[The following is a letter to the editor written to the Emory Wheel by Harvey Klehr]
To the editor:
It was appropriate that President Wagner apologized to David Horowitz
and expressed his concern that his talk at Emory was disrupted. It is
also worth pondering, however, the broader implications and meaning of
David Horowitz is only the latest in a string of conservative speakers
who have been shouted down, disrupted or been harassed in the past
decade at Emory. Ward Connerly has written that he was never treated as
rudely anywhere in the United States as at Emory. Ralph Reed and Daniel
Pipes faced threats and inexcusable rudeness. Horowitz's group
sponsored talks at numerous universities last week -- Emory was the
only place where one was unable to take place.
If a string of African-American, Jewish, female or Islamic speakers had
been similarly treated, I suspect that administrative responses would
have been louder, more concerned and come from more quarters. Faculty
would be more indignant and students more vocal. All with good reason.
There are any number of speakers who appear at Emory with whose views I
disapprove. There are speakers whom I have urged student groups not to
invite to campus, including Khalid Muhammed and Rabbi Meir Kahane, both
of whom were racists and hatemongers.
But once they were invited, the groups that wanted to hear them had a
right to do so. When a speaker who had achieved notoriety by claiming
that Jewish doctors had invented AIDS to kill Afro-Americans came to
speak, those appalled by his visit attended his talk and asked him
tough questions but did not disrupt his visit. Other speakers have
generated protesters with signs outside the venue and hostile questions
The thugs and hooligans who disrupted Horowitz's speech do not belong
on a university campus. If any Emory students were among them, they
should be ashamed of themselves. The vast majority of those responsible
appear to be from outside the Emory community. While it may have been
impossible to remove or arrest them without violence, they should be
identified and, as far as possible, prevented from coming to future
events on campus.
And the administration, faculty and student body need to consider why
only one type of speaker gets shouted down at Emory and what that says
about the extent to which the University lives up to its professed
values of free and courageous inquiry.
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Politics and History