`Reparations’ author trying to make himself a martyr

Bryan Nichols

To paraphrase Al Franken, David Horowitz is a big fat idiot. Now I know Mr. Franken reserved this apt criticism for another, namely Mr. Rush Limbaugh, but I think it is perfectly appropriate here as well.

For those of you not familiar with Mr. Horowitz, he’s been making big news lately. He’s the man responsible for the ad “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks – and Racist Too,” sent to 52 college newspapers across the country.

Some papers ran the ad, others did not, for reasons ranging from a desire not to inflame their readership to policies that prohibit political ads. For those papers that did run the ad, serious consequences have been accrued.

At Brown University, for instance, a student coalition confiscated more than 4,000 copies of the Daily Herald, their student newspaper.

University of Wisconsin newspaper editors faced 50 protesters demanding apologies or resignations. Papers at UC-Berkeley and UC-Davis printed the ads and later apologized for them.

At all of the campuses involved, Horowitz has managed to inflame tempers on both sides of the political spectrum.

Conservative groups run around and shout about the liberal media conspiracy to limit free speech. Liberal groups, always tremendous martyrs, seem content to act offended, outraged or insulted while demanding Horowitz’s’ head on a plate.

Now, I must admit, while there are few things that would be more fun than cannibalizing David Horowitz, that is not the point. The point is much more simple. While everyone argues about his ad, Horowitz has managed to do exactly what he wants.

Horowitz, while obviously a provocateur in the extreme, seems like a moderately intelligent man. He obviously understands the political climate of the country right now, therefore realizing, to be honest, that reparations have little to no chance of being realized.

Therefore his ad was basically akin to a big session of libertarian mental masturbation. Imagine I write an ad called “Ten Reasons We Should All Give Up Our Crap and Move into Sweet, Sweet Communes” or “Ten Reasons We Should Cannibalize Fat Libertarians.” I know damn well that neither of these things is going to happen.

So did Horowitz. He knows reparations are not happening any time soon. So what was his goal? Simple. Horowitz wants to make himself a martyr. He wants to be able to cry “censorship” each time a paper he sends his ad to refuses to print it.

He wants to put headlines on his Web site, www.frontpagemag.com, like Wednesday’s “Campus Fascism.” He’s the most pompous, self-serving publicity whore since Jeremy Peterson.

So his ad has done exactly what he desired. He’s managed to make a bunch of liberal student groups and college newspapers look like idiots. He’s managed to make himself look like a paradigm of sagacity as he delivers lectures and letters to the editor on what free speech “really” means.

Worst of all, he’s managed to take the spotlight off of his poor arguments and refocus it on his plight to stop the “liberal double standards” of free speech.

I’d like to think the media isn’t this easy to manipulate, but obviously it is.

Each paper that printed the ad and apologized later played into Horowitz hands. Each paper that refused to print the ad did Horowitz a favor. There is only one way to get the best of a man like this. You want to deal with him? Print his ad. Print it with a page or seven of rebuttals and commentary. After all, while his opinions may be controversial, even poorly supported, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have the right to speak them.

Sure, every paper has the right not to print ads. In cases where the information is hateful or false, the ads shouldn’t be printed.

But I would say this isn’t necessarily one of those cases. Not printing the Horowitz ad is taking the easy way out the situation. It allows him to make comparisons to the printing of recent ads that denied the Holocaust.

Again, it allows him to look like the calm one when he was really the original instigator.

The only way we can get rid of provocateurs like Horowitz is to deny them on the merits of their shallow arguments.

Take a look at his points, such as eight, which basically suggests all welfare recipients since 1965 have been black, or maybe the more absurd nine, which suggests that blacks owe white America something for emancipation, which seems to argue that Horowitz would owe me something if I enslaved and then freed him.

What we must realize is that people like Horowitz will only go away if we don’t feed their egos and bloated senses of self-importance. By making him a martyr, everyone has done just that.

So let’s give the man a chance to speak, then let’s rip him apart. Allowing him to grandstand on “free speech” is inexcusable. Let’s realize him and his brethren for the farces they are.

Bryan Nichols is a senior in Genetics from Burnsville, MN.