By Kristin Wieben
Badger Herald (U-WIRE) MADISON, Wis. — A national advertisement attacking slavery reparations sparked intense debate on campus following its publication in The Badger Herald. Placed by conservative author David Horowitz, the ad argued against reparations for slavery and publicized Horowitz’s new book, “The Death of the Civil Rights Movement.” Multicultural organizations on campus took offense to the ad, as well as to an earlier Herald cartoon depicting a Ku Klux Klan meeting, labeling the newspaper a “racist propaganda machine.”
At University of Wisconsin, 12 student organizations ran a counter-ad in The Daily Cardinal, accusing the Herald of “promoting racist ideology.” The Herald refused to run the counter-ad on the grounds that it violated the paper’s ad policy regarding blatantly false advertisements.
A group of around 80 protesters then demonstrated outside the Herald office, calling for an intervention on behalf of the university, the resignation of Herald editor-in-chief Julie Bosman and a full Herald apology.
The Herald refused to recant any of its actions, citing its First Amendment rights. A fierce debate that gathered national attention ensued, encompassing issues of free speech and campus climate. Protesters claimed the Herald’s decision to run the ad was insensitive and contributed to an already hostile campus climate for minority students, while supporters lauded the Herald for unapologetically providing a forum for a diverse range of ideas.
The advertisement drew similar reaction on college campuses around the country. Several college newspapers, including the University of California-Berkeley Daily Californian apologized for running the ad.
Following the Herald’s refusal to apologize, other college newspapers, including student newspapers at Brown University and the University of Illinois-Champaign, unapologetically published the paid ad.
The effects of the debate continue to resonate on campus, as an ad in The Badger Herald on May 7 signed by 72 UW faculty members organized by Vice Chancellor Paul Barrows’ executive assistant made clear. The ad attacked the Herald’s position and claimed “freedom asserted without care and thought for others can become destructive to the community.”
The Horowitz ad ran in several other campus papers around the country and provoked similar controversies at those schools.
The debate started by the Horowitz advertisement does not threaten to die out anytime soon.
“I think it’s been an eye-opener,” political science professor Donald Downs said. “Either we’re going to continue to have major standoffs like we’ve had, or we’ll find a way to deal with it more constructively.”
“To be realistic, I think the university is going to continue to have these standoffs.”
Downs said some students involved in the protests are considering starting their own newspaper to provide an alternative to the two campus dailies already in existence.
By Kristin Wieben