Horowitz: Churchill Has Right to Views · 15 February 2005

Filed under: Press Coverage

Conservative critic says it would be wrong to fire prof over essay

By John C. Ensslin--Rocky Mountain News--02/15/05

BOULDER - Ward Churchill found an unlikely ally Monday night from someone whose views on politics are the polar opposite of the embattled University of Colorado ethnic studies professor's.

David Horowitz, a conservative critic who believes that American academia is overrun with liberals such as Churchill, told a crowd of about 100 students that it would be a mistake to fire him.

Churchill has been at the center of a firestorm after an essay he wrote three years ago, about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, suddenly gained widespread public attention.

In the essay, Churchill argued that the attacks were in retaliation for U.S. foreign policy. He contends that people killed in the World Trade Center were not innocent victims and described them as "little Eichmanns," referring to Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi who oversaw the systematic extermination of Jews during World War II.

In a wide-ranging talk, Horowitz, the editor in chief of FrontPageMagazine.com, argued that Churchill's views are perverse.

"His views are absurd on their face," Horowitz said after the talk. He said that people such as Churchill are wrong about the war on terror and what should be done about it.

"In my view, the whole left side of the spectrum is out to lunch on this war," he said.

But in response to a question from the audience, Horowitz defended Churchill's right to say what he wrote, and added that it would be a mistake to fire him over that.

"You can not fire somebody for expressing a political opinion, which is all that he did," Horowitz said. "You cannot make a law abridging free speech."

Later Horowitz said that Gov. Bill Owens was wrong to call for Churchill's dismissal.

The real issue, Horowitz contends, is how Churchill was hired in the first place. He said the university's hiring and promotion policies ought to be under more scrutiny.

Horowitz's remarks came during the speech in which he described his own conversion from the editor of a leftist magazine and a supporter of the Black Panthers to where he is today.

While he got a standing ovation from the crowd, not everyone was impressed by his critique of the left and of Churchill.

"I think there are a lot of good conservatives, but I think you're dishonest," said Theo Horesh, who accused Horowitz of using wildly exaggerated arguments.

Later, Horesh added, "I think he (Horowitz) has gone from one ideological extreme to the other."

The crowd was about one-tenth the size of the audience that Churchill drew at a hastily scheduled talk earlier this month.

At the end of his talk, Horowitz thanked the people in the audience for hearing him out.

"I want to thank the leftists who haven't left," he said. "I'm impressed."