Friday, May 9, 2008

David Horowitz's Legal Response to U Wisconsin Anti-semitism

We have sent the following attorney's letter to the University of Wisconsin in connection with the anti-Semitic attacks on me and the obstruction of my speech.

The Becker Law Firm
23801 Calabasas Road, Suite 1015
Calabasas, CA 91302

May 9, 2008


Dr. Carlos E. Santiago, Chancellor
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
P.O. Box 413, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413

Re: David Horowitz

Dear Dr. Santiago:

This firm represents David Horowitz and the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Mr. Horowitz was invited by The Conservative Union, a student organization, to speak on your campus on April 30, 2008. His visit met with an unusually malicious campaign orchestrated by students aligned with the Muslim Students Association (“MSA”) to disrupt it and to prevent his message from reaching its audience.

Colleges and universities have a duty to protect free speech on campus and to take reasonable steps to protect on-campus speakers and organizations from conduct intended to obstruct and undermine peaceful expressions of viewpoints that may be unpopular. In all candor, the tactics employed by the agitators, as detailed below, distinguish your institution as particularly hostile and indifferent to civil liberties and First Amendment protections. The purpose of this letter is to request UWM’s rules, regulations, policies, procedures and guidelines pertaining to visiting speakers and hate speech, and specifically instructions for handling demonstrators, including investigation and arrest policies and procedures. As set forth below, we also request additional information about the University's relationship with MSA.

A search of UMW’s web site does not yield the university’s policies but does generate a revealing statement of university policy contained in a report from the late 1960s:[1]

“The University of Wisconsin has a long-standing and consistent record of support for civil liberties, particularly the First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, and assembly.

“The University’s commitment to civil liberties is not only a commitment to popular causes, but involves (1) freedom for controversial persons invited to the campus to speak, and to communicate, and (2) the freedom of those who would join together with them to talk, listen, and engage in dialogue.

“Such freedoms of assembly, speech, and press are violated when unpopular speakers are banned from campus [and] when controversial speakers invited to campus are not permitted to be heard. . . .

“University policy permits peaceful, non-disruptive, protest – even peaceful picketing which does not interfere with the University’s orderly conduct of its affairs. However, University policy does not – and cannot – condone those actions undertaken either by a tiny minority of students, or by an overwhelming majority, which would violate the rights of other students (or faculty) to assemble, speak,, and exchange ideas and information. . . .”

The report observed that the American Civil Liberties Union “considers it important to emphasize that it does not approve of demonstrators who deprive others of the opportunity to speak or be heard, or physically obstruct movement, or otherwise improperly disrupt … legitimate educational or institutional processes.”

The report also noted that a proposed draft of a student bill of rights of AAUP “takes precisely the same position” and that “this position has been endorsed by many other groups in higher education.”

Is this the university’s current policy, and if it is, where can it be found and how is it enforced?

These questions bear on the rights of Mr. Horowitz, the Conservative Union, who sponsored the event, the students who were deprived of attending the event due to obstructive activities, and those who peacefully attended the lecture, whether their rights were violated and whether university policy was ignored or selectively enforced.

According to Mr. Horowitz and to officers of the Conservative Union, the following disruptive activities occurred in connection with the event:

A flyer titled “Getting to Know David Horowitz,” and featuring a section headed “Who is David Whorowitz?” at the top of the page was posted on a bulletin board outside the office of the Muslim Students’ Association. The flyer additionally featured a cartoon depicting Mr. Horowitz as an anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew in the classic style familiar from the Nazi posters of the 1930s, which have become ubiquitous in the Arab world. The Jew in the cartoon was standing in a garbage can with the cover on his head, dressed in a Nazi uniform, with an armband marked “H” for “Horowitz.” The caption read “Horowitz Awareness Week.” On the side of the garbage can one could read a series of false statements concerning Mr. Horowitz that have been given currency by radical professors and the secular left on college campuses: “Muzzling Academics, Blacklisting, Hate Mongering, Race Baiting, Spying…” The flyer describes Mr. Horowitz as an “Israeli apologist” and “Judeofascist”, and incorrectly claims that he ran an ad in the university newspaper “alleging that a UWM student group, the Muslim Students’ Association, is an extremist organization engaged in violent jihad.”The character depicting Mr. Horowitz states in the cartoon: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most fascist of them all?” The flyer goes beyond legitimate parody or editorial comment and purports to imitate the views Mr. Horowitz develops through rigorous research and scholarship. However, while purporting to mock Mr. Horowitz’ claims concerning Islamofascism, it offers no evidence of legitimacy and, instead, maligns Jews while casting Mr. Horowitz in a false light. (The flyer is attached to this letter.)

Prior to Mr. Horowitz’s appearance, members of the MSA had torn down approximately 2,000 flyers that had been posted to advertise the event.

Members of the MSA surrounded students distributing the Conservative Union’s pamphlet at a table. They shouted,“cancel the speech.” Because of these tactics, a threat of violent behavior at Mr. Horowitz’s lecture was taken seriously, and campus security ordered metal detectors and a security force of a more than dozen officers and staffers for the event.

Numerous individuals interrupted Mr. Horowitz’s remarks with the goal of silencing him. More than a dozen individuals associated with the MSA tried to drown out Mr. Horowitz’s comments, were warned to stop, and had to be ejectedfrom the Student Union auditorium.

It is our understanding that the university funds MSA, whose activities involving Mr. Horowitz’s appearance clearly transgressed the rights of students, Jews, Mr. Horowitz and others. We request information concerning the university’s financial relationship with and support of the MSA chapter, which, by virtue of the cartoon and comments described herein, appears to promote, endorse and engage in hate speech as well as other activities that violate the constitutional rights of speech and assembly.

We are advised that although campus security took some steps to avoid violence and disruption, it failed to gather the names of individuals who disrupted the lecture or to otherwise discipline them. We would also like to know why university policy appears not to have been enforced in connection with this event, or why the individuals who disrupted a peaceful assembly evidently have not been investigated.

In the interest of promoting robust First Amendment protections on the UWM campus, we thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

The Becker Law Firm

William J. Becker, Jr.

cc: David Horowitz, David Horowitz Freedom Center
Manny Klausner, Individual Rights Foundation



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