Letter from David Horowitz: Academic Bill of Rights not McCarthyist or Stalinist · 12 January 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

EDITOR'S NOTE: The op-ed column below was written by a former Ambassador and Democratic Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, Gail Schoettler, about the Academic Bill of Rights. The letter that precedes it was sent to the editor of the Denver Post where the op-ed column appeared. The Post's editor responded sympathetically to this letter and is considering its request. On the other hand, Ambassador Schoettler has not answered requests by the hosts of Denver's two big talk shows to go on the air and defend her inventions in a one on one with David Horowitz.

Letter to the Denver Post: (printed on 01/15/04)

Academic Bill of Rights not McCarthyist or Stalinist

Re: "Horowitz again spewing his poison," Jan. 11 Gail Schoettler column.

Gail Schoettler's malicious personal attack on me is based on easily disproven falsehoods and misrepresentations of fact. My sin seems to be introducing the idea of an Academic Bill of Rights, which would forbid the hiring and firing of college professors on the basis of their political beliefs.

For this, Schoettler accuses me of being a McCarthyite and Stalinist.

Her column is based on false claims about my speeches on college campuses and other activities I am alleged to have engaged in. When I spoke at Metro State College and the University of Denver last fall, the subject of my talks was "academic freedom," not professors who disagreed with me. I have never called for the firing of a single professor for having ideas I disapproved of. In fact, I have a long public record of defense of First Amendment rights. I am the president of the Individual Rights Foundation, which played a significant role in ending speech codes on college campuses and have defended the speech rights of many individuals from both ends of the political spectrum. (I even filed an amicus brief in defense of Professor Leonard Jeffries, a radical professor who was fired from the City University of New York). I have worked with People for the American Way to oppose the V-chip and other censorious legislative proposals. I have written and spoken against censorship.

My website, www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org , spells out the agendas of our organization, which have nothing in common with what Schoettler claims. She accuses me of "going after the Tides Foundation," as though I were conducting a crusade against it. I am the editor of an Internet magazine which publishes thousands of articles every year. One of those articles was about the Tides Foundation. Her accusations about my projected database are equally fevered and erroneous. She describes it as a "snitch file" when it is no different from the opposition research that she and her staffs have conducted in all her political campaigns.

We live in a democracy. It is a matter of full disclosure and nothing more. My new website will gather public information and make it accessible. What is wrong with that?
Sincerely
David Horowitz
Los Angeles

Horowitz Again Spewing His Poison

By Gail Schoettler--Denver Post, 01/11/04

Attorney General John Ashcroft and right-wing gadfly David Horowitz no doubt share many views. They also have one dangerous common goal: They want to turn us into a nation of snitches. Just like the good old days of Joseph Stalin and Sen. Joseph McCarthy, they want Americans to spy on one another.

Horowitz, darling of the right-wing political establishment in Colorado, earned thousands of dollars on our college campuses bashing professors he deems are out of touch with his own radical philosophy. He earned all this money while claiming that people of his political persuasion were never allowed to speak on our so- called "leftist" college campuses.

In rapid response, Colorado Senate President John Andrews recently held "hearings" on what students thought about their professors' political views and tolerance of alternative opinions. Andrews has claimed he simply wants an opportunity for all views to be expressed freely on college campuses. At his "hearing," however, he invited only conservative students who agreed with his own philosophy. This kangaroo court used public resources to support one-sided diatribes against those who don't agree with Andrews.

Now, Horowitz is seeking funds to develop a huge database of so-called "leftist" and "liberal" individuals and organizations, a massive snitch file. In a "confidential" memo floating around the Web, he asked for help in financing this database, which will "make transparent the network of the left, including individuals, organizations, groups, and government legislators and officials along with the funding sources that underpin them."

These groups, according to the memo, include "peace groups, anti-nuke groups, civil liberties groups, Muslim groups, anti-Israel groups and immigration groups." Soon to be added will be "science groups, labor groups, business groups, gun-control groups, abortion groups, and various special interest lobbies." Presumably not included, however, are those lobbies that represent right-wing views. The fact that many of these "leftist" groups are pretty mainstream is irrelevant to Horowitz.

Horowitz seems opposed to the whole concept of freedom of speech, unless it's his own. For example, he rails against organizers of anti-war and anti-globalization demonstrations, claiming that they only invite like-minded people to address their groups. One has to wonder if Horowitz would invite some of these "leftist" speakers to express their views to a pro-war or an anti-choice demonstration.

He also goes after the Tides Foundation, an organization that, according to its website, is "committed to positive social change." They define their role as "creating a positive impact on people's lives in ways that honor and promote human rights, justice, and a healthy, sustainable environment." Tides partners with local community organizations to help them achieve their goals. For some reason, this is highly offensive to Horowitz, who calls Tides "a money launderer for a wide swath of ultra left-wing groups (including those devoted to 'social justice,' 'gay-lesbian- transgendered-bisexual' activism, gun control, anti-war activism, anti-capitalism and anti-globalization, and environmental extremism)."

Major Tides funders include the Pew Charitable Trust, known for its commitment to civic responsibility and a fair and open media. Why is this so threatening to Horowitz? Because they don't agree with him?

Why even mention Horowitz again? Because he is profoundly influencing our political leadership in Colorado. Because his diatribes are misleading and dishonest. Because he is attacking the core of higher education - open and free discussion of ideas and access to knowledge, not just propaganda. Because he is trying to bring back an era when freedom of expression was subject to prosecution and blacklisting.

We need to watch what our legislators do this session, and make sure they don't undermine our basic freedoms or turn college campuses into kangaroo courts, students into snitches and education into propaganda.


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Gail Schoettler is a former U.S. ambassador, Colorado lieutenant governor and treasurer, Democratic nominee for governor and Douglas County school board member.