When The Professors was first published in February 2006, it was greeted by cries of outrage from the academic Left. The author was denounced as a reincarnation of Joseph McCarthy and his book as a "blacklist," although no evidence existed to support either claim and both were the opposite of the truth.
Far from being a "blacklist," the text explicitly—and in so many words—defended the right of professors to teach views that were unpopular without fear of political reprisal. The author also publicly defended the First Amendment rights of Ward Churchill, the most notable case of a professor under attack for his political views.
Penn State professor and AAUP board member Michael Berube were one of many politically inspired assailants to misrepresent the book's purpose. In at least three separate commentaries, Professor Berube has ridiculed The Professors and its author without addressing the book's argument. When the author met Berube at a lunch arranged by The Chronicle of Higher Education, he conceded he had not actually read the introduction, which defines what the book is about. He merely sampled the profiles and guessed what purpose they might serve, imputing to the author agendas the book did not have, while refuting claims it did not make.
In urging others not to read The Professors, Professor Cary Nelson similarly ignored what it actually said. After calling the book "a faculty blacklist," Nelson complained "the entries . . . purport to be accounts of a hundred faculty careers. Yet most of them ignore the chief publications at the core of those careers." But if Nelson had read the methodological essay provided in the introduction, he would know the profiles don't purport to be anything of the kind. They were not written as accounts of academic careers but were compiled to illustrate patterns among individuals who confused their activist agendas with an academic calling. The profiles assemble statements and activities of academics that reflect a belief that scholarship and political activism are integral to each other. They also document violations of the academic protocol in the four categories listed above. They do not do what Professor Nelson claims—attempt to provide accounts of intellectual careers (something that could hardly be accomplished in a format limited to four pages for each entry).
The abusive term "blacklist" is one of two main charges deployed by critics to discredit the author and prevent readers from evaluating his argument. The other is to claim that the book is factually challenged and "contains numerous errors, misrepresentations, and distortions." These baseless allegations make up the bulk of the union-sponsored fifty-page response called "Facts Count," which critics such as Nelson merely repeat: "Horowitz's entries are fundamentally acts of misrepresentation and erasure."
The union report is based on complaints from twenty of the professors profiled. To make sure that even the dimmest reader would get the point, Free Exchange included a permanent feature on its website called "Horowitz Fact-Checker." The subsequent repetition of this canard by a small army of politically motivated critics has helped to create the impression that the author has a bigger problem with facts than critics who describe as a "blacklist" a book that defends the right of professors to hold unpopular views.
The Free Exchange report is rich in easily demonstrated factual errors: "Mr. Horowitz chiefly condemns professors for expressing their personal political views outside of the classroom." In fact, not one individual profiled in The Professors is condemned for expressing his or her personal views outside the classroom. To be sure, the political views of professors are described. But that is because the book is about political activists who regard the university as a platform for their activism. It is not a book whose purpose is to condemn professors for expressing their political views. Insofar as individual professors are "condemned" in the text, they are faulted under the categories of abuse specified in the introduction and listed above. The infractions the book alleges are of academic standards, not deviations from political correctness. None of the book's categories include the mere expression of personal political views as a culpable offense.
A typical complaint about the author's accuracy, on the other hand, can be found in the comments provided to Free Exchange by Professor Bettina Aptheker, a professor of feminist studies at the University of California–Santa Cruz. Aptheker criticized the author for "misrepresenting" an antiwar speech she made to UCSC students in which she compared the Bush Administration's policies to those of Nazi Germany. According to the Free Exchange report, "Mr. Horowitz claims that Professor Aptheker 'informed students' that 'our agenda should be to overthrow Bush.' Both Aptheker and Free Exchange contend that this is a factual error and misrepresents what Aptheker said."
The Free Exchange report then refutes the alleged error with this sentence: "Professor Aptheker responds, 'I am inaccurately quoted: I called for the overthrow of George W. Bush by all constitutional and democratic means up to and including impeachment.'" The reader is invited to parse the difference between the two quotes. Even if Professor Aptheker did make this qualification in her speech, the journalist who reported her remarks in the Santa Cruz student paper (which is the book's source for her remarks) failed to note them. In other words, if the quote misrepresents what she said, the fault can hardly be attributed to the author of The Professors.
Professor Gil Anidjar, Columbia University
— Assistant professor of comparative literature, Columbia
— Anti-Israel activist and apologist for Islamic radicalism
— Identifies "good teaching" with pro-Palestinian activism and "dissent"
Professor Gil Anidjar is an assistant professor of comparative literature in Columbia University's department of the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures. Professor Anidjar's class, "Semites: Race, Religion, Literature," parses, among other issues, the use of the term "Semite" and how it has "affected various aspects of academia and individual academics."
There is little doubt about how it has affected academics like Professor Anidjar: for the professor, the term is merely a rhetorical cudgel with which to batter the legitimacy of the state of Israel. For instance, he has claimed in interviews that "the last Semites and the only Semites" are Arabs—an argument that, though demonstrably false, is intended to undermine the legitimacy of Israel's character as a Jewish state.
Stretching this argument further, Professor Anidjar has contended that "the Arabs have become the race that is still attached to its religion, whereas the Jews have in fact become Western Christians, and therefore are no longer marked, neither by race nor by religion."
The Columbia University administration had no reaction to these crudely racist public remarks from one of its professors.
Implicit in Professor Anidjar's remarks is that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state, a point reinforced by his frequent tirades against Zionism, which he assails for what he calls its "apocalyptic dimensions." When speaking about Zionism, as he does in his classes, Professor Anidjar also stresses: "The argument I want to make is that it is absolutely essential to continue to insist on the colonial dimension of Zionism, and colonial in the strict sense, absolutely." "Israel is absolutely a colonial enterprise, a colonial settler state." Far more charitable is Professor Anidjar's appraisal of Islam. When faced with criticism of Islam he has said: "There is, in fact, a level at which I simply lack all understanding," he has said. "Can anyone seriously claim that the problem with Islamic countries is Islam?"
Professor Anidjar's animus against Israel finds its most zealous expression in his role as an anti-Israel activist-academic on the Columbia campus. On November 13, 2002—billed as Columbia's "National Day of Action against Israeli Apartheid"—Professor Anidjar led a campus conference to divest Columbia from any dealings with Israeli companies.
Professor Anidjar draws no distinction between his roles as an academic and activist. An academic, according to Professor Anidjar, is not one who imparts knowledge or guides students in a dispassionate quest for truth, but one who recruits them to his personal political causes.
Of one such cause—"Palestinian rights"—Professor Anidjar said on the occasion of a 2005 anti-Israel gathering, "is—or it should be—the struggle of all students and all teachers, of all adjuncts and lecturers, of untenured as well as—believe me—tenured faculty."
Addressing himself to politically like-minded colleagues at Columbia, Professor Anidjar urged them to "Continue to support [radical anti-Israel professor] Joseph Massad and remember Palestinian rights too... Continue to voice your dissent. For that is good teaching." Professor Anidjar regards his conflation of activism and pedagogy as evidence of his "support for Academic Freedom," although he did fret, in the course of his high-pitched oration, "I fear I am beginning to sound like a raving lunatic."
The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America - David Horowitz Some of these attacks have been described and analyzed in the author's Indoctrination U: The Left's War Against Academic Freedom. They are also described in articles the author has written, including "The Strange Dishonest Campaign Against Academic Freedom," frontpagemag.com, and "Intellectual Muggings," frontpagemag.com
See also: Professors Cloud, Dabashi, Haddad, LeVine
Research: Jacob Laksin, Hugh Fitzgerald28