David Horowitz Has a List

Breaking News

New book names the "101 most dangerous academics in America." Some included feel honored, and others see McCarthyism.

Caroline Higgins is 66 years old, and at 5’2” she’s not a daunting figure. Walking on the Earlham College campus last week, she ran into one of her students, a football player who very much towers over her. She mentioned that she was about to be named to a list of the “101 most dangerous academics in America.”

Higgins said that her student just started laughing — and that for anyone who knows her, “dangerous” just isn’t the word that comes to mind. She teaches peace studies.

But today, with the release of David Horowitz’s new book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, Caroline Higgins finds herself in elite company. She makes the list along with such big name academic stars as Derrick Bell, Michael Bérubé, bell hooks, Noam Chomsky and Eric Foner. Horowitz, a one-time ’60s radical, includes plenty of ’60s radicals who didn’t have the conversion experience he did, so Angela Davis and Bernadine Dohrn make the list, of course, along with the likes of Ward Churchill and a who’s who in Middle Eastern studies.

Most of the 377-page book consists of short essays on each professor – they are in alphabetical order and are not ranked according to their relative danger levels, although there are cross-listings so a reader can jump to scholars with similar ideas.

Whether to laugh at the book, like Higgins’s student, or to take it seriously, has been the subject of much discussion among academic groups and those who made the list in recent weeks. Some fear taking Horowitz too seriously will only legitimize his sometimes breathless attacks. (The book jacket promises information about professors who “say they want to kill white people,” “support Osama bin Laden,” and “defend pedophilia.”)

Some professors worry that they really don’t gain much by discussing a book that can have them explaining that, no, they are not murdering, pro-terrorist, child molesters. And several said that they hoped the press would just ignore the book. Others who are named — and academic groups that represent them — disagree. They say that a book with blurbs by Harvard professors, a Congressman, and a talk show host is going to cause a splash. With Horowitz‘s list likely to outsell Derek Bok’s new book, academics who just view The Professors as a joke risk having their ideas distorted and losing credibility as Horowitz defines their work for large audiences of the people who don’t frequent faculty clubs.

On Friday, a new coalition of academic groups — called Free Exchange on Campus — issued a joint denunciation of The Professors as “a blacklist” that was attempting to intimidate leading thinkers on campuses. The coalition includes the three groups that represent more faculty members than any other organizations: the American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association. Others involved in the coalition include the American Civil Liberties Union and the United States Student Association.

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Michael Green - 2/15/2006

This story neglects the large number of professors who, like me, must feel devastated that a serial butcher of truth such as Horowitz has neglected to put us on the list. I shall have to return to the classroom and encourage more uprisings.