David Horowitz, a notable conservative author and political commentator, recently published a book profiling what he believes to be the most dangerous academic professionals in America.
Although Horowitz has been critical of the UW System in the past, appearing at UW-Stevens Point in 2004 to talk about the leftist teachings of professors there, he did not list a single UW System professor among the 101 most dangerous professionals.
Horowitz's book, released Feb. 13, is titled "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America" and includes profiles of 101 academic professionals from universities across the country. Additionally, Horowitz makes a number of accusations against these people, who he believes are teaching biased, "leftist" material.
"When viewed as a whole, the hundred or more portraits in this volume reveal several disturbing patterns of university life," Horowitz said in his book. "[These professors] appear to believe that an institution of higher learning is an extension of the political arena, and that scholarly standards can be sacrificed for political ends."
Horowitz said "disturbing patterns" include teaching subjects outside of one's expertise, making racially and ethnically disparaging remarks, and introducing personal political agendas into the classroom.
Graham Wilson, UW-Madison political science department chair, said his department is careful to avoid having personal opinions make their way into academic teachings.
"In [the political science] department, we are acutely conscious, because of the nature of what we teach about, of the need to keep personal political opinions separate from what we know academically," Wilson said.
Wilson went on to say that the political science department at UW-Madison has a number of policies in place to preserve the distinction between private political views and academic material. These include not allowing graduate students to use their UW e-mail addresses for political recruiting, and sponsoring lecture committees rather than individual politicians to speak on campus.
Wilson also said that when evaluating assistant professors, a major "red flag" in the process is if they talk about incorporating their own political policies into their curriculum.
Among the 101 academic professionals included in Horowitz' book is Eric Foner, a professor at Columbia University who Horowitz accuses of teaching against the Iraq invasion in 2003, among other biased practices.
"The book and the charges in it are not to be taken seriously," Foner said in an e-mail. "Life is too short to get into a discussion about Horowitz, who hardly merits the attention of any serious person."
Foner added that he has received a number of prizes for his work, including the Owsley Prize from the Southern History Association, which he says is "not normally considered a hotbed of anti-American radicalism."
Wilson said he believes the job of academic professionals is not to preach personal points of view, but to share their academic knowledge with students.
"At the end of the day, topics we regard as important to write and teach about may, to some degree, deep down, reflect our values," Wilson said. "But we really try to keep our personal politics in check."