Horowitz Speech Rejected by SLU · 01 October 2009

By Kelley Dunn - The University News (SLU)

Author and activist David Horowitz was invited to speak at Saint Louis University by the SLU College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation on Oct. 13. SLU officials, however, had problems with the subject matter of Horowitz’s proposed speech, entitled “An Evening with David Horowitz: Islamo-Fascism Awareness and Civil Rights.”

“For me, it was … the content,” Dean of Students Scott Smith said. “Particularly, the blanketed use of the term Islamo-Fascism.”

Addressing Smith’s concerns, Horowitz said that there was a misconception about the subject matter on which he intended to speak.

“I was told that I insinuate that all Muslims are fascist, which is a lie,” he said. “I defend Muslims, specifically Muslim women.”

Horowitz said that the subject of his speech would have focused on the “Holocaust being organized against the Jews,” and the destruction of the Jewish state, which he referred to as “genocide.”

Horowitz said that he has spoken at hundreds of universities, including Georgetown, DePaul, Loyola University in Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, University of San Diego and Villanova.

“This is the first time I have been prevented from speaking at a university,” Horowitz said.

Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, said in a recent statement that because of the cancellation of Horowitz’s speech, SLU “joins the small group of campuses that are universities in name only.”

“A campus that enforces ideological conformity supports indoctrination, not education,” Nelson said.

College Republicans Vice Chairman Danny Laub said that he wanted to clear up the situation, as well as address the speaker policy at SLU.

“I understand why they wouldn’t want anything controversial to come to campus,” Laub said. “But [Horowitz’s] side should be presented, even if people oppose.”

According to Smith, the majority of suggested speakers are approved by the Office of Student Life. However, if the subject matter is deemed controversial, Smith will address the issue.

“I invite the student groups in to talk to me,” he said. “We’re looking for a way to be successful. … If being successful separates us from who we are … that’s going to be hard to do.”

Horowitz said that part of his frustration stems from controversial speakers that SLU has showcased in the past.

“There’s a terrible double-standard at SLU,” Horowitz said. “Why am I not allowed to speak … when you invite a Holocaust-denier, Norman Finkelstein?”

Smith said that the decision to bring in the controversial speaker Finkelstein was made prior to his tenure, and that he recognized the concern raised by many people.

“We need to be fair to all student groups,” Smith said. “I think I’ve followed the mission, identity and values [of SLU].”

Horowitz said that he wanted an apology from Smith.

“If he has any decency, he will apologize to me and to the students,” he said. “This is a betrayal of the mission of [SLU].”

Smith said that he had met with a representative from College Republicans, and that the lines of communication were open. In addition, he said that the University would be “open to future programs.”