Thursday, March 03, 2005

What color is your star?

Well, a lot of people have been comparing David Horowitz's fatwa against liberals in academia to McCarthyism. Now, one of Horowitz's followers made the connection for him.

Via JuliusBlog we learn about the latest incident involving a student inspired by Horowitz:
SRJC uproar over Republican protest:
Several instructors targeted by student's posting of red stars, state code on teaching of communism

Santa Rosa Junior College's oak-studded campus is aflame with controversy triggered by the anonymous posting of red stars and a reference to communist indoctrination on 10 faculty office doors.

Instructors quickly saw the action as a threat to academic freedom, but the student who claimed credit for the protest said it was about left-leaning bias in the lecture hall.

The stars, which unnerved some instructors, were accompanied by a copy of a state Education Code section prohibiting the teaching of communism with the "intent to indoctrinate" students.

"It makes me a little anxious," philosophy instructor Michael Aparicio said.

Ed Buckley, the college's vice president of academic affairs, weighed in with a defense of academic freedom, saying in an e-mail to SRJC faculty that it includes teaching "difficult and controversial material."

But political science major Molly McPherson of Rohnert Park said she had only intended to start a discussion about the personal politics of SRJC humanities instructors by posting the stars.

"It's a big issue," said McPherson, president of the SRJC Republicans, a campus club. "The opinion of the far left is presented as fact, with no alternative."

You can see the text of the law the student is citing here:
51530. No teacher giving instruction in any school, or on any property belonging to any agencies included in the public school system, shall advocate or teach communism with the intent to indoctrinate or to inculcate in the mind of any pupil a preference for communism.

In prohibiting the advocacy or teaching of communism with the intent of indoctrinating or inculcating a preference in the mind of any pupil for such doctrine, the Legislature does not intend to prevent the teaching of the facts about communism. Rather, the Legislature intends to prevent the advocacy of, or inculcation and indoctrination into, communism as is hereinafter defined, for the
purpose of undermining patriotism for, and the belief in, the government of the United States and of this state.

This law, as it happens, is a Cold War relic of McCarthyist agitation in California (of which Richard Nixon was only one of the leading figures) during the late 1940s and '50s. The laws passed at the time included not only these prohibitions, but a "loyalty oath" required for all faculty members at state schools. (For more on this, see Ellen Wolf Schrecker's excellent exploration of the anticommunist campaign's history and its effects on academia.)

And, then, of course, there's the matter of the red stars. Pinning stars on your enemies' doors, as Julius reminds us, has an even uglier history.

Horowitz must be so proud.

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