48 of 56 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
In "Indoctrination U - The Left's War Against Academic Freedom" (2007), author and academic David Horowitz explores the pervasive influence within most major universities of radical-left professors who, all too often, do not teach but rather engage in a systematic program to impose their views upon their students. Horowitz and his organization's goal is to persuade all universities in America to uphold long-established principles of impartiality and excellence, and to honor academic freedom. He feels that a professor's private political views should be kept out of the classroom (as has been the case until recently), and that courses should be taught with a view towards providing all sides of academic issues so that students are encouraged to think for themselves.
Horowitz' central point is that "students have a right to expect professional (and not political) behavior from their professors in the classroom." To accomplish this objective, Horowitz and his organization have been urging the adoption of a new "Academic Bill of Rights."
Despite the non-radical nature of his proposal, which is very similar to a "Declaration of Principles of Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure" that has been in effect at American universities since 1915, Horowitz and his proposals have been met with vehement opposition and personal vilification by well-entrenched organizations and unions of college professors. Administrators and trustees, perhaps "too busy" with fund-raising and not wanting to make waves, have refused to get involved.
As a result, many individual courses, even entire college curricula, have been designed to further and propagate the views of left-leaning college professors - who, all too often (as Horowitz points out in example after example) regard America as a racist, imperialist country intent on "oppressing" "people of color." They have no respect for opposing points of view, are often not qualified to speak on the issues on which they expound, bring their political views into the classrooms, and castigate, in the most uncivil terms, anyone, whether student or hapless conservative faculty member, who disagrees with their viewpoint and outlook. Guest speakers invited to campuses are, in most cases, chosen for their friendly (read: radical) political persuasions; conservatives are not welcome - and, indeed, professors often encourage students to disrupt the speaking engagements of those few conservatives who are occasionally invited.
The book is both scary and a scathing indictment of what our universities have become - and now these same individuals are spreading their views among high school students. The reaction to Horowitz' criticisms is also troubling; he is attacked personally, his views and proposals are grossly misrepresented, and no tactic is ignored in the extreme left's efforts to discredit Horowitz and his proposals for less bias and more diversity in college education. He is a favorite villain on many extreme liberal blogs, and he is routinely excoriated as a "McCarthyite witch-hunter" who's views are not worthy of consideration.
Here is just one example of the kind of advocacy that's going on in our universities: From the official department website of the Women's Studies Department at University of California at Santa Cruz, on "employment opportunities" for those who major in Women's' Studies: "With a background in women's and minorities' histories and an understanding of racism, sexism, homophobia, classism and other forms of oppression, graduates have a good background for work with policy-making and lobbying organizations, research centers, trade and international associations, and unions. Graduates' knowledge about power relationships and injustice often leads them to choose careers in government and politics, because they are determined to use their skills to change the world..."
I was stunned by the examples Horowitz provided regarding the indoctrination and proselytizing that today poses as education in the "halls of higher learning," and the efforts expended by many professors to inculcate their views in their students. Of course America has its faults, just like any other country. However, many of these professors are entirely ashamed of our country, and believe that America is an evil imperialist, trying to exploit "peace-loving Muslims" (and Muslim terrorists are routinely excused as "freedom fighters"). The words "oppression" and "imperialistic" crop up in their speeches and writings repeatedly. The U of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who infamously attacked the victims of 9/11, calling them "little Eichmanns," is but one of many.
This book - and the situation that exists in our universities, as related by Horowitz - delivers a devastating indictment of how our "institutions of higher learning" are being run today. I knew that some of this existed, but was shocked by its pervasiveness and the boldness of those who are pursuing their odd and one-sided agenda. It should be read by every American of every persuasion. Whether your bias is Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, please don't listen to the rantings of the bloggers and do NOT judge Mr. Horowitz until you have read this book.
Westlake Village, CA
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
There's plenty that I like in this book. But there are some things that I would have said differently.
I probably would have used a smaller percentage of the book for anecdotal information. Sure, there are some professors who are abusing their positions and using their classrooms to propagandize. And students in those classes who disagree with such professors may be intimidated, given that their grades are at stake. But anecdotes are not always the best way to present evidence.
To explain what I mean, imagine that you are in a debate about which side the United States fought on in World War Two. You claim that we fought against Japan, while your opponent says that we and Japan were allies against China in that war. Anyway, the evidence that we fought against Japan is overwhelming, and you say so. In addition, you use some anecdotes to confirm it. But to your annoyance, your opponent cites some anecdotes that purport to show the opposite! The discussion gets into details about the anecdotes, and the whole issue looks controversial. Well, that's one reason I am less than enamored of anecdotal evidence.
Continuing my example, your opponent may then attack you as an untrustworthy person. Suddenly, the topic has changed. The issue is no longer World War Two. It's you! That is when you realize that when one has no case, the rules appear to change. You, with an overwhelming case, have truth and logic on your side, so you need to be careful to respect truth and logic. Otherwise, you will cede your advantage in a reasoned discussion. However, your opponent is under no such restrictions!
All this is a little like the theme of this fine book. Yes, there are some anecdotes. And there are discussions about unwarranted ad hominem attacks that are often used by indoctrinators to avoid having to discuss the truth. And we see that although free speech is protected, there are consequences for it. Horowitz says that "a pastor who goes into church on Sunday to preach a sermon that God does not exist will be looking for work on Monday, free speech rights or no." I agree. A person who makes elementary misstatements about mathematics may be entitled to do so, by their rights of free speech. But that in no way says that there will be no penalties. A student who does this may get a bad grade on a math exam. A professor who does so may be subject to disciplinary measures. The issue here is not academic freedom but simply academic standards. And I think these are occasionally at stake when a few professors simply substitute political propaganda for what is supposed to be scholarly work.
I don't need to debate a few anecdotes to see that there is a problem in some universities. In a field I know something about, namely the Arab war against Israel, I can see what material some professors assign in an assortment of universities. And I can see what is in the college bookstores on this topic. There's a manifest problem in quite a few of these universities.
The main point of Horowitz's book is that we should support an academic bill of rights, which he shows us in Appendix 1 of the book. These rights include ensuring "intellectual independence of professors, researchers and students." And they include demanding that faculty hiring be based on competence and knowledge of a field. In many areas, I think we already have this. But in some fields, I think competence may be of secondary value compared to "political correctness," and that is totally contrary to what ought to be the charter of our academic institutions.
While Horowitz wants to avoid political indoctrination by either liberals or conservatives, he makes it clear that the liberals look to him like the bigger problem at the moment. After all, in this book he reports that the number of "self-described `liberals'" in university positions outnumber the "self-described `conservatives'" by more than seven to one. Well, that may be a good point. But I think that the solution would be to recruit plenty of academics who might support such academic standards, and that means trying to appeal to a group of people, the majority of whom call themselves liberals.
I'm strongly against the indoctrination that Horowitz complains about. However, I think that it is not easy to make rules about it. Indoctrinators can often attempt to claim that you, not they, are in violation of your own rules. I also feel that "balance" is a tricky concept. In many classes, it is important to illustrate concepts by showing dissenting opinions. And professors should use their skills to determine what sorts of material to use in these situations. But at other times, the dissenting "opinions" are simply unreasonable, insincere, or gross propaganda. I'm not so sure what benefits there are, educationally speaking, to systematically assigning some of that subject matter in the name of "balance." To Horowitz's credit, that's not what he has in mind either.
I think this book raises some important issues, and I recommend it.