Monday, January 29, 2007

David Horowitz comes to DePaul

Last week, author David Horowitz came to Chicago's (and America's) largest Catholic college, DePaul University.

David Horowitz grew up in a Communist household, but is now a leading conservative thinker.

Horowitz, joined by Jonathan Cohen, a DePaul math professor, and Thomas Klocek, a former DePaul professor who was fired after having an out-of-classroom discussion on Middle Eastern politics on September 15, 2004 with some Muslim students took part in a forum about free speech issues on college campuses.

Cortelyou Commons on DePaul's Lincoln Park campus was filled to capacity to hear the three men speak.

The mainstream media showed their interest in the event. AP was there. So was Fox 32 Chicago.

I wasn't the only blogger there--Freedom Folks dropped in, as did Grant Crowell.

Cohen spoke first. He explained how he got involved in the Klocek case, which was shortly after this hit-piece appeared in the DePaulia. Cohen, although he didn't phrase it as such, was Klocek's only DePaul ally in the autumn of 2004.

Klocek, who had a white gag covering his mouth during Cohen's portion of the talk, spoke next, and he gave a history of the Catholic Church--going back to the Middle Ages--and the development of the modern university.

"The Church was the sole repository of learning" prior to the Renaissance in Christendom, Klocek said.

But things went awry, Klocek added, in its "rush to PC secularism" many Catholic universities have forgotten their mission.

Klocek then declared, "DePaul is very close to being Catholic in Name Only."

Horowitz then took his turn.

"Go Bears" is how he opened. I'm not sure if Horowitz said that to loosen up the crowd, or to calm down his opponents in the audience, but it was a good start.

First of all, David Horowitz is a terrific speaker--he doesn't come across as well on a 19 inch TV screen. In person he's animated, enthusiastic, and funny.

Horowitz mentioned that posters advertising his free speech forum had been torn down throughout the campus.

I guess some people don't get the point.

Here are some great Horowitz quotes from that night:

The most segregated institutions in life are liberal universities.

Just because you're an English professor, that doesn't make you an expert on the Iraq war.

In explaining the continent's diminished role in world politics:
Europe is a cultural theme park.

On his goal to achieve balance of opinions at American univerisities:
It's not about removing leftists from academia, it's about teaching them manners.

On DePaul:
(The school) is not committed to Catholicism, it's committed to money.


(DePaul is committing) massive consumer fraud to sucker kids to think they're getting a Catholic education.

Horowitz suggested that a lawsuit from Catholic students against DePaul should be pursued.

Other topics that we're discussed by Horowitz included the Duke lacrosse team rape case--the accused were "convicted" by not only the media, but members Duke's faculty.

A long question and answer session followed, a few Horowitz opponents (all of whom were quite respectful and polite) had their say.

Horowitz probably didn't change any minds that night, but as Neo-Neocon likes to say, "Change is a slow process." Check back in a few years, I guess.

Some people did not show up. Horowitz said that DePaul's faculty boycotted the event, although at least two professors, besides Cohen, showed up and asked questions and expressed their opposition to some of Horowitz' claims.

Students for Justice in Palestine (which Horowitz called a "Jew hating organization") and United Muslims Moving Ahead were absent too.

These are the organizations that led the charge for the dismissal of 15-year adjunct professor from DePaul.

But they talked to The DePaulia about the event:

"I believe that students are supposed to look up to their professors, be motivated by their professors to do good and above all, be certain that their professors are good people who care to educate other individuals and spread knowledge and encourage friendly debate. Spreading a message that perpetuates hatred and racism, including insulting students who have a different point of view, should never be endured nor accepted at any university, especially at DePaul," vice president of SJP and a senior international studies student, Christina Gamin said.

President of UMMA and a junior elementary education student, Ahlam Hassan, said there is a fine line between free speech and direct defamation.

"I am confident that if they truly knew what Islam preached, then they would not make false accusations or comments such as those. Islam preaches peace, mercy and understanding," Hassan said. "By no means does it support terrorist acts. Acts of terror by radical extremists affect the average American Muslim as much as, if not more, than any other American because it is our perfect religion that is being tarnished, and it is us that have to defend it."

Both student groups involved in the altercation believe the university dealt with Klocek in an appropriate manner.

Hey, UMMA and SJP: There was no defamation. Among other things, what Klocek said that day was that there was a qualitative difference between a suicide bomber and the Israeli Defense Forces taking necessary actions to prevent terrorist attacks. You just didn't like what he said.

It's likely that the men and women of UMMA and SJP who had that 2004 conversation with Klocek--and led to his livelihood being taken away--have graduated and moved on.

As for the current members of those groups, simply put, they are cowards for not showing up to what was truly a free speech forum.

The DePaul Conservative Alliance organized the event. Nick Hahn of the group did a terrific job as moderator. Keep an eye on this guy, he's going places.

Oh, sorry for the lack of photographs. Cortelyou Commons is a beautiful room, but its dark wood panels make successful picture taking a challenge.

Thanks for the links:


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