Conservative political commentator and California State University, Fresno Professor Victor Davis Hanson will speak tonight about terrorism, the war in Iraq and politics across university campuses.
Hanson will speak in Embarcadero Hall at 7:30 p.m. The UCSB chapter of Students for Academic Freedom (SAF), a group that promotes a diversity of political views at universities, is the main sponsor of the event, and other donors include Associated Students, the Office of Student Life, and the chancellor. Hanson said his lecture would try to bring contemporary issues involving the war against terror into a broader historical context.
“I want to discuss the nature of war as it was practiced in the very beginning of civilization up to the present and hope that can illustrate or enhance our current level of knowledge about the current events that are caught up in a 24-hour news cycle,” Hanson said.
There have been many countries in history that have fought terrorism, Hanson said, and there are proven methods of dealing with it.
“I think [the lecture is] a message of reassurance that there’s nothing that’s going on in the present that hasn’t happened in the past,” he said.
Hanson, a classics professor at CSU Fresno, focused on ancient and military history prior to the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center. After that day, he said he devoted more time to contemporary politics.
“I thought that after 9/11, given the magnitude of the attack and the danger it posed to our country, that I would spend a greater amount of my time writing contemporary political essays…” Hanson said. “Since 9/11 I’ve written two books. I’ve also spent, I think, even more time writing for newspapers and magazines in a way that I didn’t think was necessary before 9/11.”
Hanson’s visit to UCSB is mostly the result of efforts by fourth-year global studies major Joey Tartakovsky.
“Victor is a hero of mine,” Tartakovsky said. “I’ve admired him since he began writing. I’m a moderate Democrat and he’s a conservative. I believe that his voice transcends partisanship.”
Tartakovsky invited Hanson to speak at UCSB because of what Tartakovsky called a partisan attitude by students on campus when discussing the Iraq war.
“When people look back at Iraq, it won’t be a Democrat or Republican failure or success, it will be an American failure or success,” Tartakovsky said. “It shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”
Hanson agreed to come to UCSB and give his lecture at a discounted rate. He said he had an attachment to the university because his daughter recently gradated from UCSB, and he liked SAF’s goal.
“I think it was because my daughter attended Santa Barbara and is a graduate,” Hanson said. “And the student group seemed to believe in free speech and the free exchange of ideas.”
Tartakovsky approached SAF and asked for their help in sponsoring the event. Alec Mouhibian, SAF co-chair, said the group sponsored the event in the spirit of promoting intellectual diversity.
“We decided to sponsor the event because Victor Davis Hanson is currently the most predominate and eloquent speaker,” Mouhibian said, “and because the Iraqi war is a very pertinent issue and it is very important the campus is exposed to all sides of the issue.”
Even with Hanson’s discounted rate, Mouhibian said the group received no funding from campus academic departments. The money provided by the Chancellor, A.S. and OSL was not enough to secure Hanson’s visit.
“They gave us some money, but that amounted to about a third of the total cost,” he said.
Private donors from outside the university footed the remaining bill, Mouhibian said.
Tartakovsky said conservative students on campus have tougher time acquiring money for events than their liberal counterparts.
“I’ve been involved with campus politics for a long time,” he said. “Different groups who give funding on campus have their own political views, and it’s harder for conservative groups to get funding.”
Hanson has been published in The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California, Santa Cruz, class of 1975, and his doctorate in classics from Stanford University in 1980.
SAF is a national organization founded by conservative commentator and political pundit David Horowitz.