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A Letter to Horowitz from the Assistant Chancellor of UC-Berkeley By: John Cummins
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, March 14, 2001


Office of the Chancellor
200 California Hall #1500
Berkeley, CA 94720-1500

March 12, 2001

Mr. David Horowitz
Center for the Study of Popular Culture
9911 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90035

Dear Mr. Horowitz:

I write in response to your letter of March 8, indicating your desire to speak on the campus about the subject of reparations for slavery, the topic of your recent controversial advertisement in The Daily Californian. Your letter contains several observations that require comment.

Although your advertisement purported to be a response to claims made for reparations for slavery, there has been no active discussion of such claims on this campus prior to your advertisement. You indicate that, in response to the "swift and hostile" reaction to the advertisement, "…other voices from the community have spoken up, demonstrating the desire for a genuine dialogue on this subject." No demand for "dialogue" existed prior to your effort to provoke it.

You also express personal concern about appearing on campus because of the circumstances of Dan Flynn’s speech last fall. Although Mr. Flynn represents "Accuracy in Academia," his account of the event is far from fully accurate. He was not shouted down; he was shouted at, to be sure, but completed his presentation. He was not censored. Chancellor Berdahl’s "deputy," who happens to be me, did not suggest that what happened to Mr. Flynn was his own fault. I merely pointed out that an effort was made to inflame those with whom Flynn disagreed by hanging a banner that said, "Fry Mumia." Students behaved rudely, uncivilly, and the burning of books is abhorrent. But Mr. Flynn’s account fails to mention his actions, and those of the organizers, that incited the anger of those who disagreed with them.

You wish to speak on the campus on March 15; you have every right to do so and we will do everything in our power to protect that right, as we do in every instance when prior notification has been made of a confrontational event being planned. (No such prior effort was made by the organizers of the Flynn event.) But you claim to have written to Chancellor Berdahl in candor, so let me respond in candor. March 15 is the day upon which the supporters of Affirmative Action will be protesting at the meeting of the Regents of the University of California. It is a moment when passions will be very high on issues of race. Your appearance will add fuel to a controversy that is already hot. That is your right. I cannot guarantee that you will not be shouted at, because the right of free expression also belongs to those who disagree with you. I cannot guarantee that you will not be treated rudely because there is no law against rude behavior.

The Berkeley College Republicans, a student organization, is sponsoring your appearance and it is their responsibility to identify the appropriate person to introduce you. Karen Kenney, Dean of Student Life, will be meeting with a representative from the Berkeley College Republicans to discuss all concerns and related rules with regard to the event. Our intent is to make sure, to the extent we can, that this event takes place in as civil an environment as possible. We call upon you, the sponsors, and those who attend the event to respect the right of free expression and the importance of civil dialogue.

If you have any questions, you may call me at 510-642-7516 or Karen Kenney at 510-642-6770.

Sincerely,

 

John Cummins
Assistant Chancellor

cc: Chancellor Berdahl


John Cummins serves as Assistant Chancellor at the University of California at Berkeley.


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