Adopt a Dissenting Book.
That’s the theme and battle cry of the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s fall campaign to prevent the violations of students’ academic freedom rights that have become routine in universities all across the country and to open up radical professors’ classrooms to true intellectual diversity. David Horowitz describes the objective of the campaign as “making sure that our students are no longer force fed with politically correct conclusions on controversial issues but instead provided with materials that will help them think for themselves.”
Inspiration for the Adopt a Dissenting Book Campaign comes from the classic statement about the principles of a democratic education issued by the American Association of University Professors in 1915: “It is not the function of a faculty member in a democracy to indoctrinate his students with ready-made conclusions on controversial subjects… [but to] train students to think for themselves and to provide them access to those materials which they need if they are to think intelligently.”
These principles are as inarguably valid today as they were nearly a century ago. Yet they are not only ignored but scored in many American college classrooms. The prevailing attitude today is summarized by a statement made by Professor Norma Cantu, a former Department of Education official in the Clinton administration, at a recent conference of the Modern Language Association. When asked if students were being radicalized in her courses and those of her colleagues, Cantu replied, “I hope so.”
Commenting on the campaign and the current tendency on the part of academic radicals to turn their classrooms into indoctrination chambers, Horowitz comments, “Today’s students are being victimized by a form of consumer fraud. You can’t get a good education if they’re only telling you half of the story.” He enumerates the kinds of intellectual assault that college students face today:
- programs whose titles show the overt commitment to propaganda such as “anti-oppressive education,” “teaching for social justice,” and “the pedagogy of the oppressed”;
- professors who assign hundreds of pages of Karl Marx, Barbara Ehrenreich, or Howard Zinn, but not a page of Friedrich Hayek, Christina Hoff Sommers, or Thomas Sowell;
- courses that insist that gender is “socially constructed” and ignore the definitive texts that argue that it is biologically determined.
The Adopt a Dissenting Book Campaign, which will be spearheaded by the Freedom Center’s Students for Academic Freedom, is designed to remedy this substitution of indoctrination for education, and to see that professors provide students with texts that reflect, rather than suppressing, the important controversies in our intellectual world. The goal is to see that students have access in class to both conservative and liberal ideas. “It is important to note that we are not asking professors or administrators to remove any books for reading lists,” Horowitz points out. “This is a campaign for more books, not fewer; for more inclusiveness and for increased intellectual diversity.”
At Temple University, for example, a class called “History of the United States since 1877” has only one assigned text—a work titled Created Equal. The professor said he chose it because of its focus on topics such as “American Imperialism, Reaganomics, The Assault of Welfare, and the Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor.” Horowitz notes: “Our campaign would make sure that a dissenting viewpoint to this anti-American hate-fest is presented in a book such as Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People.”
Or at USC a course is offered on “Middle East Relations: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Identity.” It is designed as an anti Israel propaganda course and all of the several assigned texts are blatantly anti Israel. Horowitz says that the new campaign “would make sure that also least one text challenging this extremist view—Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel, for instance—must also be made available to students.”
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