It turns out that John K. Wilson, the editor of Illinois Academe, has written a review of the book. Laksin notes that Wilson has unburdened "himself of a barrage of ad hominem invective against David Horowitz," and that "he has either misunderstood the book entirely or else deliberately misrepresented its arguments." Laksin then goes on to show precisely how Wilson avoids and misrepresents the main points in One-Party Classroom.
Read the rest of Laksin's essay here.
One-Party Classroom is on my list of "books to read," although I've written previously a lengthy post outlining some of my thoughts on all of this. So I want to respond to a couple of points specific to Wilson's essay. He writes, for example:
One-Party Classroom is a perfect example of why uneducated outsiders such as Horowitz and his allies on Boards of Trustees and legislative bodies should not be able to decide what courses qualify as academic.That's an odd thing to write about Horowitz, and breathtaking in its hubris; it's also a weak empirical claim about the broader administrative structures of the university, as well an outright dismissal of the legitimacy of legislatures to pass policies and oversee educational institutions.
It's problematic in the sense that Horowitz himself comes from a family of teachers, and he earned a master's degree in English literature. Of course, Horowitz is perhaps uniquely positioned as a former '60s radical and graduate student at UC Berkeley to comment on the left's hardline academic agenda in America's colleges today. Wilson's broadside against "Boards of Trustees" and legislative bodies is itself a ringing endorsement of the left's educational ideology which seeks to delegitimize fundamentally legitimate authority structures. It's akin to the notion in progressive education that students can "create their own knowledge." That is to say, screw authoritative institutions and guiding structures of learning. We'll do it our way, you totalitarian bureaucratic geeks, damn the consequences to order and excellence in society.
Here's another attack by Wilson on Horowitz's "outsider" status:
Horowitz never bothers to talk to any students ... or attend any classes, yet he evinces a magnificent psychic power to determine precisely that a long list of abuses are certain to occur.I'll let Horowitz and Laksin defend themselves on how many students they talked to or how many classes they attended.
I talk to hundred of students every semester, and I'm in the classroom every day. One-Party Classroom provides an accurate depiction of the ideological foundations of the bulk of the postmodern curriculum on today's college campuses in the humanities and social sciences.
I remember some time back, after I wrote about my campus' local ANSWER cell, Professor David Noon went to town crowing about my deployment of "so many anecdotes" in my rejection of the haze of indoctrination on my department floor. I recall finding a crumpled sociology reading list stuffed inside a podium in one of my classrooms. On it, among the normal "white power" and "structural racism" canon, was C. Wright Mills' Power Elite. Noon thought it hilarious that I'd ridicule the assignment of the major work of "one of the 20th century's greatest American sociologists." Of course, that's a pernicious evasion of the larger point, which is that the sociology discipline is all about attacking class, gender, and racial hierarchies as part of the radical pedogogy of overthrowing the system of capitalist oppression. Where Mills wrote in 1957 of the Power Elite, subsequent generations of academics decry the lingering and archaic "white, male, and Christian makeup of the leading members of America's political, military, and business institutions."
In the introduction to One-Party Classroom, published at FrontPage Magazine last week, Horowitz and Laksin discuss Bettina Aptheker of UC Santa Cruz's Department of Feminist Studies. Professor Aptheker is the daugher of the late-Communist Party member Herbert Aptheker, the "internationally known American Marxist historian and political activist." It's interesting, then, that while out shopping this weekend at a used bookstore, I found a copy of a 1969 U.S. News publication, Communism and the New Left. I'm getting a kick reading it. For example, on page 17, amid the discussion of the violent guerrilla program of the New Left's revolutionary movement, the book features a picture SDS's Bernadine Dohrn and Mike Klonsky at the group's 1969 convention in Chicago. These pages go on to discuss the central role of Bettina Aptheker in the "so-called Free Speech Movement" at Berkeley in 1964, where "Ms. Aptheker denounced universities as tools of 'those who control the system of state monopoly capitalism'." Dohrn and her life-partner, William Ayers, and the likes of Professor Aptheker, are now ensconsed in the halls of America's institutions of higher education, but I better be careful here of trivializing things with "so many anecdotes."
In any case, I would find the remonstrations of folks like John K. Wilson and David Hoogland Noon to be humorous if these people weren't representative of the utter ideological bankruptcy of contemporary academe. One-Party Classroom has obviously touched a nerve inside the embankments the academy's poststructuralist ramparts. It'll be interesting to see the upcoming iterations of the academic left's ad hominem assaults on the integrity and qualifications of David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin.