From a colleague: Bully of the Academic Schoolyard

Refusing to offer David Horowitz a platform is not indicative of intolerance – it is application of standards that fairy tales and schoolyard bullying simply do not meet. Rather than introducing debate of issues of academic freedom by extending speaking offers to well known conservative and liberal scholars NCA has elected to turn itself into the quasi-academic version of a Bill O’Reilly shouting match. As an unfortunate result, Horowitz has been handed more fodder to spin into his complaints about academic bias and censorship, and those involved owe NCA members an explanation.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified David Horowitz’s right-wing ideological campaign against intellectualism as “bigoted and discredited”. In Pennsylvania, Horowitz’s claims of academic bias were found – by a taxpayer funded investigation of the Pennsylvania State System Universities and state affiliated schools, including Penn State – to be utterly without merit.

Despite Horowitz’s widely recognized agenda, absolute lack of credibility, and problematic stances on issues of diversity and race, Michael Hogan extended an offer – on behalf of NCA, on behalf of all of us who are dues paying members – to allow Horowitz to speak at the annual convention of our organization. Now Hogan is “personally disappointed” that Horowitz won’t be using NCA as a public stage for his anti-academic crusade?

What are the “important issues” that Horowitz raises and Hogan believes are so vital to the proceedings at NCA that Hogan would allow our membership to be manipulated into Horowitz’s line of fire? The notion that anyone whose political ideology is left of center supports terrorism? The misrepresentation of academia through analyses that any well-taught undergraduate could poke holes through? The intolerant and inflammatory labeling of critical discussion as “anti-Semitic”? Unsubstantiated, wildly over exaggerated, and inaccurate claims of “indoctrination” by faculty repeatedly found false by neutral agencies and even Horowitz’s own allies? The accusation of a lack of professionalism by faculty who are registered Democrats, as though we are unable to distinguish between personal politics and classroom conduct?

Since when do those in our profession endeavor to elevate sophistry to the position of reasoned discourse?

Next year, I could make sure that I submit academic work before the due date (lest I be scolded by the powers that be) and then wait for a competitive review to determine if my research meets NCA’s standards. It seems, though, that I would be better served if I spent my time producing shoddy scholarship by bullhorn and waiting for Mike Hogan to give me a call.

–Kara Lakowski

Shippensburg University

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