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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Horowitz debate returns to campus

Political activist David Horowitz spoke Tuesday to over 1,000 people at the Memorial Union Theatre, making arguments against reparations for slavery. Horowitz offered the campus a response to last week’s speech by Randall Robinson, who advocated slavery reparations.

Horowitz made headlines in a controversial debate last spring when he published anti-reparations advertisements in campus newspapers across the country, including The Badger Herald.

The public outrage that resulted from these advertisements caused many other newspapers to print retractions and apologies, and sparked massive public interest.

Horowitz introduced himself to the crowd by telling them, “I am the target of a nationwide hate [campaign], particularly a hate campaign on this campus.”

One of the reasons Horowitz said he placed the advertisement in the Herald was to incite the campus.

“The purpose in doing this was to present the other side,” Horowitz said. “I know that on American campuses today, the left not only dominates, but virtually excludes conservatives. That is a national tragedy, not just a tragedy for Wisconsin.”

Horowitz urged students to fight for a more intellectually diverse campus.

“Condemn people that steal newspapers, that defame other people, that are quick to play the race card,” he said, “[people who] don’t want to see dialogue take place.”

Horowitz went on to explain his viewpoints on the issue of slavery reparations.

“The reparations program, the reparations claim and the reparations ideology is destructive to black people, and destructive and divisive for Americans,” he said.

“I support reparations for slaves. I support reparations for children of slaves. Unfortunately, they’re all dead.”

Horowitz said people should be given the choice of helping others but not be forced to.

“You go to the American people and you ask them out of generosity and compassion. You don’t paint a caricature of them as slave owners and racists, and then, completely hypocritically, ask them for money.”

He also criticized the Multicultural Student Coalition for their behavior in response to his advertisement last spring.
“There should be a plaque in my name in the MCSC offices. Having behaved like a bunch of juvenile delinquents and much worse … they get a million dollars a year from all of you,” Horowitz said, referring to the record budget MCSC received for the 2002-2003 school year. “It’s all about a shakedown, that’s what it’s all about.”
Horowitz also argued that slavery existed in Africa long before Europeans arrived, and therefore, no country should be held liable for slavery reparations to Africans. He said America was actually the country responsible for ending slavery.
Expecting that the crowd might get out of hand when Horowitz spoke, extra security was used to keep things under control.
“Mr. Horowitz is more of a controversial individual,” said Lt. Glenn Miller of the Madison Police. “Speakers who have spoken out on similar issues have had more spirited discussion, so we feel this [extra security] is prudent to make sure everything is safe and secure.”
However, the crowd seemed to be well behaved. As an alternative to protesting or rioting, students passed out leaflets.
Graduate student Eric Rehder said leaflets were more beneficial than protests.

“We didn’t think that [protesting] was going to be nearly as effective as [passing out] leaflets,” he said. “People are going to make up their own mind[s].”

Professor Donald Downs introduced Horowitz, calling him a “prolific and controversial writer who has moved like a hurricane across the political map.”

In his youth, Horowitz had many left-wing political affiliations, including being a former member of the Black Panther Party. This was before, as Downs described it, “a change of heart befell him, moving him to the right.”

Downs said Horowitz “invokes thinking and strong emotions, possesses the courage of his convictions. He tells us what he thinks, and he tells us hard.”

He told those present that Horowitz, with his controversial beliefs, was providing a true test of the First Amendment.

“Do we truly believe in the primordial principles of free speech and thought that lie at the foundation of this university, or do we not?” Downs asked.

He cited the motto of the University of Wisconsin, explaining that this “fearless sifting and winnowing of ideas from which alone the truth can be found” was what the university encouraged by inviting speakers like Robinson and Horowitz.

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