- The Washington Times - Monday, March 19, 2001

On March 6, 100 chanting, screaming protesters stormed the offices of the Badger Herald, the newspaper of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, demanding that editor Julie Bosman resign.

She declined with verve. What provoked the protest was an ad Miss Bosman had accepted on the question of reparations for slavery. David Horowitz, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and a famously passionate former leftist, had offered the ad to the Herald, as well as to 50 other college papers. Most (we'll name names in a minute) refused to print it. Others, including the Daily Californian at the University of California-Berkeley did run the ad, but then followed up with a front-page apology.

Julie Bosman and her editorial board declined to cave, publishing instead a bold statement regretting only "that the editors of the Daily Californian allowed themselves to give in to pressure in a manner that … violated their journalistic duty to protect free speech." In a related article for the Wall Street Journal, Miss Bosman asked, "Are American university campuses free and open to a spirit of inquiry, or closed places where activist cohorts can determine what is or isn't acceptable?"

Mr. Horowitz wrote and distributed the ad precisely because he judged that the answer is mostly "closed" and that the question of reparations for slavery was an ideal one to use as an intellectual crowbar.

The ad can be found in full at frontpagemag.com, but in summary, here is what Mr. Horowitz wrote: "There is no one group that is responsible for slavery. Even some blacks held fellow blacks in bondage. There is no single group that benefited from slavery. The wealth created then has seeped into the whole economy, benefiting everyone. Only a tiny minority of white people ever owned slaves. America today is a multireligious, multi-ethnic mix, most of whose people trace their ancestry to the two great immigration waves of the late 19th- and mid-20th centuries, long after slavery had ended

"Reparations to Japanese-Americans and European Jews in the 20th century are not comparable because those were living victims or their children. To trace victimization down many generations is impossible.

"The rationale for reparations is the notion that all American blacks continue to suffer the after-effects of an institution that ended 150 years ago. Yet American blacks, if they stood alone, would be the 10th richest nation on earth. American blacks on average enjoy per capita incomes in the range of 20 to 50 times that of blacks living in any of the African nations from which (their ancestors) were kidnapped.

"Welfare and affirmative action programs amount to a form of reparation and have been ongoing since 1965. The reparations movement is one more attempt to cast African-Americans as victims and creates unfortunate divisions with other Americans, some of whom have suffered hardships of similar proportions. Blacks themselves owe a debt of gratitude to America for the anti-slavery movement, for a society based upon the principles of equality, for the highest standard of living in the world, and for the most thoroughly protected rights and liberties anywhere." (He might have added that in fighting the Civil War, the costliest war of its history, America paid dearly in blood and sorrow for the crime of slavery.)

Those words were considered beyond the pale of acceptable discourse by the following college newspapers: the Virginia Cavalier, the Columbia Spectator, the Washington Daily, the Daily Pennsylvanian, the Harvard Crimson, the Notre Dame Observer, the SUNY-Binghamton Pipedream, the UMass-Amherst Collegian, the UCLA Daily Bruin, the Georgia Tech Technique and many others. Three of these papers, Mr. Horowitz reports Penn, the University of Washington and Notre Dame have in the past accepted and run ads denying the Holocaust ever happened.

Minds developing in such an ideological hothouse might seem ill-equipped to function in the real world. On the other hand, these budding journalists will feel perfectly at home at the offices of ABC, CNN, the New York Times or NBC. Mr. Horowitz is glad his ad is causing a stir, not because he's a "racial provocateur" as one online magazine dubbed him, but because if anything needs stirring, it's the thick molasses of agitprop that has smothered free speech on America's campuses.

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