In The Oz today, Janet Albrechtsen gives a free plug to the Young Liberals’ “Education, not indoctrination” campaign.

As Albrechtsen approvingly notes, the Young Libs’ little provocation models itself on the Students for Academic Freedom project established by the American former radical turned arch reactionary, David Horowitz.

“Lapsed radicals like ourselves are always condemned to regard the left as their Great White Whale,” Horowitz and his cothinker Peter Collier wrote in their 1991 anthology, Deconstructing the Left.

“This book is a record of our sightings of the beast. We may not yet have set the final harpoon, but we have given chase.”

Careful readers might recall that Moby Dick actually depicts the whale-obsessed Captain Ahab as … something of a nutcase, actually. But then Horowitz’s pursuit of Leftism makes Ahab’s mania seem a wholesome hobby.

On his, Horowitz presents an extraordinary amalgam of treason, in which Osama bin Laden features alongside Bill Clinton, and Mao (“Arguably the greatest mass murderer in history“) appears next to Bruce Springsteen (“Joined other musicians in 2004 Vote for Change anti-George W. Bush concert tour“).

In her article, Janet Albrechtsen explains that “[Horowitz] proposed an academic bill of rights to promote intellectual diversity at universities.”

Well, that’s one way of putting it. According to the Media Transparency website, Horowitz backed a Florida bill in which “students who felt their views were disrespected in the classroom or thought they were singled out for ‘public ridicule’ by their professors would have the right to sue them and the university.”

That kind of intimidation is central to Horowitz’s approach. His Students for Academic Freedom site features an “Abuse Center” that allows – even encourages – anonymous complaints against un-American profs.

Here’s the fulmination of one aggrieved patriot at Ohio State University:

I know the paper was pretty much great because I spell checked it and proofred [sic] it twice. I got an D- just because the professor hates families and thinks its okay to be gay.

Gosh, do you think there might be any problems with publishing unsourced tittle-tattle about academics? Apparently not. Albrechtsen provides some Australian examples of her own, one featuring Laura (“not her real name”) and another featuring Jamie (“she won’t reveal her surname”).

Anyone can play that game. In his recent book The Education of a Young Liberal, John Hyde Page reveals how, after a few drinks, unnamed members of the Young Liberal Right Wing liked to charge up and down city streets slapping stickers reading “Stop the Asian Invasion”, “Australians Against Further Immigration” and “Whites Only” on parked cars, with “bonus points for getting one onto a car that was actually being driven by a coloured person.”

All about intellectual diversity, one presumes.

Jeff Sparrow is the editor of Overland.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.