Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Horowitz lecture may instigate protests

Over nine months after riling college communities across the nation with a controversial advertisement denouncing reparations for slavery, conservative author David Horowitz will speak tonight as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series.

Horowitz sparked an emotional reaction on the UW-Madison campus; the full-page ad, “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea — and Racist, Too,” was published by The Badger Herald, sparking an angry protest and public criticism from the Multicultural Student Coalition and the UW administration and initiating a nationwide debate over free speech.

After UW’s Associated Students of Madison discussed reprimanding the Herald by withdrawing its own ads and the entire press run of the Brown Daily Herald was seized, the dust began to settle. Personal grievances were soon redirected toward Horowitz and away from the nearly 30 college newspapers that ran the ad, but the debate over reparations continued.

Last week, esteemed author and political activist Randall Robinson spoke out in favor of reparations.

Tonight it is Horowitz’ turn to speak in a place he said is “terrorized by left-wing totalitarians.” The outcome is unpredictable.

Shortly after the announcement that Horowitz would speak on the UW campus, groups such as the MCSC, the UW Greens and the Madison Area Peace Coalition began talking about protests.

In a widespread e-mail message, MAPC member Derek Wright offered some ideas about how the liberal community could jointly protest not only Horowitz, but also the university for inviting him to speak.

“We should hold the UW accountable for spending our money to fund this kind of event,” Wright said. “What on Earth qualifies Horowitz for the title of ‘Distinguished?’ We can turn Horowitz’ visit against himself, and use it to build everything he opposes.”

Both the MAPC and the UW Greens held organizational meetings last weekend, and while ideas on how to protest Horowitz were tossed around, like walking out and displaying signs when Horowitz says something they disagree with, the common rumor now is that outside of handing out literature denouncing Horowitz’ beliefs there will be no serious confrontation.

“I think they are going to take the opportunity of having a lot of people coming ? and try and get people interested in the serious issues,” said Dane County Board Executive Echnaton Vedder, who has worked with the Greens in the past. “He’s talking about shutting people down and silencing activists, and it would be very counterproductive to shut him down.”

Instead, Midwest National Reparations Convention coordinator Stan Woodard said, the speech should be allowed to run its course.

Woodard said he would attend, but not protest, so he can “make sure the best we can that [Horowitz] gets the opportunity to say his madness.”

Even MCSC chair Tshaka Barrows, the chief instigator of the Herald protest last spring, said he would be quiet.

“I probably won’t even attend,” he said. “I have a lot of work to do.”

In any case, DLS director Tim Lindl said UW is prepared for the worst.

“We’ve heard rumors that there are going to be protests, and we’ve heard rumors that groups are going to interrupt the speech,” Lindl said, noting that he had also heard the opposite. “We’re ready for the worst that could happen.”

Lindl would not give any details about security, but did say that historically UW provides protection for controversial speakers.

“We’re more cautious with our more controversial speakers,” Lindl said. “Horowitz is our speaker this year that we will have to treat a little different than the rest of our speakers.”

Early news reports indicated that plainclothes UW police officers would be in attendance, but Lindl said he could not comment.

Horowitz has been known to instigate controversy in the past with his personal team of black bodyguards.

Lindl said he was confident that the situation would not get out of hand.

“I hope that he will be able to speak,” he said. “[And] that we can have a civilized discourse about the topic.”

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