from Graham Larkin (Department of Art, Stanford University) to David
Horowitz (FrontPage Magazine)
you for joining me and AAUP Associate Secretary, Marcus Harvey,
in last Saturday's exchange on 1360 AM KLSD (Air America Radio,
San Diego). I'm glad that you feel you fared so well in that exchange.
In the interests of furthering the conversation, I would be delighted
to have another live discussion with you, or with any of the so-called
for Academic Freedom. Perhaps, in the interests of balance,
any future debate can be held in a conservative venue.
To the extent
that it continues the dialogue, I also welcome your blog response to our debate, and to my article "What's
Not to Like About the Academic Bill of Rights." Given your many
misconstruals of my own position, I feel compelled to respond. To
keep it relatively brief, I will confine myself to some remarks
on the central issue of left-right balance.
In your blog you describe my article as
attack on me personally and on imaginary demands of the academic
freedom movement for "balance" and equal representation (there
are no such demands).
that the supporters of the ABOR make "no such demands" for left-right
"balance" (a claim that I think you also made in the radio interview)
is bizarre, since from the start you have successfully framed the
whole issue in terms of the need for intellectual or ideological
balance, equity and diversity. Whatever else you might have said,
you have persistently used the very term "balance" when promoting
the ABOR. For instance in your article The Campus Blacklist (April 18, 2003), you note
encouraged students to demand that their schools adopt an "academic
bill of rights" that stresses intellectual diversity, that demands
balance [my italics] in their reading lists, that recognizes
that political partisanship by professors in the classroom is
an abuse of students' academic freedom, that the inequity in funding
of student organizations and visiting speakers is unacceptable,
and that a learning environment hostile to conservatives is unacceptable.
that this is not a casual phrase, given that you quote a version
of this passage, complete with the reference to "balanced" reading
lists, in a later article. There, you also note that the ABOR
will ensure that "[s]election of speakers, allocation of funds for
speaker activities and other student activities will observe the
principles of academic freedom and promote intellectual balance
[my italics]." Just last month, in your article "It's Time for Fairness and Inclusion in Our Universities,"
you opened a defense of the ABOR by pointing to the ideological
"imbalance" among American university faculty. Later in that article
you refer again to "the faculty imbalance."
of these key terms is no mere semantic detail, given that politicians
and the press have followed your lead in construing the Bill as
means of ensuring balance, or correcting imbalance. To confine myself
to a few examples republished on your FrontPage Magazine
and Students for Academic Freedom websites, the New York Times reports that your movement
was inspired by "political imbalance on faculties," and a Washington Times editorial supporting the
ABOR concludes that "[t]he issue here is balance." A press release by Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) states
that the Bill "encourages university and college officials to even
out the imbalance between liberal and conservative influences in
higher education." These examples are taken at random. There are
at least a hundred more pleas for "balance" or denunciations of "imbalance" scattered throughout articles describing
the ABOR on the Students for Academic Freedom website. This
is not to mention the repeated calls, by the Bill's supporters,
for "equality," "equity," "evenhandedness," "fair-mindedness," and
other terms implying balance.
How, in the
face of all this evidence, can you claim that your movement makes
"no demands" for balance and equal representation? No amount of
retroactive spin can reverse the fact that the ABOR's supporters
have campaigned relentlessly to legislate ideological "balance"
in American universities.
In the same blog, you ask why I didn't "reel off
half a dozen conservatives in [my] own department" in response to
your allegations of faculty imbalance. The answer should be obvious
to anyone who has actually read my article.
It explicates, in meticulous detail, the deficiencies of your jaundiced
habit of labeling everyone as either "leftist" or "conservative."
I really mean it when I write that "[i]t is hard to think of any
method that would provide us with reliable statistics about such
a subtle and complex phenomenon as personal ideology--not least
in environments, such as elite humanities departments, which actively
cultivate ideological subtlety and complexity."
You dismiss as "pure invention" my claim that you compartmentalize
(as you put it) "all ideas into only two categories, left and right."
And yet, in the space of the same few paragraphs, you repeatedly
brand me as a "leftist." I would prefer for you to have acknowledged
in the very article you are critiquing, as one of the people "who
feel we have little to gain--intellectually, professionally, or
financially--by accommodating ourselves to either of Horowitz's
two stifling compartments." As a self-appointed authority on freedom
and diversity, you would do well to respect peoples' right to resist
Now let's imagine,
for the sake of argument, that I were to correspond to one of your
imagined "two sides." What makes you think I would end up
in the "leftist" camp in my opposition to the ABOR? Wouldn't it
more likely be the conservative in me who resents your radical
efforts to enforce a "diversity of approaches" and "appropriate knowledge" in the academy? After all,
as the libertarians have been quick
to point out, such efforts at diversity legislation are little
more than a sick parody of political correctness.
no such legislation has yet taken root in our own state of California,
might in the coming months. Until such time as the opponents
of academic freedom succeed in their devious campaign to prevent
me from "[taking] unfair advantage of a student's immaturity
by indoctrinating him or her with the teacher's own opinions,"
I will continue to treat my students like grown-ups, with the blessing
of the First Amendment and the sane precepts of the AAUP.
Thank you for
your attention. In the interest of promoting "both sides" instead of just "half the story," I hope you will be kind enough
to link to this letter, or to republish it complete with my links,
alongside your own postings on the FrontPage Magazine and
Students for Academic Freedom websites.
Stanford University, Department of Art & Art History
CA-AAUP VP for Private Colleges and Universities
to Larkin-Horowitz Exchange
join the fight against the Academic Bill of Rights,
with the AAUP, tireless defenders of academic freedom since