Students Trade Barbs With David Horowitz
February 3, 2005 6:29 PM
Controversial author David Horowitz tried selling his new Academic Bill of Rights to a crowd of 150 students and alumni Thursday in Jack Adams Hall. Roughly 30 of them bought it.
He credited the United States with “liberating the world from slavery … when in 1776 they decreed that ‘all men were created equal.’” He also warned students that they “will graduate ignorant” if not taught to “tolerate a separate point of view.”
Such claims drew hisses and chants from many in attendance, particularly members of the Spartacus Youth Club who stood in the back row of the auditorium holding signs deeming him a racist and a Zionist.
Their constant disruptions angered many in attendance, particularly the College Republicans who raised private funds to pay for Horowitz’s appearance. Alumnus Rodney Leong said, “events like this are necessary when you want to hear all sides.” He added the “unfortunate behavior makes SF State and San Francisco look bad.”
The actions of the Spartacus Youth Club also swayed the opinion of several moderate students in attendance, such as sophomore cinema major Andreas Herczeg. He said he had no prior knowledge of Horowitz and did not agree with everything said, but his opinion of the man was strengthened after he saw Horowitz verbally sparring with the barrage of protesters.
Horowitz gained notoriety as a journalist after graduating from Columbia in 1959 and then attending UC Berkeley graduate school and publishing the left-leaning magazine Ramparts. He abandoned his liberal ideals by the 1970s however, after disillusionment with United States’ policies in Vietnam and southeastern Asia.
At one point he denounced communism, “Cuba was the second richest Latin American country in 1959, before Castro took over,” he said. “Now they are one of the poorest.”
“But they all have health insurance,” someone yelled from the audience.
“Yeah, and no medicine,” Horowitz replied.
Horowitz threatened to sue the university for inequality and called it a disgrace that there needed to be armed officers on hand for his speech just because of his views.
Campus police spokeswoman Capt. Molly Borja said an equal number of officers were present for such notable liberal speakers as Michael Moore and Ralph Nader and additional officers were necessary for crowd control during an appearance by Jesse Jackson.
Tensions rose at the conclusion of Horowitz’s speech when he announced he would take questions from the audience. After a thorough discussion of the failures of Marxism during Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, four members of the Spartacus Youth Club walked to the front of the stage and attempted to begin rebutting Horowitz’s claims. After they were promptly but peacefully removed from the auditorium and their names taken by police, Horowitz called on a Palestinian-American who requested that he give a factual history of the Middle East region and respond to allegations that thousands of Palestinians have been forced out of their country. Cries for Horowitz to directly answer the questions clashed with the applause from the three front rows packed solely with supporters civilly showing their agreement with Horowitz’s comments.
Horowitz responded by stating that Israeli Jews comprise only 1 percent of the Middle East population and that, “Zionism is the only true national liberation movement for one people in the history of the world.” Continued exchange resulted in the frustrated Palestinian-American storming out of the room while pointing at Horowitz and continuing to argue.
Finally, another student asked Horowitz to offer proof of the blacklisting he has accused SF State of administering to conservative speakers and prospective professors.
Horowitz said that the proof was in the percentages he has seen for himself in CSU faculties, and that “you don’t need a list to have a blacklist.”
Horowitz reiterated his past liberal action, including anti-Vietnam protests and Black Panther fundraising projects, and chided the actions of “today’s” protesters, calling their actions “a mild form of fascism” and quipped that “the left has degenerated quite a bit since my day.”
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