[sixties-l] Provocative, and Proud of It by David Horowtiz

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Tue Mar 13 2001 - 17:41:11 EST

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    Provocative, and Proud of It
    By David Horowitz
    Salon.com | March 13, 2001
    URL: http://www.frontpagemag.com/columnists/horowitz/2001/dh03-13-01p.htm

    MY SALON EDITOR JOAN WALSH has generously offered me space for a
    "rebuttal" of her story and profile (Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad
    Horowitz?). Her story reports on the travails of an ad I have attempted to
    place in many college papers, questioning the wisdom of reparations for
    slavery 136 years after the fact. In "rebutting" her article, my task is
    complicated by two facts. First, though Salon's editors and I disagree
    politically, they have given me the very opportunity to have my views
    heard that so many college papers have recently denied; moreover, in her
    article Joan has provided a defense of my position in the current
    controversy. I thank her for this support. We are indeed colleagues and I
    cherish that fact. In the second place, the only truly negative aspect of
    Joan's piece is its somewhat tongue-in-cheek portrayal of me as a
    publicity-seeking, "racial provocateur." By merely taking the opportunity
    (and space) to reply as offered, however, I may seem to be confirming the
    charge.

    Let me begin by saying that I am not a racial provocateur and, as I hope
    will become evident in the course of this reply, I do not have a chip on
    my shoulder that causes me to seek confrontation with the African American
    community. In fact, I do not see myself in confrontation with the African
    American community at all. My fight is with the African American left.

    When a well-meaning Democrat in Florida designs a butterfly ballot to help
    elderly Democrats vote their ticket but inadvertently confuses them
    instead, and when this becomes a pretext for Jesse Jackson and other
    demagogues to charge Republicans with a plot to "disenfranchise the
    descendants of slaves," THAT is racial provocation. If you're looking for
    a racial provocateur, Jesse Jackson should be your model. Jackson's
    strategy is a cynical triad: provocations, negotiations and then
    "reparations" (for Jackson, of course, and his family and their
    well-heeled friends).

    Under the self-serving leadership of Jackson, Sharpton and Randall
    Robinson, the civil rights movement has adopted the triad as its political
    formula of choice. The reparations claim itself is the work of racial
    provocateurs people who want to put race at the center of every
    political conflict and reveal it as the source of every problem afflicting
    African Americans in order to shake out the loot on the back end. The
    entire thrust of the ad I attempted to place -- "Ten Reasons Why
    Reparations Is a Bad Idea and Racist Too" -- was to dissuade African
    Americans from following the dead-end path of racial provocation down
    which leftwing arsonists are leading them.

    In writing about me, Joan has anchored even her misperceptions in
    anecdotal data: "'Now we're sending the ad to about 100 papers,' an
    excited Horowitz says by cell-phone, rushing from meeting to meeting."
    Well, not "meeting to meeting" exactly. When this conversation took place,
    I was in my car on Wilshire Boulevard, driving home. The accurate half of
    Joan's account is that I was indeed coming from a meeting, as I mentioned
    to her. It was, as it happens, a five-hour meeting, the only item on my
    calendar that day. Because it was around three PM, she had to leave our
    cell conversation abruptly to pick up her daughter after school. As a
    result, Joan never got around to asking me what my meeting had been about.
    If she had, it would have thrown some light on her perceptions.

    My meeting, in fact, was with three African Americans who run a grassroots
    organization in the inner city. Their operation is an outgrowth of the
    1992 Los Angeles riots and is an effort to bring jobs, technical training,
    "economic literacy" and other financial resources to its inhabitants.

    At this moment, thanks to the dead-end, race-polarizing, leftwing
    leadership of Jesse Jackson and others, the project was facing the kind of
    crisis that similar organizations are facing in inner cities all over the
    country. It had been receiving, for example, $1 million a year from the
    Clinton White House; it had been getting valuable political support from
    Vice President Gore (which it returned to him during his presidential
    campaign). Now, along with the 92% of the African American community that
    voted for Gore and stigmatized Republicans as racists, it had discovered
    what the two-party system is actually about, and why it might not be such
    a good idea to put all one's eggs into a single political basket.

    My three visitors and I have our political differences. Our meeting began,
    inevitably, with a discussion of the reparations issue. Fortunately,
    however, the leader of the organization whom I have known and worked
    with for years was able to form a strong bond with me which none of my
    "provocations" has affected. He saw early, as others apparently have not,
    that my criticisms of African American leaders come from a genuine concern
    for African Americans themselves. My reparations argument is really a plea
    to African Americans not to let their leaders separate them from the rest
    of America and then polarize their community against America, which by and
    large actually wishes African Americans well.

    As a result of our bond, and having aired our differences over the
    reparations issue, we were able to set to work on plotting a strategy with
    which to approach the Republican Congress and the Republican White House,
    through connections which I was able to supply. Our agenda was to get the
    new Administration to continue and extend the support for this project
    that is now jeopardized, and to build additional bridges across the
    political divide. I have been working with this group and with similar
    organizations for many years, just as I have been working with the
    Republican Party to open its doors and extend its hands to communities and
    cultures in America that have been left behind.

    So much for perceptions of me as an emotionally embittered antagonist of
    blacks.

    Of course, I am something of a political provocateur. A long time ago I
    resolved that I was going to draw on my experience in the left and fight
    fire with fire. I was determined to speak to and about the left in its own
    morally uncompromising voice. I had a rationale for this, particularly
    where race matters were concerned. Most people are intimidated by the race
    card when played by the left. Few will take the risk of candor. In these
    circumstances, a surreal situation has gradually developed until we find
    ourselves talking now to charlatans and racists as though they were civil
    rights leaders worthy of respect. Is there any non-black person in America
    (not ideologically distraught) who thinks of Al Sharpton a racial
    incendiary and convicted liar -- as a possible heir to Martin Luther King?
    Or who does not realize that the very presence of Sharpton does
    irreparable damage to the civil rights cause?

    Yet who outside myself and a "provocative" few would dare to say as much
    in public? When Sharpton held his Martin Luther King charade at the
    Lincoln Memorial last August, flanked by New Black Panthers calling for
    race war, what news media or public figure stepped forward to puncture his
    balloon? The head of the ACLU took her place on the platform side by side
    with the racists without even noticing the incongruity. The head of the
    Urban League was there as well. And so was Andrew Cuomo, then Secretary of
    Health Education and Welfare, now a Democratic candidate for governor of
    New York. And why not? The entire Democratic Party leadership has embraced
    Sharpton as a "civil rights leader." Is there any mystery why the African
    American community feels okay doing so as well?

    That is the situation we find ourselves in, and until it changes, I will
    continue to speak (as the left likes to say) "truth to power." I will do
    it, even though it means being tagged as a provocateur.

    I will especially continue to do it on the issue of reparations, which is
    the biggest shakedown scam of all. Most blacks in America started their
    post-slavery lives with nothing, and come now from a legacy of centuries
    of oppression and violence against them. But notwithstanding this past,
    they have achieved enormous gains in this country. Collectively, they have
    accumulated more wealth than 90% of the world's nations. In their
    majority, they are solidly middle class -- and this by American standards,
    which means they are wealthy by most of the world's standards. Yet on the
    cusp of success, we do not celebrate their success. Instead we have a
    black leadership revving up a gigantic grievance machinery to once again
    dramatize failure the failure of America in the past; and the failure of
    a minority of African Americans, who are mainly fatherless and poor, to
    take advantage of the opportunities before them.

    This failure is presented improbably as a continuing "oppression" by the
    rest of America and thus a rationale for the "reparations" claim. The
    reparations, however, are not to be paid by slave-owners, or even scions
    of slave-owners, but by working class Hispanics, Asian boat-people, Kosovo
    refugees, blue-collar whites whose ancestors may have died fighting to
    defeat the slave power itself, and a hundred million or so others whose
    ancestors weren't even Americans in 1865. What kind of lunacy is this?

    A Time magazine poll shows that 75% of Americans oppose reparations for
    slavery. Don't you get the idea that black leaders behind the reparations
    movement WANT it to fail so that they can keep rage alive and stoke the
    fires of grievance that have rewarded them so generously in the past?

    In asking this question, am I really "inflating black leadership flaws" as
    Joan maintains? Or telling it like it is?

    Finally, I plead guilty to enjoying the attention the ad is getting and
    the consternation of those editors at campus dailies who have tried to
    stifle free speech. Who wouldn't be? Is it important to have two sides to
    a debate? Is it a national disgrace that without my intervention this
    dialogue on reparations would never have taken place?

    I did not pick Black History Month to launch my campaign. But if I had,
    what of it? Is Black History Month about history or about the imposition
    of a party line? Are there two historians who agree on anything? In fact,
    I wrote my Salon article last summer as a response to the decision by the
    Chicago City Council to support reparations. The vote was 47-1. That's
    some vote for a democracy. Were opponents of reparations intimidated into
    silence? You bet. Is this an appropriate occasion for outrage? I thought
    so.

    Six months later, I cut the Salon article to single page size -- suitable
    for an ad -- when I noticed on the Internet that a Reparations conference
    was to be held at the University of Chicago at the beginning of February.
    I guess it was for Black History Month. It was clear from the announcement
    that all the participants would be in favor of reparations. Was this
    stacking of the argument appropriate for a university setting? I didn't
    think so. I sent the ad to the Chicago Maroon so that students at the
    university would get another point of view. The Maroon printed the ad
    without apology and without incident.

    I decided to send 10 ads. I knew that faculty and students on most
    American campuses functioned under a cloud of intimidation from the left
    and suspected that no faculty member would publicly present an
    anti-reparations view. From a career perspective it would be too
    dangerous. I make no apologies for attempting to run these ads as a way of
    stimulating a campus debate that couldn't otherwise take place. Believe it
    or not, I never dreamed the ad would be turned down at places like
    Columbia and Harvard, or that the editor of the Daily Cal at Berkeley
    would apologize for printing it after the fact. His apology (and that of
    the editor of The Aggie at UC Davis) was tantamount to saying: We will
    never air a point of view that offends the campus left, particularly the
    African American left. It was this gauntlet that convinced me to send the
    ad to as many college papers as my resources permitted.

    I am thrilled by the result. And why wouldn't I be? The attempt by the
    left to turn these campuses into indoctrination centers has been thwarted.
    A debate has been started all across America on the issues of reparations
    and free speech. Campus censors are on the run. It is time to say goodbye
    to campus fascism, no matter what color it comes in. Too many conservative
    speakers have been driven off American campuses in recent decades; too
    many newspapers offensive to leftists have been burned in order to deny
    others access to their ideas. This kind of behavior should be unacceptable
    anywhere, but especially in a campus setting. Where are the adults? Where
    was the University of Wisconsin president when his security guards were
    telling editors of the Wisconsin Badger-Herald (which printed my ad) to
    lock themselves in their dorm rooms for their own safety. Why weren't the
    leaders of the so-called Multicultural Coalition who organized the
    thuggery expelled? Why weren't the students at UC Berkeley who burned the
    pamphlets of a visiting speaker last semester suspended and expelled? Why
    are the university administrators silent during a controversy that goes to
    the heart of the university mission?

    I can tell you this. In the days to come, I am not going to be hiding in
    anybody's closet. I'm going to be out there fighting this battle -- which
    I did not begin yesterday, or just to exorcise my personal demons during
    Black History Month. Ten years ago, Peter Collier and I launched
    Heterodoxy as a magazine to fight political correctness on college
    campuses. The Center I head was in the forefront of the battle against
    speech codes. Our lawyers actually forced a University of Minnesota
    President and a UC Chancellor to undergo sensitivity training in the First
    Amendment when they attempted to confiscate a conservative magazine and
    ban a fraternity whose T-shirt the left found objectionable. The
    experience was so embarrassing that both universities dropped their speech
    codes shortly thereafter. But speech codes are only one instrument the
    left has devised to quash free expression at institutions of higher
    learning. So when this latest battle is over, I will be finding new
    occasions to continue the fight call me what you will -- until American
    campuses are made safe for learning, which means safe for expressing
    different points of view.
    -----
    David Horowitz is editor-in-chief of FrontPageMagazine.com and president
    of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture.



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