[sixties-l] Racist ad is not free speech issue

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Tue Apr 03 2001 - 16:12:26 EDT

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    Racist ad is not free speech issue


    REPARATIONS: Students should recognize motives behind Horowitz's claims

    By Joseph Anderson

    On college campuses across the country such as UC Berkeley, Brown
    University, Princeton, Duke, University of Wisconsin and UC Davis, there
    has been a firestorm of controversy over an anti-African American
    university newspaper attack ad titled, "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for
    Slavery is a Bad Idea and Racist Too"
    The ad was sent to 34 different college newspapers. It was considered by
    many people of color as incendiary and manifestly racist. Indeed it could
    have been written by the Aryan Nation.
    While the Daily Bruin and most other college newspapers did not print the
    ad, the reaction of students at other universities suggests that students,
    including those at UCLA, have not been exposed to enough information about
    the kind of attitudes the ad expresses and why those attitudes are indeed
    The author of the ad, David Horowitz, is a '60s-era, former left-wing
    advocate. But Horowitz jumped ship with the shift in the prevailing
    political winds toward conservative Reaganism, son of Reaganism (Bush), and
    even covertly neo-conservative, "New Democrat," Clintonism.
    Horowitz apparently decided that there was more money, a better life, and
    especially much more media attention, something he craves, to be gained on
    the conservative side.
    Unfortunately, there was always a handful of either loosely wrapped or
    intellectually thin leftists in the '60s (e.g., Clarence Thomas), who
    ultimately felt that the sails blowing to the right were financially
    fuller and decided to go with that.
    In the meantime, Horowitz raises to a fine political art the same
    "self-victimology" that he generally attacks African Americans for
    perpetrating. Here, Horowitz cloaks himself as the ultimate "free speech
    Horowitz runs his attack operations out of Los Angeles. His headquarters is
    home to
    the harmless-sounding Center for the Study of Popular Culture. But
    Horowitz's activities and his recent book, "Hating Whitey," are anything
    but harmless. His book attacks African American civil rights activists as
    being anti-white racists.
    At UC Berkeley, on his latest anti-African American, racial-vendetta
    crusade, David Horowitz abruptly turned tail and bolted after his campus
    speech on March 15. This after only the third questioner challenged him.
    People of color have rightly condemned his "reparations" ad and ranting
    speech as racist.
    But many whites, including UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl, have
    tried to twist the ad issue into a free speech issue. So it is obvious
    that, even in the year 2001, many whites, including the chancellor, still
    don't recognize blatant racism, suitably couched. This is a despicable
    state of affairs in a so-called institution of "Higher Learning," to borrow
    from the title of Ice Cube's rap song on racism in college.
    But, David Horowitz was not out to promote free speech. David Horowitz was
    out to promote himself as usual.
    In a format perverting the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights, Horowitz
    claimed that reparations to African Americans have already been paid in the
    form of welfare. With a racist mind-set at the foundation of all his
    arguments, Horowitz stereotypes most African Americans as living on
    welfare. Apart from that being false, welfare is provided to people because
    they are poor, not because of their race.
    In a sick twist, Horowitz then claims that not only does America not owe
    African Americans reparations, but that, in fact, it is African Americans
    who owe America a greater debt for ending slavery. He further says that
    blacks today have actually benefited from the national wealth that slavery
    helped to create.
    So Horowitz believes that the nation that immorally accepted brutal slavery
    gave African Americans a gift by eventually outlawing the practice and
    replacing it with "Jim Crow" apartheid practices. By the same perverted
    logic, a kidnap-beating-rape victim would owe a debt to her rapist if he
    finally let her go free.
    In another twisted claim, Horowitz said that there were thousands of blacks
    who also owned slaves. Actually, it was free blacks who, in many cases,
    purchased their own family members to protect them in slave-owning states.
    In his ad, Horowitz also claimed that most Americans have no connection to
    slavery. This is patently false: slavery has spawned a legacy of racial
    oppression that exists to this day. As a result of slavery, whites today
    have inherited preferential advantage.
    Southern post-Civil War laws like the "Black Codes" made it illegal for
    African Americans to work for themselves. From Tulsa, Okla., to Rosewood,
    Fla., African Americans were later told to pull themselves up by their own
    bootstraps, and when they did, successful African American business towns
    were often destroyed by rioting whites or, even later, by "urban renewal."
    For an enlightening discourse on the reparations issue, Randal Robinson,
    head of TransAfrica, the organization that spearheaded the American
    divestment movement against then-apartheid South Africa, has written the
    book "The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks."
    Horowitz's ad not only invokes racist stereotypes, it also relies on
    raising straw man arguments to justify his claims. Over and over, he
    asserts the usual specious argument that not all whites benefited from
    slavery. That is false anyway whites benefited as a nation.
    But his argument is legally irrelevant. Many Americans don't directly
    benefit from all national policies. But the arguments for reparations
    aren't made on the basis of whether every white person directly gained from
    slavery (just as the debts of a corporation don't depend on who it
    comprises). The arguments are made on the basis that the United States
    itself institutionalized slavery and protected it by law.
    As the government is an entity that survives generations, its debts and
    obligations survive the lifespan of any particular individual. As a citizen
    of the United States, one not only enjoys the rights and privileges of
    citizenship, but also shares the debts and liabilities of the nation.
    Present-day Americans cannot evade national debts by claiming they were
    incurred by, and only benefited, a prior generation. Thus, the moral debt
    arising from 350 years of free, forced, brutal labor and practically free
    "Jim Crow" bitter labor barely ending in the 1960s is an obligation the
    United States cannot ignore.
    Nor can the United States evade a moral debt merely because the direct
    victims have died. The descendants of slavery have inherited a right to
    some meaningful form of restitution, because they still greatly inherit its
    No government would make the descendants of each beneficiary pay the
    descendants of each victim for even an inhumane national policy whose
    detriment still exists. Thus, governments make restitution to victims as a
    group or class. This is a debt that was once promised but soon abandoned by
    the United States.
    Finally, Horowitz was forced to admit that the First Amendment does not
    require any newspaper to accept a paid ad. But newspapers should have moral
    standards below which they would reject any ad, especially an incendiary
    publicity stunt. The First Amendment does, however, allow a newspaper to
    express regret, upon reflection, for printing a self-promoting, morally
    obscene ad. The fact that the Daily Californian, Chancellor Berdahl and
    many white students on campus didn't recognize just how racist the ad was
    is shocking.
    It is hoped that students at UCLA, regardless of color, don't become
    victims of Horowitz's racist manipulations and his self-serving media
    gambit, as did many white students at Berkeley and other universities.
    Students should always critically analyze specious claims in any such ad,
    especially against people who are popularly stereotyped. We should all
    always realize that voices of oppression will never retire.

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