Left Said:Student Backlash Plays Into Horowitz’s Hand

If you browsed a bookstore, you would quickly run across books warning of liberal academia’s orthodoxy over us brainwashed students. One such website is CampusReform.org, whose stated purpose is to “revolutionize the struggle against leftist bias and abuse on college campuses.” Conservative activists say universities like UCSB are “platforms for a virulent orthodoxy,” where students “are no longer taught how to think but are told what to think.”

The two above quotes are from David Horowitz’s published books. Horowitz’s books have titles like Indoctrination U and One-Party Classroom. Horowitz is a frequent speaker at UC Santa Barbara and is scheduled to speak in late May. The preparations for Horowitz’s speaking event this month have generated a lot of controversy. Horowitz’s 2008 speaking appearance was preceded by his full-page advertisement in the Daily Nexus accusing the UCSB Muslim Student Association (MSA) of associating with terrorist organizations. Yes, Horowitz prepared to speak by paying for an advertisement accusing UCSB students of working with Islamist terrorists. Such accusations without facts aren’t going to engender a warm welcome from the UCSB student community. However, the secret is conservative activist speakers do not want a warm welcome from the student community.

These speakers, like Horowitz, use these agitation and propaganda tactics to paint students as leftist/socialist/communist radicals. The last David Horowitz appearance was preceded by a deliberately inflammatory ad in the Daily Nexus. How did the students respond to this taunt? The response was an embarrassingly typical Pavlovian-response: shouting and cursing at Horowitz as he repeated his accusations while speaking. The slandered students acted exactly as Horowitz’s published work portrayed them: demagogic and unable to talk to. The news coverage centered on a liberal audience shouting down a conservative speaker and the dishonesty of Horowitz’s accusations received much less media coverage. The focus falls upon students looking like the free speech oppressors rather than examining David Horowitz’s malicious dishonesty. And that is exactly what Horowitz wanted in order to further his political agenda.

Why are national conservatives like David Horowitz inciting students with slander and pushing this narrative of professors indoctrinating students? Conservative activists’ strategy is as follows. First, paint an objective, professional institution as a liberal politically correct police state. Second, exaggerate exceptions to professionalism (i.e., a UCSB professor getting arrested for protesting in 2010) and manipulate the facts (i.e. CampusReform.org equates the fewer number of conservative UCSB groups with political discrimination against conservatism). Conservative activists’ goals are to pressure professors and students to silence themselves more and more.

Our teachers are not out to brainwash students and my conservative-activist friends are not disadvantaged at UCSB. Two recent studies in the Political Science and Politics Journal prove my point.  Mack Mariani and Gordon Hewitt found in 2008, “while faculty orientation is overwhelmingly liberal, student orientation … is not significantly different than the population at large.”  In 2009, April Kelly Woessner and Matthew Woessner studied how students reacted to a professor’s political ideology and concluded, “there is no evidence that an instructor’s views instigate political change among students.” Until my conservative friends in the College Republicans are ready to host speakers who argue based on researched fact instead of incendiary and hominine attacks, I cannot believe their speaker’s honesty.

David Horowitz is not speaking at UCSB to win an argument. David Horowitz is speaking in order to incite backlash and controversy. He wants us to yell and generate controversy. If we who don’t believe our fellow Muslim students “support a second Holocaust” (Horowitz at UCSB, 2008), attempt to shout down Horowitz, he wins. Let Horowitz speak and stand by his words. Let there be no distracting walkouts or shouting or crying. Let the only outburst be Horowitz’s own verbal attacks on UCSB students because his words will condemn him the most in the public eye.

Daily Nexus liberal columnist David Kornahrens won’t play Horowitz’s game.