Saturday, September 16, 2006

Beware Professor Osama

Roas Brooks has a terrific op-ed piece in yesterday's LA Fish Wrap.
Rosa Brooks: Students, Beware Professor Osama

Fear-mongering conservatives are on their perennial crusade to purge universities of liberal professors.
Rosa Brooks
September 15, 2006

WITH SEPTEMBER upon us, it's time to reflect on that perennially popular back-to-school activity, Bash the Professors.

According to David Horowitz's book, "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America," American universities are dominated by "a shocking and perverse culture of academics who are poisoning the minds of today's college students with … hatred of America … and support for America's terrorist enemies." His crusade against "radical academics" is not, alas, a lonely one.

By coupling his overheated rhetoric with a seemingly respectable campaign for "academic freedom," Horowitz has managed to snooker quite a few students and politicians into supporting his agenda.

Horowitz's website,, laments that most professors hold liberal political views, and he urges greater ideological "diversity" on faculties. On his Students for Academic Freedom website, he asks students to report "abuses" of academic freedom by professors, and state legislatures to mandate that public universities comply with what he calls the Academic Bill of Rights...
Brooks adds this devastating irony at the end of her piece:
The right-wing assault on supposedly liberal universities appeared to have run out of steam after the '80s, but it revived after 9/11. Capitalizing on increased anxiety about national security, Horowitz and his ilk were able to start denouncing the academics they disliked as not merely liberal but pro-terrorist "sympathizers … of Osama bin Laden."

Last week, they insisted that universities be purged of liberals and "improved to serve national security," and they urged students to "strongly criticize … the continued presence of liberal and secular professors."

Oh, wait — whoops! Those quotes were from — respectively — Ayatollah Abbasali Amid Zanjani, the hard-line Islamist president of the University of Tehran, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Silly me, getting my militant conservative Islamic extremists mixed up with my militant conservative Judeo-Christian extremists! Though now that I think about it, they seem to have an awful lot in common.

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