Gagged at DePaul:
A Report about Horowitz’s Visit
By John K. Wilson
Thomas Klocek had his silly gag on again. And he had a little trouble getting it off when it was his turn to speak. He brought the gag to the podium, declaring: “it may very well be put on again.” In the past, Klocek had seemed vaguely embarassed at appearing for a press conference about his suspension by DePaul University wearing a gag. But now he was parading it again for the five videocameras in the room.
A crowd of 200 packed a lecture hall at DePaul University the evening of January 24 to hear from fired instructor Klocek and famed ex-radical David Horowitz. Although there were a lot of Horowitz critics in the crowd, there were no protests, and not even booing of Horowitz’s most outrageous statements.
Klocek gave a rather boring short talk on scholasticism, on truth and wisdom, and Jesus. Klocek worried about “the loss of free speech as a hallmark of the Catholic university.” He added, “the whole idea of a distinctive Catholic education is lost in the process.”
Horowitz had a very different idea of a Catholic education. After shamelessly sucking up to the crowd (“Go Bears”) he gave his usual disjointed, rambling speech According to Horowitz, “Academic freedom is not free speech. It’s professional speech.” And Horowitz has a pretty bizarre impression of what the academic profession means.
According to Horowitz, it means following the scientific method. Unfortunately, Horowitz has a strange notion of the scientific method. Horowitz claimed, “If there are critics of a theory, you present the critics.” Of course, the scientific method has nothing to do with teaching, and it certainly has nothing to do with theories about the marketplace of ideas. It’s bad enough that Horowitz doesn’t under scientific method. He actually believes, “it is obligatory for every professor to obey scientific method” under AAUP guidelines. In doing so, Horowitz confuses an ethical recommendation for teachers with an enforceable mandate.
Horowitz declared that DePaul’s rules say that an instructor “must not introduce controversial matter that bears no relation to the subject.” According to Horowitz, “This is a rule in the faculty handbook.” Perhaps Horowitz should try something crazy, like actually reading the handbook. In reality, the faculty handbook says nothing like this (oaa.depaul.edu/_content/what/documents/FacultyRightsandResponsibilities.pdf). It only declares that instructors have an obligation “to avoid significant intrusion of material unrelated to the course.”
Horowitz claimed, “Everything I’ve done in my academic freedom campaign is entirely based on the AAUP statements.” In reality, nearly all of his Academic Bill of Rights provisions are entirely different from the AAUP’s current positions, and the language is only similar when Horowitz tries to take recommendations for teaching and turn them into imposed rules.
Horowitz denounced Women’s Studies and Peace Studies at DePaul as a bunch of cryptomarxists and added, “This is what communism was about.” According to Horowitz, “The entire Peace Studies Department is committed to the sectarian agenda of finding non-violent solutions to international conflicts.”
Horowitz declared about women’s studies, “it is a political party” based solely on its mission statement (http://condor.depaul.edu/~wms). According to Horowitz, this is “the longest-running disgrace in the history of the university.” During the question period, Ann Russo, director of Women’s and Gender Studies at DePaul, stepped forward to defend her department, declaring that “We encourage people to think for themselves” and “we do not have one doctrine.” This did not sway Horowitz, who, unconcerned with the fact that he had no evidence for any of his claims, declared: “you indoctrinate students” and added, “You have a political party that has no claim to serious academic status.”
Horowitz thinks we should take lessons on civil discourse from someone who throws around wild accusations, lessons on avoiding politics from a Republican Party hack, lessons on intellectual standards from someone who doesn’t even bother to read or accurately summarize the departments he denounces, and lessons on academic freedom from someone devoted to destroying it.