Last week, David Horowitz, editor of FrontpageMag.com, called me to talk about his academic Bill of Rights. After that talk, he arranged the following interview with FrontPage?s Managing Editor Jamie Glazov. Because a) it was a good interview, b) I am shamelessly plugging my book, and c) I have been on the road and haven?t written an editorial this week, I decided to run the interview on TownHall.com. Enjoy the reading and see you next week!
FP: Welcome to Frontpage Interview Dr. Adams, it?s a pleasure to have you here.
Adams: Thank you. The pleasure is mine.
FP: The title of your book, ?Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel? is quite interesting. What made you choose that title?
Adams: When I select a title for an editorial or for a book, I like to pick something that grabs the reader?s attention. However, this particular title was selected for more than effect. Our system of higher education has been consumed with socialist, Utopian policies for so long that, in my opinion, it is beginning to break down into complete chaos. Like the Tower of Babel story of Genesis, no one seems to be speaking the same language on college campuses today. Anyone who has experienced university speech codes or dealt with campus political correctness can identify with the theme of my book.
FP: The first section of your book includes a series of letters you wrote as an untenured professor. In your book you say that you did not send most of them. Now that you have tenure, you have obviously published the letters. Do you think that your experiences highlight the need for a permanent tenure system? Are universities so infested with ideological bigotry that you could not survive without tenure?
Adams: It is certainly true that I was afraid to send most of those letters before I became tenured. However, you may be surprised to hear that I do not support tenure. By way of brief example, those reading my book will learn about a professor who accused her chair of sexual harassment in a department meeting. After the charges were deemed unfounded, she accused him of a felony criminal charge out of sheer malice. The university is crawling with lunatics who believe that they can do whatever they want with impunity. That is because they have tenure. And that is why I oppose tenure. Some would say that I would lose my job without tenure but I don?t think that?s true. Since I write a national column, I doubt that the university would want to take me on in the national press after firing me. And I certainly doubt that they would want to make a part-time columnist into a full-time columnist. Giving me more time to criticize the UNC system would be profoundly unwise.
FP: The final section of your book details a 2001 free speech controversy that we covered on Front Page. Could you tell us something about that controversy? Why did you decide not to sue your university after they read your personal emails? What has happened to the leftist administrator and her daughter, the student who sparked that nationally covered controversy?
Adams: Those who read the book and write me say that the final section is the best. They also say that it made them the angriest. I was thrilled when Front Page covered this post- 9/11 controversy that started when a university administrator?s daughter (also a student) wrote me an angry email four days after the attacks of September 11th. While using the First Amendment to blame the attacks on the US and to call George W. Bush an ?illegitimate President? appointed illegally by a ?reactionary? Supreme Court, she became emotionally unraveled when I responded to her message. The simple act of stating that the constitution protected her speech just as it had protected ?bigoted,? ?unintelligent,? and ?immature? speech for many years caused her to scream ?defamation.? This was despite the fact that she had been the only recipient of my message at the time she began to make this charge. Later, the university did read some of my personal emails over my vocal objections in order to see whether they should be handed over to my accuser. That was mild compared to what she had asked the university to do; namely, to hand over a week?s worth of my emails for her personal inspection.
Front Page, Fox News, US News and World Report, Rush Limbaugh, and Neal Boortz helped hand the university a well-deserved black eye before all was said and done. If I had it to do all over again, I would have taken the university on in the court of public opinion and in a court of law. As for the student, she has graduated. As for her administrator/mommy, she is currently being replaced.
FP: Now that you are touring the country to promote the book, you have an opportunity to speak on a number of college campuses. Are the problems you describe as bad in other places? Or is there just something in the water in North Carolina?
Adams: I was once convinced that the UNC system was leading the country in terms of academic lunacy but now I?m not so sure. When I speak at other campuses I hear the same kinds of horror stories from students, and occasionally from professors. The emails I get from around the country also reveal that the tactics of the academic Left vary little from campus to campus.
FP: You spend a lot of time criticizing higher education, particularly along the lines of diversity and free expression. What solutions to you advocate?
Adams: I would urge Front Page to continue to promote the academic Bill of Rights. I would also suggest two other approaches. First, there is always humiliation and ridicule. While we still have a First Amendment we must use it to expose the academic Left?s assault on freedom of expression. They simply cannot defend in public all that they try to do in private. My email controversy is a perfect example. Ben Shapiro?s new book ?Brainwashed? is also a great example. My favorite portions of his book were his professor?s quotations taken right from class notes. The next time your professor compares George Bush to Adolph Hitler or says that it is morally permissible to kill infants with birth defects just convert the notes to a ?letter to the editor.? Students should have fun while they are in college. If your university spends all of its speaking funds on Democrats, publish the names of the speakers and the amount of taxpayer money used to bring them to campus. Donor boycotts will follow until the university gets the idea.
Secondly, and more seriously, we need litigation to solve some of the problems I describe in my book. Last year a student Christian organization at UNC-Chapel Hill was told that they had to remove a portion of their constitution saying that members must ?believe in God? because such a requirement would be ?discriminatory.? When threatened with de-recognition and withdrawal of SGA funding the students capitulated. That was wrong. They should have sued the university. That kind of totalitarianism must be attacked in both the court of public opinion and in a court of law.
FP: In one article in this collection of your articles, you take some shots at Cornel West for his defense of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Tell our readers about your criticism of the ?scholar.?
Adams: I can hardly muster the words to describe the idiocy of Cornel West. I think that the quotes I include in my book sum things up pretty well. The real question about Cornel West concerns his ties to homicidal racists and genocidal anti-Semites. The very idea that he can get $12,000 per speech on college campuses is a disgrace. If I had ties to David Duke, my speaking career would be over at public universities. The fact that West continues to be a favorite speaker at public universities is cause for great concern. I think it shows that anti-Semitism is alive and well on our college campuses and we need to do something about it. Given his former ties to Khalid Muhammad, should we not consider West to be an anti-Semite? And given those ties, how can he lecture us all on the perils of racism in America? I wish that West would stop scratching his beard, whispering, and rocking back and forth like a heroin addict in an all-night jazz bar and just answer some simple questions. Are you an anti-Semite? If not, why do so many of your friends seem to hate Jews?
FP: Indeed, and why do so many leftists hate Jews? Anti-Semitism has clearly become the new call of the Left and it explains why leftists and Islamists now have so much in common. Why do you think anti-Semitism is so chic now amongst leftists ? especially on campus?
Adams: That is the toughest question you could have possibly asked. I know that anti-Semitism is more chic than ever among academics but I will never be able to explain its persistence throughout time, not just in academia but in the world at large.
The surest sign that anti-Semitism is on the rise is the recent increase in accusations of anti-Semitism by the university Left. The week that Mel Gibson?s ?Passion? debuted, our university hosted a talk via satellite by Minister Louis Farrakhan. Local members of the Nation of Islam were on campus raising funds for slavery reparations. That week there was plenty of talk about anti-Semitism on campus. None of it was directed towards Farrakhan. It was all directed towards Gibson. The recent effort of the Left to project its anti-Semitism on conservative Christians has reached Orwellian proportions. Israel?s supporters flocked to see the ?Passion? while its detractors manufactured false claims of anti-Semitism. The free pass they give to Farrakhan is not born of ignorance. It is no accident.
Before I leave the topic of my book, ?Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel,? I would like to remind readers of its reference to Chapter 11 in the book of Genesis. If you turn to the very next chapter of Genesis, you will encounter an interesting verse saying that God ?will bless those who bless the Jews and curse whoever curses the Jews." (Genesis 12:3). Look at the history of Spain and Germany and the present condition of the Arab world. I can?t explain the origins of anti-Semitism but I do know its consequences. The same cannot be said of the university Left.
FP: Prof. Adams, it was a pleasure.