in High School
By David Horowitz--FrontPageMag.com--06/06/05
Below, FrontPage Magazine founder and lifelong civil rights activist David Horowitz relates how high schools have become the newest indoctrination front for the Hate
Through a serendipity I was able
just before the Memorial Day Weekend to invite myself to a propaganda offensive
The in-school event was a production of the Pali High English Department, whose plan was to corral 300
students for an hour and forty-five minute lecture by an antiwar speaker from
“U.S. Tour of Duty,” a group that works with Medea Benjamin’s Code Pink
in active obstruction of
I was at the event, which was held during school hours between 10 and 12 noon, by happenstance. I had been contacted a week earlier by Jeff Norman, the organizer for U.S. Tour of Duty, who wanted to know if I would debate a former CIA technician named Ray McGovern, who had apparently gone over to the other side. The venue – a Venice church – did not appeal to me, since I knew the audience would be composed of left-wing activists whom I have reason to know are intolerant, obnoxious, and nasty when gathered in a public setting – and can be violent, as well. I asked Norman, who was quite accommodating to find another more hospitable venue on the Westside or in the Valley.
McGovern, who resides in
I knew just what they had in mind, and didn’t like it at
all. Here I was crusading nationally to take politics out of college classrooms
and these leftists were planning an indoctrination session for 14- to18-year
olds in high school. I sent an e-mail to McGovern (who had appeared as a genial
and accommodating fellow in his previous communications to me).
I suggested that this would be an acceptable venue from my point of view
if he wanted to hold our debate there. McGovern agreed. He even suggested that
our encounter should be formulated as a friendly discussion rather than a
debate, to which I agreed. I proposed that the topic should be, “How should we
look at the war in
This e-mail indicated that there was a precise political
agenda to the event, which was confirmed the following week when Marcie Winograd and Progressive Democrats and Palisadians
for Peace organized two actions – one to descend on the offices of Democratic
Representative Jane Harman and hector her for not signing Rep.
Lynn Woolsey's resolution that we should withdraw immediately from Iraq and
the second a campaign to descend on Hispanic high schools in East L.A. to
dissuade students from volunteering to serve in the American military. The
Hispanic community of course has already provided many of the heroes of the
When I arrived at Pali High, the
auditorium was filling up. I introduced myself to more than a dozen of the
teenagers present and asked them if they knew why they were there. Only about
four did. All of them said they were there because their teachers had brought
them there. One of the students said the same group had been shown an antiwar
film by the same English Department teachers a few days earlier.One
of the teachers present was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of John Brown on
the front and a political slogan advocating the use of force and violence
to overthrow governments that were unjust. Of course, slavery is an issue that
was decided 140 years ago, so obviously the incitement to armed revolution
was directed at some other injustice. When I visited this teacher’s classroom
some days later this suspicion was confirmed by the posters of Che Guevara and Mother Jones she had adorning her English
classroom walls, along with a sign that said, “
Had I not intruded myself into the Pali
High proceedings these schoolchildren would have been subjected to the
unchallenged views of Ray McGovern. When the event
commenced, McGovern described the war in
When it was my turn to speak, I pointed out that the war in
But even though I felt I had prevailed in the debate, receiving vocal support from half the students, I was deeply troubled by the event itself, and by the ongoing program of indoctrination that the Left was obviously conducting in this and many other K-12 schools.
Why are high school teachers staging political events during school hours, let alone events featuring such extreme views? What educational purpose is served by exposing students to far-Left political propaganda, which is unanchored in any professional expertise let alone grasp of the facts (e.g., the world is not running out of oil and the Jews do not control American foreign policy). Students I talked afterwards to volunteered that the school was “very political” and their teachers were very left-wing. One student told me he had been thrown out of a class by his teacher for claiming that Saddam Hussein had used biological weapons against his own people, a view which the teacher rejected. Other students told me their leftist teachers constantly harangue them on controversial issues. A conservative teacher whom I talked to told me he was afraid to speak up because of inevitable reprisals from the faculty’s left-wing majority.
I confronted several of the teachers present over what I considered the abuse of students in their charge. Using students as a captive audience on whom to inflict one’s political prejudices was entirely unprofessional, I said, and a violation of the students’ academic freedom. Students are in school to be educated and have have a universally recognized right at least in American schools not to indoctrinated.
None of the teachers present so much as acknowledged the
possibility that this outrageous scene was not perfectly normal. When I asked
the English teacher with the John Brown t-shirt why she was wearing a political
slogan, and whether she didn’t agree it was abusive to inflict her political
opinions on her students, she accused me of being insensitive to the Muslim
students present. Of course she had no words of concern for the Jewish students
present, whose community had been blamed for the War on Terror and the death of
innocents, nor for the half a dozen Hispanic and black students who raised
their hands when asked if anyone present had a brother or sister in Iraq.
Apparently it was fine to bring in a former CIA agent to tell them that their
brothers and sisters were risking their lives for oil companies and the Jews,
and that there principal purpose in
I then told this political activist posing as a teacher that she was a disgrace to her profession. This was apparently over the line for her. “You are on this campus illegally,” she said, “and I am going to have you removed.” “Go ahead,” I said, knowing that the regulation was to keep drug dealers from getting at the teenagers, and thinking they should have a similar injunction for people dealing political drugs, as well. I knew, however, that if I called her bluff she would see how absurd her threat against an invited speaker would prove.
Walking away from the crowd that had gathered for our little dust up, I found myself alongside Marcie Winograd. “Don’t you think it’s abusive to inflict your political agendas on school children who are here for an education?” I asked. “But the media are all on the other side,” she replied. “Even if your claim were correct,” I said, “and it is not, this is not the media. This is a school. Can’t you appreciate the difference?” “The media are on the other side" she repeated. I could see the whole issue was above her mental ceiling and gave up.
The scene I had witnessed, is part
of a drastic change in the educational culture in
It’s time for legislatures to take a look at the institutions they fund. The integrity of our educational system is at stake. Taxpayers do not underwrite the public schools so that political activists posing as teachers can have a captive audience for their political agendas. We need an Academic Bill of Rights for high school students, and we need it now.