On Wednesday evening, the Emory University Chapter of the College Republicans hosted acclaimed author and activist David Horowitz for a lecture on radical Islam as part of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. From the beginning of Horowitz’s speech, rowdy protesters continually interrupted him and less than half an hour into the event, the crowd became so disruptive that police were called in and Horowitz had to be escorted off stage.
The event was part of the Terrorism Awareness Project
, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center dedicated to waking up American college students to the threat of militant Islam. As soon as Horowitz was introduced, protesters began their efforts with loud boos and chants of “Heil Hitler.”
Despite the people who stood with their backs to Horowitz and the shouting of obscenities and other remarks from audience members, Horowitz attempted to deliver his speech that covered academic freedom and radical Islam. Considering the actions of the audience and the problem of universities only giving students half the story, Horowitz asked the audience, “How can you learn if you can’t see the arguments?”
This event was a perfect example of the left’s intolerance to other points of view. Students who had the opportunity to ask questions they wrote down on index cards were never given the chance to hear them answered because of the actions of those who do not believe in free speech for those who hold opposing points of view.
Over 300 people – what appeared to be a cross-section of students, professors, and Atlanta community members – packed into White Hall where the event was held. The audience included a wide range of Leftists from Amnesty International, Veterans for Peace, and Students for Justice in Palestine, as well as Muslim groups such as the Muslim Student Association.
In addition, members of “National Project to Defend Dissent & Critical Thinking in Academia,” an organization dedicated to opposing Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week events throughout the country, participated in the protests dressed in orange attire as a reference to Guantanamo Bay. There was also a sizable group of men and women dressed in traditional Muslim garb as well as students wearing Kafiyehs, a symbol of Arab solidarity.
Before Horowitz came onto the stage, the audience members were respectfully asked that if they were going to wave signs or stand up that they move to the back as to not disrupt the view of others. Signs were abundant. Some had pictures of bloodied, bandaged children; others read “Stop Islamophobia.” Another sign read “Axis of evil” and had pictures of Horowitz along with Rick Santorum and Ann Coulter.
Throughout the lecture, many protesters were waving their signs, and yelling “Does George Bush respect anybody’s rights?” and “Are we going to talk about who killed JFK?” The colorful expressions shouted by protesters included the generic, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay. David Horowitz, go away!” and “stop the war for oil,” as well as more creative “why don’t we talk about fascism in America?” and “no more torture in our name.”
When Horowitz warned the audience of the threat of a nuclear attack, someone yelled, “Be afraid, be very afraid,” nearly bursting out into an impromptu dance. The audience used a lot of rancorous laughter to disrupt the speech. As soon as Horowitz commented on radical Islam waging war against the West, someone predictably yelled, “do you think it has anything to do with Israel's treatment of Palestine?”
When Horowitz talked about Christians burning Jews at the stake during the crusades and Jews finding Muslims to be more hospitable, someone shouted “That’s exactly what Ann Coulter is calling for now.” When Horowitz mentioned that Jews and Christians are now treated as second class citizens in much of the Muslim world, a loud applause shot up from the audience.
When Horowitz tried to bring up the treatment of women and issues such as female genital mutilation (FGM), the audience chanted, “That’s not Islam.” “I’ve spoken at Emory University several times and I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Horowitz responding to the crowd as they shouted and jeered.
“This is exactly what the fascists did in Germany in the 1930s.” The loud chants, sign-waving, and disruptive gestures continued to escalate from audience members until the atmosphere was so chaotic that even the police present were unable to subdue the crowd. Horowitz was led off stage and left the campus under tight security, and the event came to an abrupt end.
After Senior Vice Provost for Community and Diversity Ozzie Harris announced that audience members should sit down and let the speech continue or risk being forcibly removed, protesters shouted, “Everybody stand up, they can't take us all!” and “Stand up in solidarity!” At the end, when Horowitz’ speech could no longer continue, chants of “This is what democracy looks like” shot up throughout the audience.
“This is a poor reflection on Emory, and we are embarrassed by the actions of so many in the campus community,” said Emory College Republicans Chairman Ben Clark.” The Emory administration must make it clear that they do not condone the protesters’ behavior, but that they respect Horowitz’s right to speak on campus and will work to ensure that this does not happen again.”
Janet Levy, a board member of the Horowitz Freedom Center, and her son, who is a student at Emory, attended the event and were both noticeably disturbed by the spectacle, describing it as “absolutely insane.” “I never expected this at Emory,” said Levy.
On Thursday morning, several University officials at Emory were reached by phone but declined to comment on Wednesday’s incident, and calls to the office of Community and Diversity have not yet been returned.
Many in the audience left the event disappointed. After the event, even some students who proclaimed their hatred David Horowitz expressed their disappointment and sadness with what transpired.
Other students and professors expressed that this made Emory look bad. “Even the students who did not agree with David Horowitz did not get a chance to speak their minds because of the protesters’ disruptive actions,” said Emory Professor Mark Bauerlein.
“No one was able to listen to the lecture or to speak themselves – pro or con – everyone was shut down.” Although the actions of campus leftists culminated during David Horowitz’s lecture, in reality what transpired is indicative of what has become a toxic environment on today’s university campuses.
Conservative viewpoints are repeatedly stifled and censored, and often those who dare to question the left-wing orthodoxy are treated as second-class citizens on campus. Emory University is no exception, and has once again demonstrated the campus community’s utter intolerance and inability to engage in civil debate. In the days leading up to the event, Students for Critical Thinking mobilized for the lecture and asked students to “Turn Your Back on Horowitz” and “Wear Orange Arm Band for the color of victims of torture in Guantanamo and color of opposition.”
Presuming not only the content of Horowitz’s speech but even the motives of Emory’s College Republicans, they stated, “Promoting an atmosphere of fear and prejudice, promoters of the event plan to smear Muslim Student Associations and Women’s Studies Departments as un-American terrorist sympathizers.” The National Project to Defend Dissent & Critical Thinking in Academia, which was present in full force at Emory, asserts that “David Horowitz and Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week must be thoroughly exposed, repudiated and politically defeated” and has stated that their goal is to “Expose and Defeat This Reactionary Offensive.”
The posters they were handing out at Emory’s lecture included photos of Horowitz, Rick Santorum, Michael Ledeen, and Ann Coulter, and stated that, “Horowitz has enlisted some of the most extreme, and dangerous, ideologues as spokespeople, and is working with Christian fundamentalists, military and veteran’s groups, and the entire range of conservative and reactionary student organizations in an attempt to hold what he says will be the largest conservative university protest in US history.” Even though many in the audience were obviously not part of the student body, their participation demonstrates the ability of Emory to attract leftists from every segment of the public.
“It really calls into question Emory’s independence in conducting extracurricular activities,” said Professor Bauerlein. Protesters were plentiful, but their ability to be open-minded and respectful was non-existent. It was a prime example of the state of college campuses where mob rule is the only rule.
The crowd which turned hostile at Horowitz’s introduction was not there to listen to his speech and give their opinion or ask a question, rather it was to keep the ideas that Horowitz was expressing from the minds of the students who were eager to hear them. “Ignoring his appearance on campus will not stop the spread of Islamophobia in the country and will continue to allow for dissent and critical thinking to be equated with treason,” read a statement by Students for Critical Thinking at Emory University. “Stand against censorship of our classrooms and defend critical thinking.”
It is very ironic that the very people who claim to “stand against censorship” and “defend critical thinking” on campus are the ones who were responsible for shutting down Horowitz’s speech on Wednesday evening. Rather than engage in a civil debate about the critical issues facing our country and our world, leftists from a cross-section of the community once again exposed their true agenda: to stifle all viewpoints not lockstep in line with their own. Was Wednesday’s event an indication that these ideas are unwelcome at Emory?
What has been going on in the classroom or on campus in general to facilitate such a reaction? How will the university administration react? The logical inconsistency of the left couldn’t be clearer: Students can listen to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak, but they cannot hear David Horowitz. Islamo-Fascism is a term rarely heard, if at all, on campuses. The dominating leftist ideologues that run our universities fail to recognize the threat of radical Islam and therefore do their greatest to instill the same in students.
The College Republicans stuck their necks out by hosting David Horowitz and should be commended for taking the initiative of expanding the marketplace of ideas at Emory. Unfortunately, the audience conducted itself in an unwelcoming manner and ultimately an embarrassment for everyone involved. “The campus Left pretends to believe in free speech but can't even allow mass murder and terrorism to be criticized,” said David French, an authority on campus affairs who currently leads the Alliance Defense Fund’s Center for Academic Freedom. “Islamic fascists threaten our very existence, but these speech suppressors imagine these killers either don’t exist or that they should be honored for their “diversity.’” What transpired at Emory on Wednesday night demonstrates the reality of this assertion, and the outrageous actions that result when Islamic Fascism and University Leftism converge on a college campus.
The campus Left pretends to believe in free speech, but can’t even bring itself to let mass murder and terrorism be criticized. In case these campus censors haven’t noticed, our very civilization is being threatened, but they line up with the same enemy who would obliterate every freedom these Leftwing extremists choose to abuse. Despite the debacle at Emory and the sad state of campus affairs it generally represents, conservative students around the country have reason for optimism.
Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week demonstrates that College Republicans and other conservative campus groups are more organized than ever, and determined to tackle tough issues such as the threat of global Islamic Jihad. Rather than backing down in the face of such extreme opposition from the campus left and their sympathizers, conservatives must step up the fight. By promoting educated discussion on campus, conservative students are taking the lead in raising awareness of the critical challenges facing our country.
They are also exposing the lack of academic freedom and intellectual diversity in every aspect of the campus environment. Armed with many resources provided by groups such as the David Horowitz Freedom Center, conservatives must continue to advance their message on campus. By all indications they are doing just that, as over 100 campuses across America are hosting speeches, film screenings, and other events this week as part of the Terrorism Awareness Project. “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week has been very effective across the country, and even our opposition demonstrates that,” said Horowitz, reflecting on Wednesday’s debacle at Emory. “We’ve already won this debate.”
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Ruth Malhotra is a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, studying International Affairs and Public Policy. Orit Sklar is a graduate of Georgia Tech, where she studied Civil Engineering. Malhotra and Sklar have both been involved with College Republicans and Jackets for Israel at Georgia Tech, and have been leaders in the movement for academic freedom and intellectual diversity nationwide. Malhotra and Sklar are currently co-plaintiffs in a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging Georgia Tech’s unconstitutional policies for free speech and religious liberty. Malhotra can be reached at
, and Sklar can be reached at