Editors; note: Like all news stories, this one is somewhat garbled. During his address, Mr. Horowitz never endorsed affirmative action, or suggested that women have a hard time in corporate America. Most leftists having boycotted the event, protesters comprised only a small minority of those in attendancethe majority of those who came to listen greeted Mr. Horowitz warmly.
RACTICALLY SHOUTING AT EACH OTHER, Bates College students and a guest speaker argued Monday night whether America is an oppressive nation.
Passions got so heated at the talk by radical-turned-conservative David Horowitz that college Dean James Carignan rose and asked the students in the Benjamin Mays building to be civil.
The appeal came after a young woman who was so frustrated at being unable to talk down Horowitz, swore and stormed from the room.
About 30 people attended the one-hour talk by Horowitz, a noted cultural critic and author, a talk that Carignan had warned at the outset would be "provocative." As he finished and opened the floor to questions, some students in the back of the room hissed at his remarks.
Horowitz, who emerged from the University of California at Berkeley in 1961 as a leader of the New Left, outraged members of the audience by insisting that "nobody is oppressed in America, except children by their abusive parents," and perhaps illegal aliens.
"Institutional racism is a phantom idea. It doesn;t exist," he said. The United States is "the most tolerant nation that the world has ever, ever seen."
Horowitz maintained that today;s "radical doctrines"such as "radical feminism, queer theory, you name it"are children of the flawed Marxism theory that the populace is ruled by alien powers who must be overthrown.
That new power to be fought, he said, "is now called the patriarchy or white male oligarchy."
"Those hierarchies you imagine exist, don;t exist in the way you are taught," he said.
If America is so oppressive, Horowitz said, "why do all those Haitians want to come here," risking their lives on rafts in shark-infested waters to get here. It;s because "it;s better here than in black-run Haiti" or any other black-run nation in the world, he said.
If America is oppressive, how could a black woman from a poor background such as Oprah Winfrey become such a powerful force in society, he asked. How could an outrageous black man such as professional basketball star Dennis Rodman become a millionaire and movie star?
"We;ve got to come back to Earth," Horowitz said. "This is a really good country for black people. It;s because of those principles which the Left has set out to destroy."
Those principles include affirmative action, said the man who took part in civil-rights marches in the ;60s. He said the liberal left in America is trying to "level the playing field," but that actually means taking away other people;s rights. We are not all equal, he said. Some are smarter. Some are prettier, "so there;s no way to sort it out."
"Are there bigots in America? Sure. Are there racists? Yes. But there;s just enormous opportunities out there" regardless, he said. "The American system is not a racist system. Anybody who says it is, is libeling it and is at war with it."
At least two women in the audience took exception to Horowitz; suggestion that women are not being oppressed. They pointed to the small number of women heading Fortune 500 companies. Horowitz agreed that there are tremendous problems for women in corporate America. But he added fuel to the fire when he said it is "a gigantic lie" that women are paid less than equally qualified men.
"That;s simply not true. I work with the numbers," a woman shot back in protest. When another woman, furious, stormed from the building, Horowitz said he was troubled when young people today do not show some respect for their elders; experience and knowledge. Referring to the woman, he said, "You have someone who will never learn anything, and that saddens me."