Blogs > Cliopatria > This Will Flush Your Cockles ...

Feb 27, 2004 7:12 pm

This Will Flush Your Cockles ...

Justin Raimondo should be taken in very small doses, but if you need a good dose of righteous Horowitz-outing, this should do the trick. Thanks to David Beito and Steve Horwitz at L & P for the pointer.
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David Lion Salmanson - 3/1/2004

Without knowing what other texts the community college professor is using (if any), or what the documents, lectures, etc. are, it is pointless to scream about the text being assigned. Perhaps the prof. feels Zinn balances out his conservative lectures. Or he only assigns parts of Zinn, some of which are quite good. Or he uses Zinn as his text because he knows that students will react to it (it is provocative if nothing else) and thus give students a different relationship to textbooks then the one they had in high school, that is the text is no longer a neutral authoritative and perfect document. There are no perfect textbooks, and in some ways, I, as a teacher (even at the high school level) prefer using a text that is flawed, or goes against my own inclinations. My world history class is driven nuts when I rather blatently disagree with the text book and then challenge them to figure out whose interpretation is better.

As for hiring bias, I would argue based on the rather small sample of "conservative" (for what that term is worth) historians I know that they are hired at much higher rates (all gained employment in academia full-time, a major miracle in this job market). As the blog discussions mentioned indicate, the percieved shortage of conservative historians is more of a supply problem than one of hiring bias. And the reasons why not many conservatives go into history/humanities are complex and multi-faceted. You really need to read Tim Burke and Invisible Adjunct on this before mouthing off. I, for one, got a good chuckle at the link (the Orwell stuff is priceless!)

And incidentally, if historians were treated like football coaches, perhaps a few more conservatives would go into this line of work. It is precisely the issue at hand. Who wants to be the low person on campus, poorly paid, and not respected?

Incidentally, that textbook review site linked on the main page is a hoot. Did anybody else catch the contradiction that reviewers all wanted books with a clear strong narrative and point of view yet rated the Nash textbook poorly despite the fact that it has a clear, strong narrative and point of view? Sigh.

Grant W Jones - 2/29/2004

"Academic Freedom?" I'll give it a break when the establishment allows some in its hiring practices.

As to Colorado, I was refering to a professor harrassing a student who dared to speak his mind to his elected representatives. You still seem to confuse blogs with academia in general. Sure, the rah rah racket is another issue of abuse, but its not the main issue. As to K-12 textbooks, the problem is the monolithic system. Which is why homeschooling is so popular with parents of all stripes. At the college level professors should be able to choose even-handed texts. Where is the Zinn booster's peers? Why would someone with a Ph.D in history choose such a text? This is not education, which is what the voters are paying through the nose for.

All human institutions are subject to corruption, indeed. That's why they have oversight and feedback mechanisms. Many voters think the line between freedom and license/abuse has been crossed by too many in academia for too long. And don't forget, many of these conservative voters have done their four years in college, they probably didn't like being called "fascists" either. Maybe the spectacle of a man like Ward Connelly being chased off a platform by a mob of leftists goons, gave conservatives and genuine liberals an "education" on the abuse of power. Have you sat in a classroom while an instructor reads, approvingly, some screed by Fidel Castro attacking the President of the USA? I have.

P.S. As to the Bates e-mail, as Erin O'Conner points out, nobody would have ever heard of it if the e-mail hadn't been sent to the slandered by mistake. The problem is that this attitude, "Republicans are thugs, conservatives are stupid," is all too common in academia. Indeed, for every Erin O'Conner there are a thousand Catherine Stimpsons or Houston Bakers.

Ralph E. Luker - 2/29/2004

Mr. Jones, I'm glad that you know about the situation at Bates and more glad that Erin O'Connor, one of those awful lefty henchmen in the humanities, has highlighted it for us both. I'm glad that you are aware of the embarrassments in Colorado higher education, but I'm afraid that you don't understand where they truly are. If some radical ideological feminism had overtaken higher education in Colorado, as you and Horowitz seem to believe, I doubt that the University would have been paying its football coach ca $1 mill a year and I doubt that it would have found itself enmeshed in a scandal about undergraduate women being encouraged to make themselves available to potential football recruits. Really, Mr. Jones, institutions of higher education are subject to corruption, like all human institutions, but David Horowitz is unlikely to be able to identify it for us. He hasn't bothered to know it from the inside, yet demands to be acknowledged as a peer.
I wouldn't myself choose Zinn's text for a course in American history, but do you want to committee of taxpayers to be doing text adoption? We know from experience in the secondary school textbook market how mind-numbing the product of such "solutions" as that are. Try to get a text approved for adoption in Texas. If you don't, it won't get published. To get it adopted, you have to avoid difficult issues and tone down any significant intellectual challenges. Give it a break, Mr. Jones. Invasion of academic freedom by highly charged political operatives is death to the life of the mind.

Grant W Jones - 2/29/2004

As compared to Raimondo's screed?

Grant W Jones - 2/29/2004

Like the nuance one finds at Bates college? Or in the Colorado state house? A week hardly goes by without reading of such an outrage. The people who pay the bills are losing patience with this sort of thing.

I'm happy to hear that you are in favor of real diversity of thought and fields in the academy. But this begs the question of why it hasn't existed all along. As much as you dislike Horowitz, he is providing a public service by creating debate where it is sorely needed.

The question is how representative is your blog to academia in general? I'm still, eagerly, awaiting a serious, scholarly reply to the charges made by Klehr and Haynes in _In Denial_. And I mean in journal articles, not blogs. Academia ignoring ten years worth of new material on that subject hardly inspires confidence. From _Coming of Age_ by Schaller, Scharff, and Schulzinger, "After sifting the evidence for years and gaining access to some relevant Soviet documents, many historians have concluded that Julius Rosenberg probably did pass a variety of secrets to the Soviets, including information of atomic weapons," pg. 289. "Probably?" This was written in 1998. One can go through its section on the Cold War and find countless errors and omissions. I think textbook balance is greatly needed.

At our local Community College a history professor is using Zinn for the text in a freshmen introductory course. Why should my tax dollars be used for such blatant indoctrination?

There is no ad hominem on my part. If you have sources other than Raimondo, fine. But a source with a personal ax to grind has to be verified. Personally, I don't visit Raimondo's website as I feel the need to take a shower afterward. But regarding academic hiring bias, do you deny that it exists and is overwhelming in some fields? What are the chances of a conservative/libertarian being hired for a tenure track, or even lecturers, position by UHH's English, philosophy, education or sociology departments? What are the chances of the Geography/Enviromental Studies department hiring a scientist with a skeptical view towards "the litany?" Zero.

Ralph E. Luker - 2/29/2004

Mr. Jones, We do seem to have some trouble understanding each other's concerns. Frankly, _I_ don't regard Horowitz's accusations as worthy of confronting because I believe that in both his left-wing and his right-wing manifestations he has been more interested in heat than in light. You might want to look at the conversation between Horowitz and Stanley Fish, if you like. It took place on the Chronicle of Higher Education website. Access to it requires a subscription.
But if you have been reading Cliopatria regularly, you will have been referred here to discussions by me, my colleagues, Tim Burke and KC Johnson, and to discussions about the issue of intellectual diversity in the academic community at Critical Mass, Invisible Adjunct, Crooked Timber, and John and Belle Have a Blog. Perhaps you have read some of those discussions. If not, do.
I am not confident that you will be satisfied by what you find there because, unlike Horowitz and however much they may disagree among themselves, these discussants all recognize that the degree or degrees of intellectual diversity in the humanities and social sciences is a complicated matter -- not subject to being reduced to Horowitz's simple minded barbs -- and light on the subject is likely to reveal nuance, not stark blacks and whites. Intellectual diversity is simply not reducable to how many Democrats and how many Republicans a department may employ. I'm all in favor of intellectual diversity, but I want some Libertarians and some Greens; and I want diversity of methodological assumption and fields of interest which may have nothing whatsoever to do with enrollment in a political party. Horowitz hasn't gotten to that point yet. Probably won't. It doesn't make a good 10 second sound bite.

Jonathan Dresner - 2/29/2004

Just because people don't like each other doesn't mean that their criticisms of each other are wrong. I don't know anything about Horowitz's ex-wife, or if he even has an ex-wife, but if she existed and had something to say, she'd be a very interesting source. One to be evaluated critically, as all sources should be, but interesting, nonetheless.

And I actually think that this blog, and the other blogs at HNN, are germane to the discussion. It's worth noting that the great range of opinions offered on HNN blogs come almost entirely from the ranks of academia, with the occassional "public intellectual" and journalist thrown in for good measure.

And there is a difference between Horowitz's problem identification -- which is shallow, but mildly intersting -- his identification of causes -- which is largely apocryphal and conjectural -- and his proposed solution, which is hypocritical and potentially deeply corrosive to concepts of academic freedom and free critical discourse. Raimondo is talking, in the cited article, about the solution, not the problem/causes. You're changing the subject.

Grant W Jones - 2/29/2004

My Dear Professor Luker, what are you talking about? Are you confusing this blog with academic hiring practices? I asked you to provide some facts regarding the fallacies you consider Horowitz guilty of. "We" are discussing state supported institutions. It is a serious matter if there is institutional bias going on there. Do you think that it is unjustified for the legislature to oversee how public funds are spent? Is academic freedom the same thing as unaccountability?

As to Raimondo being right even twice a day, the analogy fails because one still must have a working clock to determine when it is right. There is much bad blood between Raimondo and Horowitz, as I'm sure both Prof. Dresner and Prof. Luker are aware. What are you going to do for your next act, cite an article written by Horowitz's ex-wife?

Jonathan Dresner - 2/28/2004

is right twice a day. Raimondo is a bit of a nut, but that doesn't mean that he isn't right sometimes. In this case, he's right on target: the contradiction between Horowitz's "problem" and his "solution" is striking and has been noted before by commentators from a variety of perspectives (see, for example, the discussion about the "Full Employment for Conservatives" initiative on HNN:

Ralph E. Luker - 2/28/2004

Mr. Jones,
I respectfully suggest that you are looking at one right here. Cliopatria is anything but monolithic and we like it that way. We are atheist, Christian and Jew at least, with no need to asterisk anyone. We are, I suspect, conservative, liberal, and radical, at least. I haven't bothered to ask anyone. We are, I imagine, Republican and Democrat, but we won't know that unless someone chooses to identify himself or herself. And we joined forces -- not because David Horowitz demanded diversity of us -- but because we respect each other. We haven't invited DH into our company and probably won't.

Grant W Jones - 2/28/2004

Having to reference Raimondo for anything. Can you link to some respectable website rebuting Horowitz's position on academic bias?

Ralph E. Luker - 2/27/2004

As usual, Jonathan, you're correct all around. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Jonathan Dresner - 2/27/2004

Thanks for the reference (you're right about Raimondo; I'd forgotten how little fun his writing and ideas are!). The parody sites he mentions (my favorite is this one: are fantastic reading, including links to things like a not-terribly secret plan to annoy terrorists into killing innocent civilians (

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