The triumph of "multicultural" thugs

By David Horowitz

Published May 22, 2001 8:00AM (EDT)

Read the story.

As a recent graduate of Cornell University, I find the actions described in the Horowitz article indefensible and sad. In his typical form, however, Horowitz paints a very disingenuous (surprise) picture of politics at Cornell.

His portrayal of professor [Jeremy] Rabkin and the conservative groups at Cornell as intellectual freedom fighters is laughable, as are the groups themselves. Most conservatives at Cornell disassociate from the official conservative groups, embarrassed by their childishness. Devoting entire newspapers to personal attacks on an individual is par for the course at the Cornell Review, as are articles run solely to incite. It is not a stretch to believe that the purpose of bringing Ann Coulter was to provoke outrage; her actual opinion was likely irrelevant to the conservative groups that invited her to speak.

It is also interesting to note that the Cornell Daily Sun, the (liberal) student newspaper, ran an article condemning the "attack." (Horowitz must have missed this despite his no doubt best attempts to scour for factual information in the hope of presenting a complete account.)

It's also interesting to note that the night before Coulter spoke, those wacky Cornell Review conservatives were at it again, this time chalking inflammatory statements on the sidewalk outside the black housing unit (in order to "promote discussion" -- cue laughter).

If conservatives are going to play the game of "bait the liberals," do they really have a right to complain when liberals take the bait? (Unfortunately Coulter wasn't informed that she was set up as the bait in this case.)

The actions of a few far-left reactionaries were disgusting; there is no need to distort reality and portray them as the antithesis of a mature and intellectual conservative movement at Cornell. (I mean Voltaire, c'mon!) The plain fact is that both the left and right extremes of Cornell politics are an embarrassment to the average student. There is no moral high ground among bickering children.

-- James Margaris
Cornell University Class of '99

David Horowtiz claims that most elite institutions fail to support a conservative viewpoint on campus. On May 27 I am graduating from one of those "elite institutions" that happen to be exceptions to Horowitz's rule.

This semester the Mount Holyoke College Republicans sponsored a talk by Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association's chief executive officer. The event drew protesters but LaPierre ended up speaking to a full house and was met with engaging debate, not flying oranges. While the political sentiment on campus is certainly liberal, the expectation is that students think critically, which means understanding both sides of any issue.

Cornell and other institutions may be better off if they allow the organizations to sponsor events without faculty representation. It would give the student body a sense of responsibility because one faculty member could not be made a scapegoat. Rather, the students would have to interact with, answer to and engage with one another. It might prevent the disrespectful behavior that occurred at Ann Coulter's talk.

-- Blaire Eveland

I have worked and lived in the Cornell University community for the last 15 years. Some of the things that David Horowitz writes about in his latest rant do strike a chord. However, most of them do not, and some of the events he portrays (secondhand no less) frankly did not happen.

Ann Coulter did visit Cornell last month, and she was heckled by one or two individuals, but oranges were not thrown nor did anyone attempt to "lunge" at the stage. I also attended Horowitz's talk when he visited here in 1995. The alleged abuse he suffered on that occasion was also much less than he makes it seem.

Horowitz utters another falsehood or two about Cornell in his rant, none more glaring than his suggestion that the takeover of Willard Straight Hall in 1969 by black activists was an "armed takeover." Horowitz knows the exact circumstances of the takeover (unarmed activists took over the building, but acquired weapons later from colleagues only when threatened with violence by other members of the campus community), but he foments the lie anyway because it makes his point that the left will stoop to anything -- even militaristic tactics -- to have its way.

Cornell is a segregated campus, there's no denying that, and that is a problem here. But most of the black students and faculty members are not the militaristic, closed-minded, leftist propaganda machines Horowitz makes them out to be. Nor is the campus as a whole as leftist as he makes it out to be. On balance, there are about as many right-wing-oriented student organizations here as there are left-wing-oriented organizations. Horowitz ought to visit here with an open mind (something he vehemently urges those on the other side of the aisle to do) and find out for himself that this campus is not the Marxist colony he makes it out to be!

-- John Horne

For clarity's sake, it is not really true to say "many" African-American Cornell undergrads live in an all-black "dorm." A few (a sliver of the black population on campus) live in one of the "low-rises" (a very dinky dorm) designated as "Ujaama." It is almost entirely black and is dedicated to African and diaspora culture, but nonblacks have lived there. Further, they have a lot of programs students of other races attend. Ujaama is a positive community center on campus. I (a Caucasian) often went to their weekly Unity Hour on Sunday nights. Most residents are freshmen who, like most Cornellians, move off campus after their first year.

-- Brady Russell
Cornell University Class of '99

Of course David Horowitz is right about Ann Coulter's treatment at Cornell University. Unfortunately, as is distressingly common for him, Horowitz messes up a decent argument with ridiculous hyperbole and half-truths.

Horowitz is simply wrong about student organizations at Cornell. I have no connection whatsoever with Cornell. I did not attend Cornell, nor do I know anyone who does. I've never even visited it. But I recently undertook a research project about student activism. My recollections about student activism at Cornell simply do not support some of Horowitz's more preposterous claims.

Just off the top of my head, I can think of five conservative student organizations on Cornell's campus: Cornell Coalition for Life, Cornell College Republicans, the First Amendment Coalition, Cornell Libertarians and On the Offensive. If I remember correctly, the professor whom Horowitz mentions (Rabkin, I believe his name is) is the faculty advisor for two of these groups. That means that there are other conservative faculty members on campus.

Of course, I can hear Horowitz now: "The substance of my allegations are true!" or "There are many more liberal groups!" He is probably right (though in my research I found that the vast majority -- probably 90 percent -- of student organizations were totally apolitical). However, it distresses me that time and time again Horowitz makes factual claims that he does not support with data. Can he be trusted to tell the truth? I think not. Perhaps his error is not a big one. But it is an error nonetheless. should not tolerate such mistruths.

-- Anthony Nownes

I position myself to the ideological far left. I am a Green Party member, and I have some strong socialist leanings. The vast majority of the students I associate with at UC-Berkeley share a similar political philosophy, and I respectfully disagree with Horowitz on many issues (though reparations for slavery is certainly not one of them).

But I find that Horowitz makes mass generalizations about Berkeley (and general collegiate) leftists based almost entirely on the actions of a couple of small, violent factions. Most of the things he criticizes "me" for are things I don't believe in. And if I were a professor at Berkeley and a conservative political group asked me for backing, I would certainly support it.

While there is certainly a subtextual theory of victimhood being taught by the Berkeley ethnic studies department (and latched onto by a few angry minority students and self-ashamed whites), no one I know supports it. If you did a little research into some of these groups, especially the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action by Any Means Necessary (BAMN), you'd see that an extremely small number of students have managed to make any debate on the Berkeley campus completely impossible. Even other politically concerned liberals find themselves drowned out by loud, irrational rhetoric and an inconceivable barrage of sit-ins and scream-ins and general grandstanding.

Liberals like me are no more to blame for morons like BAMN than you are to blame for David Duke or Adolf Hitler. But when you respond to outrageous generalizations with the same, and paint my friends and me into the same corner with irrational pseudo-left-wing fascists, you do both of us a disservice.

-- Michael Baker

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------