12:18 and still no David Horowitz. Typical of Columbia to start the program late. Roone Arledge Cinema, one of the smaller auditoriums on campus, was full of mostly white, mostly male, mostly Republican spectators, and they were getting restless. Four middle-aged Communist protesters were stationed outside in the rain handing anti-Horowitz handbills to students who had come to Lerner Hall for the engineering job fair. No one bothered to inform the protestors that they were at the wrong door. Finally, a hush fell over the crowd as a faceless Columbia bureaucrat assumed the speaker's position in order to remind us to turn our cell phones off and avoid yelling Communist slogans once the speech began.
Polite applause greeted Horowitz's appearance at the speaker's podium. I was a bit disappointed myself, having expected a tall, grand, imposing figure with a posh accent in the mold of William F. Buckley circa 1968. Horowitz is short, rotund, balding, and speaks in a nasal, pseudo-Brooklyn twang. They don't make 'em like they used to. Then again, considering Buckley's overweening neo-conservatism, it seems they never did.
Horowitz led off with a few pleasant generalities about his alma mater, but soon strayed into more contentious territory. Columbia used to be a friendlier place 52 years ago, said he. Professors kept their political opinions to themselves and all viewpoints — even his own Communist one, a very unpopular one at the height of the era of McCarthyism — were tolerated from students. Now, alas, all the conservative faculty has been purged and the militant leftist academics (activists first and scholars second, natch) who remain wish to bring us back to the teaching methods of the 19th century, when professors at religious colleges merely spouted their doctrines and presented no opposing viewpoint to students. To be a conservative on campus these days, Horowitz said, is a character-building experience. As a student at a college which spoon-feeds pseudo-Marxist pablum to all of its incoming students through its much-vaunted Core Curriculum, I must agree in principle, if not in detail. At least we have Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week on 114 campuses (I thought it was 200 campuses, David? You'd better update your website) this week, though. That'll show them terrists.
After outlining his basic views on the liberalization of our universities, Horowitz chose to enlighten the listeners about his reasons for creating the Week. There is nothing about the Week or its rhetoric, he said, which could or should be construed as anti-Islam or anti-Muslim. The Week, it seems, is all about separating the moderate Muslims from the Islamo-Fascists, and praising the former while decrying the latter. In fact, the very term Islamo-Fascism was coined by Muslims — Algerian Muslims, to be exact — who wished to speak out against the Islamic militant groups which had killed 150200,000 of their co-religionists. He — Horowitz — first picked up the term from Christopher Hitchens, and thus did not think of it himself. In his Slate article, Hitchens disagrees with this description of the term's provenance, but agrees with Horowitz's use of it.
Horowitz went on to echo much of what Hitchens said in his article. That is, Islamic regimes have a long history of being Fascist. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was an acolyte of Hitler and wished to set up death camps for Jews in the Middle East modeled on ones in Germany and elsewhere. The Iranian Republican Guard, he said, goose-steps in homage to the SS. (Funny that the Russians — haters of all things Nazi — still goose-step as well.) Islamo-Fascists, Horowitz said, are first and foremost at war with moderate Muslims and Islamic countries whose regimes are not hyper-religious. As evidence he cites al-Qaeda's bombing of a wedding in Iran. Actually, the bombing was in Jordan. (The US has certainly never blown up a wedding, has it? Okay, that one was a mistake. This one wasn't.)
Why does any of this matter? Horowitz has an answer for that as well. We're at war, he said, and "you can't fight a war unless you can name your enemy." Alas, all too often the enemy is right here at home. Sami al-Arian, for instance. Horowitz claims that al-Arian held pledge drives to raise money for Islamo-Fascist groups. "$500 to kill a Jew," to be precise. This shows, he says, that leftist professors are in league with Islamo-Fascists around the world. In Horowitz's words, the left "tried to save Saddam" and are now "supporting the nuclear program of the Persian Hitler."
Ah, the "Persian Hitler" — still Columbia's enemy du jour. Horowitz went on at some length about human rights abuses in Iran. Did you know that Ahmadinejad has just passed a law saying that couples can't hold hands in public, and that this edict will be enforced by the Morality Police? Neither does the mainstream media. He's right about one thing, though: hatred for America in the Middle East did not start with Bush. Horowitz blames it on Jimmy Carter. Then Clinton wanted to invade Iraq and the "entire Democratic congress was for it" but unfortunately this was in 1998, and Clinton got himself embroiled in more important matters with a certain "cupcake." Damn those missed opportunities. Of course, when it came time for Bush to bomb Iraq, the Democrats reversed their former support.
Why, then, are we at war with Iraq? Because we've always been at war with Iraq. The Gulf War, he says, ended with a treaty. Part of the treaty involved Saddam not gassing Kurds any more, and the other part of the treaty involved Saddam allowing weapons inspectors into Iraq to search for weapons. Saddam violated both parts of this treaty and thus asked us to attack him. So that's the reason, then. Nothing about yellowcake uranium or cooperation with al-Qaeda or anything else.
Now that we "know our enemy" and have a justification for fighting him, what would happen if we left Iraq? Hundreds of thousands of moderate Muslims would die. You know, "everyone who voted in the election that George Bush made possible"? Yeah, them. All dead. Iran would become the "major power" in Iraq and would invade all of its neighbors for "not being Muslim enough." That having been done, Ahmadinejad would "wipe America off the map" just like he said in his Colu… wait. I seem to remember having watched that speech in person, but what I don't remember is Ahmadinejad saying that he wants to wipe America off the map. Or Israel, for that matter. But Horowitz said he "watched the speech" and heard Ahmadinejad threaten to kill us all ("because if they detonate a dirty bomb in New York, it won't distinguish between liberal and conservative"), so maybe my memory is failing. "That's a gun to your head," he kept reminding us. I suppose that questions about the morality of Osama's guns versus Bush's guns are better left to philosophers.
That's okay, though, said Horowitz. None of the above horrors will come to pass because we're not going to leave Iraq. Bush won't leave it, and Hillary won't leave it when she's elected. Let's repeat that, shall we? She won't leave Iraq when she's elected. (The slightest possibility makes you want to give your entire paycheck to Ron Paul.) The problem with that, he said, is that we're fighting them over there, but we won't fight them here. "Why are the traitorous New York Times editors not in jail?" he yelled. "They revealed state secrets in the middle of a war. In the middle of a war!" Same goes for the traitor Cindy Sheehan, whom Horowitz thinks should be cooling her heels in the next cell.
Horowitz continued for about 45 minutes in that same vein. Then came the question and answer session, with questions having been submitted in advance and fully vetted by the College Republicans. Of course, the questions were real softballs. "Why only Islamo-Fascism? What about American fascism?" Horowitz said that anyone who considered that America was at all fascist is "delusional." Next question. "Are you familiar with the rate of tenured female professors in Iran?" "No." Next question. "Why does the US deal with Islamo-Fascist regimes like Saudi Arabia?" "Unfortunately it's a complicated world. " The Saudi royal family is "corrupt and evil," but because of environmental radicals we need Saudi oil and thus we need them as our allies, he said. Apparently, my question about the hypocrisy of his decrying of human rights abuses in Iran while promoting some of those very same abuses in the US wasn't deemed worthy of his consideration.
As a parting thought, Horowitz offered this translation of the first amendment: that it is the right of individuals to make utter fools of themselves in public. If that translation is correct, then he is one of the nation's foremost exploiters of the first amendment and ought to be congratulated. So, sir, my hat is off to you for having the cojones to promote your particular brand of neo-conservatism on 114 (or 200) college campuses. Similar kudos to the Columbia University College Republicans for providing Horowitz with enough rope to hang himself and a convenient forum to do it in.
October 30, 2007