New Critique of Those Who Love to Criticize Academics

June 8, 2009

A new report by Free Exchange on Campus, a coalition of groups opposed to David Horowitz's "Academic Bill of Rights" and similar measures, argues that the entire movement is built on false premises and is designed to attack higher education. The report, "Manufactured Controversy," notes that legislative successes for this movement have been minimal, but that the effort still needs scrutiny. "Fortunately, the work of these conservative critics of higher education has been repulsed. Each and every legislative attempt to circumscribe the free exchange of ideas has met stiff resistance and ultimately failed, while legal and institutional attempts have offered nothing more than Pyrrhic victories," the report says. "Even as the threat wanes, it is important to understand that the right-wing critics of higher education are opportunistic and that so long as the academy remains the location of independent thought and vigorous debate, it always will be a target." The study summarizes various groups that have encouraged the Academic Bill of Rights or similar measures, and explores their funding sources, among other issues. Several right-leaning foundations have played key roles, the study says.

Via e-mail, Horowitz said of the new study: "This latest Free Exchange 'report' is yet another Orwellian attack by the teacher unions that seeks to portray the defenders of academic freedom as its opponents. To describe critiques of academic abuses as 'attacks on education' is like describing the opposition to child abuse as 'attacks on adults.' But that's exactly what the Free Exchange report does. It is able to do this by misrepresenting the argument of its opponents, distorting the facts, and omitting the vast body of evidence demonstrating that abuses exist."

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