Conservative Historians (and Others) Are Being Prevented from Speaking on College Campuses

Roundup: Media's Take

Asaf Romirowsky and Jonathan Calt Harris, writing in (Jan. 28, 2004):

The university exists for the free exchange of ideas, right? Then why is it that representatives of one half the argument – the conservative half – need bodyguards and metal detectors when they speak on North American campuses, and their leftist counterparts almost never do?

Consider three suggestive parallels of how the Right needs security and the Left is welcomed.

Government officials. In September 2002, Benjamin Netanyahu, a former Likud (conservative) prime minister of Israel was to speak at Concordia University in Montreal, but he never made it. Nearly a thousand anti-Israel protestors rioted prior to the event, [1] smashing windows and hurling furniture at police, kicking and spitting on people going to the event. “By lunchtime,” notes the Globe & Mail daily, “the vestibule of Concordia's main downtown building was littered with paper, upturned chairs, broken furniture and the choking aftereffects of pepper spray.” [2]

In contrast, Hanan Ashrawi, a well-known Palestinian politician and activist, never faces such opposition. As she makes the rounds of American universities (such as the University of Colorado, Beloit, and Yeshiva), she speaks without interference, and what protests take place are completely non-violent. At Colorado College, students held small signs and a rebuttal was offered after the speech. [3] At the University of Pennsylvania , protesting students were so respectful, Tarek Jallad, president of the Penn Arab Student Society which sponsored her visit, commented: “I was very happy with the way the crowd showed her a lot of respect.” [4]

1960s activists. David Horowitz, a founder of the New Left movement in the 1960s and now a high-profile conservative, speaks often at campuses and often faces problems. Protestors at the University of Chicago shouted at him and disrupted his talk before he uttered a word. [5] At the University of Michigan, “the university administration assigned 12 armed guards and a German Shepherd to protect the safety” of those who came to hear him speak. [6]

By comparison, Angela Davis, a former Black Panther and still today a far-leftist, enjoys the highest of esteem when visiting campuses. As she tours American colleges, she meets no protests, requires no excessive security, and is dutifully acclaimed by campus newspapers for her “wise presence.” [7]

Middle East specialists. Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, a Harvard University Ph.D., author of twelve books, and a recent Bush appointee to U.S. Institute for Peace, needs security precautions at more than half his campus appearances. At York University in Toronto, for example, security provisions included “a 24-hour lockdown on the building beforehand, metal detectors for the audience, identification checks.” [8] Multiple bodyguards escorted Pipes through a back entrance and kept him in a holding room until just before his talk. More than a hundred police, including ten mounted on horses, stood by to ensure the speaker's safety and the event not being disrupted. [9]

In contrast, John Esposito, head of Georgetown University's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, a Temple University Ph.D., the author of more than twenty books, [10] and key advisor to the Clinton State Department, [11] enjoys honor and praise at the campuses. He recently served as keynote speaker for the inauguration of Stanford University's new Islamic Studies program, [12] for example, with no hint of special security.

A clear pattern emerges. Speakers on the left are welcomed, conservatives require strict security measures.

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John Olerud - 3/9/2009

I don't even speak in my office where I can be overheard. I feel like a gangster sometimes trying when I step outside to talk conservative viewpoints with conservative students. What's really sad is the undergraduates understand the precautions completely, and they are only in their late teens and early twenties. What a dismal state of affairs that the ideologies controlling history departments considers so many issues "settled" and beyond debate. Don't even begin to intimate that FDR didn't save the nation during the Great Depression, or you will probably experience a bread line first hand.