The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America
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|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
|LC Class||LB2331.72 .H67 2006|
The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America is a 2006 book by conservative American author and policy advocate David Horowitz. Contending that many academics in American colleges hold anti-American perspectives, Horowitz lists one hundred examples who he believes are sympathetic to terrorists and non-democratic governments.
Following the Ward Churchill September 11 attacks essay controversy, Horowitz argued that there were many "careers like Ward Churchill’s". He wrote that "Not all of the professors depicted in this volume hold views as extreme as Ward Churchill’s, but a disturbing number do" and "it would have been no problem to provide a thousand such profiles or even ten times the number." Horowitz uses quotes from the professors he names, and argues that two controversies involving former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers show that administrators refrain from challenging radicals. Horowitz devoted three pages to the defense of former Senator Joseph McCarthy, a defense that criticized Victor Navasky, the former longtime editor of The Nation and now professor of journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Free Exchange on Campus report
Horowitz's accusations were reviewed by Free Exchange on Campus, a coalition of organizations that came together to "protect the free exchange of speech and ideas on campus." Disputing Horowitz's book, the report, Facts Count: An Analysis of David Horowitz’s The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, states the following in a footnote to the executive summary.
Mr. Horowitz’s apologia for the tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy appears in his chapter on Professor Victor Navasky (292–95). Mr. Horowitz writes, “It is now known, except for holdouts like Professor Navasky, that McCarthy underestimated the extent of Soviet infiltration in the American government and that virtually all individuals called before congressional committees were involved in a conspiratorial network controlled by the Kremlin” (294).
Mr. Horowitz bases this statement on a book on Soviet intelligence by historians Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Kyrill M. Anderson (Yale University Press, 1998) which does not make this claim. The Venona intercepts are a set of secret Soviet cables that were declassified in the mid-1990s. Many mainstream historians agree that they appear to provide further evidence implicating Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as Soviet spies. However, Mr. Horowitz’s much broader claim that the intercepts implicate “virtually all individuals called before congressional committees” as being “involved in a conspiratorial network controlled by the Kremlin,” is false.
Jacob Laksin, managing director at FrontPageMag, in turn made a series of detailed responses to this report. He concluded:
In sum “Facts Counts” identifies a handful of trivial errors in a 112,000 word text, supplies many similar errors of its own, adds blatant falsehoods, misrepresents differences of opinion as matters of fact, and indulges in numerous ad hominem assaults on its author including the claim that he is “sloppy in the extreme” and that his work is characterized by inaccuracies, distortions, and manipulations of fact – including false statements, mischaracterizations of professors’ views, broad claims unsupported by facts and selective omissions of information that does not fit his argument.” On examination, none of these charges is sustained. Simply stated, “Facts Count” is an intellectually sleazy and inept attempt to discredit a book whose opinions the authors dislike.
Responses by persons mentioned
Horowitz accuses Eric Foner, former president of the American Historical Association of being an "apologist for American Communism." Foner said, "Mr. Horowitz's 'chapter' on me is full of errors, beginning with the long quote with which he opens, which was written by someone else, not me. This is a fair example of the reliability of his work. But to get into a debate about Horowitz is a waste of time, and accords his attacks a legitimacy they do not deserve."
Horowitz wrongly attributed to Foner a statement by the late author and journalist, Paul Foot. In the introduction to his book, Horowitz said the profiles were written by 30 researchers he had hired. He wrote: "I have revised and edited all of the profiles contained in this text and rewritten many . . . I am ultimately responsible for their judgements and accuracy." On his blog, Horowitz admitted wrongly attributing material to Eric Foner, blamed the error on the 30 researchers, and went on to say that the errors in his book are "inconsequential."
Horowitz accused Dana L. Cloud, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Texas at Austin, as an “anti-American radical” who “routinely repeats the propaganda of the Saddam regime” and, along with all of the 99 other professors in his book, Horowitz accuses her of the “explicit introduction of political agendas into the classroom.” (pp. 93, 377)
Cloud replied in Inside Higher Ed that her experience demonstrates that Horowitz does real damage to professors' lives – and that he needs to be viewed that way, not just as a political opponent.
Horowitz's attacks have been significant. People who read the book or his Web site regularly send letters to university officials asking for her to be fired. Personally, she has received – mostly via e-mail – "physical threats, threats of removing my daughter from my custody, threats of sexual assaults, horrible disgusting gendered things," she said. That Horowitz doesn't send these isn't the point, she said. "He builds a climate and culture that emboldens people," and as a result, shouldn't be seen as a defender of academic freedom, but as its enemy.
Horowitz also alleged that professor Michael Bérubé's classes "often have little to do with literature," and that Bérubé believes "religious people were to be regarded as simply irrational."
Bérubé, who teaches at Penn State University and sits on the National Council of the American Association of University Professors, replied that Horowitz "knows nothing about my classroom demeanor or my record as a faculty member. If he were a college student and tried to get away with this garbage, he would indeed be flunked – not for his conservatism, but for his mendacity." Bérubé was also invited to comment at Horowitz's magazine, and Bérubé wrote a response to questions provided by Horowitz's assistant. Horowitz published only an excerpted version of his response, prompting accusations of dishonesty from Bérubé.
The review in the industry news digest Publishers Weekly stated that Horowitz's "intention to expose the majority of these professors as 'dangerous' and undeserving of their coveted positions seems petty in some cases, as when he smugly mocks the proliferation of departments dedicated to peace studies or considers 'anti-war activist' as a character flaw... the most egregious crimes perpetrated by the majority of these academics is that their politics don't mesh with Horowitz's."
Shortly after the book was released in January 2006, Neil Gross, assistant professor of sociology at Harvard University, wrote a review for the Boston Globe calling it poor scholarship and criticizing it for being one-sided, noting that Horowitz was especially eager to criticise Marxists.
A USA Today article, citing the report by Free Exchange on Campus mentioned above, stated that "The book profiles faculty who Horowitz says represent the kind of disorder going on in college classrooms today. But professor by professor, the report cites errors, fabrications and misleading statements, and concludes that Horowitz's research is "manipulated to fit his arguments. Citing the report's findings, the newspaper said Horowitz accuses sociology senior lecturer Sam Richards of reinforcing class lessons "with 'out-of-class' assignments that include the viewing of left-wing propaganda films, such as "The Oil Factor", from which students learn that the 'war in Afghanistan has turned into a bloody quagmire,' ... and Occupation 101, about the horrors of Israel's 'occupation' of Palestinian terrorists,'" Richards responded, in the report, to the book's claims, saying Horowitz "disingenuously fails to note that students also receive credit for attending 'conservative' events, including a talk by none other than David Horowitz!"
Charles McGrath, reviewing the book for The New York Times, wrote "you have to wonder what Mr. Horowitz is so worried about. If indeed there is a professorial cabal dedicated to converting American students to Marxism, or worse, it is manifestly failing. The country is more conservative than it has been in decades, and by far the most popular undergraduate major these days is business." McGrath wrote that Horowitz is concerned with "a pervasive liberal bias at American universities" and that "Academic freedom is being so abused by such people, Mr. Horowitz believes, that he has drawn up an Academic Bill of Rights that, if its conservative supporters have their way, would put the state, and not the university, in charge of reviewing what professors are entitled to say."
In the National Review, Alston B. Ramsay wrote: "For anyone who has monitored higher education's pulse rate even cursorily during the last three decades, the central premise of The Professors will come as no surprise: Our universities have been hijacked by a band of rabid, anti-intellectual liberals more concerned with advancing ideological agendas – usually of the "social justice" variety – than with educating students. (Predictably, both the ACLU and the National Education Association have blasted the book.)"
Paul Weyrich of the conservative Free Congress Foundation commented that "Horowitz estimates that there are about 60,000 of these radical professors in every part of the nation... We are not talking about liberals here. Horowitz is clear that while he thinks liberals are wrong they are entitled to their opinions. Rather, we are talking about the most vile, America-hating Stalinist-style professors who will accept no dissent. They preach tolerance and then practice the opposite."
In a March 2007 debate with Horowitz, American Association of University Professors President Cary Nelson told the author: "That’s largely a book in which for many of those people their primary works of scholarship are simply set aside and ignored. Occasional political comments are taken out of context sometimes, letters to the editor, you know, occasional political interventions and their entire lives – and their meaning and their presence in American culture is evaluated on the basis of those occasional statements. That to me, as a scholar, was a fundamental violation of fairness."
- The organizations that make up Free Exchange on Campus
- Facts Count – An Analysis of David Horowitz’s The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America by Free Exchange on Campus May 2006.
- Jacob Laksin Discounting the Facts FrontPageMagazine.com, June 15, 2006. – Part II – Part III – Part IV
- Alec Magnet, Nine Professors At Columbia Are Deemed 'Dangerous' New York Sun, February 21, 2006
- Horowitz, David (February 27, 2006), Reply to Critic: Not as Serious as a Heart Attack – (Archived original at Dangerous Professors – Most dangerous academics in America)
- "Communicating About David Horowitz" in Inside Higher Ed, February 19, 2008
- Lawrence Jackson, Ex-liberal navigates right, Associated Press
- Penn State Professor tells of Horowitz's dishonesty in defense of his book.
- "Nonfiction review: The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America" Publishers Weekly. Jan 30, 2006.
- Neil Gross, "Right, left, and wrong: David Horowitz's latest attack on America's left-leaning college professors doesn't add up", Boston Globe, February 26, 2006
- Rosa Brooks (September 15, 2006). "Rosa Brooks: Students, Beware Professor Osama". Los Angelos Times. Archived from the original on 2012-01-27.
- Charles McGrath, "A Liberal Education? Depends on Who's Looking", New York Times, November 5, 2006
- Take back the schools. May 8, 2006
- Review of Horowitz's book and his extensive attacks on his critics.
- "David Horowitz debunks David Horowitz: a Media Matters analysis of The Professors". Media Matters for America. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
- "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America". Accuracy In Media. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
- "Cary Nelson : Syllabus: Holocaust Poetry". cary-nelson.org. Retrieved 6 March 2015.