Horowitz’s Tall Tale

David Horowitz has been campaigning to end the vast left-wing conspiracy on college campuses. To support his claims of inappropriate political bias, Horowitz has been talking about a student at Northern Colorado University who was asked on a test to “explain why George Bush is a war criminal.” According to Horowitz’s account, the student wrote an essay explaining why Saddam Hussein was a war criminal and received an F.

As it turns out, Horowitz’s tale was almost completely fabricated.Inside Higher Education revealed today:

1. The question the student answered was not “Explain why George Bush is a war criminal.” Here is the relevant part of the actual question:

Cohen’s research on deviance discussed this process of how the media and various moral entrepreneurs and government enforcers can conspire to create a panic. How does Cohen define this process? Explain it in-depth. Where does the social meaning of deviance come from? Argue that the attack on Iraq was deviance based on negotiable statuses. Make the argument that the military action of the U.S. attacking Iraq was criminal.”

2. The question was optional. The student could have chosen not to answer it at all and written an essay on a completely different topic instead.

3. The student did not receive an F.

4. The professor who asked the question “is a registered Republican and considers himself politically independent, taking pride in never having voted a straight party ticket.”

Horowitz meekly “responds” to the charges on his website today but doesn’t actually try to defend the original facts of the story. Here’s a sample:

Until I hear from the student I have no comment on the matter of the grade but it is conceivable to me that if this were an “A” student and she received a “D” or even a “C” on this exam, in her mind it might as well be an “F.” And, finally, it is quite plausible that since there were two required and two optional questions she might have been confused as to which were which…