Oh What a Circus Posted at College Republicans (With Problems)
I'll give the protesters credit: they were rather successful at interrupting David Horowitz's speech (before they were told that any further interruption would result in arrest, that is). No doubt they consider their protest a result because of this, but if they took some perspective they would realize their protest was a complete failure. Their protesting methods did nothing but to hurt their cause and reveal just how indoctrinated and foolish they were. Rather than being proud, they should be ashamed, and no one should be more Ashamed than Dana Cloud.
Before addressing Dana Cloud, one must first understand the methods of the protesters that she condoned. There is nothing more ironic than seeing a mob chant "free speech" in order to drown out a single disstening voice. One cannot watch such a scene without being taken back to the bleating sheep in George Orwell's Animal Farm. The message these protesters were sending is pretty clear: Free speech is free until someone starts making a point they don't like, at which point the person must be silenced by chanting. "Free speech" was far from the only chant they had.
The protesters would also yell "Fact check!" at Horowitz. This can actually be an effective protesting strategy, but only in moderation and only if his facts were, in fact, incorrect. Instead, it seems the protesters chose the exact opposite strategy. At one point during the speech the protesters would yell fact check at Horowitz at the end of almost every sentence. This spam was not due to an inundation of dubious facts being used by Horowitz. Actually, every time I fact checked at the suggestion of the protesters, the fact they were disputing was correct. At one point we became so frustrated that we sent someone over to inform a protesters that Horowitz was correct when he had previously called for a fact check. "Ok," was his response. Apparently it is not the actually reality of the fact that they care about, but rather they use the appeal to fact checking as another chant to interrupt Horowitz. If the protesters ever decide that they'd rather have their "fact check" strategy be persuasive to some degree, they should learn to yell fact check only when the fact Horowitz is referring to is actually incorrect.
Another common chant was "No more witch hunts!" Perhaps it is my turn to yell: Fact check! Horowitz has never actually called for a professor to be fired, but rather, he has only highlighted professors who are guilty of radical bias in the classroom. Horowitz even said during his speech (not that the protesters were giving it a close listen) that he has no problem with Marxist professors, his only problem is if they teach "Marxism…as if it is Newtonian physics." Dana Cloud said that Horowitz was still guilty of "leading" a witch hunt, and the protesters agreed saying that he provided "ammunition" for the witch hunts. This is incredibly weak reasoning. There is an enormous difference between "leading" a witch hunt and writing a book with facts that are used as "ammunition" to go on a "witch hunt." A few further facts about witch hunting need to be clarified as well. "Witch hunts" are generally an angry, irrational mob. Also, witch is used in the term witch hunts very intentionally, because witches do not exist. However, professors who use their classroom as a platform for political activism do exist, so comparing a professor being fired for legitimate reasons to an angry mob burning a woman for being something that she couldn't possibly be is a fallacy.
I took a video of the behavior of the protesters at the speech. Apparently some protesters think we were photographing and videotaping them in order to identify them later and retaliate. This is not true at all. All I plan on doing is sharing the video online so that people can see just how irrational and obnoxious the protesters were. We are guilty of their accusation only if you equate with "posting on youtube" with "retaliation."
Note: This is actually a video of Horowitz's introduction, but it still accurately represents the behavior of the protesters.
Who could be counted among these protesters? The esteemed professor Dana Cloud of course. She declined the opportunity to co-host the even with David Horowitz in order to take the high road and support irrational and obnoxious protesters. It seems to me that any respectable UT professor would discourage the Orwellian tactics of the protesters and encourage them to engage in rational political discourse. Regrettably, this was not the case at all. Horowitz condoned the behavior while at the same time claiming to be opposed to the "hysteria" that Horowitz supposedly encourages.
Cloud stepped up to the mic during the Q&A section of Horowitz's speech, and I recorded her speech and Horowitz's response.
A number of things need to be said to put this video in context. The applause at the beginning happened at the urging of David Horowitz, who politely introduced her by saying, "Professor Cloud, lets give Professor Cloud a round of applause everyone." Perhaps I am crazy, but it seems to me that the person who condones the frenzied chanting of protesters is the one guilty of promoting hysteria, not the person who politely asks a round of applause be given for his or her opponent.
When you listen to Cloud in the video you may get the impression that Horowitz spent his whole speech trashing her. This is not true at all. In fact, Horowitz never once singled out Cloud in his speech. The only time Horowitz mentioned her was when he was being interrupted, and described the protesters as "Dana Cloud's circus."
Cloud begins her speech by making an excellent point, but also by presenting it in a very disingenuous way. She says, "I think it's important to notice that faculty can separate their activism from their teaching. … [W]e have separate arenas for our lives. I have a family. I go home and cook supper. I don't cook supper for my students." This argument is entirely reasonable. I absolutely agree with Cloud. You know who else does? David Horowitz, except he was booed when he made the exact same point. I mentioned earlier that Horowitz specifically said that he has no problem with Marxists professors, as long as they don't teach their students Marxism "as if it is Newtonian physics." This is exactly the same point that Cloud made. They both agree on the same point that activism should be kept out of the classroom (a point that many radical professors do not agree with, by the way). The only point of disagreement is whether or not Cloud is guilty of allowing her activism to creep into the classroom or not. The honest thing for Cloud to do would be to acknowledge that she and Horowitz agree on this point, but disagree on where the line is drawn. Cloud was disingenuous and chose to present this as an opposing view instead.
Next Cloud uses passive voice, a staple strategy of politics. She says, "The hysteria that gets whipped up around these figures like myself … that hysteria actually has consequences in the real lives of people." Her sentence never specifically identifies who has whipped up the hysteria around figures like herself. This is because she is guilty of whipping up this hysteria. Horowitz has written about Cloud, and in his book he accused her of activism in the classroom. Dana Cloud sat with the protesters and condoned their protesting methods. She did nothing to discourage their behavior, even as a UT representative had to ask the protesters multiple times to allow Horowitz to give his speech. Dana Cloud intends for the target of this quote to be David Horowitz, but the only person who was guilty of whipping up hysteria that night was herself. I agree with her general point, and I suggest that if she really feels this way that the next opportunity she has to whip up hysteria she should decline the opportunity rather than encourage it like she chose to do that night.
Cloud's final argument relied entirely on emotional appeal. She described UT students as brilliant. "Since the students at UT are so brilliant how can one believe they can be indoctrinated?" That was essentially the argument she made. This kind of "rah-rah, UT is the best" rhetoric is wonderful for football games and March Madness, but it has no place in a serious political discussion. I love UT, but it is ridiculous to suggest that every student her in immune to being indoctrinated. It must have taken a severe lack of irony to suggest that students at UT cannot be indoctrinated while she stood 20 feet away from more than a dozen examples of just how brainwashed some students can become.