The New York Times runs a Times-style profile of our friend David Horowitz and his audacious campaign to extend the intellectual diversity characteristic of America to America’s college campuses: “Taking the liberalism out of liberal arts.”
The profile barely lets David speak for himself and does not go so far as to quote from the academic bill of rights that forms the heart of his campaign — a campaign urging universities themselves to adopt the bill of rights (failing that, Horowitz urges adoption of the bill of rights as to public universities by state legislatures).
It is impossible to glean from the article that the Horowitz’s proposed bill of academic rights is based on the American Association of Univesity Professors’ own classic 1940 statement of academic freedom (the AAUP statement is referred to in the article). Instead, the article links to the AAUP’s rebuttal of the proposed academic bill of rights. Here are some of the basic provisions of the proposed academic bill of rights:
*Hiring, firing, promoting or granting tenure would be on the basis of performance – not on the basis of political or religious beliefs.
*Tenure, search and hiring committee meetings would be recorded and available to duly authorized authorities empowered to inquire into the integrity of the process. Once again, political philosophy or religious beliefs would not be permitted to enter into the picture.
*Students would be graded on their work, not their political or religious beliefs.
*Course content and reading lists in humanities and social sciences would reflect diverse concepts and viewpoints – not just the overwhelmingly leftist content that is being fed to college students today.
*Selection of speakers, allocation of funds for speaker activities and other student activities would observe the principles of academic freedom and promote intellectual balance. According to Horowitz, 99 percent of major university commencement speakers are self-identified Democrats or liberals.
*Academic institutions and professional societies would maintain a posture of organizational neutrality.
Once upon a time, these propositions at least in part formed the core of academic freedom. Now, however, Horowitz’s proposal induces foaming at the mouth on the part of such eminences as Stanley Fish, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The article sympathetically describes Fish as ” fum[ing] at the suggestion that a liberal conspiracy existed among faculty.” According to Fish, “A public resolution that is on the record has its own coercive force. It can lead faculty members and students to feel that they are under surveillance.”
The article does allow Harvard Professor of Government Harvey Mansfield — Harvard’s conservative — to get in this shot: “We have 60 members in the department of government. Maybe three are Republicans. How could that be just by chance? How could that be fair? How could it be that the smartest people are all liberals?”