On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week I was in Washington, where I visited with three U.S. Senators and three Congressmen, including the whips of both houses. I was meeting Eric Cantor for the first time, but all the others had appeared at events I had hosted or provided blurbs for my political books. Jon Kyl, the Minority Whip in the Senate invited me to a lunch to address the Republican Senate leadership lunch on my next trip to Washington. I mention this because while I was waiting for my return flight in Dulles airport I received a call from my office informing me that a speech I had been invited to give at St. Louis University two weeks later would be cancelled because of conditions that had been set by university administrators that could not be met.
In particular, the administrator in charge, Dean Scott Smith, had told the student whose group had invited me that “Horowitz would never be allowed to speak on a platform alone at Saint Louis University. He could be invited only if there was another speaker on the program to oppose his point of view.” Moreover, the dean continued, while my speaking fee had to be paid by the College Republicans who had invited me, my designated opponent would have his fees and expenses paid by the university. The clear message was that the St. Louis University would not allow its own funds to be tainted by such an unwelcome speaker.
This was the second attempt by the students to invite me, and the second time Dean Smith had thrown a roadblock on their invitation. In October, he had said I could not speak unattended because I would “insinuate that all Muslims are fascists,” something I have never done. In fact, there are videos of my speeches all over the web in which I say just the opposite.
It should be said that while administrators apply these restrictions to critics of radical Islam, no such rules are invoked for Holocaust deniers or supporters of communist genocides. Both Norman Finkelstein and Angela Davis have been invited as standalone speakers at St. Louis University, without anti-communists and defenders of Israel on stage to refute them.
I decided to call Smith’s bluff and suggested that I debate Cary Nelson, the well-to-the left president of the American Association of University Professors, on the subject of academic freedom. I called Cary and he agreed. Smith didn’t like this because he was aware that Nelson had responded to his attempt to bar me from speaking by saying that St. Louis University was a “university in name only.” So Smith asked the student host Dan Laub why the subject had changed from Islamo-fascism to academic freedom. Why indeed!
But again I decided to test his mettle and told Dan that the subject we would debate would be Academic Freedom and Islamo-Fascism. Curve ball. Smith came back with a new caveat. There would have to be a third speaker to mind Cary and me and put our discussion in the framework of “Catholic Values.” Some joke. What Catholic Values did the communist Angela Davis or the atheist Norman Finkelstein express when they spoke alone?
Better yet, this weekend Dean Smith and the Catholics at St. Louis University hosted a three day conference put on by the Muslim Student Association, a well-established front for the Muslim Brotherhood. The conference dealt with religious themes such as why requiring two women to be a witness or letting them inherit only half of what a man does or requiring them to submit to their husbands represents “the perfection of our religion.”