Leaflets from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a conservative foundation, calling Duke one of “the most fascist universities” were distributed on campus this past weekend.
The center, founded by Horowitz, a conservative author and activist, is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit legal advocacy group. SPLC describes the center as a “think tank housing various projects and publications designed to fight Horowitz’s self-described ideological war with Islam and the political left.”
The leaflets, which were found inside and outside of dorms and classroom buildings, accused Duke of “[persecuting] faculty and students who refuse to submit to the administration’s radical outlook.” It also called on Duke to rewrite campus policies that “obstruct constitutional speech” and “provide redress for all students and faculty who have been illegally silenced or disciplined for their expression.”
The back of the leaflet also included a quote attributed to Adolf Hitler that reads, “Let me control the textbooks, and I will control the state,” above a picture of him.
The leaflets cited descriptions of former Sanford School of Public Policy professor Evan Charney’s dismissal from Duke in 2019 due to his teaching style, former Duke Student Government President Christina Wang’s vetoing recognition of Students Supporting Israel in 2021, and Duke’s student conduct investigation into anti-Black, homophobic graffiti on the East Campus bridge in 2021.
“We will not dignify the contents of the leaflets with a response or comment,” wrote Chris Simmons, interim vice president for public affairs and government relations, in an email to The Chronicle.
The center is known for targeting colleges and universities and has a history of “compiling McCarthyite lists of students, professors, and administrators and plastering campuses with posters accusing them of being subversive,” according to the SPLC.
The leaflet also listed Georgetown University, University of Washington, University of Illinois Chicago, Syracuse University, University of Central Florida, University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University, University of California, Los Angeles and University of New Mexico as “fascist universities.”
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Milla Surjadi is a Trinity junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 118th volume.