Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Horowitz: Fear of offending others suppresses free speech

David Horowitz spoke Thursday night at Packard Auditorium.

The national Muslim Student Association—which has a chapter on Lehigh’s campus—supports Islamic terrorists, the conservative columnist and activist David Horowitz told an audience of about 70 students, faculty and staff during an appearance Thursday night.

While making his points, Horowitz frequently scrawled the acronyms of Islamic and terrorist organizations and even drew a makeshift map of the Middle East on Packard Auditorium’s white board.

Jafar Hussain ’11 sported a black sweatshirt with the script “Muslim Student Association” to the lecture. He and a fellow a MSA member, Ehsan Anwer ’11, rejected Horowitz’s argument that their student group is involvement with terrorist organizations.

Horowitz’s lecture, which lasted nearly an hour and forty five minutes, was titled “Helping the Enemy to Win: Support for the Jihad on American Campuses.” His appearance was funded by the Leadership Institute and the Lehigh Patriot.

Horowitz contended that the MSA was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian-based organization, which he says seeks to establish a world-wide Islamic theocracy. Furthermore, he said that Al Qaeda, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad all descended from the Brotherhood.

He accused the national MSA of having ties to the Holy Land Foundation, an alleged front organization for Hamas, whose goal, he said is to eliminate Israel.

Horowitz said he sent a petition to more than 100 MSA chapters, including Lehigh University’s, requesting that they deny a hadith citied in the Hamas charter. The hadith, which is attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, describes a time when Muslims will fight and kill the Jews. None of the MSA charters signed his petition, Horowitz said.

Good and bad

Horowitz made his second Lehigh appearance in three years.

His views, he said, are not anti-Muslim.

“Just as there are good Christians and bad Christians and good Jews and bad Jews, there are also good Muslims as well as bad ones,” he said. “As in the case of the other two religions, the good Muslims vastly outnumber the bad Muslims. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about the bad ones.”

Often, Horowitz said, these conversations are stifled because people are afraid of offending others.

“The way to suppress free speech in a democracy is to say that it creates a hostile environment for others,” he said.

Hussain was glad Horowitz differentiated between terrorists and Muslims at the beginning of the talk, but pointed out that he used “Arab,” “Islamic” and “terrorist” interchangeably later.

“I cannot speak on behalf of the Muslim Student Association. What I can say is that I oppose terrorism of any kind and anti-Semitism of any kind,” Hussain said. “Islamic, Jewish or Christian, we are all children of Abraham and even beyond that we are all children of the world.”

He then pointed to a hub of students vehemently discussing Horowitz’s presentation.

“I think the university is doing its job by fostering this kind of discussion,” he said. “Just because we disagree with Mr. Horowitz does not mean that we are against hearing dissenting opinions.”

That’s precisely why the Lehigh Patriot, an independent student newspaper, helped bring Horowitz to campus, said Anthony Bisconti III ’09, co-editor of the paper.

“We were looking for a speaker that would bring a different perspective about a topic that was not frequently discussed on campus,” Bisconti said. “It is important to understand the nature of Islamo-fascism, and Mr. Horowitz is well-regarded as an expert on the topic.”

In the course of his lecture, Horowitz referred to his parents, both avid members of the Communist Party. Throughout his undergraduate years at Columbia University and his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, his politics leaned heavily toward the left. In the 1960s, Horowitz became a founder of the New Left and edited Ramparts, a well-known leftist magazine.

He was given a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1978 and former President Ronald Reagan bestowed on him the Teach Freedom Award.

In the 1980s, Horowitz renounced his former political bent. He and his co-author, Peter Collier expressed their disillusionment in a 1989 book, Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts about the Sixties.

More recently, Horowitz has written Left Illusions (2003), which traces history from the Cold War up to the current war, and The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America (2006). In Unholy Alliance (2004), he draws a connection between the American Left and Radical Islam. The same year, he created “Discover the Networks,” which maps the personal connections and funding among left-leaning individuals and organizations.

Horowitz founded what is now the David Horowitz Freedom Center in 1989 and edits the center’s conservative online news site, FrontPage Magazine. He also established Students for Academic Freedom to correct what he sees as a left-favoring imbalance in the American education system.

Horowitz has spoken at more than 250 colleges and universities throughout the nation, including a previous appearance at Lehigh University in 2005.

--Becky Straw

Photos by Douglas Benedict

Posted on Friday, October 24, 2008

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