Fight Fire with Fire
By: Robert Stacy McCain
Washington Times | Friday, October 19, 2007
Colleges and universities across the country are bracing for campus showdowns over "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week," which begins Monday, but has already sparked headlines nationwide.
The brainchild of conservative author David Horowitz, next week's calendar will feature speakers, panel discussions and other events aimed at heightening awareness of the ideology that motivates terrorist groups like al Qaeda and Hamas.
Mr. Horowitz will speak at Princeton University, the University of Wisconsin, Emory University, Columbia University and George Washington University. Other speakers scheduled for campus appearances as part of next week's event include Ann Coulter (Tulane University and the University of Southern California); Robert Spencer, author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam" (Brown, DePaul and the University of Rhode Island); and former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, who will speak at three universities in his home state of Pennsylvania.
Opponents are strongly denouncing the project.
The Revolutionary Communist Party called it "a Nuremberg Rally for the 21st century," while the Socialist Workers Party accused Mr. Horowitz of promoting "standard right-wing myths and stereotypes ... to demonize Arabs and Muslims, and justify U.S. war atrocities in the Middle East."
The Muslim American Society will hold a press conference today at the National Press Club to "announce its plan to initiate a national campaign called 'Students United Against Hate' " in response to Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.
MAS official Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey said his group intends to "bring together a large community of students and student leaders organized against racism and religious hatred — especially the brand of hatred and intolerance exhibited by David Horowitz and his anti-Muslim and anti-progressive allies."
Provoking protest is nothing new to Mr. Horowitz, an ex-Marxist and a leader of the 1960s New Left who has been the target of pie-throwing incidents during his campus appearances as a conservative speaker. He doesn't mince words when describing his former ideological comrades.
"The left has only one strategy when dealing with its opponents, and that's to smear them," Mr. Horowitz, 68, says in a telephone interview. "They learned from Stalin."
His combative temper was riled last week when antiwar student activists at George Washington University covered the campus with anti-Muslim posters in a hoax targeted at the Young America's Foundation, which is co-sponsoring next week's events along with Mr. Horowitz's Terrorism Awareness Project.
Immediately after the posters appeared on the Foggy Bottom campus Oct. 8, and the responsibility was thought to lie with conservative students, GWU Student Association Executive Vice President Brand Kroeger said he "would support expulsion" of students responsible.
YAF spokesman Jason Mattera told powerlineblog.com that "when the fliers were first spotted, Young America's Foundation students were dragged into an administrator's office, presumed guilty, pressured — unsuccessfully — to sign a statement disavowing hate speech ... and hauled before a university 'peace forum,' where they were jeered at by fellow students."
On Oct. 9, however, seven students who said the posters were aimed at "exposing Islamophobic racism" took credit for the hoax, and the university said it had no plans to take disciplinary action against the hoaxers.
"The minute it turned out that leftists did it, it's OK, it's just a prank," Mr. Horowitz says.
The idea for Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week began earlier this year, he said, when administrators at Pace University in New York attempted to prevent students from showing "Obsession," a 2005 documentary about radical Islam.
"This is how close we are in America to shutting down free speech about the threat that we face," Mr. Horowitz says. In response, he organized Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day in April, which featured screenings of "Obsession" on 96 college campuses.
"When I saw that our students were ready to do something like that, I said, we're going to do an Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week in the fall," he says. "I approached other conservative groups like Young America's Foundation and the Leadership Institute and asked for their support, and they've provided it."
To the accusations of critics who say that the phrase "Islamo-Fascism" demonizes all Muslims, Mr. Horowitz responds, "Baloney. You mean you can't use the phrase 'Italian fascism,' because that smears all Italians?"
In a statement at his TerrorismAware.org Web site, Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Spencer quote the explanation of Algerian sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas that the term "Islamo-Fascism" was "initially coined by Algerian people struggling for democracy, against armed fundamentalist forces" who killed thousands of Algerian Muslims they regarded as "infidels."
Mr. Horowitz says conservatives should not tolerate accusations of "hate" from left-wing activists.
"We're not just going to sit and take it," he says. "We're going to fight fire with fire. They are the haters, and we're going to stick them with that."
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