The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - 9B
Chatting with the enemy: Horowitz and the state of liberalism
After his speech March 19, David Horowitz spoke with the Daily about that evening's events and his thoughts on university liberalism.
By Aubrey Henretty, Manish Raiji
and Zac Peskowitz
Six hundred people filled the Michigan
Union Ballroom to hear David Horowitz speak
March 19 night - with over 400 people standing
in the hallway, unable to enter due to the fire
code. He spoke about slave reparations and why
he finds them insulting to black Americans,
about national security and why racial profiling is
empirically sound and about historical narratives
that he feels leftists are using to push anti-Ameri-
For those who did not attend, it should be
obvious by this summary that his speech was
contentious. For those who attended, the inflamed
and raucous crowd showed that some people
wish that Horowitz would just go away.
The question is not whether we should
agree with Horowitz. The question is whether
we should accept him as a legitimate political
While there is a vocal and incredibly danger-
ous minority that sought to disrupt and silence
Horowitz' presentation, the possibility for
healthy dialogue does exist at the University. The
efforts of the Black Student Union and the
Department of Public Safety to maintain order
should be praised: The BSU for encouraging
civil conduct within the Ballroom and DPS for
managing an unwieldy crowd in a professional
and respectful manner.
Besides the expected - though still entirely
immature - middle fingers, loud and pretentious
sighs, derisive laughter and barely whispered
comments about "this mother-fucking racist,"
there were plenty of tense moments. When asked
about the tenor of the meeting, Horowitz said that
it had gotten somewhat out of hand. "At the Uni-
versity of Wisconsin, I spoke to twice as many
people, but it was much quieter," Horowitz said.
He noted that he had "never had so many black
students come" to one of his speeches before.
Horowitz willingly admitted his blame for some
of the tension. "I shouldn't have reacted to that
first kid. It's very hard when emotions run so
high," referring to the first question asked, when
a student insulted Horowitz' intelligence for mis-
pronouncing Sierra Leone.
The trouble began when a much larger crowd
than expected crammed into the long corridor on
the second floor of the Michigan Union. The
event's organizers, Young Americans for Freedom
and The Michigan Review, expected the large
turnout, but due to their status as student groups,
could not properly handle the crowd. Limits on
their funding and influence forced YAF and the
Review to settle for a smaller venue with an ill-
conceived ticketing system.
THE UNIVERSITY'S ROLE
This forces us to question why the University
did not take an active role in presenting
Horowitz, or on a broader scale, why conserva-
tive student groups feel the need to bring conser-
vative speakers to campus themselves.
Randall Robinson, a proponent of slave repa-
rations, Donna Shalala, former President Clin-
ton's Secretary of Health and Human Services
and Jonathan Kozol, author of "Savage Inequali-
ties," are a few of the notable speakers that have
recently been invited here at the behest of the
University. The political bent of these speakers is
obvious; they are all very liberal. The University
needs to reevaluate its role in facilitating public
debate; the University is pushing a debate on this
campus not about liberalism versus conservatism,
but only over nuances of liberalism.
"The faculty, the adults here, have totally
abdicated their responsibility to these kids,"
Horowitz said. One of his major points is that
the education system is skewed to the far left.
Horowitz came out strongly against the sort of
education that universities provide, saying that
he "cannot fix four years of miseducation in
We do not agree with Horowitz' politics.
However, the response Horowitz received on
March 19 illuminates the relevance of his criti-
cism of higher education.
The self-proclaimed "intelligent" liberals who
polluted the mostly respectful gathering with
inane and ultimately self-defeating monologues
did nothing to advance debate. Certain liberal
students have put on blinders, refusing to
acknowledge conservative perspectives yet hypo-
critically becoming indignant when they feel that
conservatives do not take them seriously. The
intellectual right voraciously consumes leftist lit-
erature; the left is complacent, reading Chomsky
and considering themselves well-informed
(Horowitz noted that "Chomsky is a sick human
being"). "A true liberal should be very concerned
about the one-sided nature of the debate," he said.
We are liberal, yet we begrudgingly agree
with his indictment of intellectual liberalism. The
antagonistic spirit of the event showed a liberal
campus unwilling to create constructive argu-
ments, a campus that refuses to dissect argu-
ments, instead relying on the sort of screaming
retorts common on elementary school yards.
The first critique of Horowitz' speech can be
quickly and summarily dismissed; Horowitz did
not foster debate because he refused to thorough-
ly answer audience questions, often sinking to
personal attacks on the questioner - he called
Agnes Aleobua, Defend Affirmative Action Party
member, a "black racist" after she went on a
long, unintelligible and disruptive tirade. It is dif-
ficult to blame Horowitz for this particular criti-
cism; though he is responsible for snapping back
at those who hurled insults at him, he cannot be
held responsible for the poor caliber of the ques-
tions asked of him. Horowitz has a meandering
style of speech which some took as an indication
of his skirting an issue. While answering a ques-
ti6n regarding whether black people can advance
without affirmative action, the questioner repeat-
edly interrupted him with "will you answer my
question? You aren't answering my question."
This may reflect poorly on Horowitz' oratorical
talent, but it does not suggest that he shies away
from debating his points.
The second critique is that Horowitz spits the
same sort of rhetoric that he vehemently
denounces when it comes from liberals. On this
issue, Horowitz is guilty. When confronted on his
use of sensationalist device, Horowitz at first
tried to distance himself from it. "I often have to
work myself out from under what students have
done," he said of the fliers advertising his speech,
plastered with the title of his 1999 "Hating
Whitey." But Horowitz has gotten a deserved rep-
utation for using the bully pulpit; his posture and
language are extremely confrontational. When
pressed regarding these accusations, Horowitz
replied that his duty in the face of liberal rhetoric
was to "teach conservatives bad manners."
Horowitz' ad campaigns, his speaking tours and
the phrasing in his works speak to a somewhat-
self-serving nature. He denounces liberal rhetoric
while sinking to the same depths; he feigns disap-
proval when emotions run high, yet he ceaseless-
ly encourages its development.
This critique of Horowitz places him squarely
in the rhetoric-flinging crowd that we address in
this viewpoint. While speaking with Horowitz,
his demeanor was very different from the man
who spoke from the lectern - he was calm,
seemingly regretful over the night's events and
was genuinely interested in discussion. Horowitz'
interpretation of the past and his statistical evi-
dence is dubious and his reliance on counter-fac-
tual history disturbs us. When speaking with us,
he was prepared to speak about his views - a
quality that he did not display on stage. Horowitz
is guilty of presenting himself as a provocateur
and for that, perhaps, the University community
should not accept him.
A CALL FOR REAL DIVERSITY
But his views are nonetheless important -
and the University community has been known
for trying to silence people with similar views
who present themselves in a less confrontational
light. Ward Connerly, who was at the helm of
California's opposition to affirmative action (and
who was, incidentally, invited by Students for
America - not the University) was met with
outrage and was eventually driven off the stage.
Those of us who were there to hear him speak
could feel nothing short of shame for the intoler-
ance that the so-called tolerant left displayed.
Liberalism is ill. It has lost its way. One
woman embodied the worst aspects of last
evening. Standing in the jammed area just out-
side of the Ballroom, she repeatedly expressed
her desire to shut down the meeting. Pressed to
explain what she hoped to accomplish by shut-
ting down the rally, she argued that Horowitz
would not feel welcome here and would never
return to the University.
No matter how unpalatable or distasteful any-
one finds particular ideas, he or she should
always be willing to confrwnt them. If this does
not occur, Horowitz' and other conservative'intel-
lectuals will continue to attack liberal policies,
freed from the burdens of having to defend their
ideas against serious intellectual critiques.
"Their jaws drop; they've never heard the
arguments," Horowitz told us, referring to liber-
als who refuse to acknowledge conservative
thought. "The conservatives who are in think
tanks (who present a minority point of view) are
carrying the arguments on a lot of these issues."
Perhaps the conservatism of American politics
David Horowitz addresses the crowd the night of
March±9 - while it was still calm.
rests heavily on the fact that liberals are too busy
using BAMN-style epithets instead of SOLE-
"When I became a conservative, all these
names were foreign to me; I'd never heard of
them before! That's not the sign of a good educa-
tion," Horowitz said when asked about conserva-
tive views in higher education.
In essence, liberalism isn't just about being
able to quote Susan Sontag on command; it isn't
just about reciting Paul Ehrlich's "The Population
Bomb" in your sleep, it isn't just about breathing
the (noxious) vapors of Cornel West's "Race Mat-
ters." It's more than that; it's about deconstruct-
ing the arguments of Milton Friedman, Thomas
Sowell, Robert Nozick, Alan Bloom and William
F. Buckley. It's about reading The Nation and The
National Review, The New York Times and The
Wall Street Journal.
University liberals must take a place at the
vanguard of this sea change. The intolerance
toward Horowitz' conservative views is effec-
tive at shielding people from intelligently
reconfirming their beliefs, but it does nothing
to advance liberal politics. It is only when liber-
als take on conservative arguments instead of
trying to silence them that intelligent liberalism
Henretty and Raiji are associate
editorial page editors. Peskowitz
is a member of the editorial board.
Y LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
From the AD: Bill Martin on the grand jury indictment Be patient, do your part to make Football
bom, 1 0011 X4-J.:- bthat inuirv because neonle could not tion in 1996 we reported everything we Saturday safe for all
By Bill Martin
All of us in the Athletic Department
and in the senior leadership of the Univer-
sity were shocked and dismayed by what
was revealed in the grand jury indictment
alleging that four of our former basketball
players received loans from Ed Martin.
The amounts of money involved are stag-
We are taking these charges very, very
seriously. They violate the core values of
honesty and integrity that we strive to
uphold in all of our programs.
Unfortunately, we have been grappling
with these issues for more than five
Uy qHU 11U1yp pGaa 7~lctVi It
be forced to tell what they knew. We were
lacking the subpoena power that the feder-
al government was able to use in its inves-
Even so, the Athletic Department decid-
ed to make a number of changes in order to
prevent such a thing from ever occurring
again. Tighter controls have been placed on
who can be given tickets and access to
places where players are, such as the tunnel
in Crisler Arena. Information about players,
such as the cars they register, is more closely
tracked. A new compliance officer has been
hired and given more independence and
learned to the NCAA, and we have been
working closely with them ever since. We
also have offered our complete coopera-
tion to the U.S. Attorney. The NCAA will
respond to the University as more facts
become known. It will be very important
to learn what really occurred before deci-
sions are made about next steps. Only time
and the development of the federal case
will make clear the details behind these
If anything good comes out of this
process, it may be that we will finally be
able to bring this dark chapter in Michigan
athletic history to a close. As painful as
TO THE DAILY:
The tragic events of Sept. 11 changed our world, even in Ann Arbor. For instance, many
people noticed an increased security presence at the Michigan football game. We received
many compliments from our fans about the manner in which the people conducting security
operations performed their job.
We want to thank all of our fans for their support and patience for these enhanced securi-
ty provisions. You are truly the best!
The increased security will continue, and we will continue to improve both the security
and the manner in which it is implemented.
Many security precautions we are encouraging on campus, also apply at the games. Be
aware of your surroundings and of others around you. Immediately report any suspicious
packages, persons or vehicles in and around the stadium. If you normally consume alcohol
before the game, moderate your consumption to increase the likelihood you will notice sus-