Blogs > Cliopatria > Cliopatria Welcomes David Horowitz ...

Mar 14, 2005 6:33 pm

Cliopatria Welcomes David Horowitz ...

Well, actually, only sort of. That headline is usually reserved for introducing new group members at Cliopatria and it's unlikely that David will become one of us. There's no indication that he wants to be and he lacks some of the basic qualifications. Nonetheless, he's recently commented here and he's welcome to do that. In fact, I had challenged him to do so.

Many of us at Cliopatria are skeptical, at best, of Horowitz's most recent project, I prefer to call it the NetworkofEvilDesign.orgy; and, from time to time, I've referred our readers to its mock-offs, and John Holbo's Moreover, for someone like myself – a Southern white, evangelical Republican – the logic of David's most recent book, Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, is entirely unpersuasive. One of my beefs with the American left is its very secularity and its timidity. If it is uncomfortable with religious identities at home, David's got a hell of a job persuading me of its natural affinity with Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism abroad. And David's got a hell of a job persuading me of the wisdom of his lifelong inclination to believe that our future and our truth lies at the extremities of American values – Left or Right.

When Horowitz's drones at Front Page Rag, Jacob Laksin and Thomas Ryan, have attacked my colleagues, Oscar Chamberlain and Mark Grimsley, as"Churchill's Champions" and Grimsley as"Churchill's Clone," a term they probably picked up from the nutworks at FreeRepublic, it just doesn't bode well for the future of serious discussions between David Horowitz and the Cliopatriarchs.

Nonetheless, I invite Horowitz to serious discussion. Will you answer my colleague, Jonathan Dresner's questions about your misuse of evidence? His findings have prominent circulation in the conservative end of the blogosphere, by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit and Randy Barnett at The Volokh Conspiracy. Dresner put the ball in your" conservative" court, David. Let's have a moment of candor from you. Admit it. And, by the way, what penalty do you think you should incur from your misuse of evidence?

Update: See Scott Jaschik,"The Poster Child Who Can't Be Found," Inside Higher Ed, 14 March 2005. Thanks to Scott Jaschik for the tip.

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Caleb McDaniel - 3/15/2005

Ralph, I agree that intellectual conservatism should not be portrayed as evidence of intellectual inferiority, but I respecfully disagree that Berube's paragraph reads too much like that statement.

In the same paragraph, Berube speaks of conservative students and intelligent, articulate students. There is no evidence in my mind that Berube was questioning the intelligence or ability of conservative students in general.

The only way to find an implication of inferiority in Berube's paragraph is to read his reference to disability law as somehow an imputation of inferiority to the students mentioned.

My larger point in my comments on Professor Johnson's post, however, is that this fine dissection of one paragraph is already tendentious. It ignores the larger themes of the essay, which have to do with the real pedagogical dilemmas posed by students who are outspoken and marginalized by their peers in the classroom. The whole essay bespeaks Berube's sensitivity to those dilemmas, so for this discussion to take place on the grounds of one paragraph seems dreadfully unfair to me. I continue to talk about the paragraph only because I still think Professor Johnson is misreading it.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/14/2005

I agree that that is a tendentious reading of Berube's paragraph. Even so, as KC has pointed out elsewhere, it reads too much like the public statements of others, like the chairman of the philosophy department at Duke, who held that intellectual conservatism is ipso facto evidence of intellectual inferiority.

Caleb McDaniel - 3/14/2005

Ralph, Professor Johnson did not just accuse Berube of making an implicit comparison between disabled students and conservatives. He accused Berube of "advising professors to treat conservative students as they would students with learning disabilities." Do you also agree with that reading of Berube's paragraph?

Anthony Paul Smith - 3/14/2005

Actually he compares Stalinists to conservatives, and then all of them to just the wide-range of students that universities have. I'm pretty sure Berube has dealt with this part of that article before, but the wording does seem to throw people off. The whole jist of that paragraph is to talk about the duty of the teacher to accommodate everyone, in their idiosyncrasies, while trying to still teach the subject matter.

So, no, I don't think it is an odd comparison as it is a comparison that he makes of all students. I think it is pretty accurate and in line with his contension that all students need to feel that they can express themselves and engage with the class without letting that spill over into complete control. That being said, I'm sure he wishes he had made this more clear as well.

I still don't think that this constitutes an apology for the gross misreading that Dr. Johnson undertook.

John H. Lederer - 3/14/2005

I understand that, but I inferred from the criticism that the issue was not whether the details of the incident were in dispute between the professor and the student, but whether any incident took place -- in other words that it might be an "urban legend"


Ralph E. Luker - 3/14/2005

Anthony, It does seem to me that there's an implicit comparison of conservative students with handicapped students in Berube's paragraph. Knowing as I did that Berube is the father of a handicapped child, as am I, I understand that comparison differently than some others might understand it. Even so, it's an odd comparison, isn't it? It would never have occurred to me to make it.

Anthony Paul Smith - 3/14/2005

I think that has more to do with the mix of people you have than with "Cliopatria" as a unified entity, which also has something to do with why I come here. Though, personnally, I wouldn't call Berube's piece an attack. KC Johnson kind of screwed up and said that Berube said something he didn't at all.

Jonathan Dresner - 3/14/2005

I've gone back over the transcripts to which I linked (because they were the transcripts to which Horowitz linked) and the Wash Times article provided, and I don't see there the relevant testimony. SAF says that more transcripts are forthcoming, however. It appears that these transcripts are not generally available on-line, and as we've recently had a substantial discussion on HNN about the challenges of transcript production, I want to thank SAF/Horowitz, et al., for making these materials available.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/14/2005

Mr. Lederer, In the University of Northern Colorado case, it remains true that the professor in question denies the student's account of the story. All that we have, then, is David Horowitz's repeated telling of one side of a story in a he said/she said situation. And it remains true that we know who the professor in question is; we still don't know who the student is. I'm sympathetic with the student's desire to remain anonymous; but who the professor is is known and that known professor denies the story Horowitz attributes to an anonymous student.

John H. Lederer - 3/14/2005

I think this debunks the debunkers after being redebunked and bunked:

1)the student exists, made the complaint descibed, desires anonymity, but has identified herself to one third party and confirmed the story, and was referenced in testimony before the Colorado Legislature by the President of UNCo.

2) Horowitz is not confused and appears to have accurately related her complaint (apparently denied by the prof.) and its support in testimony

3) The fact that the testimony was by the UNC official (rather than those attacking UNC) and thus in an unexpected place in the transcript, and the course subsequently changed departments is what misled researchers.

I await the next development.

John H. Lederer - 3/14/2005

You are right:

1) The student is not identified (though a reason for not indentifying the student given).
2) Horowtiz is not confused about origins.
3) I am.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/14/2005

Anthony, Professor Johnson will reply to Berube later today. Cliopatria's taking attacks left and right this morning. I notice that you go out of your way only to make note of the Left wing attacks and that Lederer only goes out of his way to make note of the Right wing attacks. That's something that makes me go: "Hmmm ..."

Ralph E. Luker - 3/14/2005

Dr. Howard is correct. The paper in question is that of a student at Sand Hills Community College in California. It's been read by academics -- left and right -- and there is widespread agreement: this is a paper that deserved a failing grade.
At some point, that story was conflated with a different story about a student at the University of Northern Colorado, who Horowitz will not identify.
It was the conflation of the two different stories that caused some confusion, but there is general agreement that the paper by the student at Sand Hills Community College, which Horowitz's Students for Academic Freedom features on its website, should not have received a passing grade and the reasons for its failure are not the bias of the instructor. Still, Horowitz and Students for Academic Freedom hold it up as an example of the Left's repression of patriotic speech.

Sharon Howard - 3/14/2005

Jonathan may correct me on this, but I didn't think the student's existence was in question. The student exists, the essay exists; the point is that various people who have seen it have agreed that it's an atrocious essay that should have failed, and political bias had nothing to do with it.

John H. Lederer - 3/14/2005

Apparently in regard to the student required to write a paer on why Bush is a war criminal whom debunkers have suggested is fictitious:
1) The student exists
2) Horowitz has been confused about the circumstances

Let the surface of the tea cup still.

Anthony Paul Smith - 3/14/2005

<a=href"">Michael Berube has 'called out' KC Johnson.</a>

Our <a=href">;"Blogroll"</a> is going to collapse under its own inherent contradictions.

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