Horowitz, who has been called racist by numerous University of Wisconsin student organizations, is the founder of the Students for Academic Freedom. He visited UW as part of a campaign to kick off “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.”
“I figured the cold weather was coming, so I figured I’d warm things up,” Horowitz said.
“I’m afraid I am going to disappoint you; this evening is not about prejudice against Muslims.”
The lecturer compared the war in Iraq to the Vietnam War and said bringing American troops home would cause further loss of lives in the Middle East.
“The overthrow of Saddam Hussein was a good thing, and the United States cannot afford to pull out,” he said.
Horowitz criticized liberal opposition to the war in Iraq, and said had U.S. troops not invaded the Middle East, thousands of Jews in Israel would be killed as a result of religious extremism.
“If Arabs in the Middle East disarm, there will be peace. If Jews in the Middle East disarm, there will be genocide,” he added.
The lecturer also addressed oppressive acts of religious extremists against women in the Middle East.
“There are 130 million Muslim girls who have their genitals sliced off at puberty without anesthetics,” Horowitz said.
Former UW lecturer Kevin Barrett — who attracted national media attention to the university for promoting his belief that the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were an inside military job — was in attendance and voiced opposition, disrupting Horowitz’s talk near the beginning of the lecture.
“[Horowitz] is a suspect in mass murder and high treason, and needs to be confronted to tell the truth and force him to defend his ridiculous racist views,” Barrett said in a later interview with The Badger Herald.
Barrett, who was booed by the crowd after he interrupted the speech, left the Memorial Union Theater shortly thereafter in the midst of a popular UW football tradition — the “asshole” chant.
Before the lecture, dozens of UW students protested Horowitz’s visit, wearing green shirts to encourage unity amidst their cause and chanting “Racist, fascist, anti-gay, right-wing bigot go away.”
Among organizations represented at the event were the Muslim Students’ Association, College Democrats, Black Student Union, MultiCultural Student Coalition, International Socialist Organization and the Campus Antiwar Network.
College Democrats Chair Oliver Kiefer said protesters intended to change the tone of the Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, and added though protesters may not agree with Horowitz’s ideas, they respect Horowitz’s right to freedom of speech.
“I’m excited to see everyone here — these organizations represent people from every part of the globe,” Kiefer said. “One thing scarier than [Horowitz] speaking is silencing people.”
CAN member Chris Dols said though Horowitz’s reasons for terrorist attacks in America are rooted in religion, “America is the aggressor occupying the Muslim world.”
The lecture was followed by a question-and-answer session in which many students presented their reactions to the speaker.
“I just find it hard to believe that someone could argue that the reason why we invaded Iraq was for purely humanitarian reasons, when there are so many other occasions that we had not acted upon,” UW senior Jael Jaffe said.
When it benefits the U.S. through the oil availability in the Middle East, Jaffe added, “we find a motivation to go and create an excuse to overthrow a regime.”
College Republicans Chair Sara Mikolajczak, whose group sponsored the event, said opposition was not as much as College Republicans were expecting — the organization was “actually expecting it to be a little more radical.”
“I don’t know what the reasoning for it not coming out in that manner was, but it did go very well and I think people heard a lot of things they wouldn’t have otherwise heard,” Mikolajczak said. “Hopefully it opens up for a better discussion and more discourse on campus.”
College Republicans Vice Chair Mattie Duppler agreed with Mikolajczak, saying there should be more talks at UW about the war in Iraq and Islam in the Middle East.
“I definitely appreciate all the people who came out tonight who came and listened to the presentation respectfully,” Duppler said.