The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Horowitz Hangover

Plus a Former Resident's Lament



Political theorist David Horowitz (above) has written a lengthy essay about his recent speech at UMass, focusing on his visit to the class of political science professor Sheldon Goldman and recounting some horror stories told to him about other UMass professors:

UMass Professor Sheldon Goldman
How bad is the indoctrination process in American colleges?

I had occasion to see for myself an answer to this question when I recently visited the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This is a state school with 20,000 students, and while I was there I audited an hour-and-a-half lecture about the Warren Court’s landmark decisions on civil liberties by a well-known and highly respected political scientist named Sheldon Goldman, a nationally recognized expert in the field.

There are no open conservatives on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts and none that the conservative students who were hosting me could identify. My student hosts were political science majors and the absence of conservative professors was a real problem for them given the extreme and abusive nature of many of their professors. One professor gave an exam, for example, that consisted of a speech by President Reagan. The exam question was: Explain why Reagan is wrong. Another professor was a militant leftist who required a paper on the Vietnam War. To avoid the political minefield which confronted him, a student wrote a paper comparing military strategies for the war. The professor rejected the paper with the comment: “We shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”

When I entered Goldman’s classroom I saw that half of my student hosts were taking his course, a relief they told me later from the harassment they experience in other political science courses. Goldman is regarded by these conservative students as the “best” and “fairest” professor on the UMass faculty, someone who every now and then would vent a “liberal” sentiment or prejudice but whose lectures were relatively free from bias and whose classroom behavior was respectful towards them.


To read Horowitz's complete critique of Goldman's lecture click here.

Meanwhile, a former Amherst resident named Steven P. Barrett wrote the following comments after Horowitz's essay, sharing his own personal experience of political correctness.



As a former UMass/Amherst employee & sometime journalism student, (and news reporter/columnist in Amherst) and Amherst “Townie,” I wasn’t particularly surprised to find Mr. Horowitz’s findings of leftist bias in the classrooms. For the past 40 years, the university has been dominated by the Left and I fully expect it to be dominated for another 40. The reason is quite simple: The left wants it that way and turned Amherst, its local Town government, its public schools and economic structure into an academic elitist theme park wherein only well-heeled left of center academics will find themselves welcome. One only needs to attend Amherst’s elected Town Meeting (TM) every Spring and Fall to watch the elitists at work, especially when a pet ideologically charged issue or property tax hike is on the docket.

I vividly recall the debates on whether or not Amherst was to declare itself a “nuclear free zone” (which it did) during the depths of the final death rattle days of the Evil Empire. And there were debates on whether or not to allow the Air Force to build a high radio tower it needed to develop a new early warning system to complement its much older system north of the Arctic Circle. “Oh, it’d send the wrong message to the Soviets … “ etc., ad (very) nauseum.

Sure, I take some editorial liberty, but these debates took place, and Town Meeting predictably took the Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain ostrich positions on these and other “foreign policy” matters. Author Tracy Kidder said Amherst is perhaps the only town with its own foreign policy. For this “distinction” we can thank TM members who are also UM and other Five College (Amherst, Smith, Hampshire & Mount Holyoke Colleges to round out the list.)

I’ll never forget the contempt shown by the dominate lettered leftist professorial clique in TM towards Amherst’s blue collar workers when a garbage delivery service owner addressed the august body, only to be distracted by people talking, newspapers all of a sudden pulled out for reading and the lady academics busy knitting their next scarves. My wife and I will always be Amherst “Townies,” even though we had to move to more affordable Hadley because Amherst’s leftist professoriate TM never met a tax hike it didn’t like; the real working class will [always] be damned.


The Chairman?

Pelosi, Rangel, Neal
Scandal-plagued House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel reluctantly stepped down the other day in the face of ever more serious allegations of ethics violations. That happens to be the same committee on which south Valley congressman Richard Neal serves, prompting a round of speculation about whether Neal might ascend to the powerful post. Neal's usual cheerleader, The Springfield Republican led the speculation, although an article on possible successors in the New York Times printed on the same day never mentioned Neal's name. In any case, the temporary replacement for Rangel has been announced, and it was not Neal.

However, according to The Atlantic the disgraced Rangel preferred Neal as his replacement:

Rangel wants Richard Neal, to whom he has already given several key responsibilities, to be his successor. Neal would treat the tax pros and business interests that come before the committee with more respect, in theory.

If The Atlantic article is correct, why would Rangle have wanted Neal to succeed him? The National Journal suggests that Neal may have gotten Rangel's nod because he "has closer working relationships with many lobbyists and K Street interests."

But apparently Neal's endorsement by the guy walking out the door in disgrace, who chose him for his close ties to special interests, was not particularly helpful. Still, if the Democrats maintain control of the House of Representatives after November's elections (an increasingly unlikely possibility) then a formal election for a permanent chairman will occur, making it possible that Neal may compete for the chairmanship at that time. Of course that assumes that Neal himself will be going back to congress, which at least two challengers, Dr. Jay Fleitman and Tom Wesley, will do everything in their power to prevent.

Some Pics

Today you never see pinball machines in public places, because who is going to pay a quarter a game when you can play similar or even identical games for free on your own computers? But years ago before there were video games there were a whole lot of pinball machines located all over the campus center at UMass, as seen in this 1981 photograph by Jim Neill.



The games are long gone now, but I noticed the other day that one small remnant still remains of the days when UMass was a pinball haven. Up near the ceiling I spotted this old, now useless sign that no one has bothered to remove.



There it is ladies and gentleman, proof postive that once upon a time you could actually smoke cigarettes in the campus center while playing pinball, provided you didn't rest your burning butts on the machines themselves, lest they get burn marks on them.

A scene from Amherst Coffee on Friday afternoon. The place has been packed since Raos closed for renovations.



The tower at the Main entrance to Northampton's Smith College is all wrapped up in a protective shroud while undergoing renovations.



The Music Section

Brian T. Marchese and friends in Northampton Thursday.

2 comments:

S.P. Sullivan said...

Horowitz's point is valid in the most general sense (not enough conservative professors), but why is it that the people who clamor most for "objective" reporting and teaching (as if there ever was or can be such a thing) are so often themselves hyperpartisan jerks?

Horowitz isn't mad because UMass lacks a plurality of opinion. Horowitz is mad because there aren't enough people here who think like him. Which is just silly.

Personally, nothing bothers me more than people who think like me.

crusader88 said...

Sad about those pinball machines. But why no food?