Saturday Mailbox


March 04, 2006

Academic freedom isn't one-way street

One didn't need to read Lionel S. Lewis' biography at the end of his column "Academic freedom under siege from right" (Opinion Commentary, Feb. 28) to know that he has spent his life in the shelter of academia.

Mr. Lewis seems to believe that academics' freedom of speech is a one-way street with no repercussions for the speaker.

But here in the real world, I certainly have the right to state any opinion I wish. Those giving me the soapbox I speak from, however, have every right to rebut me, and take away my platform, if they feel that my words reflect poorly on them.

Is academia really any different?

Academics have every right to express their viewpoints as they see fit.

They don't, however, have an absolute right to my tax dollars to allow them to do so, especially at state universities that receive substantial public funding.

Mr. Lewis also conveniently neglects to mention campus speech codes that often serve only to punish speech that is not in lockstep with the "enlightened" politically correct thinking of the moment, as well as numerous instances of professors being denied tenure for voicing conservative philosophies.

If he truly believes in an "American campus" as "a healthy mix of different opinions, cultures and viewpoints," these issues would be a good place for him to turn his attention.

If Harvard University President Lawrence Summers is too conservative for the faculty of America's premier institution of higher learning, it's a good sign that diversity is not alive and well in academia today.

Scott Medvetz


Campuses hostile to conservative ideas

Lionel S. Lewis, the author of the column "Academic freedom under siege from right" (Opinion Commentary, Feb. 28), is either living in a fantasyland or, for some inexplicable reason, is not able to see the pronounced liberal bias on many of our public campuses.

For him to suggest that the "American campus is a healthy mix of different opinions, cultures and viewpoints" is hogwash.

Poll after poll suggests that a vast majority of college professors are politically liberal.

And contrary to the healthy mix of opinions and viewpoints Mr. Lewis describes, most college campuses are places where conservative ideas are shunned or ridiculed by the elite faculty.

Liberal professors do a disservice to the word "liberal."

All too often, they are not liberal in their approach to teaching. They not only embrace extremist political philosophies but also go to great lengths to smother and repress political opinions that differ from their own.

Kudos to David Horowitz for fighting to keep students free from the university bullies who for too long have had their way with impressionable and intimidated young adults.

I hope that Mr. Horowitz is successful in forcing state legislatures to step in and promote free speech in our public universities.

Michael DeCicco


A mistaken view of Campus Watch

The sloppy thinking Lionel S. Lewis displays in "Academic freedom under siege from right" (Opinion

Commentary, Feb. 28) is matched only by the sloppiness of his research.

Mr. Lewis writes that David Horowitz founded Campus Watch, and he describes Campus Watch as having "alleged political bias in all aspects of academic life, most specifically in hiring and promotion (those right-of-center are `systematically excluded,' discriminated against or punished)."

Hardly. I founded Campus Watch, not Mr. Horowitz.

And Campus Watch deals with Middle East studies, not left-right issues, as even the briefest visit to its homepage,, makes abundantly clear.

Daniel Pipes

Philadelphia, Pa.

The writer is director of Middle East Forum, an independent think tank on the region.

A chance to rethink U.S. maritime policy

The furor over the deal between Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. and Dubai Ports World may ultimately benefit the United States by forcing a comprehensive review of our port security programs. Perhaps even more important, it could also cause a long-overdue assessment of America's maritime policy, or, more accurately, our lack of such a policy ("Port review faulted," Feb. 28).

Despite our rich maritime heritage, America's merchant fleet has all but disappeared.

Not only do foreign companies operate a large proportion of our port facilities, but a far greater proportion of our international trade is carried on foreign-flagged ships.

Does this make sense in a globalizing economy increasingly dependent on time-sensitive international connections?

As we are losing our manufacturing base to other countries, should we also simply forfeit the carrying trade linking the global economy by default?

And what about the global logistics demands inherent in sustaining the so-called war on terror?

All of this and more should be embraced in a well-conceived national policy.

Perhaps, as the fog lifts on the P&O-DPW deal, Congress may go back to fundamentals and review the need for a comprehensive maritime policy.

Charles H. White Jr.


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