Horowitz Speech Sparks Protests · 07 April 2005

Filed under: Indiana, Press Coverage

Political activist speaks on Academic Bill of Rights

By Stephanie Susman--Indiana Daily Student--04/08/05

Receiving standing ovations and loud "boos" simultaneously is nothing new to political activist David Horowitz, who spoke Thursday night at the IU Auditorium. Horowitz, whose speech was sponsored by the Union Board and the IU College Republicans, was heard by people of many different political backgrounds from the IU and Bloomington community.

Horowitz's speech was to promote his Academic Bill of Rights, a bill which would require diversity in the professoriate, course curricula and would protect students from professors who try to bring their own political beliefs into the classroom. A version is currently in the Indiana State House Education Committee. He also covered liberal ideology and attacked IU's lack of faculty diversity. He concluded his speech with a question and answer session.

Horowitz said the Academic Bill of Rights is necessary because "our universities are in a deplorative state." He said universities, like IU, have avoided hiring conservative professors. He went even further and accused IU of not having any conservative professors.

"You think that happens by accident, you think that's random, there is a blacklist at this University," he said.

With regard to the war in Iraq, Horowitz said the "historically oppressed" Iraqis can thank the U.S. Republican Party for helping them elect a president.

"Seventy percent of Iraqis voted," he said. "They voted against terror, they voted for the U.S. Now they have a Kurd, an Iraqi Kurd president."

Throughout the speech, Horowitz often referred to liberals as "vicious" and "filled with hate."

"People on the left are religious fanatics who believe they can create a kingdom of Heaven on Earth," he said. "They believe they can erase racism and sexism on Earth. The left does believe they are social redeemers and they are the army of the saints, and rest of us are the party of Satan."

He said people on the left can't compute normal events because they live in an "alternative reality."

Horowitz himself used to be a Marxist, which is a leftist political party. After the speech, he

explained what made him switch his ideology. In the 1960s he worked for the Black Panthers, a civil rights activism group, trying to raise money to buy a church. Through the Panthers, he met a woman named Betty Van Patter, who later disappeared. He said he knew the Panthers murdered her.

He added that after seeing Vietnamese communities slaughter 2.5 million Indochinese peasants after the Vietnam War, also shaped his views.

"If anti-war is a success (in Iraq)," he said, "there will be slaughter of innocents in Iraq and here because of (it)."

Before the speech, a group of student protestors stood outside the auditorium holding signs and yelling anti-Horowitz slogans at speech attendees. Many of the protestors, including graduate student Amos Batto, were members of Students Against the Occupation in Iraq.

Batto said he was there protesting Horowitz's views and tactics.

"What (Horowitz) does is use bogus statistics and fear mongering to stifle voices like critical thinking skills and voices on the left," he said. "We really believe that he presents himself as being and unbiased advocator of knowledge, but if you look at the way he communicates, it's a deceptive political message."

Along side the protestors, was a group of Student Activities Office graduate assistants passing out information about free speech rights to the protestors.

"We're here informing protestors of their rights as students as well as citizens," Sara Jahansouz said. "We're not here to promote the protest; we're here just to work."

The protestors were present at the speech, holding signs and heckling. Horowitz asked IU Police Department officers to remove them from the premise and asked for their names to be given to the dean. He said heckling was characteristic of liberal protestors, but not of conservative protestors.

"You don't see conservative students obstructing leftist speakers; you don't see them substituting labels and name-calling," he said.

CR member and junior Julia Aud agreed, saying the protestors were disrespectful toward Horowitz, Union Board, College Republicans and the First Amendment.

"They said they were advocates (of speech) and the simple fact that they were trying to silence him goes against what they were doing," she said.