College Republican’s controversial speaker David Horowitz delivered his lecture to a crowd of 250 students last night, attempting to provide students with a broadened perspective on both local affairs and public policy.
The speech, entitled “Infantile Disorders at UCSB: Why the Muslim Students Association is Afraid of David Horowitz,” also aimed to tackle the state of Arab-Israeli, oftentimes directly criticizing nationwide student groups including the Muslim Students Association and the Students for Justice in Palestine for their perspectives. Followed by a Question & Answer session, during which attendees were allowed to challenge Horowitz’s views, the event sought to ultimately delineate the state of free speech within the campus community.
Throughout his lecture, Horowitz emphasized the necessity for free speech on university campuses.
“The First Amendment is just not any old right — it is the absolute foundation of all of our rights,” Horowitz said. “If you don’t have the ability to get up and express your mind … then you can’t defend any of your rights and you’ll lose them all.”
According to Horowitz, providing a forum that allows all perspectives to be heard needs to be a priority for Associated Students.
“I don’t for a minute think that your student government actually represents the students on this campus,” Horowitz said. “I can’t imagine, when I was a student radical, that I would say when somebody was coming to campus ‘I feel unsafe because of what he’s saying.’ … I don’t come to campus and incite people to lynch Muslims.”’
Dina Varshavsky, who served as Representative-at-Large when the A.S. Legislative Council funded the event in the amount of $800, said the event was not as inflammatory as the campus community was expecting.
“I have never heard him speak before, and I went into preparing for the worst, and yes, there were some harsh things that were said,” Varshavsky said. “As adults, we have to see two sides to things. It was not as harsh as it possibly could have been.”
According to Horowitz, his lecture was primarily intended to foster open dialogue among the campus community.
“If I leave you with any message tonight, it’s that you’ve gotta cherish real difference,” Horowitz said. “You’ve got to try to figure out how to argue in a rational, civilized way.”
Some of Horowitz’s statements, such as his claim that “America is the happiest country on the face of this earth” and “Einstein was never inside the atom; he seems to have understood it,” were met with laughter from the audience.
Kevin Akin, a third-year economics and accounting major, said although he did not enter the event with a strong stance on Horowitz’s views, he felt the speaker tested the boundaries of campus discourse.
“I’m glad he came and was able to voice his opinion; I just didn’t agree,” Akin said. “Especially at one point when, after claiming people want to exterminate the Jews, he said, ‘I don’t see an end to this conflict until a war has destroyed them.’”
The student response displayed at the event however, was more positive and contained than expected, College Republicans President Steven Begakis said.
“The big significance is that people were very respectful and they were quiet during the speech; they asked good, thoughtful questions,” Begakis said. “It was a marked difference from the controversy going up to the event. We’re really happy as a club that the students would want to engage in dialogue that way.”