David Horowitz’s insights are always valuable — I would say important — but with his latest book, Reforming Our Universities: The Campaign for an Academic Bill of Rights, he offers what may be his most significant contribution to date.
Almost uniquely, Mr. Horowitz offers a soldier’s view of the struggle for our national consciousness, for he speaks from the trenches. Not content to blog or enjoy safe speaking venues, he carries his battle to take back the American academy from the mindless leftism that has held us by the throat for so long to the campuses themselves. Reforming our Universities chronicles his lonely struggle to bring an “Academic Bill of Rights” to American colleges and universities where he discovered, firsthand, how freedom of speech and thought do not extend to those who dare to be politically incorrect.
It is compelling reading in the same way an eyewitnesses account of the horrors discovered in the dying days of World War II suddenly jars one from denial. As even a cursory reading makes plain, the conservative establishment largely conceded the academic world to the left; this is to our everlasting embarrassment (if not shame), and it would be useful if this book became required reading, because given what Mr. Horowitz accomplished alone, one has to believe that we too quickly deserted that field.
In a quiet, restrained manner, Mr. Horowitz provides context for understanding just how tight is the left’s grip on our educational system. But this is not removed or distant, as it is drawn from his experience speaking on countless college campuses. The reader will get a sense of the shocking degree of suppression and insult a non-liberal can expect from the modern academy. In a previous effort, The Professors, he had attempted to identify particular examples of wretched excess in the form of such people as Ward Churchill, only to conclude that the problem was so systemic it was almost pointless to be a sniper. Artillery was needed.
And so came the birth of the “Academic Bill of Rights,” whose journey is cataloged in Reforming Our Universities. The account is startlingly revealing, particularly in regard to the virtually atomic integration of the American academy and the Democratic Party. While many of us have long imagined that our system of higher education was first and foremost a component of the Democratic Party, one cannot help but come away from this book wondering if it isn’t the other way around.
The array of organizations that did battle with Mr. Horowitz (usually in vicious, demeaning, and Der Sturmer-like terms) reads like the who’s who of American university life. This is not unimportant. As a 30-year member of the Biblical Archeology Society, I have long understood the radical leftism (and often anti-Israeli nature) of the American Historical Association. Thanks to Mr. Horowitz, anyone reading their contribution to the debate the “Academic Bill of Rights” engendered will be more quickly educated.
In time it becomes amazing who rose up against a perfectly sane, logical, and reasonable attempt to establish the most gentle guidelines designed to minimally protect the diversity of opinion on our campuses: the ACLU, the AAUP, the ACE, the AFT — almost as many alphabet agencies as the New Deal.
Richly footnoted and fully indexed, Reforming Our Universities still manages to read much like an adventure story. It is well worth the candle.