John Miller of NR fame has been asking around in my neck of the woods for examples of “academic horrors” that he and his friends can report on. I am delighted to see that John has changed his vocation from derailing the careers of conservatives, by smearing them with fictitious evidence about their politically incorrect attitudes, to digging up information about alleged academic intolerance. Judging by the plethora of hate obituaries that John’s buds have been putting onto various neocon websites and into throwaway D.C. publications about the late Sam Francis, John may no longer be needed here to do the heavy lifting. What is puzzling, however, is seeing him and his fellow-neocons run around looking for the motes in the eyes of others while ignoring their own beams. It’s a bit like noticing Stalinists weeping over the breaches in academic freedom in the U.S. The problem they pointed to may have existed but the hypocrisy of those who raised the challenge was far more striking. In any case since John did ask for an honest discussion of our encounters with academic horrors, here is the one I’d like to offer:
Although you may not be interested in my particular story (I doubt that you would be), I was in fact the victim of organized opposition from the (neoconservative) Left, when in 1988 the administration of Catholic University of America rejected me, following some noisy deliberation, for a graduate professorship. Just before this incident, the department of politics had bestowed on me with minimal dissent the position that was subsequently denied to me. Norman Podhoretz, Jerry Z. Muller, and Thomas Pangle were among those involved in a character assassination campaign that caused the dean of humanities to overrule the department of politics. The charge that doomed me at the time, according to those who overheard the dean talking to my garrulous, long-distance detractors, was that I “favored a negotiated settlement between Israel and the PLO.” Actually I don’t recall having taken that position, but since neocons help to shape the media version of reality, they are entitled to put words into my mouth. The Conservative Movement (second edition) deals with this incident at CUA at length, which I cite to illustrate the brazen exercise of unrestrained power. But all’s well that ends well! I am now a respected and relatively well-paid professor of humanities at a small college in Central Pennsylvania. Next week the administration will be honoring me with a dinner, to which lots of dignitaries (albeit not of your persuasion) will be invited. Thank God my colleagues are nice leftists as opposed to loudmouth neocons or establishment conservative yes-persons. I trust that I have given you an earful.