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By Hannah Marr, News Editor • June 21, 2024

Horowitz readies for speech

A controversial week of events on college campuses nationwide is slated to reach its peak Thursday night, when conservative author David Horowitz will speak to hundreds in Jack Morton Auditorium.

Horowitz will speak as part of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week – an event he created to educate people about the dangers of radical Muslim states. Across the country, more than 140 colleges are holding similar events, which include conservative panel discussions, movie screenings and lectures.

The GW chapter of the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative student group, is sponsoring the week. Horowitz is only speaking at 10 of the schools participating in the week.

“I’m a prominent conservative but no one is inviting me to speak at their campuses,” Horowitz said in an interview with The Hatchet. “I had to create an event.”

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week has been criticized as being unfairly anti-Muslim, and debate ignited at GW three weeks ago when several students hung controversial posters mocking YAF and the event. The posters garnered local and national media attention and were featured on Fox News.

Horowitz was formerly a Marxist and a 1960s liberal but is now conservative. Some of his writings include the book “Unholy Alliance,” which alleges a pact between radical Islamists and American liberals. Another book, “The Professors,” details anti-American academics across the country.

He was last on campus in April 2006, when he debated ethics professor Ward Churchill – one of those listed in the book.

“There’s always a small community of self-righteous radicals who don’t want to hear what the other side has to say,” Horowitz said.

He added that the posters may have tarnished his reputation. “I’ve been the target of a smear campaign on campus.”

The Muslim Public Affairs Council, a nonprofit Muslim support organization, released a pamphlet instructing universities how to handle Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.

Edina Lekovic, communications director at MPAC, said she had confidence GW students would “be able to see through Mr. Horowitz” and “not fall prey to hate speech.”

“He fails to differentiate between violent extremists and moderate, law-abiding Muslims,” Lekovic said. “In fact, there is no moderate, law-abiding Muslim in Mr. Horowitz’s mind.”

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week speakers – which include author Ann Coulter and former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum at other schools – have met protests at many colleges in the past week.

Coulter required 15 police officers and personal security to control the crowd of 1,500 people at Tulane University Monday, according to the Washington Times.

That same night, Horowitz was met with some hostility at the University of Wisconsin, according to the Daily Cardinal – the student newspaper. Close to 75 students protested before, during and after Horowitz’s speech.

Horowitz said students were “relatively polite” during his speech but it “became obvious” a number of his opponents were in the audience during the question and answer session.

Adam Kokesh, a graduate student and Iraq veteran, was one of the students responsible for the posters. Kokesh gained celebrity in the past year for vocally opposing the war. He said Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is meant to “dehumanize the enemy.”

“It’s a subtle form of racism that’s inevitable when we go to war with people who are ethnically different from us,” Kokesh said.

Lara Masri, another student responsible for the posters on campus, said she thought the controversy was good because more students now know about the week’s message.

“I hope that people who do choose to go listen to Horowitz have at least heard the other side, not just his usual hate speech,” Masri said.

YAF and Horowitz have vocally criticized University President Steven Knapp for not expelling the students who hung the posters. YAF has taken out full-page ads in The Hatchet stating that he changed his viewpoint after learning the perpetrators were liberals.

On Saturday, the Washington Times editorial staff labeled Knapp the “Knave of the Week,” for allowing Student Judicial Services to handle the situation – which is standard procedure for disciplinary issues.

On Wednesday morning, Knapp responded in a letter to the editor to the newspaper.

“My position regarding the fliers that appeared on our campus two weeks ago has not changed,” he wrote. “I never issued any statement regarding penalties for posting the fliers, either before or after the identities of those responsible became known.”

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