Editorial

Academic freedom should be upheld

In his book “The Professors: 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America ,” David Horowitz accuses Northwestern professors Elizabeth Brumfiel and Bernadine Dohrn of being left-wing radicals who indoctrinate their students with dangerous anti-American sentiments.

While Horowitz, who is known for activism against perceived liberalism on college campuses, is well within his rights of free speech to deride professors for their supposed bias, we are suspicious of his attempts to undermine academic independence, which is crucial to support research and learning in any reputable institution.

Horowitz was the author of the “Academic Bill of Rights,” which champions what he calls a balanced classroom. The bill has been perceived as intimidating to liberal academics.

NU’s College Republicans introduced the bill to Associated Student Government in 2005, but it was voted down.

By calling Brumfiel and Dohrn “dangerous,” Horowitz persists in his attempts to intimidate. Brumfiel, a professor of anthropology, is well-liked by her students. Her view that anthropologists should apply their research to current events such as the war in Iraq is neither extreme nor dangerous, in our opinion.

Horowitz’s charges of terrorism against Dohrn, a law professor, carry more weight. Dohrn was a member of the “Weather Underground,” a radical left-wing organization that took credit for at least a dozen bombings in the 1970s, including attacks on the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol.

Dohrn, although she was once on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List, was never convicted of any crime. NU administrators have defended her and argued that they are more interested in her recent academic work than her perhaps checkered past.

We believe NU officials, and Dohrn herself, ought to take more concrete steps to reassure NU community that she is not intellectually harming the student body.

King’s message is universally appealing

Today marks the first time in recent history that Northwestern has suspended classes for the entirety of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We commend the administration not only for its decision to give students the day off, but for its efforts to provide a varied and interesting array of speakers to mark this day of remembrance.

The university’s planning committee appears to have achieved its goal of providing quality programming, especially in selecting distinguished visitors.

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Clarence Page, actor Harry Lennix and Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree will give addresses on the NU’s Evanston and Chicago campuses.

As students, we ought to use this opportunity to remember a man who represents not just the black struggle for civil rights, but who also is recognized as a universal exemplar of equality and non-violence. The fact that the administration has seen fit to allow us the whole day to remember Dr. King only makes it more important that we make the effort to do so.

While commemorating King is important for obvious historical reasons, his contemporary relevance deserves recognition as well. History proves that civil rights are never easily attained, and, once gained, must be zealously guarded.

In an era when our government employs warrant-less wiretaps and is willing to declare American citizens “enemy combatants” and try them by military tribunal, we would do well to remember King’s willingness to stand up against abusive authority.

The lessons taught by King’s tireless crusade for black rights must be remembered not just for what he and his followers achieved, but for the power of idealism in the hands of ordinary people.