA chapters more than a month to respond to our request, but not a single one did. We then drew up an ad describing the MSA as a group that “postures as just another campus religious and cultural organization,” and gets special privileges for being that, but is in fact “a radical political group that was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the godfather of al-Qaeda and Hamas, to bring the jihad into the heart of American higher education.”

Our findings were based on a study of 18 campus chapters that regularly sponsored anti-American and anti-Semitic speakers from extremist organizations including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Muslim American Society (MAS)—all Muslim Brotherhood outgrowths.

We published the study in a footnoted pamphlet called “The Muslim Students Association and the Jihad Network,” and submitted the ad to the student newspapers on 17 campuses. Of the 17 papers we contacted, seven rejected it on the grounds ranging from the claim that it was “unnecessarily offensive” (Columbia) to “encourages discrimination” (Michigan State). Three papers didn’t respond. Of the seven that published the ad, three—The Daily Nexus at UC Santa Barbara, The Daily Collegian at Penn State, and The Post at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee—were immediately attacked as “Islamophobic,” “racist,” and causing Muslims to fear for their safety.

This attack on free speech was abetted by faculty members such as Penn State’s Michael Berube, a member of the national council of the American Association of University Professors. In the Penn State ad we referred to the fact (checked by the editors) that the Penn State MSA had invited an imam to campus who blamed America for the attack on the World Trade Center and called for killing gays. Rather than condemn this hate speech, Berube attacked us as campus provocateurs.

What Berube and many other campus apologists for the MSA don’t realize is that the MSA’s immediate agenda is the destruction of the Jewish state. But its larger agenda appears to be the destruction of America and its democracy, to be replaced with an Islamic state.

Challenges Ahead

In many American institutions of higher learning, professors and administrators attempt to indoctrinate students with leftist curricula, but rarely ever offer alternative sources. These concerns are compounded by the fact that academics are increasingly turning a blind eye to the growing trend of Islamism on campus. Many campus challenges lie ahead.

David Horowitz is founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and editor of Front Page Magazine. Michael Sharnoff, research associate at the Jewish Policy Center, contributed to this article.