Regarding the Academic Bill of Rights sign now


This letter was written in response to the "Academic Bill of Rights" (the text of which can be found here: http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/documents/1925/abor.html ) Written by David Horowitz (webiste here: http://www.horowitzfreedomcenter.org/)

The editorial the following letter refers to, in which Horowitz comments on the death of Rachel Corrie, can be found here: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/horowitz040803.asp

Dear David Horowitz,

Stop using the word Freedom. You dont understand what it means.

I read your Academic Bill of Rights, and your ideas to ensure academic freedom and Intellectual Diversity. Personally, as a college student myself, I agree fundamentally on the principles of accepting diverse ideas, as your bill claims. Your bill defines intellectual freedom as: protection of students - as well as faculty - from the imposition of any orthodoxy of a political, religious or ideological nature. And that would be a beautiful thing, were it possible. Im glad that we both value the pursuit of knowledge, free from dogma.

It should be the implication of any higher-ed classroom that materials will be interpreted independently, by the student, for application to an individual course of study. Academia implies the freedom to choose, the freedom to think, and the freedom to explore new positions. Knowledge, we both agree, is a beautiful thing. The freedom of expression, the freedom to speak, the freedom to disagree that my country has guaranteed me is a similarly beautiful thing.

Yes! Let us offer college students the protection from any ideological theocracy which might condemn them. In principle, thus far, you and I should find equal footing.

So, why did you feel the need to reduce and pervert the self-sacrificial death of 23 year-old college student and advocate for peace, Rachel Corrie, by the slow charge of a bulldozer a pro-terrorist activity in your editorial published on the third of April in 2003? Cant you just smell the dogma in the ideograph? In the same piece, you baldy assert that embedded in the leadership of every radical anti-war protest group, are organizations that promote the culture of Islamic terrorism and its anti-Western, anti-Israeli and anti-American agendas

I do not think its possible to be a spokesperson for fair and balanced, unbiased education, while you simultaneously call the Muslim Student Association at my college campus an organization that should give every American cause for concern. I want to know why Muslim students should be exempt from the protection you claim you would like to blanket over the precious world of academia. I want to know what kind of vapid ethnocentrism enables you to condemn students on the basis of their religion alone, while youre on a crusade to free campuses across the country from the pressure of ideology and partisanship.

What about the MSA implies inherent terrorist tendencies for you? Are you aware that there are plenty of Muslims who are, and always have been citizens of the U.S.? The type of fear mongering you display in your editorials implies some more sinister motive within your bill.

At this moment in our discussion is when I realize that you and I have very little to agree on, Mr. Horowitz. Your bill might call for the freedom of education, but I doubt your commitment to that end. The AAUP has said your Academic Bill of Rights would place decisions about faculty appointments and the content of academic programs in the hands of political officials, thereby jeopardizing not only the independence of faculty members and their institutions but also their capacity to advance knowledge and educate their students.

I cannot stomach the thought of my college taking my curriculum and my faculty out of the control of the leaders in my discipline and into the control of political officials. The practical role of politicians requires political agenda. Your fear of indoctrination of tender young minds has nothing to do with the rights of students, nor the aims of education, but your persistent fear that enlightenment is getting away from you.

I dont appreciate my professors because we agree on matters of fact or theory, but because theyre familiar enough with material to challenge my explorations into original thought. I have not been indoctrinated by the faculty at my college, but have been given the opportunity to reinforce and strengthen my own world view by measuring and testing it against more practiced, more experienced opponents. This tension of minds, finally fully capable of supporting a perspective, is what makes college campuses such explosive and exciting places for socially minded young adults. Your bill directly undermines the value of discourse and debate in the classroom. I learn the most, perhaps, from the instances of my disagreements with my teachers, from separating their theory from mine.

I am insulted that you do not trust me to do this for myself.

I dont know when it is that you imagine students are capable of independent thought, but I flatter myself that this ability manifested long before I enrolled myself in college. I think there is a big difference between teaching and indoctrination that you have failed to perceive. If indoctrination is what you fear, stop attempting to institute your misguided policies in public institutions of higher education and take a gander into religiously based elementary schools, where the threat of influencing tender young minds holds a bit more firmly in reality. Why this didnt occur to you immediately is also a cause for concern.

I dont know why you believe college professors decide to pursue the profession (aside from the gigantic paycheck, of course) but you cant honestly be paranoid enough to believe that theyre intended recruiters for an ideology or political party?

Yes, I absolutely believe that intellectual diversity is a vital component in the pursuit of truth and knowledge, but, all things being equal, I believe that the intelligence of college professors must be as diverse as we all are. There are no professor indoctrination boot camps that promote just one way of thinking. There is no conspiracy in the hallowed halls of doctoral programs. My instructors are unique individuals and I find strengths in their differences of perspectives. Those who teach college come from walks of life as diverse as accessibility to education affords.

So here is my advice to you, Mr. Horowitz. If you are truly as concerned about the diversity of intellectual thought as you claim to be, strike the elitism you fear at its very core. Focus on accessibility and affordability at all levels of education. Tired of seeing one type of PhD? Join me in measures to ensure that anyone who would like to aspire to such levels of education is able. Bring the quality of education up in the inner cities. Ensure funding to small elementary and high schools in the southern portions of my state. Verify that your state is delivering all promised funds to its public institutions and continue to ensure that our country invests in education and makes financial aid available to those who need it. This is truly the way to a diverse educational experience. Education is only restrictive and narrow when we allow learning to be confined to the wealthy or to a certain social class.

Education will not be fixed by policy. Education will be fixed by funding. Invest in our teachers. Invest in our students. Give schools the money to offer varieties of experiences to a wide populace of students, and you will achieve the results you seek.

Back to our discussion on the word freedom, I think that you are confusing freedom-from and freedom-to. Your attempts at policy making at public institutions are freeing us from the burden of intellectual thought, removing colleges from the front lines of original thought (which requires the speculation youre attempting to criminalize) and threatens the freedom to explore, disagree, and to experience different approaches to problem solving.

Kindly keep your brand of freedom far away from my education.

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Marylou CharlesBy:
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David Horowitz

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