This article originally appeared at FrontPage Magazine, on March 24, 2006.
As I have proceeded with the tedious and unrewarding project of replying to the critical reviews of professors profiled in the pages of my book, I find myself wondering whether there has ever been a cohort of intellectuals so socially privileged and occupationally secure and so utterly dishonest. Why not respond, for example, to a portrait you don’t like by showing in the conduct of your critique that the image in the book does not reflect you at all? Why not manifest the disposition of a scholar, for example, when you are accused of being a political shill? Why not show regard for the evidence when you are called to task for making it up? Why not display respect for the intellectual and philosophical differences of others when you are demanding the same for yourself?
Columbia professor Manning Marable’s dishonesty begins with the self-aggrandizing title of his response to my book: “The Most Dangerous Black Professor in America.”
Who said he was? Not I. Certainly not in my book, which profiles several black professors more prominent than Marable, whose name in any case would be a cypher to most. This is something Marable himself acknowledges further on in his text, where he prefers to associate himself with the group I have profiled rather than standing out from it. But just as the attempt to crown himself “the most dangerous black professor in America” is a bid for unwarranted distinction, so this is a gambit to share in the glory of more famous (or notorious) others.
My university (Columbia), boasts the star-struck Marable, has nine of the most dangerous professors included in Horowitz’s book. Better yet: “Several of the ‘dangerous’ intellectuals are editorial board members of a journal I edit at Columbia.” I wish I’d known that when I wrote my book.
Someone less self-enamored might hesitate before embracing (as Marable immediately does) the company of:
- a convicted kidnapper and torturer of women, Professor Maulana Karenga;
- an embittered faculty racist, Derrick Bell (whom he describes as a “legendary legal theorist”);
- an unrepentant Sixties gangster now on the staff of Emory Law, Kathleen Cleaver;
- Marxist political hack and “University Professor” Angela Davis, who is a member of the same Central Committee of the same Communist Party as Marable himself; and
- last but not least, the Jew-hating sometime poet laureate of New Jersey, Professor Amiri Baraka – all profiled in my book.
To Manning Marable, these academic knaves are a veritable “Who’s Who of America’s most prominent public intellectuals and university scholars.” Unfortunately, he’s a little more right than wrong about that, which is the central point of my book.
The Professors is a collective portrait of intellectual corruption on a scale bigger than the Enron scandal. But Marable is too self-absorbed, too busy comparing himself to an authentic legend, civil rights hero A. Philip Randolph, to notice the cognitive dissonance: “Randolph immediately came to mind when I learned recently that I was listed among ‘The 101 Most Dangerous Professors [sic]’ in America’s colleges and universities.” And why would that be? Because A. Philip Randolph was once described by President Wilson in a less decent age as “The Most Dangerous Negro in America.” But it is only Marable who calls himself that now.