What does it mean to be the worst school in America?

Finding an answer is not so easy, given our country’s current administration, no stranger to slashing education funds and banning affirmative action.

But if you ask David Horowitz, he’ll preach to you with confidence: The University of California, Santa Cruz, he declared on Fox News program “Hannity & Holmes” Sept. 7, “is the worst school in America.”

Call us radicals, but we disagree.

Mr. Horowitz, surely you don’t really mean to say that one of the top research universities in the world, and the sixth-largest green power purchaser among all U.S. universities, is the worst our nation can come up with? Surely you’re just not aware that UCSC is in the top 21 percent of national public universities according to U.S. News and World Report.

Though surely, you’ll say, we’re wrong.

In his 2006 book titled, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, Horowitz gives us a bold taste of his political pallet, conveying a sense of why, exactly, he sees UCSC as such a threat.

“All [professors mentioned in this book],” he writes in the book’s introduction, “appear to believe that an institution of higher learning is an extension of the political arena, and that scholarly standards can be sacrificed for political ends.”

Honestly, Horowitz, we fail to see how anything in this world — let alone an institution of higher learning — is exempt from connections to the political arena. Politics infiltrate our lives every day, from the fair-trade coffee we drink on campus, to the demographic of the students standing in line to buy a cup.

To learn without politics in the classroom is to learn how to ignore the political propaganda that comes charging toward us every minute.

Here at UCSC, Horowitz refers specifically to Feminist Studies Professor Bettina Aptheker and History of Consciousness Professor Angela Davis, both of whom have 30-plus years in academia. Horowitz himself has none.

He continues, “The dangers such individuals pose to the academic enterprise extend far beyond their own classrooms.”

Now, Horowitz, we’re not sure who you’re picturing here, but both Aptheker and Davis are middle-aged; to be perfectly frank, I doubt that “danger” is a term that springs to mind when either of them enters a classroom. The only immediate “danger” they pose to a classroom of able-bodied students is in broadening their minds, which — let us assure you — doesn’t hurt a bit.

In fact, many of our students have already taken bold strides into the depths of social reform, by way of classes like “Introduction to Feminism,” “African-American Studies,” and “Philosophy of Punishment (Women’s Jails and Prisons).”

But as you see it, “Cultural studies, peace studies, whiteness studies, post-colonial studies, and global studies — even social justice studies — came into being as interdisciplinary fields shaped by narrow, one-sided political agendas. Some of these programs attacked American foreign policy and the American military, others America’s self-image and national identity.”

Geez, for such a world superpower, we didn’t realize America was so sensitive.

We live and learn in a world where school administrators are too often faced with the hire/fire gamble introduced by one’s political beliefs. (David Horowitz, it’s astonishing the world is not as fair and balanced a critic as you.) Take a look at UC Irvine Law School’s Dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, who just this year went through a cycle of hiring and firing because of his left-leaning political beliefs.

The state of relative job security afforded “radical” professors like Aptheker and Davis is what we, as a nation, should fight to achieve in all facets of academia: we should relish the freedom to examine social wrongs, and strive for the ambition to right them.

We know you don’t mean well, but your book has done all the grunt-work for us. With your finely-crafted reference guide as a source, we can begin to see where, and chart how, this change is taking shape. Well done.

On this, at least, we think we can agree: “The last few decades marked the first time in their history that America’s institutions of higher learning have become a haven for extremists.”

And I’m grateful, David Horowitz, that you’re not one of them.

(Of course, that’s just the politics talking.)