Free speech on an American college campus -- courtesy of a bodyguard and twelve armed security officers.
[Editor's note: Protected by a bodyguard and twelve armed campus security officers, David Horowitz spoke at the University of Southern California on November 4, 2009. This is a text of his remarks, edited for readability. A video of the speech is available here. To read about the efforts to censor him before the speech and the slander directed at him, click here.]
I want to thank the College Republicans for being brave enough to invite me, and I want to thank all of you who are here to actually listen for coming.
It used to be a pleasure for me to speak on a college campus like USC. I can remember the days when I could stroll onto the USC campus and walk over to the statue of Tommy Trojan where College Republicans had erected a platform for a rally to support our troops in Afghanistan after 9/11 at which I was to speak. Now, however, I can’t set foot on this campus – or any campus – without being accompanied by a personal bodyguard and a battalion of armed campus security police to protect me and my student hosts.
Sheer prudence forces me to visit campuses with these security measures in place because I’ve been demonized by the campus left at virtually every school I’ve visited in the past decade and physically assaulted at several. USC officials regard the threats against this event seriously enough to have assigned twelve armed officers to watch over the proceedings. These police are not here to protect you from me. They are here to protect me from you members of the USC Progressive Alliance, Students for Justice in Palestine and the USC Muslim Student Union who have made these threats and incited hatred towards this event and its speaker. These are the tactics favored by fascists – and when I use that word I mean it literally. I don’t use it the way the Left does, as an epithet for anyone they don't like.
The attacks on this event and those organizing it are part of a national hate campaign that the left has organized against me and others who share my views. It can be tracked on numerous websites over nearly a decade and is evidenced in the common themes of slander and abuse that are directed towards me. The left’s campaign – really a declaration of war -- is in part a response to my opposition to its anti-American, anti-democratic and anti-Semitic agendas. Consequently I accept their attacks as features of this battlefield, signature methods of leftist argument. But the College Republicans on this campus have been caught in this crossfire. These students pay the same tuition as the political thugs who are on the attack and who are supported by the USC student paper which is under the control of USC administrators, and they do not deserve to be treated this way. Nor should a university administrator lend legitimacy to modes of discourse which violate the published ethical standards of the institution he represents.
In its attack the USC Progressive Alliance put out a flyer containing gross fabrications which are central to its campaign of slander against this event and the students hosting it. The flyer’s headline reads: “Hate Muslims? So Do We.” It pretends to be a document issued by College Republicans. In fact they had nothing to do with it, while the sentiment it expresses is reprehensible to them. The deception isn’t even original. Two years ago an identical flyer was posted all over the George Washington University campus when I spoke there during an Islamofascism Awareness Week I had organized. This “Hate Muslims? So Do We” poster bore the forged signature of the Young America’s Foundation, which was the group that was sponsoring my speech at George Washington U.
When the president of the University became aware of the poster he was so outraged that he sent emissaries to dorm rooms of the leaders of the Young America’s Foundation at eight in the morning to summon them to his office where he threatened them with expulsion. They explained to him that they had absolutely nothing to do with the offense and didn’t hate Muslims but the president’s threat remained. That night he convened a campus meeting to deplore the attack. As you know there is a new religion on college campuses based on the idea that there are endangered human species that need to be protected – all of them conveniently championed by the left as groups that are oppressed. In fact the only oppressed and persecuted groups on college campuses are those under attack from the left -- campus conservatives, Christians and Jews. That’s the reality, in contrast to the rhetoric.
At the president’s meeting, he told the hundreds of students and faculty present that the posting of the flyer attacking Muslims was a terrible thing in the history of the university, and he would severely punish whomever was found to be responsible. But the unforeseen result of his threat that the leftist who created the flyer and posted it around campus had an attack of guilt that his prank might have hurt the feelings of Muslim students. He stepped forward to confess that he was the author. Instead of the dire consequences promised the conservative students when they were suspected, the radical defamer was given a university slap on the wrist amounting to a $25 fine or the equivalent of a campus parking ticket.
In point of fact, Muslim students far from being under duress are everywhere coddled on college campuses, where they are showered with special privileges – generous student funding, special access to university officials, and the opportunity to target individuals with whom they disagree with slanderous attacks that would not be tolerated from any other group. At the University of California Irvine, Muslim Student Union members have been allowed to harass Jewish students, wear Hamas armbands praising suicide bombers over their graduation robes and to hold prayer services in the administration building of a state instution.
The current flyer distributed at this university by the USC Progressive Alliance characterizes me as a person hostile to all believing Muslims: “In the past, Horowitz has said, ‘While having the body of the human being, a Muslim who unquestioningly follows the Koran behaves like a soulless beast.” Now, who writes English like that except Ayman Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden? This is a complete fabrication, presented as a view that I hold, in order to justify the left’s attack on College Republicans as having invited an Islamophobe and racist to campus.
Another organization – a notorious supporter of the terrorist attacks on Israel called “Students for Justice in Palestine” -- posted a defamatory statement – including a list of repulsive opinions I am alleged to hold on Facebook. These inventions also appeared in a letter to The Daily Trojan. Not only did The Daily Trojan print this scurrilous attack, it refused to print my point by point rebuttals of the fabricated statements attributed to me. The Trojan letter was signed by half a dozen officially recognized leftist organizations and five USC faculty members. Among other canards list was the accusation that “Horowitz has previously asserted that African Americans owe American society a debt for having been enslaved for hundreds of years.” Who in his right mind would say anything like that? I certainly didn’t.
There were no quotation marks around the statement attributed to me but it is one that has been circulated on the web by other leftist groups based on an ad I had published in 40 college newspapers back in 2001 opposing a leftist campaign to make Americans pay reparations for slavery 137 years after 350,000 Union soldiers gave their lives to abolish slavery. I opposed the reparations campaign because, as someone who marched in civil rights demonstrations before the parents of any of the students in this room were born, I thought it was a bad and divisive idea -- bad for Americans in general and for the descendants of slaves in particular.
If you have studied American history, you know that the waves of immigration, which brought to these shores the ancestors of more than 80 percent of living Americans, took place beginning in 1880, 17 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Consequently what the Left was trying to do with this campaign was to tell the descendants of immigrants whose ancestors had nothing to do with slavery, that they were nonetheless responsible for the institution. Moreover they needed to pay reparations to African Americans who had never been slaves, including millionaires like Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey, the richest woman in America. In other words, the reparations campaign was a divisive campaign that would serve only to isolate African Americans and incite resentment.
That was the political reality I opposed. The ad I published contained ten reasons why the reparations proposal was a bad idea. But of course, you can’t conduct an intellectual argument with leftists who are a species of religious fanatics who regard those who oppose them as immoral and indecent. Their self-righteousness inspires them to rant and chant and defame their opponents, and try to shut them up.
The ad I wrote about reparations, including the statement I am alleged to have made, appeared originally as an article on Salon.com, which is a leftwing magazine where I was a regular guest columnist. Not a single one of my leftist editors thought the article or any of its statements was racist, although this has not discouraged the left from throwing this slander in my face ever since. Calling someone a “racist” is useful if you can’t make an intellectual argument and want to destroy their reputation in the process.
What I said in the ad opposing reparations was that if Americans living today are beneficiaries of the slave economy as the proponents of reparations claim then everyone is a beneficiary, blacks and whites alike. I also said that while the ancestors of African Americans were brought here in chains while others came voluntarily, the fact is that Africans whose ancestors were not brought to America as slaves are on average thirty times poorer than African Americans today, have a one-in-three chance or more of getting AIDS, and live under tyrannical regimes. I also said that African Americans alive today -- like all Americans – owe a debt to this country for their prosperity and freedom. These are just facts.
Why is the left attacking me now? Because I have organized a week of protests this year against campus organizations that support the war Hamas, Hizbollah and Iran are waging against the Jews and the Jewish state. Among these organizations are Students for Justice in Palestine, the USC Progressive Alliance and the Muslim Student Union which is affiliated with the national Muslim Students Association.
I will share with you now my actual views about Muslims as opposed to the slanderous canard that I hate them. I’m going to spell these views now, but it won’t make any difference to those who are attacking me. Because I’ve taken pains to explain these views every time I’ve spoken on a campus, including my appearances during Islamofascism Awareness Week (There are plenty of video records of these appearances on the Internet). Islamofascism Awareness Week, by the way, is not a protest against Muslims. In fact, my first Islamofascism Awareness Week, which was held two years ago, was specifically organized to protest the oppression of Muslim women in Islamic countries. In case you weren’t aware of it, there are 140,000 adolescent girls whose genitals are sliced off every year without anesthetic in Muslim countries. That was one of the obscenities we were protesting.
At Columbia University, where one of our events was held, we projected onto a giant screen the photo of a Taliban soldier holding an AK-47 to the head of a Muslim woman in a burqa. On YouTube there is a video of this incident where you can see the soldier actually blow her head off. Why would he do that? Because she had been accused of fornicating, of having illicit, un-Koran-approved sexual relations. Being a woman, she was not allowed to testify in her own defense. To prove her innocence she would have been required to produce four males to testify that she had been raped. Otherwise, they would blow her head off. Does anybody here find that offensive? But if you were to say that out loud from a university platform, as I did, the left would be all over you claiming that you hate Muslims and are a racist and an Islamophobe. No I don’t, and no I am not. I am defending that Muslim woman against the Taliban soldier. Students for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Students Association, by contrast, are busy raising money for the persecutors of Muslim women like the Taliban soldier.
Here are my views concerning Muslims: There are good Muslims and bad Muslims, just as there are good Christians and bad ones, good Jews and bad Jews. Most Muslims are like everybody else -- they want peace; and are law-abiding. And probably their religion is very personal to them, and doesn’t involve efforts to convert and subordinate or kill others.
There is a difference between religious institutions and the religion of their individual members. Many Catholics do not follow church doctrine on birth control and abortion for example. The Ku Klux Klan is a Protestant Christian organization, but most Protestants and their churches would condemn the Ku Klux Klan. One of my concerns regarding organized Islam is that I don’t see a comparable readiness to condemn Jew-hatred or the genocidal incitements regularly made by individuals and governments speaking in the name of Islam against the existence of the Jewish state. There are hateful sayings in the Gospels against Jews, for example that they are cursed. But the Christian churches have distanced themselves from those passages.
The Koran is full of hateful comments against the Jews, statements that are much more troubling than those in the Gospels. Jews are referred to as apes and pigs … [At this point members of Students for Justice in Palestine in attendance stood up. Some turned their backs to me; others marched out.] For those of you who’ve never seen a demonstration in a university lecture hall, this is what it looks like. Everybody who has their back turned towards me will be ejected, and we will just pause until that can be accomplished. This is my intolerance and disrespect for the intolerant and disrespectful.
The focus of tonight’s event at USC is the posting of a particularly troubling hadith, which is a saying of the Prophet Mohammed, on the official USC website. This hadith is a specific call for Muslims to exterminate the Jews: “The Day of Judgment will only come when Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. When the Jews hide behind the rocks and the trees and the rocks and the trees cry out, ‘Oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding being me, come and kill him.’”
That saying was posted by the USC Muslim Student Union on the official USC website and remained there until a complaint was lodged by my organization through the Wiesenthal Center and a concerned trustee. Responding to the complaint, the USC’s provost had the hadith removed. The USC Muslim Student Union and the Council on American Islamic Relations immediately protested the removal as religious persecution. This is a prime example of what I mean by the troubling responses of organized Islam regarding the hateful and even genocidal proclamations associated with its religion.
There are about a thousand sayings of the prophet among the hadith. They were collected 200 years after the Prophet’s death. Accordingly, a modern person might entertain the thought that there could have been an error in transcription along the way. In fact, there is a commission in Turkey whose mission is to examine the authenticity of the hadith and to discard those that are inauthentic. Is it too much to hope that this hateful saying attributed to the Prophet might be regarded as inauthentic? In fact it probably is. Turkey is presently a virulently anti-Jewish state, and it is doubtful that they would have the decency to do so.
The reason we organized this event following that incident is that the hateful, genocidal saying of the Prophet is back on the official USC website today. It is back even though it violates USC’s code of ethics presumably binding on all faculty and students. The USC “Principles of Community” state: “As a scholarly community, we aspire to create an environment in which racism, sexism, ageism, xenophobia and homophobia do not go unchallenged… we speak out against hatred and bigotry wherever and whenever we find them.” At present, hatred and bigotry of Muslims against Jews appears to be exempt from the code. This particular expression of that hate was restored to the USC website after its removal by an organization calling itself the Center for Muslim-Jewish Exchange.
One of the statements attributed to me in the literature protesting this event is absolutely correct. I am reported to have said, “Muslim Student Union groups in the United States are supporters of terrorist activity abroad, part of the network founded by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and funded by Saudi money.” I did say that, and the statement is true. The national Muslim Students Association presents itself as a cultural organization on campuses across the country, but it is in fact part of the Muslim Brotherhood network. At Temple University, where we held an event recently, the faculty adviser for the Muslim Students Association is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood itself. I have met several members of the Muslim Students Association on campuses where I have spoken and they are generally well-spoken and appear civil when you talk to them. But that impression lasts only until you start probing their actual beliefs.
For example, when I gave a talk at the University of California Santa Barbara last year there were about fifty members of the Muslim Students Association in the audience, some with signs. Throughout my hour lecture I paused periodically to ask them if they were willing to condemn the terrorist organizations, Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which claim to speak in the name of Islam. The official Hamas charter contains the very hadith I have mentioned, calling on Muslims to kill the Jews as a religious requirement for their redemption. Not one member of the Muslim Students Association in the audience at my talk was willing to condemn Hamas or Hezbollah.
When finished and the question-and-answer period began, the first person to speak was the president of the Muslim Students Association. So I said to him, “Before you ask your question, let me put one to you: ‘Will you condemn Hezbollah as a genocidal, terrorist organization?’” His response to this question was that it was too complicated for a yes or no answer. So I said, “Well, let me put it to you this way. I’m a Jew, and the head of Hezbollah has said he hopes that we Jews will all gather in Israel so he won’t have to hunt us down worldwide. Are you for that or against it?” He would not answer.
This shocked my conservative student hosts. It was a revelation to them that a well-spoken Muslim student with whom they had many civil encounters could not condemn a genocidal threat directed against Jews by a Muslim terrorist. Indeed, that none of the fifty members of the Muslim Students Association were willing to do so.
It is teaching moments like this that make me willing to subject myself to the indecencies of coming to a campus like USC and being called a racist, having my reputation shredded and my name dragged through the mud. Perhaps 20,000 individuals on this elite university campus have been exposed to charges printed under the authority of USC’s Vice President of Student Affairs claiming that David Horowitz thought it was a good idea to have slavery, and that blacks should be grateful for being enslaved. I hope most people would be skeptical enough to suspect that there might be something fishy about these statements attributed to me, but it’s not something I can count on.
My purpose in enduring these attacks is to teach the students who come to hear me two important lessons. The first is for Jewish students. As Jews we are facing real enemies in this country who will pretend to be for peace and justice, and to disarm us will go through the charade of engaging in civil exchanges with those Jewish organizations who are deluded enough to think they can persuade people who want to kill Jews for religious reasons that maybe they’re mistaken, and that we are really nice people who don’t deserve to be killed. I want these Jews not to make the mistake their forebears made with the Nazis whom they thought were too civilized to actually want to kill them.
My second purpose is to alert Americans to the most important battle of our lifetime, which is the battle we are having on this very campus for freedom of speech. What is at stake in this conflict at USC – and on campuses across the country – is the ability to assert that there are Muslims who have a religious hatred for others and who consider it a religious obligation to make war on them.
Of course there are also Muslims who dissent from these views and who find the genocidal sayings of the prophet Mohammed hateful and who would condemn the Muslim oppressions of women and gays and Christians. But so far not many have had the courage to speak up. Where are the Muslim organizations condemning genital mutilation? Where are the Muslim organizations condemning the genocidal war against the Jews? Hitler hid the Final Solution from the German people, because he thought they were too civilized to embrace it, that they might object to the idea of exterminating a whole people. Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah shout it from the rooftops. The very call to destroy the Jewish state – echoed on American campuses -- is an act of genocide in the dictionary meaning of the word. If they were calling for the destruction of the only black state in existence this would be obvious to everyone, even to university communities. But on today’s campuses, the call to eliminate the Jewish state is greeted with silence and even support.
There are 57 Muslim countries. But not one Muslim government has denounced Iran’s call to wipe Israel and America from the face of the earth. That tells me, as a Jew and American, that fearing Islam is a prudential caution. There were lots of good Germans but in the end, they didn’t make a damn’s worth of difference to the six million Jews who perished. I don’t know how many good Muslims there are, but it doesn’t matter if they remain silent while their co-religionists conduct their holy war against the rest of us. What matters is how many of them are going to stand up and oppose Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. So far the Muslim Students Association, the largest Muslim student organization in America has failed to do just that.
Just a few years ago, a Danish cartoonist drew a picture of Mohammed with his head as a bomb. It was a satirical gibe at Islamists who use the Koran to justify murder. Millions of Muslims rioted all over the world in protest, destroying property and killing innocent people. Their protests were not against those who use the Koran to conduct suicide bombings against innocent civilians. They were protesting the satirical cartoon as a blasphemous act. This was a massive show of force designed to intimidate critics of Islam’s holy war against the West. And it was very successful. Western papers did not dare to print the cartoons. Years later, Yale University Press has just published a book about the cartoons but the book does not contain a single one of the cartoons that inspired the protests. The assault on freedom of speech in America, which is most advanced on college campuses, is greater today than at any time since the Salem witch trials, thanks to the political Left, their liberal protectors, and the Islamic jihadists who have established a base in this country and on campuses like USC.
Thus, the Muslim Students Association, whose members have helped to organize the protest against this talk, is part of the Muslim Brotherhood Network and the Brotherhood’s plan to destroy American civilization. How do we know this? We know it because during the Holy Land Foundation trial in Texas against a Muslim charity that was funding the terrorists, the FBI seized Brotherhood documents describing the network and the plan. The organizations named in the document, which had been set up to carry out the plan included the Muslim Students Association, the Council on Arab Islamic Relations, the Muslim American Society, and the Islamic Society of North America. All these groups not only have privileged access to university administrations on campuses across America, but to the administration in the White House as well.
The organized smear campaign designed to intimidate the sponsors of tonight’s event and cause them to cancel it is a campaign familiar to every campus where speakers with views like mine appear. Speakers such as Robert Spencer, Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, Daniel Pipes, Walid Shoebat all must be accompanied by armed guards when they appear in university settings because of the threats posed by the Muslim Students Association, Students for Justice in Palestine, and their non-Muslim leftist allies, the Progressive Alliance being only one of many. No critic of the Islamo-fascist war against the West is permitted a civil platform on a college campus today. That is the reality.
A few weeks ago, I was in Philadelphia and New York to host the Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders at two campus events. Wilders is now the head of the largest party in the Netherlands, and could be elected prime minister in the next elections. In the Netherlands, freedom of speech is even more endangered at present than it is here. Criticizing Islam can be a crime in the Netherlands and in other parts of Europe, and Wilders is currently under indictment for insulting Islam, and could be sent to jail for his offense. In Pakistan, by the way, the crime is blasphemy punishable by death. How did Geert Wilders insult Islam? He made statements that while the majority of Muslims are peace-loving and law-abiding, Islam itself – with its incitements to war against infidels in general and Jews in particular is a problem and its fanatical adherents a threat.
Some will object that all religions contain problematic proclamations by their founders. In the Old Testament, for example, God tells Moses to destroy the Amalekites, every man, woman and child. But there are no Amalekites in the world today. It is an entirely different story when Mohammed calls for the extermination of the Jews, and in fact all infidels who refuse to submit to Allah, and Muslims refuse to distance themselves from these proclamations.
If you look at currents facts in the Middle East the distinction can seen in its practical effects. There are a million Muslim Arabs living in Israel, and they have more rights as Israeli citizens than ordinary Arabs in any Arab Muslim country, or Muslims in any Muslim country. As for infidels, the situation is worse. There is no religious freedom. If you are a Christian you can’t even carry your own bible into Saudi Arabia, without having it confiscated. In the strictly Islamic countries, there is no political freedom either. There is not a single Islamic democracy where infidels have equal rights. There existed one democracy in the Western sense in the Middle East, which was Lebanon. That democracy has been destroyed by Syria, by Iran, and by Iran’s proxy, the Islamic “Party of God” -- Hezbollah.
So there is in fact a problem. But to say that there is a problem, which is what Geert Wilders did, is an actionable offense. He made a 15-minute film, showing the oppression of gays and women in Islam. The film gave examples of the genocidal incitements of the Koran and the calls by living Imams to kill infidels, kill Jews, and conquer the world for Allah. Egyptian TV has run an entire series of television shows based on the anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which claims that Jews rule the world. The Arab Islamic countries are Jew-hating societies from top to bottom. For making factual – and easily verifiable -- statements like this, I and people like me are demonized and called racists and Islamophobes. The students who invite us are similarly attacked, and with the acquiescence and -- at USC -- even the support of university administrators.
The campaign to suppress the critics of Islamic bigotry and violence is a national campaign orchestrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that spawned al-Qaeda and Hamas, and indeed all the terrorist ideologies of Islam. The Muslim Students Associations are integral parts of the Muslim Brotherhood network. Every spring Muslim Students Associations hold Nakba protests on campuses across the country. What is a Nakba protest? It is a protest against the very existence of the Jewish state. It is held on the day of Israel’s birth. In Arabic, Nakba means “the catastrophe.”
To protest the very existence of an ethnic state is genocidal incitement. The Nakba protests are fueled by genocidal lies. The most prominent of these is that Israel exists on occupied land, on land that belonged to the Arabs and was stolen from them. There is no basis for such claims. There is no Arab land that is being occupied. For 400 years prior to the creation of the state of Israel, the Palestine Mandate was controlled by the Ottoman Turks, and after that by the British victors in World War I. The Turks are not Arabs but they are Muslims and that is the real source of the conflict in the Middle East. It is a sin for Muslims to surrender any territory that was once part of Islam to the infidel. That is the source of the Hamas refusal – and now the Fatah refusal -- to recognize the Jewish state. But it is also the source of al-Qaeda’s refusal to recognize the sovereignty of a non-Jewish nation, Spain, whose territory also once belonged to Islam.
There are not two rights contending in the Middle East. There is the right of the Jews to have a state in the region, and then there is the Islamic crusade to eliminate all non-Muslim peoples from what was once the Muslim umma, or – failing that – to make them submit to Muslim rule. In other words there is one side that wants to eliminate the other side. That is the one issue you can’t negotiate – the desire to end your existence. That is the nature of the conflict in the Middle East, and that is why there is no peace.
In closing, let me revisit the issue that confronts us, the issue of free speech, of the right of critics of Islam to make themselves heard. I would like briefly to tell you what happened at Temple University so that you can see how systematic the persecution of Islam’s critics is on American campuses today. At Temple University, the students had invited Geert Wilders, the Dutch parliamentarian I mentioned earlier. The Muslim Students Association together with Students for Justice in Palestine and other leftist groups immediately attacked Wilders as a “racist” and “Islamophobe” and demanded that the proposed event be banned. You would think that university officials would admonish the student protestors about tolerance and the importance of civility and intellectual diversity in a university setting. You might expect them to roll out the welcome mat for an important European politician such as Geert Wilders and to say, “We’re so glad you chose our campus, because now our students can learn about a crucial conflict over an issue of historic importance -- whether Europe is going to reinstitute blasphemy laws or defend freedom – and to learn about it from the one of the historic actors.”
But that was far from what happened. Instead, three university administrators, led by Temple’s Vice President of Student Affairs, summoned the students who had invited Wilders and told them their invitation was divisive, and hurtful to Temple’s Muslim students. They urged the students to cancel their event and suppress Wilders’ views, just what the leftists and their Muslim Brotherhood adviser were demanding. When the students argued that this was a free speech issue, the Temple administrators told them, “Foreigners don’t have free speech rights in America.” That's what three Temple University Administrators told our students. Foreigners don’t have free speech rights in America. As it happens, one of the students’ fathers had actually served in Iraq defending the free speech rights of foreigners. Her name is Brittany Walsh and she resisted the pressure to close down the event, and it was held – under armed guard.
In America, the right of free speech is not a right you can put in your pocket or a right that can be withheld. It is a limit on what government can and cannot do. The First Amendment says that government shall make no laws abridging the right of free speech. It doesn’t make a distinction between restrictive laws that apply to foreigners visiting this country and American citizens. It is a designed as the cornerstone of our democratic system.
Every single freedom that we have comes from our right to speak freely, to disagree with the orthodox view. Once you remove that right, once you ban events that feature Geert Wilders or David Horowitz, once you outlaw opinions that you find offensive, you have outlawed democracy itself, which the right to disagree and therefore to oppose the power of the government or the majority, as the case may be. If we lose the right to disagree and be heard, then sooner or later there will be only one politically correct authority, and one politically correct party. And that will be the party in power. If human beings are given the power to suppress speech they don’t like they will have no trouble finding the moral justification for doing so by calling it hate speech or whatever the current fashion will bear. In Stalin’s Russia it was anti-Soviet speech that was banned.
No matter what views you hold, or what you think of anything else I have said, you need to defend this right. Because this is all you have. If you don’t have this right, you don’t have any other.
The final thought I want to leave you with is that you must continue the battle that has begun on this campus. The groups that attempted to shut down this speech need to be disciplined. This is not behavior that is appropriate to a university. This is a threat to the fundamental principles on which a university is based. All the groups that were involved in these attacks are officially recognized student groups. They have applied for official recognition and have received privileges, including money to fund their own events. Every one of them understands there are obligations involved in receiving recognition, and that they are going to come under university scrutiny. What the university now needs to do is to tell all student organizations: “If you attempt to obstruct a speaker who has been invited by another student group, or if you slander USC students or their guests, you are going to be put on probation – or suspended -- and lose your privileges.”
It’s that simple. It’s how a university must function. The students who sponsored this talk are paying the same tuition as the students who assaulted them. They are going to be here when I’m gone. They did not deserve to be called racists, or to have their safety threatened, or to be viciously attacked as they were this week. No university should tolerate, let alone encourage, behavior like this. It is a deplorable fact that the University of Southern California currently does.
In closing, I want to thank you for being a good audience, and particularly those of you who disagree with me and who stayed to the end. And I want to again thank the very brave College Republicans, who invited me and suffered these indignities with me, and stood up through it all.