My book The Professors has garnered a fair share of attention. There are already 3 million web references to “dangerous professors,” its subtitle. While obviously not all the Google references are to my book, a glance will show that all of the references on the first ten pages of the index are. (I leave it to my critics to check out the next thousand.) Despite all this attention, however, virtually no critical thought has been expended on the actual argument of the book itself. Attacks there have been aplenty, but the attackers have so far not felt it necessary to address what the book actually says. They have responded instead by attempting to discredit the integrity of the author. No surprise here. Beginning with Marx himself, character assassination has been the favored operating procedure of leftists when dealing with their critics.
It seems as though university campuses would offer the primary audience for a book about the intellectual corruption of university faculties. Yet, before it went to press I had a dispute over this very idea with my publisher. It was the publisher who actually gave The Professors its subtitle: “The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America.” And this worried me. In writing the book, it had not been my intention to justify such a title. In fact, the adjective “dangerous” appears only once among the 112,000 words of its text — in reference to Professor Juan Cole’s “dangerous sophistry.” When my publisher proposed the subtitle, the book was already finished – the hundred odd professors already selected. The fact that there were obscure professors in the book like Marc Becker of Truman State, and moderate leftists like Michael Berube and Todd Gitlin, concerned me. I was sure they and other more culpable subjects would pounce on the phrase and claim, however absurdly, that it was a red flag signaling a “witch-hunt.” In other words, it would provide its enemies with an opportunity to make it look ridiculous and sinister at the same time (the contradiction would not bother them in the least).
So I opposed it. “If we give it this subtitle,” I said to my publisher, no one in the academy will read it.” I was not ready for his reply. “Who’s going to read it in the academy anyway?” he said. “They’ll hate this book no matter what you call it and only ten of them will buy it. We need to market this book to a large audience, and this subtitle will do it, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Authors don’t have authority over their titles, and I already knew that there was no constituency for reform inside the university and so I went along with this marketing strategy. The strategy has worked and the book is doing very well. More importantly it has stimulated a national dialogue on issues, with the assistance of the high school teacher in Colorado, whose determination to inflict his extremist views of 9/11 and the war in Iraq on a captive audience of 14-year-olds reflects the influence of the university culture that trained him, which I would like to change.
A principal theme of my book (unmentioned by its critics) is that faculty radicals have transformed entire departments and fields into political parties whose agendas have little or no relation to any activity that could be called scholarly. Thus Women’s Studies are not about an academic inquiry into the nature, history and sociology of women. Instead, Women’s Studies is the Party of Feminism on campus. Similarly, Peace Studies is not about a scholarly inquiry into the causes of war and peace. It is the Party of Anti-American, Anti-Military, Sympathy for the Terrorists. And this, by the way, is not a small movement. There are 250 such “Peace Studies” programs on campuses across the country. The one at Ball State is headed by a Professor of the Saxophone; the one at Purdue by a member of the central committee of Angela Davis’s Communist Party. It think this qualifies as “dangerous” and I think the broad public who will read this book is likely to agree.