Horowitz Speaks to U. Hawaii Students
by Andrew Walden
In a lively exchange of ideas, David Horowitz, leader of Students for Academic Freedom, argued his case for an Academic Bill of Rights before 150 people at UH Manoa's Art Auditorium Wednesday night.
While speaking from the same podium Ward Churchill used to deliver a controversial address only weeks before, Horowitz gave a very different speech and received a very different response.
Many of the same campus leftists who had so urgently proclaimed the importance of defending Churchill's right to call some of the 3,000 murdered on 9-11 "Little Eichmanns" came to the Horowitz' event armed with signs reading "No free speech for fascists."
Several attempted to shout down Horowitz' presentation, but were themselves shouted down by an audience determined to hear what Horowitz had to say without interruption. The presence of several campus security officers was an additional deterrent.
Horowitz, whose transformation from communist to conservative is documented in his autobiography, "Radical Son" spoke of his experiences as an openly Marxist university student in the McCarthyite 1950s saying, that today's students who dissent from "political correctness" are harassed on campuses nationwide in ways which he never experienced.
Horowitz, whose parents were both Communist Party members fired from their jobs during the McCarthy era, said he was never berated or graded down by professors for his political point of view -- even during the height of the "witch-hunt".
Horowitz emphasized that prior to the 1970s, universities were free of the deeply politicized atmosphere in which many of today's liberal arts courses are conducted. Academics saw themselves as professional teachers rather than political operatives. Horowitz argued that universities changed with the Vietnam-era influx of student deferment seekers, "who were never scholars, just draft-dodgers who stayed and stayed to avoid duty in Vietnam and ended up with PhDs." These individuals make up the bulk of today's university professors.
Horowitz's tour was co-sponsored by the U.H. Manoa Political Science Department, but when he came to meet Political Science Department faculty, only one professor came to the reception.
Department Chair Dr. J. Goldberg-Hiller declined to participate introducing himself to Horowitz as, "one of those liberals you have on your list." Horowitz later responded by saying Hiller is neither a liberal in the classical sense nor is there any "list."
Said Horowitz, the Academic Bill of Rights is designed to protect students and professors of all political persuasions. He then cited several examples where he had defended the free speech of left-wing academics -- including Ward Churchill.
Like many U.H. Manoa liberal arts professors, Hiller's office door is festooned with anti-Bush materials. Some speculate the Political Science co-sponsorship came only to spare the University the embarrassment of refusing to hear Horowitz' speak on academic freedom after hearing Ward Churchill attack the reputation of the 9-11 dead. Said Hiller, "it took us only 30 minutes to decide to host this."
Certainly none of the administrators who so loudly proclaimed Churchill's right to free speech came out with even one word to spare for Horowitz, even as campus leftists circulated leaflets denouncing Horowitz as "fascist" and urging protesters to "bring your own pie" in the days before his speech.
In spite of this, Horowitz, described the event as "better than expected" and gave credit to those in the audience who stood up to the "politically correct" would-be censors.
Leaders of the Hawaii Federation of College Republicans, sponsors of Horowitz' tour, say they are pleased that Horowitz was heard, even under constant harassment. They plan to continue challenging what they describe as "one-sided political indoctrination" on campus by hosting conservative speakers at future events. As the event ended, several students stopped to thank Horowitz for speaking at UH.
Horowitz's speech at the Art Auditorium was the last in a whirlwind day featuring meetings with students, professors, conservative leaders, Gov. Linda Lingle and Republican State Senators. Horowitz also addressed about 35 students and community members at U.H. Hilo by videoconference earlier in the day.