Friday, August 15, 2008

David Horowitz's Jihad Against Free Speech on Campus

David Horowitz is calling for “the defunding of MSA chapters who promote of ethnic hatred and refuse to condemn holy war” unless they agree with his view that Hamas and Hezbollah are evil. Horowitz also wants funding removed from MSA chapters for sponsoring speakers he disagrees with.

This is an extraordinary attack on free speech. In my book, Patriotic Correctness: Academic Freedom and Its Enemies, I write about the threat to free expression posed by Horowitz's efforts to silence political speech on campus. Horowitz's advocacy of suppression even includes calling for campuses to ban professors from putting cartoons on their office doors. This effort to ban funding of Muslim groups on campus is a perfect example of the suppression sought by his Orwellian-named (and modestly titled) David Horowitz Freedom Center.

This fall's Islamo-Fascism Awareness week led by Horowitz, on October 13-17, will focus on “"Stop the Jihad on Campus," which Horowitz describes as “a campaign designed to make the university community aware of the support the Muslim Students Association, Students for Justice in Palestine and other leftist groups provide for the jihadists' hatred and agendas. “

According to Horowitz, “Student leaders will be asked to press their student governments to defund their respective MSA chapters for sponsoring ethnic hatred and violating university rules and regulations.” Horowitz claims that MSA has “sponsored hate speakers” who advocate bigoted or conspiratorial views he doesn't like.
It's extraordinary for anyone to demand censorship. But it's particularly ironic that Horowitz calls for banning “hate speakers,” since if a university ever adopted his repressive policies, Horowitz himself could be banned for expressing hatred toward Muslims.

Horowitz is perfectly free to condemn organizations whose positions he disagrees with. I've even included the movies he's promoted for past Islamo-Fascism Awareness weeks on my website,

But when he calls for a national crusade to punish Muslim groups by eliminating their funding, Horowitz shows that his true aim is censorship.

So let's make October 13-17 into a nationwide week of academic freedom activities to “Stop the Far Right Wing Jihad Against Free Speech.” Let's have events on campuses to explain why free expression is important, and why we should oppose the efforts at repression of Islamic students and scholars, whether it comes from Horowitz, the Bush Administration, or the efforts at many colleges to silence critics of Israel. I'd be happy to speak on any college campus, or debate Horowitz (or any of his supporters who advocate censorship).

Of course, the right-wing isn't the only threat to free speech on campus, and this week can offer a reminder about why it's so dangerous to ban what someone regards as “hate speech.” But I can't find any national left-wing organization demanding the defunding of conservative groups who disagree with them, as Horowitz is doing in this crusade against Muslim student organizations. Horowitz's attack on free speech is a disgraceful act, and it shows the lie in the name of his front group “Students for Academic Freedom.” I hope that conservative and liberal groups alike will speak out against Horowitz's efforts to defund and silence views that he hates.


Anonymous said...

You raise some interesting points and I agree that there should be a legitimate debate over what is "fair game" for students to be forced to financially support and what they shouldn't, especially at a public institution.

I think you may miss the point that Horowitz is attempting to defund the MSA of tuition dollars and mandatory student fees, not of the private donations they receive from outside the university. MSA's are free to exert their right to free speech and sponsor their events using these funds.

But should a Jewish college student be forced to finance a speaker that comes to their college and calls Jews, "pigs" or supports a terrorist group that calls for the genocide of Jews? Doesn't sound like Freedom to me...

John K. Wilson said...

It sure sounds like freedom to me. No one should be able to veto use of student fee money based on allegations of "offensive" ideas. The only alternative would be ban all funding of all organizations. It's the same reason why student tuition money is used to pay for professors who ideas they may disagree with. In a free society, we encourage the debate of ideas and fund this, without demanding universal support for every group.