Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

06 March, 2007

Cue the wurlitzer

The only thing more humorous than David Horowitz himself is the cadre of right-wing flacks he dredges up to provide him with cover. Take, for example, Paul Crespo, who "teaches political science at the University of Miami," and his "review" of Horowitz's latest pablum, Indoctrination U. One might be lead to believe that this is an honest-to-god "real" faculty member who is giving Horowitz's book a fair shake.

One would be wrong.

A little googling and one can see that Paul Crespo is little more than another right-wing shill:
He also writes regularly for Tiempos del Mundo (a Spanish-language Latin American weekly), Townhall.com, The American Enterprise Institute Magazine Online, and has written for the American Legion Magazine and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He is a Phillips Foundation Journalism fellow for 2003-2004.

He is an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, and does have impressive professional and academic credentials. However, teaching does not seem to be his primary profession (unlike countless other adjunct faculty members who, instead of falling back on right-wing welfare, must teach six courses at three different universities in order to make ends meet), and as such, he's never had to enter the labyrinth that professional academics must navigate. While the short biography appended to the "review" is technically accurate - he does teach courses in political science at the University of Miami - the image that it is supposed to convey, that he's a seasoned academic who happens to agree with Horowitz, is disingenuous at best. Paul Crespo is a right-wing shill. A right-wing shill with the professional experience to teach about world politics, to be sure, but a right-wing shill nonetheless. And as such, it's hard to take him seriously when he dishes out tripe like this:
[A]cademic radicals with disdain for professional standards and intellectual pluralism have created a pervasive ideological agenda that violates the basic tenets of a democratic education.

On to his "review." Personally speaking, when I see the words "book review," I typically expect a brief summary of the book, maybe an excerpt or two, some interesting questions it raised, some problematic lapses of vision, some sort of sense of how well the whole project comes off. What do we get with Crespo? On the book itself:
A hard-hitting, well documented, and persuasive description of our dysfunctional higher education system, Indoctrination U. unmasks the leftist political indoctrination corrupting America's schools.

It describes how academic radicals with disdain for professional standards and intellectual pluralism have created a pervasive ideological agenda that violates the basic tenets of a democratic education.

The biggest culprits are entrenched primarily in the social sciences and liberal arts, but biased political rants can be found regularly in other faculties as well.

David Horowitz describes his ongoing battle to reform America's educational system by reviving the moribund standards and practices established decades ago, but mostly ignored today, to restrict political indoctrination and ensure academic freedom.

[...]

Indoctrination U. is an eye-opening book. It is a case study in the political warfare methods of the radical left and the campaign to re-establish an indoctrination-free environment on our campuses. It should be required reading for everyone concerned about the future of our country.

Those are the first four and the last paragraphs of the "review." Those are the only mentions of what the book might be about. The rest of the "review" is basically a mash note to Horowitz, as Crespo breathlessly details what a Great Man our hero is, and how that horrific abstraction called "the Left" is out to destroy him. In between his unsupported claims and his clumsy attempts at hagiography, Crespo just sounds out and out daft:
Horowitz told NewsMax, "My academic freedom campaign has been assailed by teachers' unions and the organized left and they have subjected me to vile character assassination similar to that used against other prominent conservatives."

He adds, "The purpose of these attacks is to destroy us and our reputations rather than deal with the issues."

He says, "But I'm just a little guy." Then he adds, "look at what they did to Larry Summers, the liberal president of Harvard. Summers tried to re-establish standards and a bunch of radical feminist and totalitarian anti-intellectuals got him fired."

The lesson, Horowitz argues, was "cross the left and they will destroy you."

Huh. I think I was a little too gracious in referring to Crespo's piece as a mash note. That would imply that he wrote it himself, rather than recycling Horowitz's own screeds. Anyways, given the persistence of Horowtiz's attacks on "the Left" - what would most certainly qualify as "crossing them" - he's yet to be destroyed. In fact, he's so swimming in that right-wing welfare that they named a "Freedom Center" after him!

And reading Horowitz's description of the Harvard faculty as "a bunch of... anti-intellectuals" is a little too much. The reasons for Summers' resignation were, of course, much more complicated than just his stupid comments about women academics, but Horowitz and Crespo never let reality detract from their talking points.

The "review" leaves me with no real sense that Crespo actually "read" Horowitz's book, which raises two non-exclusive possibilities:
  1. Horowitz's book is just a repackaging of his tired old talking points, so Crespo just had to troll those for a few choice quotes and, voilá! instant review, or
  2. Horowitz's book just plain old sucked and Crespo couldn't be bothered to finish it, opting to instead copy the front flap of the dust jacket

Whatever the case may be, Crespo has provided us with a shining example of how craptacular right-wing flacks typically are.

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