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David Horowitz (ex-Marxist)

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David Joel Horowitz (born January 10, 1939 in Forest Hills, N.Y.) runs the David Horowitz Freedom Center, formerly named the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, and the online magazine FrontPageMag.com. He is listed as one of America's most dangerous hatemongers.[1]

Background

Horowitz is the son of two Jewish-American Communist Party members, causing him to start out radical, but he began to veer to the right later in life. He was educated at Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley.[citation needed]

Horowitz was an activist in the New Left movement in the 1960s and claims to have been "a lifelong civil rights activist". From 1969 to 1975 he was editor of an anti-Vietnam war magazine Ramparts. However, currently, Horowitz is known to side with corporate interests and conservative ideals, and is best described as a neo-con. He is now a "lapsed leftist" [1]. In the 1990s, Horowitz hosted several Second Thinkers conferences where ex-leftists who recanted or underwent epiphanies could network with fellow travelers. Several of these second thinkers are now neo-cons. Christopher Hitchens was a regular participant at these conferences, and today co-organizes events with Horowitz, e.g., tour of the UK where he features as a speaker [2].

David Horowitz was a speaker at the 2003 Conservative Political Action Conference, which reads as a who's-who of the conservative and neo-conservative movement.

Horowitz also created a now-defunct nonprofit campaign finance 527 advocacy organization known as PoliticalWar.com Inc. prior to the 2002 election cycle.

He is currently pushing to "expose" the The Leftist Campaign to Control America's Young Minds and is promoting a nationwide boycott of "old" Europe goods as a protest against French, German and Belgian opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq. Horowitz also publishes a regular column in Salon.com, and is a regular pundit on right-wing shows.

In his Marxist days, Horowitz authored several books including Free World Colossus, Corporations and the Cold War, Empire and Revolution, Marx and Modern Economics, Shakespeare: An Existential View and The Fate of Midas, which he has subsequently repudiated. He has subsequently collaborated with Peter Collier on several biographies of famous American families, including The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty, The Kennedys: An American Drama, and The Fords: An American Epic. His recent books include Radical Son (an autobiography), Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes, Why I'm Not a Liberal, The Feminist Assault on the Military, Noam Chomsky's Jihad Against America, Liberal Racism, and How the Left Undermined America's Security.

In a December 10, 2004 article for FrontPage magazine, Horowitz branded SourceWatch a 'smear site'. He included other sites such as Media Matters for America, NameBase, and Southern Poverty Law Center in the accusation. [3]

Horowitz's latest project is Students for Academic Freedom which is trying to make college campuses more conservative. He speaks around the country about "leftist control" of hiring committees and promotes his own Academic Bill of Rights as part of the solution. He has also suggested starting departments of "Conservative Studies", thus allowing students to choose which point of view they'd like to get.

Criticism from the left

Fred Gardner, a contemporary of Horowitz's during his Ramparts days, described his political transition from the left to the right in 1991:

The phone rings and a guy in my office says, "It's David Horowitz." I haven't spoken to David Horowitz since the end of the '60s, when we both worked at Ramparts. Since then, with another former Ramparts editor, Peter Collier, this little creep has written a series of best-selling portraits of ruling class families--The Rockefellers, The Fords, The Kennedys--and boasted in print about voting for Ronald Reagan. Horowitz and Collier say they once believed fervently in left causes and institutions (from the Soviet Union to the Black Panther Party), and when they discovered these institutions to be corrupt and murderous they had to denounce them and come out for the other side.

There are many flaws in this "logic." For openers, there aren't just two sides in this world (the fake left and the cruel right). And sure it's demoralizing to learn that the party that supposedly stands for equality is run by opportunists and actually stands for privilege. But that wouldn't lead a real radical to endorse the all-out pursuit of privilege. It should lead you to call for a movement that's serious about establishing equality. Horowitz and Collier were never radicals for a minute. Their goal was and is personal success. It's no coincidence that they were "left" in the '60s and "right" in the '80s. [2]

See Robert Jensen, "Dangerous" Academics: Right-wing Distortions About Leftist Professors, CommonDreams.org, February 7, 2006; Free Exchange on Campus (in particular, see their report "Facts Count: An Analysis of David Horowitz's The Professors", May 2006).

Slavery "Debate"

David Horowitz’ book Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations for Slavery (Encounter Books, 2002) caused a stir when it was first published. The contetns of this book were thoroughly rebutted in 2008 by Paul Anthony Dottin, in his article "The Hydra of Horowitzian History: The Mobilization of Scholarship against Black Reparations," Du Bois Review, 5:1 (2008) 161–198.

Horowitz Confessed to Treason

Horowitz has openly admitted he committed treason against the United States. He confessed in an article written by him and published in his own online zine, FrontPage, on October 3, 2000. In the article, titled "The Wen Ho Lee Cover-Up", Horowitz claimed that Wen Ho Lee was guilty of espionage, but the government decined to press charges because of the damage it would do to the inteligence services and William Clinton's presidential legacy. As anecdotal evidence to back-up this claim, he describes his own premeditated actions that violated the U.S. Espionage code in 1972, for which was never prosecuted.

Ramparts, a magazine he was editor of, had acquired classified intelligence information from a former NSA operative and had published it, eventhough one of their own staffers, who had formerly served in Army Intelligence, had judged the information to be truthful, and refused to work on the story, and Horowitz knew this prior to the publication of the Ramparts story. Horowitz also sought the advice of a prominent Constitutional scholar before publishing it, who had explained to him the best methods of avoiding prosecution for this act of treason.

Discover the Network

On February 15, 2005, Horowitz launched DiscoverTheNetwork, a website dedictated to tracking "leftists". It brings the Campus-Watch formula to the wider political arena. In the About Us section of the new website:

a "Guide to the Political Left." It identifies the individuals and organizations that make up the left and also the institutions that fund and sustain it; it maps the paths through which the left exerts its influence on the larger body politic; it defines the left's (often hidden) programmatic agendas and it provides an understanding of its history and ideas.[4]

Challenging academic freedom in the name of students' rights

Horowitz’s latest crusade is that for so-called "academic freedom." Seeing colleges and universities as the last bastion of "liberal indoctrination," he authored an Academic Bill of Rights that would act to restore "balance" to higher education by eradicating "political indoctrination in the classroom and the exclusion of conservatives from college faculties." The Academic Bill of Rights’ carefully "bipartisan" language is meant to maintain that it does not favor one side over another, but aims for the exploration of a plurality of ideas in the classroom. It directly promotes equal treatment of students and consideration of faculty for hiring and tenure "not on the basis of political or religious beliefs." However, mentions of course curriculums, reading lists, and private meetings in which hiring and tenure positions are discussed lead some to wonder how the bill will be enforced and how much state intervention it would entail.

Students for Academic Freedom, an organization founded by Horowitz (not students) in 2003, has become the platform for launching the Academic Freedom campaign as well as ABOR. SAF has set up over 150 chapters on campuses across the country to promote the "intellectual diversity" agenda. Members are encouraged to contact their state legislators petitioning them to advocate for and pass ABOR.

Horowitz says he saw the need for such a bill of rights after he had heard many complaints from students (most of whom were conservative) that they had received unfair treatment from (liberal) professors. The case of a University of Northern Colorado student who had received a failing grade on a paper that reportedly refused to address the question of "Why President Bush is a war criminal?" became the paradigmatic statement on liberal indoctrination in college classrooms. However, [Frontpagemag.com], Horowitz’s online magazine and his own reporting misconstrued the question and the university’s response to the complaint; when his doctoring of the facts came out, he justified the incident stating "some of our facts were wrong; our point was right."[5]

This endeavor has been criticized by Prof. Juan Cole, who warned that college professors would not take kindly to such infringements on academic freedom:

Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, has introduced a Horowitz-inspired so-called Academic Freedom Bill of Rights in the Florida State legislature. In our Orwellian world, this is actually a bill to destroy academic freedom and take away rights of free speech on campus. Baxley is a funeral director, and apparently he wants to bury higher education in this country along with his other clients.

"The bill sets a statewide standard that students cannot be punished for professing beliefs with which their professors disagree. Professors would also be advised to teach alternative “serious academic theories” that may disagree with their personal views.
According to a legislative staff analysis of the bill, the law would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities.
Students who believe their professor is singling them out for “public ridicule” – for instance, when professors use the Socratic method to force students to explain their theories in class – would also be given the right to sue.
“Some professors say, ‘Evolution is a fact. I don’t want to hear about Intelligent Design (a creationist theory), and if you don’t like it, there’s the door,’” Baxley said, citing one example when he thought a student should sue."

Let me explain some things to Representative Baxley, and to do so I suggest we look at how well he is doing his job... I wonder if Baxley has done anything lately for the 18 percent of his constituents who are doomed to live below the poverty line? Or, indeed, has he provided jobs and income to his hardworking constituents. If I were them, I'd find a state representative who would work hard to lift people out of their difficult circumstances, instead of one who seems to want to keep people mired in ignorance and poverty.

So if Baxley, who desperately needed to take Biology 101 at Florida State (which should consider revoking his BA), succeeded in his little ploy, what will likely ensue?

If I were Baxley I wouldn't stand anywhere near I-95 north of Gainesville, since he's likely to get run over by the rush of professors fleeing the state at 95 miles an hour. Post-secondary teachers already suffer from low salaries and poor working conditions compared to their peers who go into the professions. The only trade-off they get is that academics have more control over their lives and the time to research and teach things they are interested in. Given a choice between being made Baxley's slaves and braving hurricanes in Florida or living in a state that respects its thinkers, Florida's educators will pour out of the state faster than a 'gator chasing a fat, balding funeral director through the swamps.

Baxley may be happier without any of those intell-Ec-tu-al riffraff cluttering up his state. But maybe his constituents won't be. Knowledge workers, you see, are the geese that lay the golden eggs. Post-secondary teachers are the ones who train the people who found computer software, biotechnology and other companies key to the twenty-first century economy. They also train society's managers and middle managers. The more high-powered academics you have in your state, the wealthier your state will be...

You wonder if educators should let a thing like this be forgotten, or just lie down and let themselves be walked all over by paleontologically-challenged funeral directors. [3]

Exaggeration of assistance to FBI

Under the banner of his David Horowitz Freedom Center, Horowitz sent out an email in August 2007 claiming:

One strong measurement of the effect we're having (and the need for what we do) came in the form of request from the head the FBI-California Highway Patrol Joint Counter-terrorism Task Force who called this week to ask if their group could use our flash video "What Every American Needs to Know About Jihad" as a training film. [4]

Historian and author Rick Perlstein tracked down a statement by the task force that denied Horowtiz's claim:

I can assure you the California Highway Patrol's head of the FBI-California Highway Patrol, Joint Terrorism Task Force did not request a copy of the video. While an employee of this Department did request a copy, the video was not used nor will it be used for training purposes. [5]

Horowitz responds to progressive left critique

In an article self-published on his FrontPageMag website, January 25, 2008, David Horowitz responded to what he claimed were outrageous and specious personal criticisms from the "progressive left", asserting that this identified political group uses biased tactics for attack, while he claimed his own moral and rhetorical superiority when arguing against them. Horowitz wrote that the progressive left's modus operandi when attacking himself, and conservatives in general were: "misrepresentation of facts, distortion of motives and general acts of character assassination are the preferred modes of progressive discourse, as any conservative who has acquired a public persona can attest." He further stated that, " raw material for this verbal malice is stored on data sites", singling out the following websites as the primary repositories: SourceWatch, Media Matters for America and Media Transparency, and People for the American Way's, Right Wing Watch. [6]

Funding & fundraising

Grants

Media Transparency lists grants to the Center for the Study of Popular Culture.

Fundraising with the Donatelli Group

Horowitz is raising/has raised funds via donations and/or purchases made to the following accounts with the Donatelli Group's DonationReport.com:

Affiliations

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch resources

Sources

  1. Robert Steinback, 10 of America's Most Dangerous Hatemongers, Alternet, 21 July 2011.
  2. Fred Gardner, "Hollywood Confidential: Part I", Viet Nam Generation Journal & Newsletter-V3, N3, November 1991. Published online by The Sixties Project.
  3. Juan Cole, "Florida Funeral Director Buries Universities ," Informed Comment (Juan Cole's blog), March 29, 2005.
  4. Rick Perlstein, "David Horowitz writes me a letter," Campaign for America's Future blog, August 15, 2007.
  5. Rick Perlstein, "David Horowitz fibbing?" Campaign for America's Future blog, August 21, 2007.
  6. David Horowitz, "The Surreal World of the Progressive Left", FrontPage Magazine, January 25, 2008

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