Horowitz Calls for Neutrality in Classes · 05 May 2005

Filed under: Illinois, Press Coverage

By Derek Thompson--Daily Northwestern--05/06/05

At a lively and often rowdy event, conservative pundit David Horowitz defended his contentious Academic Bill of Rights on the grounds of restoring integrity to American education.

"We have an atmosphere here that is worse than McCarthyism," Horowitz told a Fisk Hall audience of more than 170 students and local residents. "They are running at this school a McCarthyist regime where conservative students are afraid to speak their mind."

Associated Student Government voted down the Academic Bill of Rights in April, but Horowitz said the student government's decision was because of his reputation and not the bill's provisions. He said the ideas in the bill descended from hundreds of years of academic tradition that distinguish between indoctrination and education.

"The basis of my campaign is the civil idea that you can't get a good education if they're only telling you half the story, even if you pay $42,000," Horowitz said. "You are being robbed of your education."

Reviled by leftist groups at many colleges for his controversial writings on racial profiling and slavery reparations, Horowitz was hit with a pie at a speech at Butler University in Indiana last month. To prevent a similar assault, seven University Police officers guarded the four exits to Fisk Hall.

No pies were thrown, but about 20 students and local residents armed with pamphlets and placards stood outside Fisk to protest the event.

Nick Burt, a member of Campus Greens, said protesters were simply exercising the same freedoms and critical intelligence that Horowitz advocates in his bill.

"He claims to support freedom of speech, so we're using ours to show people that his ideas are absolutely wrong," said Burt, a Medill sophomore.

Jonathan Carter, Communication '05, delivered a speech at a National Forensics Association Tournament critiquing the bill.

"Creating neutrality is bad for the academic climate," Carter said at the protest. "When they adopted these kind of ideas at public colleges in Colorado, some of the best professors left for private schools. That's why none of the top schools have adopted these measures."

Horowitz spent most of the speech endorsing his controversial bill, which he said would protect "the intellectual independence of professors, researchers and students."

Parts of the audience reacted uproariously to anecdotes of "political agitators" at colleges.

"At Columbia (University)," he said, "science professors showed 'Fahrenheit 9/11' the day before the election."

Most of the night, audience reaction was split between cheering and catcalls.

Responding to critics, Horowitz said his bill aims to foster an ideologically neutral environment, not to stack departments with conservative professors. He targeted the "political ideologue professors" whom he said composed 20 percent of the academic community.

"An English professor is not qualified to make a political comment about the intelligence of George Bush -- which is probably a lot higher than theirs," he said.

As the lecture continued, Horowitz drew more vocal responses. He claimed The New York Times sabotaged U.S. national security by consistently printing stories about abuses of detainees by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib on its front page. A joke he made about European settlers in America "leaving the Indians some casinos" drew catcalls from the audience.

When a student asked him about the limits of acceptable protest, Horowitz responded: "It is not OK for a lecherous, degenerate Teddy Kennedy ... to accuse President Bush of deceiving the American people."

Many in the audience applauded, as an equal number shook their heads or looked on in shock.

Horowitz ended his speech praising American freedom and skewering its enemies.

"If you're not proud of your country," Horowitz said, "you cannot defend yourself."