Dartmouth Nightmare

It’s worse than you might think.

President Philip Hanlon
Dartmouth College
Hanover, New Hampshire

Dear President Hanlon,

On October 23, I spoke at your college. I was invited by members of College Republicans and Students Supporting Israel. They probably wanted to hear what I had to say because I am one of the most prominent conservative intellectuals in America, having published over twenty books, three of which were New York Times best-sellers and one of which was nominated for a National Book Award. The feminist Camille Paglia has said of me: “I respect the astute and rigorously unsentimental David Horowitz as one of America's most original and courageous political analysts…. As a scholar who regularly surveys archival material, I think that, a century from now, cultural historians will find David Horowitz's spiritual and political odyssey paradigmatic for our time.”

Despite my credentials, and even though these conservative students pay the same tuition - $75,000 per year – as your leftwing students, I was forced to raise the money to underwrite my visit and lecture. This was particularly galling to the Dartmouth conservatives who invited me, because the previous spring Dartmouth’s “Office of Pluralism and Leadership” sponsored a visit by notorious anti-Semite and terrorist supporter Linda Sarsour – who has no academic credentials to speak of – underwriting her expenses and paying her a reported $10,000 honorarium for her talk.

My hosts were also probably interested in what I had to say because over the preceding decades, Dartmouth has purged conservative intellectuals from its faculty so effectively that the students could only name two Dartmouth liberal arts professors who were conservative. This reflects a collective faculty attitude that intellectual diversity is dangerous and unwanted. This is a disgraceful fact of academic life, which could easily be remedied, which prevents Dartmouth students from getting a decent liberal arts education, where all issues are controversial and intellectual diversity is the only guarantee that students are being educated rather than indoctrinated, or that there are reasonable checks on unchallenged leftist professors going off the deep end. As it happens my visit elicited a professorial outburst showing just how far leftwing bigotry and anti-academic discourse can go on your campus. I will come to this in a moment.

Before my arrival, an anonymous leaflet was circulated, apparently by the Dartmouth Socialists club. It was filled with lies about my work, calling me a “racist, sexist and ignorant bigot.” These slanders were drawn from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an institution so discredited that it recently had to pay a devout and moderate British Muslim $3.4 million after it libeled him as “a violent anti-Muslim extremist.” None of the students behind this slander sheet was apparently aware that I have a 50-year public record as a civil rights activist, or that I have published three books in the last 20 years dedicated to Martin Luther King’s vision of an America in which people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. And why should Dartmouth students be aware of my views since Dartmouth’s leftwing faculty obviously has no respect for conservative perspectives, which is why conservatives are as rare as unicorns on your faculty.

Leading the pack of Dartmouth character assassins who mobilized to combat my presence was Professor Annelise Oreleck, an out-of-control Gender Studies professor who tweeted: “Long-time hater, Islamophobe and anti-intellectual David Horowitz is speaking today in Rocky 3 at 6pm. He is a hater of the first order. If you’re so inclined, support students who are organizing a protest – Bring signs. Turn your back. Stage a walkout.” What justification can there be to have such an angry, close-minded individual teaching Dartmouth students?

Professor Oreleck’s protest instructions happened to be – and surely this was no coincidence - exactly what the Dartmouth Socialists were planning to obstruct my lecture -  namely to turn an academic talk into a circus so that no one would pay serious attention to anything that was said. They came in force to play loud porn videos, put on headphones to block out my words, unfurl distracting banners with slogans like “Trans Rights Are Human Rights” and “ICE is the Gestapo,” and to periodically walk out of the room throwing jibes in my direction as further distractions before they left. One transgender person, dressed as though she was going to Mardi Gras, sat herself near the front and eyed me intensely in the hope I guess that I would find her disturbing.

All the disrespectful antics of the protesters were in fact disturbing – not least because they were displays of Ivy League students wasting what could have been a valuable educational opportunity, and demonstrations of their total lack of interest in what someone who disagreed with them, and was far more educated, might be saying. When I was a college radical, as I told them to no effect, I always wanted to hear what our opponents were saying because I thought it would make me a better radical. Apparently, today’s radicals are so dedicated to self-righteous know-nothingism that they couldn’t care less what they are fighting against. As for the transgenderism, like many other conservatives, I am actually a very tolerant person. I happen to have a transgendered grandson who graduated from an Ivy League school and would never think of attending a college lecture only to mock it.

Wondering how students paying $75,000 a year for a Dartmouth education could throw away such an opportunity, it occurred to me that maybe they were not paying anything at all, but were so-called “marginalized” and “under-served” affirmative action scholarship cases. What a travesty that Dartmouth would encourage them to squander the opportunity their scholarships provided by not insisting on behavior appropriate to an academic community. When educators encourage closed minds, what is left of the learning process?

As it happens there were several Dartmouth administrators overseeing this event, including Keysi Montás, the Director of Safety and Security who was in charge. Unfortunately, they were not there to enforce an educational decorum but to encourage the protesters by tolerating their antics and refusing to eject them.

The whole travesty was sealed by the school newspaper, The Dartmouth, which bills itself as “The Oldest College Newspaper,” and which sent a reporter named Andrew Culver to cover the event. Before I began speaking, I gave Culver a recorded interview at his request. In it, I defended myself against the slanders in the anonymous leaflet, and showed him exactly how and why they were gross misrepresentations of the facts. For example, I was called a “sexist” for pointing out the scientific fact that men score higher on mathematical aptitude tests than women. What the slander sheet left out was that I also said, women score higher than men on verbal aptitude tests, and that I brought up these facts in defense of Harvard’s liberal president, Larry Summers, who was under fire for stating them first. I also described my public record as a civil rights activist, mentioned the fact that I had three black grandchildren, and was probably the only conservative in the country to defend Trayvon Martin during the trial of his killer George Zimmerman.

The Dartmouth reporter Andrew Culver failed to print a single word of my interview. Instead he opened his article by repeating the lies in the leaflet – namely that I was a racist, a sexist and a bigot. Culver’s mis-reporting of the event closed off the possibility that anyone in the Dartmouth community at large would be exposed to anything I had actually said. Only the slanders would remain. This is the state of education at a once admired Ivy League institution, where students can go four years without encountering a conservative adult. Moreover, if one is invited to campus to speak, he will be drowned out by students who shouldn’t be in college in the first place.

You had no personal role in these travesties, but you are president of the institution that made them possible. I’m not going to ask you to have your “Office of Pluralism (how Orwellian is that)” sponsor a return visit from me, since it might well provoke a faculty riot. I just want you to think about these signs of a damaged institution. and the warping of the educational experiences of your students.

I would like an apology from you on behalf of the Dartmouth community. I would also like to see some instruction from you to your staff on the importance of promoting educational values rather than encouraging close-minded political bigotry at your school. Perhaps hiring a dozen or so conservative administrators might help.


David Horowitz