[sixties-l] Berkeley Gets A B-Minus in Free Speech

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Mon Mar 19 2001 - 15:48:08 EST

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    Berkeley Gets A B-Minus in Free Speech

    FrontPageMagazine.com | March 19, 2001
    By Stephen Brooks
    URL: http://www.frontpagemag.com/guestcolumnists/brooks03-19-01p.htm

    ON THE EVENING of March 15, approximately 400 students, faculty and guests
    were lined up in front of the Valley Life Sciences Building on the campus
    of the University of California, Berkeley, to hear David Horowitz speak.
    It had been two weeks since Horowitz unleashed a "firestorm of
    controversy" with the publication of his advertisement "Ten Reasons Why
    Reparations for Slavery Is a Bad Idea and Racist Too" in the Daily

    Since then, Horowitz has seen plenty of things he probably never thought
    he'd see. He saw the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and Arizona
    Republic publications hardly partial to Horowitz all defend him
    against the forces of censorship at Berkeley. He saw campus newspapers at
    numerous prestigious universities including Harvard, the University of
    Virginia and his alma mater, Columbia reject the same ad.

    And, on the evening of the 15th, as he looked out into the audience of 500
    students (and others) in the Chan Shun auditorium at Berkeley, he saw
    thirty armed officers from the University Police Department at the ready
    to protect him from potential assailants among the University community.

    It seems this is the price for speaking one's mind on college campuses
    these days. Thirty armed officers, two private security guards, metal
    detectors at the entrance, secured corridors and exits, and an unusual
    "zero-tolerance" policy demanded of the Administration by Horowitz and the
    event organizers -- the Berkeley College Republicans and the California
    Patriot. All because a guy thinks there should be two sides to the
    reparations dialogue.

    Some of the attendees had waited nearly two hours for campus police to
    open the doors. While in queue, they were treated to the bullhorn-aided
    chants of about 25 protestors from the Spartacist Youth League, advocating
    "black liberation through socialist revolution." (Memo to the Spartacist
    League: socialist revolutions are statistically 50 million times more
    likely to kill you than liberate you.) They called Horowitz a "racist
    ideologue" and urged the freeing of infamous cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal.
    It should not pass notice that the same group that was advocating the
    release of a convicted murderer was responsible for acts of campus fascism
     book burning, intimidation, verbal abuse when Accuracy in Academia
    head Dan Flynn spoke at Berkeley last semester.

    Print and television media FoxNews, CNN, the local CBS channel, the
    Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Oakland Tribune and others
    were on hand to cover the event; in fact, Horowitz's speech had a late
    start in part because he was giving interviews to nearly a dozen media

    Grassroots conservative groups and concerned members of the community
    spurred on by Freerepublic.com and radio station KSFO showed their support
    for Horowitz by taking seats in the first several rows. In all, the crowd
    of 500 was more or less evenly divided between those who supported
    Horowitz and those who denounced him, while a significant number seemed
    just interested in seeing what the fuss was about. (Judging from the
    positive reaction he received at several points throughout his speech,
    Horowitz appeared to enjoy a plurality of support for his ideas.
    Unfortunately, like so many brand-loyal constituents who believe in
    conservative principles but would never vote Republican, most of these
    students remained critical of Horowitz despite their apparent agreement
    with him)

    Horowitz entered following an introduction by one of the organizers,
    student Ben Carrasco. "The situation reminds me of an old Richard Pryor
    album," began Horowitz. "On the cover, a half-naked Pryor is surrounded by
    angry Klansmen about to lynch him. 'Is it something I said?' he asks.
    Actually, in this case, it was something I said."

    The self-described "controversial" man went on to describe the genealogy
    of the anti-reparations ad, which began as an article several months ago
    in the on-line magazine Salon.com. The article was written, Horowitz
    noted, in response to a Chicago City Council vote of 47 to 1 in favor of
    reparations for slavery.

    "Whenever I see numbers like 47 to 1, I see intimidation. I don't think
    you could get 47 out of 48 politicians to agree on anything, without some
    kind of coercion." The point, he said, was that there was an atmosphere of
    intellectual terror and even physical intimidation on campuses when it
    came to ideas that the political left regarded as dangerous. Any professor
    and any student defending ideas such as were contained in the reparations
    ad would do so at their peril. The capitulation of the Daily Cal editors
    to the intimidation of the left showed just how difficult the situation

    The censorship on campus he said was carried out under the guise of
    "sensitivity" to the feelings of minority students the subtext being:
    Some ideas were too hard for them to handle. Horowitz called this attitude
    toward minorities "patronizing" and "racist" in itself. The assumption
    that minority students were too weak to withstand ideas they disagreed
    with was ridiculous and demeaning.

    Horowitz then explained how the reparations claim fed the victim mentality
    that stood in the way of real empowerment for those who succumbed to it.
    "When slavery was ended, African-Americans had nothing. In 100 years, they
    have become the 10th richest nation on earth. Black Americans shape
    American culture. Those are things to celebrate. But the reparations
    argument is intended to prevent any celebration. It is meant to force
    African Americans to dwell on the past, and to focus on failure. The
    reparations crowd and the so-called civil rights leadership wants to wave
    the bloody shirt, to isolate their own community and to position it as a
    hostile and angry force. That's the way the shakedown works."

    His speech, just over an hour long, was as eclectic as it was dynamic,
    borrowing equally from popular culture (citing the film "Remember the
    Titans," in which a black coach berates his white offensive coordinator
    for making excuses for a black running back "You're crippling that boy")
    and the social sciences (the turnaround by the University of California
    faculty over Proposition 209, which two years ago ended affirmative action
    in admissions: in a public vote, the faculty denounced the measure, 152 to
    2; in a secret vote, they voted for the measure).

    With the exception of a snicker here and a jeer there, the crowd was
    well-behaved, thanks to the thirty cops, the media, and the ultimatum that
    they would be ejected if they caused a disturbance. For one hour, while
    Horowitz spoke, the most optimistic expectations of Horowitz, the Berkeley
    College Republicans, even the University Administration were

    met. And then, the floor was opened up for questions.

    "And please^make sure it's a question," Horowitz said.

    This would have been a good time for Assistant Chancellor John Cummins to
    make his presence known.

    Just days before the speech, Cummins faxed a rather curt response to
    Horowitz's plea for civility at the event. "I cannot guarantee that you
    will not be treated rudely because there is no law against rude behavior,"
    he wrote. It was a reminder that (as Peter Collier once quipped) "the
    profile of a university administrator these days is a cross between Saul
    Alinsky and Neville Chamberlain."

    The day before the speech representatives from the Berkeley College
    Republicans had met with Cummins to request that Cummins himself introduce
    Horowitz. Instead, Cummins sat in the back of the Chan Shun Auditorium,
    nestled among the leftists. He remained seated while the Question and
    Answer session, in the absence of a moderator, deteriorated into a
    shouting match.

    After two questions and the obligatory "You are a racist, Mr. Horowitz"
    monologue, an unnamed student accused the speaker of "misinforming" and
    "play[ing] upon the ignorance of white, especially Republican, students."
    As evidence he noted that the First Amendment does not obligate newspapers
    to print any ad submitted to them. This was a rather jarring non sequitur,
    since Horowitz had never claimed anything to the contrary. Unfortunately,
    Horowitz's attempts to rebut the student were met with shouts and
    accusations of "filibustering."

    And just like that, the civil dialogue was gone. The student organizers
    looked at one another in confusion: after all, things had been going so
    smoothly. They reminded the speaker (who was not a student but a "former
    University employee") that remarks were to be in the form of a question.
    When he ignored this, they asked him to relinquish the microphone.

    Finally, they turned his microphone off. All attempts to wrest control of
    the proceedings led to louder protest, until no one could be heard.

    Worried that the situation was about to pass the point of no return and
    wanting to ensure that no one would get hurt, Horowitz set down his
    microphone and, accompanied by his security guards, exited through the
    side door. Disappointed students, no doubt hoping Horowitz, like so many
    rock stars, would re-emerge for an "encore," milled around until Ben
    Carrasco announced that the event was over and asked the audience to "take
    it outside."

    And all the while, the university's representative sat Chamberlain-like in
    his back row seat .

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