Editor’s Note: David Horowitz has disputed some of the assertions made in this column, which he believes are defamatory. In the interest of presenting all viewpoints, an agreement was reached with Mr. Horowitz where he was allowed to respond with equal space in a letter to the editor which printed in the March 28 edition of the Daily Trojan.
The College Republicans will be hosting David Horowitz on Wednesday for an event called “Stop the Jew Hatred: How Anti-Semitism is Perpetuated on College Campuses.” Dubbed the godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Horowitz is a conservative writer whose fundamentalist views degrade black Americans, immigrants and Arabs. Because incendiary rhetoric breeds intolerance against certain groups, it is irresponsible for a student organization to bring in a speaker who foments religious and ethnic hostilities.
Horowitz has a history of making unfounded and racist remarks. He has refuted the prevalence of institutionalized racism in the United States. He claims that “some blacks can’t seem to locate the ladder of opportunity within reach of others,” and in doing so, dismisses the systems that actively oppress black Americans. He has described the Black Lives Matter movement as “a racist hate group founded by a core of radicals.”
On Fox News’ Neil Cavuto Show, he said: “Muslim Student Associations were created by Hamas and funded by Saudi Arabia.” He also described Muslim students as “Wahhabi Islamicists [sic]” who “basically support our enemies.” His assertion is dangerously reductive and portrays all Muslims as extremists. His intent is to incite Islamophobia and to criminalize Muslim students. This type of us-versus-them mentality further divides people and reduces the complexities of Muslim identity.
In response to Israeli apartheid Week, Horowitz spoke to Brooklyn College using defamatory language to vilify and dehumanize Palestinians.
“No people have shown themselves as so morally sick as the Palestinians,” Horowitz said. “No other people has sunk so low as the Palestinians.” This is a man who openly and unabashedly slanders an entire population — on what merit can someone who is racist toward one group condemn the prejudice and hatred of another?
Horowitz’s hate-mongering against Muslims, African-Americans and Palestinians is unacceptable. People like Horowitz work to create spaces for the mass production of ignorance to promote their own political agendas.
While anti-Semitism is certainly an issue that deserves attention, bringing in a speaker like Horowitz creates an environment for inflammatory rhetoric rather than academic discourse. In fact, selecting a man whose bigotry and ignorance is well-known does a disservice to students who want to engage in a discussion about anti-Semitism. It is important to note that anti-Semitism — prejudice or hatred of Jews — is not the same as anti-Zionism, which opposes Israeli ethno-nationalism and the occupation of the Palestinian territories. I say this specifically because the description of the event is full of seditious language meant to divide the student body into two parties: (1) those who believe in, as the Facebook event asserts, “‘apartheid walls’ which disseminate mendacious Hamas propaganda” and bolster “lies about the Jewish state spread by Palestinian terrorists and their campus allies” and (2) everyone else. This type of rhetoric does little to facilitate an academic discussion but instead perpetuates an extreme interpretation of anti-Zionism. Conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism is not only ignorant but also inaccurate.
There is very little respect for those who disagree with the Zionist cause. I find this ironic, coming from a campus organization that constantly recycles the same two arguments when faced with a difference of opinion — that the opposition to inflammatory rhetoric is an attack on freedom of speech and that students who enjoy left-wing privilege do not make room for intellectual diversity on campus. This said, why is an opinion different from traditional conservatism met with degradation? It seems as though the argument for intellectual diversity is only valid when it backs the conservative cause.
What the College Republicans need to understand is that criticizing Horowitz is not an attack on freedom of speech but rather on hate speech. According to the American Bar Association, hate speech is “speech that offends, threatens or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or other trait.”
Anti-Semitism has no place on our campus. Hatred against Jews is shameful and dangerous. Rhetoric or hate crimes steeped in anti-Jewish sentiment are never to be tolerated. All Jewish students should feel safe and protected at USC. In this regard, I contend that the same treatment is due to people of other faiths. Anti-Semitism is an important topic that needs to be addressed, but doing so does not give students a free pass to slander Muslims and belittle Palestinian students and their allies. All students are entitled to their opinions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and those same students deserve to be treated with respect regardless of their political and ethnic affiliations.
Lida Dianti is a junior majoring in international relations. Her column, “That’s So Racist!,” runs Wednesdays.