Everyone I know at Ohio State University, as well as in Columbus, was sickened when, last week, the student newspaper The Lantern published an ad by David Horowitz and David Greenfield, titled, “Former Leaders of the Muslim Student Association (MSA): Where Are They Now?” The ad lists people it claims are linked to terrorist groups, while selling a book called, “Muslim Hate Groups on Campus.”
The reaction to the ad was so great that The Columbus Dispatch later reported on the controversy: “Ad in ‘Lantern’ upsets Muslims: List of alleged links to terrorism decried as hate speech.” The Dispatch explains, ”Many Muslim students at Ohio State University have been outraged by an ad in the student newspaper that ties former Muslim student leaders in the U.S. to terrorist groups.”
“Many”? “Muslims”? “Outrage”?
“All” people of good will–of any or no religion–were saddened by The Lantern’s willingness to pass on smears.
Nevertheless, The Dispatch does give some valuable truths, including:
1. The “conservative David Horowitz Freedom Center…., based in Sherman Oaks, Calif., paid for the ad.”
2. “David Horowitz, founder…, said Ohio State was one of the first schools his group sent the ad to, and the first to agree to run it.”
3. The “black and white quarter-page ad cost $502.42.”
4. “Dan Caterinicchia, faculty adviser for The Lantern, said the newspaper can reject advertising that denigrates individuals, groups or organizations based on such things as race, nationality, ethnicity and religion. ‘In this [case], the adviser and co-chair of the publications committee agreed that the ad did not violate the policy,’ he said.”
5. “Caterinicchia added that The Lantern plans to publish a commentary on the ad in the Student View section of the paper, as well as a few letters to the editor and an ‘editorial response of some kind.’”
That response and the letters appeared here: “Lantern staff prides itself on diversity, dialogue.” The editorial–like The Dispatch’s article–frames the ad and the offense it caused as a disagreement over free speech:
“Our responsibility as journalists is to bring our readers fair and objective stories, no matter how unpopular the views expressed in those stories might be. In order for us to continue to invoke our right to free speech every day, we cannot, in good conscience, support the suspension of that right for other people.”
But the editors have neglected their first job as reporters: to investigate. A simple web search would have revealed David Horowitz’s mission to censor honest debate on campus and in the world–particularly about Palestine and Israel–, through CAMERA and FrontPage, as well as the incitement Horowitz himself provided Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 90 youths in Norway, in part out of a mad belief that he was defending Israel.
Horowitz has achieved his goal, for as The Dispatch tells us, “He’s glad it [the ad] created a stir. ‘There is no other hate group that can be on campus and have public support,’ he said. ‘I think people just have their heads in the sand, and I want to help inform them.’”
But The Dispatch interviews only one member of the Muslim Student Association, Jana Al-Akhras, and does not quote any representatives of other reputable organizations, including the many who co-signed the letter Al-Akhras wrote to The Lantern’s Editor.
The Dispatch mentions, but does not investigate, the fact that “The ad also pitches a pamphlet called Muslim Hate Groups on Campus, published by FrontPage, an online publication funded by the conservative David Horowitz Freedom Center.” The Dispatch merely juxtaposes the lie embodied in the pamphlet’s title with a counter-argument: “OSU Undergraduate Student Government President Nick Messenger called the ad ‘false, bigoted and full of hate speech that doesn’t have a place on campus.’”
The public in Columbus is ill-served by such cowardly “He-said”-versus-“He-said” reporting, as we can see by the ignorance in some of the “Comments” at the Dispatch.
This dismal sell-out for a mere $502.42 by OSU’s student newspaper smears not just people of a faith, Islam, but all OSU students, faculty, and staff, people of conscience, who daily dedicate themselves to learning. The fact that the citizens of OSU immediately swamped The Lantern with brave resistance to Horowitz’s effort to spread fear tells far more of the campus loyalty to freedom and fairness for all than anything I can say. Likewise, the few letters that The Lantern printed–of the many it received– eloquently prove how committed are the people of OSU to liberating their own minds, rather than clenching them shut.