[sixties-l] *Why* David Horowitz's "Reparations" Ad Was Racist

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Fri Apr 06 2001 - 19:22:09 EDT

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    April 3, 2001

    *Why* David Horowitz's "Reparations" Ad Was Racist

    By Joseph Anderson <joseph_one@hotmail.com>

    While most other college newspapers did not print the David
    Horowitz reparations ad, the reaction of many white students
    at those universities that did suggests that students,
    including those at Brown, have not been exposed to enough
    information about the kind of attitudes the ad expresses and
    why those attitudes are indeed racist.

    At UC Berkeley, on his latest anti-African American,
    racial-vendetta campaign, David Horowitz abruptly turned
    tail and bolted, after his speech at UC Berkeley 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.

    David Horowitz is a `60's-era former left-wing advocate.
    But, Horowitz jumped ship with the shift in the prevailing
    political winds toward conservative Reaganism and son of
    Reaganism (Bush). Horowitz apparently decided that there was
    more money, a better life - and especially much more media
    attention, as something he craves - to be gained on the
    right-wing 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-wing were financially fuller - and decided to
    go with that.

    Horowitz has long been known as a professional gadfly
    huckster, who basically makes a living off of disparaging
    Black folks. But, the greater blame here goes to student
    newspapers that allowed themselves to become his tool.

    Horowitz runs his attack operations out of Los Angeles. His
    headquarters is 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.

    In the meantime, Horowitz raises to a fine political art the
    same "self-victimology" that he generally attacks African
    Americans as perpetrating. Here, Horowitz cloaks himself as
    the ultimate "free speech martyr." But, David Horowitz was
    not out to promote free speech. David Horowitz was out to
    promote himself - as usual.

    Many whites, including UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert
    Berdahl, have tried to twist Horowitz's ad issue into a
    "free speech" issue. So, it is obvious that, even in the
    year 2001, many whites, including our 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.

    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. In
    a racist mindset at the foundation of all his arguments,
    Horowitz thus stereotypes most blacks as living on welfare.
    Apart from that being false, welfare is provided to people
    because they are poor, not because they are black.

    In a sick twist, Horowitz then claims that not only does
    America not owe Africn Americans reparations, but that, in
    fact, it is African Americans who owe America a greater debt
    - for ending slavery. He further says that African Americans
    today have actually benefited from the national wealth that
    slavery helped to create. Would any newspaper publish an ad
    that said that the Jews actually benefited from the Jewish
    Holocaust, because that's how they got Israel?

    So, Horowitz believes that the nation that immorally
    accepted brutal slavery, then gave blacks a gift by
    eventually outlawing the practice - and replacing it with
    American "Jim Crow" apartheid practices. By the same
    perverted logic, a kidnap-beating-rape victim would owe a
    debt to her brutal 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 and from 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 and districts 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, but 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: 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 individuals. As a citizen of the U.S., 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 from millions of blacks - barely ending in the
    1960's - is an obligation the U.S. cannot ignore.

    Nor can the U.S. evade a moral debt merely because the
    direct victims have died. The descendents of slavery have
    inherited a right to some meaningful form of restitution,
    because they still greatly inherit its adverse legacy.

    No government would make the descendents of each beneficiary
    pay the descendents 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 U.S.

    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, the
    Brown Daily Herald, Brown University President Blumstein,
    and many white students don't recognize just how racist the
    ad was is shocking.

    Joseph Anderson is a resident of Berkeley, CA, and a member
    of the National Council for African American Men.

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