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ClearDot.gif (85 bytes) The Importance of Academic Freedom
. . . . . .
By David Horowitz
Mr. Horowitz can be contacted c/o Sara Dogan at:

Editor's Note: David Horowitz, a nationally known author and lifelong civil rights activist, was one of the founders of the New Left and created the Oakland Community Learning Center, an inner city school for disadvantaged children that was run by the Black Panther Party. Mr. Horowitz is an outspoken opponent of censorship and racial preferences, and a defender of the rights of minorities and other groups under attack—including the rights of blacks, gays, women, Jews, Muslims, Christians and white males. His latest book, Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey, is available through the TriumphPC/Barnes&Noble online discount bookshop.)

David HorowitzI am the author of an Academic Bill of Rights whose purpose is to restore academic values in higher education. These values were once enshrined in mission statements, which were common at most universities in the era that ended with the 1960s and which identified the purpose of higher education as "the disinterested pursuit of knowledge." Today that mission has been altered beyond recognition particularly by university faculties devoted to the social sciences and humanities. These are now highly politicized institutions that regard themselves as "agencies of social change," a mandate that can easily put its adherents at cross purposes with the traditional pursuit of learning and truth. 

Where, for example, does such a sense of purpose leave those scholars and students who think of themselves as conservatives, and who point out that most of the tragedies of the century just past were caused by movements for social change? Where does such a mandate leave those scholars and students who don't share the social attitudes and ideas for change of faculty and administrators who are passionate advocates these agendas?

These are not rhetorical questions. Colorado State Representative Shawn Mitchell recently introduced a version of the academic bill of rights in the state legislature after legislative hearings revealed that a Colorado university professor had assigned students to write on a single essay topic: "Why George Bush Is A War Criminal." One student handed in a response on "Why Saddam Hussein Is A War Criminal" and received a failing grade. At the University of Indiana, a "Health Science" course devoted its entire semester to a one-sided discourse on the war in the Middle East. At 13 universities a single book, which happened to be a socialist attack on American society, was required of all incoming freshmen.

This is not education; it is indoctrination. And it is expressly forbidden under the principles of academic freedom first articulated by the American Association of University Professors in 1915 and to which all universities ostensibly subscribe. According to these principles, professors have a responsibility not to use their classrooms as political soapboxes for imposing their partisan opinions on students who are there to get an education.

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