The Campus Crusades


David Horowitz, and his writing partner Peter Collier, were well-known
lefties in the 1960s. Horowitz was a Black Panther supporter
and editor of Ramparts
magazine, the premier left-wing publication of the period. He
and Collier, co-founder of the Center for the Study of Popular
Culture (CSPC), came out as Reagan Republicans in a highly controversial
1985 Washington Post article called “Lefties for
Reagan.” Since then, Horowitz has blended Dr. Laura-like
pomposity with an extraordinary ability to self-promote.

Over
the past few years, David Horowitz has made a number of appearances
on college campuses and he doesn’t like what he’s
been seeing. These visits have triggered the launching of
the National Campaign to Take Back Our Campuses. In a new
booklet titled Political Bias in America’s Universities,
Horowitz describes “what’s wrong in academics today,”
and the “steps you and I can take to restore sanity to
our colleges and universities.”


Taking issue with “leftist professors” who question
President Bush’s “war on terrorism” and “liberal
bias” on campus is nothing new for this right-winger.
This time around, what’s unique is Horowitz’s intention
to involve alumni and legislators—the people he says
control the purse strings at America’s universities.


While the campaign is framed around silencing “blame
America” academics, there is another, albeit larger,
agenda. It includes the future of collective bargaining on
campuses, the nature of tenure, academic standards and curricula
selection, and government funding for university projects.


At his website, Horowitz explained the reasons for his new
campus-focused campaign. Since the mid-1960s, he writes, “the
left made a concerted effort to take over our colleges and
universities. The turmoil surrounding the Viet Nam war made
our schools ripe for leftist pickings…. As they’ve
taken control, they’ve trampled free speech, virtually
banished conservative professors, and turned our schools into
little more than huge megaphones for anti-American rhetoric
from coast to coast. Today you can do or say anything you
want on our campuses—provided it’s laced with negative
sentiment about our nation, our Bill of Rights, our Constitution,
our culture.”

Horowitz’s
plan calls for a “four-pronged information assault”
which will:

(1)“Investigate
and expose the hiring practices and tenure selection criteria
used at universities and colleges…. A pattern of discrimination
against conservatives is becoming more and more evident,
and I’m going to make sure the American public knows
about it.

(2)“Publish
and distribute 300,000 copies of my new booklet, Political
Bias in America’s Universities
, onto campuses in
every state…. This booklet is a powerful weapon in
our fight to get the truth out to leaders, alumni and legislators

(3)“Conduct
a National Survey On The State Of America’s Universities,
then compile and publish the results on our powerhouse web
magazine, FrontPage…. Send the results to two groups that
hold real power over our schools: school alumni and state
legislators! Alumni associations hold the purse strings
to the largest private contributions colleges receive. And
state legislators hold the biggest financial bag—your
tax dollars!”

(4)“Continue
to travel onto campuses and deliver the truth about America,
about the conservative principles this country was founded
on and the remarkable society shaped by those principles.”


Horowitz claims he needs $325,500 to “enable us to build
upon our success and fully fund the National Campaign to Take
Back our Campuses.” Before you rush to write a check,
understand that between 1991 and 2001, according to Media
Transparency, a website focusing on the money behind right-wing
politics, Horowitz’s CSPC received more than $10.2 million
in support from conservative foundations. (According to the
Center’s 2000 tax return, from 1996 through 1999 the
Center received nearly four times the amount of money from
contributions and grants—$8.7 million—compared to
$2.2 million from services performed. Horo- witz received
$253,000 in compensation for 1999.)


Re-Orienting Universities


Two
invited guests (as of this writing) to CSPC’s gala mid-November
Restoration Weekend in Palm Springs, Florida are Florida’s
Gov. Jeb Bush and Lynne Cheney, the wife of the vice president.
Both share a vision for America’s universities.


During the summer of 2001, Gov. Bush reorganized Florida’s
state university’s system of governance. He summarily
dismissed the state’s Board of Regents and replaced it
with handpicked and corporate-dominated Boards of Trustees
who rule over each of the system’s 11 colleges.


In 1995, Lynne Cheney and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) founded
the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). At its
website, ACTA points out that its members contributed $3.4
billion to colleges and universities last year, making the
organization “the largest private source of support for
higher education.” Large donors are frequently advised
by ACTA staff as to what kind of influence their money can
buy over courses and departments at colleges and universities.


ACTA played a role in smoothing the transition from a Regents-run
to a Board of Trustees- run university system in Florida.
Anne Neal, a vice president and lawyer for ACTA, led orientation
sessions for all of the state’s new trustees. Neal told
them that they now had the power over their schools’
budgets and academic standards and will also be able to select
their schools’ presidents. She pointed out that one of
the most difficult tasks would be revising their schools’
policies and examining their personal and business relationships
to assure there isn’t even the appearance of impropriety.

A
Shared Agenda


Horowitz
is not alone in zeroing in on college campuses. In November
2001, ACTA launched its Defense of Civilization Fund “to
support the study of American history and civics and of Western
civilization.” Its first project was the notorious pamphlet
“Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing
America and What Can Be Done About It,” which claimed
that college and university faculty have been the weak link
in America’s response to September 11. ACTA is a Washington,
DC-based group dedicated to countering “political correctness,”
keeping its eye on campus “radicals,” and changing
the way universities throughout the country govern themselves.


In March 2002, former Drug Czar and Education Secretary William
J. Bennett founded and became chairperson of Americans for
Victory Over Terrorism (AVOT), a project of his Washington,
DC-based think tank, EMPOWER.org. AVOT’s stated mission
is “to sustain and strengthen American public opinion
as the war on terrorism moves forward.” In June, AVOT
released its nation-wide survey of college and university
students’ attitudes and opinions about various facets
of the war against terrorism.


In announcing “the first comprehensive poll of American
college students’ attitudes and opinions about the war
on terrorism this year,” Bennett said, “The findings
reveal that our college students, to say nothing of our high
school students, need to know many things better: the virtues
of American democracy, the role we play in the world, and
the names of players in that role. This poll shows that we—parents,
teachers, professors, and leaders—have a great deal of
work to do.”


The Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute has organized the Bring
a Conservative Speaker to Your College Campus campaign. The
Institute, which describes its mission as “prepar[ing]
young women for effective conservative leadership and…promot[ing]
school choice opportunities for all K-12 children in America,”
also sponsors a Conservative Women Speakers Program. Conservative
columnist and author Ann Coulter, recently said that through
the speaker’s program, “thousands of college students
are able to help bring a balance to issue debates, see that
there are conservative women and challenge the intimidating
dominance of liberals and radical feminists on their campuses.”


On The Go and In Demand


Since
September 11, David Horowitz has been busy. He launched a
McCarthy-like tirade against Democratic Congress-person Barbara
Lee—the only congressional representative to vote against
Bush’s open-ended “war on terrorism.” In a
column called “The Enemy Within,” Horowitz branded
Lee an “anti-American communist who supports America’s
enemies and has actively collaborated with them in their war
against America.”


On his FrontPage website he labeled the Congressional Black
Caucus a “fifth-column” and dubbed the recently-defeated
Rep. Cynthia McKinney “Hanoi Jane.” Horowitz railed
against the “so-called Peace Movement,” an effort
that landed him a three-hour stint with Dr. Laura Schlessinger
on her radio program. As part of the National Call to Support
the War, Horowitz initiated the Think Twice campaign, a no-holds-
barred advertising effort to convince students on college
campuses not to protest against Bush’s “war on terrorism.”


Horowitz’s recent pamphlet titled “How the Left
Undermined America’s Security” claims that the Democratic
Party cannot be “trusted” with national security
issues and that the Clinton administration turned its back
on dealing with terrorism. During an appearance on the Arizona-based
television program “Fox 10 Newsmaker Sunday,” Horowitz
called Clinton the “most reckless and irresponsible”
president ever to occupy the White House.


Horowitz crusaded against Noam Chomsky. In a late-September
2001 column titled “The Sick Mind of Noam Chomsky,”
posted at his regular slot on Salon.com, Horowitz wrote: “Without
question, the most devious, the most dishonest and—in
this hour of his nation’s grave crisis—the most
treacherous intellect in America belongs to MIT professor
Noam Chomsky.” A month later, he pressed the attack with
a pamphlet on Chomsky called “The World’s Most Shameless
Liar Unloads Some More.”


Horowitz’s take back our college campuses campaign will
no doubt be part of the Restoration Weekend agenda. The Breakers
in Palm Beach may be a bit pricey, but the CSPC assures attendees
that the $1,500 individual fee, or $2,600 fee for couples,
will cover all conference events. The list of confirmed speakers
qualifies as a who’s who on the Right, and includes congressional
representatives, conservative media personalities, former
CIA Director, James Woolsey, terrorism expert Steven Emerson,
the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, and everyone’s
favorite author, Ann Coulter.


Over the years, Horowitz has perfected the art of the pre-emptive
strike—rhetorical drive-bys aimed at the quick hit. He
nabs a few mainstream press headlines, attains the attention
of the conservative media, delights his right- wing financial
base, and moves on to his next target. If he can bring Lynne
Cheney, Jeb Bush, and Bill Bennett on board, his new campaign
could have a great deal more staying power.


Bill
Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering conservative movements.