When Michael Met David:

The Chronicle of Higher Education sat Michael Berube and David Horowitz down for lunch. This is what transpired. (Spoiler: Neither was hospitalized or arrested.)

Berube has additional comments here. Henry Farrell sums it up here.

John (mail):
Scalia v. Breyer! Horowitz v. Berube! Is there no end to the free exchange of ideas on the Volokh Conspiracy?
12.7.2006 10:16am
In principle, I share David Horowitz' disgust over the political one-sidedness in much of academia. However, his solution to the problem is far worse than the problem itself. Increasing oversight of academic institutions ultimately does a lot more harm to academic freedom than anything liberal academia has done. I think we need to be vigilant in ensuring the freedom of speech and academic freedom continue to exist on college campuses. We do not need to ensure equal representation of ideas.
12.7.2006 12:09pm
liberty (mail) (www):
great exchange. as long as the academic freedom comes in the form of anonymous-oversight via the marketplace (eg those rank-your-profs websites) i am all for encouraging more of it. Agreed that we don't want to impose quotas on POV.

I like Horowitx though - though he can be very uber-political. His "Radical Son" book really woke me up about my own upbringing and gave me a compatriot.
12.7.2006 12:33pm
Radical Son changed my life. He is a much better writer than speaker. Since reading that book I have enjoyed reading other books by "Red Diaper Babies" and comrades who admitted their folly and some their shame for the deadful life they lead. Very interesting folks to read.
12.7.2006 12:56pm
Michael B (mail):
Firstly, the subject doesn't lend itself well to this type of verbal, assault-and-attrition format, the subject isn't comprised of discrete, clearly defined concepts and interests. Instead, what is being addressed is an interweave of academic disciplines, decidedly less disciplined topics - and topoi - within the academy, including both subtle and less subtle ideological investments and other biases still (e.g., tenure, bureaucracies).

Too, Horowitz, whose forte is largely within the frame of hard-nosed praxis, and Bérubé, who functions within academe, are bound to clash not merely along ideological lines but even along their respective functionary lines. Horowitz is largely forced to act as an ice breaker cutting its way through arctic ice sheets of various densities. By contrast Bérubé functions in an academic/aesthetic mode and wants us to believe all ships should be sleek, aesthetically appealing schooners with every wind is abaft. An exaggeration, certainly, nonetheless Bérubé is given to facile deflections and misdirection far too habitually. Understandable to a degree, given the nature of both the confrontation and the subject matter, but only to a degree. Which is not to say Bérubé is an unlikeable sort, properly dressed up, but that's not the point either. It's the ideas, the curricula, the pedagogy, the interweave of ideology with it all, subtly and otherwise, etc.

And, one suspects, Michael Bérubé knows this full well, thus he bobs and weaves at curious, and curiously suspect, junctures.
12.7.2006 6:19pm
Michael B (mail):
A case in point, one which had been previously referenced in this VC thread comment. First, the relevant excerpt from Mark Bauerlein's commentary follows, in italics:

... the final sentence [of the instruction for a Bérubé essay assignment]:
Analyze the U.S. constitution (original document), and show how its formulation excluded [the] majority of the people living in America at that time, and how it was dominated by America’s elite interest.
And here is Bérubé’s comment:
If students of American political science are not introduced to the contradictions underlying the foundation of a revolutionary democratic nation that practiced slavery and restricted the vote to landowning men, they are being miseducated.
What Bérubé considers good history registers with conservatives quite differently. They note the emphasis on exploitation and hypocrisy, along with no chance to argue otherwise. The Founding’s positive side is glossed over as if it were false ornament. And as for miseducation, the historical significance of the Constitution isn’t primarily that it legalized “exclusion” and “class domination,” but rather that a group of men acculturated to exclusion and domination should have conceived a system of government and a set of rights from which free and oppressed people have drawn inspiration for two centuries. The assignment, then, asks undergraduates to take a partial and politically loaded viewpoint on the Founding. If we want full historical context, by all means bring in the inequalities and injustices of the time, but let’s not obscure the extraordinary moral and political breakthrough represented by the document.

That Bérubé accepts such assignments as straightforward history goes a long way toward explaining why conservative criticisms appear unbalanced or cynical. The liberal outlook, especially regarding race and gender, has seeped into and saturated the curriculum so much that questioning it looks not like a new venture into the marketplace of ideas but like a violation of civility. This makes it almost impossible for conservative reformers in higher education to question, much less alter, the curriculum. It’s a frustrating impasse. Liberal approaches to the curriculum are so embedded that conservative attacks look suspect on procedural grounds. ... The substance of your criticism is waylaid by its impropriety.

That ends the excerpt from the Bauerlein commentary, all emphases added. Bérubé was asked to respond to Bauerlein's specific query, and he did so, at least putatively, here, more summary than excerpt follows:

Again, Bérubé was asked to respond to Mark Bauerlein's specific, directed commentary, instead he misdirects away from Bauerlein's query and onto the paper in question as a whole. First note (from the link) that Bérubé initiates his response sounding more like a used-car salesman than an academic: "Thanks for asking, Colin! And why don’t you have a copy of [Bérubé's] book at hand, may I ask?"

Such salesman-like enthusiasm as he hawks his book, referencing it in near-biblicist style, and initiates his misdirection. Berube begins as follows: "19-year-old Foothill College student Ahmad al-Qloushi, a Kuwaiti-American who claimed that he received a failing grade on a term paper about the U.S. Constitution because it was “pro-American,” and who promptly appeared as a guest on Fox News’ Hannity &Colmes show on February 17, 2005. Horowitz flogged this case as well ..."

It goes on from there, more of the same, noting it's not a good paper in the first place, holding Horowitz and others in contempt and disdain (a topos for Berube), etc.

And through it all, to the end, Bauerlein's query is never taken up. Perhaps both Bauerlein and his query are worthy only of contempt and disdain as well? Truth is we never know, for that too is part and parcel of his method; he is, doncha know, so very, very sneeringly smart. And woe unto thee who fails to acknowledge such for all it's worth, for all it represents.

Perhaps this is an example where Michael Bérubé imagines he can get away with anything. It is, in must be said, a rather blatant case of misdirection. But he's not the lone academic to misdirect concerning this very same case. Brad DeLong does much the same thing here. But with Brad as well, the uninitiated need to know their place, a topos with Brad no less than with Michael.

Now more generally, if such a blatant case of misdirection can be finessed with such facility, it seems probable that when the cases are more subtle, more given to post-modern finessing and other, similarly subtle sleights of hand and applications of academic alchemy, then the tendency or temptation to indulge must be all the greater, all the more attractive.

En garde Prof. Bérubé, defend with reason or deflect with a "liberal" sneer. But do not misdirect yet again. Perhaps the tack to take in sailing that fine schooner of yours would be to demure altogether, and avoid rough seas.
12.8.2006 4:27am
Michael Bérubé (mail) (www):
Michael B, above, mischaracterizes both my book and my response to Bauerlein. In response, in lieu of a liberal sneer, I offer Volokh readers my conviction that it was Bauerlein who engaged in misdirection, since I was objecting to the substanceless Hannity &Colmes complaint that al-Qloushi was graded harshly because of his political views, and Bauerlein took this instead as an opportunity to dilate about the quality of the question to which al-Qloushi was responding. Moreover, Bauerlein's counterclaim that "What Bérubé considers good history registers with conservatives quite differently" is in fact quite false, for as my book shows, one conservative professor-blogger gave the paper a low D, and another gave it an F. What Bauerlein seems to want, quite simply, is a greater acknowledgment -- in the exam question -- of "the extraordinary moral and political breakthrough represented by the document." That's just fine with me, but it does not speak to the right's foolish attempt to make a martyr out of al-Qloushi for his failing grade.

And I cited my book on my blog, dear Michael B, because Colin Danby had asked what my book says about the al-Qloushi paper. You can call that "near-biblicist style" if you like, though I suppose you're thinking of a rather different bible than the one I know.

"Perhaps this is an example where Michael Bérubé imagines he can get away with anything," you write. Perhaps. And perhaps you should bring your A-game next time, with a tad more intellectual honesty for good measure. Last and least, if you don't know the difference between "demur" and "demure," it is best not to advise one's interlocutor to "demure altogether, and avoid rough seas."
12.8.2006 5:09pm
Michael B (mail):
Last and least of all is not the fact I used an adjective as a verb, but that you imagine your reply to represent your own version of intellectual honesty. You need to brush up on your own A-game. The question posed, addressing Bauerlein's commentary, follows, in italics:

Would someone who has a copy of [Bérubé's book] at hand like to check whether the Bauerlein complaint about Michael’s response to the “Analyze the U.S. constitution” essay question is a fair cop? Commenters here seem to have the impression MB endorses the question, and in particular that
"If students of American political science are not introduced to the contradictions underlying the foundation of a revolutionary democratic nation that practiced slavery and restricted the vote to landowning men, they are being miseducated."
Bauerlein, in reviewing your book, is obviously under no obligation to follow your program or your design, and he's most certainly not engaging in misdirection when he inquires about a specific aspect of the essay question, an aspect you had, seemingly, failed to consider or at least failed to consider as worthy of attention or import (which is the subject of Bauerlein's comment). I already excerpted extensively, directly upthread, here, and will let that stand as is.

Again, brush up on your own A-game, and brush up on your conception of intellectual integrity, your avowed "convictions" not withstanding. When the subject matter has now been pointedly called to your attention minimally three times, your convictions, as such, begin to look more and more implausible. Last and least, I'm no more "dear" to you than you are to me, so if you're going to claim to eschew any "liberal" sneers, you might follow up on that declaration, perhaps doing so will help you focus on that supposed A-game you've misplaced.
12.8.2006 7:02pm
Michael B (mail):
IAI - Intellections Absent Integrity, aka academic b.s.

Beyond yet additional IAI, forwarded with officiousness, you don't handle those who fail to take you seriously very well. And if a certain mindless quality didn't mark your own congregation at certain critical junctures, you'd be facing critical opposition far more frequently. Such reflects both sides of the coin you trade in all too frequently. Though in terms of pure power, it makes sense. You personalize it by referring to "convictions," hence any reveal of those "convictions" can be regarded as personal affront rather than revealing critique - i.e. a solipcism encircled by pretense, thus more misdirection still.

Discard that officiousness and self-anointed quality and apply the same standards to your own arguments that you'd apply to the arguments of the unanointed. Less IAI and officiousness; more standards held, and applied, in common.
12.10.2006 8:57pm