Controversial LHU speaker attacks identity politics
LOCK HAVEN — There is a political civil war raging over control of the U.S. presidency, said David Horowitz, conservative writer and founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, to an audience of about 100 students, faculty and community members in Lock Haven University’s Parson Union Building on Monday.
Four armed policemen and a personal bodyguard provided security during Horowitz’s speech, entitled “Identity Politics are Dangerous and Totalitarian.”
Lock Haven University’s Department of Sociology and The Young Americans for Liberty sponsored the event.
“Every person in this room has had a moment where they want to snuff out somebody who disagrees with them; it’s a normal human feeling. Fortunately, we don’t act on it,” Horowitz said. “We have respect for the electoral process and we understand that if the other person wins, we have the next few years to organize.”
However, Horowitz said, the type of scrutiny surrounding President Donald Trump–a duly elected president, according to Horowitz–was last seen when Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860.
Horowitz said presidents are traditionally given a “honeymoon” period, a time of around seven months where they enjoy favorable public opinion.
“Donald Trump didn’t get seven seconds; they were already talking about impeaching him,” he said. “America has a tradition, we’re about compromise because our views are so different. In other countries, people are at each other’s throats.”
The reason for this divide, according to Horowitz, is identity politics, an informal term for what he calls “cultural Marxism.”
Cultural Marxism, in his view, is the division of people into oppressors and the oppressed, within historical context, by their race, sexual orientation and gender, then prioritizing those oppressed people’s feelings and socio-economic standing.
Particularly, Horowitz said, cultural Marxism is found in the education system, and he lamented over Lock Haven University for its lack of conservative professors.
“That doesn’t happen by accident and it robs you of having a decent education. You have to hear both sides of any controversial issue and every issue that you are presented,” he said. “So even if you have well-meaning leftists, you still are being indoctrinated and deprived of an education.”
A philosophy that stigmatizes people based on their race, their skin color, their ethnic identity, their origin cannot co-exist with a free country, he said.
Horowitz said the founders and the writers of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence created a remarkable new political formation in which the goal was to give all people individual and equal rights because “all are equal under God or Nature’s God.” According to him, it was due only to the slow change of human nature that slavery was allowed to continue for another 200 years.
“The attacks on America begin with saying that it’s built on slavery and racism, that we are a white supremacist culture, which is ludicrous in this day and age,” Horowitz said. “We had President Barack Obama, who was black. Fifty-six percent of voting white people voted for him. This has never happened in a majority black country or a majority Asian country.”
Historically, Horowitz said, “Slavery existed for 3,000 years, and no one said it was immoral until [William] Wilberforce, a white Christian male in England, and Thomas Jefferson wrote it into the Declaration of Independence.”
Horowitz called it “truly remarkable” that 87 years after the signing of the Constitution, the U.S. voted to the end the slave trade, which he said it inherited through England.
“Slavery existed in Africa for a thousand years before a white person ever set foot there. White people, Europeans and the English didn’t go over to Africa and throw nets over black people. They bought slaves at slave markets organized by black African kings and slavers,” he said.
Today, Horowitz said, anyone who uses the term “white supremacy” to describe the U.S. either belongs in a mental institution or is consumed by hatred and is not looking at the reality.
But, he said, leftists created this white supremacist narrative and invent words and phrases to push their political agenda, such as “people of color.”
“Notice that that’s not even English. Is it? Unless there’s someone in this room who says, ‘Here’s a box of crayons of color,’ or ‘I’ve got a television of color.’ It’s French, it’s the way the French talk,” Horowitz said. “It’s an ideological term, invented by leftists. Who are racists. It’s designed to do one thing. The whole world is people of color, except for guess who? White people.”
The problem, Horowitz said, is when you look at people’s color, their ethnic origin or their gender, you lose sight of the individual, the whole idea of our founding. He said everyone is a creature of God.
Martin Littleton, a senior political science major, said he was unimpressed with much of what Horowitz had to say.
“I would certainly describe Horowitz as divisive. Frankly, there were a few points in his presentation where I struggled to believe what I was hearing,” he said.
Kimberly Johnson, professor of sociology at LHU and advisor to The Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), said Horowitz’s speech is a part of the learning process and good for students to hear, even as a contrary opinion.
“Students listen to divisive statements every day on campus,” she said. “I think it speaks well of LHU to permit viewpoint diversity on campus.”
The goal behind inviting Horowitz, said Noah Ellison, president of YAL, is to build LHU’s speaker credibility and to demonstrate the school is a place where controversial issues can be discussed.
“We really want to encourage civil discourse, which doesn’t happen on a consistent basis on this campus,” Ellison said. “We want students to consider these issues.”
Horowitz spent much of his youth as a self-identified Marxist. He graduated in the 1960s with a Master in English Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. He later worked for the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation.
Through the 1970s, Horowitz changed his ideological alignment, and he began writing about his conservative views in 1985.
Horowitz now attacks what he perceives as political bias on college campuses and speaks out about “identitarians.”