Thursday, June 15, 2006

What "Everyone Knows"

If you say something often enough, it becomes what “everyone knows.” That, at least, is part of David Horowitz’s strategy in attacking the American left.

On his blog he now claims:
everyone knows that there is an academic blacklist that has practically elminated [sic] conservatives from university faculties; since everyone who has been on a campus knows that professors regularly interject their political prejudices into the classroom even when the issue is entirely irrelevant to the subject matter, the defense of the indefensible is really only possible through denial of the obvious.
For the past couple of years, Horowitz has been trying to prove his first “everyone knows,” and has failed. Go to Free Exchange on Campus, read anything Michael Bérubé has written, or even look at my own blogging on the subject. There is no liberal hegemony on campus that keeps conservatives out, and there never has been. Horowitz has not been able to come up with one shred of proof for this assertion, not one. His second “everyone knows” is just as vapid. Go to Free Exchange and click on its report, “Facts Count: An Analysis of David Horowitz’s The Professors” and you will quickly find that this claim is based on public statements by the professors (not on what they have said in the classroom) and on a few anecdotes. If anyone is denying the obvious, it is Horowitz himself.

But that’s his modus operandi, to attack his opponents for using exactly the tactics that Horowitz is using (and that his enemies, generally, are not).

Horowitz calls his new blog attack on his opponents “The Politics of Personal Destruction”—exactly what he does in his book The Professors. The book is an attack on the credibility of 100 professors (who Horowitz claims, on no evidence, are representative), yet Horowitz is now claiming to be a victim of just such attacks.

Incredible!

Horowitz writes:
I published a 450 page 112,000 word text documenting the rabid politics of a hundred professors, the first line of attack was on my credibility.
Well, I have read the book, and have attacked it—on a variety of grounds. On its methodology (it has none, though it claims “prosopography”), on its research design (again, it has none), and on the research itself (it is sloppy and from a distance). I have also attacked Horowitz’s own credibility, it is true, asking why his statements about academia should be taken seriously. He has made no attempt to study what actually does go on in university classrooms and says he doesn’t need to (I have invited him to visit my classrooms as often as he likes). There’s more (see my earlier posts for details).

Any way you look at it, Horowitz is in no way a credible commenter on what goes on in American colleges and universities.

As close as he is willing to get to real analysis is to claim “everybody knows.”

If he weren’t so dangerous, I would only call him pathetic.

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