Embracing the “New Civics”

ACADEME BLOG

BY AARON BARLOW

Two great failings of the American professoriate are timidity and self-righteousness.

Casting about to orient myself in my new calling a decade or so ago, I found David Horowitz defining one extreme view of it and Michael Bérubé standing out on the other. Horowitz was pushing professors further into timidity and inaction (something that also increased their self-righteousness) while Bérubé was fighting back, promoting a necessary public involvement on the part of the faculty. Horowitz had been winning, but Bérubé was at the center of an invigorated resistance, one based on courage and flavored with humility.

At that time, I saw the conflict as essentially intermural, though Horowitz, I imagined, was more the townie trying to play on the college courts, the bitter wannabe who had never been able to make it to the inside. Bérubé, on the other hand, was the real thing, the professor publicly integrating…

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