Thursday, May 20, 2004

The May First Things
is online.

Among other excellent articles, there's this relatively short one by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus.
"David Horowitz is pressing a proposal that has thrown many academics into a tizzy. He wants universities to adopt an Academic Bill of Rights that will assure, amidst a multitude of other diversities, 'intellectual diversity.' Everybody in the academy is fervently devoted to diversity, until you put 'intellectual' in front of the word. The eminent and self-described sophist Stanley Fish does not like the Horowitz proposal one little bit. It is, he says, a 'Trojan horse of a dark design' to infiltrate conservatives into positions of academic influence. On campuses, says Fish, the culture wars are being won by those who promote women’s studies, Latino studies, African-American studies, postmodern studies, gay-lesbian-transgender studies, and the like. But their critics have won the war of public opinion, convincing Americans that 'our colleges and universities are hotbeds (what is a "hotbed" anyway?) of radicalism and pedagogical irresponsibility where dollars are wasted, nonsense is propagated, students are indoctrinated, religion is disrespected, and patriotism is scorned.' Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights, Fish declares, would inaugurate the oppressive rule of ideological 'balance' when the only purpose of a university is 'to seek the truth.' It is hard to know what to make of Fish’s protest. In other writings, he is scornfully dismissive of the idea that there is such a thing as 'the truth.' Maybe it is just that Fish likes the academy’s domination by insouciant nihilisms and doesn’t want to see that challenged. Of course Horowitz is a conservative and would like to see more people in the academy challenging the likes of Fish. His proposal is a very odd Trojan horse, however, since no secret is made of its intent. Stanley Fish, sophist that he is, is never happier than when people say it is hard to know what to make of what he says. As for the meaning of 'hotbed,' I trust that Professor Fish is not above resorting to a dictionary where it is defined as 'a bed of soil heated by fermenting manure.' "


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