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An Interview With David Horowitz

By The Emory Wheel Posted: 10/25/2007
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Before his short-lived speech on Wednesday, a group of Wheel editors interviewed David Horowitz on Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, his political stances, free speech at Columbia and the upcoming presidential race.

You're visiting four schools this week and Emory is one of them. Why did you choose to visit Emory?

I've got kind of a relationship with Emory, don't I? I ran an ad in your paper last year, and it was attacked by all the religious life professors and administrators. That is the problem. There is an embargo on discussing who we're fighting and I think that's crippling in a war, not to be able to discuss who the enemy is, what the nature of your enemy is. This is really an extension of when I came here about reparations. The original ad was published in Salon. Nobody got mad at me, nobody objected. And what I encountered on campus, the vast majority of students are civilized, want to hear both sides, not ideological. But there is a minority, not a racial or ethnic minority, that crosses these lines. That is pumped up with their own righteousness. And they absolutely want to shut one side of the argument down.

The reparations campaign, I thought that was a very bad idea for blacks. We had reached a stage in our country where if somebody has a plan to help inner city people that works, everybody is going to support it — it will get the majority of both parties. Whatever you want to say about the No Child Left Behind Act, it was authorized by Bush and written by Teddy Kennedy. I mean, come on. But if you go around and say, you're responsible for slavery, now give us money, and you're talking to Hispanic-Americans who have nothing to do with slavery, it's divisive. What I found was, the left would go around, they would call me a racist. I had a terrible time just opening a discussion.

I was a Marxist when I went to Columbia in the Marxist '50s. And I always said what I believed and my professors never harassed me — the way some professors do harass students these days — and it was a great privilege. So, even though you know I'm a conservative, I'm a hot-button guy on many issues, a university is really a time when it's a rare privilege when you have that time to think about things.

So I did that ad in The Emory Wheel and saw that [the dialogue] is going to be shut down. I mean, nobody wants to be called a religious bigot, which is basically what the religious life people said about the ad. And there was nothing bigoted about the ad. I saw a repeat.

With Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, what changes do you want to see come from this week?

Well, I've already achieved these changes. This last issue, your Dalai Lama issue, to run two [news stories] from The Columbia Spectator, it was just a bunch of people ragging on me. I would like to see a civil discussion on these issues, the two issues. One of these is Islamo-Fascism. Is it an appropriate term? If it just leads to, what is the nature of our enemy, I'd be happy. If it just leads to a discussion, I don't care what the conclusion is, I've achieved my goal. The oppression of women within Islam is a serious problem, and I think it isn't being discussed.

But given the opposition that you've drawn, and given that Muslim students feel threatened by your presence here, are we really helping achieve that civil discussion you're going for?

You have to do it. The alternative of it is, you can't discuss it. And I think that's dangerous. It's physically dangerous to Americans not to be able to discuss the nature of the enemy. For example, the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee sent a letter to every administrator to complain. It's an organization that poses as a civil rights organization. We don't even mention the word Arab. But if you go to the front page there is a video of the founder on Hizbollah TV saying what a tremendous organization Hizbollah is.

There are people that use American tolerance, American liberties. There are honest civil libertarians, but there are others who manipulate the system. If I say something critical about the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, I'm going to be accused of being anti-Arab. Every one of you knows that if you get around an issue that's affecting race, there's always someone going to call you a racist. And that is bad. It's the verbal equivalent of a bullet.

At Princeton, one student was in a sociology class, and the teacher was going on about how the SAT is culturally biased and racist. And the student, he's a conservative, so he's read the conservative arguments. And he actually was statistically more sophisticated than the teacher. I forget what his major is but it was math or something, so he knows what he was talking about. And he said no, it's not [biased]. And the teacher just went off on him and called him a racist. Which is a terrible thing in the first place. Then he said, can I bring these materials to class so we can discuss it? And the teacher said no. So, this hurts everybody. If you're a liberal, if you're a leftist, you're not getting a good education if you're only allowed to hear one side of the issue. So this is really the same crusade I had then. There's two sides to the story.

By the way, the flier that's being handed around, that says Emory students are half-educated. I gave a speech here a few years ago, and my tagline was you can't get a good education if they're only telling you half the story. I said liberal students were getting the short end of the stick because you never hear the conservative argument. I was way into the question period, and somebody came up with a question about racial profiling, something that was pretty complex. And I said, that's the problem with being half-educated. I understand the issue. The hypersensitivity, it's heightened. When minority kids come in here — whether they're Muslim or black — they go through these orientations that say there's this racist world we live in. And so they're geared to being upset about things. It's terrible for them, it just completely closes their minds. Every time somebody challenges you, it's a racial thing.

Back to this week. Why use the term Islamo-Fascism and how would you define the term?

It's an appropriate term for analytical reasons and also for historical reasons, in my view. And people can disagree with me, that's fine with me.

It's a totalitarian ideology. This week in Iran, they outlawed couples holding hands in public, enforced by what they call the modesty police. That shows that if you merge religion with the state, you get totalitarianism. That's because religion by nature is about morality, it's about sexual relations and everything. If you have the state enforcing the religion, good-bye freedom.

Another aspect, the analytical one is, when you have Hizbollah calling for the extermination of the Jews. [Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah has said, "Hopefully the Jews will gather in Israel so we won't have to hunt them down." So you have the Nazi term the "Jew virus." So, historically, what we're talking about isn't Islam, we're talking about a movement within Islam, which began in the 1940s in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood. Hassan al-Banna was the founder, he was an admirer of Hitler. Sayyid Qutb was a patrician of the Muslim Brotherhood, another admirer of Hitler. The grand mufti of Jerusalem, the godfather of Palestinian nationalism, he was a cousin of [Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yassir] Arafat. He was an acolyte of Hitler's, he went to Berlin during the Second World War.

If you look at Islam through its history, it's always treated Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims as second-class citizens. They pay extra taxes, they're called dimmis. But it was more hospitable to Jews. Jews fled the Christian countries to go to Islamic ones because they were being burned at the stake for not converting. And Muslims were content to have them pay an extra tax. The Jew hatred, which is endemic to Muslim societies today — [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad calls for wiping Israel off the face of the Earth.

Do you think the quotes from these leaders accurately represent the majority opinion in the Middle East?

No, well, I don't know about the average attitude toward Jews. But the majority of Iranians want democracy and hates the regime.

But by using these quotes, are we accurately representing popular opinion?

Well, the [larger] Muslim Students Association and the Muslim Americans Society, the groups that attack me, are not terrorist organizations, but they were created by the Muslim Brotherhood. And Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week started because a Jewish student at Pace [University] wanted to show the film "Obsession," a documentary that's not about hatred of Muslims — it has Muslims in it — but [their] Muslim Students Association said it was anti-Muslim. The university shut it down, which is a violation of First Amendment rights. And I said, well, I'm going to declare April 19 Islamo-Fascist Awareness day, and I'll show [the movie] on 100 campuses, and I showed it on 96. And that showed me that I could do this week.

And that's the whole point. It's an attempt to shut down speech. And the only way you can shut down speech in America is to say it's hate speech. So they say it's hate speech. You can't find a quote from me attacking Muslims. In fact, the whole agenda here, the women who are being abused are Muslims. The term Islamo-Fascism, historically there is an association with fascism. The Ba'ath Party of Iraq and Syria are fascist parties, the Iranian guard goosesteps for a reason, that's an homage.

You keep bringing up the status of women, but women are abused in other societies as well.

Not this way. 130 million girls in the Islamic world have had their genitals sliced off because sexual pleasure for women is an evil. This is barbaric. It's not in the Koran, it's just one of those things that grows up. What's remarkable to me is that the feminists, the women's studies department — it's a feminist department, that's what it's about — gets upset if you use the word "chairman" instead of "chairperson," they'll tell you about the oppression of women in the faculty lounge at Emory, but there's nothing on this. You don't have lecturers coming in, talking about this. And that's a big problem. [Pakistani politician Benazir] Bhutto is a Muslim. The 140 people they blew up were Muslims. They have killed more Muslims, the Islamo-Fascists, than all the forces on our side in Iraq.

What portion of the global Muslim community do you think supports these Islamo-Fascists?

Good question. I know two statistics. Early on after 9/11 they did surveys in the Muslim world and one survey said 10 percent thought Osama bin Laden was a hero. Al-Jazeera did one that said 50 percent. Ten percent is 150 million. Fifty percent is 750 million. In any case, it's big. So, it's a force, and you have to deal with it. And why are Muslims in America represented by an organization that was founded by two terrorist organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas? And it's funded by the Saudis. I know when any Muslim kid comes here they will be shunted by the administration toward this organization. I know, my parents were communists, I came out of the communists. They create fun organizations, they create peace organizations, but there's always these other agendas. And I don't know the leaders of the Muslim Students Association here, but I would be amazed if they're not part of this network. But I haven't attacked them, I didn't attack them in the ad.

So you're saying you would be amazed if the MSA here was not part of this Islamo-Fascist network?

Yes, of the network created by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and funded by the Saudis. It's very simple. If the Muslim Students Association will denounce Nasrallah for being a Jew hater and preaching genocide, then hey, we're friends. It doesn't have to do with being a Muslim. It has to do with being a part of this radical movement that wants to establish a caliphate in Baghdad and institute Sharia all over the world. It's so simple, in my view. If you want to show that your community of Islam is moderate, it's so simple. You denounce the terrorists by name.

So if Emory MSA is part of the national MSA organization, that means they're part of the Islamo-Fascist network?

Yeah. It should be disturbing to anyone, this packet that was put out by the Muslim Student Association West. If you look at the packet, it starts off, "May Allah be praised, the most merciful," and it's all religious. Then suddenly it’s about this neo-conservative fascist, the Jew fascist. That's the way I read it. I find that disturbing.

You say in your advertising that Islamo-Fascists hate gays and Jews. But you include in Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week speakers like Rick Santorum, who has compared homosexuality to bestiality.

I don't think Rick Santorum hates gays. I think that was a bad remark.

What about Ann Coulter, who says Jews need to be perfected?

Well, here's what Jesus said. Jesus was a Jew. By the way, I consider the attacks on Coulter just an example of casual liberal religious bigotry. Jesus was a Jew who said he had come to fulfill the law. That's the law of Moses. So if you remember the law, Moses said 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,' and Jesus said 'Love thy neighbor.' He said, 'I am the way, the truth and the light.' So if you are a believing Christian, if you believe that Jesus completed the law of Moses, perfected it, and if you are a compassionate Christian, you will wish that Jews became Christians so that they would get into Heaven, because nobody is getting into heaven except through Jesus. That's the belief.

People have a right to their belief. As a Jew, I'm only concerned if they want to force me to become a Christian or burn me at the stake. So that's the way I view that.

Coulter is a satirist. I think she's funnier than Al Franken, but they do the same thing. Her remarks about invading their countries and convert them to Christianity or put them to the sword, that is a satirical statement of exactly what Mohammed Atta and Osama bin Laden believe. You will accept Islam or we will put you to the sword. It's like, people saying that Jonathan Swift wanted to eat babies. I think Coulter was misread, I don't think she's anti-Jewish.

So you think it's all right to include speakers like Rick Santorum?

I don't think Rick Santorum has a hating bone in his body. He's very religious. Personally, you're looking at a '60s person. I don't have a problem with gay marriage, I've written a lot about gays, I've defended gays in the conservative movement. Try defending me in the liberal, left-wing movement. And I think believing Christians who believe homosexuality is whatever they believe, they have a right to it, as long as they don't inflict it on anybody. I'm also against the gotcha culture. I don't believe in getting someone for one statement. If he was on a crusade against gays, it would be very different.

What did you think about Columbia hosting the Iranian president?

Well, it's interesting. The left at Columbia insisted on Ahmadinejad. And I haven't killed anybody, any Americans in Iraq, or any Muslims in Iraq. This guy has. I don't think it was a free speech issue. I don't think Columbia should have conferred on him that honor. It's like if President Wagner was introducing me tonight, I'm sure the left on this campus would be up in arms...

But I thought you can't invite someone to a campus and then insult them. If you're going to invite him, you know, you can't go lecture him. I thought Ahmadinejad, he did great, until he got to the gays. And then he revealed who he is.

As a newspaper, we've tried to reach out to Muslim students, but they're afraid to speak publicly about the purpose of this visit.

I think the Muslim Public Affairs Council — which is also the creation of the Muslim Brotherhood — put out a guide, which says don't react, don't respond.

There has been a hate campaign. There is a national hate campaign against me and the students who invite me. And it's designed to shut down discussion. If you think about it for a second, if I was going out on campuses attacking Muslims, what kind of audience do you think I would get? How hospitable would a college be if someone was preaching that? It's just ridiculous.

But with Muslims students feeling threatened, does that make you feel that your tactics are off? Because you're not creating a civil discussion?

No, because the agenda here is to discuss a serious issue. Look, this is a university. A university should protect. You know as well as I do: if someone does a really bigoted thing, their ass is grass. Unless they attack white people, which they did at Duke. But the reality is this, if you are a black student at this university, you know damn well that if anybody does anything to you that is demonstrably racist, they're history. You just know that. I think that's a good thing. And the Muslim students know that damn well. So all of this other stuff is either whipped-up paranoia or a tactic. I don't know. I'd have to speak with an individual Muslim student.

Go back to the racial thing. I thought reparations were a very bad thing for black people. We had reached the point where you had the whole community, across the board, not only racially and ethnically, but politically, Republicans and Democrats, will support you. So you come out with this program to totally divide them, to accuse them of being responsible for slavery. So most Americans, whatever their ethnicity, white or otherwise, are descended from immigrants who started coming here in the 1880s, after slavery. My ancestors were living in Ghettos, which means they couldn't leave them, and getting vamped on by Cossaks.

Then you have all those people whose ancestors died in the Civil War trying to free the slaves. So I could not discuss that. That's the problem. It would be OK if someone said, "Well, David, the way you phrased this is a little insensitive. Change it." I didn't have one criticism that way — change this sentence.

Would you change it?

Of course. I mean, I'm not going to change it so I'm not getting the message across.

So, if a student was to say, I feel that this "Islamo-Fascist" week is offensive...

I'm not going to take away the term Islamo-Fascism. You're in a history course on the 20th century, and you see Italian fascism. Does that mean all Italians are by nature fascist? No. So it's just a matter of intimidation. You cannot be intimidated for discussing something. Especially at a university. If you can't discuss in an intellectual way an issue, like reparations, at a university, where the hell can you? The rest of the country is just a big food fight. Everyone is shouting at you.

In the upcoming presidential election, what do you think is the biggest issue and who is the best candidate for the job?

I think the war is. I'm not going to answer the particular question, but I will tell you, whether it's a Democrat or a Republican, we will not leave Iraq. And that's because it will be an unbelievable bloodbath, which we will be held accountable for, and no American president wants to be held accountable. It will be much worse than the massacre of the Shia after the Gulf War, it could equal the massacres in Vietnam and Cambodia after we left there. And also Iran will inherit Iraq, and then there will be a major war in that area.

You were saying that you cannot be intimidated to not speak your mind. But at the same time, Muslim students feel intimidated by you.

Why? If the Muslim Students Association wants to invite me to a big room and wants to discuss it, that's fine. Why am I intimidating? I'm not calling them names. You know, if the Muslim Students Association is not connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and repudiates it, and Hamas in particular. You know, I have personal feelings about Hamas. I'm a Jew. Now, I've never been to Israel, I'm not a Zionist, but when you have an organization that's dedicated to the eradication of the only Jewish state in the world, I have to take that personally.

I had the same thing with the black students. It's sad. They're counseled by these black studies professors, and an ad appears. And they have hurt feelings. And the black studies professors are saying that students are walking around in tears and can't sleep at night. Why don't they say to them, write a counter ad? The Daily Californian will run it for free, I can guarantee you that. Not one counter ad in that whole campaign. I wrote a book about the campaign. And at Brown University, where they trashed the paper, with the support of 60 faculty members, you know, you guys understand the freedom of the press.

In the end, they had a meeting, what to do, what to do, and a student in tears said, we have not been educated, Brown has failed us, because it has not taught us how to answer that ad. It was the only time I had identified with a black Muslim. Because this professor tore into this student. Brown has been good to him, he's making one hundred grand a year. But it was sad to see. I don't want to reduce black students to tears, but I'm not taking the responsibility. I wouldn't even have the power to insult them, to bring them to tears. Because I would be hooted out of the room. There would be a verbal riot if I were attacking black students.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a big organization, with social programs, economic programs. Do you think any support for the Muslim Brotherhood is a support for Islamo-Fascism?

No. First of all, Hizbollah also has social programs. Second of all, there's a controversy now, over the Muslim Brotherhood, which has entered elections and did assassinate [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat. I'm willing to discuss any of those issues. I didn't come out and say the MSA is a fascist organization. I haven't done any of that. Why are all the eyes on me? It's like the jihad ad. I don't think we even used the term Islamo-Fascism in it. All we said was, "What every American needs to know about jihad." So you can't use the word jihad as holy war, which is what it is. You can't use the word Islamo-Fascism, then you say if you print the quotes from Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah it's misleading, because they're only individuals, and there's a billion and a half Muslims. You know, your lips are eventually sealed.

And all jihad is holy war?

It's very clear what we were talking about. We mentioned the organizations Hizbollah and Hamas. For them, it's holy war. Some people may see it as spiritual struggle.

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