The AHA’s Double Standard on Academic Freedom

March 1, 2006

by David Beito, Ralph Luker, and Robert “K. C.” Johnson

Perspectives (American Historical Association)

Has the AHA turned its back on academic freedom? In January, members present at its business meeting rejected a resolution to condemn attacks on academic freedom, whether from the right or from the left. Instead, they passed a weaker resolution that selectively condemned only threats coming from the right.We weighed into this controversy as part of a three person "left/right" coalition for academic freedom. Our chances were slim and we knew it. Only in December did we learn that the AHA business meeting would consider a resolution to oppose David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR). A leftist in the 1960s, Horowitz is now a militant activist for conservative causes. He founded the Center for the Study of Popular Culture in Los Angeles and publishes Front Page Magazine. Many of the provisions of Horowitz's ABOR seem laudable, at least on first scrutiny. It seeks to prohibit faculty from being hired on the basis of their political or religious beliefs. It requires that faculty expose students to diverse perspectives and, according to Horowitz, prohibits raising political issues in class that are outside the course subject matter. This provision opens the door for a student to file a complaint by making a charge of "indoctrination...

Schools: University of North Carolina – Greensboro University of Colorado at Boulder Brown University Colby College California Polytechnic State University University of Nevada, Las Vegas University of Alabama Cases: University of North Carolina at Greensboro: Punishment of Free Speech Protestors University of Colorado at Boulder: Suppression of Affirmative Action Bake Sale California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly): Use of Disruption Claim to Suppress Free Speech