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  • Thursday, October 27, 2005

    The liariffic Horowitz's campaign to crackpotize U.S. universities

    From PR Watch:

    ...Horowitz has repeatedly told the story of a student at the University of Northern Colorado who, he says, contacted him after she was forced to "Explain why George Bush is a war criminal" on a criminology exam. The student suspected that her professor [who is a registered Republican] punished her with an unfair grade because of her political beliefs. When the student answered the question by writing about how Saddam Hussein was a war criminal, she said she received an "F." This incident, Horowitz claimed, demonstrated the extent of "leftist indoctrination" on campuses and demonstrated why he was campaigning for "academic freedom."

    Had this actually happened, it would have been prefectly ok to flunk the student for her total non sequitur. This, however, is not what happened at all.

    In reality, Horowitz's version of the story is, at best, a manipulative distortion of facts. In March 2005, the liberal watchdog group, Media Matters for America, began raising questions about the story, which by then had been cited in publications ranging from the Christian Science Monitor to the Wall Street Journal. They noted that Horowitz had written an article for his website, FrontPageMagazine.com, in which he claimed that the student's story was discussed during a December 2003 hearing before the Colorado state legislature. Media Matters reviewed the transcript of the hearing and found that there was no mention of any such incident. Subsequent phone calls to various officials at the University of Northern Colorado also turned up no traces of an incident resembling Horowitz's story.

    Pressed to substantiate his claims, Horowitz was forced to admit that he had gotten a few details wrong:

    • The question on the exam did not ask the student to "explain why Bush is a war criminal."...
    • The question was one of two essay questions from which the student could choose to answer, so the student was not required to answer it at all.
    • The student did not receive a failing grade... She ended the course with a "B."

    ...

    Horowitz says he began his official campaign for "academic freedom" and "intellectual diversity" after several conservative students approached him with stories of liberal professors attempting to indoctrinate their students, dismissing or publicly humiliating those who disagreed with their "leftist" views....

    In 2002, Horowitz founded Students for Academic Freedom (SAF) to manage his academic freedom campaign...

    Students for Academic Freedom is not alone in its quest. Several other conservative organizations tout "intellectual diversity" and "academic freedom" among their issues, including Young America's Foundation, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and Lynne Cheney's American Council of Trustees and Alumni. However, SAF is the only organization dedicated solely to the proliferation and publicity of ABOR.

    It really is very, very odd that Horowitz wants to totally destroy higher education in the U.S., which would be most likely happen when not even a Republican professor is safe from his witch hunt. Any foreign professor worth his salt would refuse any offered position at a U.S. university for fear of inquisition from some finger-pointing kid who thinks she (or he) knows how the universe works. Furthermore, does the quest for "diversity" (a word Horowitz consciously took from the Left) include wasting time in physics and biology classes offering creationist theories for life and the universe? What will happen to the state of higher education in the U.S. when, as the auther says, faculty are " forced to justify their fairness and integrity before a conservative inquisition that is itself anything but fair"?

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