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Horowitz v. Nelson and Academic Freedom

Published June 28, 2007 Posted by
Excerpts from: "Political Indoctrination and Harassment on Campus: Is there a Problem?"
Participants:
David Horowitz, Founder & President, Horowitz Freedom Center
Cary Nelson, President, American Association of University Professors.
Moderator:
Scott Smallwood, senior editor The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 2007

David Horowitz: Unfortunately, professors of English do rant against the war in Iraq in English classes, inappropriately and unprofessionally. And professors of Women’s Studies do conduct courses on globalization in which the only texts are Marxist tracts on the evils of the free-market, corporate system. “International feminism” is the non-academic, political rubric under which they discuss globalization. These Women’s Studies professors more often than not have PhDs in Comparative Literature or English literature, and have no professional qualifications whatsoever for teaching about the global economy.

Cary Nelson: My academic specialty happens to be modern American poetry. I began teaching contemporary American poetry in 1970 in the midst of the Vietnam War. I suppose I could have pretended that hundreds of American poets were not writing anti-war poetry, but that would hardly have been responsible; it wouldn’t have been to represent my subject matter fairly.

I found I could add a bit of color to my classes by describing what it was like to hear Allen Ginsberg read his poetry at an anti-war rally at the United Nations and before 10,000 armed bayoneted troops at the Pentagon. He read the poem Pentagon Exorcism Chant in front of the Pentagon with troops all pointing their bayonets at him on top of a flatbed truck, and I stood beside the truck. I didn't hide the fact.

I now teach a week on September 11th poems where the poets’ political points of view are all over the map. But I have no problem telling my students when they read Imiri Baraka’s poem about September 11th that I think his belief that Israel knew about the 9/11 attacks beforehand is nothing more than paranoid nonsense. I guess that’s a political opinion. I offer it.

[Read the rest here.]
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