Horowitz's 19 Most Dangerous Historians
You can tell that David Horowitz's new book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America is, as he says,"a gas," just by taking a look at who is included in it. Take George Wolfe, Professor of Musical Performance at Ball State University, for instance. His clean cut, buttoned down demeanor doesn't fool us. He plays the saxophone and we know what that means! This Pied Piper of Muncie is obviously bent on evil seduction of Hoosier innocents."Oh, we got trouble; right here in River City." And it's the Music Man who's the cause of it. Etc.
Well, for what it's worth (and that's obviously not much), here's the list of historians who made the cut for David's list:
Baylor University: Marc Ellis
Boston University: Howard Zinn
Columbia University: Hamid Dabashi
________________: Eric Foner
________________: Manning Marable
________________: Joseph Massad
Georgetown University: Yvonne Haddad
University of California, Berkeley: Hamid Algar
University of California, Irvine: Mark Le Vine
University of California, Los Angeles: Vinay Lal
University of California, Santa Cruz: Bettina Aptheker
University of Colorado, Boulder: Ward Churchill ________________________: Emma Perez
University of Michigan: Juan Cole
University of Pennsylvania: Mary Francis Berry
Western Washington University: Larry J. Estrada
I've used a fairly expansive definition of who is a historian to create this list. I don't think Ward Churchill, for example, deserves the honor. Indeed, the list includes people like him who received academic appointments despite being unwelcome in history departments. The list is a peculiar one, even if you excluded such people from it. How do you account for it putting a serious scholar like Eric Foner shoulder-to-shoulder with a serious fruit loop like Peter N. Kirstein? Indeed, it's remarkable how few on the list are, like Foner and Juan Cole, seriously influential among other historians.
The larger list is a mirror of the fevered brain of David Horowitz. Sociologists, gender and ethnic studies people were more likely to make the list than historians. People on the Left, certainly, but also people of Middle Eastern and Latin American descent were more likely to find themselves there than others of us. It's a hodge-podge of confused conspiratology.
Jonathan Dresner - 4/11/2006
You came back after two months and this "Ivory Tower" boilerplate is the best you've got?
We could restrict the debate to words of two syllables: You still couldn't win. It's not about 'elegant words' but about ideas and facts, neither of which are on your side of this.
Susan C. Caulfield - 4/11/2006
Y'all sound like a bunch of snobs to me. Didn't you become professors so as to impart your scholarly wisdom onto your students? Seems like you PhD types would be deflated and unsaluted without them there fancy titles.
Any dandy or fop can win a debate with elegant words. In the end, he's just a long-winded bloke who talks about history while the rest of us make it.
History Professors, PhD's, whatever you need to be called, come down off your thrones and engage with the real world again. You will find many students who are thankful for David Horowitz' efforts.
And that's a fact jack!
Real people want the real skinny on history. Make it happen!
Ralph E. Luker - 2/24/2006
Congratulations Professor Caulfield! You have a terrific sense of humor.
Susan C. Caulfield - 2/24/2006
I would like to nominate David Horowitz for an honorary Doctoral Degree from the most respected university on the planet...The Academy of Life Experience. One reason we study history is to avoid the repetition of mistakes. Unlike many historians today with letters such as "Ph.D." after their names, David Horowitz has examined history, learned from it, and made positive changes in his life. As a graduate student at a New York College, I thank God for the voice of Dr. David Horowitz.
Ralph E. Luker - 2/21/2006
It was a priority for me to know which historians Horowitz had decided to target. Oh -- and before you and your friend David come over here to criticize us for commenting on a book we think isn't worth reading -- you might want to interrogate Horowitz about how much of the work of those 19 men and women he actually read before he thought he knew enough to write a whole book about them. How much of their work have _you_ read?
Jonathan Dresner - 2/21/2006
You misunderstand me, and I'm going to assume that it's accidental. I am quite well-informed as to Mr. Horowitz's general positions and some of his specific ones; the lists themselves include names which he has previously named and attacked before, and no new names which are in any way inconsistent with his previously stated positions (therefore, my curiousity is not piqued by the mere existence of the list).
As I said, I'm waiting for someone to review the book in a substantive way before I myself get curious about what looks like repetition. Neither uninformed attacks (which is, as Ralph notes, not what he was doing) nor uninformative defenses (i.e., what you and Mr. Horowitz have done here) are going to change my mind about waiting....
Mark A Newgent - 2/21/2006
I thank Professoes Luker and Dresner for proving my point.
Professor Dresner, you said "I have no problem with commenting on things that I haven't personally read, or with other folks doing so, as long as the comments are reasonably well-founded. We rely on other people to review stuff all the time."
Even if those "reviews" are by folks who have not read the material? In this case it certainly appears that way.
Professor Luker, if Horowitz and The Professors is not a "priority" for you, then why devote a blog entry to it?
Ralph E. Luker - 2/21/2006
Mr. Newgent, You're certainly welcome to carry water for Horowitz's political agenda if you want to, to promote the sale of his books, and read them to your heart's content. His general views are well-known here. We're also well-informed about other historians who are under attack in his book. As I indicated, David's selection of targets is odd, hardly indicative of well-informed research. Given all that, my list of books to read is _very_ long before I get to Horowitz's _The Professors_. If, in your opinion, setting priorities is "anti-intellectual" and "reactionary," so be it.
Jonathan Dresner - 2/21/2006
Actually, I've publicly said previously that I have no problem with commenting on things that I haven't personally read, or with other folks doing so, as long as the comments are reasonably well-founded. We rely on other people to review stuff all the time. In the case of Mr. Horowitz, his constant commentaries and publications leave little doubt as to the substance of his views.
I have no desire to support Regnery press, which has produced some of the worst history and political books of the last decade, by buying, or by recommending to a library, their books.
There are plenty of other discussions of real issues in academia and in politics, and there are points on which I agree with Mr. Horowitz, but until someone else reviews the book and reports something original or interesting, this looks an awful lot like a publicity stunt, a way to repackage the FrontPageMag/Discover the Network materials. I have no problem with that as such, but I don't see why it should occupy my time and energy more than it already has.
Mark A Newgent - 2/21/2006
Professors Luker and Dresner
I find it distressing that you and others, as professors of history are willing to trash a book that you admittedly won’t read or “review.” How can anyone take your criticisms of The Professors seriously when you say that it is not worth reading, if you yourself have not read it? How can one know a book is not worth reading if they have not read it?
Would you, as professors of history accept a student’s critique or review of book that they admittedly did not read? I sincerely doubt it. Would you accept a student’s review or criticism of A People’s History of the United States as Marxist drivel if they admitted they did not read it? What if one of your books was treated this way?
Why then do you find it acceptable to treat The Professors this way?
It is intellectually dishonest of you to smear a work you have not read because you despise the author and his politics. It would be one thing if you actually addressed the argument the book puts forth. Yes there is one, but you have not read it so you would not know that there is an argument. The Professors is not just a regurgitated list of leftist professors. There is a substantial introduction that makes a cogent and persuasive argument. The list and profiles are the evidence Horowitz uses to support the argument. But you actually have to read the book to understand this.
Also, the list is not merely a cut and pasted from the Frontpage or Discover the Networks. In the introduction, Horowitz tells us that he reviewed the profiles and edited them himself. But, that would presuppose the fact that you actually opened the book and read it.
Furthermore, you only prove Horowitz’s point that the professors in the book and the academic left in general are reactionary and anti-intellectual.
Jonathan Dresner - 2/20/2006
It's not immediately clear to me why I, for example, would read the book. The excerpted lists I've seen pretty much echo FPM editorials other Regnery publications' bete noir issues and personalities. Being pretty familiar with the Campus Watch/FPM/LGF line at this point, I am waiting for a hint of originality or positive contribution before I spend time reading (much less reviewing) something like this.
Ralph E. Luker - 2/20/2006
David, No one here is pretending to "review" your book. One reads a book if one is reviewing it. Not all books are worth reading. Yours is not. I did notice that you allowed some poor graduate student at Arizona State to address you as "Dr. Horowitz" on your blog, without your bothering to correct him. You have no doctorate. Is there no end to your arrogance and ignorance?
david horowitz - 2/20/2006
I can see from these posts that not a single PhD on this thread has actually read the book you are all pretending to review. But then what can you expect from people who are perfectly comfortable with the debasement of the university and its intellectual mission by political propagandists. Yes Foner is a more serious fellow than Ward Churchill but since he has endorsed the introduction of activist agendas into scholarly pursuits -- and since he hired Manning Marable a political activist to impersonate a scholar -- he bears some responsibility for this mess.
Ralph E. Luker - 2/15/2006
No need for apology at all, Michael, but it was kind of you to offer it. Thanks.
Michael Charles Benson - 2/15/2006
Comments aren't working on my blog so I'll apologize here. I misread this completely, and thought the list of 19 was Horrowitz's not yours. I still think it's funny, but not quite in the same ways I though.
Anne Zook - 2/14/2006
You're going to sprain your brain trying to tie Horowitz and logic or intellectual honesty together.
Miriam Elizabeth Burstein - 2/14/2006
I suppose we could rescue the situation by writing a history of "the dangerous professor." The great professor of law, John Millar (d. 1801) "enjoyed" such a reputation--too radical for the times (although, apparently, not too radical for the Liberty Fund, which has his works in the hopper). It tells us something about 18th c. pedagogy, incidentally, that Millar's memoirist, John Craig, was impressed by Millar's willingness to actually talk to students after class. Shocking, that.
Louis Nelson Proyect - 2/14/2006
I just exchanged email with Becker a couple of weeks ago. When he is finished up with some pressing academic chores, he plans to resubscribe to the Marxism mailing list that I moderate. Becker is first-rate. His "Mariátegui and Latin American Marxist Theory" is essential reading for anybody trying to understand the theoretical roots of the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolution. My guess is that Horowitz has never read anything by Becker.
Adam Kotsko - 2/14/2006
He worked hard on that book. Show some respect.
- Five Things You Need to Know to be a Better Digital Preservationist
- Book on Losing British Generals Wins American History Prize
- Stanford scholar explores civil rights revolution's positive impact on the South's economy
- Harvard Historian Nancy Koehn on Amazon's Tentacular Reach
- Q&A with historian and author Nick Turse