Conservative commentator David Horowitz's talk draws protesters

by Andrew Culver | 10/24/18 3:30am

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by Amanda Zhou / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Conservative commentator David Horowitz’s talk “Identity Politics and the Totalitarian Threat from the Left,” which he delivered Tuesday night to a crowd of over 50 people, drew protests inside and outside the event along with several police and campus security officers.

Horowitz is a conservative writer and the founder and president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a conservative think tank whose self-declared mission is to “defend free societies which are under attack from enemies within and without, both secular and religious.” However, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Horowitz’s Freedom Center serves to give “anti-Muslim voices and radical ideologies a platform to project hate and misinformation.” His views have been criticized as anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black by the SPLC and other opponents.

From the start of the event, which was organized by the College Republicans, student protesters expressed their displeasure with Horowitz. Some worked on their laptops with headphones, symbolically blocking out his words. Shortly into the talk, students sporadically stood up and displayed signs featuring messages opposing Horowitz’s views, such as “Trans Rights are Human Rights,” “ICE is the Gestapo,” “Black Lives Matter” and “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go.” Later in the event, some protesters played music audibly from their laptops and spoke loudly to their friends as Horowitz talked.

In the room of the talk, which was held in the basement of the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, there was an Safety and Security officer, a Hanover police officer and director of Safety and Security Keysi Montás, along with additional officers outside the room. According to Hanover police chief Charlie Dennis, there were four Hanover police officers present, but no action was required during the talk.

The event began with an introduction from the College Republicans president Joshua Kauderer ’19, who highlighted the importance of free speech and expression, warning the crowd that any disruptions during Horowitz’s talk would not be tolerated.

Horowitz began his talk by addressing a flier titled “Who is David Horowitz,” which was circulated around campus prior to the event and which referred to him as a “racist, sexist, and ignorant bigot,” citing several of Horowitz’s past statements. He called it a “total caricature,” claiming it took quotes out of context and attempted to portray him in a negative light.

Horowitz then moved on to one of the main points of his talk: the Israel-Palestine conflict. Horowitz argued that the Palestinian national movement was based on “a series of monstrous lies” and anti-Semitic beliefs.

He quickly moved on, however, to attack “identity politics of the left,” repeatedly noting that “no one is oppressed in America.”

He added that “the only serious race war in America is against white males,” citing that courses at the College teach students “how evil white men are.”

“It’s the stupid idea that people are oppressed — it’s like Hillary,” he said. “She ran a presidential campaign on the idiotic idea that there is a war against women and a glass ceiling.”

Addressing current events, he also commented on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Continually calling Kavanaugh’s accuser Christine Blasey Ford a liar, Horowitz said that “she wanted to destroy a man’s life without coming forward.” He added that “in a decent America, no one would have listened to Christine Ford.”

“Going back to when you’re 15 and 17 years old, and you’re at a drunken party and there’s a little groping … come on, grow up,” he said.

In response, a protester yelled back, questioning if “a little” groping was really considered acceptable.

The various forms of protest throughout the event angered Horowitz, who criticized Dartmouth, claiming it fosters a campus that does not accept conservative ideas.

“The hatred that this university and others teach against white people is incredibly dangerous and stupid and self-defeating,” Horowitz said. “I’ve been called a racist for saying that, but it’s the absolute truth.”

From then on, his talk was punctured with frequent student protests and interruptions. In one instance, as a student exited the lecture hall in protest, Horowitz called her a “self-inflicted ignoramus.” In another instance, he said that he was displeased to have traveled all the way across the country to have “all these gorillas attacking [me].” He called the students protesting “jacka—es” and consistently referred to them as “idiots,” “depressing” and hateful toward America.

As the talk continued, the students’ protests grew more disruptive. Several students left the event and scattered fliers in the aisle.

Later, two students began kissing near the front of the room, which Horowitz called “disgusting” and “proud stupidity.”

A few minutes later, a protester walked out into the aisle, saying, “Hey Horowitz, black people don’t need your help.”

“I wouldn’t help you if you were drowning,” Horowitz said in response.

At one point, Jim Alberghini, the College’s associate director of logistics for conferences and events, walked to the front of the room and asked to restore order. He said that Horowitz had “a right to be heard” and asked students to give Horowitz a chance to speak.

“I want those signs destroyed and those people expelled,” Horowitz added. Alberghini responded that he had not seen anything that would warrant an expulsion.

However, he took some signs from students, which he said he would do out of respect for Horowitz.

Ben Vagle ’22 said that he attended the event with no prior knowledge of Horowitz or his views.

“I was surprised by how much bigotry was in that lecture,” Vagle said. He added that he found some aspects of the protest, specifically the interruptions, inappropriate, but also felt Horowitz was here to “generate a reaction and create a narrative of conservatives being oppressed on college campuses.”

College Republicans and protesters at the event declined requests to comment. Montás also declined to comment.

After the event, protesters hung signs outside the room in the junction between Rockefeller and Silsby Hall, including one that read, “We believe Dr. Blasey Ford” and another that quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Eileen Brady and Gigi Grigorian contributed reporting.

Correction appended (Oct. 24, 2018): An earlier version of this article reported that both Montás and Alberghini took away signs from students. It has been updated to reflect that Montás did not take away any signs.