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3/18/2005 10:46:00 PM | Timothy

On David Horowitz
David Horowitz has waged a campaign for an academic bill of rights (see a critique here).

Ok, first the background. There has been a story going around the net about how a student was required to write an essay about George Bush was a war criminal; The student instead wrote about how Saddam Hussein was a war criminal, and was given an F. However, here is what a report on InsiderHighered.com said:
Because while a Northern Colorado spokeswoman acknowledged Monday that a complaint had been filed, she also said that the test question was not the one described by Horowitz, the grade was not an F, and therewere clearly non-political reasons for whatever grade was given. And the professor who has been held up as an example of out-of-control liberal academics? In an interview last night, he said that he’s a registered Republican.

In addition, the university was able to directly refute other statements made by Horowitz supporters. For instance, Students for Academic Freedom, a group that backs Horowitz, on Monday posted an articleon its Web site (which was then widely posted by conservatives on other Web sites) with the headline “University of Northern Colorado Story Confirmed.” The article, among other things, said that the professor in the course had been unable to produce any copies of the test questions. But the university has had the test the entire time — and the question isn’t the way it has been described by Horowitz ....

[College Spokesperson] Reynolds added that the student did not receive an F, and that although the instructions on the test said that answers were supposed to be at least three pages long, the student submitted only two pages on this question. In addition, Reynolds said that the student never had to answer this question. The test, she said, had four questions: two required questions and two others (including the disputed one) from which a student needed to select one.
So Horowitz got it wrong and backed down right? Well, sort of. Horowitz does admit he got crucial facts wrong. Actually, he says this a certain set of facts are wrong, but he does not think the set of corrected facts above is crucial to his complaint. You can read his explanation of ">why we-got-it wrong,-but-it-does-not-really-matter here. (One thing Horowitz does is go all 'postmodern' and says it was like a failing grade to that kid. --I'm sorry, I tell my students that if they do not turn in the minimum page count, the highest grade they can expect to get is a C, and that is assuming their paper is great (which is obviously unlikely).)

But let's get to the interesting stuff. Horowitz basically focuses on the bias in the question itself. As InsideHigherEd.com reports, the actual question has been provided by a university spokesperson:
The American government campaign to attack Iraq was in part based on the assumptions that the Iraqi government has “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” This was never proven prior to the U.S. police action/war and even President Bush, after the capture of Baghdad, stated, “we may never find such weapons.” Cohen’s research on deviance discussed this process of how the media and various moral entrepreneurs and government enforcers can conspire to create a panic. How does Cohen define this process? Explain it in-depth. Where does the social meaning of deviance come from? Argue that the attack on Iraq was deviance based on negotiable statuses. Make the argument that the military action of the U.S. attacking Iraq was criminal?
What do you all think about this question?

UpdateThe saga continues. More here.



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