David Horowitz

Glenn Beck Is On Our Side

Posted on September 14 2009 2:20 pm
David Horowitz is the editor-in-chief of NewsReal Blog and FrontPage Magazine. He is the President and CEO of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His most recent book is Reforming Our Universities
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David Frum has responded — sort of — to my Newsreal critique of his blistering attack on Glenn Beck in tones you would normally use for a Ward Churchill or a William Ayers or a Cynthia McKinney.

I say “sort of” because he has not addressed the points I made and has instead misrepresented my views. I did not say that Beck’s comments were false. Beck’s sin so far as I can tell from David’s posts are that he conflated Cass Sunstein with Peter Singer. His bad. Yet, how big a sin is this? Well it’s all about context isn’t it? Animal rights is not what is agitating Beck. What he is concerned about is Sunstein’s apparent desire to expand the libel laws and clamp down on the Internet. It’s about free speech, something a blogger like David should be concerned about. So while I do think  that Beck should have been more careful in his characterization of Sunstein, I don’t think in the present political atmosphere it’s unusual to overstate a case nor that somebody should be read out of civilized company for making such mistakes.

Joe Klein describes Republican critics of Obama as “racists” in the current edition of Time. What has David got to say about Klein? That’s a big part of my problem with David’s current crusade. His passionate defense of Sunstein (who after all is a  member of an Adminstration that is busily wrecking the country and had no problem serving with Van Jones) is extraordinary for a man of David’s normally conservative temperament. I’ve never heard David raise his voice this way in defense of maligned conservatives. (Maybe I just missed it.)

So it’s not that I don’t worry about mistakes people make on our side — I worry greatly about David’s mistake in regard to Beck — but I believe it’s important to correct people who are fighting for our freedoms in a somewhat gentler way than one should correct people who are on the other side of these battles. Moreover, I don’t like excommunications in political movements unless the guilty party is actually a racist or an anti-Semite — or a Communist like Van Jones.

On David’s first point, that the attack on Sunstein was stupid and counter-productive, I don’t agree with either statement:

First, even in Leninist terms, Beck’s attack on Sunstein was stupid and counter-productive. Every legal conservative who cares about the issues of regulation and deregulation agrees that Cass Sunstein is the very best choice for the OIRA job to be hoped from a Democratic president. Had conservative opposition somehow derailed the Sunstein nomination, President Obama’s next appointment would almost certainly have been worse – very possibly, a lot worse.

The attack on Sunstein as an animal rights activist may have been misplaced — David does not provide Beck quotes, does not seem to be familiar with the show on which Beck interviewed David Martosko of the Center for Consumer Freedom. It was Martosko who said Sunstein was “a disciple of Peter Singer’s” and a “raving animal rights nut” — but even if Martosko misrepresented Sunstein, Beck’s error in failing to vet him is hardly a capital crime. The attack on Sunstein as a would-be Internet censor, on the other hand, is hardly stupid or counter-productive. Just couple Sunstein’s support for censorship (as Beck did) with the Stalinist Mark Lloyd, Obama’s diversity chief at the FCC, who really wants to shut down conservative air waves and you can see that there’s a problem here and Beck is providing a service in showcasing it.

What David is overlooking is the fact that behind this administration and influencing it at every turn is the network built by George Soros, Harold Ickes, and John Podesta over the last decade which has radical agendas and whose role in the appointment of Sunstein we can only guess at. In other words, the Obama czars are the spearhead of a movement, which each of them has signed onto. David is looking at the Sunstein appointment as though the Obama team was being assembled in the way a Republican Administration would assemble its team. The very existence of so many czars to indicates that that is a mistake.

Second, this right-wing Leninism exacts a terrible moral price. Notice that David Horowitz calls the left “deceitful” in his blogpost. Presumably that’s a bad thing. Likewise, when Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “You lie” at President Obama, he did not intend that as a compliment. So truth is important to conservatives, or at least we talk as if it were. Yet now David Horowitz tells me that it’s 10,000 times more important to “fight for our side.”

Let me pause for a moment here to say that I resent David’s use of the term “Leninist” to describe me. That is not an accident. It’s a term my enemies on the left use with great frequency in order to exculpate themselves from their romance with Leninism and demonize me at the same time and I don’t appreciate David’s picking it up (particularly when he is on a crusade to purge conservatives who disagree with him from the conservative movement). I did not in my original criticism of David say that truth didn’t matter, nor do I think that. What I said was that the lengths to which he went to demonize and anathematize Beck were objectionable. I do think truth matters. I think Glenn made a mistake in conflating Sunstein with Singer — although I do not speak on rumorswith any real authority on this issue. Nonetheless, I will concede this for the sake of the argument. Nor am I in a position to judge Beck’s concerns about Sunstein’s censorious agendas because I haven’t read his new book. But it’s pretty obvious that there’s a push on the left side of the war zone to shut down conservatives, that the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party’s House leadership support this and that Glenn Beck is on the front lines opposing it, while David’s friend and teacher Cass Sunstein is not.

David’s third point is clever but is more a debater’s maneuver than a serious challenge to the issues we began with:

Third – how do we define “our side”? Horowitz harshly condemns Obama appointee Van Jones. Van Jones was eventually forced to resign not because of any of the allegations Glenn Beck hurled at him, but because the Gateway Pundit blog unearthed evidence that Van Jones had consorted with 9/11 denialists. So that’s the other side, right? Except… the American politician who most closely associates with 9/11 denialists is Congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul. And who acts as Paul’s chief TV enthusiast and publicist? Glenn Beck of course.

Ron Paul is a crackpot, a conspiracy nut and a public menace. His crank views of the economy  have a lot of Republicans snookered enough to ignore the fact that he is an anti-Semite and an America-hater — fundamentally at odds with America’s role in the world as the guardian of freedom. I have to confess that I am not familiar with Beck’s promotion of Paul. If David wants to engage this I would have to review Beck’s statements about Paul first. But I can say this — the question that David puts at the end of his blog — whose side is Glenn Beck on, is easy. He’s on our side. When I listen to Beck I don’t have any sense that he does not love this country — the actual country we live as opposed to some fantasy of the way it might have been 200 years ago or 200 years hence. In fact I have the sense that he loves this country and will risk his career to defend it — and that’s good enough for me.

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