There was reason for anxiety right before David Horowitz’s speech began Wednesday night in Moore Hall at UCLA.
What manner of disruptions and demonstrations might be planned by campus leftists and Muslim Students Association officers? From my vantage point in the front of the hall I observed several students come in with t-shirts featuring leftist art work. It was anyone’s guess whether an attempt would be made to embarrass David (perhaps with a pie or some other projectile) or merely physically intimidate him and the others who had come to hear his speech.
Past experience had revealed the common tactics of the campus Left. A demonstration might not occur until midway through the speech. Perhaps at 15 minutes in a whole row of students would stand up and turn their back to David as a sign of their unwillingness to consider his facts and arguments. Or maybe David would get the same treatment that Ambassador Michael Oren received, where MSA members scattered throughout the audience would just randomly pop up throughout the speech with outbursts and have to be removed by security.
This is what the Left has transformed the university into over the past 40 years as it’s pursued the Gramscian plot of “seizing the means of cultural production.” The low tone of debate at most college campuses now is WORSE than what one sees between screaming pundits on MSNBC and Fox News. This was one of David’s chief laments in his speech. Universities should be modeling how intellectual discourse should take place. We should be sitting together as friends and challenging one another’s positions and scrutinizing the other’s facts. Instead the Left has created a toxic environment in which to hear a conservative speaker one must sit on edge the whole time.
But as David’s speech got going no campus Stalinism manifested. I counted approximately five or six walk outs at varying times throughout the speech but none were done with any fanfare indicating that leaving the room was supposed to be a statement. For all anyone knew some people should have skipped the venti mocha frappuchinno before the speech to avoid having to go to the restroom.
(Video shot by Donald Douglas who you can see on the right in the image at the top of this post, more to come soon including David’s complete speech)
David touched on many themes he’s talked about in the past few years: the lack of intellectual diversity on campus, the professorial community’s silence in condemning the hatefulness of campuses’ “Israel Apartheid” walls, the Jewish community’s disturbing reaction to our Palestinian Wall of Lies campaign, and the attacks one receives for stating basic facts about the history of the Middle East. (Israel was not founded on stolen Arab land. For centuries before Israel existed the region named “Palestine” by the Romans was ruled by the Turks.)
Given how smoothly David’s speech went, it was anyone’s guess what would happen once the questions began. The first was a reasonable challenge to David to clarify his position on freedom of speech.
Throughout his speech David had been critical of two different occurrences. First, he explained that during the Palestinian Wall of Lies campaign the Freedom Center had sought to place advertisements in school papers listing the various anti-Israel lies we were fighting. David explained how editors had often denied our ads on the grounds that they were offensive to religious and ethnic groups. David would ask what needed to be changed in the ad only to rarely get specific answers in return.
David also spent much of his speech debunking some of the lies commonly propagated on the “Israel Apartheid” walls. He spoke passionately about how terrible it was that no other group on campus was subjected to the kind of attack as Jewish students having to walk by the “Israel Apartheid” walls in the quad every day for a week at a time.
The student above asked David to explain his position. If he was objecting to his own censorship was he calling on universities to now censor the speech of the MSA students with their “Apartheid Wall”? David said, “That’s a good question” before explaining that he wasn’t calling on “Israel Apartheid” walls to be banned or for pro-Hamas activists to be silenced. Instead his challenge was primarily to administrators and professors to properly assert themselves as the intellectual mentors to students. Professors should be standing up for civility and intellectual standards and saying that this is not appropriate for a university. The purpose of the modern university is to equip students with the tools to be able to make arguments and analyze the world — not to train them in the tactics of political warfare and to launch activist campaigns.
This response is in the same mode as the Academic Freedom campaign that has been one of the Freedom Center’s key issues over the past decade. A common misinterpretation (wholly fueled by a deceitful, union-backed, Academic Left) when David has challenged certain professors and promoted the Academic Bill of Rights has been that he wants to create some kind of mechanism to police speech. The smear circulated is that David wants to force profs to shut up. That’s not the case at all. Instead, he wants the professional, non-indoctrinating professors to assert the proper academic standards.
Note to campus progressives: ex-leftists tend to have very little faith that passing a new law is the effective way to solve any given problem.
This question from the gentlemen in the picture above was an encouraging sign. He identified himself as a Tea Party activist and wanted David’s advice on encouraging others in his movement to also take up the issue of Sharia.
I’ve been thinking for many months now that one thing we’re going to see more and more of in the coming years is a greater fusion between Tea Partiers, the Anti-Jihad movement, and Pro-Israel activists. What so many in the mainstream media and the Left don’t understand about the Tea Party is that it’s primarily a movement that has developed in reaction to a particular threat to our freedom — our growing government and its accompanying budget deficits. Tea Party activists don’t have a central vision of what the federal government should do. (There are many different ideas.) Instead, they’re unified by the shared commitment that we need to have a government period and that certain steps need to be pursued to prevent us from being swallowed up in debt.
Those newly energized into political awareness by the Tea Party are inclined to have the same reaction to the threat of global Jihad once they learn the facts on this issue too. And after awareness of the threat of Shariah comes then Israel’s role as the front line in this battle follows.
Chances are when I’m debating with a leftist and the subject of my boss comes up it will be very easy to predict which specific talking points they use. It’s not difficult to know what happens when campus progressives find out that a conservative students group is bringing in David Horowitz to speak. Self-righteous young activists google David’s name and find collections of out-of-context quotes and general characterizations of him as a racist or racial provocateur or Klansman. One of the favorite proofs of David Horowitz The Political Demon Who Students Should Not Listen To is a campaign the Freedom Center engaged in a decade ago. In Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations for Slavery David describes his attempt to place ads in college newspapers arguing why reparations for descendants of slavery 140 years after the fact was a racist idea and bad for blacks.
The three student activists above challenged David on a particular comment from one of his writings (they likely only read the quote itself and not the entire piece it was from) which claimed that the black people on the earth with the greatest quality of life and levels of freedom and equality were those living in the United States. Citing the poor conditions in inner city schools, the three students wanted David to explain his definitions and how the inequality between predominantly black and white schools could be justified.
Honestly, these three young women are admirable examples of civility and respect compared to the leftists David has encountered on campuses before. They didn’t call him any names and they engaged in a constructive back and forth. So David did not respond to them with the combative tone which he usually needs to employ when on campus. Instead the side of him more on display in his books The End of Time and A Cracking of the Heart emerged. He agreed with the young women’s assessment of inner city schools as inadequate. He asks the girl in the yellow sweatshirt above if she voted for Democrats. She said she did. Then David pointed out the fact that all of the inner city schools that were destroying black and Latino children were run by Democratic political machines — LA, New York City, Denver, Chicago, all of the inner cities. If blacks want to improve the education for their children then they need to stop being so devoted to a Democratic Party that fails to help them. It was then that one of the African-American students demanded to know what the conservative solution was to the problem.
David had a concrete answer for them: vouchers for every child in America so that parents can be responsible for making sure their kid can go to a high quality school.
In the end it was an odd event. David got up and made many of his usual arguments about Academia, the Left, anti-Semitism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And NO ONE challenged or disputed him on ANY of these issues. In other words: campus progressives and the MSA forfeited the round to the conservatives and Israel supporters. Instead the only challenge that David got was on a completely unrelated issue from activism he engaged in ten years ago.
Does this mean that the campus Left is losing some its bite? Is it realizing that in the age of YouTube and a half dozen videocameras at speeches that it’s no longer as easy to cause disturbances and get away with it? Probably not but one can always dream. In another few weeks David will be speaking at UC Santa Barbara and there’s already plenty of arguing. Will the Unholy Alliance stay home again and let the open-minded, tolerant students have a chance to engage in some constructive dialogue for ONCE in their college careers? That’s up to the Santa Barbara faculty. Students can only get away with disruptions and demonstrations because such acts are condoned by the profs and administrators who are supposed to be teaching them. Will college leaders take up the challenge to model civil intellectual behavior? Probably not but one can always dream.