Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Campus Uproar Continues Over Controversial Ad

College campuses across the nation have been rocked by controversy over a paid advertisement that has appeared in their campus papers in the past two months. The ad, “10 Reasons Why Reparations For Slavery Is A Bad Idea – And Racist Too” is paid for and written by conservative columnist David Horowitz.

According to Horowitz’s ad, blacks should not receive reparations for slavery because white Christians ended slavery, and that black Americans owe the country for their freedom and prosperity.

The campus of the University of California at Berkley, once the center of protest movements and civil unrest in the 1960s, again became a hot spot for debate when the Horowitz article ran in its paper, the Daily Californian.

Earlier this month Horowitz spoke at a forum sponsored by the UC-Berkley College Republicans and a campus publication. The forum ended unexpectedly when a question-and-answer session grew out of control, microphones were turned off and Horowitz surrendered the stage flanked by bodyguards.

Reaction to the ad was also intense at Brown University, where a mob of angry students stole more than 5,000 copies of the Brown Herald from distribution racks. The mob then descended on the newspaper’s editorial offices and demanded the editor in chief’s resignation.

“It is unfair to silence anyone’s viewpoint,” said Mark Goodman, director of the Arlington-based Student Press Law Center, who specializes in issues concerning the student press. “People have the right to disagree. What this (newspaper theft) suggests is that there is a real lack of respect for what the First Amendment stands for. It is frustrating to see this same situation year after year.”

Goodman said newspapers are legally allowed to run the ad, but must decide what they will allow readers to see.

“There is no libelous material involved here,” Goodman said about the ad. “Every paper has the right to run the ad. Part of the difficulty here is the terminology of `free speech.’ Free speech belongs to the editors of the paper. It is their job to decide what is appropriate for their readers. It is not censorship to decide what goes into their papers.”

The ad, according to the Horowitz Web site, www.frontpagemagazine.com, has been sent to 52 different papers across the country. Only 13 papers have printed the full-page paid ad. Of those, six have either printed apologies, retractions or faced backlash from students.

The Daily Californian printed an apology to its readers that read, “we realize that the ad allowed the Daily Cal to become an inadvertent vehicle for bigotry.” But the apology also has drawn criticism.

In his article “Racial McCarthyism on College Campuses,” (rejected for publication by the Los Angeles Times) Horowitz explains his ad as a reaction to events on college campuses for Black History Month that, he wrote, were intended to support the idea that reparations are owed to descendants of American slaves. Horowitz wrote that these events were one-sided, a situation that he is working to change.

In a letter printed in the Daily Californian, Editor in Chief Daniel Hernandez, wrote that the freedom of speech arguments were not applicable to the ad.

“In my view at least, freedom of speech is compromised when it is bought,” Hernandez wrote. “Ads are for selling something, not preaching. And buying space to preach a viewpoint is unfair in that it does not allow an opposing view to directly answer.”

Horowitz, president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, graduated from Columbia University in 1959 and UC-Berkley in 1961. He served as the editor in chief for the liberal “Ramparts” magazine and was a member of the Black Panthers.

After a friend of his from the Black Panther’s said he distanced himself from the left wing and called that organization a “political front for drug dealing and other activities,” according to a March 21 New York Times article.

Growing dissatisfied with the radical nature of the activist movements, Horowitz co-wrote “Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts about the Sixties” in 1989. The book chronicles the legacy of the left wing and its effects on American politics and culture. He has also written several history books. In 1990 Horowitz received the Teach Freedom Award from former president Ronald Reagan.

Goodman cited last year’s furor over a “Holocaust revisionist” ad that was placed in many college papers throughout the country, but was denied by The Hatchet, as an example of similar outrage over newspaper advertisements.

“There really doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of learning going on here,” Goodman said.

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet