Whenever David Horowitz issues a broadside against leftwing bias in higher education, academics have a ready reply. He packs his sallies with pointed illustrations but the record is feeble, they say. He cherry-picks evidence and magnifies a few bad cases into an epidemic of malfeasance. He relies on indirect documents (for instance, course descriptions) but never enters classrooms to witness how teachers actually teach. And he casts as ideological claptrap respected thinking in fields that has evolved through professional rites of research and peer review.
His latest book, One Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America’s Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy (Crown Forum, $26.95), co-authored with Jacob Laskin, they will maintain, does the same. It profiles radical pockets at 12 universities, examining more than 150 courses in Women’s Studies, Sociology, English, Rhetoric, African American Studies, and several other departments. The conclusion: “An alarming number of university courses violate existing academic regulations that have been designed to ensure that students receive professional instruction” (p. 5). While every statement of principle by academic organizations advocates open-minded, evidence-based, John Stuart Mill-like marketplaces of ideas, in these heated hives “Curricula are designed not to educate students in critical thinking but to instill doctrines that are ‘politically correct'” (5).
Consider the Women’s Studies department at Penn State. Its Web site proclaims, “As a field of study, Women’s Studies analyzes the unequal distribution of power and resources by gender” (quoted, 93). Political inequality, then, is not one of many aspects of women’s history, literature, art, employment, etc., to study, but instead the basic premise and purpose of the field.