By David Horowitz
One of the less pleasurable aspects of being a public figure is having to walk around with a target on your back. Matt Muchowski’s attack on me is a case in point. Muchowski has done some research on the difficulties encountered by left-wing speakers at DePaul. Fine. But he has not bothered to acquaint himself with what I stand for and have done, and from the evidence of this piece he either wasn’t listening to my talk at DePaul or was unable to understand a word I said.
I find particularly distasteful Muchowski’s anti-Semitic slur against Thomas Klocek. Someone who defends Israel against people who want to destroy it – which was the subject of his altercation with the Palestinian leftists on campus – is not a “Zionist,” but a defender of the right of Jews to exist in a state that is theirs.
Muchowski is also anti-Catholic. Several of his complaints are directed at DePaul’s efforts to maintain a Catholic identity and his self-acknowledged crusade is to destroy DePaul’s doctrinal identity as a Catholic institution. I do not share DePaul’s sectarian agendas, including its pro-life dogmas, but I do defend its right to preserve its distinctive identity. I also defend the right of private Women’s Colleges to exclude men and vice versa. The freedom of the private sphere in our society is the basis of all our freedoms.
I am the most prominent supporter of intellectual diversity in the educational debate and have never called for or supported the banning of any campus speaker. I supported Ward Churchill’s right to express his reprehensible views on the Internet without reprisal from his university. I appeared on a platform to debate him and personally raised his honorarium so he could do so. I have said and written this many times, in places easily accessible to Muchowski. Although I do not have a transcript of my remarks at DePaul, I am confident that I said as much from the platform, at a time when apparently Muchowski wasn’t listening.
However, from the beginning of my campaign for academic freedom I have also recognized the right of private universities and religious institutions to define their academic agendas. If Muchowski had bothered to spend the two minutes it takes to read my Academic Bill of Rights, he would have found this clarifying statement: “These principles fully apply only to public universities and to private universities that present themselves as bound by the canons of academic freedom. Private institutions choosing to restrict academic freedom on the basis of creed have an obligation to be as explicit as is possible about the scope and nature of these restrictions.”
Ignorant of my words, my deeds and my personal history, Muchowski recklessly throws rhetorical bombs in my direction: “In 1970 after Kent State , they endorsed shutting down the school for a day of protest. In 1973 they endorsed the boycott on California grapes in solidarity with the United Farmworkers Union and Cesar Chavez. So my question for Horowitz is: where were you then?” Actually, I was busy demonstrating against the war in Vietnam and boycotting grapes. If I had been aware of these incidents at DePaul I would no doubt have endorsed both actions. As for the present, I have no objections to student governments taking positions on political issues. (Muchowski also asks where Frontpage Magazine was on these and similar issues. The answer is it didn’t exist before 1997.)
Muchowski then asks: “If these incidents I just listed are examples of right-wing indoctrination, why doesn’t your network take them up with the vigor that they do with supposed left wing indoctrination?” This just shows that Muchowski doesn’t know what he’s talking about. None of the examples qualify as classroom indoctrination, which is the only kind of indoctrination I have ever written or spoken or agitated about. And yes, I have defended left-wing students against right-wing indoctrination.
Professor McCloud may or may not be a member of the Nation of Islam, but she is a Farrakhan supporter and someone whom Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam have celebrated. Whether she is a card-carrying member – assuming they have cards – is irrelevant to the fact that she has embraced views that are racist and anti-Semitic.
Muchowski’s ignorance is also on display in this statement: “Let’s also not forget Horowitz’s statements about slavery, that it was only white Christians that created an anti-slavery movement. So I guess the whole slave rebellion in Haiti was just my professors indoctrinating me.” The point which Muchowski misses was that the idea that slavery as an institution was morally wrong was indeed an idea that originated with white Christians at the end of the 18th Century. Of course there were many slave rebellions long before — Moses, Spartacus etc. But the idea of these rebellions was always – “Let my people go” – not that slavery itself was immoral. The Haitian revolution was inspired by these ideas of freedom that originated with white Christian males in the 18th Century.
It is true that Muchowski asked me to sign letters defending Norman Finkelstein’s “academic freedom,” which Muchowski’s document claimed was threatened by those wanting to deny him tenure. As I explained to Muchowski then, I am not qualified to pass judgment on Finkelstein’s tenure application and I don’t see how, at this stage of the process, it is an academic freedom issue. The Vagina Monologues issue falls under the principle stated above: DePaul is a private Catholic institution. It has a right to preserve its identity as a Catholic institution, just as a privately funded University of Marxism would have a right not to assign The Gulag Archipelago to its students. I would not send my child to such a university, but to destroy the private sphere – which is what latter-day totalitarians like Muchowski are determined to do – would destroy our personal liberties as well.