Friday, November 18, 2011

The New Free Speech Movement

The Horowitz Maneuver, Part II
By Nicholas Stix
April 4, 2001
Toogood Reports

[“The Horowitz Maneuver: I. The Anti-Reparations Ad.”; and

“America’s Debt to Blacks Already Paid in Full.”]

David Horowitz' now notorious newspaper ad gives ten reasons against paying reparations for slavery:

1. There Is No Single Group Clearly Responsible For The Crime Of Slavery;
2. There Is No One Group That Benefited Exclusively From Its Fruits;
3. Only A Tiny Minority Of White Americans Ever Owned Slaves, And Others Gave Their Lives To Free Them;
4. America Today Is A Multi-Ethnic Nation and Most Americans Have No Connection (Direct Or Indirect) To Slavery;
5. The Historical Precedents Used To Justify The Reparations Claim Do Not Apply, And The Claim Itself Is Based On Race Not Injury;
6. The Reparations Argument Is Based On The Unfounded Claim That All African-American Descendants of Slaves Suffer From The Economic Consequences Of Slavery And Discrimination;
7. The Reparations Claim Is One More Attempt To Turn African-Americans Into Victims. It Sends A Damaging Message To The African-American Community;
8. Reparations To African Americans Have Already Been Paid;
9. What About The Debt Blacks Owe To America?; and
10. The Reparations Claim Is A Separatist Idea That Sets African-Americans Against The Nation That Gave Them Freedom.

Although I don't agree with all of Horowitz' points — especially numbers seven and nine — there is nothing shocking about his statements, or the reasons he gives to support them. Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League notwithstanding, Horowitz is not making claims on a par with Holocaust-deniers. He never denies that slavery or any of its many horrors occurred. [Postscript, November 18, 2011: I've since changed my mind, regarding point nine.]

And there is nothing in his advertisement that would sound strange to a serious, honest historian familiar with the respective, overlapping histories of African slavery and American race relations. However, such historians are presently in short supply, especially since the death of C. Vann Woodward, author of The Strange Career of Jim Crow, last year [2000].

David Horowitz is arguing a position that has been outlawed on college campuses, public and private alike, for purely political reasons, reasons having nothing to do with the facts or morality. That's another way of saying that the honest study and discussion of history has been outlawed on America's campuses.

Horowitz sought out opponents to debate the issue ... in vain. As the UC Berkeley Daily Californian reported on March 16, "Kelly Thomas, a member of the Patriot's editorial board, said event organizers had initially hoped to sponsor a debate between Horowitz and a liberal member of the campus community. She said the Cal Democrats, the American Civil Liberties Union, and several professors denied [sic] their request.

People who have the facts and morality on their side, welcome public debate. They do not look for dark, back alleys, away from public view, where they or their proxies can put a hatchet in their opponent's head.

The editor of the Daily Californian, Daniel Hernandez, apologized to black students for having run the ad, promising that he would work harder in the future to censor un-pc views, and be even more racist than had previously been the case. As an act of contrition, he gave up a page of ad space to black students to vent against Horowitz.

The letters that Daniel Hernandez ran against David Horowitz, by blacks and non-blacks, and students and alumni alike, were intellectually and morally on a par with the "Valley Girl" stuff that Jay Leno of the Tonight Show gets from folks he stops on the street — and on campus. As other student newspaper editors published similar letters, I will let those published by Hernandez on March 6 stand as typical.

"I am appalled that The Daily Californian would print a full page ad so racist and inflammatory ("Daily Cal Issues Apology Over Controversial Ad," March 2).

"Although the Daily Cal has offered an apology, I cannot accept it! There are no words that can accommodate your act nor the holocaust of enslavement.

"The negative impact of slavery is still present in America. How could the Daily Cal allow David Horowitz to promote racist propaganda—all for $1200 in advertisement revenue? Clearly, there are no ethics being taught at UC Berkeley.

"The fact that affirmative action has been abolished does not mean that it is open season to attack and insult blacks.

"I hope university officials at UC Berkeley and UC Davis take note: incidents like this make me ask myself why I send financial contributions to provide scholarships for students who clearly have no respect for higher education!
— Charri Hearn UC Berkeley alumnus [sic]

"What was the Daily Cal thinking in allowing David Horowitz's ad to be printed?

"I know there's free speech and all that, but to have taken money for an ad like that and printed it in our newspaper? What does that say about our prestigious university, which already is going under scrutiny for being unwelcoming and unfair to minorities?

"Horowitz's list is an example of how damaging and unsubstantiated the idea of reverse racism or discrimination can be. This guy not only is ignoring the facts of history, but is marginalizing whole communities who are still suffering due to a stigma of inferiority that has been hammered into people of color by white male supremacists.

"If the Daily Cal had any sense of honor or community within yourselves, it would see what a mistake it was to allow that list to be read by anyone—let alone printed and distributed.

— Sunny Horn UC Berkeley student

"The Daily Cal's apology in Thursday's paper is laudable, heartfelt and even eloquent at times. But it falls short ....

"How could the Daily Cal fail to know about David Horowitz? Here is some background: he's a former 60s lefty who's made a handsome living over the past two decades shilling the crackpot notions of the right. There is nothing wrong with this — it's the American way.

"In my view though, this guy, for the right amount of cash, would fabricate 'research' declaring, for example, the Holocaust a hoax and the massive slaughter of American Indians a historical lie. Anything from Horowitz should automatically trigger deep doubt."

— Jerry Holl Berkeley resident

"How much did the soul's of the Daily Cal's editors cost?–Because apparently David Horowitz had just enough money to make them sell their souls in order to print his ad.

"That ad is racist, inflammatory, and the Daily Cal thinks it can get away with it because it's published on a campus with only a 6 percent black population. How sad, and how indicative of the state of affairs in this nation."

— Bari al-Hakim UC Berkeley alumnus

"I am writing to express my shock and outrage at the advertisement placed in the Daily Cal by David Horowitz on Feb. 28.

"Certainly Horowitz is entitled to his opinions—however distorted and misinformed they may be—but I am disappointed that the Daily Cal thought it appropriate to print such a factually inaccurate and defamatory advertisement.

"To claim that white people set Africans in America free from slavery, or that Africans and Arabs were solely or even largely responsible for the slave trade, is entirely unsubstantiated and simply incorrect. One does not even need to support reparations to know that Horowitz is doing nothing but propagating hate and misinformation. I sincerely hope the Daily Cal will use better judgement in the future.

— Margot Brandenburg Stanford student

"I am extremely upset, offended and appalled by the complete disregard of the black community on this campus by the Daily Cal staff, specifically the editing staff.

"The racist ad published on Feb. 28 was a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of blacks who lost their lives during slavery, reconstruction, the civil rights movement, and to those who continue to be the victims of white aggression and intolerance. We will not tolerate a blatant disrespect and desecration of their memory for the Daily Cal's need of the almighty advertising dollar.

"The Daily Cal's poor excuse of an apology was conveniently tucked away in the corner of the paper and did not even have a bold headline. There was no mention of the protest that took place in the Daily Cal office and there was no sense of accountability—only lines and lines of excuses. Well, there is no excuse for incompetence of that magnitude. Someone cashed the $1200 for the ad, so someone had to have read it!

— Ambi Bohannon UC Berkeley student

"I am thoroughly offended, disgusted, and outraged that David Horowitz's ad 'essentially slipped through the cracks.' I do not for one minute believe that this ad just happened to be overlooked by everyone on the Daily Cal staff.

"I think that the paper did a big disservice to the community by publishing an ad of such audacity in the first place. The simple apology that the Daily Cal offers is not enough to amend the act of pure ignorance that was showcased in the Feb. 28 issue.

"The bottom line is that it should have never been published.

"The Daily Cal offered many excuses for how ads are handled by the newspaper, as if the fact of who funds the paper had anything to do with what is published.

"Never, again should an ad be published in a paper that is connected to such an institution of high statutes [sic] where students of all ethnic backgrounds study to earn degrees."

— Kenya Bingham UC Berkeley student

If the letters published by the Daily Cal condemning Horowitz are any indication, then Berkeley, which is generally considered the nation's finest public university, and one of its top ten or so, public or private, is vastly overrated. (Private Stanford, apparently, too!) Besides which, Berkeley was, in 1964, the origin of the so-called Free Speech Movement! I would have expected such historical ignorance, vacuous posturing, and contempt for the First Amendment from students and alumni of a middling institution, say New York University.

And the statements by some black students to reporters, claiming they "couldn't sleep" or "didn't feel welcome" on campus, as a result of the ad, were even more pathetic.

But then, veteran, professional mouthpiece Abraham Foxman, of the B'Nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League was no better, as his letter published in the March 23 New York Times makes abundantly clear:

"The controversy at Brown University over the student newspaper's decision to run an advertisement denouncing reparations for slavery illustrates how college campuses continue to be targeted for hate.

"For years, anti-Semites have sought to influence young minds on campus with advertisements that deny that the Holocaust happened. Despite having no basis in historical fact, these offensive ads have been accepted by many campus newspaper editors on the assumption that the First Amendment allows no alternative.

"In fact, college editors, like their professional counterparts, reserve the right to deny advertising based on a historical fallacy or that is explicitly offensive to a minority group."

So, according to Abe Foxman, opposing reparations is equivalent to denying the Holocaust ever occurred, and minority groups have the right to censor all campus publications. Apparently, it hasn't occurred to Foxman, a Jew, that his notion of "freedom of the press" would encourage the most anti-Semitic group in America, blacks, to silence Jews, or that it is much closer to the notions employed by Hitler, Mao, and Stalin, than to any recognizably American tradition.

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