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‘Racist’ ad in campus paper protested

By Judith Scherr Daily Planet Staff
Friday March 02, 2001

An ad opposing reparations for descendants of slaves that appeared in Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Californian, the UC Berkeley student-run newspaper, outraged a group of students and faculty who have come together to protest what senior De Carlo Wilson says is a “blatantly racist” attack on people of color. 

The $1,200 full-page advertisement paid for by the Los Angeles-based Center for the Study of Popular Culture, founded by former Ramparts Magazine editor David Horowitz, makes 10 arguments against reparations. It says, for example, that the number of slave-holders was small and many whites “gave their lives to free (slaves).” It claims there is no proof that people living today suffer the effects of slavery and argues that African Americans have already received reparations in the form of welfare. 

“If slave labor created wealth for Americans, then obviously it has created wealth for black Americans as well, including the descendants of slaves,” according to the ad. 

Wilson says an apology printed in Thursday’s paper by Daily Cal editor Daniel Hernandez is not enough. “The (Daily Cal’s) general manager should be fired. He was derelict in his duty.” 

In addition to the front page apology, Hernandez wrote an editorial to give further apologies, but Wilson said the editor addressed “readers” in general and not those the advertisement insulted. 

In a short interview with the Daily Planet, Hernandez said he agreed that the advertisement was “inflammatory,” but he did not say it was the fault of the general manager. Rather, he contended there was a miscommunication – the advertising department thought the editorial department would pull the ad and the ad escaped the scrutiny of the editorial department, he said. 

“Printed with terrible irony on the last day of Black History Month, the ad essentially said that the black community should not complain about slavery,” Hernandez says in the editorial he calls “Holding Ourselves Accountable.” 

“The Daily Cal’s ad policy does not allow the publishing of ads with incorrect ore blatantly inflammatory content,” Hernandez writes. 

Wilson said students and faculty will be answering the ad point by point. One of Horowitz’s statements that particularly enraged him was the one which said that African Americans have already received reparations in the form of welfare. “So, are all blacks on welfare?” Wilson asked rhetorically. 

As for the notion that African Americans do not suffer the remnants of slavery today, he pointed out that “land is passed down from generation to generation.”  

Horowitz argues that blacks are better off in America than Africans are in Africa, but Wilson points out that whites earn many times more than blacks in America. “None of this is factual,” Wilson said.  

John Campbell, executive director of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, said the wording of the ad was intentionally strong to promote dialogue. In a telephone interview, he stressed that the center’s founder, David Horowitz has long-time civil rights credentials, having worked with the Black Panther Party. 

The center opposes affirmative action “which puts people into various groups based on the color of skin and not on their character,” Campbell said. 

In a letter to the Daily Cal, which Campbell e-mailed to the Daily Planet, Horowitz says pulling the ad would have been a violation of First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. 

David Nabti, a student who described the advertisement as “outrageous,” said that the only way it should have run would have been to alert opponents ahead of time and to have run a page of their comments along side the advertisement. The Daily Cal has promised to print the students’ rebuttal on Monday. 

A number of campus newspapers have refused to print the ad, the center’s John Campbell said, including the University of Washington, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Cal State Northridge. “This one sort of slipped through,” he said, laughing.