[sixties-l] My 15 minutes By David Horowitz

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Fri Apr 06 2001 - 14:51:32 EDT

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    April 2, 2001

    My 15 minutes

    "I couldn't be more pleased by the attention," columnist David Horowitz
    says, as the controversy over his anti-reparations ad rages on.

    By David Horowitz

    My Andy Warhol moment has come just as I had hoped it would: on offense,
    baiting the left. The ad I wrote and recently attempted to place in 50
    college newspapers challenged a racial orthodoxy that is suffocating the
    promise of American pluralism and pitting ethnic communities against one
    another. It is sinking African-Americans into a sea of negativism and
    hostile posturing that threatens to isolate them and sabotage attempts to
    elevate those who have been left behind. Denouncing as "racist," "not
    legitimate" and "anti-civil rights" a president who has brought more
    diversity to Washington than any of his predecessors, and has vowed to
    "leave no child behind," is just one emblem of the moral and political
    bankruptcy of the current civil rights leadership. Claiming "reparations for
    slavery" 136 years after the fact is quite another.

    As a result of the ad I attempted to place drawing attention to this
    problem, I have been predictably attacked as a racial provocateur and a
    racist. Those smears are the reason no one else has tried this before me.
    The smears and attacks are also the reason, ironically, that so much
    attention has been paid to this issue. More than twice as many editors have
    refused my ad as have agreed to publish it (the actual score is 34-14), even
    though I offered to pay for the space to run it. Only eight college papers
    have been able to print it without incident. Six editors who published it
    have been visited by howling mobs, and three of those have decided to
    apologize for doing so. At the University of Wisconsin, Brown and Duke,
    editors have courageously stood up to mobs bent on intimidating them. The
    net result has been to bring the issue of intellectual freedom on American
    college campuses -- and, to a lesser extent, the ad itself -- before
    millions of Americans who otherwise would have been unaware of them.

    I couldn't be more pleased by the attention these issues are getting. And I
    know from my e-mails, and from the widespread support I have gotten in the
    press, that other Americans who cherish their freedoms are also pleased.

    What's going on here? When I stepped onto the stage last month in the Life
    Sciences Building at the University of California at Berkeley, accompanied
    by 30 armed campus police, I was reminded of the old Richard Pryor album
    cover in which he appears cowering, half-naked and surrounded by hooded
    Klansmen who are about to lynch him. The cover line is: "Is it something I

    Actually, it was something I said. Any understanding of the current
    controversy can only be gleaned by first focusing on that fact. How is it
    that the expression of ideas -- let alone ideas shared by a majority of
    Americans (a Time poll indicates that 74 percent of the public is opposed to
    reparations) -- should result in a university having to assign 30 armed
    police escorts to protect me during my campus appearance?

    The answer is that we live in a time of racial McCarthyism. Fifty years ago,
    witch hunters warned that there were "reds under the beds"; now it is
    something like "racists in the heads" -- a closet bigot behind every white
    face. There were in fact reds under the beds during the McCarthy era -- a
    lot more of them (as recently opened Soviet archives show) than many had
    previously thought. And, of course, there are still racists among us. The
    problem of McCarthyism was the abuse of a reality that prompted legitimate
    fear in people. McCarthy and his allies exploited those fears to achieve
    political agendas unrelated to matters of national security. McCarthy
    exaggerated the facts, made false accusations and used sinister innuendo to
    assault his political opponents in the Democratic Party and to stifle
    opposition from all quarters. Nobody wanted to be accused, however falsely,
    of being a Communist, or coddling Communists or being associated with

    This is exactly what is happening on matters of race on our college campuses
    and in the political arena today.

    My reparations ad was a straightforward argument that blacks living today
    are two, three and four generations removed from slavery. Hence, their claim
    would not conform to existing reparations formulas as applied to victims of
    the Holocaust, interned Japanese or survivors of the Rosewood race riot. The
    claim, I argued, would pit the black community against all other ethnic
    communities, and would focus blacks on their victim status and on negative
    thoughts about their experience in America. It is possible, by way of
    contrast, to look at African-Americans as a people who started literally
    from nothing -- stripped of their language, culture and family roots. But
    just 136 years later, thanks to their own efforts and the opportunities that
    America afforded them, they are (statistically speaking) the 10th richest
    nation in the world. Normally, such an attitude would be called
    "empowering." In the dispute over my ad, however, it has been called

    In apologizing for his decision to publish my ad, the editor of the campus
    paper at UC-Berkeley explained that the ad was a "vehicle for bigotry" -- a
    weasel phrase typical of McCarthyism. What is a "vehicle for bigotry"? Does
    it mean that someone might misread it and use it to promote bigotry? Does it
    mean that facts or arguments appearing in the ad may be used by bigots
    themselves? Or does it mean that some black person's feelings were hurt by
    the ad, which on sensitivity-trained campuses is interpreted in these times
    as tantamount to "racism"?

    Actually, in these times and on campuses in particular, the definition of
    racism is increasingly suspect. Case in point: The Badger-Herald, a
    University of Wisconsin student paper, published the ad on Feb. 28. Five
    days later, the rival student paper, the Daily Cardinal, published an ad
    written by the Multicultural Students Coalition. The ad did not reply to the
    10 points presented in my ad (and, to this date, there has not been a single
    ad to my knowledge replying to those points). Instead the Cardinal ad
    attacked the Badger-Herald as a "racist propaganda machine." The editorial
    offices of the Badger-Herald were then besieged by a mob of 100 students
    demanding the resignation of the paper's editor, Julie Bosman, and apologies
    (for racism) from its staff. These are tactics that have a long and
    regrettable history that originated with the fascist and communist mobs of
    the '30s that were sent to break up the peaceful meetings of their social
    democratic rivals. It's the politics of smear and intimidation, designed to
    silence opposition and stamp out free speech. Nothing could be more inimical
    to a university setting, yet not a single student involved in these
    activities has been disciplined or reprimanded by the University of
    Wisconsin administration.

    Tshaka Barrows is a spokesperson for the Multicultural Students Coalition.
    The Daily Cardinal interviewed her about her campaign:

    Cardinal: Does the Horowitz ad fit your definition of racism?

    Barrows: Exactly. Because of the reality of our society, his prejudice was
    allowed to be institutionalized, and [16,000] of his statements were
    presented to our campus. He was actively, as well as the Herald, exercising
    their racism, their power to institutionalize their racism.

    Cardinal: [What] is your definition of racism?

    Barrows: Racism is having the power to institutionalize your prejudice.

    In other words, my offense is publishing my ideas, which Barrows doesn't
    like. (Her definition of racism, by the way, is a concoction of tenured
    leftists that accomplishes the feat of defining racism in such a way that
    "only whites can be racist.")

    Insinuating racism -- without taking the trouble to establish actual
    racism -- is the McCarthy method. It was on display in a column Jonathan
    Alter wrote about me in the April 2 issue of Newsweek. A color photograph
    illustrating the column was placed in the middle of the page. It showed one
    of the student protesters at the UC-Berkeley carrying a sign with the words:
    reference to the photo. Nor did it explain that the protesters were members
    of the Spartacist Youth League, a Trotskyist splinter group whose members
    also denounced me as a "capitalist running dog." The image was allowed to
    just stand there, making me appear to be a theoretician for the Posse
    Comitatus or some lunatic fringe group. In his column, Alter derisively
    dismissed my complaint that I was under siege by "left-wing McCarthyism."

    "Please. Newspapers, exercising their own freedom, routinely reject
    advertising they believe might offend the sensibilities of their readers."

    They do. But that's obviously not what happened in this case. Alter
    attempted to discredit me by describing me as a member of "the extreme
    right" when, in fact, I am a moderate on abortion, a defender of gays, a
    strong supporter of civil rights and of large government programs to help
    inner-city minority kids. What Alter did was use the McCarthy technique of
    character assassination by exaggeration ("Professor Lattimore is Stalin's
    chief agent in America"). Alter says that my reasoned ad "reminds [him] of
    one of those tiresome rants supporting a NAAWP (National Association for the
    Advancement of White People)" -- which would be classic guilt by
    association, except that I am not associated with any group or anybody who
    thinks like this. Finally, Alter imputes to me a mean-spirited agenda that I
    have never had. "The not-so-subtle subtext [of the ad] was that we've given
    'them' enough, and so should give up on addressing the continuing problems
    of race and poverty in America." Since I am the architect of a congressional
    bill to provide $100 billion in scholarships to inner-city minority kids,
    this is hardly a just accusation. Its only purpose is to delegitimize me and
    stigmatize me as a "racist."

    A similar innuendo-laced attack was leveled by Washington Post columnist
    Richard Cohen, who suggested that while I was not an actual racist, and
    while "word for word, the ad makes sense," the editors were still justified
    in not running it, and the campus fascists were really legitimately provoked
    into their attacks on free speech. His reasoning? Apparently he found my
    tone and address "insulting" and "offensive."

    I'm not sure I can put my finger on what exactly offended me when I first
    read the ad. It might have been its statement that blacks, as well as
    whites, engaged in the slave trade and owned slaves. True enough, but only
    blacks were slaves. It might have been the what's-the-big-deal tone to the
    argument that almost all African Americans live so much better than almost
    all Africans that they ought to be downright grateful that their ancestors
    were kidnapped and dumped on the beach at Charleston. Or it might have been
    Horowitz's assertion that welfare payments constitute reparations of a sort.
    This is a downright insulting statement.

    This justifies attacks on the editors of newspapers who ran the ad as the
    managers of a "racist propaganda machine"? What Cohen forgets is that my ad
    is not an article on reparations, it is a response to the claims of
    reparations proponents -- a response that students would not be able to hear
    if I hadn't decided to buy the space to provide them with an opposing point
    of view.

    What I find insulting is that the proponents of reparations have addressed
    Americans as though white America, en masse, is solely responsible for
    slavery. They also argue that white America is responsible for its real and
    alleged aftereffects -- as though no apologies have ever been made for
    slavery and no recognition of its horrors is on record, as though all the
    deficiencies of black Americans (income gaps, education gaps and criminal
    incarceration gaps) are attributable solely or even mainly to white racism
    and as though all Americans who are not black should feel they owe a debt to
    all Americans who are black. Now that's offensive.

    But that is exactly the case made by Randall Robinson and every other
    reparations proponent known to me. Has there been an apology for slavery or
    a recognition by white America that slavery is evil? Of course there has.
    Abraham Lincoln called slavery an offense to God. He said that every drop of
    blood from the lash would be paid by a drop of blood from the sword, and
    called the destruction of the South a judgment of the Lord. This was not in
    an obscure speech -- it was in his Second Inaugural Address. What more in
    the way of recognition could be asked?

    And what is so insulting about the suggestion that welfare is a form of
    reparations for injuries done by slavery and discrimination? If the entire
    income gap between black Americans and other Americans is attributable to
    slavery and its afterlife -- as Robinson and the reparations advocates
    maintain -- then of course welfare could be considered an attempt to make up
    that deficit and repair that injury. Welfare payments to African-Americans
    represent a net transfer of wealth of more than a trillion dollars from
    other communities to theirs. Should African-Americans be grateful for
    slavery because they (incontrovertibly) live better in America than blacks
    do in Africa today? Nobody in his right mind would say so, and I certainly

    What is at issue, really, in this campus tempest is not so much the right of
    an individual to publish his views as it is the right of an individual to
    publish reasonable views on race matters without being tarred and feathered
    or stigmatized for life.

    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    About the writer
    David Horowitz's odyssey from '60s radical to cultural conservative is
    described in his autobiography, "Radical Son." He is the president of the
    conservative Center for the Study of Popular Culture in Los Angeles and the
    editor of FrontPage Magazine. For more columns by Horowitz, visit his column

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