Concluding Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager will bring his controversial views to campus tonight.
The free lecture, entitled “We Can’t Win If We Don’t Know What We Believe In,” will take place in the Girvetz Hall, Theater 1004 from 7 to 9 p.m. College Republicans will host the event with money received through the Associated Students Finance Board.
Dennis Prager is the host of a syndicated radio show in Los Angeles and has authored several books and newspaper articles. His expressed views are solidly conservative and include opposition to gay marriage, abortion and affirmative action. College Republicans Chair Jerad Ferguson, a fourth-year political science and history double major, said Prager would offer his ideas on how to prevail in the war on terrorism.
“He’s going to be giving a speech on what values we need to have in America to defeat Islamo-Fascism, which we see as an ideology that is dangerous to America and the West,” Ferguson said.
The College Republicans have invited Prager to campus as part of IFAW, a national week promoted by conservative pundit and occasional Fox News analyst David Horowitz. In addition to Prager’s speech, a screening of the film “Obsession” Tuesday night aroused debate on campus, prompting responses from both sides.
The Muslim Student Association and Campus Democrats held counter-events, including tabling outside of “Obsession” and hosting a post-screening discussion on the peaceful nature of Islam. Additionally, students were encouraged to wear green in solidarity against the week’s events.
According to UCSB Democrats officer Amanda Wallner, the group is uncertain how to respond to Prager’s lecture because, unlike “Obsession,” which the group could pre-screen to prepare a better response, the subject matter of Prager’s speech is vague.
“For Dennis Prager we’re unsure exactly what his message is,” Wallner said. “He’s kind of all over the place. As a general sign of solidarity we’re going to try to fill up at least half of the auditorium that he’s speaking in with people wearing green shirts.”
In addition to concern about the content of “Obsession” and Prager’s lecture, controversy has surrounded the publicity for the events. An unknown group put up satiric fliers around campus advertising “Obsession.” Its text urges its readers to stop Muslim “evil-doers” and to not “Let the Wrong Religious Fanatics Win! Support Christofascism!”
American Students for Israel was listed as the sponsor at the bottom of the flier, but the group denies any involvement in making the handouts.
While ASI President Alan Levine did request funding for the event from Finance Board through ASI, he organized the screening under the auspices of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, which has granted him a fellowship. He likened the fliers to recent events at George Washington University. At that campus, IFAW protesters also disseminated fliers – attempting to attribute the pamphlets to conservative clubs at the university – reading, “Hate Muslims? So Do We!”
“It was a cowardly, slanderous act,” Levine said. “They are trying to make us look racist. That’s dangerous for our group because people are going to think we have those opinions.”
Prager’s appearance, as well as “Obsession” and anti-IFAW advertising from the Muslim Student Association, is funded by Associated Students Finance Board, which has allocated $3,430 total to IFAW-related events.