a PAW web exclusive column by Wes Tooke '98 (email: email@example.com)
The Daily Princetonian
and David Horowitz play an uninspired match
By Wes Tooke '98The recent flap between David Horowitz and the Daily
Princetonian has served as one more reminder of why I find debates
in academia to be so
tedious. Could we at the very least convince the two sides in these
never-ending skirmishes to change the language of their rhetoric?
never hear the phrases "left-wing fascist" or "conservative
Nazi" again, I
will die a very happy man.
The latest spat began
when Horowitz placed an advertisement entitled "Ten
Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a bad Idea - and Racist Too"
Daily Princetonian. Horowitz had been trying to run the ad in various
college papers for several weeks, and he had been getting exactly
of reaction David Horowitz likes - that being complete outrage from
academic community. Here in Berkeley, for example, when the student
decided to run the advertisement (yes, I can only assume that the
staff was under the influence of some exceptionally heavy sedatives)
campus reacted by holding its annual Spring Riot.
Prince also decided to run the advertisement, but in the same issue
published a staff editorial entitled "A Message to our Readers."
editorial characterized the advertisement as "an offensive
piece of work,"
yet explained that the paper was publishing the piece anyway because
don't want to bring further attention to [Horowitz's] message or
him with another opportunity to attract the nation's eye...
In no way do
we support [his] argument. Denying publication of the ad, however,
gives Horowitz what he is looking for: another reason to cry 'censor.'"
Prince further explained that it would donate the money it had received
the ad from Horowitz to a local charity since "We do not want
from Horowitz's racism."
Horowitz, like many subjects
of Prince intellectual condescension, went
ballistic. He responded to the editorial with an article in Salon
"Why I Won't Pay the Daily Princetonian." In his article,
characterized the Prince's "defamatory editorial statement"
as an "auto da
fe" filled with "reckless hate speech" that is merely
part of a broader
"witch hunt" aimed at Horowitz and the other upper class
males who have suffered so much at the hands of a brutally oppressive
At this point I should
probably make the obvious confession that I find it
very easy to disagree with David Horowitz on virtually any social
political issue of our (or any other) day. If Horowitz wrote an
defending apple pie, by the third or fourth paragraph I'd probably
to swear off dessert for the rest of my life. The man has a gift
odious arguments. But if the Prince is going to treat him seriously
to print his advertisement, the paper should accord his arguments
respect to attack them rather than the author. Labeling Horowitz
without bothering to explain why exactly his ideas are so offensive
simply gutless name-calling. Sure, Horowitz is a publicity hound
to use ideas like incendiary devices to attack institutions he considers
suspect, but the fact that his mind is only capable of producing
rockets ought to make the task of his critics easier rather than
the need for a reasoned response.
I suppose what upsets
me the most is that the academic community in theory
should be the place in our society where we can debate ideas on
and most intellectually worthwhile plane. But anytime an issue comes
that engages the tediously labeled "left" and "right,"
we are instead
subjected to overeducated adolescents with outsized vocabularies
insults that would grow tiresome in a schoolyard. The only thing
from the latest debate is that David Horowitz is an intellectual
lightweight with a martyr complex, and that the Prince editorial
a gift for combining intellectual arrogance with dangerous
disingenuousness. And the shame is that my insults and Horowitz's
and the Prince's insults have all replaced what could have been
meaningful debate on race in America.
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