Foothill College student Ahmad al-Qloushi -- who claims that he received a failing grade on a term paper about the U.S. Constitution because it was "pro-American" and whose allegations have been publicized by right-wing pundit David Horowitz -- appeared as a guest on the February 17 edition of FOX News' Hannity & Colmes. But no one on the show mentioned that al-Qloushi's professor disputes his version of events, that al-Qloushi's claims were originally publicized by the Foothill College Republicans (of which al-Qloushi is president), or that al-Qloushi has been touted by Horowitz to promote Horowitz's right-wing university campus initiatives.
"The Foothill College Republicans blasted faxes to reporters this month complaining that a professor had forced a student to see the college therapist merely because the student wrote a pro-American essay," the San Jose Mercury News reported on December 26, 2004. On January 6, Horowitz's right-wing website FrontPageMag.com posted an article by al-Qloushi about the incident. The Washington Times ran an January 16 article titled "California professor flunks Kuwaiti's pro-U.S. essay," in which it relayed al-Qloushi's claims and noted only that "Mr. Woolcock did not respond to telephone and e-mail inquiries." On February 1, al-Qloushi appeared on a segment of ABC's World News Tonight about "conservatives who claim they are victims of a double standard on college campuses," where his assertion that "I was attacked and intimidated because I love America" went unchallenged.
On the February 17 edition of Hannity & Colmes, al-Qloushi reiterated his story, claiming that his professor, Joseph Woolcock, "threatened [him] into seeking regular psychological treatment ... by threatening [his] visa status." But in a statement responding to al-Qloushi, Woolcock provided his version of events, which was ignored on Hannity & Colmes. According to Woolcock, he never "threatened" al-Qloushi's visa status or "threatened" him "into seeking regular psychological treatment," as al-Qloushi claimed. Woolcock also noted that al-Qloushi had "failed to write the mid-term assignment" and had turned down offers of assistance before turning in his final term paper:
When I read the paper, it became clear to me that it did not respond to the question. In late November, after grading all final papers, I asked Mr. al-Qloushi to come and discuss with me the grade. ... [H]e expressed in great detail, concerns and feelings of high anxiety he was having about certain developments which had occurred over ten years ago in his country. Some aspects of his concerns were similar to certain concerns expressed in his paper.
Based on the nature of the concerns and the feelings of high anxiety which he expressed, I encouraged him to visit one of the college counselors. I neither forced nor ordered Mr. al-Qloushi to see a counselor; I have no authority to do so. My suggestion to him was a recommendation he freely chose to accept and which he acknowledged in an e-mail message to me on December 1, 2004.
Foothill College counselors are competent and highly respected professionals capable of providing professional services to students, and faculty members are always encouraged by the college administration to make such referrals to college counselors as the need may arise.
In my conversation with Mr. al-Qloushi, I did not make any reference, explicitly or implicity [sic], to the Dean of International Students or to any other Dean. In my conversation with Mr. al-Qloushi, I did not make any reference, explicit or implicit, to Mr. al-Qloushi's status as an international student. At the time of our conversation, Mr. al-Qloushi was still enrolled in my class, but after he met with the counselor, he never returned to the class.
I deny unequivocally all the allegations Mr. al-Qloushi has attributed to me regarding my suggestion to him that it might be helpful for him to discuss his long-standing concerns with a college counselor, as I have described here. All the other allegations made are false and have no basis whatsoever in fact.
Al-Qloushi's essay, which is posted on Horowitz's Students for Academic Freedom website, has been described by conservative blogger and political science professor James Joyner as "an incredibly poorly written, error-ridden, pabulum-filled [sic], essay that essentially ignores the question put forth by the instructor." Another conservative blogger, political science professor Steven Taylor, concluded: "I can see how this essay resulted in a failing grade."
As Media Matters for America has noted, Horowitz is president and co-founder of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture (CSPC) and the editor-in-chief of FrontPageMag.com, which serves as the CSPC's online journal. The center's agenda includes right-wing campus organizing and opposing affirmative action programs. At the end of al-Qloushi's FrontPageMag.com article and in a February 1 interview with the website, al-Qloushi expressed his support for Horowitz's "Student Bill of Rights," a campus initiative seeking to prevent professors from "forc[ing] their opinions about philosophy, politics and other contestable issues on students in the classroom."