The following speech was given at Restoration Weekend, which was held from February 23-27, 2006, at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. The other testimonials will be posted in the coming days. -- The Editors.
I’m Steve Miller. I run one of the Students for Academic Freedom chapters, the one at Duke University. As David mentioned, I first met him back when I went to Santa Monica public high school, which is a true case in point for left-wing political indoctrination and the abandonment of educational principle.
At my high school, after September 11th, the co-principal got on the PA system and expressed his doubts about the morality of our air campaign in Afghanistan. A history teacher took the American flag and dragged it across the floor of his classroom to make a political statement. I conducted a poll of the student body and I found that 60 percent of students would not participate in a flag salute and that 30 percent of students would not even say that they were proud to be American. The student body of Santa Monica High School was 3,400 students.
I decided that it was time to do something about the situation and to see if some sort of educational reform could be put into place. There’s a policy in the State of California that says that all public schools must have some sort of daily patriotic oath. It’s optional but students should at least be provided with the opportunity to participate in some sort of patriotic oath. I brought this to the attention of the school and they simply refused to obey the law.
One of the things that we did in this campaign was to invite David Horowitz to speak at the school. When we extended the invitation to David Horowitz, he accepted and, when we told the school, as you might imagine, they were very displeased. They used interesting tactics to keep David from speaking. When his address was about four days away, they cancelled it on the grounds that it would distract students from their studies. Keep in mind that our school had no problem bringing left-wing speakers all the time. They brought a speaker named Dolores Huerta, who is a Communist and who led a protest at the school that required police intervention, and that was no problem.
It ended up taking us nine months to get David Horowitz cleared to speak at Santa Monica High School, and it required a huge press and radio campaign involving local newspapers, local and national radio shows and extensive meetings with the administration. This was also all part of the overall campaign to reform Santa Monica High School, of which David provided continual and constant support. When he actually was allowed to come to the school, I remember the co-principal came out to greet him and said, “David, we’re really just so glad to have you here.” And David, without skipping a beat, he looked right at her and he said, “No, you’re not. You tried for nine months to keep me from coming here, so don’t tell me you’re happy to have me here.”
The end result of this whole campaign in high school was that the superintendent issued a statement that told teachers they had to be politically neutral in their classrooms and the principal told teachers not to discuss international politics when it was not relevant to their class materials. And they did a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
What made that change possible was money. The school wanted to hire more teachers and they wanted to expand various programs and so they put a bond initiative to the people of Santa Monica and it failed, by 500 votes. The superintendent told me, “I blame you for this.” So I told him what he had to do if he wanted the bond initiative to pass, and that’s how it worked out.
I now attend Duke University, where I’ve been working as a president of one of David’s SAF chapters to try and get the ball rolling on academic reform at Duke University. Like countless schools across the country, it suffers from political activism in the classroom that stands in stark contrast to what teaching’s supposed to be about. We have course after course about Marxism and about leftist ideology, but the great conservative thinkers and the great free market thinkers are ignored and forgotten. Students are taught to hate this country while we’re in a struggle to protect the future of this country. I think it’s going to be hard to win that fight when millions of kids across the country are being denied their basic rights as students to have an education about searching for truth and knowledge and not about your professors’ political beliefs.
It’s been a real pleasure to work for Students for Academic Freedom. As you know, we’re bringing David to speak in ten days at Duke University. I’ve been meeting with the president of the university this upcoming Friday and we’re going to lay out our agenda. I really do believe that, if we are tireless, that if we get in touch with all the Republicans that are giving money to these schools, not realizing that they’re supporting people that are trying to destroy everything they stand for, I think that change can happen. I think, as a student, I can say that what happens is horrifying. You see some of the examples on this flyer that we produced. I think it’s a fight that we have to fight. I think it’s a fight that we can win and that it’s a fight that we have to win.