The Daily Nexus is not afraid of David Horowitz, but we did not run his controversial advertisement, “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks – And Racist Too.”
Instead, we are running Horowitz’s arguments in an unpaid column, roughly two weeks after the ad was offered to us.
UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian ran the ad on February 28. Protesters stole papers off the racks and crowded into the Daily Cal’s office. The next day, the paper ran a front-page apology and Editor in Chief Daniel Hernandez wrote a lengthy apology on its Opinion page, assuring readers “there is no institutional racism running rampant at the Daily Cal.”
The Daily Californian was not alone in its troubles. Twenty-eight other college newspapers ran Horowitz’s “Ten Reasons.” At Brown, protesters demanded the editor in chief’s resignation and all 4,600 copies of the Brown Daily Herald were stolen three days after the ad ran. The Herald reprinted the next day and campus police guarded the racks. When Princeton’s Daily Princetonian ran an opposing editorial next to Horowitz’s ad, Horowitz refused to pay the paper.
Horowitz had won. The point was not that reparations are a bad idea – the point was that college politics are dominated by “liberal McCarthyists” incapable of tolerating conservative ideas. Horowitz, who has a new book coming out, got a lot of publicity, got it fast and got it for a reasonable price.
Forty-one student papers – including the Daily Nexus – refused to run Horowitz’s ad. He has accused these papers of cowardice. A free press, Horowitz says, exists to expose its readership to ideas, even those that readers find offensive.
The Nexus was offered Horowitz’s ad about a month and a half after the Daily Californian publicly apologized. We refused to print it and let him keep his money. The Nexus was following its advertising policy. Our policy states we will not publish any ad that is illegal, sexist, racist or demeaning to women and minorities – the Nexus does not want to support itself with such advertising. Students around the country thought Horowitz’s ad was demeaning to minorities. It was an easy decision.
The relevance to our readers was questionable. Horowitz is not a student, he does not live near UCSB, he was not visiting UCSB and he was not advertising a product. We saw no reason to run an irrelevant ad and anger our readers for a paltry $950.40 – respect, we felt, was more valuable. Horowitz was running a cheap, angry publicity campaign at the expense of student newspapers.
Things have changed. David Horowitz is speaking in Buchanan 1910 at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Flyers around our campus are calling him either an “American hero” or “a racist little gnome.” Our readers are interested. David Horowitz is relevant.
We refused his ad once and we are not changing our minds. Our advertising space exists to support, not to undermine, our paper. By printing what amounts to a column as an advertisement, we would be telling our readers that the only sure way to have their views represented in the Nexus is to pay us to print them. We can make whatever advertising decisions we wish. “Freedom of the press,” as A.J. Liebling said, “is guaranteed only to those who own one.” When it comes to advertising, we would rather it not be confused with editorial matter. We would rather it not be controversial.
Our Opinion page exists, in part, to be controversial. We run columns and letters because they provoke our readers into thinking. We provide space for people to respond and disagree. Horowitz’s “Ten Reasons” belong on the Opinion page, not in advertising space. People already have strong feelings about Horowitz and his ideas. They should be able to read what he wrote and know, in his own words, what he stands for.
Horowitz spoke at UC Berkeley on March 16, two weeks after the Daily Californian controversy. He did not do much speaking, however. Protesters shouted him down as a “racist ideologue” and the evening ended abruptly when organizers shut off the microphones and Horowitz was escorted away by his bodyguards.
The protesters may or may not have been right about Horowitz’s ideas. No one got a chance to find out because protesters prevented him from speaking.
When a controversial UC regent, Ward Connerly, came to UCSB last October, he was booed before he came on stage. When he came on stage, Connerly was taunted. Protesters called him an Uncle Tom. Connerly also left with bodyguards.
In an interview afterwards, Connerly said of all the schools he had spoken to – including Berkeley – UCSB was the loudest, the worst and the most intolerant.
Why? Because everyone made a lot of noise and no one listened to a damn thing that was said, if anyone got a chance to say anything. UCSB’s student body exposed its most obscene portion, the part of the student body unwilling, or unable, to debate ideas on merit.
Free speech means letting people talk before booing them. If David Horowitz is not allowed to speak, protesters will have spectacularly proved his point for him. They will be the most intolerant people in the room.