The infamous liberal professor and the author of “The Professors” did battle in Washington, D.C., last night.
A packed auditorium at George Washington University watched the first of several debates between University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill and conservative author David Horowitz.
The topic: Should a professor bring his politics into the classroom?
According to Churchill, education is “inherently political” because each instructor will have his/her own interpretation. And, when it comes to education, Churchill believes “there is no consensus.”
“That’s really what’s at issue here: the subscription to the idea that that which is most popular by those most powerful, or those most populous, somehow or another translates into … objectively defined truth.”
In essence, there are no absolute truths — just points-of-view, he said.
The Colorado professor went on to say, “The purpose of the professor is to profess. … You are to have arrived at conclusions. … You are obligated to inform them [students] of what it is you’ve learned and to profess what you’ve come to believe on the basis of that learning.”
Horowitz quickly responded: “I can profess. Anyone in this room can profess. … Why are students paying $4,000 a course for an informed opinion or prejudice, which is what it winds up being in the end.”
The conservative author noted, “The very basis of our democratic education is that you are taught ‘how to think’ not ‘what to think.’” He added, “You can teach ‘about’ a controversy … but should leave — must leave — the conclusion up to the students themselves.”
Although the event was organized by the Young America’s Foundation, several liberals were in attendance. As you might guess, these left-wingers couldn’t just keep quiet and listen. In fact, Horowitz was repeatedly interrupted throughout the debate. At one point, the moderator had to address the rowdy bunch and ask for “some respect.”
On the other hand, Churchill may have only been interrupted once, if at all. For the most part, when the Colorado professor spoke, a hush fell over the crowd and everyone listened intently; however, that may have been due to his persistent ramblings that were, at times, beyond comprehension. In one particular rant, Churchill covered European history, definitions and meanings of “the university,” his childhood and the translations of a few German words. Yes, all of that in one answer. I, personally, lost focus on what he was saying as my thoughts turned to his poor students who must struggle to take notes during his mind-numbing lectures.
Churchill did make it a point to say, “I have no right to indoctrinate my students. But, somebody who works at a corporate boardroom — a thousand miles away, having no knowledge of what it is that I know and believe — has no greater prerogative to constrain what it is that I say.”
Horowitz responded, “You have to make a distinction between ‘talking about’ controversial subjects — political issues — and ‘urging a commitment’ to one side of the controversy.”
This was the first in a series of debates between Churchill and Horowitz. According to YAF spokesman Jason Mattera, four or five more are in the works with the next showdown, most likely, taking place in Colorado in the fall. And, believe it or not, Mattera says the idea for this all-star academic debate was Churchill’s.
“He needed his media fix,” the YAF spokesman said jokingly.
Although Churchill didn’t ask to debate me — “the dean” of the Human Events U and the Network of College Conservatives — I did get to meet the guy. Yep, I saw him earlier in the day, walked up to him with my copy of the “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America,” and asked him to sign it.
He paused for a second, but then grabbed my book and my pen.
“To Chris ‘The Dean’ It’ll Pass. Ward Churchill”
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