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February 27, 2005

"only common sense allowed"

Don Herzog: February 27, 2005

David Horowitz and Roger Bowen, general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, appeared on Scarborough Country this past Thursday.  My title comes from host Joe Scarborough's introduction.

Here's a bit of my own common sense.  Watch what happens in response to this inflammatory claim:

HOROWITZ:  Well, there are thousands of Ward Churchills on college campuses, and there are whole departments and programs that express his views that America is a terrorist state, that one man‘s terrorist is another man‘s freedom fighter.

After saying he approves of the ideals of the Academic Bill of Rights, Bowen insists that the real question is whether government should enforce it.  (I agree.)  Then he responds to Horowitz's claim that there are "thousands of Ward Churchills":

BOWEN:  ... And pointing to the Ward Churchills of the world — and there are not thousands of them — I am amazed that Mr. Horowitz has done the math.  There are not thousands.  I think pointing to him is feeding into a public frenzy.

After some irrelevant other comments degenerate into "crosstalk," the host intervenes.

SCARBOROUGH:  No, no, no, no, no.  I don‘t care about all of this.  We are talking about whether campuses are radical or not.  You have said there are 1,000 Ward Churchills out there.


I don't know if Horowitz agrees because he's happy to see his "thousands" demoted to "1,000" or because he doesn't care.  What's a little hyperbole among friends?  The host continues.

SCARBOROUGH:  He says there‘s not.  But let me say this, though.  I mean, last year, two professors did a large-scale survey of American professors and how they vote.  Politically, this is what they found. 

Anthropology professors vote Democratic by 30-1, sociology professors 28-1, political science professors 6-1.  And on average, professors vote Democratic 15-1.

I suppose Scarborough's "let me say this, though" acknowledges that he's changing the subject.  It would be hard to say with a straight face that the evidence of lopsided party membership — and I've already insisted that universities should be more diverse — supports the claim that there are thousands of Ward Churchills.  Or even 1,000.  Before Scarborough produced that data, Horowitz had suggested a link:

HOROWITZ:  ... It‘s a well-known principle of group psychology that, if you fill a room with like-minded people, the center of the room is going to move to the extreme.  Our faculties are 90 percent to 95 percent people of the left, so, of course, you are going to get a lot of Ward Churchills as a result.

His "a lot" quickly followed his "thousands."  I doubt the "well-known principle" generates thousands of Churchills.  I doubt it partly for empirical reasons:  I don't know any, and I've been in universities for decades.  No, don't try suggesting that I wouldn't even notice.  And I doubt it partly because it's very hard to imagine the effect could be so extreme.  Does your church generate martyrs and saints?

Our guests return to the question of why there aren't more conservatives in the academy, and Bowen offers this lame suggestion:

BOWEN:  I would love to have more conservatives, but I think many of them prefer to go into banking or perhaps into economics.

Sigh.  And then Horowitz defends his turn to the legislatures:

HOROWITZ:  ... Look, the bill is necessary.  The legislatures are necessary because the other side, as represented by Mr. Bowen and by these university presidents, will not even acknowledge that there‘s a problem until they have a hammer over them.  The minute they recognize that and take steps to reform their institutions, we will withdraw the legislation.

This all moves fast on screen, of course, and is regularly interrupted by the raucous "crosstalk" supposed to make these talking-head duels exciting.  But I bet some viewers decided that legislatures have to intervene because there are thousands of Ward Churchills.  And I bet Horowitz wanted them to.


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» How Many Ward Churchills Are There? from The Conservative Philosopher

Don Herzog weighs in on the Ward Churchill affair, with particular reference to an exchange on MSNBC's Scarborough Country. See here. If someo... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 27, 2005 1:28:23 PM

» Tracking Dissimulation from Doubly Sure
So the question is, are there thousands of Ward Churchill's on college campuses? (My view might be biased as I am currently taking a class with Jean Elshtain, the antithesis of Ward Churchill, who will come down on anyone like a ton of bricks - quite... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 27, 2005 3:45:10 PM

» Deliberation, Brown-shirt style! from I cite
Sometimes a good example is better than all the theory in the world. Who would have expected that a blog set up by academics to try to bridge the left-right divide would become a pulpit for conservative bullies intent on [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 28, 2005 3:34:23 PM

» Thousands of Little Ward Churchills from PBS Watch
If one takes Horowitz to mean that there are thousands of professors who are simultaneously academic charlatans, plagiarizers, liars about their genealogy, and art forgers then Horowitz' statement is clearly false. [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 28, 2005 4:23:25 PM


Posted by: Paul Shields

I suppose it depends upon how you define the category “Ward Churchills.”

Posted by: Paul Shields | Feb 27, 2005 10:54:36 AM

Posted by: Paul Shields

Right off hand I would think that 1000 is a 'conservative' estimate.

Posted by: Paul Shields | Feb 27, 2005 11:00:48 AM

Posted by: houyhnhnm

Don, if there aren't "thousands of Ward Churchills" in the academy, who are the people who give him standing ovations whenever he speaks on university campuses? Agitators from outside? Students who are more radical than their professors? Is it the same small group that follows him wherever he goes (even to Hawaii)? Do they not count as "Ward Churchills" until their forgeries of Indian art are detected?

I would love to see Ward Churchill speaking on every campus in the country. Maybe then even you, Don, would realize how sick the academy has become.

Posted by: houyhnhnm | Feb 27, 2005 11:30:46 AM

Posted by: S. Weasel

First, define your terms.

If a Churchill is a white guy pretending to be an indian, with a highly dubious academic background and a history of unscholarly hyperbole and ripping off artwork...no, there probably aren't that many of them.

If a Churchill is an academic who feels America got a little taste of its own medicine on September 11 -- and, let's face it, it was high time, too -- then "thousands" probably isn't too far out of line.

Posted by: S. Weasel | Feb 27, 2005 12:04:33 PM

Posted by: Tom


You've got a few of them on your own campus. One that comes to mind is a guy by the name of Juan Cole.

Most of these 'Ward Churchills' seem to populate 'disciplines' such as Women's Studies, Pickyourminority-American Studies, etc. I don't know that you can do anything with a degree in one of these important fields other than teach or protest American institutions, but maybe I'm missing something.

Posted by: Tom | Feb 27, 2005 12:24:09 PM

Posted by: CDC

A couple of weeks ago I caught Churchill's act on C-Span. His psychotic blather had 'em rocking in the aisles. The very sympahetic questioners had non-trivial academic credentials. Unless this doofus busses his supporters around like Grateful Dead groupies, "thousands" sounds like a pretty fair guess.

Posted by: CDC | Feb 27, 2005 12:36:24 PM

Posted by: Platypus

How many of those in the audience are professors? If a thousand people cheer Sarah McLachlan at a concert, does that mean there are thousands of Sarah McLachlans? I wish. Similarly, thousands of people applauding a speech by Ward Churchill doesn't mean there are thousands of Ward Churchills.

Posted by: Platypus | Feb 27, 2005 1:12:15 PM

Posted by: noah

Liberals that agree with S. Weasel are a dime a dozen...they fundamentally hate America. They read N. Chomsky and say "right on" and when they go see Fahrenheit 911 they actually believe its true!! So no wonder they cheer when Churchill thumbs his nose at America.

Don, maybe you should read Horowitz' book on the trajectory of political thought in America on the Left. I think you would understand his position better and you might find yours changing. After all he used to be a 60's radical himself. So did Christopher Hitchens (who now says unabashedly and without reservation that he loves America).

Posted by: noah | Feb 27, 2005 1:33:15 PM

Posted by: john t

I notice that Horowitz didn't say that there are thousands of Churchill like professors on campus,make of that what you want but it leaves the door open to influence on students. As to faculty,the defense based on academic freedom directed to Churchill might be juxtaposed against the nostril flaring hatred aimed at Horowitz for at least a hint of where thousands of professors follow their hearts. And I don't mean Don H. There's a lunatic at Columbia who a while ago said that he wished there were 1,000 more 9/11's,I would guess that Columbia would be exempt from his wish,at least the faculty lounge. More chants of academic freedom! What to do? Nothing,let them speak,they shed a light on a unwholesome situation and I welcome legislative action like I welcome a dentist pulling my tooth without novacaine.

Posted by: john t | Feb 27, 2005 1:41:53 PM

Posted by: Steve Horwitz

Indeed it does depend on what one means by "a Ward Churchill." I am certainly far more troubled by the possibility that he has falsified his ethnicity, plagiarized scholarship, and got his job and tenure by lying about a competing offer (not to mention a downright shameful circumventing of the standard tenuring process at CU) than I am about what he said in the infamous article. If "a Ward Churchill" refers to an academic scam artist, then there's just a handful.

If, however, one means someone who thought "America had it coming" on 9/11, then there probably are quite a few. If one means, more specifically, someone willing to call the innocent folks in the towers "little Eichmans," then we shrink the number again. Of course, it's quite possible that one reason why Churchill is lauded is that he said what some number of others thought, but didn't have the guts or stupidity to actually put into print. Knowing the views of some of my colleagues here, I suspect that this last point has some truth to it. The specifics of the Eichmann comparison might go a little too far, but the notion that those in the Towers somehow contributed, if unintentionally, to making the US "ripe" for a 9/11 is one that I wouldn't be surprised to hear them utter.

I don't think that makes them "Ward Churchills" but WC sure gives them some cover.

Posted by: Steve Horwitz | Feb 27, 2005 1:57:31 PM

Posted by: Tom

Steve Horwitz,

You say:

I am certainly far more troubled by the possibility that he has falsified his ethnicity, plagiarized scholarship, and got his job and tenure by lying about a competing offer (not to mention a downright shameful circumventing of the standard tenuring process at CU) than I am about what he said in the infamous article.

Why should we believe that the standard tenuring process at CU (or any other university) is applied to fellow lefties any more vigorously than it was applied to 'Prof.' Churchill? What exactly do they go through when deciding to make an offer of tenure? How difficult would it have been to uncover the crap that Churchill must have presented as scholarship?

My guess is the scrutiny that Churchill got is pretty much par for the course. And there's the rub.

Posted by: Tom | Feb 27, 2005 2:15:26 PM

Posted by: No Labels Please

Hey Don:

Thanks for the post - it shows a good example of self-delusion at work. I honestly believe you think the academy is kinda, sorta a little left of center, with maybe a few wing-nuts thrown in to keep the sixties spirit alive. In fact the politics of the academy are a few mega-parsecs left of center.

There are about 1800 accredited 4 yr colleges in the US. Can we find one professor at each who hates the US, hates capitalism, hates US foreign policy and believes that essentially we had it coming on 9-11? You betcha we can! I'd put the number fitting that description in the tens of thousands.

Here are a few:

University of Texas professor Robert Jensen has written that the terrorists' acts were "no more despicable than the massive acts of terrorism … that the U.S. government has committed during my lifetime."

Richard Falk, a professor at Princeton University, has said that the terrorist attacks occurred because "the mass of humanity … finds itself under the heels of U.S. economic, military, cultural and diplomatic power."

Professor Elisabeth Weber of the University of California-Santa Barbara wrote, "My concern over the U.S. flags surrounding campus is that they endanger the free exchange that normally characterizes our campus."

Rutgers University professor Barbara Foley wrote that "whatever [the terrorist attacks'] proximate cause, its ultimate cause is the fascism of U.S. foreign policy over the past many decades."

Professor Howard Zinn of Boston University wrote, "We need to think about the resentment all over the world felt by people who have been victims of American military action – in Vietnam, in Latin America, in Iraq."

Evergreen State College of Olympia, Wash., professor Larry Mosqueda wrote, "If we multiply by 800-1,000 times the amount of pain, angst, and anger being currently felt by the American public, we might begin to understand how much the rest of the world feels as they are continually victimized [by the U.S.]. …"

A professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Charlie Kurzman, has blamed the terrorist attacks on the U.S. military. He says, "We're playing into the hands of our own militarists, whose interests always lie, I believe, in the exaggeration of threats, armed responses and so on." He added that he "would argue that there is tacit collusion among the militarists of all sides."

Professor George Wright of Chico State University in Chico, Calif., alleges that President Bush wants to "kill innocent people," "colonize" the entire Arab world and secure "oil for the Bush family. …"

University of Minnesota Professor Ezra Hyland blamed Americans

Posted by: No Labels Please | Feb 27, 2005 2:51:22 PM

Posted by: Steve Horwitz

If you read some of the media reports, he essentially bypassed their process and went straight from an academic resource/support position to tenured faculty member upon being appointed to the faculty. That's just way, way out of the usual process. The story is that they were so desirous of appointing a Native American to the Ethnic Studies department that they would do almost anything to keep him, esp. after he claimed, falsely, that he was being strongly wooed elsewhere.

There's plenty of crap scholarship around, both right and left, but at least it goes through something of an agreed upon procedure. Whatever the *content*, Churchill didn't even go through the standard *process*.

Posted by: Steve Horwitz | Feb 27, 2005 2:52:17 PM

Posted by: S. Weasel

Liberals that agree with S. Weasel are a dime a dozen...

Oops! I knew I should've put that whole phrase in quotation marks. I didn't mean I thought it was high time America got its comeuppance.

I would agree with Horwitz, above, that in the broader context I'm less concerned about Churchill's infamous "little Eichmans" essay -- many modern "thinkers" win fame by saying offensive things for the sake of it -- than I am that a completely unqualified fantasist nutcase managed to get himself a professorship, tenure and ultimately a chair.

How many others are out there like him depends entirely on how narrowly we define "like him."

Posted by: S. Weasel | Feb 27, 2005 2:58:21 PM

Posted by: D.A. Ridgely

Just out of curiosity, how would the math work out here? I mean how many colleges and universities are there in the U.S. now, and how many far left ideologues roughly akin to Churchill (ignoring the tenure, credential, etc. issues) would that have to work out to per school?

Posted by: D.A. Ridgely | Feb 27, 2005 3:18:28 PM

Posted by: No Labels Please

DA - see my post above. It's a piece of cake to get to "thousands".

Posted by: No Labels Please | Feb 27, 2005 3:28:44 PM

Posted by: Tad Brennan

"Liberals... fundamentally hate America. .... After all [Horowitz] used to be a 60's radical himself. So did Christopher Hitchens (who now says unabashedly and without reservation that he loves America)."

If you think hating America is typical of being liberal, then you need to get out more. This liberal has never been an America-hater, and I have never heard any of my liberal acquaintances express any hatred of America, either. There's no doubt in my mind that the U.S. is still, as Lincoln wrote, the "last, best hope of earth".

Look, Churchill is simply in no way representative of anything. Not of liberals, not of academics, not of Democrats, not of some "problem" with the University. Extreme cases stand out and get attention, but they are unrepresentative.

Trying to extrapolate from a single whack-job like Churchill to a red-scare on campuses would be like looking at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar/Lew Alcindor when he was an undergrad, and saying "well, if there's one guy like him at UCLA, there must be thousands of seven-footers with clockwork hook shots at the rest of America's colleges and universities". There was a reason he got attention, and it's the same reason Churchill gets attention: there aren't many like him.

If you wanted to get a reality check on that basketball scouting estimate, you'd talk to some coaches on other campuses, right? Okay--from this site, you can hear reports from other campuses. And here's the report: Don Herzog doesn't know any whack-jobs like Churchill, and I don't know any.

If you prefer to go with Horowitz's extrapolation from a single case, then you're going to be signing up some short centers.

Posted by: Tad Brennan | Feb 27, 2005 4:07:50 PM

Posted by: noah


You sure had me fooled with some of your posts in an earlier thread. I actually thought you were reasonable. I did not say that all liberals hate America...just the ones that agree with Ward Churchill or Chomsky or Michael Moore. And it should be clear that these liberals are not a rare species from the enthusiastic reception his views have received at the Univ. of Hawaii for example.

You would probably profit from reading Horowitz' book too where he explores the seemingly paradoxical support/sympathy our enemies receive from the extreme Left.

But Don has determined that Horowitz is a danger to academic freedom so never passes up a chance to attack him.

Posted by: noah | Feb 27, 2005 4:22:13 PM

Posted by: D.A. Ridgely

Well, that isn't really the issue. If the question is whether Horowitz's claim of "thousands" might be true, it seems that only one or two "whack jobs" per campus would fill the bill.

Posted by: D.A. Ridgely | Feb 27, 2005 4:26:25 PM

Posted by: Tom


I think that what Horowitz has written about, and Churchill is representative of, is a large segment of the left that believes:

1. Whenever the United States projects military power, it is immoral and wrong.
2. The interests of other countries (eg: France, Germany, Spain) are more valid, correct, and important than our own.
3. When a Republican is President, the U.S. is always wrong with respect to foreign affairs but when a Democrat is President, the U.S. is mostly right.
4. The economic success we have achieved, when compared to the rest of the world, is immoral.
5. No matter how much money we give to dictators and thugs in Africa or Asia - it's never enough to solve their problems.
6. We're responsible for every ill that has befallen the world (CO2 emissions, global warming, poverty, strife, religious hatred).

Based on the empirical evidence I've seen, these are the foreign policy beliefs that guide liberals. Ward Churchill is just a whacked-out extreme version of your garden variety liberal. There are plenty in academia who believe in, and teach to, the tenets which I've laid out above. The difference is that any conservative who is as far to the right as Ward Churchill is to the left would be excommunicated from the faith. In fact, to be as far to the right as Churchill is to the left, one would almost have to be an honest to goodness fascist. How many of those do you see in the academy?

We conservatives eat our own. You liberals fall all over yourselves to grant them tenure so they can teach our children.

Posted by: Tom | Feb 27, 2005 4:49:04 PM

Posted by: noah

BTW...attended MIT and I know from personal experience that there were plenty of "whack jobs" there including the great Chomsky himself (who has endorsed Churchill). The rhetoric is calmer but the world view is essentially the same..."America is the imperialist oppressor". Tiresome then and tiresome today. Horowitz was one of those "whack jobs" but he got over it.

Posted by: noah | Feb 27, 2005 4:56:49 PM

Posted by: Jim

Here's an interesting question, what do you think the response would be if a university proffessor said something from the crazy right, what if a university proffessor said (Like Ann Coulter did) that we should "invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them all to Christianity", given the recent response to Larry Summers relatively mild comments about the possibility of a difference between men and women, what do you think the majority of academics would be saying about that?

Posted by: Jim | Feb 27, 2005 5:35:39 PM

Posted by: John SteJohnele

Don's OP has some problems: failure to define what is a "Ward Churchill" [nod to multiple posters who jumped on that point]; ignoring the fact that 1.5 Ward Churchills per campus gets us to "thousands pretty quickly [nod to poster who made this point]; but most importantly in my book focusing on the incendiary rhetoric rather than meeting the substantive issues head on. It's all well and good to attach hyperbole, but let's get down to real issues.

At a time when academia tells us that diversity of viewpoint is so essential that it survives strict scrutiny analysis, why is academia also telling us that 10 to 1 and even 30 to 1 ratios raise no signficant issues about encouraging diversity on campus? At a time when much of academia plays the identity-card relentlessly, why are we being told that identity-based-arguments are fallacious when they cut against the current lineup of academics?

Posted by: John SteJohnele | Feb 27, 2005 5:48:41 PM

Posted by: Colin Danby

I'm learning (maybe too slowly) not to engage with people who hide behind pseudonyms, but the latest by "Tom" is too tempting a target.

I think you'd fine difficulty finding *anyone* who believes these 6 principles. (For the record, I don't know anyone who believes even one of them.) For one thing, (1) and (3) are in direct contradiction. Chomsky, to take an obvious example, emerged initially as a critic of the Johnson administration's conduct of the Vietnam war, and was bitterly critical of the Carter and Clinton administrations. Nor are radical critics likely to have any fondness for France (can we say, "Algeria"?) or Germany or Spain. And Chomsky, to stay with that example, has focused much of his criticism over the years precisely on U.S. government support for dictators and thugs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America -- see his *1979* book with Edward Herman. He has been a pungent critic of liberals over the years (http://www.chomsky.info/articles/19690102.htm) -- one of the weirdnesses of the current scene is the half-successful effort by Horowitz et alia to group traditional liberals, various varieties of radical, miscellaneous nationalists, and atavistic killers under the single rubric of "the left."

So, "Tom," given your claim to "empirical evidence," let's have specific citations from the work of even *one* scholar that shows explicit endorsement of these six beliefs.

Posted by: Colin Danby | Feb 27, 2005 5:53:54 PM

Posted by: Tad Brennan

Well, glad to hear I seemed reasonable in earlier posts. Not sure what I did to seem unreasonable in this last one.

Oh wait--maybe I see. Was it because I collapsed your quote into "Liberals... fundamentally hate America", thus giving you a more extreme position than you espoused? If so, I'll tell you why I dropped the part I dropped--it was because you had mentioned another poster in a way that mistook his irony for earnestness, and so I was just dropping out the reference to his name, in order to avoid a red herring. If I wound up distorting your position, then I apologize. If it was something else, you tell me.

Posted by: Tad Brennan | Feb 27, 2005 6:06:00 PM

Posted by: David Velleman

Well, our commenters here have managed to raise the count to eight. That's close to "thousands", wouldn't you say? (Actually, some of the quotations above are so brief and out of context that it's hard to tell whether they really count.)

But I think that an important point is getting lost here. What does it mean to say that the U.S. "had it coming" on 9/11? If it means that the attack was justified or deserved, then the statement is every bit as despicable as Ward Churchill appears to be. But let us not lump Churchill together with those academics who want to explore ways in which American foreign policy has unnecessarily incited people to violence against us. Only people who deny the existence of free will can think that such exploration is intended to excuse or justify the violence. Many people (myself included) think that the Iraq war was a grievous mistake precisely because it has helped Al Qaeda to recruit a new generation of terrorists to attack us. Does my holding this view mean that I think we "have it coming" from those terrorists? Absolutely not. Does it mean that I "hate America"?

All of this talk of academics as "hating America" is bizarre nonsense. What is true, however, is that the academy is a place where people question received opinion. And some of that received opinion has provided the premises for American policy. If by "hating America" you mean "criticizing specific American policies", then you don't know what "hate" is -- or democracy, for that matter, or true patriotism.

Posted by: David Velleman | Feb 27, 2005 6:06:17 PM

Posted by: Don Herzog

Poor self-deluded Don wishes to observe:

1/Quite right, how many Ward Churchills you think there are depends on your criteria for being a Churchill and your empirical beliefs. My post expressed my skepticism about the claims of "thousands" -- I'm with Tad on that -- but that was not its central point. Those eager to run the math and show a mere two or three per campus will show that Horowitz's number was right are missing the point: it is very hard for me to imagine that the case for legislative enactment of the academic bill of rights is in any material way strengthened by the claim that each campus on average can produce two or three Churchills. When viewers of Scarborough Country think, "oh my! thousands of Churchills!" they probably do not say, "yeah, but thousands of campuses too."

2/Other posters return us to the land of repulsive canards and outrageous generalizations that I have already complained essentially work to undercut government by discussion by pretending that the views of many millions of Americans are out of bounds. Liberals that "fundamentally hate America" are "a dime a dozen"? Could have fooled me: I don't know one of them. Noam Chomsky, for the record, will fall all over himself to assure you that he hates liberalism through and through. Similarly, Tom's six positions that "a large segment of the left believes" or that "are the foreign policy beliefs that guide liberals" are wild caricatures. I don't believe one of them. Tom has just found a more articulate way of repeating Coulter's shameless, shameful, and outlandish claim that liberals are traitors. Sorry, no go.

3/No Labels Please strings together things academics have said. I'd want to sharply distinguish explaining and justifying the attacks of 9/11. The two are different enterprises. We can explain why a judge ruled for plaintiff by saying, he was bribed. But that obviously is no justification at all: it's wholly compatible with condemning the judge. Some positions in play in and out of the academy invite us to think about the explanatory role American foreign policy plays in producing violent hatred of America and terrorism. You can entertain those positions, you can even adopt them -- me, I don't know enough to have a view -- without beginning to flirt with the claim that the attacks of 9/11 were justified. I'd have thought that what makes Churchill stand out in the crowd is his repulsive and forthright claim that those in the World Trade Center got what they deserved.

Posted by: Don Herzog | Feb 27, 2005 6:10:12 PM

Posted by: Steven Horwitz

Don's distinction between explanation and justification is well-taken here. I think there are many who think US actions explain why 9/11 happened (thousands of "Ward Churchills?" no). There are very few who think 9/11 was *justified*. Perhaps this distinction is one that slips by in the "crosstalk?"

In my earlier post I suggested that there are a decent number of leftist academics who might think that the business that used to be done in the Twin Towers (and certainly the Pentagon!) was part of the *explanation* of 9/11. Not many of them think it justfies it, precisely because the problem is structural not personal/intentional.

Posted by: Steven Horwitz | Feb 27, 2005 6:44:56 PM

Posted by: Robert Johnson

It seems to me that there is a confusion between being critical and being in the opposition party. The academy is critical. But it isn't the opposition party. So suppose the academy is dominated by people who are critical of current US foreign policy. I am willing to entertain the possibility that the Horowitz explanation is true of a few cases, viz., that a lefty litmus test was applied at hiring and promotion time of a particular faculty member, and the faculty member is just a knee-jerk anti-american. However, this is simply preposterous as a general explanation, laughable. It is the academy's job to be critical, to reflect on things longer than others might, to raise and pursue ideas and possibilities that others have no time to raise and pursue. How could we not come up with critical positions? Just exactly how could the academy avoid it? And the idea that the academy is in lock-step opposition is even more preposterous. Two dissenting academics, three opinions about what is wrong with our foreign policy. Among those I know who oppose our policies, I can hardly find anyone who agrees with me about the right explanation of what or why.

Posted by: Robert Johnson | Feb 27, 2005 6:45:46 PM

Posted by: noahpraetorius@hotmail.com

Sorry Don no go.

Just to what crowd were the protesters at the inauguration playing to be calling the president Bushitler? Go on the Daily Kos and read sometime. Maybe it borders on slander to call them liberals but what inspires their rhetoric if not hate?...it certainly is not reason in my opinion....perhaps we can call it "the emotion that inspires the desire to constantly scurrilously attack ones nation"...I'll just call it hate thank you very much. And those who applaud the haters are in the same boat.

The fact that "the Left" has been pretty much silenced by the recent elections in Iraq is an indication of "how they really feel" and it is not pretty.

Posted by: noahpraetorius@hotmail.com | Feb 27, 2005 6:54:18 PM

Posted by: Colin Danby

Re John's post:

"At a time when academia tells us that diversity of viewpoint is so essential that it survives strict scrutiny analysis"

What does that mean?

Who/what is this voice called "academia" that tells you things?

"why is academia also telling us that 10 to 1 and even 30 to 1 ratios raise no signficant issues about encouraging diversity on campus?"

Again, who is doing this telling?

And where do these numbers come from, anyway?

"At a time when much of academia plays the identity-card relentlessly"

Who exactly are we talking about? I see you have moved from "academia" to just "much of academia" but this is still sweeping and unevidenced.

"why are we being told that identity-based-arguments are fallacious when they cut against the current lineup of academics?"

I'm glad you've recognized that the Horowitz proposals to force institutions to hire more conservatives are essentially identity politics.

Posted by: Colin Danby | Feb 27, 2005 6:57:59 PM

Posted by: CDC

"Many people (myself included) think that the Iraq war was a grievous mistake precisely because it has helped Al Qaeda to recruit a new generation of terrorists to attack us."

Has it really? One of the few advantages to growing up in a violent slum is the opportunity it affords to study bullies. I can assure you that brutally stomping a couple does not make it easier to recruit others.

Posted by: CDC | Feb 27, 2005 7:04:41 PM

Posted by: bakho

Then there are these radical organizations polluting the minds of young college students. There are thousands of these people on college campuses for every one Ward Churchill.




Posted by: bakho | Feb 27, 2005 7:06:36 PM

Posted by: Mona

For examples of "other Ward Churchills" one place to start would be David Horowitz and Ben Johnson's booklet, Campus Support for Terrorism; intro and (PDF) link to whole thing found here


At one “antiwar” teach-in at Columbia University, conducted by 30 faculty and attended by 3,000 students, Professor Nicholas De Genova declared: “Peace is subversive, because peace anticipates a very different world than the one in which we live – a world where the U.S. would have no place. The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military. I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus."

This was a reference to the site in Somalia where an al-Qaeda warlord ambushed and killed 18 American troops, then dragged their bodies through the streets. According to reports, the crowd “applauded loudly” when De Genova continued, “If we really [believe] that this war is criminal...then we have to believe in the victory of the Iraqi people and the defeat of the U.S. war machine.” The “Iraqi people” the Columbia teach-in cheered to victory are the same terrorist forces that carried out the torture and rape of Saddam’s political opponents and their families as a matter of course, and have since killed more than 1,000 U.S. servicemen.

Posted by: Mona | Feb 27, 2005 7:30:12 PM

Posted by: Don Herzog

In the past, bakho has done good work on this blog. Not this time.

noah, I tried dailykos once or twice and thought it was jejune and offensive. I think they are playing to the same people those brandishing signs and screams of "Bushitler" are playing to. This audience is not called liberals. It is called adolescents. They are the very same audience that Ann Coulter plays to. Again I think the cleavage that matters in these matters is between those willing to engage on reasonably civil terms, and those interested in amusing themselves by mudslinging. Again I think it is always easy, too easy, to say, yes but you guys started it. There are adolescents on both sides of the aisle, so it is plain absurd to tar and feather liberals by pointing out that there are adolescents who claim to be among them.

Posted by: Don Herzog | Feb 27, 2005 7:30:37 PM

Posted by: houyhnhnm

Don, you didn't "express skepticism" about Horowitz's numbers. You mocked them. Time to eat crow.

As for David Velleman's indignant assertion that "the academy is a place where people question received opinion," all I can say is, Tell it to Larry Summers.

(Hey, you throw me those fat pitches, I'm gonna hit 'em out of the park.)

Posted by: houyhnhnm | Feb 27, 2005 7:56:01 PM

Posted by: D.A. Ridgely

I dunno, maybe I'm one of those adolescents. Reading Mr. Herzog's latest comments, I just kept focusing on the words "Ann Coulter" and "cleavage" so close together.

Posted by: D.A. Ridgely | Feb 27, 2005 7:58:55 PM

Posted by: Mona

This quote:

Some years ago a distinguished member of this radical generation, Richard Rorty, summarized its achievement in the following words: "The power base of the left in America is now in the universities, since the trade unions have largely been killed off. The universities have done a lot of good work by setting up, for example, African-American studies programs, Women’s Studies programs, Gay and Lesbian Studies programs. They have created power bases for these movements." Rorty is a professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia and one of the nation’s most honored intellectual figures. He is also an editor of the democratic socialist magazine Dissent and a moderate in the ranks of the left. That such an intellectual should celebrate the conversion of academic institutions into political "power bases" speaks volumes about the tragedy that has befallen the university.

is an exceprt from Horowitz's piece

Missing Diversity on Campus at his new site dedicated to exploring networking and affiliations among the far left, including the academy. At this link you may also find a list of books exploring the problem of political orthodoxy that generally exists on campus -- I do not vouch for all these tomes, and in fact have read only about 1/4 of them.

(Praying that I am doing the linking thing properly in this thread -- a rare event.)

Posted by: Mona | Feb 27, 2005 8:01:37 PM

Posted by: houyhnhnm

And the idea that the academy is in lock-step opposition is even more preposterous. ... Among those I know who oppose our policies, I can hardly find anyone who agrees with me about the right explanation of what or why.

That's gotta be up there with Pauline Kael's famous comment about not understanding how Nixon could have been elected, since she didn't know anyone who voted for him. (BTW, does anybody have a citation for that quote? I'm starting to wonder whether it might be apocryphal.)

Posted by: houyhnhnm | Feb 27, 2005 8:04:41 PM

Posted by: Tad Brennan

There's a general issue here about the relation between extreme and moderate forms of things.

Suppose you point to a cutting of kudzu that grows two feet a day--"That's an extreme form of your garden variety kudzu," you say, and I nod and say "yup, nasty stuff--even the most moderate form is always on the verge of getting out of hand."

Now suppose we read an article about a sports-fan who bankrupted his family's finances to buy tickets to the big game--"That's an extreme form of your garden variety sports-fan," you say, and I nod and say "yup, that's what's wrong with sports-fans--even the moderate ones are always on the verge of ruining their families finances."

Clearly, that would be a crazy thing for me to say. There's nothing wrong with being a *moderate* sports fan, and the problem with being an *extreme* sports fan is simply *that*, i.e. being so extreme about it that you lose all sense of responsibility and proportion.

In some cases of an extreme--the case of the kudzu, for instance--the extreme form gives us vivid evidence of a problem shared by all members of the species.

In other cases--the case of the sports-fan, for instance--the extreme form is the only one with the problem--and the only problem is that this member is so *extreme*. If we remove the "extreme" from the "sports-fan", what is left is not intrinsically offensive or problematic. It's not as though every sports-fan is just a bankrupt waiting to happen.

Only if you had some sort of prejudice against sports-fans already would you treat an extreme case like this as indicative of some uniform pathology underlying the attitudes of all sports fans. If you don't think there is anything intrinsically wrong with being a sports-fan, you see the extreme form for what it is--an anomaly that doesn't reflect the rest of the group.

I'm just reflecting on Tom's comment from above:

"Ward Churchill is just a whacked-out extreme version of your garden variety liberal. "

Maybe there is *some* sense in which this is true. But why would it show that there is anything wrong with garden variety liberals? Why doesn't it just show that what is wrong with the extreme form is exactly that it is extreme?

Some left-wing extremist like to talk as though every Republican voter is a closet David Duke--they take right-wing nuts as indicative of what all conservatives really think, in their heart of hearts.

I think that is factually inaccurate, and deeply destructive of the sense of shared values and shared expectations of good faith and reasonableness that this country needs to remain a thriving democracy. (I also think it means those people should get out more often--do they simply not *know* any Republicans, live with them, talk with them, etc.?)

So too, some people on the right want to make it out that every liberal is a closet Ward Churchill, and worse, a closet traitor. This is a favorite trope of the hate-radio crowd.

Here too, I think the attitude is inaccurate, divisive, and evidence of a stale social life.

When some bozo sells off the family furniture to buy Cubs tickets, that tells you about the bozo, not sports fans. When Ward Churchill spouts off with nonsense, that tells you about Ward Churchill, not about liberals.

Posted by: Tad Brennan | Feb 27, 2005 8:13:11 PM

Posted by: oliver

The Bush administration does indeed seem a bit like Hitler's, but also presumably like others, in using war and fear to generate political capital. Bush's presentations to the people are full of simplistic nationalist appeals, lies and distortions and his administration is extraordinarily secretive. Why not invoke Hitler?

Posted by: oliver | Feb 27, 2005 8:27:20 PM

Posted by: oliver

I mean, aside from him probably not being genocidal.

Posted by: oliver | Feb 27, 2005 8:29:44 PM

Posted by: No Labels Please

Look - the point about the exact number of Ward Churchill equivalents is not that interesting. I think it's pretty obvious to anyone who has actually spent time in our universities that there are many, many professors that share the radical, anti-capitalist, America-loathing mindset which he personifies. And hey, it sells well to the kids! They like it! They really like it! Well, that is until they sober up and get jobs...but that's a different story.

The point is that not only are faculties heavily left/right imbalanced as has been pointed out before, but that a cult of personality is allowed to develop around certain professors who preach nonsense that is attractive to immature minds. These cults seem to develop mainly around far-left professors who are unaccountable to objective reality or even basic scholarship standards due to the tenure system. This is called academic freedom.

The solution here is to replace tenure with a long term employment contract for academics - say seven years. At each renewal their record of teaching and research achievement should be reviewed as well as other contributions to the university, positive or negative. This will prevent the development and persistence of unaccountable academic movements or pathological personality types, which presently cripple large swaths of academia.

What's interesting is that liberals want to open up admissions to universities via affirmative action in the name of diversity, but seem terrified of getting rid of the main driver of ideological monopolies on campus - the tenure system.

Posted by: No Labels Please | Feb 27, 2005 8:34:58 PM

Posted by: David Velleman


That quotation from De Genova has been recycled endlessly by Horowitz and his ilk. It was an awful remark. But like most of Horowitz's "evidence", it's nothing but a carefully chosen anecdote, in no way representative or indicative of the academy as a whole.

Where were you on 9/11, Mona? Were you on a university campus? I was. I watched the towers fall on a television at the Michigan Union, surrounded by students, faculty, and staff. I know what was felt and what was said on my campus. Don't lecture me about how academics reacted to that atrocity. I was at the University all day long, and I know what the reaction was on that day and in the following days and weeks.

David Horowitz wants you to believe that we in the academy reacted differently from our fellow citizens, and you appear to be all too happy to oblige him.

Enough. Most of us (Don, Liz Anderson, I, and other academics writing here) have agreed that there is a lack of ideological diversity in the academy. But this crap about "hating America" and celebrating 9/11 -- this is offensive, and it's a lie.

Posted by: David Velleman | Feb 27, 2005 8:39:50 PM

Posted by: Mona

Tad Brennan writes: When Ward Churchill spouts off with nonsense, that tells you about Ward Churchill, not about liberals.

The problem, as I have repeatedly said, is not liberals anywhere, including on campus. Depending on the issue, I would fall into the liberal camp, as would no small number of Bush supporters, such as, for example, we libertarians who are unhappy with attacking and marginalizing gays.

The issue is with radical leftists who dominate many or most disciplines that end in the word "studies," and their confreres in the disciplines that do not. They are a large force, and influential on campus. They are politicized and openly embrace their mission as one of spreading a political gospel.

Such academics -- who, again, are numerous and influential especially in "studies" disciplines -- do not all think Churchill is an extremist peddling nonsense, and some other academics have their own ties to domestic or foreign terrorism. You can read about one such other academic at Hamilton College's Other Leftist Problem, a quote:

By now, it is well known that New York state's Hamilton College invited, then uninvited, to its campus a radical professor who has repeatedly stated the victims of 9/11 deserved to die. What is less well known is that the professor who sponsored Ward Churchill's talk has a long history of radicalizing her college, shares ideological and family ties to domestic terrorists -- and is still being well-compensated for her efforts to spread anti-American hatred among that college's student body.

Posted by: Mona | Feb 27, 2005 8:40:35 PM

Posted by: Tad Brennan


Thanks for pointing me to the case of De Genova at Columbia. I find his statements appalling, esp. that line about wanting a "million Mogadishus." That is a callous disregard for human life if I have ever heard one.

For the sake of perspective, I should also note what I find in the article that appeared the following week in that left-wing rag, the National Review:

"Historian Alan Brinkley, who was on the same panel as DeGenova at the teach-in, also denounced the anthropology professor's comments. "I had never met or even heard of Prof. DeGenova until he spoke that night, and I was appalled by what he said, and ashamed to be on the same platform with him," Brinkley said. "I certainly defend his right to say whatever he wishes, but the rest of us have an equal right to disassociate ourselves from his abhorrent remarks." Professor Eric Foner, who helped organize the teach-in, told Newsday that DeGenova's comments were "idiotic." "


And the article reports that another faculty member, Gerald Neuman, protested his comments that very night.

When the De Genova incident is reported as part of an event "conducted by 30 faculty", it makes it sound as though there were 30 faculty up there all chanting for more Mogadishus. That's not how it went, clearly.

In fact, the National review article says that De Genova's remarks were "met with silence from the audience." So it wasn't like the 3,000 kids were agreeing, either.

The NR article wishes that more faculty had spoken up at the time, and that the kids had outright booed instead of falling into stony silence. I agree, but then again I can never think of the right thing to say in a crunch mysef, so I have some sympathy with people who sit in outraged silence.

This is the normal situation in universities--a lot of disagreement among the faculty, and the students not terribly receptive of any strong ideological line. If you had told me that all 30 faculty agreed with De Genova, I would have been even more appalled, but also extremely skeptical, simply because you can seldom get 30 faculty to agree on anything.

Again, Mona, I'm glad you brought this case to my attention. I tell people about my experiences because it helps to give others a broader picture. This case has helped to give me a broader picture, too. It's a very ugly picture of De Genova.

Posted by: Tad Brennan | Feb 27, 2005 8:42:38 PM

Posted by: Don Herzog

No Labels Please writes,

I think it's pretty obvious to anyone who has actually spent time in our universities that there are many, many professors that share the radical, anti-capitalist, America-loathing mindset which he personifies.

Funny, but I've spent a few decades in our universities, and I have not found "many, many" such characters at all. Believe it or not, a lot of very left professors are staunch patriots. Their patriotism takes the historically familiar form of decrying (what they see as) the yawning gap between the wonderful ideals and aspirations of our country and (what they see as) its dismal failure to live up to them.

Philosophers have different theories of truth. Crudely we can demarcate coherence and correspondence theories, as well as various theories on which "truth" is not something about which we have anything interesting to say. Sometimes I think what people actually act on is the repetition theory of truth: say it enough times, hear your voice in an echo chamber, get other people to say it to you too, and hey it's true! But it isn't.

So I continue to think that the claims voiced here about universities are largely bizarre fantasies. And I wonder how readers who do not in fact live and work in universities gain the serene confidence they have to lecture those of us who do that we're obviously wrong.

Let me return to something Horowitz said on Scarborough Country:

there are thousands of Ward Churchills on college campuses, and there are whole departments and programs that express his views that America is a terrorist state,

I'm wondering what departments those are. I've never bumped into them, either.

Posted by: Don Herzog | Feb 27, 2005 8:50:52 PM

Posted by: Jay Cline

I find it ironic that some people (no labels here) believe with absolute certainty that Churchill has a right to say what he wants, when he wants, and on a public salary, no matter how universally offensive, but a few weeks ago, on this very blog, so many called for Bill O'Reilly's head for asserting that America is mostly a Christian society and non-Christians had no right to call for an abolition of Christmas cards. Oh how the majority suffers so...

Posted by: Jay Cline | Feb 27, 2005 9:07:28 PM

Posted by: D.A. Ridgely

Mr. Herzog:

I'm not asking this question rhetorically, I'm really curious. How much time have you (or Mr. Velleman, for that matter) spent examining or even listening to whatever goes on in those "Studies" departments we non-leftists keep carping about? For that matter, outside general faculty meetings, how much opportunity could you have to gage what is going on in any other departments, classrooms, etc.?

I don't doubt that you are significantly better situated to view what goes on at college campuses than, say, I am; but don't you spend most of your time in your own departments, with your own students and colleagues, doing your own research, etc.? I know there are faculty meetings and such, but aren't they really the exception to the rule?

Again, I'm not trying to be provocative, I'm merely questioning how much better your perspective can be, especially at a large school like Michigan.

Posted by: D.A. Ridgely | Feb 27, 2005 9:07:44 PM

Posted by: Sam

Don's initial post demonstrates the impossibility of debating Horowitz's allegations. It is obvious that Horowitz is simply making numbers up. He has not done systematic analysis; he has not defined his terms (what is the difference between a Ward Churchill and a person willing to consider how US policies may explain some part of the anti-Americanism in the world today); he throws around incendiary terms: "anti-American"; he equates simply defining oneself as a Democrat with ideological extremism. What is to debate here? Horowitz is not interested in debate; he is interested in a conservative political takeover of the university and he wants to use state power to enforce ideological orthodoxy. Scarborough is a bit queasy about the use of state power bit - he has a libertarian streak - but seems quite comfortable with accepting Horowitz's definition of the "problem."
Let me make a connection that will probably upset our conservative friends. There is an easy solution. It is the same solution that has been suggested in the recent flare up over affirmative action in law schools (see "A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools"), where it was suggested that preferences were really not necessary for blacks at elite institutions because they would find plenty of places in schools other than the most competitive and would succeed in life better if they took up opportunities out of the elite schools. Perhaps conservatives should just give up on the top tier "liberal" universities and colleges. There are plenty of avowed conservative institutions where you can happily reproduce your ideology without the slightest threat of critical challenge: Jerry Falwell would be happy to have you. And you would still get all think tank jobs in DC! Here's the Young America's Foundation's Top Ten Conservative Colleges:

* Hillsdale College
* Grove City College
* Franciscan University
* Indiana Wesleyan University
* Thomas Aquinas College
* Harding University
* College of the Ozarks
* Liberty University
* Patrick Henry College
* Christendom College

Who needs Michigan or Yale or Williams!

Posted by: Sam | Feb 27, 2005 9:11:44 PM

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