You've come to an old part of SW Online. We're still moving this and other older stories into our new format. In the meanwhile, click here to go to the current home page.
Left-wing professors targeted
The Horowitz witch-hunt list

By Nicole Colson | February 17, 2006 | Page 12

A RIGHT-wing ideologue levels the charge that dangerous radicals have infiltrated college campuses across the U.S. in a plot to corrupt America's youth and undermine the U.S. government.

It sounds like something straight out of the anti-Communist witch-hunts of the 1950s. But this red-baiting is happening right now--as the latest project of ex-leftist-turned-rabid-right-winger David Horowitz.

This week, Horowitz released The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, a book he claims exposes what amounts to a left-wing plot, based on college campuses, to destroy America. "Coming to a Campus Near You: Terrorists, racists and communists--you know them as The Professors," reads the book's inside cover.

The long list of leftist sins contained in the book is laughable coming from Horowitz--a man whose biography describes him as a "lifelong civil rights activist," but who once wrote a column titled "Guns don't kill Black people, other Blacks do" and who has pushed ads in college papers claiming that Blacks "benefited from slavery."

Dana Cloud, an associate professor of communications studies at the University of Texas in Austin and a contributor to Socialist Worker, is one of the professors on Horowitz's hit list. "I made the list because of my writing and activism against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," Cloud explained. "I wrote academic articles criticizing the use of women's rights as a pretext for the Afghanistan war. I wrote an article criticizing the lack of freedom to speak out against war in the U.S."

Cloud apparently came to Horowitz's attention in 2002, when she published a revised version of the Pledge of Allegiance that vowed to stand with "ordinary people around the world," including those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. Apparently, for Horowitz, right-wing calls to attack Iraq and Afghanistan are "free speech"--while left-wing calls to avoid war and meet human needs are out of bounds.

Horowitz might have also been upset by the fact that Cloud was part of a group of protesters who challenged him when he spoke at the University of Texas last year. At that appearance, Horowitz claimed that racism no longer exists in the U.S. His proof? That Oprah Winfrey (whom he referred to as a "Black woman with a weight problem") is the richest woman in America.

Cloud says she is in good company in making Horowitz's list. "In a way, it's a total honor to be considered nearly as 'dangerous' as Howard Zinn," she said.

Other well-known academics deemed a threat by Horowitz are: MIT professor Noam Chomsky; civil rights activist and University of California-Santa Cruz professor Angela Davis; Marxist environmentalist and University of Oregon at Eugene professor John Bellamy Foster; and historian and City University of New York (CUNY) professor Stanley Aronowitz.

Horowitz's list even includes former 1960s radical Todd Gitlin--who is best-known today for his harsh criticisms in liberal publications of the antiwar movement and its "rejection of any conceivable rationale for using force," as he wrote in Mother Jones.

Despite the ludicrous charges he levels, Horowitz's attacks shouldn't be ignored. "[W]e have to take this seriously," says Cloud. "It's clearly an escalation of what we can call 'the new McCarthyism'--a very public attempt to belittle and bring heat down on progressive academics and activists. It's one event in a long line of attacks on academics who are either Muslim or who have criticized the U.S. government, especially policies having to do with the war or Palestine."

Horowitz's smearing of individual professors is part of a larger campaign to silence the left-wing voices on campuses. In addition to starting CampusWatch, a Web site "black list" of professors and courses around the country, Horowitz is pushing for misnamed "academic freedom" laws and codes of conduct on campus. The aim is to restrict the rights of liberal and left-wing professors to openly discuss politics in their classes.

The real threat to academic freedom and free speech is Horowitz, says Cloud. "Universities have historically been sites of antiwar activism and other struggles," she says. "They are supposed to be places for free inquiry, critical thinking and public dialogue. This is why cracking down on professors and universities is so important to the right wing...[T]hey want to scare faculty into not even raising the core questions that should be subjects of debate and discussion, like the war, Hurricane Katrina, the economy."

Home page | Back to the top