The Professors: Horowitz’s look

I invited my friend David Horowitz to comment on the exchange between Paul and me here today regarding David’s new book. David writes:

I appreciate Power Line’s second thoughts about my book The Professors, including Scott Johnson’s defense of my text and Paul Mirengoff’s defense of my integrity and honesty. The attack on my credibility by academic Stalinists and union thugs is the least appetizing aspect of the campaign against my book, and is an expression of their inability to deal with its arguments.

Mirengoff’s claim if I can simplify is that the sample of professors chosen in the book is too eccentric and small to reflect the reality on college campuses. Since there are 617,000 professors and more than six thousand campuses, any readable collective profile is bound to be small by comparison. So the question is really not how small the sample is but whether the task can be accomplished by the collective profile method. I have actually devoted an entire chapter of my book to this question. It’s called “The Representative Nature of the Professors Profiled In This Volume.”

If I may, I would like to quote the first paragraph of this chapter:

The modern university is a decentralized unit, consisting of quasi-independent faculties that create their own intellectual standards. Thus the hard sciences have remained relatively free from ideological intrusions; the traditional humanities and social science fields – history, philosophy, literature — much less so; and the various inter-disciplinary “Studies” departments generally not at all. The university is also by nature and structure a conformist institution regardless of who controls it. It is hierarchical in organization and the apprenticeship required for admission to its ascending levels of privilege is long in duration and closely observed. The committees that manage its hiring and promotion processes are collegial and secretive, and its ruling establishment is accountable only to itself. Because the performance on which advancement is based is ultimately the production of ideas, the pressure to share common assumptions and common attitudes is far greater in universities than in other social institutions, whether governmental or corporate. In these circumstances university and departmental elites create faculties in their own image. Consequently, far from being eccentric or peripheral figures the professors in this volume are integral to the intellectual life of the institutions they inhabit and thus to the course of higher education in America.

I cannot go over the entire argument, but I encourage those interested to read my book and decide for themselves. The reason that Eve Sedgwick is profiled in my book is not that she is a lesbian but that she is an ideologue who insists on imposing her ideological agendas on the students in her classrooms. By her own account she is not just emphasing lesbian and gay aspects of literature, she is using the texts to illustrate her ideological view of the world. Ideologues are not suited to the academic calling and its particular professional discipline, which is to be skeptical, open-minded, and reticent about closing the book on controversial issues. Hers is not an acceptable academic discourse according to the existing principles of academic freedom which universities like hers purport to uphold. It is indoctrination not education, and it violates the academic standards that have been around for nearly 100 years and that political activists in the university are working to subvert.

I’m grateful to be able to add David’s response to our discussion today.

Responses

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