Tags: P.C. | Colleges | Try | Silence | Debate | Slavery | Cash-in

P.C. Colleges Try to Silence Debate on Slavery Cash-in

Wednesday, 16 January 2002 12:00 AM

"Political correctness" has become the buzzword of today’s culture, especially on our nation’s college campuses. However, when it comes to the subject of race, it is almost impossible to contain the fiery emotions and long-simmering negative feelings of the African-American community.

Slavery reparations asseverate the idea that American taxpayers should pay the African-American community for the damages that slavery and segregation caused to their ancestors.

The idea has been met with thunderous support from many influential African-American politicians and community leaders, as well as a fair share of supporters from outside the African-American community.

In his controversial book,

In support of his ideas, Horowitz drafted an ad titled "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery Is a Bad Idea – And Racist Too," which was sent to 71 college newspapers around the country.

The ensuing firestorm resulted in an immediate ban of the ad from 43 newspapers, and later, an outpouring of negative press and accusations of racism against Horowitz.

In attempting to deal with this concept – one that he calls "morally questionable and racially incendiary," he set out on a speaking tour in 2001, encountering boycotts, dangerous demonstrations and verbal attacks.

Ironically, the ad’s ideas had been published in an on-line article on Salon.com nine months earlier, and while it had met with some critical barbs, it resulted in a lively, intelligent debate.

Essentially, the Ten Rules stated that since the Civil War was over, and many African-Americans were very prosperous today, why should it be the responsibility of struggling, recent American immigrants to foot the bill for these past injustices, of which neither they nor their ancestors took any part?

Nevertheless, the American university system, perceived as a beacon of liberal thought, and yes, political correctness, turned on Horowitz.

Even UC Berkeley, where Horowitz was a graduate student, a school renowned for its free-thinking and revolutionary reputation, attacked the author, who stated that after publishing the ad, a crowd of angry black students and their professor invaded the offices of Daniel Hernandez, editor of the school’s paper, the Daily Californian, and accused him of running an "incorrect" and "racist" ad, demanding an apology.

Hernandez caved, and printed an apology in the next issue. Horowitz said the apology was bogus, in that it implied that he was telling blacks "not to complain about slavery" and was merely placing the ad to get publicity for an upcoming book (which was also incorrect).

Horowitz went on to say that "the ‘Ten Reasons’ in the ad were not even an argument against reparation for slavery, but against the idea that reparations should be 'paid to people who were not and had never been slaves.'"

This scene, as well as others played out at schools such as UC Davis and the University of Wisconsin, resulted in a war of words that claimed Horowitz was being robbed of his rights to free speech.

"Horowitz’s case isn’t ironclad, and staying true to character, he makes it with in-your-face pugnacity," said Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post. "He is within the grounds of fair political debate."

Other supporters of Horowitz’s rights to free speech included USA Today, the Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune.

But in the midst of this battle, the university system was emerging as a hostile, indifferent entity that relied on "political correctness" as a defense. "Crying racism or any other ism — sexism, ageism, imperialism, homophobia, you name it — is the easy way out," said Yardley. "Instead of coming to grips with the case made by one’s opponents, just smear them with the tar of bigotry ... the American college campus is a foreign country; they do things differently there."

When it was announced that Horowitz would be appearing at Berkeley to speak, masked activists interrupted classes, including that of veteran public policy professor David Kirp, to protest both the author’s visit and the California Board of Regents’ anti-affirmative action policy.

Kirp later stated that "'Racist’ is a silencing accusation...that brooks no effective denial." He continued, "As Berkeley goes, so goes the rest of higher education: If you’re interested in honest exchanges about controversial issues in general, and about matters of race in particular, talk radio is a better bet than any campus."

The subject of slavery reparations is one not easily dealt with, and one that is bound to result in loud and intense debates. However, it would seem that many universities, the home of intellectual thought and free speech, are afraid to even approach the subject, and while Horowitz may be trying to get his audience riled up, the attitudes displayed by the colleges are strange and hostile to the subject of slave reparations.

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Political correctness has become the buzzword of today's culture, especially on our nation's college campuses. However, when it comes to the subject of race, it is almost impossible to contain the fiery emotions and long-simmering negative feelings of the African-American...
Wednesday, 16 January 2002 12:00 AM
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