George Orwell began one of the most famous essays in the English language with this observation: “In Moulmein, in Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people. It was the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me.” As a result of my efforts to remove political agendas from academic classrooms, I have come to appreciate this Orwell comment.Don’t kid yourself, Horowitz: you aren’t important enough for any of us who oppose you to hate you. Unlike the young Orwell, you aren’t even a police officer—simply a wannabe trying to shoe-horn yourself into a position of control over American higher education. The population of college professors has not yet been oppressed by you or by the establishment you represent—as the Burmese had been by the British colonial administration that Orwell represented. You haven’t the control over our lives that necessitates hate.
However, you do pose a threat. Which is why we don’t simply laugh at you. The money behind you is extensive enough for you to orchestrate a campaign attempting legislative control over the universities and to draw a picture of something that looks like a problem. Yet, when even our rather conservative state legislators finally get around to taking a look at your program, they begin to realize that it’s not the Orwell of “Shooting an Elephant” serving an oppressive regime in Burma that you resemble but the creators of Newspeak in his 1984.
Nothing you say or write can be trusted or taken at face value—certainly not this newest tantrum. Your language play is too crude… you are like a con artist who has tried his tricks on the same people once too often. You cite Kurt Smith, for example, quoting him as saying that your “fascist ideology… casts ordinary, politically centrist Americans like me as leftists and enemies of the state.” And then you insinuate that Smith said you used the term “enemies of the state” about him. He did not. And you know that but, as usual, twist his words. You go on (and on, and on—but we don’t need to get into that):
The label “fascist” Smith sought to pin on me was particularly bizarre given the fact that I came to Bloomsburg [University, where you debated Smith] as the founder of a campaign for academic freedom that was based entirely on liberal principles devised by the American Association of University Professors….No, Mr. Horowitz. Your campaign has nothing to do with the AAUP principles on academic freedom, for you would have legislators take control over academic freedom where what the AAUP outlines is a compact between the faculty and the university administration. You know this, yet continue the misrepresentation. As the fascists were among the first to successfully turn language on its head to bring things under their control, it is no stretch to associate you, who tries to do the same thing, with them.
The fascist shoe, Mr. Horowitz, fits you.
In a completely Orwellian twist, you claimed victory in Pennsylvania, where your attempt to bring the public university faculties under legislative control failed abysmally. Tell you what: why don’t you do the same thing now? No longer are you even trying to deal with issues, but simply write petulantly in defense of yourself. You’ve lost; your entire campaign is a failure (though there’s still moping up to do—as in Arizona). So, why don’t you just claim you won and go away?
We won’t mind: our minds are not clouded by your words.