Editor’s note: In March 2001, Alicia Montgomery dubbed David Horowitz “the white Al Sharpton.” Below is his response, originally published by Salon on March 19, 2001.
A depressing aspect of the debate that I seem to have started is how one-sided it remains. In the thousands of words written in response to the 1,300-word ad I attempted to place in college papers that was critical of the growing movement calling for reparations for slavery, hardly a sentence has dealt with the points themselves. Instead, they have been personal attacks — attempts to label me as toxic and my ideas unthinkable — in effect, to exclude my voice from the arena of civilized discourse. With few exceptions (Joan Walsh’s Salon article is a notable one) the critics’ characterizations of my motives and perspectives are so hysterical and absurd that I have not even bothered to answer them.
I do so in the case of Alicia Montgomery’s regrettable outburst only because she is a colleague and her attack was unexpected. I can hardly bring myself to deal with the central trope of her piece, which is so crass and baseless that it is difficult to know how anyone of reasonable intelligence could imagine it, let alone attempt to sustain an argument around it.
Comparing me to Al Sharpton is laughable and also disgraceful. Sharpton hates white people, or at least acts as though he does. There is hardly a guilty black criminal — even a murderer — he will not defend, and there is no blameless white person he will not crucify to advance his self-serving agendas. He has made a career out of hating and baiting whitey and, in the process, ruining particular lives: Tawana Brawley’s targets, for example, whom he has libeled and harassed for over a decade without so much as a reflex of regret, the lynch victim Yankel Rosenbaum and the seven innocents burned in Freddy’s Mart by a Sharpton follower, incited by the leader’s invective. He has made a career of promoting violence and racial mayhem generally (“no justice, no peace”) with identifiably destructive consequences.
Sharpton is a disgusting figure in the David Duke mold — only far more socially accepted and politically effective. His prominence as a black leader and a force in the Democratic Party explains more about what I have written — and why — on the subjects Alicia Montgomery summarizes so inadequately and crudely as “race,” than all the pseudo-psychologizing with which she and others have attempted to dissect and dismiss me.
Unlike Sharpton, I do not hate black people, and I have never incited any racial or ethnic group against another. I have spent a lifetime — and lost part of a life — doing battle on behalf of minorities generally and of black people in particular. It is true, as she writes, that I have been wounded by people who happen to be black, but I have never confused a minority of left-wing gangsters with black people in general, as Montgomery preposterously and maliciously suggests, nor have I ever entertained “the wrong-headed belief that the whole of black America somehow forced him to hang out with the Panthers [or] romanticize their thuggery.” This is beyond libel. It is surreal.