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A Colorado Showdown for Academic Freedom By: Peggy Lowe and Dave Curtin
Rocky Mountain News/Denver Post | Wednesday, October 01, 2003


David Horowitz is defending his Academic Bill of Rights in a speaking tour of Colorado universities (see his blog comments here). Two local newspapers, the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post, carried stories about his stance -- and the intense opposition of the leftist academic elites. We produce both stories below. -- Editors.

 

Horowitz Decries 'Hate Campaign'
by Peggy Lowe, Rocky Mountain News.

David Horowitz used both calculated cool and peppery partisanship to insist Tuesday that his crusade for more conservative-friendly campuses is not about politics.

Bringing his quest for what he calls the "Academic Bill of Rights" to the Colorado public for the first time, Horowitz defended his work with state lawmakers and denounced those he described as the left-wing academics and media who demonize him.

But Horowitz's speech to a packed auditorium of 800 people at the Auraria campus was focused, in part, on a group of about 60 who attended a protest news conference held outside the Tivoli Turnhalle before his appearance.

Horowitz opened his speech by telling the audience that a "hate campaign" has been waged against him by those on the left who disagree with his views - which he said was the very problem today at U.S. colleges.

"I am the scary guy," Horowitz began his speech.

"I have been demonized in a way which is reminiscent of witch hunts," he said. "The witch and the brew here is myself."

The audience gave a final, mixed reaction of appreciative applause and boos after Horowitz's appearance ended about an hour and a half later.

Horowitz's $5,000 speaking fee was paid by student fees from Metropolitan State College and the University of Colorado at Denver, and the conservative Young Americas Foundation.

Hecklers were rare, but they turned up at both Horowitz's speech and the protest.

One raised his voice after Horowitz railed against UCD political science professors, who he said plaster their bulletin boards and doors with anti-Republican slogans, making conservative students feel alienated.

"Do professors feel so impotent that they have to broadcast their political opinions wherever they have a space that they control?" he asked.

"Like you?" someone in the audience yelled out, getting claps and laughs from the crowd.

Turnabout was fair play outside, when Felicia Woodson, Metro State's student-body president asked the protesters why Horowitz's message was even being allowed on campus.

"Free speech?" came the loud, sarcastic reply from a heckler.

Smiling and suggesting a more civil dialogue on politics, Horowitz said college professors must offer both sides of political arguments. His eight-point "bill of rights" isn't about filling some sort of Republican faculty quota, but rather requiring that teachers offer all points of view so students will learn to respond with reasoned arguments.

College classrooms shouldn't be like some conservative talk show on the Fox TV network - even though he often appears on it, Horowitz said.

"You don't want to be robbed of your education because somebody mistakes the university for the political arena," he said.

But some students who questioned Horowitz after his speech told him that perhaps he didn't hear his own call for fairness in politics.

Heather Peterson, a UCD freshman, wondered why the only party represented at the speech was the College Republicans. That, she said, is "completely hypocritical."

"He's saying, 'I'm not being political.' He's talking about people being bullied and having opinions, and it's totally one-sided," she said. "You see the Republican Party there. Where's all the other parties?"

 

Horowitz Defends Manifesto
by Dave Curtin, Denver Post.

Colorful conservative David Horowitz told 600 people Tuesday he only had to walk two blocks to find cartoons ridiculing anti-abortion stances on the office doors of political science professors at the University of Colorado at Denver.

And that's exactly why his controversial Academic Bill of Rights calling for conservative teachings on college campuses is needed, Horowitz told a sharply divided crowd at the Auraria campus during a 60-minute speech punctuated with catcalls.

"There were hostile cartoons aimed at Republicans and conservatives. How does that make conservative students feel?" he asked. "We have arenas in which we can proselytize, but the classroom or the office where students come in for office hours is not one of them.

"That's what the Academic Bill of Rights is. That's why I drew it up," he said. "Faculty should save the world on their own time."

Faculty opponents say the plan will lead to the equivalent of political appointments on college campuses, hiring based on party affiliation rather than scholarship and irreparable harm to a state higher-education system known for government intervention and political meddling.

Downtown Denver's Auraria campus was Horowitz's first stop on a three-day, three-campus tour in Colorado, which has emerged as a battleground for his manifesto after state Senate President John Andrews, R-Centennial, and Gov. Bill Owens supported his cause.

Horowitz quietly met with 23 Colorado Republican leaders in June to discuss his academic code.

Andrews says he's considering legislation to codify Horowitz's stance, but says university presidents and boards should also be responsible for its enforcement.

Andrews denied claims Tuesday by Metro State College faculty senate president Joan Foster that he's drafting legislation to create an ideological complaint board on each campus available to students to keep professors in check.

"It must be the water on these campuses. Folks are seeing black helicopters," Andrews said Tuesday. "All I've ever been interested in is seeing either a university rule or maybe as legislation - a ban of discrimination or harassment of any student or faculty member because of political or religious beliefs."

Horowitz has said he also believes in liberal views voiced on conservative campuses.

About 100 faculty and students held a rally minutes before Horowitz's lecture, waving posters that read, "Defend Against Doublespeak," "Recall Owens Not Our Professors," and "Dissent - Yes, A Bill of Rights - No."

"What an extremist gadfly has to say isn't surprising," said Metro student and rally organizer Joel Tagert. "What's surprising is Republican leadership is listening. If they want to help our schools, how about funding them and reducing student debt rather than attacking our professors?" he said to cheers.

"The far-right conservatives control the Colorado House, Senate and Governor's Mansion, but that isn't enough - they've decided they want to control our classrooms," said John Donley, a Republican and former state lawmaker who teaches political science at Aims Community College in Greeley.

Though Horowitz said he doesn't believe in hiring quotas, he ventured that there are three Republican faculty members at the three-college Auraria campus and only one on the faculty at the University of Colorado law school.

Community College of Denver student Paul Soderlund agrees with Horowitz's position. "I'm secure in my political beliefs, but for students who aren't, it makes it easy for them to be bred into liberalism," said Soderlund, editor of the school newspaper.

But Metro State student Mikel Stone said Horowitz's ideals are a dangerous road.

"I thought it was a lot of Orwellian doublespeak," Stone said. "He co-opted a lot of the terms of the left like diversity and openness, but as a result I see censorship. I think it will only be a matter of time that we'll see book burnings if he gets his way."

"While you can't disagree with his premise (of diverse viewpoints), it's not something that can be legislated," said CU Regent Cindy Carlisle, a Boulder Democrat. "You can't predict what would happen to it in the hands of those administrating it later. It could really ratchet down freedom of expression, and I mean that in a non-partisan way."

She also defended the cartoons on the doors of CU professors. "Maybe they're trying to show how a subject is broached in different ways. Maybe they're trying to show a different perspective. How sterile does your office have to be?"

HOROWITZ'S ITINERARY FOR COLORADO CAMPUSES

David Horowitz is scheduled to lecture today at the University of Denver and Thursday at Mesa State College in Grand Junction.

University of Denver, 7 p.m. today, Gates Concert Hall, 2344 E. Iliff Ave., free.

Mesa State College, 6 p.m. Thursday, Liff Auditorium in the College Center, Grand Junction, free.


Peggy Lowe is a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News. Dave Curtin is a Higher Education writer for the Denver Post.


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