David Horowitz eats everything!

This is David Horowitz. Once a member of a militant far-left offshoot, he has since found the light (and the cash) in renouncing his ways and joining the far right. His current project is to increase the right’s domination of our country’s universities. (You see, for the totalitarian right, control over all three branches of government, the state governments, the media, and the lower schools is not enough. Everything must be under their command.) Horowitz has packaged this attempt at thought control as “academic freedom” and “intellectual diversity”, which presents some funny problems, not the least of which is that he opposes gender and racial diversity.

But I get ahead of myself. The talk is funded by the Stanford Hillel (I can’t believe I almost considered thinking about looking at joining this disgusting far-right organization — actual talk name: “Why do Jews vote the way they do?”) and Young America’s Foundation (a right-wingers-on-campus group). There’s very low turnout. It’s in the same auditorium that hosted Amy Goodman but instead of being standing-room-only, there are only a couple dozen people at all. I wonder how much the Stanford Hillel paid for this mess.

Horowitz has nothing to do, so he wanders through the small audience. Although I sit 2/3s of the way back, he manages to come out and sign a book for the guy behind me. “I visit FrontPageMag.com [Horowitz’s website] every day,” he gushes. Horowitz doesn’t have a pen, so I lend him mine. (I lent Horowitz a pen!) “I tell all my friends to visit,” the fan continues, “but so far all I get is epithets.” I try to hide my copy of A People’s History of the United States as Horowitz gives me the pen back, in order to avoid some epithets of my own.

A lady from YAF introduces Horowitz, explaining that “local philanthropists” have funded a 3-campus tour in the area. Before the talk has even started, she already neatly refutes any pretense that this is going to be about stifling bias or promoting diversity: she explains that she got interested in this topic because she once went to a Stanford alumni event where a professor gave a talk on Palestinian history. She “burned with shame” at how he (in her view) distorted the facts, quoted out of context, pursued a “Marxist-based agenda” which, although she could apparently discover it, remained “subterranean” to everyone else. And then, to top it all off, he said he didn’t believe in objective truth! Teaching one point of view, the lady concludes, is like a pedophile giving advanced warning: it’s not OK.

(In reality, it’s pretty obvious the guy simply gave a part-way accurate description of Palestinian history and then probably echoed Howard Zinn’s comment that “any chosen emphasis supports (whether the historian means to or not) some kind of interest”. So did she just compare all mainstream historians to pedophiles?)

An actual student follows the lady and thanks all the funding groups: the Stanford Jewish-American Alliance, Hillel, Chabad, Young America’s Foundation. According to the bio he reads, Horowitz was once a “civil-rights activist” (this is apparently referring to Horowitz’s association with the Black Panther Party) who now runs a popular conservative website which gets 1 million readers a month.

Finally it’s time for Horowitz himself. He praises Stanford for being a “civilized” institution since, unlike Berkeley and San Francisco State University, he does not need 8 armed guards to protect his right to speak. (Outside I notice 2 possibly-armed guards, although since nobody showed up, they don’t seem to have much to do.) He says this civility is because the university management carefully “disciplin[es] troublemakers” to enforce decorum, so he thanks the management for that.

Horowitz lays out his basic argument: ‘You can’t get a good education if you only get half the story. And you’re not getting a good education.’ A recent study of Stanford and Berkeley found Kerry supporters outnumbered 30 to 1, hardly a presence at all. Why? Because political radicals who didn’t want to fight Communism got student deferments to and graduate degrees and faculty jobs. They took over the search committees and transformed the entire culture. (Yes, Horowitz actually talks like this.)

Sure, some of it is self-selection. Leftists are by nature missionaries since, following Rousseau, they believe “man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains,” while conservatives understand that the corruption is in our nature and institutions just reflect it. (I’m actually impressed with Horowitz’s keen grasp of this — I don’t think I’ve ever heard any other figure articulate the differences quite so clearly. Apparently it’s from right-winger Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions.) So leftists go into “missionary professions”: journalism, teaching, politics. But we have to break up this leftist control so that students get a diversity of views.

How do they do it? They control the search committees. He’s been on 250 campuses — at everyone there are at most 2 or 3 professors who are sympathetic to him. One, in November 2001 in Delaware, told him that he simply wasn’t allowed on the search committees. Conservatives, Horowitz says, believe in process and different points of view. But the leftists just wanted to hire another Marxist. At another university, a prospective professor says that he was about to get a job as an Asian History professor but the offer was rescinded after he let slip that he supported school vouchers. When Horowitz was a Marxist he was never singled out like that.

Professors, he says, should never reveal their political perspectives. After all, doctors don’t have politics; they’re professionals. But professors have the audacity to put political cartoons on their doors, scaring away timid conservatives. The administration should stop them. (Yes, he just promoted a ban on posting cartoons on your door.)

[Horowitz does a bit on Ward Churchill, which I won’t go into. As an aside, Horowitz mentions that the left controls the Nobel Prizes too, because how else could Rigoberto Menchu have won?]

But all this discrimination has its benefits — conservatives have been toughened by being oppressed, they have to come up with answers to professors’ questions about their beliefs, while people on the left are clueless and not familiar with the most basic conservative critiques.

[Horowitz does a bit about the war on terror; I’ll omit that too, except to note that he said ‘We’re told the Iraq War is not about the war on terror. But all the attacks came from Arab-Muslims. This is their home.’]

‘Campuses are, to some extent, fear societies. Kids fear they’ll be denounced a racist. Or a right-winger. Campuses are less free than any other time, at least since Salem. They were way more free dung the McCarthy era.’

Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice (a Stalinist Muslim pro-terrorist North Korean Marxist-Leninist group, Horowitz says to applause), organized a teachers’ strike on campus against the war, apparently. Horowitz would have fired everyone who refused to teach. Stanford may be civilized, but it still has a ways to go. (Apparently by civilized, Horowitz means uncivilized.) Lynn Stewart, the lawyer who was convicted for defending a terrorist, was a guest at the Stanford Law School. (Not so civilized.) In other news, the National Lawyers Guild is a “Soviet front”, the Center for Constitutional Rights is a “Comminist organization” and Lynn Stewart gave a tosat to Marx, Ho, Lenin, and Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Leftist curriculum supports our enemies. Read his quotes from Todd Gitlin. ‘What they say about our history is the same as Hamas’: the US is the Great Satan. There’s another way to teach history. In every “Indian war”, thgere were the same number of Indians on the side of the settlers as on the side of the Indians, Horowitz says. (I really have a hard time believing that.) And while it’s true we had slavery, they had slavery in Africa for hundreds of years — it was dead white Christian males in the US and England who led the world in getting rid of it because it was an offense to God. (Please.)

We have to teach students this uplifting version of American history because if you’re not taught to be proud of your country, you cannot defend yourself.

The talk ends and we move to Q&A. I notice Horowitz has failed to mention what we can do to fight this insidious leftist control. I get in line.

The first person asks Horowitz how to distinguish this from affirmative action. Horowitz sort of dodges the question, talking more about how conservatives are discriminated against in his view, before assuring me that he doesn’t support a requirement of hiring conservatives, he just thinks the management should seek out good conservatives (he mentions Thomas Sowell as an example) and hire them.

Another student asks how liberals managed to take control of everything. ‘Hollywood isn’t liberal,’ Horowitz replies. (This is pretty shocking, since Horowitz’s previous job was fighting leftists in Hollywood — maybe his work is done?) Harvard is a lifetime job, but Hollywood has to reflect the culture. “Market institutions are somewhat self-orrecting” — just look at talk radio, FOX, the Internet. Roger Ailes introduced the idea of two sides. But universities are still feudal. The only solution is to create a new faculty in a conservative studies department, just like women’s studies, which could grow as the students vote with their feet. (I guess the economics department isn’t enough for him.)

A military man says he’s concerned because leftists are becoming anti-US. Horowitz says he’s worried too. Bush-hatred, he explains, is simply a foil for America-hatred, because how could you possibly hate Bush? (Yes, he really did say that.) He’s a strong leader and the leftists hate that. A girl in line responds that she doesn’t like Bush (maybe she’s a libertarian?) and thinks she should be able to disagree with him without hating America. Horowitz explains that Bush hatred is the problem, not disagreement. ‘Friends disagree with me, but they don’t compare me to Hitler!’

It’s my turn. I say that I understand programs to ensure blacks and women aren’t discriminated against, but why do conservatives deserve special treatment? Horowitz emphasizes that he’s against affirmative action and says that his point is that exposure to new ideas is far more important than skin color. (The audience applauds at Horowitz’s ability to evade my poorly-constructed question.)

Finally, someone asks what we can do about it. Horowitz says hes started a group, StudentsForAcademicFreedom.org (200K visitors!), where conservatives can tattle on oppressive leftists. (Some samples: “I wrote about how family values in the books weve [sic] read aren’t good. I know the paper was pretty much great because I spell checked it and proofred [sic] it twice. I got an D- just because the professor hates families and thinks its [sic] okay to be gay.” “Talked about flags as symbols of states and argued that new Iraqi flag was not a result of a transparent and fair process… Claimed AS FACT that other Arab societies had red, green and black in their flags…”) The only people opposed to his work are totalitarian professors.

He’s also promoting the “Academic Bill of Rights” and while he doesn’t say what it says or what it does, he assures us it’s a “very liberal document”. He showed it to some real liberals — Stanley Fish, Todd Gitlin (so liberal he once called for a million Mogadishus! [wrong!]), Michael Berubé (who, Horowitz says, once compared him to Hitler! well, a propagandist for Hitler [wrong!]) — and took out anything that irritated them. They approved “every jot and tittle.”

Well, this didn’t sound right to me — after all, Michael Berubé has some very funny posts at Horowitz’s expense: Keeping conservatives out of academe, International leftist network exposed!, Clumpy v. smooth, Time to respond to Horowitz’s post — and of course it turned out to be a big lie. Stanley Fish called the Bill of Rights “the Trojan horse of a dark design”, Gitlin calls it “a distinctly retro, vindictive approach”, and Berubé insists he “rather pointedly declined to sign it, as David asked me to, precisely because it would lead to all manner of absurd conclusions”.

Anyway, Horowitz pretends the only people who oppose the bill are the American Association of University Professors, who called it a “grave threat” to academic freedom. (If you’ve been following along, it’s pretty obvious they’re leftist Stalinist Marxist terrorists.)

The bill, Horowitz explains, just says we don’t know the truth and students should get the spectrum of views. Classrooms should not be used for indoctrinating, they should reflect political diversity, they shouldn’t let ROTC students be called baby-killers.

Horowitz explains how he gets these bills passed. The university board really supports the bill, since it helps him get donors, but he doesn’t want to fight the 50 or so extreme Marxists about it. So Horowitz goes to the legislature (controlled by Republicans) and has them pretend to pass the bill, then goes back to the university and says ‘you can pass this bill or we can pass it for you’ and they pass it and the legislature withdraws it. Horowitz doesn’t really want to regulate universities, so this is a win for him.

And time is up. The next day the Stanford Daily reports that “During his time on campus, Horowitz met with Jeff Wachtel, senior assistant to University President John Hennessy, to lobby for the adoption of the Academic Bill of Rights at Stanford.”

Horowitz reposted the Daily article on his site under the heading “Horowitz Rocks Leftist Academia at Stanford”, and pointing out some mistakes the paper made. (Hilariously, the paper heard “United for Peace and Justice is led by a ’60s Stalinist” as “United for Peace and Justice is led by 60 Stalinists”, although apparently they heard the bit about it being a “Muslim pro-terrorist” and “North Korean Marxist-Leninist group” correctly.)

posted February 27, 2005 01:12 AM (Education) (11 comments) #


Phillip Zimbardo on Time Perspective
Stanford: Go, Team, Go!
Intellectual Diversity at Stanford
Stanford: Shocking
Stanford: Sanity
David Horowitz on Academic Freedom
Stanford: Reach Out and Hug Someone
Stanford: Allergic Reactions
Stanford: Limerick
Stanford: Psychology is a Fraud
Jimbo Wales on Wikipedia


…hilarious! Thanks for writing. What a scary man. Watch out, he might come after you some time soon. Then you’ll be up there along with Marx, Ho, and Bin Laden on his Network.

posted by Suzanne at February 27, 2005 10:31 PM #

Well done. On my blog I posted a link to your study of intellectual diversity. I am honestly really concerned that conservatives are mobilizing to assaul t universities.

posted by Lemuel at February 27, 2005 11:32 PM #

He really said I compared him to Hitler? Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket. Actually, I responded to his defense of Pinochet and challenged him to take it to the next level: http://archive.salon.com/letters/1998/12/04letters2.html.

posted by Michael Bérubé at February 28, 2005 12:38 AM #

This is a very good account of that non-event, which I also attended. I even went up and shook Horowitz’s hand beforehand, and told him I had just written a response to his most recent flaming of me, published earlier that day. He mumbled something into his shirt about how my criticisms didn’t addressed the contents of the ABOR, and asked me what I was teaching at Stanford.

I would add just one more thing to your account. Halfway through the talk (i.e. in between the half hour of anecdotes about leftist domination on campuses, and the half hour of mindless pro-war and pro-Bush blather), the Ho mentioned that he had a solution to campus leftism called the Academic Bill of Rights. He added that Graham Larkin and the AAUP don’t like the proposed legislation, but that he would save any further discussion of the topic until question period. All in all it was pretty sad for a talk nominally about “academic bias”, and all too reminiscent of the only other talk I had ever heard him give.

Aaron, it’s great to see students standing up to the ABOR, especially because its supporters are trying to make us believe that student interests are somehow at odds with faculty freedom of speech. As is generally the case with things that come out of Horowitz’s mouth, nothing could be further from the truth.

posted by Graham Larkin at February 28, 2005 01:47 AM #

Oh wow! A comment by Michael Berubé! It’s an honor.

He really said I compared him to Hitler? Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket.

Yes, according to my contemporaneous notes and memory. In fairness, though, he quickly backed off and said you only compared him to a propagandist for Hitler. (At the time, I assumed he meant you compared him to Goebbels, like O’Reilly is always doing.)

posted by Aaron Swartz at February 28, 2005 02:29 AM #

A great liberal arts education gives opportunities for critical thinking.

posted by skeeter2 at February 28, 2005 03:20 PM #

Just one correction: it was Columbia anthropologist Nicholas De Genova, not Todd Gitlin, who made the infamous “million Mogadishus” remark.

posted by Alex Pang at March 1, 2005 01:45 AM #

Is this “Young America’s Foundation” related to the “Young Americans for Freedom” organization? They share the same initials. The latter was a really obnoxious far-right operation headed by what became Republican operatives.

posted by raj at March 1, 2005 06:51 AM #

That’s a perfect picture to symbolize what you said in the first paragraph: his arms are outstretched, ready to grab everything.


The grabbing hands

Grab all they can

All for themselves

After all


posted by at March 4, 2005 07:04 PM #

For all your trying to cast him in an evil light, most of your comments show that you are exactly the kind of left winger being indoctrinated by the marxist universities of the current day. Edit away.

posted by RON at March 13, 2005 07:17 PM #

I came across this page juxtaposing various quotes about Horowitz’s campaign with Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Quite scary, really.

posted by James at March 18, 2005 11:37 AM #

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