Monday, April 6, 2009

David Horowitz, mentions "political pluralism," speaks sexism/racism

Political pluralism in the curriculum at America's institutions of higher learning. An Academic Bill of Rights that made professors responsible for not indoctrinating their students. Doesn't sound so bad, right? Well, it was behind this mask of decent ideas that David Horowitz paraded his racist, sexist, and homophobic attitudes at Knox College tonight, April 6, 2009.

When I heard about Horowitz being brought to Knox by the Knox College Republicans, the Intellectual Diversity Foundation and the Young America's Foundation, I knew I had to attend his talk, even though it might very well be difficult to hear.

Horowitz is most recently the author of a book called One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America's Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy. The title says it all, really.

Throughout his talk, Horowitz did not do a good job at trying to foster respect for his ideas on a campus that has, not infrequently, been noted for strong liberalism among its student and its faculty populations. He made numerous disparaging remarks about past events on the Knox campus. Toward the beginning of his talk he said, "I think it's disgraceful when speakers are protested at University campuses," in regard to the widespread student protests that Kate and I blogged about when John Ashcroft spoke here last year. By beginning his talk with insults about our campus, and offering no concrete ideas about addressing the issues he brought up, how exactly did he expect to make an impact here? Immediately it was as if we had to be on the defensive, when something as easy as trying a bit of constructive criticism could have helped create a more productive and less inflammatory atmosphere that would have been much more conducive to change.

Next, to address to other major themes in his talk.

Theme One: Women's Studies - Where students are presented "with controversial opinions as if they were scientific facts."

Horowitz actually dedicated a whole section of his talk specifically to women's studies, claiming it was "not an academic study." He went on to explain. "Women's Studies professors are part of a political movement within universities [meant to] recruit people to [believe that we live in] a racist, sexist, homophobic society that deserves to be attacked," he said, expounding upon his apparently unmoving belief that Women's Studies programs were meant only to indoctrinate students into feminist ideals.

When Horowitz asked a rhetorical question about who in the room had been taught that gender was a social construction, numerous hands went up (including mine). From there he went on to demonstrate that he did not quite know the difference between sex and gender when he said that empirical studies show that men and women are different and that "gender is hardwired, it's in the genome." Well, Mr. Horowitz, I'll leave out the idea that gender is displayed and acted out differently around the world because, I'm sure there's a genetic explanation, right?

Theme Two: Ism's (mainly sexism and racism) - "This is the most tolerant nation...on the face of the Earth."

During the question and answer section of his talk, Horowitz's true colors seemed to shine at their brightest. The following are questions [mostly paraphrased] submitted by the audience via note cards that were read aloud, followed by the most interesting parts of Horowitz's not-always-coherent responses:

Q: How can colleges deal with racism?
A: "...anti-white epidemic on university campuses." After talking about how bad it is for whites these days, he went on to say that the only way to deal with racism on college campuses was to make one standard of consequences for all people, regardless of skin color. But instead of ending it there, he went on to challenge that notion that groups such as blacks and women are marginalized in our society because we have a black president and a female Secretary of State. That, of course, means perfect equality and access to resources/power for these groups. Clearly.

Q: If we're surrounded by people like you [white, male] run the government...
A: [cuts off question] "BARACK OBAMA! BARACK OBAMA! BARACK OBAMA!" As if that was all he needed to prove his controversial point that white males do not still run the government and most of American life. He then said the question was stupid, although it had not been completely asked.

Q: How can you, as a white male, say race and gender are not issues?
A: "...nobody is oppressed in America...except children [with abusive parents]." Why is that so? Because "white people don't come around thinking of ways to oppress blacks." And of course, "Sixty three million people voted for a black man...IT [racism] IS OVER."

Q: What do you think about the bias in the media?
A: He started with the familiar talking point about how the media is ruled by the Left. Then he described a "neocommunist" as someone who thinks that the USA is racist, sexist, and homophobic and that corporations are evil. Not quite sure how he related this to the media, but there you have it.

I think most of this post can speak for itself. Although his talk was masked with good ideas, Horowitz spent most of his time at the podium spewing hatred, even when he had to revert to unrelated tangents to try to drive his points home. All I have to say is that for someone who claims to want to promote intellectual diversity on campuses in America, he doesn't seem to have the best grasp of ideas that oppose his own, and he seems to be mistaken in the belief that attacking people will somehow make them want to listen to him.

EDIT 4/7/09: Here's a link to Knox's school newspaper website that contains video of the talk. You'll probably need to turn up the volume.

*All direct quotes were collected by Amelia at the time of Horowitz's talk, approx. 7:00-8:30pm on Monday, April 6, 2009.


Ellie P. said...

Thank you for posting this! I'll be honest that I couldn't really bring myself to go to the talk. I thought it could be potentially interesting--I agree with him that classrooms do tend to have an unfair political bias sometimes--but Jeeeezus. What an asshole.

Anonymous said...

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lindsay said...

To me, it's always annoying when smart people with interesting ideas drape their comments with vitriol and biased hate. I'd like to engage them on their thoughts, but it's so hard when they move to surface level attacks. Very interesting, Amelia.

Anonymous said...

when i went for the talk, i thought it would be worth listening. i mean, what would be so controversial about trying to promote intellectual diversity on campuses?

but i suppose i was naive. he seemed to be there just to sell his provocatively titled book.

he lost all credibility with me when he made it into a partisan issue. he lost all credibility when he sputtered passionately, "israel is the only non-terrorist state in the middle east." right, i guess countries like lebanon, turkey, jordan, egypt are all terrorist states. he lost all credibility when he declared that race in america is not an issue anymore and that the women's studies department seek to indoctrinate a political agenda.

and the final straw - he lost all credibility when he spewed that the reason why civilian deaths in Gaza was so high was because the Hamas killed them, not the Israeli Defense Forces. that was straight propaganda from Fox News. i have heard this shit told before to gullible anti-Palestinian audiences.

as someone who has researched extensively on the israeli-palestinian conflict using primary texts, all the bullshit Horowitz spewed was predictable lies, characteristic of those when the truth is inconvenient.

what is his training? what is his background? what is his research? he only has his emotions and his partisan agenda to further his cause.

he claimed to promote intellectual diversity. i want intellectual diversity when there are FACTS. through the question and answer sessions, his bigoted diatribes only contradicted what he was originally claiming to promote.

i agree that we should have more conservative speakers or lecturers. a liberal needs to be challenged, to be able to understand what exactly we are trying to defend. but i want a speaker, REGARDLESS of his political standing, to lecture on reasoned, logical, factual materials. Horowitz was not one of them.

i checked up on him, and he was a Marxist in the 60s and supported the Black Panthers. very interesting as now, he is at the extreme end of the other spectrum.

Amelia said...

Thanks for your comment, Anonymous. That part of his talk left me completely speechless. And because I feel that I was not as well-educated about that particular topic, I did not include it in my post. So thank you for your input about it.

Jonathan Boucher said...

Thank you for posting this article....Horowitz attended URI a few years back to spread his racist/sexist agenda. It was wrong back then and it is wrong today