Nationally renowned author and conservative commentator David Horowitz may be one of the most feared -- or hated -- men on campuses nationwide, but he still knows how to attract a diverse crowd.
| Photo by Mark McCambridge, Oregon Daily Emerald.|
David Horowitz spoke Friday night against a broad range of issues including the anti-war movement and slavery reparations.
Horowitz, who gained fame at the University [of Oregon] in 2001 with his advertising campaign against slavery reparations, visited the campus Friday night to castigate leftists, liberal bias on college campuses, the anti-war movement and slavery reparations.
About 150 people crammed into Fenton Hall to hear the speech, and more were forced to sit outside after the room was filled. Conservative students, faculty members, community members and members of the campus anti-war movement all attended.
Horowitz seemed to have the harshest words for the University faculty, criticizing what he saw as their effort to indoctrinate students into a "leftist ideology." He also accused faculty of employing a "ruthless blacklist" that stifles conservative faculty and viewpoints.
"There is a hostile learning environment on this campus for conservatives," he said. "It is a disgrace. This campus is a disgrace."
Horowitz also slammed the current resolution that would align the University against a war in Iraq. He said if the University Assembly succeeds in passing the resolution, it would be an abuse to all students on the campus who support the war.
Following his deep condemnation of the University, Horowitz switched gears and taught a history lesson of anti-war movements during World War II and the Vietnam War. Horowitz said the anti-war movement in the 1930s was responsible for the 70 million people who died during World War II, and he said the current anti-war movement is moving in the same direction.
"A genuine peace movement would, of course, be demonstrating at Iraqi embassies" and demanding that Saddam Hussein disarm, he said. "This is not a peace movement; it is a movement to divide this country, to sabotage its defense efforts and to help our enemies to win."
The first tense moment of the evening erupted when Horowitz's critical remarks about the anti-war movement provoked an outburst from the back of the room. Horowitz responded with annoyance to the interruption.
Horowitz's scathing response to the outburst seemed to cool the atmosphere, and he started telling the crowd why he believes leftists are responsible for society's ills, especially in the public school system. He said America's poorest and most oppressed minorities are in America's inner cities, and the city councils and school boards of the inner cities -- who he said are all controlled by leftists -- keep minorities illiterate with their policies.
Leftists "have their boot heels on the necks of poor black and Hispanic kids all across this country ... because they are running the public school systems as a jobs program for adults, and they could care less about what happens to those kids," he said.
Horowitz, a leader in the anti-slavery reparations movement, also talked about racism. He accused leftists of conjuring up a movement that pits blacks against others in America.
"There is a little problem with reparations," he said. "I am for reparations for former slaves. The problem, of course, is that they're all dead -- it's 130 years too late."
A question-and-answer period followed the speech, and tensions were high as many audience members argued with Horowitz, throwing the session into a debate and putting him on the defensive. At one point, Horowitz called for security after a man in the back of the room continually interrupted Horowitz.
But others chose to be more civil in their questions. Mike Linman, a student senator and co-chairman of the College Democrats, asked Horowitz whether he would support a University stance supporting a war in Iraq.
Horowitz said he wouldn't, adding he believed the University should take no political position -- whether he supports the position or not.
In an interview prior to the speech, Horowitz explained what he hopes to accomplish on the college speech circuit.
"I actually think that if I agitate -- if I can get conservative students roused up enough in this generation -- by the next generation when they're running institutions, in particular the Republican Party, they can affect this horrible situation on college campuses," he said. "The University, in the liberal arts field, has been destroyed by the left."
The preceding article appeared in the February 24, 2003, edition of the University of Oregon's official paper, The Oregon Daily Emerald.