Peace Studies, Academic Freedom, and Indoctrination

A Dialogue Between David Horowitz and Professor George Wolfe

 

This Compilation Edited and with an Introduction and Conclusion by

David Swindle

Final Version: 11/17/2008

 

Introduction

            In the fall of 2004 accusations of indoctrination were leveled against Prof. George Wolfe’s Introduction to Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution course by former student Brett Mock. The allegations were published by David Horowitz’s online Front Page Magazine and led to additional pieces scrutinizing Ball State’s Center for Peace and Conflict Studies and Freshman Connections program. Wolfe would appear in Horowitz’s books The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America and Indoctrination U: The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom. In the fall of 2006 Horowitz, before giving a speech at Ball State, would be attacked by protestors with a pie.

            I was an undergraduate at Ball State and an acquaintance of Mock. I publicly vouched for his sincerity and good intentions and encouraged others to take his claims seriously. A dialogue between myself and Mock would appear on Front Page and later be reprinted in a pamphlet published by Horowitz’s organization Students for Academic Freedom.

            In the summer of 2006 I decided to write my undergraduate political science senior thesis on the controversy and how the university had managed to defend its institutional integrity. During that time I interviewed and eventually befriend Wolfe, coming to the conclusions that the accusations made against him were baseless. When Horowitz came to campus the semester after I graduated I angrily confronted him, accusing him of being a liar. We exchanged a few harsh e-mails before we went our separate ways.

            Then, in the spring of 2008, a Front Page piece Horowitz had written about the tragic death of his daughter Sarah prompted me to write a letter of condolence to someone I viewed as an enemy. It led to a series of e-mail exchanges that caused me to better understand Horowitz’s motivations and intellect. We became friends. I’d read several of Horowitz’s books during the course of my research for my thesis but I now began a deeper study of the author-activist’s numerous texts. And I reached a new conclusion: this man that had been instrumental in causing such grief for my friend George Wolfe and alma mater Ball State was actually an amazing writer and fascinating human being with serious, important ideas. Such books of his as Radical Son, The End of Time, The Politics of Bad Faith, Left Illusions and Uncivil Wars had both moved and challenged me, influencing my political ideology. Finally I reached the point where I could support Horowitz’s Academic Freedom campaign and even defend him when he too was attacked by critics with false accusations.

            Over the months during the spring of 2008 I’d said all I could to try and get Horowitz to realize his error in judgment about Wolfe and his class. So this past summer I’ve facilitated a dialogue between the two, hosted on the blog in which I’ve been studying Horowitz’s work, Books In Depth.

            It’s my hope that the two can reconcile and better understand one another. I argue that the bodies of ideas held by both men – Wolfe’s nonviolence and Horowitz’s conservatism – actually are entirely compatible. What’s in conflict are two very different worldviews continually misunderstanding one another.

            Wolfe recently proposed a model for the difference between himself and Horowitz: Arthur Herman’s recent book Gandhi & Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age. The comparison seems to fit with Wolfe’s spiritual, nonviolent philosophy in juxtaposition against Horowitz’s conservative, political understanding of the world. Well, I admire both Churchill and Gandhi. And I like both Horowitz and Wolfe. I support both of their projects and hope they can come to better understand one another as decent men and thoughtful thinkers as I have. 

 

[Editor’s note: This first article from Wolfe was written some time after the initial controversy and when I alerted Horowitz of it he saw it as something that needed a response. Thus it was a good starting point for the dialogue.]

Arguments Against the Horowitz Agenda

By George Wolfe

1. Status of Academic Freedom at Ball State

Academic freedom is alive and well at Ball State University. Of all the universities across the United States who were subject to attack for liberal bias by political extremist David Horowitz, in only one did senior administrators come to the defense of their faculty and their academic programs. That university was Ball State. Vice President for Academic Affairs Beverly Pitts, President Jo Ann Gora, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Randy Hyman, and Joseph Losco, Chair of the Department of Political Science, are to be commended for their public stance against political extremism and their efforts to refute the false accusations directed towards Peace Studies at Ball State University.  As a result of their efforts, two newspapers within Indiana, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and TheStarPress of Muncie, ran editorials criticizing Mr. Horowitz’s propaganda campaign. In addition, both newspapers called for state legislators to ignore requests for an “Academic Bill of Rights.” University faculty, therefore, should not be intimidated by Mr. Horowitz or his student organization. Nor should any professor feel a “chilling effect” that forces them to compromise their freedom to teach as they deem appropriate in the classroom.  

The surge in publicity resulting from Mr. Horowitz’s smear campaign ironically resulted in renewed interest in the Peace Studies program at Ball State. The 18-hour Interdisciplinary Peace Studies minor grew from only six students enrolled in September of 2004 to seventeen enrolled by the end of the fall semester. The enrollment in the fall of 2005 peaked at 22 undergraduates. The spring semester Introductory to Peace Studies core class doubled in size from 13 in the spring of 2004 to 33 at the beginning of the spring semester of 2006. The student activist group “Peaceworkers” had as many as twenty members in 2005. In addition, several people in the Muncie community made significant contributions to the Peace Studies Foundation Account.  

What began in September 2004 as a concern over liberal bias grew into the absurd and shameful accusation by Mr. Horowitz that Peace Studies at Ball State was anti-American and was supporting terrorism. Armed with this unjust accusation along with his previous false allegations, I was able to discredit Mr. Horowitz in newspaper interviews, successfully calling public attention to his extremist political agenda. The strategies and arguments used at Ball State University to stand against David Horowitz and his McCarthy style propaganda should be adopted by administrators and faculty at other universities who find themselves bullied by extremist demagogues and self-proclaimed political commentators.  

2. The “New McCarthyism”

Back in the 1950’s there was the fear that the Soviet strategy for taking over the United States was not only a military strategy, but also included efforts to train people in Marxist ideology who would then infiltrate the United States. At that time it was illegal in the US under the Smith Act to profess membership in organizations advocating the violent or forceful overthrow of the United States government. It was feared that, over time, individuals embracing communist doctrine would work to corrupt and indoctrinate the youth in the US, and over several generations, the US would move politically to embrace the Soviet economic and political system. 

 Senator Joseph McCarthy took advantage of this fear and the Smith Act’s membership provision to intimidate people in sensitive government positions and eventually, harass private US citizens who dissented against US policy or who called into question American social values. Arthur Miller’s famous play The Crucible was written to call public attention to the McCarthy “witch hunt.” 

Now there is a striking parallel between Senator McCarthy’s intimating tactics in the 1950’s and the extremist political climate that has evolved in the United States since 9/11. The fear now is not subversive communist infiltrators but would-be terrorists, and also people who may privately embrace extremist Islamic views. Rather than the Smith Act, it is now the controversial Patriot Act. David Horowitz, in using extremist language that accuses peace studies professors like myself of supporting terrorism, and falsely accusing the Ball State Muslim Student Association of having ties to terrorist organizations, is clearly evoking the Patriot Act in an attempt to intimidate Americans who believe it was a mistake to invade Iraq or who identify themselves with the religion of Islam.  

According to my colleague, Political Science professor Joseph Losco, Horowitz’s tactics are “…reminiscent of something that would take place in the McCarthy era or the period of the John Birch Society of the 50’s and 60’s” (TheStarPress, Muncie, Indiana. September 27, 2004).  

The historical parallel with the 1950’s McCarthy campaign is the reason I call the blatantly offensive, dishonest, and sensationalized tactics of Students for Academic Freedom “The New McCarthyism.” This has indeed become a threat university faculty must be proactive in speaking out against. 

3. Confusing the Concepts of Academic Freedom with Student Rights

It is important not confuse the concept of academic freedom with student rights. Academic freedom has a long tradition and is meant to protect faculty who teach controversial subjects or conduct controversial research. It also prevents administrators, government officials, and yes, even students, from dictating what can or cannot be taught in a class, or what teaching strategies should be used to present educational material.  Professors therefore are free to “profess,” to teach in their own way, to assemble and present course material according to their informed educated judgment regarding the research and subject matter in their respective fields. Keep in mind that if we take this protection away from liberal professors, we take it away from conservative professors as well.  

This does not mean that students have no rights. However, we should not confuse student rights with faculty academic freedom. Students have the right to non-discriminatory treatment regardless of race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual preference. They have a right to express their concerns or disapproval of a teacher to a department chair or other administrator according to university policy. They have the right to be graded fairly and to appeal a grade they believe is unjust. They can also evaluate a teacher anomalously at the conclusion of the semester, to drop a class during the first half of the semester, to register for a class taught by different teacher if multiple sections are available. Furthermore, students should be treated with the same respect professors except from their students. 

Such rights belong to students and the vast majority of public and private universities have policies designed to protect them. Confusing these rights with the concept of academic freedom traditionally applied to faculty merely muddies the waters and impedes legitimate discussion on the rights of students within the academy and in the public arena.  

As addressed in a statement issued by the American Association of University Professors: “…there are a variety of internal mechanisms within the academy that are responsive to student complaints. Students who feel they are punished for their views should contact department chairs, deans, or the Provost.  The first option must not be to attack and malign the professors in public.  Students engaged in such slanderous activity are not interested in genuine debate and discussion.  They are undermining the civility necessary for genuine academic freedom to flourish.” 

4. Confusing Liberal Education and Liberal Politics

Another problem with the language used by David Horowitz is the confusion of Liberal Education with Liberal Politics. Liberal education is generally defined as a process whereby students are exposed to a broad range of disciplines. Emphasis is placed on expanding a person’s knowledge base so as to help students develop higher-order thinking skills. In addition, students are asked to assess and synthesize information and are challenged to think critically and independently. Liberal political labels and their association with political candidates on-the-other-hand, are a much different matter. Such political associations are, in fact, quite fickle and often change from decade to decade.  

During the 2004 presidential campaign for example, the liberal democratic candidate John Kerry proposed raising taxes for people earning more than a  $100,000 a year to help offset the federal budget deficit. About a month later in the state Indiana, the newly elected Republican Governor, Mitch Daniels, made a similar proposal for alleviating the state budget deficit. 

In the 1960’s it was a liberal democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, who led the United States into the Vietnam War. In the first decade of the 21st century, it was a conservative republican president, George W. Bush who led the United States us into a war. In 1968 it was the conservative republican presidential candidate, Richard M. Nixon, who promised a “just peace” in Vietnam that would enable the US to withdraw its troops. In 2004, it was the liberal democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, who promised to, in four years, bring the troops home. Keep in mind that in 1968, I was one of those liberal hippies that voted for Richard Nixon, the conservative republican candidate!

As you can see, political positions and policies, and their association with party labels and candidates can change from decade to decade.  University professors cannot be tossed to and fro in their teaching by the whims of politics. The Boston University paper correctly quoted me when it reported: “Peace Studies examines issues, strategies, leaders and organizations relating to the subject of non-violence and looks critically at US foreign policy regardless of what political party is in power."  

5. The Dangers of Credentialism

Over the past 25 years there has been a shift in university curricula towards interdisciplinary studies. This movement began in the 1960's with Yale Professor Henry Margenau who wrote a seminal work entitled Integrative Principles of Modern Thought. In this publication Margenau criticized the humanities for undergoing a kind of reductionism similar to what had been happening in the sciences. Then came Buckminster Fuller and his philosophy criticizing what he called "overspecialization." Out of this era emerged a movement to a more holistic view of curriculum and the exploration of interdisciplinary courses, which in turn led to interdisciplinary minors such as we have at Ball State University in Peace Studies, Women's studies, and Environmental Studies. Today a course such as "bio-ethics" may be offered which combines biology and ethics, providing a much more interesting and pertinent classroom experience for students than a more traditional biology course as would have been found offered in the 1960s. 

There has also been a change in expectations for faculty regarding the emphasis placed on their field of specialization. With the advent of the microcomputer, the high-tech revolution in education and the internet, a new catalyst was created for demanding faculty develop broader interests, applying their specialized knowledge to related disciplines within the sciences, humanities and the performing arts. Such approaches help students develop higher-order thinking skills so as to gain experience in the cross-disciplinary transfer of knowledge. In the modern university, one cannot evaluate the qualifications of a professor based on a degree he or she earned 40 years ago. Such is the case with my masters of music degree.  Administrators in the 21st century place great value on efforts by faculty to broaden themselves so they can contribute to the university in ways that are intellectually diverse and creative. Those who object to my background as a concert performing artist apparently are unaware of the powerful role the arts played throughout the 20th century in documenting, commemorating, and calling public attention to social injustice in America and elsewhere around the world.  

In my particular case, a doctorate in higher education administration, two trips to India that triggered my post doctoral study of Gandhian philosophy, and my prior service and activism on the Peace Center Advisory Board all played a major role in the decision by Ball State University to appoint me as Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies.  Furthermore, the duties of the Peace Studies Director are mostly administrative, duties which include preparing and submitting an annual report, submitting budget requests, supervising advisory board meetings, scheduling mediations, arranging for guest speakers, overseeing curriculum changes, and advising students.  

What David Horowitz is promoting in his propaganda against the modern university is a simplistic regression in education towards narrow credentialism that would be detrimental to preparing college students for work in a world that is becoming increasingly interdependent, multicultural, and technologically interwoven.  

6. Conclusion

The battle being waged against higher education in American is not between liberals and conservatives as David Horowitz would like us to think. Rather it is a battle between reasoned dialog and extremism, and there are extremists on both ends of the political spectrum.  The misleading statements and offensive nature of extremist language used by political extremists like Mr. Horowitz provokes anger, derailing constructive civil debate on important issues that need to be discussed. Academic faculty should promote values conducive to reasoned dialog. At the same time, we must insist that language not be used in careless and confusing ways. Faculty academic freedom and individual student rights should be addressed primarily as separate issues, and liberal education should not be equated with liberal politics. 

 

Orwell 101

By David Horowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com July 11, 2008

 

A couple of years ago, a student in a Peace Studies course at Ball State, taught by jazz saxophonist George Wolfe, claimed that Professor Wolfe used his class to promote a political agenda, using the classroom to argue against all forms of violence except revolutionary violence, assigning a one-sided text which argued among other things that the word “terrorist” was another term for “guerrilla” and could be applied to the American founders, and offering extra credits and better grades to students who supported his viewpoints. The facts are reviewed here.

At the time, I did not take a position on the student’s claims about Wolfe’s classroom behavior but instead posted an article by him in FrontPage Magazine describing his complaints. I did write a critical review of the 500-page class text Wolfe had assigned, which purported to review hundreds of years of historical events and analyze the causes of war and peace, and which was written by an animal psychologist and a philosopher who boasted in the introduction to their text that was a partisan argument by progressive activists, and that Peace Studies itself was field devoted to instilling the tenets of progressive activism in its students. “The field [of Peace Studies] differs from most other human sciences in that it is value-oriented, and unabashedly so. Accordingly we wish to be up front about our own values, which are frankly anti-war, anti-violence, anti-nuclear, anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment, pro-environment, pro-human rights, pro-social justice, pro-peace and politically progressive.”

When the student’s article appeared in FrontPage, the Ball State administration and faculty instantly came down on his head like a ton of bricks. He was warned by the chairman of the Political Science Department not to write any more articles for FrontPage or to talk to the press. He was ridiculed by his professors in class. When I wrote an editorial questioning the credentials of a jazz saxophonist to teach issues of war and peace, the Vice Provost at Ball State, Beverley Pitts defended him saying he was a member of the board of the Toda Institute for Peace Research. The Toda Institute turned out to be an organization created by Soka Gakkai, an international Buddhist cult. Backed by his university, and with the support of the local press, Wolfe went on a campaign to smear me as a “political extremist” and “McCarthyite.”  

Now Wolfe has written an article for a Ball State University publication called, “Arguments Against the Horowitz Agenda.” (Unlike Wolfe, I will actually cite his text so that readers can judge it for themselves. His article contains no citations of anything I have actually said, nor does it addresses anything remotely resembling any agenda I have ever advanced or been associated with. Consequently it is not really an argument against anything except Professor Wolfe’s fantasies.)

The article begins in a vein that is sustained throughout: “Of all the universities across the United States who were subject to attack for liberal bias by political extremist David Horowitz, in only one did senior administrators publicly come to the defense of their faculty and their academic programs. Vice President for Academic Affairs Beverly Pitts, President Jo Ann Gora, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Randy Hyman, and Joseph Losco, Chair of the Department of Political Science, are to be commended for their public stance against political extremism and their efforts to refute the false accusations directed towards Peace Studies at Ball State University.”

You would never guess from this statement, that their stance was against an undergraduate student whose crime was questioning what he felt was an unfair classroom situation and whose views they tried to suppress. My role in this was merely to give this student a platform to air his complaints, and to support them by an analysis of the textbook he was required to read.

As it happens, however, I have never attacked any university – in the United States or anywhere else – for “liberal bias.” Or left-wing bias. Ever. In my widely-read book on the university, The Professors, which was made notorious by unscrupulous academics like Wolfe, I state quite clearly: “This book is not intended as a text about left-wing bias in the university and does not propose that a left-wing perspective on academic faculties is a problem in itself. Every individual, whether conservative or liberal, has a perspective and therefore a bias. Professors have every right to interpret the subjects they teach according to their individual points of view. That is the essence of academic freedom.” (See below.) 

Not one left-wing academic who has attacked my academic freedom campaign, and there have been many, have ever acknowledged that I ever made such a statement, let alone that my public record shows that these are, in fact, my views and what I am prepared to defend.

Because of the views expressed above, I make it a practice of never using the term “bias,” nor have I ever called for the firing or punishment of any professor for their political views. On the contrary, I publicly defended the First Amendment rights of Ward Churchill when the Republican governor of Colorado called on his university to fire him for his political views. I defended Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, when he was removed as the dean of the new law school at UC-Irvine after conservatives complained about his left-wing opinions. (He was subsequently re-instated.) Moreover, my Academic Bill of Rights – the same that Professor Wolfe regards as an agenda of McCarthyite extremism – states in no uncertain terms: “No faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs.”

The two books I have written on academic freedom, along with the scores of articles amounting to tens of thousands of additional words, are entirely and without exception based on the classic 1915 “Declaration on the Principles of Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure” of the American Association of University Professors.” In short, my academic agenda – the “Horowitz agenda” that professor Wolfe describes throughout his article as “McCarthyite” – is entirely liberal in the sense of the word used by John Dewey, A.O. Lovejoy, and the other academics associated with the 1915 statement and with subsequent academic freedom statements it inspired.

Professor Wolfe’s article is itself an example of exactly what he decries: a political smear by an unprincipled demagogue. Wolfe’s article consists of a series of ad hominem attacks on a straw man – a “political extremist” of his own manufacture, and depends on a version of events that studiously avoids any examination of the facts involved. This is the way he argues, “According to my colleague, Political Science professor Joseph Losco [the same professor who threatened the Ball State undergraduate if he opened his mouth to complain about his treatment by Professor Wolfe], Horowitz’s tactics are “reminiscent of something that would take place in the McCarthy era or the period of the John Birch Society of the 50’s and 60s.” Talk about guilt by association!

Wolfe justifies this McCarthyesque smear in the following way:  “David Horowitz, in using extremist language that accuses peace studies professors like myself of supporting terrorism, and falsely accusing the Ball State Muslim Student Association of having ties to terrorist organizations, is clearly evoking the Patriot Act in an attempt to intimidate Americans who believe it was a mistake to invade Iraq or who identify themselves with the religion of Islam.” In other words, because I cited a textbook that equated contemporary terrorists with America’s founding fathers, and pointed out what is an indisputable fact – that the Muslim Students’ Association is a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood and part of its network – I must be a member of some “Patriot Act” conspiracy to intimidate Americans from dissenting on the war in Iraq.

 This is a classic McCarthyism. The fact is that I have written many articles – and a recent book – which affirm the legitimacy of dissent over the war policy in Iraq. If reading is too onerous a task for Professor Wolfe he could have viewed my hour-long speech on C-SPAN or a similar speech I gave in Santa Barbara which is currently posted at www.FrontPageMag.com. In both these speeches, which are about my book Party of Defeat and the war in Iraq, I say, “Criticism of government policy is essential to a democracy, and criticism of war policy is [particularly] important because the stakes are so high.” But Professor Wolfe isn’t interested in facts because he is an ideologue and for him people like me who disagree with his progressive views are enemies to whom no decencies are owed.

Does the professor behave differently in his classroom? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

[Editor’s note: Starting with this exchange the responses began appearing on my blog – neutral territory – over the course of the summer and fall. This first response by Wolfe has been altered slightly to update links in the original version and include a document no longer available online.]

A Ton of Bricks or a Ton of Evidence?

By George Wolfe

July 29, 2008

 

In his July 11 Frontpage Magazine article “Orwell 101,” Mr Horowitz presents many of the same false accusations as he did three years ago in his book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. In his most recent posting, he claims that when a student complained about my class and the Peace Studies program at Ball State University, the university “…came down on his head like a ton of bricks.” In truth, the student was not attacked by the university or anyone at the university, nor did administrators tell the student he could not write for Frontpage Magazine. Furthermore, rather than a “ton of bricks,” the response was in the form of a “ton of evidence,” weighty evidence proving the accusations being made against me were either false or misleading exaggerations. This evidence consisted of class handouts, questions on exams that required students to discuss multiple sides of issues, a letter written by two honors students enrolled in my class, the course syllabus, and class discussion questions distributed in class.

I have responded to most of these accusations below. In addition, on the Indiana AAUP website (the direct link for which is: www.inaaup.org), there are also three television news clips of David Horowitz and me on Indianapolis stations WHTR Channel 13, WRTV Channel 6 and on Newslink Indiana. These news clips are available for viewing at the following link:

www.inaaup.org/Windows/George%20Wolf%20vs%20David%20Horowitz.wmv

I play these interviews for most of my audiences as frequently I am asked to speak on topics related to Peace Studies and Academic Freedom.

Rather than dissect the false accusations again, I will refer readers to the document printed below which addresses the claims that are the most blatantly untrue.

Response to False Allegations Made Against

Professor Wolfe and Ball State University

Peace Studies Program

 

1. It is claimed that arguments supporting military intervention are not considered in peace studies classes. Although the course syllabus clearly explains the class as examining nonviolent approaches to conflict resolution, the primary assigned reading for the class, Peace and Conflict Studies by Barash and Webel, (Sage Publications, 2002), addresses various sides of peace/war related issues. Examples can be found throughout the text (see pages 12 – 22, 50 and 51, 248-253, and pages 291-314 for starters). In addition to the text, students are exposed to both sides of pertinent issues on tests as well as on questions distributed for class discussions.

 

Consider these examples of discussion questions distributed in class:

 

“According to Barash and Webel, what are some general justifications used for war?”

 

“Explain the concept of Human rights from a liberal, conservative and collectivist perspective.

 

“How do multi-national business interests interfere with local economies

and the local production of food in developing countries? What three

potential advantages do multi-national corporations bring to developing

countries?

 

According to Barash and Webel, what are some important criticisms of peace movements? Explain two internal debates that go on within peace organizations.

 

Following are two questions I have asked on the mid-term exam:

 

“Before and during the 2003 war with Iraq, both those supporting and those who were against the war occasionally referred to components of just war theory to support their positions. Explain how just war theory can be used to both support and criticize the war with Iraq.

 

“Explain the concept of “Free Trade.” How does it relate to quotas, tariffs and peace building? What are the advantages and disadvantages of free trade? What are the risks of the NAFTA free trade agreement with regards to ethics?”

 

2. Student Brent Mock claimed I recruited students to go to Washington D.C. to protest the war in Iraq. The truth is students attended a lobbying workshop to learn the protocol for lobbying congressmen. This educational opportunity was available to all students in the class. Travel support was provided to encourage attendance. Such workshops are justified because skills that pertain to lobbying apply to all issues, independent of one’s political position.

 

3. Mr. Mock also neglected to mention that he received field assignment credit for attending a meeting in Indianapolis where Vice President Cheney was speaking.

 

4. Mr. Mock incorrectly stated that I founded and head the student group “PeaceWorkers,” which is a student activist group on campus. The truth is I was not the founder nor did I create this organization. PeaceWorkers is a Ball State student organization which has been approved through the office of Student Organizations and Activities. I serve only as the group’s faculty adviser.

 

5. Regarding the book report assignment, Mr. Mock’s Frontpage.com article states that all the books on my reading list were biased to liberal views and that he had to “read and report on a book he disagreed with.” The truth is, there was no reading list for the book report assignment and I gave students a great deal of latitude in their choice of a book to report on as long as the book related to the subject matter of the course.  Mr. Mock chose to purchase a book that was published very recently, and as a courtesy, I decided to pay him for the book.

 

6. Let me categorically state that it has never been, nor will it ever be, my practice to allow political, religious or cultural viewpoints affect the way I grade students. Essay style papers and test questions, which are assigned to challenge higher order thinking skills, are graded according to the strength (or weakness) of a student’s argument. In the case of Brett Mock, he lost points on a paper because he failed to adequately address his argument. He received extra points for his book report because his report was ten pages long when only six pages were required. In other words, he received points for the extra effort he made, not because of the ideology he presented.  Any student who has a complaint can appeal their grade to a board comprised of both students and faculty as outlined in the BSU “Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.” In my 22 years of teaching at Ball State University, I have yet to have a student formally appeal a grade, including Brett Mock who is now accusing me of bias. Ironically, Mr. Mock didn’t even bother to find out his score on his final exam last spring.

 

7. Finally, Mr. Mock and David Horowitz misrepresented my credentials by failing to mention my doctorate is in Higher Education (not music), that I’ve received mediator training, serve on the advisory board of the Toda Institute for Peace, Policy and Global Research, trained to conduct in interfaith dialog through All Faith’s Seminary in New York City, and have spoken on Gandhian Philosophy at Elon University in North Carolina, and Anderson University and at the International Arts and Sciences Conference in Hawaii.

 

I also refer readers to the response to the following link which lists the false accusations made in Mr. Horowitz’s book The Professors.

www.freeexchangeoncampus.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=68&Itemid=34

While Mr. Horowitz claims I am a “jazz saxophonist,” (actually, my musical training is in classical saxophone), my doctorate degree is not in music, but in higher education administration. Since the director position in Peace Studies at Ball State University is primarily an administrative position, and since I was a trained mediator and had studied Gandhian philosophy for 15 years while serving on the Peace Center Advisory Board, my credentials fit perfectly the administrative and teaching responsibilities of the position to which I was appointed.

In the fall of 2004, the documentation I presented, both to university administrators and to the media, was so convincing that two Prominent Indiana newspapers, namely The Star Press of Muncie (Feb. 7, 2005) and the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne (Dec. 27, 2004) published editorials criticizing Mr. Horowitz and calling upon the Indiana State Legislature not to act on his "Academic Bill of Rights." As a result, the proposed legislation never made it out of the House committee. In addition, the President of Ball State University, Jo Ann Gora, wrote a guest column editorial defending Peace Studies at Ball State and criticizing Mr. Horowitz (see the following link).

www.bsu.edu/academicaffairs/article/0,1384,53748-5961-28590,00.html

The false accusations listed in the first link cited above were initially brought to Mr. Horowitz's attention in a letter from Ball State University Provost Beverly Pitts to Sara Dogan and the organization Students for Academic Freedom. [Editor note: Pitts's letter has been posted on Books In Depth here]. Yet he made virtually the same accusations a year later in his book The Professors, and then again, a year later in Indoctrination U. Moreover, on the Fox News television show Hannity and Colmes, he again claimed incorrectly that students enrolled in my peace studies course at Ball State had to sign up for a radical group. This purposeful repetition of false accusations is viewed by university administrators as intellectual dishonesty. For this reason, Mr. Horowitz has not been taken seriously and is considered a bad example for university students.

It has been said that I should have been willing to debate the one complaining student in my class. I respectfully disagree. The individuals this student should have debated are the two honors students in my class who wrote a letter refuting the accusations that were made against me. Their joint letter is printed below.

Student Letter Refuting Accusations

To Whom It May Concern:

Our names are Amy Whyde and Maggie Sobotka. We are students at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. We attended the same Introduction to Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution class as Brett Mock, although you could never tell from the explanation of the class given by him in an article on FrontPageMagazine.com and various other postings around the internet. We were outraged at his false portrayal of Dr. Wolfe’s class and were extremely offended at his assumption that everyone in the class agreed with his opinion. Brett used phrases such as “we all” and “all of the students in class,” although neither of us was contacted by him about our opinions of the class. Perhaps Brett’s feelings and interpretations of the class were due to his poor attendance. It would be difficult to follow and feel comfortable in the discussion atmosphere of the class if a student hardly ever attended or spoke up when invited to present ideas. There were times when we wondered if he was still enrolled due to not seeing him in class for many days at a time.

Brett states in his article that “Professor Wolfe took a group recruited from our class to travel to Washington, D.C. to protest the war in Iraq.” If Brett would’ve attended the class in which we reported on what we actually did there, he would know that the trip had NOTHING to do with protesting the war in Iraq. The title of the seminar that we attended was “Spring Lobby Weekend 2004.” At the seminar, we learned how to lobby our senators and representatives about ANY issue, not necessarily one having to due with peace. The reason the Peace Center sponsored the trip is because lobbying for your ideas is a peaceful way to bring about changes in the government, which is in line with the beliefs of the Center. Any student had the opportunity to attend this workshop. Dr. Wolfe simply mentioned the seminar in class and then we approached him with our interest in attending. In addition to classes on lobbying, the seminar did present information on topics such as war profiteering, nuclear weapons, and freedom of Native Hawaiians; we felt no pressure whatsoever to lobby for these issues. Students from all around the country were there and many already had issues they were interested in lobbying for before the seminar. As part of the curriculum of the class, students were required to attend at least two field assignments. We received credit for the lobby weekend; Brett received credit for attending a meeting in which Dick Cheney was speaking, although he does not mention this in his article. How does this exemplify Brett’s accusation that if we did not do something that supported Dr. Wolfe’s own personal agenda we would not receive credit?

Brett chronicles a conversation between Dr. Wolfe and a “student” (Amy Whyde) in which she asks about how Gandhian principles would be applied in the situation if students were randomly shooting others around campus. Brett falsely presents this situation to strengthen his argument, and does not accurately portray how this conversation took place during a class when we were discussing how Gandhian principles could be implemented in modern situations.

Another aspect of Brett’s article that offended us were his use of phrases such as “hostile professor” and “alienated every student in the room who disagreed and made us feel silenced together,” and the accusation that if we all didn’t agree with Dr. Wolfe’s every view that our grade and our relationship with him would be in jeopardy. We can recall that in almost every class, Dr. Wolfe would invite anyone to express their opinions or present the other side of the issue. We personally never felt alienated or uncomfortable speaking in class, because Dr. Wolfe made it clear that he welcomed our opinions. This is not to say that Dr. Wolfe never argued the other side. He even stated sometimes that he was playing Devil’s Advocate to help us look at all angles of the issue. Again, Brett never mentions these situations in his article.

Brett states that “Professor Wolfe actively promoted his own political stances in class, concerning the current policies in the United States.” We can remember many occasions where we would ask Dr. Wolfe about his own personal opinions or what he would do in a certain situation, and he would not respond because he wanted to focus on the non-violent principles we were learning in class. If he did present his own opinions, it was usually because one of the students in class prompted him.

As mentioned before, we were required to attend two field assignments as part of the curriculum for our class. Attending Peaceworkers meetings was one of many options that would be accepted for the assignment. The focus of the assignment was to prompt us to explore activities that we would not normally attend. The two of us became very interested in the Peaceworkers organization, and continued to participate after the class was completed. Dr. Wolfe did not prompt, require, or recruit us to continue with the organization. The requirement for class was only two meetings, if we chose this option for our field assignment. Brett also states that Dr. Wolfe founded Peaceworkers. This is not true. While he is the faculty sponsor, students founded the organization in 2002 as a student activism group. We know these students personally.

If Brett was not interested in learning about the history of non-violence and peaceful solutions to conflict, perhaps he should have reconsidered taking this class, as the class description was available online and Dr. Wolfe presented a syllabus on the first day. We can only hope that his motivation for taking the class was not just to gain ammunition which he could use against the entire Peace Studies program that he obviously disagrees with.

Amy Whyde and Maggie Sobotka

Additional letters that may be of interest to readers:

Your Turn: Speaker's address creates concern

Your Turn: Claims made by site 'false and erroneous'

Your Turn: Group responds to discrediting allegations

The “New McCarthyism”

We study history so as not to repeat its mistakes. In that spirit, the "New McCarthyism" is a historical analogy which fits Mr. Horowitz's campaign against academia remarkably well.

Back in the 1950’s there was the fear that the Soviet strategy for taking over the United States was not only a military strategy, but also included efforts to train people in Marxist ideology who would then infiltrate the United States. At that time it was illegal in the US under the Smith Act to profess membership in organizations advocating the violent or forceful overthrow of the United States government. It was feared that, over time, individuals embracing communist doctrine would work to corrupt and indoctrinate the youth in the US, and over several generations, the US would move politically to embrace the Soviet economic and political system.

Senator Joseph McCarthy took advantage of this fear and the Smith Act’s membership provision to intimidate people in sensitive government positions and eventually, harass private US citizens who dissented against US policy or who called into question American social values. Arthur Miller’s famous play The Crucible was written to call public attention to the McCarthy “witch hunt.”

Now there is a striking parallel between Senator McCarthy’s intimating tactics in the 1950’s and the extremist political climate that has evolved in the United States since 9/11. The fear now is not subversive communist infiltrators but would-be terrorists, and also people who may privately embrace extremist Islamic views. Rather than the Smith Act, it is now the controversial Patriot Act. Thomas Ryan, writing for Frontpage Magazine, expressed the Horowitz position that peace studies programs were “indoctrinating students and recruiting them to agendas that are anti-American, anti-military and friendly to the terrorist enemies intent on destroying us” (“Recruiting for Terror.” Frontpage Magazine, Nov. 8, 2004. Also see TheStarPress, Muncie, Indiana, November 30, 2004). Extremist language that accuses peace studies professors like myself of supporting terrorism, is clearly invoking the Patriot Act in an attempt to intimidate Americans who believe it was a mistake to invade Iraq or who identify themselves with the religion of Islam.

In addition, Mr. Horowitz succeeded in convincing several Pennsylvania state legislators to hold public hearings to investigate political bias and indoctrination in universities. The Pennsylvania Select Committee on Academic Freedom in Higher Education committee held nine days of hearings and ultimately concluded that there was no evidence to support claims of political bias and indoctrination. It was an especially bitter defeat for Mr. Horowitz, particularly when you consider that the legislative committee had a Republican majority. These historical parallels with the 1950’s McCarthy campaign is the reason I call the blatantly offensive, dishonest, and sensationalized tactics of Students for Academic Freedom “The New McCarthyism.”

The Textbook

Mr. Horowitz has repeatedly criticized the class textbook, Peace and Conflict Studies by David Barash and Charles Webel. He quotes the authors statement in the book's introduction in which they admit their own antiwar values. But he omits the very next sentence where they emphasize how important it is to “build on serious intellectual efforts, including an attempt to understand all sides of complex debates.”

Indeed, Barash and Webel do present multiple sides of crucial issues related to peace studies. Here are just a few of many examples easily found in the text.

1) Pages 248-253 are devoted to the subject of imperialism and present arguments both for and against the Leninist theory that capitalism leads to imperialism which, in turn, causes war;

2) Chapter 17 includes a discussion of liberal, conservative and collectivist (or Marxist) views of human rights;

3) The authors devote chapter 11 (pages 291-314) to discussing the pros and cons of the concept of “peace through strength;”

4) Chapter 20, entitled “Nonviolence,” presents apparent failures of nonviolence in addition to notable successes;

5) Pages 15 – 22 present conservative, liberal, and progressive views for political ideologies and militarism;

6) Chapter 2, which is devoted to discussing peace movements, contains a section entitled “criticisms of peace movements.”

I must also point out that the Introduction to Peace Studies course at Ball State is not a political science class. Nor is it a course on international relations or arbitration. Rather, it focuses on the history and philosophy of nonviolence, global issues regarding trade, human rights, and environmental concerns, and mediating interpersonal conflicts such as occur within families and communities. For more information on course content, see the following link to the course syllabus:

www.bsu.edu/libraries/virtualpress/wolfe/word/peacesyllabus.pdf

Finally, Mr. Horowitz makes the error of assuming that university professors agree with everything in the textbook they choose for their classes. Classroom lectures and discussions provide ample time and opportunity for professors to include interpretations and perspectives contrary to what is presented in any textbook or assigned reading.

Misreading Bin Laden

Much of what happens in Peace Studies classes is the consideration of alternative views, inverting the values usually applied to issues of war and peace. One can argue, for example, that the "War on Terror" has become far too much a unilateral effort on the part of the United States and should never have been declared. Doing so merely elevated the status of Al Qaeda on the international political stage, making it easier for them to attract new recruits to stand against America. Osama Bin Laden and his followers do not deserve such recognition. They are nothing more than international criminals.

Conservative columnist George Will has acknowledged that former democratic presidential candidate John Kerry was right when he said that fighting terrorism requires a new set of strategies, ones that emphasize cooperation between intelligence gathering and law enforcement over military intervention. (George Will. “Kerry was right: usual tactics don’t work.” Syndicated Column, August 17, 2006. The Star Press, Muncie, Indiana.) I would further add that it also demands peace-building initiatives and incentives that encourage international educational exchange programs and appeal to moderate factions within the countries and religious traditions involved in the conflict. It is imperative we give moderate voices ample opportunities to be heard. Regretfully, however, the US has applied a World War II solution to a 21st Century problem.

What the Bush administration failed to realize is that Osama Bin Laden is not seeking a military victory over the United States. His aim has been to bring the US down economically. For him the World Trade Center was America's "Tower of Babel," a symbol of Western secularism and its insatiable thirst for economic power and materialism. Bin Laden may even have seen its destruction as prophesized in the Koran where, of the Day of Judgment it speaks of a “three-forked shadow that gives no shade and is of no use against the fire that throws sparks big as buildings…” (Thomas Cleary. The Essential Koran: The Heart of Islam. San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, Page 135).

The response of the United States unwisely played into Bin Laden's hands. The US government has spent in excess of 6 billion dollars on the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, and to make matters worse, oil prices have surged. Senator Obama is correct is saying that Iraq has been a distraction from what should have been our focus, bringing Bin Laden and his cohorts to justice. Now the insurgency, along with the Taliban, is re-organizing itself, and the US and its allies are facing what the Soviet Union failed to defeat during its military excursion in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Epilogue

I am grateful to David Swindle for his interest in the conflict between me and David Horowitz. He has thoroughly researched the dispute and continues to include commentaries on his excellent blog. It is unfortunate, however, that Mr. Horowitz has overstated his case in criticizing the academy and the professors he has targeted. The errors in his research and his heavy-handed, politically-laden opinions make him sound like a misinformed zealot and undermine his efforts to critically and objectively examine curricula offered at public and private American universities. He has, in many ways, become his own worst enemy.

Deja Vu

By David Horowitz

August 6, 2008

 

 

The discussion with George Wolfe is tedious. I offered to post Wolfe’s reply to my comments if he would post my comments on the university website along with his. Wolfe did not respond to this offer because he cannot handle an argument where there are actually two sides. So he chooses to protect himself in front of the audience that matters to him.

 

He accuses Brett Mock of lying about being threatened by the chairman of the political science department and warned not to write for Frontpage. But he doesn’t actually say this in so many words because knows that his claims are false and is too much of a coward to join the issue directly. Accusing your student of lying about such matters is a form of intimidation. Brett Mock was warned by his department chair not to talk about his experience in Wolfe’s course and told that this warning was coming from the administration. Brett was mocked in his own class by his teach for airing his complaints. Calling him a liar is just continuing the intimidation of students.

 

All of the so-called evidence George Wolfe brought forth in his defense at the time has been answered by Brett Mock (and posted on Frontpage) – though you would never suspect it from reading Wolfe’s comments. Of course readers of his comments at BSU will never know this, since these remarks will never be posted there.

 

Wolfe’s absurd reply to the comments I made in The Professors were answered by me (although again visitors to the Ball State website will never know it). These answers are available in my article archive “Replies to Critics” at Frontpagemag.com.

 

Similarly Wolfe’s claim that his education degree qualifies him to teach about the cultural, anthropological, economic and social causes of war and peace was answered years ago in our response to Beverley Pitts’ fatuous defense of his credentials. This is available in the pamphlet I linked in my previous response and on Frontpagemag.com

 

Wolfe repeats his references to two local leftwing papers, beholden in many ways to the Ball State administration who think a degree in education and an association with a Buddhist cult qualifies someone to teach a university course about the causes of war and peace and to assign a partisan text praising the Soviet bloc and Castro’s Cuba and written by two amateurs.

 

Brett Mock long ago answered the testimonies of two students suborned by Wolfe as his witnesses. Wolfe has never bothered to address Mock’s response. Reprinting this stuff is an insult to the intelligence of anyone paying attention.

 

[Editor’s note: With both sides repeating student allegations I suggested the dialogue be refocused onto the class itself. Neither party was all that interested in rehashing the Mock incident and Horowitz claimed never to have taken a position on the allegations. Horowitz indicated he was most concerned about the portion of the class devoted to peace in the global context and the ideas taught about trade and globalization. He was concerned that pro-globalization views might be being excluded. Wolfe provided a handout that he utilizes for this portion of the class.]

ID 301

Introduction to Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

Dr. George Wolfe

 

Three forms of Imperialism?

Colonial Imperialism – The act of claiming territories by a political state or power and asserting control over a dependent state, geographical area, or people. While the era of colonial imperialism appears to have all but ended, critics of US foreign policy argue that imperialism is still alive, but the power and control being sought is now being exerted economically and culturally.

Economic Imperialism – The policy of applying economic pressures on another country or peoples to do business and to trade within a capitalistic framework.

Cultural or “Values” Imperialism – The intentional or unintentional act of imposing a given set of values onto another culture either through religious organizations or through secular institutions. This becomes especially intrusive when corporate secular values driven by market economies intrude on non-Western religious cultures such as we have in the Middle East or in South Asia.

Dependency Theory

Dependency theory deals with the impact of multi-national corporations when such corporations set-up agricultural, manufacturing or business operations in developing countries.

Potential negative impact of multi-national corporations:

  1. Tendency to buy up large tracts of land that had been used to support a diversified agriculture which supplied a variety of crops to the local population. Agricultural corporations then focus on raising one or two crops, and manufacturers use land for building production facilities thereby disrupting the indigenous crop diversity and local food supply.
  1. Disruption of local economy by paying hired wages to local workers that are disproportionate to he local economic norm. Resentment is created between local residents hired by the corporation and those who are not chosen for work.
  1. Economic disruption causes inflation in land values and in the price of locally produced goods such that the country’s poor population have more difficulty in providing for their families.
  1. Many developing countries do not have labor laws to prevent the exploitation of labor and to protect against child labor. The result is extended hour work weeks with no overtime pay, poor working conditions (sweatshops) and parents choosing to have their children forego education to work in the factories or fields because they need the money to support the family.
  1. Manufactured goods or food products are often produced for export back to the corporation’s home country and therefore do not benefit the people in the developing country.
  1. There is a tendency to outsource labor production from the home country causing large-scale unemployment in the corporation’s country of origin.

Potential positive impact of multi-national corporations:

  1. Multinational corporations generally provide training and education for the skilled labor required for hiring workers.
  1. Women in the developing country benefit from equal opportunity employment practices of multi-national corporations as well as the educational opportunities the corporation may provide.
  1. While the local poor may suffer, the long-term effect is an improvement in the general standard of living of developing country.
  1. As Women gain more equal opportunity in employment and more access to education, the birth rate lowers which, over time, slows population in the developing country.
  1. Multinational corporations tend to open up more opportunities in the developing countries for trade with industrialized nations.

Questions for Discussion:

How can we maximize the positive effects of globalization while minimizing the negative effects?

What is the relationship between globalization and tariffs?

What is the difference between Free Trade and Fair Trade?

 

Suggestions for Improving Peace Studies Curriculum

By David Horowitz

August 6, 2008

 

 

 

The parts of this that talk about the positive effects of globalization are good. But why is the whole framework "imperialism"? Why isn't it "the free market global economy" for example? Why isn't there a curriculum section on the liberating effects of capitalism? There are a ton of books on the case for free markets. If he's going to keep it within a leftist framework such as the one he has he should REQUIRE students to read Deepak Lal's Reviving the Invisible Hand: The Case for Classical Liberalism in the 21st Century: http://www.amazon.com/Reviving-Invisible-Hand-Liberalism-Twenty-first/dp/0691136386/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218047558&sr=1-3

Also Daniel Yergin's The Commanding Heights.

 

He should also jettison the Barash/Webel text whose views are (judging from this outline) to the left of his and whose work has no scholarly value whatsoever.

 


So Where are the Conservatives?

By George Wolfe

August 27, 2008

 

David Horowitz asks whether it is valid to consider Western economic and cultural influence as forms of imperialism. Certainly legitimate questions can be raised as to whether the aggressive promotion of capitalistic economic policies and the values that accompany the spread of capitalism should be viewed as imperialistic. But regardless of a person's position on such questions, it is clear that both capitalism and socialism have undesirable extremes that disenfranchise certain social-economic groups. Socialism stifles self-motivated and hardworking individuals who possess an entrepreneurial spirit that drives technological, commercial and artistic innovation, while capitalism tends to provoke divisions between economic classes, resulting in what is now becoming known in the US as the "working poor."

Over the past 70 years, labor unions and farm workers organizations have been successful in fighting for child labor laws, overtime pay, the 40 hour work week, pension and health care benefits, etc. Unfortunately, globalization is now making it easy for multinational corporations to operate in countries where such protective labor laws do not exist, making workers in developing countries vulnerable to exploitation. In addition, US domestic workers suffer the consequences of outsourcing and the loss of secure jobs as production facilities are moved to other countries. If the US is to contribute successfully to the growth and management of a global economy, it must lead by example, pressing for labor laws comparable to those in the United States and adopting a code of ethics that protects workers in countries that do not have anti-exploitive legislation. It must also keep its own financial house in order to prevent a global economic meltdown. If a global economic depression ever does occur, it would be a great setback for developing countries and would undoubtedly empower believers in the socialist system much like the stock market crash of 1929 fueled the forces of socialism in Germany and in the emerging Soviet Union in the 1930s.

While the Republican Party in the United States has been traditionally identified as the party of fiscal restraint and small government, a historical overview of the last 20 years of economic policies clearly demonstrates that the conservative label is no longer applicable to Republicans. In 1992, then-president George H. W. Bush, following the legacy of Reaganomics, had run up a national debt of 3 trillion dollars. His democratic opponent in the 1992 presidential race, Bill Clinton, won the election and after two terms in office, left the nation with the debt erased and a substantial surplus. George W. Bush became President in 2000 and after eight years of his leadership and rampant spending, the US now has a $3.5 trillion debt.

Conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan has asserted many times that the Republican Party is no longer the party of fiscal conservatism. With the addition of the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, the US government has gotten larger, not smaller. Add to this Republican presidential candidate John McCain suggesting his wife could participate in a semi-nude beauty contest at a cyclist convention, and you have a political party that has lost its way, both in terms of economic policy and in the promotion of family values.

With regards to "cultural imperialism" (I prefer to call it "cultural dissonance"), this is most blatantly expressed through the generally unrestricted access of the internet, the clash of religious conservatism with mainstream religious orthodoxy, and the rejection by Islamic nations of feminism, sexism, and the pursuit of happiness through material excess. In the 1980s Ayatollah Khomeini called the United States "The Great Satan," a label meant to condemn Western secular values that are viewed by Islamic nations as corrupting the spiritual foundation important to many non-Western cultures.

The phrase "The Great Satan," however, is generally misunderstood by Americans. In mystical religious traditions, Satan signifies that force in human existence that draws the senses outward, away from the inner spiritual self to the physical world, deceiving one into believing that lasting happiness can be found in materialism and the gratification of sexual desires. From the perspective of Islam and other conservative religious groups, Americans are indeed guilty of cultivating a materialistic, sex-crazed culture.

Offensive cultural dissonance could be avoided if Western nations and multinational corporations would be sensitive to, and respectful of, the cultural values of the nations they are interfacing with. This means we should carefully consider the images included in commercial advertising campaigns and be willing to negotiate agreements with other countries regarding the accessibility of provocative internet sites. While some might view this as an intrusion on freedom of speech, compromises such as these would be well worth it given the real advantage of cultural interfacing which is the gradual improvement of human rights, educational and economic cooperation, interfaith cultural understanding, and the emerging professional roll of women in developing countries.

A Response to George Wolfe

By David Horowitz

August 27, 2008

 

George Wolfe's response to my critique of his course at Ball State is no response at all. I asked why the framework of analysis in his course is Western imperialism, I.e., why it is cast in a leftwing analytical framework -- which indicts the West -- instead of neutral framework as would be appropriate to a scholarly inquiry. Wolfe ignores the question completely and puts an entirely different one in my mouth: "David Horowitz asks whether it is valid to consider Western economic and cultural influence as forms of imperialism." Actually I said no such thing. I said why is the entire course based on the presumption that the global economy should be viewed within a framework that regards western economic and cultural influence as imperialistic. Presuming a controversial doctrine as the truth and excluding other viewpoints is the very definition of indoctrination. So I also asked Wolfe why he doesn't assign pro-globalization texts such as Deepak Lal's "Reviving the Invisible Hand." Instead of answering this question, he simply proceeds to argue his leftwing talking points about the global economy as though the sum of these is a scientific doctrine rather than a point of view. He does not even feel the necessity of defending his statements against the critiques that free market writers have made of them. This non-response to my critique demonstrates beyond the shadow of a doubt that when Wolfe denies that his classes are indoctrination classes it is because he does not understand the meaning of the word "indoctrination." That is because he is blissfully unaware that his prejudices are just that -- prejudices, and nothing more. As far as I'm concerned this debate has shown that everything I have written about George Wolfe and his classes is true. Since, he has refused over and over to engage in an actual intellectual discussion, there is really nothing more to be said on this matter.

 

Globalization and the Role of Ethics

By George Wolfe

Thursday, September 18, 2008

 

To prove I am not indoctrinating students, David Horowitz says I should “be assigning pro-globalization texts.” Actually, I already do. The speech I play for students by noted international economist Charlene Barshefsky gave at Chautauqua Institution is a pro-globalization lecture. This is certainly fair to both sides of the debate given the limited amount of course time (a total of thee classes) that we have to spend on globalization and peace-building.

If there is any bias against globalization in the Barash and Webel text, it is off-set by the impressive Barshefsky lecture and the study guide I created to focus the students’ investigation of the subject matter. Moreover, in the handout dealing with the influence of multi-national corporations, several positive as well as negative effects corporations have on developing countries are listed.

Further proof that there is no indoctrination can be found in the my mid-term exam questions, four of which are as follows:

“Explain the concept of “Free Trade.” Identify and define at least two barriers to international cooperation that Free Trade seeks to remove?”

“What are the advantages of globalizations with regards to peace building?”

“In what ways can globalization increase a nation’s vulnerability?”

“How might we avoid the domestic and foreign structural violence that can result from globalization and free trade.”

If Mr. Horowitz would sit in my class, he would see that I do not frame the discussion on free trade and globalization as a study of Western imperialism. In fact, I present to the students the question of whether or not it is valid to expand the definition of imperialism to include economics and cultural values. It always makes for a productive open-ended discussion.

So it is clear that I do not simply present my views. Rather, the course considers arguments for and against globalization and takes a neutral attitude toward the global economy. Furthermore, students do have the freedom to decide between contrasting views as long as the arguments they use to justify their positions are coherent and based on accurate information.

Where both this text and the Barshefsky lecture shine is in the domain of ethics. If globalization is to continue and be successful as a means of building productive cooperative relationships between nations, and ultimately elevating developing countries out of poverty, it must be advanced ethically.

This means first of all, that globalization must proceed at the proper pace. Too fast a pace risks disrupting local economies, and not only in developing countries but in the US as well as we have seen from the negative effects of outsourcing over the past several years. Secondly, an ethical approach to globalization requires multinational corporations guard against blatantly exploitive employment practices that tolerate child labor, sweatshops, and extended six-day workweeks with no overtime pay.

 

The Use of the Textbook in Peace Studies

By David Horowitz

September 20, 2008

 

Professor Wolfe should have mentioned this article in our first exchange. It certainly suggests that his intentions are better than the lone $60 textbook he required of his students would suggest. I am glad that he has given students another side of the globalization issue and commend him for it. But this is one unit in semester course. I've asked Professor Wolfe to answer my critique of this book or explain why he would require students to read such a travesty of a text written by ideological partisans and rank amateurs. I'm still waiting for his answer. I've asked him to post my responses to his attacks on the same Ball State website where his attacks appear (as I have posted his attack and responses on my website). I am still waiting for him to do so. This would show me in practice that he supports intellectual debate. I would like to hear from him what he teaches from the Barash-Webel textbook and how he presents students with views that are divergent from their extreme leftwing perspective.

 

 

Further Proof there is No Indoctrination.

 

By George Wolfe

November 4, 2008

 

 

Mr. Horowitz perhaps doesn't recall what I wrote in my July 11 article. There I did answer his critique on the Barash and Webel text, when I gave six examples of the text presenting multiple sides of issues which I've covered in the class. Furthermore, at $60, the Barash and Webel text is less expensive compared to most college textbooks today. (My daughter just enrolled in 4 classes, and the cost for textbooks was over $100 per class). I must respectfully disagree with David on the content of this book. The authors are extremely well-informed on a broad scope of topics related to Peace Studies. As I mentioned in my first article, we must put aside “credentialism” and embrace interdisciplinary scholarship  in today’s world lest we regress to an age of narrow over-specialization which fortunately, higher education broke away from over the last 30 years.

 

What follows now is further proof for Mr. Horowitz that I do not indoctrinate.  While I do not have the time nor the space here to include lesson plans for all the topics covered in the Introduction to Peace Studies class, I do offer are three examples of neutral classroom approaches.
 
1) Human rights – When teaching the topic of human rights, three perspectives are presented, these being liberal, conservative and collectivist (i.e., Marxist). After studying these views, all of which are included in the text by Barash and Webel (see chapter 17), and after an in depth discussion of each view in class, students are asked to choose the model of human rights they most identify with and write an essay justifying their position.
 
2) Examining and comparing historical analogies - I always include an assignment asking students to examine one or more historical analogies to assess their validity. One example asks: “In what ways is the quest to pass an amendment to the US constitution outlawing abortion similar to the nonviolent temperance movement of the 1930’s? Would such an amendment wind up being repealed as was the prohibition amendment?” A second example: “Several commentators have suggested that Saddam Hussein’s rule over Iraq was analogous to Stalin’s rule over Russia. Is this a valid historical analogy?”

 

This year I plan to have students compare the following two senerios:  “Does the expression Islamo-facism accurately describe the ambitions of Iran in the Middle-east, or can Iran’s posturing be better explained based on the philosophy of deterrence?” After playing one of David Horowitz's videos portraying what he calls Islamo-facism, and discussing the comparison of Iran with Hitler's Third Reich,

 

(for direct link, click: http://www.terrorismawareness.org/islamic-mein-kampf/),

 

the following alternative view will be presented to the students.

 

Classroom discussion scenario: An alternative

to "Islamo-Fascism"

 

During the cold war era, the United States adopted a policy of deterrence against the military threat of the Soviet Union. Russia's communist regime had a reputation for pre-emptive intervention. In addition to its communist ideology of world domination, the Soviet Union had invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1979. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was the US strategy, which fuelled a dangerous nuclear arms race that reached its height in the 1980's when both the Soviet Union and the United states had enough atomic weapons to destroy each other 10 times over.

 

Today, a comparable strategy is being undertaken by Iran, only this time against the United States. Although Iran has long had an interest in nuclear technology, America's pre-emptive invasion of Iraq in 2003 has motivated Iran to accelerate its development of nuclear weapons as a deterrent, assuring mutual destruction or at least significantly high cost should the US again choose the pre-emptive option. For the Iranians realize that the US and other Western nations are in a very vulnerable position. Attacking Iran will give the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the excuse to launch a barrage of missiles onto Israel and on oil facilities in the Middle East, calling it self-defense.  We can't invade Iran with ground forces; as General Colin Powell has pointed, coalition forces are spread too thin. Nuclear weapons are not an option either, as the radiation would contaminate the entire region including Pakistan, our ally in the war on terror.

 

Would the United States have invaded Iraq had Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons? The Iranians know the answer to that question. Moreover, Russia is now sending long-range bombers and other military hardware to Venezuela, strengthening the already emboldened Hugo Chavez who has emerged as a figure reminiscent of Fidel Castro in the 1960's.

 

Herein lies the power of deterrence, whereby Iran, with the help of Russia, is able to effectively change the balance of power and hold a superpower like the United States at bay.

 

Question for students: “Compare this historical analogy based on the philosophy of deterrence to the concept of Islamo-Fascism. Which scenario do you feel is more valid and useful when considering the posture Iran has taken over the past four years? Justify your answer.”

 

3) Peace Movements - When studying the history of social movements and the nonviolent strategies they employed, I expose the students to both the successes and failures of nonviolence. In addition, common criticisms of peace organizations are discussed in class. Both the failures of nonviolence and the criticisms of peace movements are covered in the Barash and Webel text (see chapter 20 and chapter 2). I then ask students to write a short essay expressing their views on when and whether nonviolence is an effective alternative to violence.
 
Finally, Mr. Horowitz says I never answered the later charges made against me by student Brett Mock. This is not true. While it is not necessary to rehash these charges, those readers who are interested can see that these charges were answered in an interview with David Swindle that is posted on Mr. Swindle’s website, the direct link for which is:

 

http://booksindepth.blogspot.com/2008/07/wolfes-response-to-brett-mocks-7906.html

 

And by the way, contrary to Mr. Horowitz’s claim, I do not support Marxist revolutionary violence.

 

The entire dialog between me and David Horowitz that has been compiled by David Swindle and is now posted on my Ball State University Virtual Press website. Go to the following link,

 

www.bsu.edu/libraries/viewpage.aspx?src=./virtualpress/wolfe/index.html

 

and click on the title “A Dialog on Peace Studies and Academic Freedom.” Readers will also find several other articles and handouts assigned to students in the Peace Studies program at Ball State.

 

Finally, I like to thank David Swindle for making this dialog between me and David Horowitz possible.

 

Professor Wolfe Doesn’t Understand What “Proof” Is. Or Indoctrination.

Response by David Horowitz

November 9, 2008

 

 

 I’m glad that David Swindle has been able to get this dialogue going but I believe we’ve reached the end of our tether. I do recall Professor Wolfe’s July 11 defense of the Barash Webel text, whose points I found to be as ludicrous as the book they were defending. Let’s focus on his present argument however.

Professor Wolfe offers three “proofs” that his class is not simply a training program in leftwing views of the world. First, in teaching human rights, he cites the discussion of these issues in Barash and Webel as an example of the balanced discussion in his classroom. In the above cited article I have already shown the absurdity of such a claim. Barash and Webel are two self-proclaimed leftwing activists academically unqualified to write about these subjects – who state clearly and in no uncertain terms in the preface to their book that they have no intention of writing a balanced text, but are out to persuade readers to adopt their leftwing views of global history, economics, politics, culture etc. Since this is the only required text for the course, and since Wolfe now admits that he uses Barash and Webel as the authority and the standard for balance in his classroom, he has also thereby admitted that his course is designed to indoctrinate students, not an attempt to educate them to think for themselves.

A second case Wolfe presents (it is third in his order) is his teaching about peace movements. I have already written in these exchanges why his teaching about peace movements is also indoctrination (and he has typically failed to respond). An academic –analysis of peace movements as opposed to an ideological training in peace activism would have to examine whether peace movements are themselves a cause of war, an idea that is above Wolfe’s mental ceiling. Wolfe’s course is structured to present peace movements as entirely benign (because non-violent).

But the Second World War provides an excellent example of how arms control agreements and movements to disarm the democracies of the West led to war. Wolfe did not respond to this observation when I made it and it’s obvious that the very idea that non-violent movements could pose a threat to the peace is beyond his ken. As I have noted before, Wolfe is a “peace” activist and musician who lacks the training to examine these questions academically. As I’ve also said before, the failure of Wolfe’s Peace Studies program to present the violent military as a defender of the peace in the same way it presents non-violent movements as defenders of the peace is because it is a course of indoctrination in the philosophy of non-violence.

Wolfe’s example of how he intends to teach the topic of Iran shows how ideological (and far left) his agenda is, and how remote it is from anything that might be called scholarly or academic.

First, let me thank Professor Wolfe for intending to show the 10 minute video my Center prepared called “The Islamic Mein Kampf.” This – along with our exchange – shows that Wolfe is a man of decent intentions, something I think I have never denied. My problem with Wolfe is his limited understanding both of the subjects he presumes to teach and the very nature of the academic process. “The Islamic Mein Kampf” is a propaganda video not an analytic text. By nature it is an attempt to stimulate thought not to substitute for it. It does not provide historical analysis of Iran or its current situation in world politics. It is not even an analysis of Islamo-Fascism (I have actually written such an analysis which is available on the website where the video appears should Wolfe want to reconsider this syllabus choice).

The video contains a few historical facts and a series of inflammatory quotes by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhod, al-Qaeda, Hizbullah, Hamas and Iran. The purpose of this video is to alert viewers to the fact that there is a global religious movement which draws its inspiration directly from Nazism, seeks world domination, the extermination of Jews, and the destruction of the United States and pursues violent and terrorist means to achieve these ends. It is also a movement that is in control of a nation-state, Iran, which is on the brink of developing nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community.

To “The Islamic Mein Kampf” a video alert about a violent, genocidal political religion, Wolfe intends to juxtapose what purports to be an historical analysis of international relations. In this analysis Wolfe draws an analogy between Iran’s position vis-à-vis the United States and Soviet Russia. Wolfe explains the Islamists praise of Hitler, calls for the extermination of the Jews, promises of “Death to America,” executions of homosexuals, oppression of women and sermons on the infidel West as mere rhetorical devices whose source is not a fanatical political religion, but an alleged military threat to Iran posed by the United States. In the cold war analogy that Wolfe draws, the Iranian theocracy assumes the role of the democratic United States and the United States becomes the totalitarian Soviet Union! Presumably Wolfe would explain Nazism as a response to the military threat to Hitler Germany posed by Britain and the United States.

This is comic book stuff. It is also a not very subtle attempt to indoctrinate students in a view that is based on breath-taking ignorance. This brings me back to the original point I made when I first became acquainted with Professor Wolfe and his course. George Wolfe has no business teaching in a classroom about global history or the subject of war and peace.

 

 

Some Closing Thoughts

By David Swindle

November 17, 2008

 

            My initial hope in initiating this discussion between George Wolfe and David Horowitz was that they could resolve their bitter differences. That didn’t quite happen but I think worthwhile progress was made.

            In his initial article that started this discussion, Wolfe wrote “The misleading statements and offensive nature of extremist language used by political extremists like Mr. Horowitz provokes anger, derailing constructive civil debate on important issues that need to be discussed.” Yet by his final response, Wolfe affirmed Horowitz’s perspective as one worthy of academic study and scrutiny in his commitment to present his views to his students. He also chose to continue with the discussion to its end instead of bowing out early, like many of Horowitz’s other critics. See October 20’s Front Page article “Kevin Mattson Can’t Handle An Argument”. Hopefully he now sees that Horowitz is in fact capable of “constructive civil debate.”

            Horowitz’s opinion of Wolfe also seemed to rise. In his first response he wrote “But Professor Wolfe isn’t interested in facts because he is an ideologue and for him people like me who disagree with his progressive views are enemies to whom no decencies are owed.” By the final response he had progressed to “This – along with our exchange – shows that Wolfe is a man of decent intentions, something I think I have never denied.”

            That being said, one shouldn’t mistake the reality: the two still don’t really care for one another. And that’s an outcome I’ll accept. One of the conservative principles I’ve absorbed from a study of Horowitz is a vital skepticism for one’s abilities to remake the world and solve every problem.

            When I first began writing about Horowitz’s work on my blog one of the points I made is that people hold offensive opinions and do unacceptable acts for different reasons. Why might an author misrepresent Horowitz’s views in a book? Why might a professor indoctrinate his students?

            I generally see two reasons: malice or ignorance. There aren’t many options for motivations for why someone says things that are untrue. The most common reason is ignorance – they don’t know what they’re saying is untrue. The only other reason is malice – they know they’re telling a lie, they just choose to say it anyway out of a desire to inflict damage. It should be obvious that these two groups should be dealt with in different fashions.

            This dialogue illustrates an interesting new facet in the fight over Academic Freedom. So far most of Horowitz’s writing and activism has focused on professors who indoctrinate their students out of malice. They make a conscious choice to use their classrooms to try and convert their students over to their ideology, just as one might make a calculated decision to speak a lie.

            What Horowitz ends up asserting here, however, is something totally different. Wolfe has no desire to indoctrinate his students in his world view or that of the authors of the textbook used. He protests fervently against the very idea. Yet, according to Horowitz he’s still indoctrinating. Why? Not out of malice but ignorance. Wolfe might not want to indoctrinate his students but he’s supposedly doing it anyway out of his own incompetence -- just as someone might tell a lie without realizing it.

            Over the course of the debate Horowitz moved Wolfe from the “malice” category to the “ignorance” category as an explanation for an unacceptable behavior.

            I disagree with this assessment of Wolfe. I don't think he's doing anything wrong. Wolfe values a diversity of views and encourages his students in how to think, not what to think. That being said, there are some aspects of Horowitz’s critique of his class that might have some merit – there are always things that a professor could do better. However, this is a much more tolerable opinion for Horowitz to possess. Think my friend a sociopath and we’re going to need to have a few words. Think my friend merely a fool and I’m more apt to just shrug it off.

            In “Thomas Jefferson, Uncivil Wars, and Symbol Warfare,” a more recent writing for my blog, I discussed how throughout Horowitz’s work individuals served as symbols for the ideas they championed. Much of Horowitz’s writing has involved defending symbols of America (like Jefferson,) attacking symbols of the Left (like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg,) and disqualifying symbols that others use to attack conservatism (like Pat Robertson.) In this way abstract ideas are given concrete symbolic representations.

            At the conclusion of the dialogue I’ve come to see Horowitz and Wolfe as symbols themselves of a broader generational conflict. One of the dominant paradigms of the last thirty years has been that of a “culture war” fought primarily by those that came of age in the 1960s. The challenge for my generation is what to do with this world that our parents gave us. Do we dig in our heels and continue arguing the same fights as those that came before us? Or do we try and transcend the political paralysis and polarization of perpetual war?

            The model I propose is one of synthesis. The path for my generation should be to understand the ideas of our parents – on both sides of the cultural battlefield. We must understand, not wholly embrace. We must drink deeply enough of left and right, dove and hawk, believer and atheist, to be able to discern the usefulness and shortcomings in all ideological approaches.

            The 21st century is likely to be even wilder and more exciting than the 20th and if we’re to navigate it safely then we need a familiarity with as many maps of reality as possible.

            I’d like to thank Horowitz and Wolfe for giving the other the chance to defend their positions. If any readers have any thoughts or questions on this exchange I’d be thrilled to hear them. I invite your emails at DavidSwindle_AT_gmail.com and comments at booksindepth.blogspot.com.

 

 

 

Original links for Wolfe-Horowitz exchanges:

 

http://www.bsu.edu/libraries/viewpage.aspx?src=./virtualpress/wolfe/argvshorowitz.html

[This link no longer active however the article is available in this compilation on Wolfe’s BSU website.]

 

http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=3402186A-5705-4772-9600-9F596098B05A

 

http://booksindepth.blogspot.com/2008/07/ton-of-bricks-george-wolfe-responds-to.html

 

http://booksindepth.blogspot.com/2008/08/david-horowitz-responds-to-george-wolfe.html

 

http://booksindepth.blogspot.com/2008/08/subject-for-discussion-class-handout-on.html

 

http://booksindepth.blogspot.com/2008/08/david-horowitz-makes-suggestions-for.html

 

http://booksindepth.blogspot.com/2008/08/professor-george-wolfe-responds-to.html

 

http://booksindepth.blogspot.com/2008/08/david-horowitz-responds-to-george-wolfe_27.html

 

http://booksindepth.blogspot.com/2008/09/george-wolfe-responds-to-david-horowitz.html

 

http://booksindepth.blogspot.com/2008/09/david-horowitz-inquires-about-use-of.html

 

http://booksindepth.blogspot.com/2008/11/further-proof-there-is-no.html

 

http://booksindepth.blogspot.com/2008/11/professor-wolfe-doesnt-understand-what.html