May 18, 2002
Over the weekend, if you
Over the weekend, if you have a few minutes, check out the complete text of David Horowitz's pamphlet, "How the Left Undermined America's Security." It's long, but worth it to hear an alternative, and uncompromising, perspective on the Clinton years, U.S. foreign policy, and the role of the academic left in preparing the U.S. citizenry to become apologists for terrorism. This is the long version of the talk Horowitz has been delivering at the nation's campuses since September. Or, more precisely, it's the long version of the talk he has been trying to deliver at the nation's campuses since September. Conservative student groups often can't afford to bring him to campus; liberal student groups don't want to bring him to campus; and radical student groups frequently try to disrupt his visits by protesting and even shouting him down. But whether you buy what he has to say or not, his views are worth taking seriously for the simple reason that they pose serious challenges to the truisms about oppression, imperialism, and resistance that many us who came of age during the Clinton years have uncritically believed but never truly examined. Far from trying to keep Horowitz off campus, students of all political persuasions should be mad as hell that their own professors do not make his opinion, and opinions like his, available to them.
A truly liberal education does not pre-select what perspectives you will hear, because it is not trying to control what you believe. An education that not only denies students access to conservative viewpoints, but teaches students that there is really only one right way to understand history and politics, is not an education, but an indoctrination. We are seeing the effects of such illiberalism right now at Berkeley and SFSU and the University of South Carolina and countless other campuses. And, as the American people begin to demand answers, we are hearing how deafeningly quiet are the faculty--over 90% of whom are left of center--who have collectively taught their students to think like fundamentalists rather than responsible citizens.
Horowitz's piece deals mainly with Clinton's languid foreign policy and casual attitudes toward defense. But he does touch on the place of academe in the creation of national security problems, noting how the politicization of the academy not only created a climate of marked tolerance for terrorism, but failed to produce graduates with the sorts of linguistic and cultural knowledge necessary for high-level intelligence work. If you want still more on the relationship between anti-Americanism and academe, see Stanley Kurtz's current column for The National Review. Kurtz has long insisted that liberalism has become a religion, and has lots of good thoughts on the issues Horowitz raises about how too many "clueless liberals" discredit themselves by contemptuously refusing to familiarize themselves with conservative viewpoints.