Blogs > Cliopatria > Retribution and Horowitz II ...

Mar 19, 2004 7:13 pm

Retribution and Horowitz II ...

David Bernstein and Erin O'Connor are breathing heavily because an African American administrator at Emory canceled an appointment with campus Republicans after receiving a threatening e-mail about bringing conservative speakers to the University. Emory's President has apologized for the cancellation of the appointment and David Horowitz will return to Emory at private expense. Given the facts that a) Horowitz spoke at Emory last year at University expense and b) Bernstein, himself, has recently spoken there, it is reasonably clear that conservative speakers are welcome at the University. I will get exercised about this matter only after each of the Cliopatriarchs have been invited to speak at Emory for the stipend Horowitz demands. What sad lack of imagination causes otherwise reasonably intelligent people who call themselves" conservative" to think that David Horowitz represents them well? What causes them to get co-opted into becoming the David Horowitz Speakers Bureau?
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Richard Henry Morgan - 3/23/2004

Obviously? Or did she just see a target of opportunity? I'm continually amazed by the capacity of academia to absorb those least capable of acting in a grown-up world. I've discussed this with teachers and stay-at-home moms -- without more contact with the adult world, after a while we tend to become socialized to the immaturity of our students and kids, and forget how to act as adults. This sort of explains John Gardner's famous line: "the politics of academia are so dirty because the stakes are so small."

Ralph E. Luker - 3/23/2004

Dean Rorie obviously believed that the value of respect had already been traduced.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/22/2004

Ralph, your heart is often in the right place, but tout expliquer, n'est pas tout pardoner.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/22/2004

You lost me there, Ralph. How exactly is respect for other people advanced as a message by blaming the CR's without evidence?

Ralph E. Luker - 3/22/2004

There's also another message. It is one about respect for other people. Respect for other people is a very traditional value -- one that is not high on David Horowitz's agenda.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/22/2004

But the message was sent -- don't traduce the PC line if you want any service from her office.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/22/2004

Richard, Cancelling a meeting isn't a very severe punishment, now, is it? She ought to have handled the matter otherwise, but the college Republicans weren't thrashed, their precious voices were not silenced, and (believe me, we are talking about children of privilege here) their allowances weren't docked.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/22/2004

Uh, I think I was making the same point you made in re Bellesiles. Anonymous is anonymous. But I don't agree with you that Dean Rorie is a "public person" in the sense that a politician or a Hollywood movie star is a public person. Although a university administrator, she remains essentially a private person. I think that she might better have handled the situation by having someone else in her office handle the appointment.

Name Removed at Poster's Request - 3/22/2004

If there's a threat in the email, it's highly ambiguous at best. Here is the "threatening" sentence: "The internet is making it more difficult for incompetent people like you to hide behind the walls of academia."

In another response you wrote: "You do not _know_ that the author of the e-mail had nothing to do with the campus Republicans and I do not _know_ that the author did have anything to do with them." That's the kind of logic that the historian organizations used to praise Bellesiles and pillory his political opponents. The historians maliciously assumed that those "threatening" Bellesiles were part of the group of gun rights activists and pro-gun rights amateur historians denouncing work, because they want an excuse to attack people they disagreed with politically. Likewise, if the email is the only reason for cancelling the meeting, the administrator Rorie maliciously used its ambiguous language, sympathy for the Republicans' cause and its link to the school newspaper article written by one of the conservative students as an excuse to avoid what would probably have been a contentious meeting.

Here is what Rorie said when she canceled the meeting:
"In light of the attached email and link it is clear that you are not interested in practing community. The information you provided to outsiders is the source of the enclosed personal attacts on me. I am rescinding the offer to meet.I will not participate in email name calling or personal assaults."

She doesn't say she is being threatened, but disingenuously calls the email an "assault" and implies that she knows "S. Siles" is not a regular Emory person when she refers to "outsiders." Her real complaint is that one of the Republicans authored an article about her in the Emory Wheel that she didn't like. I don't envy her the personal conflict inherent in her job, but she is a public figure and needs to accept that the school newspaper, if it's doing its job, may write uncomplimentary things about her, and that people may contact her with unfelicitous opinions about her conduct based on those writings.

Having said that, in my experience crap draws crap to it. Those who love Horowitz enough to fight for him are more than likely unpleasant people like him. I'm not saying that Rorie or any other person who has to deal with the Horowitz boosters should have to feel good about it. I can definitely empathize with the urge to avoid social trauma, but it isn't always avoidable by honest, mature adults.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/22/2004

The sender of the e-mail, S. Siles, is not registered as a student at Emory (I checked). He sent the e-mail from an AOL address, not a university e-mail address. He cites a web Emory Wheel article for his info.

Dean Rorie placed the blame for Siles on the CR's, implied that Siles' e-mail was based on info provided by the CR's (when it was available on the web), and as a result cancelled a meeting with the CR's (which more than 3 weeks later she hadn't rescheduled). So let's review the facts. Dean Rorie had ABSOLUTELY no basis for blaming the CR's for the e-mail.

Now what might a student conclude from this episode? One possible conclusion is that when an administration official takes a stand on an issue outside her purview, if you disagree with it, she will use her office to punish you. Not exactly a full-throated endorsement of free speech, is it?

Grant W Jones - 3/21/2004

I'm not defending D.H. I'm pointing out an absurd double-standard regarding speakers. But you already knew that, don't you Prof. Luker?

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/21/2004

Ralph, I'm not inclined to defend DH, though if forced to, I will to the extent that he is the only person (seemingly) willing to go onto campus and argue against reparations. He is willing, despite the confused attacks on him as racist. For instance, the student newspaper at Brown had its run stolen, and the group responsible defended that as a defense against the "hate speech" of Horowitz' ad (and as such was defended by a black professor of philosophy there). The university originally decried the theft, and then back-pedaled.

Similarly, a conservative conference at Columbia was cancelled by the defenders of free speech there.

No, what disturbs me is not that the student council wouldn't pay to have him speak at Emory a second time. What disturbs me is that the administration argued against having him not on the basis of the relative uselessness of what he had to say, but on the basis that it might upset somebody (and on the basis of the race card being played by an administrator). I salute the fact that Emory supported his first appearance, particularly after the brownshirt tactics used to deny Ward Connerly the opportunity to speak.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/21/2004

I don't try to justify Jello Biafra. Why do you try to justify David Horowitz?

Grant W Jones - 3/21/2004

Come on Prof. Luker, let's not pretend there a any standards for speakers, as long as they are on the left.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/21/2004

Don't saddle me with DH, OK? And I was making a distinction between real liberals like Harvey Silverglate, and the phoney variety like James Freedman. It was poorly worded, I'll grant you ("so-called liberals" doesn't make the distinction clear enough).

Ralph E. Luker - 3/20/2004

"Brownshirt"? Richard, I thought that we'd declared a truce? "Brownshirt" is a word reserved by people like me for throwing at people like you but choose not to do so because of respect and because I know it would be b...s....
On the basis of what accomplishment would DH be invited to any self-respecting place to speak about anything? I'm not in favor of shouting him down. I just can't imagine why any intelligent conservative would think that he well represents a cause worth defending -- and conservatism _is_ worth defending. By such reasoning, a liberal would demand Michael Moore simply because he sticks a finger in a conservative eye. Academic communities shouldn't be plagued by either of them.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/20/2004


Am I the only person here who reads regret in Bacchus' statement that there were cops at Horowitz' speech to prevent Bacchus and company from driving him off.

BTW, I don't see Horowitz as a horror -- just a frequently obnoxious provocateur. He is really good at getting so-called "liberals" to reveal their brownshirt tendencies.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/20/2004

This Cornell incident reminds me a lot of an incident more than 15 years ago at Columbia.

A black and a white student bumped while dancing at a party at Ferris Booth. Words were exchanged. The black student left, gathered some friends from Harlem, and waited outside for the white student's exit. The black youth involved in the incident then, with his crew, accosted the student, demanding that he give them "respect" -- that is, crawl. He refused, and so they jumped him.

Exiting Ferris Booth at that time were some Columbia football players, who came to the student's rescue, and chased off the attackers. A few days later, close to 400 residents of Harlem protested on the steps of Lowe Library. What did Columbia do? They suspended the white student for a year.

Too bad for Columbia that the student's father was a Wall Street lawyer, who promptly filed suit against Columbia. Columbia delayed and delayed, and then on the eve of the trial, they reinstated the student and reached an out of court settlement extremely advantageous to the student (a six figure sum was paid to make him drop the suit). I can only guess at the motivations of Columbia, but Jack Greenberg was Dean, and it wouldn't look too good if the great NAACP lawyer lost a civil rights suit to a white boy, would it?

Ralph E. Luker - 3/20/2004

Different jurisdictions -- different law enforcement agencies. Compare some oranges with some oranges.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/20/2004

Grant, I suspect that we are not going to be in agreement about this. You do not _know_ that the author of the e-mail had nothing to do with the campus Republicans and I do not _know_ that the author did have anything to do with them. I am, btw, a Republican, so get over your suspicions of academic leftists. Horowitz was/is a horror in both his left- and right-wing forms. And thinks he should be paid $5000 + expenses, including armed guard security at each appearance for being so! He, not Dean Rorie, is the abbrasive buffoon and you ought to be smart enough to recognize that.

Grant W Jones - 3/20/2004

No, I see it as a contemptable legal double-standard that the univerities encourage.

Grant W Jones - 3/20/2004

Are you kidding? Calling someone incompetent and a buffoon is threatening? Such mild epithets are not a threat of any action being made on the writer's part. Where is the phrase "find you out" used in the e-mail. It simply states a fact that the internet has made it difficult for bureaucrats to hide their actions. I'm sure a professional administrator could find this professional threatening, but that's not what you are talking about, is it? And the person sending the e-mail had nothing to do with the college republicans. I guess guilt by association is OK when conservatives are involved.

Is your calling Horowitz an "ugly fungus" a threat also? You need to "get over" your personal animosity with Horowitz. Are disruptions the same as physical threats? Were you chased out of your classroom?

A relatively mild e-mail is threatening, but conservatives being prevented from speaking (even the anti-Christ Horowitz) because of actual intimidation, or professors being harrassed by the leftist goon squad, is business as usual on campus. Glad we got that worked out.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/20/2004

The incident was rather more sad than funny, I think. The woman needed psychological attention. I don't usually laugh at people in distress. And, yes, I also read Erin O'Connor, so I know about the case to which you refer. You see this as a problem in racial preferences, do you? They are two distinctly different cases, to be handled by two distinctly separate jurisdictions. I don't claim that justice was done in the Cornell incident.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/20/2004

If you haven't read the e-mail in question, I recommend that you do. I would consider the name-calling threatening, especially when appended to it is the "find you out" business. Yes. I've had a class disrupted by students who thought that I wasn't politically correct enough and it was disturbing that those students faced no disciplinary action. But, no, I don't demand the protection of armed guards when I speak in various places. Horowitz thrives on the antagonisms he arouses. He's rather like an ugly fungus that feeds on what it attacks. He has little regard for what is true. I didn't admire him in his left-wing apparition and, unlike you, I don't admire his right-wing form.

Grant W Jones - 3/20/2004

Why would you consider the e-mail threatening? Direct quotes from the document in question would be helpful.

Have you been shot at recently? Have you been chased off a lecturn by a gang of hooligans like Ward Connerly? Horowitz is not talking about walking through campus, but giving a talk on a contentious topic. I've witnessed the thuggery that "activists" will resort to to prevent conservatives from speaking.

Grant W Jones - 3/20/2004

You don't think the fact that it was a psychology professor is even a little bit funny?

Do you think the chancellor closing several colleges because of one criminal act and turning the incident into Kristelnaucht was over the top?

I'm also curious as to why some hate crimes are more important than others:

Don't you consider this incident more serious than a car being vandalized?

Ralph E. Luker - 3/20/2004

If I were Dean Rorie, I think that I would consider that e-mail threatening. Moreover, Horowitz does need to get over his experience with the Black Panthers. I was shot at in the civil rights movement. I do not demand armed guards when I walk over to the Emory campus.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/20/2004

Yes, well, Grant, what would you make of it, other than the professor of psychology in question probably needs some psychological counseling? She may face very severe penalty.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/20/2004

Here's the text of the e-mail that Ralph characterizes as "threatening", as well as Prof. Klehr's characterization of Steve Coakley:

I'd be curious to know what Horowitz said that Ralph considers an attack on African Americans. Here's Horowitz's characterization of what went down at Emory last time he was there, as well as Bacchus' letter:


It seems the Head of the Black Student Alliance is all for free speech, unless it might disrupt "the already fragile social environment that exists at the University" -- that is, speech she disagrees with. Horowitz confirmed the BSA's "fear of his appearance by offering unsolicited commentary on reparations and the state of Black America" -- in other words, the BSA demands content veto on speakers. Horowitz, according to Bacchus, "ventured into the sensitive area of racism" -- a nice innuendo one ventures is designed to avoid a libel suit. She, of course, provides so particulars.

I did an infoseek search of the Emory site of 'Rorie AND Coakley', and got no returns. Apparently, Dean Roriemhad no problems with Coakley saying that jewish doctors created AIDS -- or at least found that less offensive than Horowitz opposing reparations, since she did not go on record against it.

I don't give a fig or a tinker's damn who the repubs invite or try to invite. That's up to them. I have little sympathy for them if they can't muster the votes in Student Council. They should (and they did) go to some moneybags for their speakers' fees.

I would note that the university setting is something of a trough for the boggled and the botched -- if they are on the left. Seems Cornell gave Frank Rhodes Professorships (which only require, at a minimum, two weeks on campus per year) to Cynthia McKinney (the airhead anti-Semite former Congresswoman from Georgia, who lost her bid for re-election despite a large infusion of Arab money into her campaign) and John Pilger (a similarly airhead jerk, a poor man's contemporary version of Wilfred Burchett, who first condemned Australia for not intervening in Timor, and then denied that the Bali bombing had anything to do with the intervention).

Grant W Jones - 3/20/2004

Any thoughts on the closing of several colleges based on a hoax?

Grant W Jones - 3/20/2004

The administator cancelling the meeting with the college republicans was a mendacious act. "Difficult" hardly. But for those of us who have had real jobs in the real world, refusing to do the job because it's "difficult" is ground for dismissal.

P.S. Regarding T.J Rodgers and alumni, lighten up dude, I just thought you would find it interesting. I never said that you called conservatives stupid, it just seems to be a common prejudice in academia.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/19/2004

Cancellation of the meeting was, probably, unusual. I'm not an African American administrator at a historically white institution who has just receiving a threatening e-mail and has an appointment with a group of students who want to bring in a speaker who attacked African American students the last time he was on the campus. I can imagine that it would have been better had she asked another member of the student life staff to meet with the students.

Robert L. Campbell - 3/19/2004

Sorry, that should be more student activity money

Robert L. Campbell - 3/19/2004

I'm no fan on Horowitz myself, and the case for expending more student activity on him at Emory is pretty weak.

But the behavior by the administrator in question does strike me as bizarre and unprofessional.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/19/2004

Oh, and by the way, Richard, I assume that you might have had other suggestions as speakers for the Republicans at Emory. Right?

Ralph E. Luker - 3/19/2004

Richard, I can imagine that, under the circumstances, the administrator who cancelled the meeting foresaw it as a difficult experience and that she did the best thing possible if she could foresee no likely positive result of the meeting. I am unfamiliar with the other speaker who alleged that Jewish doctors were responsible for AIDS. If there was such a claim, I certainly hope someone was there to call him on it.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/19/2004

This is just the usual bizarre stuff that occurs on campus every day in America. There was good reason not to bring Horowitz back to Emory on the students' dime -- he spoke there before recently (though this time was to be on another topic).

What is bizarre is that two administrators showed up at a student council meeting (!!) to argue against an invite to Horowitz, at least one using the race card in her argument. She got a strong e-mail message (I wouldn't call it "threatening", Ralph) in return, which she then blamed (without cause) on the College Republicans, and who she then cancelled a meeting with. Apparently she didn't have a problem with a previous speaker at Emory who claimed that Jewish doctors had created the AIDS virus.

This is an improvement over Dartmouth, where a black administrator threw a Dartmouth Review member, who was delivering copies of the paper, to the ground and bit him on the chest. He was suspended for two weeks by President Freedman -- the same guy who expelled a student for skating on the ice, between periods of a Dartmouth hockey game, dressed as an Indian (sorry, Native American).

It's good to see that the children are still running academia.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/19/2004

Jonathan, Thanks for this. Jonathan linked to another story about it in his post below. _Finally_, some good news for Colorado higher education! I've been thinking that I should post something about what's been going on out there, but it really is difficult to stay on top of the whole picture.

Jonathan Rees - 3/19/2004


You might be interested in knowing that the Academic Bill of Rights died yesterday in the Colorado State Legislature. Here's the link from my local paper:



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