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The Ad That Made a Campus Roar By: New York Times
Letters to the New York Times | Friday, March 23, 2001

THE CONTROVERSY at Brown University over the student newspaper's decision to run an advertisement denouncing reparations for slavery illustrates how college campuses continue to be targeted for hate.

For years, anti-Semites have sought to influence young minds on campus with advertisements that deny that the Holocaust happened. Despite having no basis in historical fact, these offensive ads have been accepted by many campus newspaper editors on the assumption that the First Amendment allows no alternative.

In fact, college editors, like their professional counterparts, reserve the right to deny advertising based on a historical fallacy or that is explicitly offensive to a minority group.

The ad by David Horowitz denigrates slavery's prominence in American history and denies the pain and suffering of African-Americans. Mr. Horowitz asserts that he voices legitimate questions about the need for slavery reparations. But his premise serves no purpose other than to foment racism and hate.


Natl. Dir., Anti-Defamation League

New York, March 21, 2001

To the Editor:

THE CONTROVERSY over college newspapers' running or rejecting David Horowitz's ad against slavery reparations reveals a misunderstanding about the nature of free speech (front page, March 21). Those who have chided student editors for "censoring" the ad by rejecting it are debasing the term. There is no legal coercion here, only newspapers deciding on their own content, to create a plurality of views. That's the very nature of free speech.

Meanwhile, The Brown Daily Herald, which ran the ad, saw its print run removed by protesters. This physically destroys the vessel of free speech and is a particularly amoral tactic to use against a nonprofit, student-run company whose very lifeblood is those newspapers. It is also illegal. DAN LAIDMAN

New York, March 21, 2001

The writer, a senior at Columbia University, is a former editor in chief of The Columbia Daily Spectator.

To the Editor:

THE STUDENTS at Brown University who removed stacks of The Brown Daily Herald from campus stands have hurt their school's reputation of being a liberal institution.

A response by a true thinker would be to provide a better and stronger counterargument. It is true that the students meant well by disputing a position that I and presumably many people are against, but censoring a message or idea should not be the act of Ivy League students but that of people who are too closed-minded to prove it wrong.


Syracuse, March 21, 2001

The writer is a sophomore at Syracuse University.

To the Editor:

DAVID HOROWITZ'S rationale for his ad campaign is to enliven campus debate and expose the prevailing liberal orthodoxy for the corrupting force that it is. Although he presents this as an original approach, of course there is nothing new about the idea that something called "political correctness" stifles debate.

His attempt to present himself as a noble gadfly is a thin disguise for bigotry, and an easy way to draw attention to himself under the pretense of defending free speech.


New York, March 21, 2001

The writer is a 1999 graduate of Brown University.

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