This article was originally published by FrontPage Magazine, on January 25, 2008.
It is not for nothing that George Orwell had to invent terms like “double-think” and “double-speak” to describe the universe totalitarians created. Those who have watched the left as long as I have, understand the impossible task that progressives confront in conducting their crusades. Rhetorically, they are passionate proponents of “equality” but in practice they are committed enthusiasts of a hierarchy of privilege in which the highest ranks are reserved for themselves as the guardians of righteousness, and then for those they designate “victims” and “oppressed,” who are thus worthy of their redemption. Rhetorically they are secularists and avatars of tolerance, but in fact they are religious fanatics who regard their opponents as sinners and miscreants and agents of civil darkness. Therefore, when they engage an opponent it is rarely to examine and refute his argument but rather to destroy the bearer of the argument and remove him from the plain of battle.
Consequently, misrepresentation of facts, distortion of motives and general acts of character assassination are the preferred modes of progressive discourse, as any conservative who has acquired a public persona can attest. The raw material for this verbal malice is stored on data sites with titles like RightwingWatch, SourceWatch, MediaMatters and MediaTransparency, which provide a reservoir of abuse for use by progressive activists in their engagements. Efforts by the targets of this malevolence to correct fabrications and mis-statements of fact are guaranteed to fail nearly every time, in part because progressives don’t regard their judgments as opinions but as a received moral (and therefore incontrovertible) truth. Eventually an alternative reality is created by this process which no one would even think to check.
Of course not all leftists are ideological zealots or totalitarians, and even many progressives are offended by such company. Last week we posted an interview that was conducted by an intelligent and reasonable young progressive at Campus Progress named Jesse Singal. Before agreeing to be interviewed by Singal, I asked him to correct a malicious “profile” of me, which Campus Progress had posted as one of the guides it provides to its student activists under a general heading “Know Your Right-Wing Speakers.” In its grotesque distortions of my statements and positions, the profile is typical of what passes for “David Horowitz” in the progressive world and is an obvious product of the collective misrepresentations that underpin its general perspective.
When Singal offered to correct any errors in the Campus Progress profile, I made myself available for the interview. A month later, the original profile still stands, although Singal assures me it’s just a matter of fact-checking and I have no reason to doubt that he was and is sincere. I will wait to be surprised. In the meantime, the profile which was last updated March 30, 2007 can be read here I have provided an annotated rebuttal of the profile below. At the end are the comments of readers on their site. What is striking is the good sense expressed in these comments, although this does not seem to have shaken Campus Progress’s confidence in their error-ridden profile.
My reply to your dossier:
Know Your Right-Wing Speakers: David Horowitz
Friday March 30, 2007
David Horowitz seems to relish his role as a former campus leftist who now gleefully spews angry criticism of academia and the left. Horowitz spent his college years, in the late 1950s, at Columbia University, where he was involved in American Maoist Communist political organizations. He went on to receive his Master’s degree at another hotbed of liberalism, theUniversity of California, Berkeley.
1. I was never ever a Maoist. (I will be happy to send you my attacks on Maoism that appeared inRamparts in the 1960s and 1970s — or a copy of my book Left Illusions, which contains at least one of them.) At Columbia I was a member of the NAACP. That was the only organization I belonged to in college.
His about-face occurred in 1985 when he launched an assault against his erstwhile leftward compatriots, whom he now calls “violently, fervently committed to their unholy war to tear down American democracy and replace it with their version – an Americanized version – of communism.” In his reformed state, Horowitz still describes himself as “a civil rights activist” on his website. His blood, sweat, and tears go into defending that downtroddendemographic, white males.
2. I didn’t do “an about face.” I stopped being active on the left when the Black Panthers murdered my friend Betty Van Patter in 1974. I have described this event, along with the transformation of my politics at length in Radical Son (which was published ten years ago and which I will also be happy to send you). I wrote articles for the Nation and Mother Jones in 1979 and 1980, because the left was still my community. The first article was about the left’s double standards, and unwilling to take responsibility for its own crimes and mistakes. I cast my first Republican vote for Reagan in 1984 because he was opposing the efforts of the Sandinistas to turn Nicaragua into a socialist gulag like Cuba. I had supported Fidel. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.
3. Your description of my civil rights activism as defending white males is a malicious misrepresentation of what I have done. For example, I am responsible for millions of dollars flowing into an inner city organization called Operation Hope, which has Andrew Young and other leftwing Democrats on its board. I received an award from this organization for my efforts. If you read what I’ve actually written on civil rights issues (e.g., in Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes, published in 1999) you’ll see that the main thrust of my efforts is in behalf of inner city blacks. (I will be happy to send you this book as well.)
Horowitz’s “civil rights” activism has manifested itself in a twisted series of seemingly bigoted and clearly controversial attacks. Included in this list are his August 16, 1999, column in Salon entitled, “Guns don’t kill black people, other blacks do” and his 1999 book, Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes. In 2001, Horowitz stirred national controversy when he ran nasty advertisements in college newspapers across the country entitled “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea—and Racist Too.” The full-page ads ran in several college papers, causing some to issue retractions and apologies, and others to receive protest from outraged students and accusations of racism. Horowitzcapitalized on the latter by declaring an “assault on free speech” by left-leaning students.
4. If my article about guns and blacks was bigoted, how is it that Salon’s progressive editors published it without objection (I was a regular columnist for Salon in those days). In fact the article is not bigoted but is a criticism of the NAACP for suing gun manufacturers because the number one killer of young black males was gun homicides. My article challenged the NAACP to address the real problems that afflict inner city blacks and cause this violence. Here’s a sample paragraph: “If the NAACP and other black leaders want to end the terrible scourge of gun violence committed by young inner city blacks they should launch a campaign to promote marriage and family formation in the African American community; they should issue a moral plea to the community to stigmatize fathers who abandon their children and parents who have more children than they can afford. Instead of waging war against law enforcement agencies and supporting destructive racial demagogues like Al Sharpton, they should support the Rudy Giulianis and other champions of public safety, whom they now attack. They should campaign for a tripling of police forces in inner city areas to protect the vast majority of inhabitants who are law-abiding and who are the true victims of the predators among them.”