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Horowitz Assails Academic Climate On Campuses

This story was written by Joy Resmovits, Columbia Daily Spectator
In his appearance at Columbia University Friday afternoon, David Horowitz, CC '59, addressed the war on terror, education at Columbia, and women's rights in predominantly Muslim countries.

Horowitz's speech, organized by the College Republicans, was the culmination of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, a controversial lecture tour spanning 114 U.S. college campuses. Public Safety guards flanked the doors of the CUID-only event and instituted a baggage check, as Horowitz spoke to an audience that filled about two-thirds of Lerner Cinema. The crowd was enthusiastic, though some potential dissenters were absent, opting for protests held at the same time.

Horowitz took shots at Columbia, liberals, and critics of the term "Islamo-Fascist."

"When I came to this campus as a freshman 52 years ago ... the gates and the atmosphere was a lot more hospitable to actual thinking than it is today," Horowitz said. A conservative writer, Horowitz said he was a Marxist as an undergraduate in a place where most professors were not.

"In those days ... I never heard a professor express a political opinion in the classroom one time," he said, adding that, "nooses have been put figuratively on the doors of the College Republicans."

Horowitz clarified the term Islamo-Fascism, saying he intended the week to be a defense of moderate Muslims. He said Algerian Muslims first coined the term as "Islamo-Fascist" organizations slaughtered them in the 1990s. According to Horowitz, Nazism encouraged the development of modern Islamo-Fascism. But many have countered that Horowitz exploits the term to pursue his own agenda.

The speech generated a mostly positive response from the audience. As Horowitz spoke, many of his more vocal critics, including the College Democrats, attended a panel of four Columbia professors who discussed the dangers of Horowitz's ideas.

To the Democrats at Columbia, Horowitz said, "You are getting a worse education than the conservatives," because conservatives "are all challenged all the time." He said that education at Columbia is one-sided, citing as an example that the Womens' Studies department does not deal with the oppression of women in Muslim countries.

"There are a hundred and thirty million girls in the Islamic world who have had their genitals sliced off because according to a perverse interpretation of Islamic tradition, female sexual pleasure is evil, so this is to deprive them of pleasure in the sexual act."

Horowitz said that people mistakenly blame President George W. Bush for the Iraq War.

"The identification of America as a great Satan did not come during the administration of George Bush," Horowitz said. "The first crowds in the Muslim world chanting a million strong -- a million Muslims in a capital city chanting 'death to America,' that's you, it's everyone here, did not come during the administration of George Bush. It came during the administration of Jimmy Carter."

According to Horowitz, when previous President Jimmy Carter supported the 1979 Iranian revolution by releasing Ayatollah Khomeini's cohorts from jail, he "pulled the rug from under the Shah," who liberated women in Iran by offering them education.

The event avoided the abrupt but non-violent ending of Horowitz's appearance at Emory University Wednesday, during which a boisterous audience prompted police to escort Horowitz off the stage mid-way through his speech. Audience members submitted questions on index cards, which Chris Kulawik, CC '08 and College Republicans president, sifted through and presented. Horowitz cut off Kulawik before he finished reading some questions. The audience met many of Horowitz's points with enthusiastic clapping.

When Kulawik read a questio inquiring about "American Fascism," Horowitz dismissed the question by saying "people who think there's an American fascism are delusional."

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© 2007 Columbia Daily Spectator via U-WIRE