Below is Barbara Kay’s review of David Horowitz’s new book, “The Left in the Universities” which is volume 8 of The Black Book of the American Left, a multi-volume collection of David Horowitz’s conservative writings that will, when completed, be the most ambitious effort ever undertaken to define the Left and its agenda. (Order HERE.) We encourage our readers to visit BlackBookOfTheAmericanLeft.com – which features Horowitz’s introductions to Volumes 1-8 of this 10-volume series, along with their tables of contents, reviews and interviews with the author.
In November, an incident regarding freedom of speech on campus took place at Ontario’s Wilfrid Laurier University that galvanized the attention of Canadians and of those with an interest in this subject beyond our borders.
A graduate student in the field of Communications, Lindsay Shepherd, used a short segment in class from a debate on TVOntario’s nightly issues show, The Agenda, to illustrate to her students how linguistic terminology can become contested terrain in the realm of ideas. The presenting issue was freedom of speech; the vehicle for debate was the use of transgender pronouns. The segment Shepherd showed – without either approval or condemnation – included forceful pushback against “compelled speech” by Jordan Peterson, a University of Toronto professor whose publicly avowed refusal to use constructed gender pronouns has in the past 18 months rocketed him, via a tsunami of vlogs and public appearances, from virtual obscurity outside the academy to continental celebrity.
In short order Shepherd was summoned to a meeting with her supervisor, her department head and the director of WLU’s Gendered and Sexual Violence and Support program. What happened at that meeting – more like a Star Chamber interrogation – would have fallen into the historical oubliette, except for the fact that Shepherd recorded it and shared it with the media.
Ordinary Canadians who listened to this recording were stupefied at the overt intimidation and condemnation Shepherd was subjected to, including accusations of “transphobia,” a comparison of Peterson to Hitler and for good measure a sprinkling of demonizing “racism” and “ “white supremacist” to ensure the message took hold. All because she adopted a perspective of neutrality in presenting conflicting opinions to her class so that they could freely discuss the issue without her influence. This was an intolerable stance for her left-wing superiors.
The repercussions of this incident are still unfolding, and you can read a detailed account of it here. The most-used word by commentators writing about that fateful was “Orwellian.” And it was. In my own commentary on the affair, I ended with the suggestion that Canada establish “the Lindsay Shepherd Students’ Bill of Academic Rights.” I would like to say that the idea of such a bill was my own, but of course it isn’t. The timely reason it sprang to mind was that I had just finished reading Book VIII of David Horowitz’s Black Book of the American Left: The Left in the University, the newest release in Horowitz’s ten-book series of collected conservative writings. In this instalment, Horowitz chronicles his crusade to establish such a bill in law.
The common denominator of all the articles in this volume is the appalling comfort of the academic community with the travesty of scholarship exemplified in the Shepherd affair, where an attempt by a young and intellectually uncorrupted colleague to embody the spirit of actual scholarly research by presenting both sides of an argument on a question of principle was attacked as an evil impulse.
In my own commentary, thanks once again to Horowitz, who references it frequently in Volume VIII, I adduced the 1915 American Association of University Professors’ “Declaration on the Principles of Academic Tenure and Academic Freedom.” It included this statement: “Faculty members are expected to present information fairly, and to set forth justly, divergent opinions that arise out of scholarly methodology and professionalism.” This is a tenet that was observed by my own university professors in the 1960s, but which has been honoured almost completely in the breach thenceforth.
Today the AAUT seems more concerned with protecting the rights of teachers to indoctrinate students in their social justice shibboleths than to offer “divergent opinions” or to train them in the critical reasoning skills that will allow them to arrive at their own conclusions. As former AAUT head, Cary Nelson, put it, “all teaching and research is fundamentally and deeply political.” Given that understanding, academic freedom is not about a student’s right to a balanced education; it is about an academic’s right to promote his or version of social justice. In fact, academic freedom in the eyes of the AAUT has become what Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcus called “repressive tolerance,” the freedom to ignore and suppress the student’s right to learn in the service of political correctness.
Here is but one example Horowitz offers of a leftist academic’s view of her own right to academic freedom and her own privilege to teach students what, versus how to think: In his article “My Visit to Bates” (originally published as “Enemy of the People” in Salon.com in April, 1999), Horowitz describes his experience, while making the rounds of universities on a speaking tour to promote his Academic Bill of Rights, of auditing a political science course at Bates University in Maine.
The course, taught by an Indian woman educated in England, was based on a single 600-page anthology, Modernity, which, Horowitz discovered when he bought it, included viewpoints ranging “from classical Marxism to feminist Marxism to post-modernist Marxism.” When Horowitz admonished the professor after class for the one-sidedness of her teaching, she complacently replied, “Well, they get the other side from the newspapers.” (As an aside, Horowitz notes that Bates students’ parents pay $30,000 a year in tuition for their children’s indoctrination.) The book offers many more such outrageous transgressions of academic integrity, gleaned from personal observation and direct reports from students, and well repays the curiosity of anyone who wonders if concern over political correctness in the universities is exaggerated.
Horowitz’s tour occurred in the late 90s and early naughts. The situation is worse today. Rooting out incorrectness is carried on more aggressively. For example, it was established in an inquiry that Shepherd’s supervisor lied to her about there having been a complaint about her teaching method. There was none. But he clearly felt a lie was a small price to pay for an official opportunity to correct her thought crime. Such attitudes do not arise in a vacuum. They are internalized through cultural osmosis.
Indeed, sparked by increasingly emboldened leftist agitators, 2017 in general has been a year of extreme unrest on university campuses all over North America. Physical aggression in the name of social justice has become rampant. Guest lecturers who dare to express opinions that in any way contradict privileged leftist narratives have had their talks cancelled or violently protested, while even mildly dissenting professors have, aided and abetted by their pusillanimous administrations, been subjected to threats of violence. Some have even had to quit their jobs to retain their principles and ensure their physical safety, as in the case of Bret Weinstein of Evergreen State.
Here is a summary of what the Academic Bill of Rights would ensure:
There is nothing in this proposed bill that should scandalize or alarm any reasonable observer. It is fair to say that no conservative would take issue with any of these statements, which allow for the free exploration of views conservatives find repugnant. All conservatives ask is that students be exposed as well to views that leftists find repugnant so that students may weigh both and assess them without undue influence. That is not the case today, and has not been the case for a very long time.
Horowitz is precise in defining what academic freedom is, and what it is not. Academic freedom is not ‘free speech.’ An academic is free to pursue his scholarship according to his profession’s standards, and she is therefore not free from constraints in sharing his opinions. If she were, history professors could deny the Holocaust ever happened. Horowitz writes, “If mere opinion qualified someone to be a professor, professors could be hired for much lower salaries than is presently the case. Opinion is freely available on talk radio and local street corners.” Horowitz wrote these words before the advent of Twitter, which of course is the local street corner exponentially magnified. “Academic freedom,” Horowitz declares, is “freedom within a professional discipline.”
There’s the rub, of course. Professionalism implies knowledge based in evidence, not in authority. Such lines are blurred in the era of identity politics and the normalization of pseudo-disciplines such as Gender Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies, Fat Studies, Disability Studies, Chicano Studies and White Studies and Indigenous Studies, all of which are taught based on the “authority” of Marxism, and all of whose primary purpose is to demonize “oppressors” – the “patriarchy,” white “colonialists” and the U.S. in general – and to recruit activists for organized perpetuation of the identity grievance industry.
“Professionalism” is not a word that springs to mind when one thinks of these pseudo-disciplines and their promulgators, a perfect case in point being conspiracy theorist, cultural appropriator and bogus academic Ward Churchill, whose shameless academic trajectory is chronicled anew in this volume. Students today have been so conditioned to accept academy-laundered political activism as bona fide “disciplines” that most of them wouldn’t be able to articulate the quintessential difference between the science of astronomy and the belief system of astrology.
It is fortunate that Horowitz does not succumb to the kind of cynicism I have just voiced, for it is thanks to his refusal to concede anything to the zeitgeist in standing up for the principles that should be guiding academics that so many of us find the motivation to keep resisting it, even when it seems hopeless. Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights was obstructed and failed to pass in his first campaign, but who is to say that it will never pass? Perhaps the Lindsay Shepherd affair and the Brett Weinstein affair were tipping points in the eyes of the silent majority, who are disgusted at the excesses of the progressive movement and who have finally understood that the issue – whether it is framed as racism, sexism or classism – is never the issue; the issue is always the Marxist revolution.
We won’t know if we have reached that tipping point until we try again. The Left in the University is a perfect companion volume to the events of today, and moreover an inspiration to taking up anew the battle to entrench an Academic Bill of Rights for students in law.
A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.
According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.
In July 2016, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (pictured in front at center)—the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—hosts Ignatius Aphrem II (left), patriarch of Antioch and All East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Aram I, head of Lebanon’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to pay compensation over deaths of three people, in order to end diplomatic standoff
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Israel is paying $5 million in compensation to the families of two people shot dead by an Israeli embassy guard last year, as well as a Jordanian judge killed in a 2014 incident, diplomats in Jordan told the al-Rai newspaper Saturday.
Ultra-Orthodox women and children attend a ceremony to welcome new Torah scrolls in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Oct. 1 2014.
Reuven K., who is about 30 years old, is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man who lives in Betar Illit, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox localities. Reuven studies in a yeshiva, a Jewish school for Talmudic learning, but works half of each day as a wholesale merchant selling religious ritual supplies. His wife, Bracha, works as a bookkeeper in a governmental institution.
Palestinian boss Mahmoud Abbas recently declared that Israel is “a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness.” Moses, King David and thousands of years of Jewish history would disagree. Israel and the Jews are part of the story of human civilization. Over 50% of the human race has a holy book that tells of the Jewish journey to Israel. That includes Mohammed’s own copy of the Koran.
Israel isn’t a “colonial enterprise.” Palestine is.
Anyone who wants to find out where the name Israel comes from can open the Book of Genesis 32:29. The story even appears in Islamic hadiths. But where does “Palestine” really come from?
It may not be a shooting war. For the most part. (Though don’t tell that to some Republicans at a charity game practice who were targeted by a Bernie Sanders supporter.) But it’s a war all the same.
The war is still being fought with paper and protests. But it’s based on irreconcilable differences between parts of the country. Much like the ones that brought on the war between brothers.
This is a topic that I’ve written about quite often over this past year. Rush Limbaugh saw fit to read and promote some of those pieces. And now I’ll be giving a talk on the subject at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’ll take place from Jan 20-22. I’m scheduled to speak on the 21st, but there are plenty of other great speakers there.
The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.
The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.
A document drafted by members of the global Christian community convening at the 3rd International Christian Forum held in Moscow, detailed how over the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80 percent and warned that unless current trends are reversed Christianity “will vanish” from its ancient homelands in a few years’ time. Around the year 2000, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, whereas today there are only 100,000, roughly a 93 percent drop, the document notes. In Syria, the largest cities “have lost almost all of their Christian population.”
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS: “May your house be destroyed.”
This imprecation does not merely relate to someone’s present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation, and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.
The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end, I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.