Speaker on Academic Freedom Greeted by Protesters at ETSU · 13 October 2006

By Kristen Swing--Johnson City Press--10/12/06

David Horowitz was a welcome - and unwelcome - guest at East Tennessee State University Wednesday evening where an estimated 75 people came out to see him speak.

Horowitz, a nationally recognized author, civil rights activist and commentator, was greeted by about a dozen or so protesters who stood in the rain outside Brown Hall Auditorium to oppose his views.

The once leftist now described as a conservative, came to ETSU with a message of academic freedom, saying that professors should not let their biases effect the students they teach and should not want to convert students to their view of the world.

Horowitz began his lecture by noting that he was told he was the first conservative speaker to come to the campus in 16 years. Members of the audience disagreed with Horowitz's claim, to which Horowitz replied by saying that he is the "one conservative speaker in a long time."

"What is that all about? You all can't handle the truth," Horowitz said. "Actually, I think you can. To me, the truth is having more than one side to an issue and making up your own minds.

"Your knowledge is incomplete until you have heard different points of view."

Horowitz then offered a stern criticism of a recent editorial piece published about him in the East Tennessean, the campus newspaper. He called another article published in the same issue of the paper a "smear tactic" against the Society of Intellectual Diversity, a recently formed campus group that sponsored Horowitz's visit to ETSU. He also criticized a professor at the university, saying that she warned her students, "If you go, remember David Horowitz has agendas and don't believe a word he has to say."

Horowitz said the newspaper pieces, the protesters and the professor's comments were all in an attempt to discourage people from listening to what he had to say. Despite the apparent controversy, Horowitz still spoke his mind.

"I believe the majority of professors are doing their job. However, I know indoctrination is taking place," he said. "There are entire departments and fields filled with professors who consider themselves political activists first. Don't attempt to convince students to draw your conclusions."

In what he calls his "attempt to restore academic manners," Horowitz said that professors who choose to "go off" on the Iraq War, George Bush or some other topic that is inappropriate or not related to their teaching are violating the basic principles of academic freedom.

"A teacher who does this should not be in a classroom. Go on a podium somewhere," Horowitz said. "That's not a learning experience."

Horowitz told audience members that the ratio of liberal professors to conservative ones at campuses across the nation is nearing 10 to 1 and that those in charge of hiring professors have "seen to it that conservatives on the faculty are as rare as unicorns."

"The reality is that there's a blacklist in this country," Horowitz said. "I'm not on a crusade against people who have left-wing views. (I'm opposed to) ideologues who abuse their students in a classroom. You can't get a good education if they're only telling you half of the story."

Horowitz finished up his speech with what he called a challenge for those at ETSU.

"Open up East Tennessee State University to a pluralism of ideas and a diversity of opinions," Horowitz said. "I look forward to the day that ETSU is not afraid to handle the truth (even) if it comes from the mouth of David Horowitz."