David Horowitz, Boy Scholar

What astonishes me most about amateur researcher David Horowitz is not simply his ability to twist things, but his audacity in claiming that he has something to say about education that is worth listening to. I’ll get to that last point, but let me start with a small example of his Chubby Checkering (is there a special school for this somewhere off to the right?): I posted a diary on him on my own blog and in a number of other places, including at TPMCafe, where Horowitz or one of his minions must have seen it. On his own blog, Horowitz wrote:

Over the weekend I came across this “review,” which appears on TPMCafe a collective blog site created by Joshua Micah Marshall. The writer of the review obviously hasn’t read the book, and hasn’t the foggiest idea of what its argument is.

Uh, David, that’s not quite it, now, is it? And you know it. My blog wasn’t a “review” at all. I’ve no interest in reading the book and don’t pretend to review it. Why don’t I want to read it? For one thing, you even promote it as a list (101 professors… ), and I’ve no interest in reading or writing about lists. I was writing, instead, about your lack of knowledge about education. My point in that blog is that you have no business writing a book about college professors, for you have no expertise either on what they do or on who they are.

That’s not the only reason I don’t need to read your book. Lists aren’t arguments, after all—though you are certainly trying to make an argument through your list. Your list is meant to make us believe that these “most dangerous” professors are representative, to some degree, of leftist college professors and that all they do in the classroom is indoctrinate. As I reject both propositions, there would be no point in my reading your book, even if you were competent to comment on the topic.

That doesn’t mean, however, that there’s no point in my commenting on you, David! I’ve read some of your other books, and have seen first hand (through them and through your writings on the web) that you have no real interest in scholarship or academia at all. Your goal (it is clear from your writing) is to extend political power over universities; your goal isn’t reforming but controlling.

Let’s leave that aside, though. Let’s pretend that you really do have an interest in education, and not just in bringing universities under the influence of right-wing politicians (along with all the rest of the institutions of our country).

Answer me this: What have you ever done that makes you an expert on education, that makes any ‘Academic Bill of Rights’ you might devise, any book on universities or university teachers you might write, worth considering? If it weren’t for the right-wing funding machine behind you that promotes you, what would you be able to point to, showing that you know enough about education topics to be listened to at all, to be taken seriously at all? As far as I can tell, it’s only money that brings you attention. As far as I can tell, you have built no credibility of your own as a commentator on education.

As far as I can tell, you can’t answer “yes” to any of the following questions:

Have you ever been a teacher or a college administrator?

Have you studied education theory or practice in any formal way?

Have you developed a rigorous experimental design that could lead to grounded conclusions about education?

Have you at least talked to the professors on your list about their pedagogy?

Have you surveyed students and graduates in any significant fashion about their professors?

If you could answer “yes” to any of these, perhaps (and just perhaps) your book could be taken seriously.

Go back to school, David. Learn something.

Then, perhaps, you’ll have something to say that’s worth listening to.