On David Horowitz’s Latest Disclaimer: “The Professors” Was Not McCarthyism

David Horowitz has frequently claimed that it is unfair and unreasonable to suggest his book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America was an effort to blacklist or purge from the academy its most “dangerous” academicians. Somewhat unconvincingly, he claims the word “dangerous” in the subtitle was forced upon him by his publisher, Regnery Publishing Inc. He has made the claim elsewhere too and while I recognise publishers have the last word, Mr Horowitz is not a first-time author with little influence over a publisher.

In the latest sequel to the work, Indoctrination U., he devotes an entire chapter, “Dangerous Professors,” to distancing himself from charges of McCarthyism. Mr Horowitz at least retains enough of his progressive past to construe the parallel as one of opprobrium that should not be readily embraced.

Mr Horowitz states he “opposed the addition of the subtitle.” He claims that he argued unsuccessfully with his publisher to delete the provocative charge of “dangerous:” “[A]cademics will regard it as a witch-hunt and no one in the academy will read it.” [82] While I am in no position to disprove the author’s effort to redact, if you will, such an egregious and reckless charge of being a threat to the vital security interests of the United States, there are even more sweeping charges against the 101 professors that appear on the inside front cover:

“We all know that left-wing radicals from the 1960s have hung around academia…[I]f you thought they were all harmless, antiquated hippies, you’d be wrong.”


Today’s radical academics aren’t the exception—they’re legion. And far from being harmless, they spew violent anti-Americanism, preach anti-Semitism, and cheer on the killing of American soldiers and villains—[they] indoctrinate our children.” [My emphasis]

On page 85 of Indoctrination U., appears this statement. “The Professors was about an academic minority I estimated to be at 10 percent of a given faculty…” Well which is it, “legion” or a small minority? Did the author wage a battle with his publisher to avoid contradicting what the author states within the work?

I have rarely encountered such a blatant book-length effort at blacklisting, marginalising and questioning the loyalty of academicians since the McCarthy Era in the 1950s. While the book does contain some useful biographical information on its subjects and frequently adopts a measured tone, The Professors is clearly an effort to move beyond biography into purpose: isolating and weakening critical thinking in the academy. Such vituperation in the subtitle AND the inside cover are merely the most obvious examples of purpose: Namely to smear, vilify and undermine job security for progressive faculty who strongly diverge from the Horowitzian view of the world.

I would not have continued this assessment of The Professors had he not recently issued a new and more elaborate defence of it in Indoctrination U. While Mr Horowitz does not need me as an advisor, I think his crusade for “intellectual neutrality,” “academic freedom for students” and “balancing” what he perceives as leftist hegemony in the social sciences and humanities, would be more credible had he not written a work that goes beyond intellectual debate into an effort to purge and cause ruination for professors who dare challenge or dissent from American foreign policy and/or competitive capitalism. It is difficult to reconcile his disclaimer that he does not represent a new variant of McCarthyism with the quotations that I have used from both works.

Yes many of the professors including myself were either not displeased or insouciant about inclusion in this most controversial of all recent books on the academy. Yet that is beside the point. Whether a Wheeling Speech by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, Republican of Wisconsin, a Nixon’s Enemies List or a Horowitz Most Dangerous Professors File, the parallels are striking and disturbing.

Also given the fact that FrontPageMag.com, a David Horowitz publication, has been a constant and frequent forum for Professor Alan M. Dershowitz to wage his reprehensible and vicious campaign against the granting of tenure to Dr Norman G. Finkelstein, of DePaul University, one may construe indeed Mr Horowitz’s purpose as not merely descriptive of progressive influence in academia, but as an effort to silence it.

This entry was posted in Academia/Academic Freedom. Bookmark the permalink.