Adopt a Dissenting Book

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(Editor’s note: This is a speech David Horowitz gave in Washington D.C. on August 3, 2010 in accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Young America’s Foundation. Tributes to David were made by Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner and Senator Jeff Sessions, and by Senator Jon Kyl, Representatives Jack Kingston, Ed Royce and Michelle Bachmann.)

I am deeply touched, as I am honored, by these tributes from my friends Senator Jeff Sessions and Ed Feulner. I am grateful for the effort that went into this gracious and generous evening.  I am especially honored that the organization, which has gone out of its way to make this evening possible is the Young America’s Foundation, which I regard as the foremost organization fighting to restore our campuses to sanity and health, and more importantly to restore their respect for American principles and values.

As it happens this is the first time a conservative organization has paid tribute to our campaign for academic freedom. I do not think that this is merely incidental. My own origins, as you know, are anything but conservative, and my radical roots are always showing. I am not going to apologize for retaining traces of this radical heritage, in particular for being combative and confrontational. We are in a war with enemies both internal and external who seek our destruction. Such a war requires character traits that may not be conservative, but are nonetheless necessary if we are to win it.

The conservative temperament – skeptical of apocalypse and civilized to a fault — is often hamstrung by these dispositions when it comes to defending itself. I am inclined to believe it is this conservative instinct that accounts for the coolness, which my campaigns have sometimes been met with in conservative quarters. I also think the warm relationship I have enjoyed with the Young America’s Foundation over the last quarter century reflects its own recognition of the nature of the battle in which we are engaged. This is certainly the reason why the Young Americas Foundation is in the forefront of the struggles on our college campuses.

As we speak, the conservative movement is undergoing a historic change, one that I welcome. The advent of the Tea Parties reflects a new passion among conservatives for the political struggle and a growing recognition that the stakes are high and the issue existential. This exciting change in the conservative movement reflects a path that the Young America’s Foundation has been blazing for years.

I am therefore doubly honored that this evening’s tribute to my efforts is the work of the founder of Young America’s Foundation and its leader for more than two decades, Ron Robinson. I have known and collaborated with Ron for nearly 25 years. In that time he has supported me in my campus efforts and invited me to support him in his.

A more unlikely political couple, on the other hand, would be hard to find. Mr. Unflappable and Mr. Explosive. Mr. Pat Buchanan Republican and Mr. Neo-Conservative Red (although neither of us, I suspect, would be entirely happy with these labels).  Despite our differences, in 25 years I have never had a falling out with Ron Robinson over politics, or a bone of contention to pick with him over organizational matters. In part this cooperation has been made possible by our mutual understanding of the struggle our country faces and the need for its conservative defenders to stand together whatever their differences. But a greater part of it is because of the kind of person Ron is — a consummate gentleman; a man of superlative decencies and redoubtable virtues who underneath all that unflappability and calm has a fire burning in his heart for his country and its survival. A more disciplined and dedicated soldier in the fight for freedom than Ron Robinson you will not find. I am honored to have him as a friend and this country is fortunate to have him as a leader.

The school battles that Ron and I have engaged in these many years are, in my view, the third – and in many ways most important — front in a war to defend America against the existential threats that we face. The other two are the integrity of our national borders, and the war on terror, which is the inept way our government after 9/11 defined the violence that is directed at us by the forces of radical Islam and their leftwing accomplices.

Seven years ago I launched a campaign for an Academic Bill of Rights for American college students. Its larger purpose was to combat the efforts of anti-American radicals to indoctrinate future generations. The Academic Bill of Rights seals to guarantee college students the right to be exposed to more than one side of intellectual controversies in their academic classrooms.

The principles embodied in my academic bill are simple, and 25 years ago there would have been no need to articulate them, so integral are they to what was once understood to be the essence of a democratic education. These principles hold that the opinions of professors are not to be imposed on students or presented to them as uncontroversial facts. Therefore, professors are obligated to present students with opinions that diverge from the classroom orthodoxy and to do so in a fair-minded and judicious manner. To encourage students to think for themselves, professors are expected to assign materials reflecting divergent views. To be professional and scholarly, class reading lists must include texts reflecting more than one side of outstanding controversies.

These basic principles are still so widely accepted that no one can really challenge them, at least not directly. Nonetheless, my campaign to support them has been met with a wall of opposition and ad hominem slander by the academic establishment — the American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers, faculty unions and professional associations — and the Democratic Party, both locally and nationally. Since opponents of the Academic Bill of Rights understand that they cannot openly defend the practice of classroom indoctrination they have resorted instead to campaigns of distortion, defamation, and denial.

They have claimed that the Academic Bill of Rights is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. They accuse me of making up both the problem and the facts that describe it. Though my stated goal is to promote intellectual diversity in the classroom, they have denounced me as a “McCarthyite” bent on thought control. They have sought to dismiss me as a right-wing extremist whose real agenda is to fire leftwing professors and hire conservatives to replace them.

All these slanders are brazen falsehoods but this last one – which has been made by faculty spokesmen, by Democratic politicians and by mainstream editorial writers is a particular outrage. The claim that the Academic Bill of Rights is a plan to fire leftwing faculty is refuted by its own first principles, which state in plain English that professors must not be hired or fired on the basis of their political opinions.

The fact that professors and editorial writers on the left are willing to tell such an easily exposed lie betrays both their arrogant confidence that they control the media and their determination to defend a status quo in which conservative students are harassed by leftist professors and students of all persuasions are denied the opportunity to receive an education in which respect is paid to the pluralism of ideas.

I have described and documented all these matters in a book called Reforming Our Universities, which will be published by Regnery at the end of this month. It is a detailed account of our campaign whose achievements –despite the obstacles placed in its way — are not small. We were able to get the American Council on Education, which represents 1800 universities and colleges, to support our core principles and to secure students unprecedented academic freedom rights at more than a dozen major schools including Ohio State, Penn State and Temple universities.

We could have succeeded in securing these rights to many more students at many more schools if we had been able to enlist the conservative movement and the Republican Party in our efforts. As it is we have had only one consistent, boots-on-the-ground ally, and that is Ron Robinson’s Young America’s Foundation. But this support has been enough to help us make the Academic Bill of Rights the most discussed classroom issue in the university world, and the subject of literally thousands of discussions in the national media. And we are only beginning.

I want to use this evening’s platform to inform you about a new campaign I am launching this month, which in my view is the most effective way available in the present political climate to advance the principles of intellectual diversity and academic freedom.

In a democracy there cannot be orthodoxy on matters of opinion. Students must have the right to hear more than one side of controversial issues. This is so basic you might well ask who could oppose it? The answer is the same enormously powerful coalition that has opposed the Academic Bill of Rights – the coalition of anti-democratic and anti-intellectual forces who call themselves, Orwell style, “progressives,” “liberals” and Democrats. They are determined to ensure that there is no other voice in the room but theirs. That is why they harass conservative students and suppress conservative books. And that is why the “Adopt a Dissenting Book” campaign is so important.

The inspiration for the campaign was a visit I made last spring to the University of Massachussetts, Amherst. While there I audited an hour-and-a-half political science lecture about the Warren Court’s landmark decisions on civil liberties. This particular class was the choice of the students who invited me to UMass, many of them members of Young America’s Foundation and also of College Republicans. The lecturer was a well-known political scientist, a nationally recognized expert in the field.

My conservative student hosts recommended this particular class because its professor was in their words, the best available, and also, they assured me, the most fair-minded. The University of Massachussetts is itself a depressingly radical school where the indoctrination of students in leftwing ideologies is routine.

The students said to me, “We know this professor is a liberal because sometimes he leaks his prejudices to us. But he’s very fair and he doesn’t indoctrinate us.” When I entered his classroom I saw that half my student hosts were taking the course, or – I should probably put it – taking refuge in his course from the harassment they experienced in other political science courses. One of them had told me that his professor had given a test that consisted of a speech by Ronald Reagan and a single question, although it wasn’t really a question. It said: “Explain why Reagan is Wrong.”

In the event, the lecture by the fair-minded professor turned out to be an eye-opener for me because it bore only a slight resemblance to what I had been led by the students to expect. Previously, I had been of the opinion that professors who use their classrooms as platforms for their political prejudices represent a minority of faculty. I estimated this minority to be about ten percent based on the fact that that was the percentage of Harvard faculty who forced Larry Summers’ resignation because his ideas were politically incorrect. That would be 60,000 leftwing faculty ideologues nationally. I now have to revise my estimate upwards — significantly upwards — because that Massachusetts classroom showed me that even liberal professors with a reputation among conservative students for fairness will not give democracy a chance.

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  • The_Inquisitor

    "The UMass professor did concede that a “right to privacy” cannot be found in the Constitution …"

    The professor is wrong. It is implicit in the 9th Amendment. All rights not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved for the people and the states.

    The Constitution is a set of laws to govern the United States Congress, not to govern the people or the states. The problem with the Warren Court opinion is that it usurped state law.

    • Reason_For_Life

      I think you have two amendments confused. The 9th deals with unenumerated rights while the 10th deals with undelegated powers.

      The Warren court fully understood that the 9th Amendment would cover the right to privacy, Justice Goldberg said this explicitly in a separate concurring opinion in "Griswold". The reason they wouldn't touch it was because it was used in an early 20th century case ("Lochner") to argue (successfully) before the court that the states could not impose laws governing hours of work since such laws violated the unenumerated right of contract. Most labor legislation could be shot down on 9th Amendment grounds which would have put an end to a big part of the New Deal.

      Lochner was hated by Progressives and once Roosevelt frightened the court into submission the SCOTUS began to undo rulings based on the 9th Amendment. There was no way that the Warren court would ever consider reinvigorating the 9th so they punted and used the "penumbra" argument that the right of privacy was covered by the edges of the 1st, 4th and 5th Amendments.

      • The_Inquisitor

        Excellent point, and, yes, I did confuse things with my wording. However, we agree that rights other than those explicitly stated in the Bill of Rights such as the right to privacy are guaranteed by the 9th Amendment.

        What has been left unstated and what is important for people to understand is that the acknowledgment of such rights is a negative. That is, Congress is not enjoined to pass laws to protect rights. Congress is simply prohibited from passing laws which abrogate rights.

        • Reason_For_Life

          Unfortunately, the 9th Amendment is hated by many conservatives as well as progressives. While being grilled by the Senate, Robert Bork said that the 9th Amendment had no more legal significance than an inkblot on the Constitution.

          There are two kinds of conservatives, those who want to return to Constitutional principles of a limited government that protects individual rights and those that want to establish an American Empire. These conservatives see government power as a positive force for controlling societal relationships rather than a restraining force to be used against criminals both domestic and foreign.

          One of the good things that have come about as a result of the Tea Parties is that more people are actually learning about what the Founders tried to do and are beginning to realize that what we have today is very far from what was intended.

          Ten years ago no one had even heard of the 9th Amendment.

          • The_Inquisitor

            Well said.

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  • sflbib

    "It is implicit in the 9th Amendment. All rights not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved for the people and the states."

    That could be anything. If I want chocolate ice cream, and the store is out of it, is a right being denied according to the 9th Amendment? If so, why? Since it could mean anything, it means nothing with respect to establishing rights. A right has to be established somewhere else, as the right of free speech is in the 1st Amendment. If the 9th Amendment means what you say, then we don't need any other of the first ten amendments.

    I question the whole idea of government having rights in the first place; government doesn't have rights; people do. Government has authority. Accordingly, the 9th Amendment should read, "All authority not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved for the people and the states."

    • The_Inquisitor

      "If I want chocolate ice cream, and the store is out of it, is a right being denied according to the 9th Amendment?"

      There is no such right to ice cream or any such thing. Rights are rights to act, not "rights" to things.

      "If the 9th Amendment means what you say, then we don't need any other of the first ten amendments."

      That very point was argued when the Bill of Rights was entered into the Constitution. The Bill of Rights is redundant, but explicit statement of the rights contained in the Bill was considered worth the redundancy.

      Even though the 9th Amendment is explicitly stated in the Constitution it is still ignored. If you throw a constitution to a bunch of monkeys you won't necessarily get a civilization.

      I suspect that the reason the professor did not wish to make the 9th Amendment argument is because it would destroy his beloved edifice of state intervention which has accumulated over the years.

      • USMCSniper

        The Ninth Amendment is key to understanding how the Founding Fathers thought about the liberties they expected Americans to enjoy under the Constitution. They did not believe that they were creating these liberties in the Bill of Rights. Instead, they were merely acknowledging some of the rights that no government could properly deny. The history of the Constitution reveals the purpose of the Ninth and the Founders' intent: to protect what constitutional lawyers call unenumerated rights — those rights the Founder assumed and felt no need to specify in the Bill of Rights. Unenumerated rights include, for example, the right to implied privacy in personal matters. But today the 9th amendent is stretched way beyond original intent as unenumerated rights by progressives for what are really not rights at all. The right to a job, the right to food and shelter, the right to a education, the right to health care, etc.,.. are obviously not rights.

        • The_Inquisitor

          But progressives don't appeal to the 9th Amendment. They are as scared of the 9th as the wicked witch is of water. They use Equal Protection or appeal to a "higher" authority.

          That's what the professor did. He professed that there was no right to privacy in the Constitution. He made no appeal to the 9th Amendment; that would open up a can of worms he wouldn't want to face. For example, the right to freely enter into contracts would destroy the federal labor laws.

        • Garwoodv6

          Liberal/Leftists try to convince the populace/electorate that rights and entitlements are one and the same. If the public falls in line, the public become their subjects. Not a way to live freely…

          I feel compelled to post this creed posted in my office titled THE BOTTOM LINE:

          (See next post:)

          • Garwoodv6

            FACE IT. Nobody owes you a living. What you achieve or fail to achieve in your lifetime is directly related to what you do -or- fail ro do.

            Noone chooses his parents or childhood but you can choose your own direction. Everyone has problems and obstacles to overcome, but that too is relative to each individual. Nothing is carved in stone; youcan change anything in your life, if you want to badly enough.

            Excuses are for losers: Those who take responsibility for their actions are the real winners in life.Winners meet life's challenges head-on, knowing there are no guarantees, and they give it all they've got.

            Never think it is too late or too early to begin; time plays no favorites and will pass whether you act or not. Take control of your life. Dare to dream and take risks… COMPETE.

            If you aren't willing to work for your goals, don't expect others to. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

  • http://netzero.com Steve Chavez

    I recently went to our university bookstore and browsed around and found several books that were required course books by Chomsky. The Women Studies courses had a whole section so I went to the computer and found classes by thirteen different professors, all women. In the SUB, there are flyers advertising Women Studies classes.

    Our university is controlled by Leftists from top to bottom. Deans only recommend Leftists for hire. Can you imagine a job interview?: "You didn't vote for Bush did you?" "You kidding? Of course not!" "YOU'RE HIRED!"

    They also spout out their Leftism in class and if any student dares to speak up, their grade is lowered. Last year I met a girl who based her term paper on the Bible and she got a D grade. She fought it and went to an "independent grade committee." She had the grade overturned and the professor didn't get any reprimand. How many students get a C grade and just don't fight it or don't know of the committee?

    This indoctrination today is to turn our kids into Obama Zombies!

  • Chezwick_Mac

    This speech is David at his very best…incisive, combative, imploring, direct…and yet, along with such adjectives, he continues to emit a heart-felt integrity and humanity. Our opponents could never conceive of this, their myopia being what it is, but he is actually trying to look out for all of us, regardless of political persuasion.

  • fmobler

    The situation is far worse than even David suggests. Most left-leaning professors are not even aware what they are doing. They are actually unaware of what intellectuals on the right are saying. I have had quite a few conversations with colleagues in which ignorance and misunderstanding is the defining characteristic There are many reasons for this, but chiefly it is quite mundane.

    First, I do not know any liberal/left faculty who read conservatives at all. This is basic intellectual laziness. They get their knowledge of conservatives mainly from secondary sources. Why would the Utne Reader review a conservative's latest book unfairly? Contrast this to conservatives. Every conservative intellectual I know actually reads Chomsky (at least enough to see that he has been repeating himself since the late 70s).

    Second, "go along to get along" is one of the most powerful and persistent of all human impulses. Academics love to tell each other that "intellectual freedom" is the hallmark of the academy. Right. You have almost complete freedom to figure out how not to screw up your career. Intellectual cowardice is a positive characteristic. [In fairness, I think this is a problem for conservatives when you get too many of them together.]

    Third, academics in most fields are very noticeably unschooled in logic and the crudest bits of empirical analysis. They simply do not know what to do with someone who rejects an argument while accepting its conclusion (that's logic, folks). They think that correlation is causation (at least when the conclusion is "right" anyway).

    You don't need to postulate bad intentions to most faculty. The simpler explanation is that faculty are simply bereft of the intellectual virtues. They are lazy, cowardly and incompetent. The ideology lists to the left, sure. But a lazy, cowardly incompetent academy of the right would be just as damaging.

  • http://christiandadreviews.blogspot.com/ chademe

    The students of today are the leaders of tomorrow. If this fight is lost, so is our nation's future.

    I have a co-worker from Pakistan and we've talked about the glaring differences between the way things work there compared to the US. We agreed that one of the significant differences was a respect for the rule of law. Here, if a light is red, people usually stop, even if no one else is around. There, traffic lights are treated as a suggested action for the driver. This respect for the rule of law is taught in schools and universities. If this respect is lost, our nation will devolve into a 3rd world country.

    • http://netzero.com Steve Chavez

      It should have read: "The students of 60's thru the 80's are the leaders of tomorrow. If this fight is lost, so is our nation's future. "

      Those students are Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Pelosi and Reid, Michelle the real Vice-President, Axelrod and Emanuel, and most of Congress who fight more for the rights of our enemies! IF THEY ARE NOT REMOVED IN NOVEMBER, "THIS FIGHT IS LOST, SO IS OUR NATION'S FUTURE!

      I have been screaming about them since the 80's when they were controlled by the Communist Party USA and their front groups who also directed "peace" groups during Vietnam to aid their Communist comrades even hoping for more U.S. deaths as they hope for in our current wars!

  • Rib/eve

    I personally liked the idea of firing the liberal or progressive professors and hiring conservative ones.

    Thank you David for pursuing this aspect of the war. It's amazing that "we" conservatives haven't done this sooner.

  • twowrongsdontmakeawrite

    David:
    Congradulations on the Senator backing for your institute, but remember, all politicians will let you down in the end.

  • George

    I like how Horowitz after auditing a class comments that the indoctrination is very sophisticated and speaks of what was implied by a lesson.

    The issue is WHO gets to decide who's "conservative" and who's a lost lefty soul that should be kept away from our children?

    The important part for Horowitz, is that his ideological framework be accepted as legit, and the worldview of his bizarro world cult (which he likes to call quite inappropriately at this point, "conservative") be the judge jury and executinor in matters of who really loves America and who doesn't…or some other unmeasurable intangible.

    "left" and "right" are not suppose to be philosophies that govern the whole of your life, your mind, and your internal dialogue. Horowitz has worked for over a decade to sculpt "the left" into the cultic "other". If you don't think as Horowitz does(even on matters unrelated to politics), then you are automatically "left" and therefore responsible not just for Stalin's murders, but Hitler's and Osama Bin Laden's as well. You aren't suppose to watch movies, eat ice cream, or smell roses to determine which is conservative or liberal so you can like it or not. But that's what you start to get when you set up a false dichotomy as the framework for existence.

    So he walks into a college and wants to start telling professors that he doesn't like the perceived implications of a lecture(s), they should accept the fact that they are all anti-american commies bent on destroying our youth. Why oh why are they shutting you out David?

    • Chezwick_Mac

      You seem to be saying that there ISN'T a Left-wing bias in the universities. What planet are you from?

    • Samurai Hit Woman

      George, your denial of the obvious reminds me of "there is no Mafia and we'll kill anyone who says there is."

  • http://carinsurancesacramento.org elrik

    Lochner was hated by Progressives and once Roosevelt frightened the court into submission the SCOTUS began to undo rulings based on the 9th Amendment.

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  • Guest

    The Ninth Amendment states: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

    Nothing in there about reserving any rights to the states or the people. In facts, states don't have rights (except possibly the right to defend themselves from violent overthrow).

    Don't mix up the Tenth Amendment with the Ninth Amendment. The Ninth Amendment is saying that the rights guaranteed by the Constitution aren't the only rights the people possess. The people can claim anything they want to as a right, but any rights they declare outside of the Constitution have to be justified by something other than constitutional law.

  • Guest

    I'd like to adopt The Road to Serfdom as my dissenting book. If it's allowed, I'd also adopt The Constitution of Liberty too.

  • http://carinsurancesacramento.org elrik

    More people are actually learning about what the Founders tried to do and are beginning to realize that what we have today is very far from what was intended.

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  • Guest

    There once was a concept among the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court called "judicial restraint." There were several varieties of judicial restraint. One of them was the idea that if it wasn't spelled out in the Constitution, it was a political issue that required action by our elected representatives. Once the political issue took the form of a law or some other form of government action, its constitutionality could be passed upon.

    The last time I heard about judicial restraint was the years-long process of the federal courts ducking making holdings on the constitutionality of the Vietnam War. The GIs who refused to be deployed to Vietnam, the refusal to pay taxes that would be earmarked for a war budget, other issues, were steadfastly avoided by the U.S. Supreme Court for the better part of a decade.

  • Guest

    This is an excellent article.
    My wife and i feel the same way but we take it a little further.
    We believe that we don’t owe anyone a LIFE.
    Why bring more people into this world when there is already 6 and a half BILLION people in it.

    We don’t owe future people or (humans) a life.

    Plain and simple.

  • Nash

    I don't know how these politicians act. Sometimes they are good but sometimes it's not understood what they are doing. Magic Mesh
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  • Anthony

    It's always the same. People will never change. But as always, you get what you deserve/vote. Ghostwriter

  • Palm Beach Villa

    It is good news for academic freedom .What you mean by conservative temperament ? Palm Beach Villa

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