Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Discover the matrix reloaded
When last we heard from David Horowitz, he was still sputtering with incoherent rage at the drubbing administered to him and his enterprise by the readers of this humble but precision-tuned blog. “Stalinist bullies making fun of me gorphnox fleggh hack hack hack,” Horowitz pointed out. “In league with Islamofascist shlaffnak bleacchoch spizzle fleck.” For, not content with having demonstrated that Horowitz is a sorry old fraud who makes stuff up and then complains that he isn’t given the intellectual respect he considers his birthright, the readers of this blog—and, yes, many, many other fine bloggers as well—set out over the past four days to cast their votes in his silly “online poll” and elect me “America’s Worstest Ever Professor.”
This enterprise had not one but two goals. The first, of course, was to elect me “America’s Worstest Ever Professor.” The second, and yet even more important, was to demonstrate that FrontPage.com’s online poll was just as shoddy and half-assed as everything else David Horowitz does. I mean, it’s the year 2006, folks, and they still had no idea how to prevent people from bombarding an online poll with tens of thousands of votes per hour from one IP address.
So Thursday and Friday of last week were much fun for Horowitz mockers everywhere, as this lively thread suggests. By Thursday night, Sadly, No! reader Ron Mexico could chortle, “Hah! That poll is well and truly freeped.” He was right, of course, but the freepin’ fun went on right through the weekend, and by Sunday night the tally stood as follows:
Michael Berube, Penn State University: 233238
John Bellamy Foster, University of Oregon, Eugene: 106393
Norman Finkelstein, De Paul University: 50852
Eric Foner, Columbia University: 40323
Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 32756
Gregory Dawes, North Carolina State University: 14448
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, City University of New York: 13332
Jose Angel Gutierrez, University of Texas, Arlington: 13225
Bell Hooks, City University of New York: 12693
Gayle Rubin, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: 12191
Todd Gitlin, Columbia University: 12131
Timothy Shortell, Brooklyn College: 11380
Jerry Lembcke , Holy Cross College: 11154
Ward Churchill, University of Colorado: 8470
Sam Richards, Penn State University: 5340
Alison Jaggar, University of Colorado, Boulder: 3743
Those were the top sixteen. They were followed in turn by nine more professors in quadruple digits:
Angela Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz: 3536
Robert Jensen, University of Texas, Austin: 3259
Melissa Gilbert, Temple University: 3174
Howard Zinn, Boston University: 2079
Juan Cole, University of Michigan: 2075
Sasan Fayazmanesh, Cal State University, Fresno: 1698
Larry Estrada, Western Washington University: 1313
Victor Navasky, Columbia University: 1059
Gil Anidjar, Columbia University: 1049
Now, I didn’t get these figures from a snapshot; I wish I had. I got them from a Google cache of Sunday night’s tally—a cache that has since disappeared. And if anyone out there does have a snapshot, you can confirm the following Amazing Facts: on Monday, the numbers underwent a seismic shift. The redoubtable Noam Chomsky rocketed out of fifth place into second, picking up almost 150,000 votes in one day, and Greg Dawes shot from last place into fourth, thanks to the heroic efforts of one single voter. Foner fell to sixth. There was even some speculation that Chomsky would overtake me at the 300,000 mark. . . .
Was I worried about losing my lead? Not really. All along, I thought this poll was simply the Dangerous Professors’ Regular Season, and that next month the top sixteen would square off for Dangerous Professors’ Playoffs. March Madness, baby! There’s nothing like it! So I was more worried about who the sixteenth seed would be. As you can see, there was a significant dropoff from Jerry Lembcke in the 12 spot (with 11,154 votes) down to Alison Jaggar at 16 (with 3,743), with three other professors within plausible striking distance ("on the bubble,” as we say in the business). I actually don’t match up well against Jaggar, Davis, or Jensen, and I feared becoming the first number one seed Dangerous Professor ever to lose to a sixteen. Imagine the shame! Outpolling Jaggar or Jensen by a factor of one hundred and then bowing out in the opening round. If you’re a San Jose Sharks fan, you know it can be done: the bottom-seeded Sharks knocked off first-seed Detroit in 1993-94 and first-seed St. Louis in 1999-2000, both times in seven games. Could a Dangerous Professor from Santa Cruz pull off a similar upset in 2006?
Well, just as things were getting interesting, the doughty crew of the U.S.S. Horowitz put the kabosh on the whole party, wiping the slate clean yesterday at about 2 pm Pacific. Many readers have urged me to lobby for a whole new round of ballot-stuffing, and rumor has it that one enterprising soul has even posted a revised ballot-stuffing script somewhere in this thread, though I cannot verify this personally. But in all honesty, I can’t find it in myself to ask anyone to go back to FrontPage yet again. Once (or, in some cases, ten or twenty thousand times) was more than enough. Quite apart from all the “New Video Shows Hillary Killed Vincent Foster with her Bare Hands” lunacy to which innocent readers are exposed when they show up to vote, there’s the simple fact that FrontPage is, aesthetically speaking, the single ugliest website on the entire Internets. I mean, what’s with the soggy brown-and-yellow motif, anyway? Were all the attractive color schemes taken by the time the FrontPage people learned how to do web design? Or did Horowitz himself say, “listen, boys, I think we need to come up with a look that says rot and decay”?
But after FrontPage wiped out those stunning vote totals (about 750,000 votes in all), two funny things happened. First, Horowitz and Company learned that FrontPage does not actually get 200,000 readers a day, as the previous numbers might have led them to believe. As of 2 pm eastern time today, in fact, they’ve only received about two thousand votes in all.
Second, two-thirds of those new votes are for me!
Michael Berube, Penn State University: 1386
Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 55
Ward Churchill, University of Colorado: 53
Howard Zinn, Boston University: 19
Juan Cole, University of Michigan: 18
Cornel West, Princeton: 13
David Barash, University of Washington: 13
Nicholas De Genova, Columbia University: 12
Norman Finkelstein, De Paul University: 12
Peter Kirstein, Saint Xavier University: 12
Sami al-Arian, University of South Florida: 11
Joseph Massad, Columbia University: 10
I’d be flattered by this, but frankly, folks, I’m beginning to think that we’re Horowitz’s only readers in the whole world.
(It’s good to see that they’re still listing individual professors under the heading “School” and their institutions under “Professor.” And they’re still spelling Berkeley “Berkelyl.” Plus ça change!)
And yet, and yet: that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth the effort to point out just what kind of intellectual impostor David Horowitz really is. (Here comes the serious part of today’s post!)
In today’s Daily Collegian, published right here at Penn State, there’s an article about Horowitz’s book. For that article, a Collegian staffer contacted the Sorry Old Fraud himself, and here’s what he told her:
Horowitz said his process for fact checking involves researching the topic, publishing it and then printing corrections if errors are pointed out. He added that no errors have been pointed out in the book.
Oops! Turns out that this is a bad time to be peddling that particular line. Because just yesterday, the New York Sun, that well-known liberal Stalinist rag, pointed out that Horowitz’s entry on Eric Foner has, uh, errors:
A professor of American history, Eric Foner, whom Mr. Horowitz describes as an “apologist for American Communism,” said in an e-mail, “Mr. Horowitz’s ‘chapter’ on me is full of errors, beginning with the long quote with which he opens, which was written by someone else, not me. This is a fair example of the reliability of his work. But to get into a debate about Horowitz is a waste of time, and accords his attacks a legitimacy they do not deserve.”
Mr. Horowitz attributes to Mr. Foner a statement by the late author and journalist, Paul Foot, from a collection of responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Now it’s time for a fun guessing game! How do you think David Horowitz responded to this article in the New York Sun? (You may choose more than one.)
(a) by denouncing the New York Sun as a well-known liberal Stalinist rag;
(b) by screaming, “gorphnox fleggh hack hack hack in league with Islamofascist shlaffnak bleacchoch spizzle fleck”;
(c) by taking stock of what he has become, undergoing a profound crisis of conscience, and re-joining the Black Panther Party;
(d) by apologizing to Professor Foner, to all fifteen readers of FrontPage, and to Oprah Winfrey;
(e) by blaming his staff for the mistake;
(f) by trying to claim that Professor Foner, in pointing out the error, did something dishonest.
If you guessed (e) and (f), congratulations! You Are Right.
the 101 profiles were the work of thirty researchers. In these circumstances, juxtaposing a quote—which is clearly what happened—is not too difficult a possibility to imagine. The Foner quote and the Foot quote appeared in sequence on a page in the London Review of Books which was referenced in The Professors, and during the many revisions of the manuscript that’s how the error was made.
Hmmm, wait a second. Let me figure this out.
You Passed 8th Grade Math
Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!
Cool! I passed eighth-grade math. OK, let’s see now. Thirty researchers, 101 profiles: that’s approximately 3.367 profiles per “reseacher.” Only 3.367 profiles per “researcher.” And they couldn’t spot a bonehead mistake like attributing the wrong text to the wrong person? Holy Jesús Arrabal, people, was this book slapped together overnight?
Now, let’s take a brief moment to note that Eric Foner’s remarks, in that London Review of Books symposium, were perfectly sane. In fact, his last two paragraphs (scrolling required) are looking better and better with time:
It is amazing how cavalierly some members of the Administration as well as the media talk about ‘unleashing’ the FBI and CIA and curtailing American liberties in the fight against terrorism. A former director of the FBI called for Americans to embrace Burke’s idea of ‘ordered liberty’ and abandon our obsession with individual rights—the very principles that supposedly set us apart from evil-doers in the outside world.
One remarkable result of the crisis has been the Bush Administration’s sudden transformation from isolationists to internationalists. An Administration that for months disdained world opinion on issues like global warming, missile defence, and global arms sales now finds itself trying to construct an international coalition. Already, newspapers are reporting that our European allies are unenthusiastic about the prospect of an open-ended war against the Islamic world. Americans reluctant to embark on an armed ‘crusade’ to rid the world of evil are now relying on our allies to impose some restraint on the White House.
OK, so that’s Eric Foner, Dangerous Leftist who Pisses Off David Horowitz by Saying Perfectly Reasonable Things. But never mind sane people like him. Let’s return to the insane. Here’s Horowitz, one last time:
I think a fair minded reader will agree that the actual Foner quote provides an even stronger support for the claim I make about Foner in the text, than the Foot quote which was erroneously substituted for it. (That it was my intention to cite the authentic quote will be evident to anyone familiar with my book Unholy Alliance where it is cited as Foner’s reaction to 9/11.) In other words, the error in my book is an inconsequential one and does not affect the accuracy of its portrait of Professor Foner. Readers can judge themselves whether this is a reason for dismissing my work as Foner advises. And they can judge his honesty by the same measure.
Shorter David Horowitz: It was my intention to cite the authentic quote. The profiles were the work of thirty researchers. In those circumstances, juxtaposing a quote is not too difficult a possibility to imagine. The error is an inconsequential one. Therefore, Eric Foner is dishonest.
It’s really amazing, isn’t it? Every time you think Horowitz can’t do or say anything more self-undermining, he outdoes himself. Every single damn time.
The really funny/sad thing is that Horowitz isn’t just any old wingnut. He’s a wingnut who wants to be a college professor. He truly believes that the academy hasn’t given him his due as a “historian.” He wants the faculty to invite him to campus, at $5000 a pop. He wants his books to be taken seriously and reviewed respectfully. But it’s as if he can’t help himself—he just keeps pulling stunts like this, and every time he’s called on them, he counterattacks, whining all the while about the mean and nasty liberals who are “smearing” him.
And so David Horowitz does not get to lead the glamorous life of a Dangerous Professor. He has to settle for being a rich Scaife-funded wingnut who goes around blaming “liberal bias” for the fact that UC - Berkeley’s journalism school chose Orville Schell as their dean over a “qualified conservative” candidate . . . a candidate who just happens to be Michael Savage. Yep, that’s David Horowitz, Wannabe Serious Intellectual Historian, spitting on decent people like Eric Foner and carrying water for lunatics like Michael Savage. We do like to have our fun here on this intermittently snarky and saccharine blog, I know, but we have to acknowledge that there’s some real pathos here, too.
OK! Enough acknowledgement of pathos. I’ll be back tomorrow with news of some kind.