Adopt a Dissenting Book

David Horowitz was one of the founders of the New Left in the 1960s and an editor of its largest magazine, Ramparts. He is the author, with Peter Collier, of three best selling dynastic biographies: The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty (1976); The Kennedys: An American Dream (1984); and The Fords: An American Epic (1987). Looking back in anger at their days in the New Left, he and Collier wrote Destructive Generation (1989), a chronicle of their second thoughts about the 60s that has been compared to Whittaker Chambers’ Witness and other classic works documenting a break from totalitarianism. Horowitz examined this subject more closely in Radical Son (1996), a memoir tracing his odyssey from “red-diaper baby” to conservative activist that George Gilder described as “the first great autobiography of his generation.” His latest book is Take No Prisoners: The Battle Plan for Defeating the Left (Regnery Publishing).

Twitter: @horowitz39
Facebook: David Horowitz

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It is true that the UMass professor did not indulge in anti-Republican or anti-capitalist or anti-American rants, a widespread practice among his radical colleagues. Nor did he seek in an overt manner to discredit conservative opinions and those who voiced them, also a common faculty trope. His manner was properly academic. But my conservative student hosts had also assured me that he didn’t indoctrinate them, and what I heard with my own ears was quite the opposite.

The Warren Court, the subject of his lecture, changed the face of America and is responsible for much of the bitter polarization of our politics today. It is the reason why Supreme Court nominations are now so polarized and almost entirely political. It is why the judiciary is now less a check on the power of the legislative and executive branches than an extension of the political forces that affect both. It is why the constitutional pillars of our democracy have been eroded. But no student taking the course I audited at the University of Massachusetts would come out of it understanding these facts.

If the professor had presented the liberal rulings of the Warren Court along with the objections of the conservative minority – and presented them in a respectful manner — and then had said it was his personal view that the Warren Court’s decisions were correct, I would have had no problem with his lecture.

But he did not do this. Instead he presented the liberal Court’s decisions as a salesman for the majority’s point of view. He did not explain the conservative opposition, and he left the distinct impression that no one who thought of himself as a modern person, or a rational person or a moral person could fail to approve what the liberal Court did. This was a sophisticated form of indoctrination. It was so effective that none of the conservative students who recommended his class to me understood that that is what it was.

When the professor discussed the establishment of religion clause in connection with the 1964 decision to ban prayer in the schools, he never once mentioned the fundamental conservative objection — that the establishment clause refers to the establishment of a particular religion and was not intended to enjoin public institutions from acknowledging that a Creator exists.

After all, the Founders were largely religious refugees (or descendents of refugees) who had been persecuted by the Church of England, which was able to use government powers against rival denominations. They came to America to seek religious freedom not to create a government that distanced itself from worshipping the source of that freedom, as they themselves had proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.

Prayer in the schools was a routine practice in this country for nearly 200 years before the liberals banned it. Such prayer may or may not qualify as the kind of establishment of religion on which the Founders frowned, but clearly it is possible for reasonable, and moral, and modern people to disagree on this matter. Yet that was something no student in this professor’s class could possibly understand from his lecture.

The professor then turned to the abortion issue and the precedent-setting case of Griswold v. Connecticut. The Griswold case involved a Connecticut law banning contraceptives. In order to declare the law unconstitutional, the liberal majority had to invent a “right to privacy” which it alleged was in a “penumbra” – or shadow — of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, since not even a liberal could find that right in the daylight of what the Constitution’s authors had actually written.

This penumbra became the basis for Roe v. Wade, the Court decision outlawing abortions as unconstitutional because they violated the “right to privacy” which the court liberals had just invented.

The UMass professor did concede that a “right to privacy” cannot be found in the Constitution, but then he argued that its invention out of whole cloth was a gift, allowing Americans to march into the progressive future. We could all be thankful to the Court’s liberals, because none of us really want the police knocking on our doors and asking to search our bedrooms for contraceptives. What modern, enlightened, progressive person could disagree with that?

What the professor was hiding from his students was the fact that opposing Griswold was not the same as supporting the bad law, which was in fact constitutional. What conservatives supported was the principle that Supreme Court justices were obligated to base their decisions on what the Constitution actually said and not to rewrite it to their taste, so that it could be used to strike down laws they didn’t like.

The conservatives were opposed to having nine un-elected judges remake the Constitution every year to suit their prejudices however progressive. The only constitutional way to remake the Constitution is to amend it through an electoral process. That is the way a democracy works. What the professor did not tell his students was that there is another perfectly simple and democratic way to get rid of a stupid law, which is to have the legislature repeal it and write a new one.

The deceptive and manipulative lecture I witnessed would have been less a problem if at least one of the assigned texts for the course had been written by a conservative critic of the Warren Court. That would have allowed students to make up their own minds. But in fact there was only one text assigned for the course and it was written by a liberal, and a strong supporter of the Warren philosophy, Jeffrey Toobin. Assigning only one leftwing text is in itself a not-so-subtle way of telling students that there is only one acceptable view of these controversial and divisive issues, which are so crucial for the future of our country.

The following week I visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While there I learned that the identical course was being offered for political science majors. The only difference was that this professor, according to the students, was indeed a raving and ranting leftist who overtly inflicted his partisan agendas on his captive subjects. As with the course at the University of Massachusetts there was only one assigned text, and it was the same text written by Jeffrey Toobin.

The most troubling aspect of this whole experience for me was the fact I have already mentioned — that the conservative students didn’t realize they were being indoctrinated. It is not an unfamiliar experience for me. When I visited Carleton College, the extremely bright conservative students I met told me they were not being indoctrinated. But when I asked them if they were being taught as a scientific fact that race, class and gender hierarchies rule America, every one of them told me they were being taught exactly that. I have encountered this situation at hundreds of universities across America. If it should continue unchallenged, the idea that there is only one set of opinions appropriate to people who consider themselves educated will insinuate itself into the national culture. And when that happens it will spell the end of our democracy as we know it.

My experience in Massachusetts led me to devise the campaign to Adopt a Dissenting Book. It showed me that the trend towards politicizing our university classrooms is not confined to radical ideologues in Women’s Studies and Peace Studies departments. It is pervasive. If professors are not recruiting for revolutionary parties, they are recruiting for the Democratic Party. This is what schools in totalitarian countries do. They tell students what to think; they do not teach them how to think. They indoctrinate students in political orthodoxies and recruit them to political agendas.

At the end of the month, we will launch our campaign to prevent this from happening in America. At that time the students I met in Massachusetts will begin asking their professor to assign an additional text in his class, one that is written by a conservative and is critical of the liberal majority on the Warren Court. Two sides to an argument is the American way. In the long run a democracy like ours cannot survive if its schools insist there is only one.

If the professor rejects the idea of books with differing views, we will take the request to the chairman of the department. If his answer is negative we will take it to the dean of the college, and then to the chancellor and then to the president and the board of trustees. And we will take it to the press and the public. We will hold “Adopt A Dissenting Book Days” and “Awareness Weeks” especially when parents are visiting a school to look it over as prospective consumers. We will do everything in our power to embarrass university officials by exposing their hypocrisy on this issue so fundamental to our democracy. Universities should not be claiming to educate students when in fact they are indoctrinating them; or claim to be defenders of academic freedom when in fact they are suppressing ideas with which they disagree.

The strength of our mission lies in the fact that its purpose is to defend what this country has stood for since its creation. Because of this fact universities are unable to defend in public what they do behind closed doors, as Alan Kors observed many years ago. If they are made aware of what is happening, the American public – the consumers of the university product – will not stand for a school system that is one-sided; that censors dissenting views; and that attempts to impose a political orthodoxy on its students.

The problem we are facing, in other words, is one that is in our own hands to solve. We have lost our schools because we have not been in the fight, and for the most part are still not in the fight. Radicals were able to suborn our universities and turn large segments of them into indoctrination and recruitment centers because we did nothing to stop them. Our academic freedom has been eroded because we have done nothing to defend it. Our academic standards have been debased because we have done nothing to uphold them. How did an anti-American charlatan such as Ward Churchill become a tenured professor and department chair teaching students that America is a genocidal nation, which deserves to be destroyed? Because we did nothing to uphold the academic standards that would have denied him the ability to do so. The unrepentant terrorist, now “Distinguished Professor of Early Childhood Education,” Billy Ayers is another case in point. And there are tens of thousands like him.

If you do not think we can lose this country, think again. There has never been a President in the White House as radical as the man who occupies it now. There has never been a moment in our country’s history when the assault on its institutions and principles was orchestrated by the federal government itself, as is the case now.

The battles we face are about more than just elections. They are about the culture, the framework of ideas and institutional values that sustain the democratic outlook. They are about the very idea of freedom and what it means: whether it is conceived as the liberty of the individual, requiring limits on government, or whether it is conceived as a collective power to enforce the will of a political elite, justifying the expansion of government into a totalitarian state.

Right now, we are the problem. The enemies of freedom will be there tomorrow, as they were there yesterday, and are there today. The only difference will be whether we are there as well. The tea parties are a beginning. The decades of effort by the Young America’s Foundation are a beginning. But we have to swell our ranks and multiply our efforts many times to think about being able to stop them. I hope you will all go out and redouble your efforts to defend what you know is right. I hope you will join us in our campaign to get university professors to assign books that defend the principles of the constitutional founding; that defend the free market and the free enterprise system; that defend individual freedom, and that defend our country.  I hope you will take your stand in this fight for our future, and will not let up until our institutions are restored and our liberties are secure.

To get involved in The Adopt a Dissenting Book Campaign, contact Jeffrey Wiener at The Freedom Center Student Center at

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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.

    • joelrinks

      The blog content is powerful, very Good.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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

    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."

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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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