Conservative author David Horowitz has never set foot inside a Temple classroom, but he has dubbed the university the “Temple of Conformity.”
I agree political indoctrination does not belong at a university, but after reading his book, One-Party Classroom, I was unconvinced that it exists – at least to the extent he claims – in Temple’s classrooms.
Horowitz strategically picked his sources rather than conducting an all encompassing study of Temple. At a university with “some 34,000 students,” as he writes, a study of only a handful of courses and professors says nothing about Temple as a whole, even if he is right about said professors and courses.
Horowitz also misconstrued the syllabi of some courses to convey the message he was digging for: a liberal lean. He wrote as if the ideologies conveyed in some texts were being forced upon students, rather than acknowledging that the texts were used as subjects of criticism and analysis in courses like Intellectual Heritage.
The author admits he has never sat in on a Temple class or heard professors trying to indoctrinate their students, but what completely invalidated his argument was the insertion of his own conservative ideology in the book.
I compiled a list of questions for Horowitz about these issues and went to hear him speak at an event hosted by the Temple College Republicans. I expected to hear him defend his findings about liberal indoctrination at Temple and explain why academic freedom is so important. I was wrong.
We never got around to discussing academic freedom. Horowitz was too busy commenting on silent protesters holding “I disagree” signs in the back of the room while attempting to indoctrinate the audience with his own beliefs regarding gender and sex, feminism, biology, class, race and racism. The silent tension brewing in the room began to escalate, however, when Horowitz continued to refer to the “ignorance” and “stupidity” of silent protesters.
While it was clear from the moment he began speaking that he possessed a smug arrogance, I never expected him to stoop to the level he did. Instead of answering the questions asked by the largely student audience, he began ridiculing and degrading them, as well as demeaning liberals in general.
“You’re just a snot-nosed brat,” he yelled at a student after she asked what views of feminism he would like to see taught at Temple.
Even when junior political science major Kevin Inacker, a founding member of Temple Students for America, a bipartisan organization, and former member of the U.S. Air Force, respectfully asked him a question, Horowitz resorted to yelling and refused to respond.
“I fought for your right to hold the views you do, but I don’t appreciate the disrespect you’ve shown,” Inacker said. “You’ve used terms such as stupid, brain dead, idiotic, ignorant, reactionary, abnormal and racist. How do you preach for an open dialogue between different viewpoints when you yourself resort to attacks of a disrespectful nature?”
We are still awaiting an answer.
Perhaps Horowitz resorted to these bullying tactics because he was unable to defend his flawed research. I know I’m just another one of those “stupid, brain dead” liberals, but if there’s one thing my professors at Temple have taught me, it’s not my political ideology; it’s how to conduct research and how to argue and defend it in a logical, coherent and respectful way.
Kathryn A. López can be reached at email@example.com.