I have a long history with the Brown Daily Herald. In 2001, its liberal editors published an ad I wrote called “10 Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery Is a Bad Idea and Racist Too.” The editors then stood up courageously when they were attacked by the campus left which stole an entire edition of the paper in retaliation and destroyed the copies. The leftists then threatened to repeat the vandalism every day until the editors paid them money, gave them a free full-page ad and agreed to have their representatives form a committee that would oversee the editorial content of the paper from then on. When Brown’s president gently reminded these youthful totalitarians that a free press was a pillar of American democracy, 60 Brown professors signed an open letter condemning the president for her remarks and defending the vandals.
This history is a necessary background to the paper’s report on my speech at Brown last week. The assault began with the story’s headline “Horowitz Lambastes Islam in Near Empty MacMillan (Hall).” These seven words consist of one damaging lie and one misleading half-truth.
The half-truth is the statement regarding the poor attendance at my speech. As I have already pointed out, there is not a level playing field for conservatives at Brown or any university. Brown has one notable conservative faculty member in its entire liberal arts program, and thus only one professor who might encourage his students to come to this event or spring to my defense when the event is attacked. But this professor did not attend. Nor did I expect him to attend. It would be, to put it bluntly, dangerous from a career point of view for him to be associated with me in any way, a fact we both understand. Consequently, we have never met, although I have spoken at Brown twice. Since this is a normal situation on univerity campuses, my usual speaking audience is a couple of hundred students. I were a leftist with my level of notability, there would be double that number or more.
My last talk at Brown was an exception to this rule – some 600 students attended. It was my first visit to Brown after the reparations controversy which tore up the campus. I had to wait three years to be invited because the heads of the college Democrats and the International Socialists Organization had threatened violence if I came, which caused the College Republicans to rescind their original invitation. Because of this history, the president of Brown, Ruth Simmons, was in attendance at my speech along with the diversity provost and the dean of students who introduced me (but asked if he could omit “the laudatory” items in my bio). In other words, this — despite the fact that I was an unwanted conservative — approached the status of a true “campus event” – the kind that leftist speakers take for granted.