If you were to believe the house organ of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is indeed "rocking" the nation. Triumphant self-congratulations aside, the view on the ground seems to be a little less charitable.
As part of his campus barnstorming tour, last night David Horowitz made an appearance at the notoriously liberal University of Wisconsin (their school color is red, people! Do I have to spell it out for you?). Proponents of IFAW have billed their events as an opportunity to instigate a discussion about terrorism on college campuses, which is all well and good. So how did Horowitz respond to that discussion when it occurred at last evenings lecture?
Horowitz seemed to lose some of his earlier composure [during the Q&A session], occasionally insulting questioners and cutting them off as they spoke. College Republicans Vice Chair Mattie Duppler said she had mixed reactions to the event.
"I think it's his inability to defend it that troubles me," she said. "I don't feel that he held up to criticism real well. I still stand by the message that we're trying to portray here."
Say it ain't so, DHo!
Ann Althouse adds more:
Jimbo - who was "predisposed" to agree with Horowitz - thinks the reason the crowd didn't disrupt him was that he was too dull and uninspiring. He also says the students "maintained more decorum" than Horowitz, who said rude things like "Well I guess you just aren't able to read" and "I don't know what to do if you can't add two and two and get four."
The picture painted here is of a man who, when confronted with alternative or opposing viewpoints, is unable to respond with a rational, well-thought out answer and instead resorts to schoolyard taunts. This is hardly the intellectual dialogue that we expect to characterize university discussions about weighty matters.
And what of the hordes of leftists out to censor and disrupt the events on campus?
College Republicans Chair Sara Mikolajczak, whose group sponsored the event, said opposition was not as much as College Republicans were expecting - the organization was "actually expecting it to be a little more radical."
"I don't know what the reasoning for it not coming out in that manner was, but it did go very well and I think people heard a lot of things they wouldn't have otherwise heard," Mikolajczak said. "Hopefully it opens up for a better discussion and more discourse on campus."
"I definitely appreciate all the people who came out tonight who came and listened to the presentation respectfully," [College Republicans Vice Chair Mattie] Duppler said.
When it comes to the things that come out of Horowitz's mouth, I believe Flavor Flav put it best when he said, "Don't believe the hype!"
That's not to say the evening was a total wash. Again, from Ann Althouse's blog:
It would have been a total bomb, but Ebo decided we needed a pitcher of Optimator in the Rathskeller and we spent about an hour talking with a couple of groups of folks who came in opposition to Horowitz. It was enagaging [sic], entertaining and so completely superior to the waste of time that was the theater in the theater [sic], that we resolved to attend the Muslim dialogue tomorrow night. I truly enjoyed the discussion with some folks who, although we disagreed on much, came with much more open minds and helpful attitudes than the headliner.
Ah, yes. Strong ales, strong views, and civil discussions. The free exchange of ideas appears to be alive and well at the University of Wisconsin. Too bad David Horowitz doesn't seem to want to take part in it.
Cross-posted at Free Exchange on Campus