- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2005

‘One-man war’

“David Horowitz, one of the country’s most famous converts to conservatism, is waging a one-man war against the academy. Liberal college students, he says, see their views reflected in textbooks. His kids, as he calls conservative students, have to subscribe to National Review to get a balanced view of the world. So nearly every day, he is on the road, promoting his ‘academic bill of rights’ — a set of principles that he says will make universities more intellectually diverse and tolerant of conservatives. …

“‘It’s Orwellian,’ says Roger W. Bowen, general secretary of the American Association of University Professors. ‘He’s trying to create an atmosphere in the classroom where faculty are not treated like the professionals that they are.’

“For Mr. Horowitz, this battle is personal. He is feisty, single-minded, and like many a professor, loves to lecture. …

“Mr. Horowitz acknowledges that his Republican credentials might not make him the best person to lead this charge against the academy. But then again, no one else could do the job, he says. It is perfectly suited to a former radical. ‘Conservatives don’t have this mentality of changing institutions,’ he says. ‘I have an instinct of how to fight this battle.’”

—Jennifer Jacobson, writing on “What Makes David Run,” in the May issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

Faith in progress

“History has become for our secular age what ‘fate’ was for the Greco-Roman ancients, and what ‘providence’ was (and remains) for many Christians.

“This is the sense of History that Hegel and Marx promoted, and the sense that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy recently appealed to in justifying an opinion by ‘evolving standards of decency.’ It is the sense that moral innovators are appealing to in promoting homosexual and polyamorous ‘marriage,’ artificial wombs, bioengineered enhancements, and all the other delights of ‘posthumanity.’ …

“‘Progress’ is the one article of faith that remains strong among us, the one torch in modernism’s darkening hall that still burns bright. To oppose it, even in the slightest, is to render oneself an ‘enemy of the future.’”

—Wilfred M. McClay, writing on “The Winds of History,” in the May issue of Touchstone

Democracy in action

“‘American Idol’ has always struck me as so thoroughly, unreconstructedly phony that [the] hype about … [an ABC] ‘expose’ of the Paula Abdul ‘scandal’ at first seemed preposterous. But after watching a couple of episodes of ‘Idol,’ along with the remarkably revelation-free ‘Primetime Live’ report, I began to get why people feel so strongly about the show. … I can even see why, if it is true that Abdul offered behind-the-scenes help to a contestant with whom she was having an affair, it might, in some odd, symbolic way, matter. …

“[T]he important thing to ‘Idol’ watchers … [is] the act of voting itself: the pure, untrammeled expression of diverse individual opinions that congeal, thrillingly, into an expression of the common will. ‘American Idol’ is a place where we practice our democracy.

“Our country’s hunger for populist spectacles can’t be slaked by a mere presidential election every four years, a congressional one every two, or a senatorial one every six. With ‘American Idol,’ we can experience the civic satisfaction of voting every single week, without having to schlep to the polls or research the candidates’ platforms.”

—Dana Stevens, writing on “Paula-tics As Usual,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

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