Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Attack on College Campuses

A good read from Tim Wise at CounterPunch.Org about David Horowtiz.

During my days as a college activist, organizing against U.S. and corporate support for apartheid, I can recall the way in which many students, despite agreeing with the goal of our coalition (namely, divestment from firms complicit with the racist government in South Africa), refused to sign any petition calling for the same. Regularly they would offer, through expressions betraying a level of intimidation similar to the cowed masses of communist bloc Eastern Europe, something along the lines of, "Gee, I'd love to sign, but I'm afraid my name would end up on a list somewhere."

Amazing. In a nation that prides itself on being the freest in history, citizens express concern that they would be the victims of political persecution were they to simply sign a petition calling for their college to stop investing in companies that give aid and comfort to a white supremacist regime several thousand miles away.

Perhaps their fears were understandable, of course, stemming as they might have from a recognition of how our government has indeed placed critics of U.S. policy and the business class on shit lists from time to time, using those lists to ruin careers, destroy families, and even imprison those whose criticisms were trumpeted as treasonous.

But whether for these historically understandable reasons, or for others less valid, the fact is that many Americans fear being identified even with causes they support, out of concern that someone in the employ of Big Brother may be watching. And if not Big Brother, certainly his illegitimate stepchild, David Horowitz, whose launched a new venture in February, ominously entitled "Discover the Networks," and which purports to be an "informational database" on the political left.

Although one would think a mere database on the left could be called just that--say, for example, "Informational Database on the Left"--such pedestrian labeling would hardly serve Horowitz's propaganda needs, which, despite his vociferous denials (akin to nothing so much as those of Lady Macbeth), entail painting everyone to the left of Joe Lieberman as some kind of subversive. Thus, the utterly demented inclusion as "leftists," such persons as reactionary fascist and al Qaeda operative, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Arnold Schwarzenegger supporter Jay Leno, Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, and film critic Roger Ebert.

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