Behold the Fruits of “Academic Freedom”
Ever have an educator explain to you that it is important to hear all sides of an argument and to engage the opposition in dialogue? Well, for many humanities professors, that may be a lesson preached more than practiced:
Anyone who needed evidence that the culture wars are far from over could find it here at the annual gathering of the Modern Language Association last week. As the response to David Horowitz’s appearance on an MLA panel showed all too plainly, the culture wars haven’t ended; they’ve just reached an ugly stalemate. …
… In fact, Mr. Horowitz’s appearance at the MLA meeting, he said, is the first time that he has defended his views in person before a scholarly group. …
But members of the audience weren’t having any of it. They wanted to challenge the panel about one thing: why Mr. Horowitz was there in the first place.
“Are you now proud that you are the only organization to invite Horowitz to speak?” an angry Barbara Foley of Rutgers University at Newark asked. “Did you do your homework” about Mr. Horowitz’s blog, FrontPagemag.com? she continued, to audience applause. Grover Furr of Montclair State University and a self-described “victim” of Mr. Horowitz’s book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, said he objected to Mr. Horowitz’s being invited “not because of his views but because he is a liar.” Another audience member complained that out of thousands of MLA members, the organization had picked “two FrontPage columnists” for the panel. …
At one point, a member of the audience could be seen giving Mr. Horowitz the finger. Brian Kennelly of California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, who presided over the event, wrote on The Chronicle’s Web site that he observed an audience member repeatedly mouthing an obscenity to Mr. Horowitz — behavior he called “troublesome” and “repugnant.”
It’s telling, and not very surprising, that a roomful of academics required the supervision of security guards. I wonder if they had their Tasers at the ready.
It was Rhode Island’s own Rocco DiPippo, by the way, who blew the whistle on Professor Furr. I suspect Grover would think twice before directing his spittle toward Rocco in person.