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Horowitz at Roger Williams U. By: Richard Salit
Providence (R.I.) Journal | Wednesday, March 05, 2003


Note:  The following account of my speech at Roger Williams College in Rhode Island appeared in the Providence Journal, a liberal paper in a Democratic state. By and large the account is accurate, but the following three items need correction:

1) I said "when your country has been attacked there can be no peace movement," and not just that the fact that we are already at war with Iraq and have been since 1991 means that there can be no peace movement.

2) In my reparations campaign I did not say that black slaves benefited from slavery as the article implies, but only that if there were any economic benefits to slavery then blacks alive today are beneficiaries as well as others.

3) The end of the article is technically correct but wholly misleading. It's true that during the question period when a student in the audience said that the liberal arts faculty at Roger Williams was diverse (a laughable statement in itself since there is only one Republican on that faculty) the lefitst contingent in the audience burst into applause and that this was one of the only such bursts during the evening. But the other one came at the end of my speech and was a standing ovation.--DH.

BRISTOL -- In 2001, controversial conservative David Horowitz sparked a weeks-long furor at Brown University without even stepping foot on campus.

Last night, Horowitz ascended a stage at Roger Williams University as an invited guest, but his talk elicited a generally tempered response from the audience of about 250.

What a difference two years and 20 miles makes -- not to mention a war on terrorism and possibly Iraq.

The crowd listened considerately as Horowitz sounded a litany of patriotic themes -- of celebrating American history, standing united in defending this country's liberty and combating terrorists and Iraq.

"If you're not proud of your country, you can't defend yourself," he said. He added, "We are at war . . . There can be no peace movement.

"I'm thrilled we have got a gutsy president who is not listening to the New York Times, the U.N. and France or Germany."

No one heckled and there were no demonstrations. The only obvious sign of dissent came from an antiwar group who stood outside the auditorium quietly handing out flyers proclaiming, "Inspections Work, War won't." They said they wanted to present an alternate view to the College Republicans, who hosted Horowitz's visit and have been eager to squelch antiwar sentiments.

Horowitz caused an uproar at Brown when he railed against slavery reparations in a paid advertisement in the Brown Daily Herald. The ad included Horowitz's views that black Americans benefited from slavery; that blacks owe a debt to America, because whites founded the antislavery movement and established a nation that allowed blacks to enjoy prosperity; and that welfare and "racial preferences" in jobs, contracts and education have effectively given black people "trillions of dollars."

Minority students criticized The Herald for publishing it. They said that it amounted to "hate speech." Student demonstrations followed and a couple of days after the ad ran, about 4,000 copies of The Herald were stolen as soon as they arrived on campus.

In the midst of the controversy, Horowitz accepted an invitation from a conservative student group to appear at Brown. The group subsequently canceled the event, citing its concern over the possibility of violent protests.

Last night, Horowitz said he was encouraged that new Brown President Ruth Simmons had made remarks indicating her support for unfettered free speech on campus in the wake of the fury his ad incited. But he said is still awaiting an invitation to speak there.

Horowitz did touch on many views that have made him a controversial national figure. He criticized race-based college admissions, political correctness and the antiwar movement of the 1960s and today.

In his talk titled "Why the Left Hates America," he relentlessly attacked liberals and Democrats. He blamed them for the failure of urban school systems to properly educate minorities and for sowing dissent during the Vietnam War.

Moreover, he told the audience of students and faculty that liberals have dominated the nation's universities, suppressing and ridiculing the views of those they oppose.

"This is the one thought I want you to get out of this: You can't get a good education if you only get half of the story, even if you are paying $30,000 a year," he said.

A few members of the audience challenged Horowitz during a question-and-answer session that was closely supervised by a security team. One student stridently defended Roger Williams faculty, saying that professors promote diverse opinions. The crowd burst into energetic applause, one of the few times they did all night.


Richard Salit is a reporter for the Providence (R.I.) Journal.


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