Last December I posted some information about an undergraduate student who was harassed by the FBI, ironically for having researched totalitarianism at his college library. Well, today I learned about conservative "activist" David Horowitz's new book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. In the spirit of continuing a public dialogue about academic freedoms, I feel compelled to talk about the book--much as I'm loath to publicize Horowitz or his cause.
First things first: usually I include pictures of the books I discuss and links to places to buy them. Not this time. In fact, I haven't read the book. I find the concept so objectionable, and its premise so inclined to fear-mongering, that I cannot stomach even cracking it. I do know a few of the figures he talks about, though, and I suspect his characterizations of them--who they are, what they do, and the content of what they teach--are nothing short of unfair.
Rather than singling out "dangerous" people working in traditional and so-called "pseudo-disciplines" like queer studies, whiteness studies, race studies, and so forth, wouldn't it be more compelling to identify academics who are in fact dangerous: people who, for example, accept millions of dollars in grant money from chemical companies to justify toxic pollution? or those who work closely with the U.S. War Department on weaponry? I could go on. The point is, the professors whom Horowitz seems to be singling out in most cases probably aren't all that dangerous. Or, more to the point, he's offering up a very skewed perception of what constitutes a "danger" in academe.
The final thing I'll say is that, last week, North Dakota's House of Representatives passed an "intellectual diversity" bill, which is an offshoot of Horowitz's higher education "reform" campaign. I'm terrified about it, on the one hand, since it would demand that state University employees teach a "balanced" curriculum--something like one page of Adam Smith for every page of Karl Marx. On the other hand, I have this vision of, say, physics departments having to implement curriculum reform in which the cosmology of Indigenous peoples would need to be taught alongside the big bang theory. Of course, that's never going to happen, since "balance" only applies to those crazy humanities professors.
Enough. I've ranted for too long. These are trying--and depressing--times. These are precisely the times that call for better, more effective cultural studies. Does that make me a danger?
P.S. I'm surprised that Lawrence Grossberg didn't make the list. After all, he's a Marxist cultural studies professor who likes kids....