This of course is a rhetorical question, much like, Is the Pope Catholic? Western universities have been hotbeds of radicalism and leftist ideology for some time now, certainly since the 60s, when they were deliberately targeted by the New Left, of which I was then a part.
Following the advice of the Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci, we were then encouraged to march through the institutions of power and influence, subverting them from within. And the 60s radicals did a very good job indeed of doing just that.
Earlier this year David Horowitz penned an important book entitled, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America (Regnery, 2006). In it he provides copious evidence as to how leftist academics are indoctrinating a generation of students, and ensuring that conservative ideas and academics are kept out of our universities.
David Horowitz is aptly qualified to write such a book, because for many years he was a leading figure in the New Left. Like me, he has obviously had a change of heart and mind over the years. More recently, he has penned an equally important article for FrontPageMagazine.com (September 15, 2006) on the same theme. Entitled “Indoctrination U: Colorado,” he provides an overview of the Left’s stranglehold over our universities, and then provides a case study using the University of Colorado, Boulder.
The introductory section nicely summarises how the Left has largely taken over academia in the West. He begins with these remarks:
“Three years ago, I began a national campaign for academic freedom designed to promote the restoration of academic standards, including intellectual diversity, in institutions of higher learning. I did so having visited more than three hundred campuses in the previous fifteen years and having interviewed several thousand students during these visits. In the course of these visits, I came to be familiar with the massive corruption of the academic enterprise that had occurred since I was an undergraduate in the 1950s, which had transformed large segments of the liberal arts schools into political parties of the academic left.”
Radicals “had created entire academic departments and fields, while subverting others in order to institute programs of study that were ideological rather than scholarly in content and design. To further these goals, they had instituted a system of intolerance (‘political correctness’) to de-legitimize alternative intellectual paradigms and ideas, and had put in place the largest and most effective blacklist in the history of the country, whose purpose was to rid faculties of independent-minded professors, who might interfere with their designs.”
He continues, “By the time I made my university rounds, the refusal to hire conservative academics had led to a vanishing presence of conservative faculty members in many liberal arts disciplines. In the fields of sociology and anthropology, for example, the ratio of leftwing professors to conservatives was now approximately thirty-to-one. These two fields themselves had been largely transformed into exercises in leftwing ideology and bore little resemblance to scholarly inquiry. In these fields particularly, but in many others that still bore some resemblance to traditional academic pursuits there was a disturbing absence in university courses of assigned texts that did not validate or amplify with the professor’s ideological point of view. The net effect was to deny students access to alternative – and particularly – conservative ideas that would challenge the course assumptions. The curriculum was thus transformed into a program of indoctrination.”
He then offers some examples of this. Here is the testimony of one college student, in her own words: “I’m taking a Women Studies class because I thought it’d be a good class to take. Yesterday I was in class and people were giving presentations about women’s issues and one group decided to do abortion. The next thing I know, we’re spending the whole period learning about how abortion should be completely legal and that it’s a good thing for society to abort babies and that people need to learn how to say the word “abortion” because women should be proud of the fact that they’ve had one. The professor made us start chanting “abortion, abortion,” and to be honest, I started to cry. There was no place in that class for my pro-life opinion.”
After some other examples, he says this: “It is a well-known principle of group psychology holds that when a room is filled with like-minded people the center of the room tends to move towards the extreme. This has been the case in university liberal arts departments for nearly thirty years. Without an in-house check on faculty zealots, the intellectual dialogue that should be the focus of a liberal arts curriculum has been steadily transformed in many academic departments into a narrowly conceived program of ideological indoctrination. Extremism has flourished to such a degree in the academic greenhouse that we now have an association of “Scholars for Truth” who are dedicated to the proposition that Dick Cheney blew up the World Trade Center on 9/11.”
The remaining two-thirds of the article examines a number of courses offered at the Colorado campus. Classes include: Graduate Feminist Methods, Whiteness Studies, Queer Rhetorics, Modern Marxist Theory, and so on. The course descriptions are offered by Horowitz, and it becomes clear that these are not balanced, objective teaching subjects, but partisan, leftwing propaganda exercises.
Consider the goals of one such course, Social Conflict and Social Values: “To understand how power and privilege are unequally distributed across economic classes, races, genders, sexual orientations, and countries; To understand that social institutions (e.g. media, education, economy, government, health care) often reflect the interests of the more powerful (e.g. whites, men, wealthy, heterosexual, U.S.); To appreciate the struggles that underprivileged groups have fought and are still fighting for economic, social, and cultural justice; To consider concrete actions you can take to make your life more meaningful and will contribute to the creation of a better world.”
This of course is nothing less than a class in preparing radicals to undermine society, not a serious reflection on sociological issues. Or as Horowitz says, “This is a frankly political course to recruit students to leftwing activism.”
Horowitz reminds us what real academic freedom is meant to be. He quotes a statement inserted into the University of California, Berkeley academic freedom code in 1934 which remained there for 70 years until it was removed by radicals in the Berkeley Faculty Senate in 2003:
“The function of the university is to seek and to transmit knowledge and to train students in the processes whereby truth is to be made known. To convert, or to make converts, is alien and hostile to this dispassionate duty. Where it becomes necessary in performing this function of a university, to consider political, social, or sectarian movements, they are dissected and examined, not taught, and the conclusion left, with no tipping of the scales, to the logic of the facts….Essentially the freedom of a university is the freedom of competent persons in the classroom. In order to protect this freedom, the University assumed the right to prevent exploitation of its prestige by unqualified persons or by those who would use it as a platform for propaganda.”
One can see why it was pulled. To allow real academic freedom is simply inimical to the radicals who now control most of our universities. As a result, students today are being brainwashed and indoctrinated as much as they are being genuinely taught.
While the above scenario describes what is taking place in America, there is little doubt that much the same situation applies at Australian universities as well. The battle for truth and knowledge continues, and those concerned about these trends must be prepared to stand up and fight for what is right.