I arrived in Austin, Texas, one evening recently to give a speech about academic freedom at the university there. Entering the hall where I was to give my speech, I was greeted -- if that's the word -- by a raucous protest organized by a professor and self-styled Bolshevik, Dana Cloud. Forty protesters hoisted placards high in the air and robotically chanted "Down With Horowitz," "Racist Go Home," and "No More Witch-hunts."Are we becoming Weimar USA?
At the end of the evening, Prof. Cloud stepped up to the microphone to ask a question, which was actually a little speech. Even though the protocol for such occasions restricts audience participants from making their own speeches, I did her the courtesy she tried to deny me by letting her talk.
She presented herself as a devoted teacher and mother who was obviously harmless. Then she accused me of being a McCarthyite menace. Disregarding the facts I had laid out in my talk -- that I have publicly defended the right of University of Colorado's radical professor Ward Churchill to hold reprehensible views and not be fired for them, and that I supported the leftist dean of the law school at UC Irvine when his appointment was withdrawn for political reasons -- she accused me of whipping up a "witch-hunting hysteria" that made her and her faculty comrades feel threatened.
When Ms. Cloud finished, I pointed out that organizing mobs to scream epithets at invited speakers fit the category of "McCarthyite" a lot more snugly than my support for a pluralism of views in university classrooms. I gestured toward the armed officers in the room -- the university had assigned six or seven to keep the peace -- and introduced my own bodyguard, who regularly accompanies other conservative speakers when they visit universities. In the past, I felt uncomfortable about taking protection to a college campus until a series of physical attacks at universities persuaded me that such precautions were necessary. (When I spoke at the University of Texas two years ago, Ms. Cloud and her disciples had to be removed by the police in order for the talk to proceed.)
I don't know of a single leftist speaker among the thousands who visit campuses every term who has been obstructed or attacked by conservative students, who are too decent and too tolerant to do that. The entire evening in Texas reminded me of the late Orianna Fallaci's observation that what we are facing in the post-9/11 world is not a "clash of civilizations," but a clash of civilization versus barbarism.
Search This Blog
Saturday, April 18, 2009