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The Demons of David Horowitz

Each paranoid crusade is designed to stifle a liberal conspiracy which exists only in the hollow canyons of his own mind, and each one fizzles out in a mist of his own petulant frustration.
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Since David Horowitz switched his political allegiance from the radical left to the authoritarian right, he has engaged in one embarassingly paranoid crusade after another. Each one is designed to stifle a liberal conspiracy which exists only in the hollow canyons of his own mind, and each one fizzles out in a mist of his own petulant frustration. Each time, insidious liberal influence is to blame for his own failures.

For a man with no job title or actual occupation, Horowitz does curiously well. Over the last three decades, crotchety right-wing donors like John Olin and Richard Mellon-Scaife have stuffed the coffers of his shell organizations, funded his crank conferences, and bulk-bought his semi-fictional autobiographies as insulation for the walls of their hermetically-sealed mansions. In turn, Horowitz has leveraged his millions into a full-frontal assault on academia.

His "Academic Bill of Rights," which I will discuss later on, and his latest piece of Regnery pulp, "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America," mark the crescendo of Horowitz's crusade to make campus as safe and sterile as Green Acres. For Horowitz, seizing control of universities from their liberal hegemons is no different from smoking Al-Qaeda henchmen out of their hillside caves. As he told an audience of College Republicans last summer, "Universities are a base of the left. Universities are a base for terrorism."

But for someone with no academic credentials who failed to earn a doctorate, academics make for an ironic target. Indeed, unlike the professors he smears, Horowitz's work has never been formally peer-reviewed. He is taken seriously only within the right's pseudo-intellectual hothouse, and if his Scrooge McDuck sugardaddies ever yanked his financial feeding tube, he would immediately wilt into obscurity. Instead of boasting before young, impressionable crowds of his "home in the coastal mountains of California," where he spends days "watching horses and rabbits run across [his] neighbor's yard," Horowitz would be combing Venice Beach with a metal detector in search of loose change.

Horowitz's vendetta against the academy was on bold display two weeks ago during his debate with Ward Churchill at George Washington University. I wrote a piece for this site describing the debate, a revealing encounter I had with Horowitz afterwards, and the Orwellian nature of Horowitz's "Academic Bill of Rights," which would mandate the hiring of one right-wing professor for each professor who assigns supposedly left-wing material while allowing students to sue their professors.

For reporting factually on his conference, criticizing his Academic Bill of Rights, and drawing attention to his dubious funding sources, Horowitz has made me the subject of a hysterical 3000 word tirade in which I am diagnosed with a "genetic disorder" I "inherited" from my father. Attacking me vicariously through my father might have been more salient if Horowitz were not so obviously projecting his own unresolved issues: in his book, Radical Son, Horowitz red-baited his Communist parents, denouncing them as "traitors" who deserved to be fired from their professorial jobs.

In describing his encounter with me after the debate, Horowitz demonstrated his continued allegiance to Marxism -- Groucho Marxism: "Who do you believe? Me or your own lying eyes?" Horowitz claimed I arranged for an "impostor journalist" to provoke him into insulting me before I could introduce myself (I didn't), that the "impostor" (my friend acting independently) pointed to me and said "That's Max Blumenthal" after Horowitz called me "a chip off the old scuzzy block" (I introduced myself), and that I then "glared hard at him" (I smiled and offered an invitation to insult me to my face, which he declined). Even if Horowitz's own account were accurate, he would not appear as any more courageous. Amid all his bluster, Horowitz concedes that he was only brave enough to insult me behind my back.

Though Horowitz made reference in his tirade to my inquiry into why he has never criticized Kevin MacDonald, an anti-Semitic evolutionary psychology professor at Cal State University-Long Beach who claims Jews possess special psychological traits that allow them to out-compete Gentiles for resources and power, he neglected to mention his (unsolicited) promise to me to create a page for MacDonald on his Discover the Network(s) website. I thought the promise was unusual given that Discover the Network(s) bills itself as "a guide to the political left," and it has hilariously attempted to establish associations between Mohammed Atta, Hillary Clinton, Roger Ebert, and Jay Leno. Now that Horowitz has broken his bizarre promise -- there is no Network(s) page for MacDonald -- I can't say I'm surprised.

Horowitz's failure to hold white nationalist academics to the same standard as even moderately liberal professors is no mere sin of omission. Indeed, Horowitz has actively promoted the views of avowed racialists on his FrontpageMag. In November 2000, Horowitz published an article by James Lublinskus, a former editor of the white nationalist movement's flagship publication, American Renaissance. And Horowitz has repeatedly promoted American Renaissance founder Jared Taylor, who openly and forcefully argues that blacks and Latinos are genetically inferior to whites.

Most recently, Frontpagemag promoted Taylor's article, "Africa in our Midst: Lessons from Katrina," revealingly describing it as "an account of horrifying and explicit details concerning the actions of thugs and criminals in New Orleans which severely frustrated, and often completely halted, relief efforts for several days following Hurricane Katrina." Frontpagemag's Jamie Glazov then issued a disclaimer, stating that though Taylor's views are "racist" and "repugnant," "no other journalist" had his "courage or integrity." In other words, Horowitz and his cadres at Frontpagemag agree with Taylor's means, but are uncomfortable with endorsing his ends.

Perhaps the most significant difference between Horowitz and white nationalists like Jared Taylor is that Taylor explicitly professes his racist ideology, while Horowitz hides behind a shroud of code-phrases and superficial disclaimers. During his debate with Churchill, for instance, Horowitz described "institutional racism" as "this fantasy of the left." Well, if racism doesn't exist, then Taylor and company must be right: minorities are genetically inferior. Why else haven't they achieved the same collective standard of living as whites? Horowitz knows he need not spell this line of reasoning out for his audience. They already get the cut of his jib -- and they like it.

In his tirade against me, Horowitz actually defended Taylor for heroically highlighting the "racial crimes committed by blacks during Hurricane Katrina that somehow didn't become part of the discussion of racism during the Katrina flap." He went on to lament that, "In the national discussion of Katrina, Bush was accused of racism for failing to be on site immediately in New Orleans but actual racial crimes committed by blacks were rendered invisible." But which "actual racial crimes" was he referring to? Horowitz doesn't say. Should Americans have held "blacks" accountable for the abandonment of New Orleans the destructive forces of nature, or their president? Horowitz seems to suggest the former. Horowitz may not pay consulting fees to Jesse Helms' advisors anymore, but he certainly sounds like he does.

While Horowitz criticizes minorities and the poor for their supposed lack of what conservatives like to call "personal responsibility," he habitually blames others for his own failures. As his Academic Bill of Rights is shot down in statehouse after statehouse (Georgia's House of Representatives only approved the bill after Democrats diluted it beyond recognition), Horowitz lashes out at his demons with increasing vitriol. They are out to get him -- a vast network of terrorist professors, angry liberal operatives and comsymp cultural elites; the Cornel Wests, George Soroses, the "creatures" at Media Matters, and of course, the "Blumenthal left;" all of them conspiring to advance an insidious plot to sabotage his ambitions, unleash black looters and suicide bombers on the Heartland, and blacklist his allies. When he stumbles, as he so often does, the so-called "Network" is always there as it must be, holding an invisible trip-wire.

In his 25-plus years as the right's favorite red diaper baby, Horowitz has accomplished little more than driving the conservative movement deeper into extremism to establish his celebrity. Along the way, he has become a model of the ex-communist that his former teacher, Trotskyite professor Isaac Deutscher, described in his essay, The Ex-Communist's Conscience.

"He is haunted by a vague sense that he has betrayed either his former ideals or the ideals of bourgeois society," Deutscher wrote. "He then tries to suppress the guilt and uncertainty, or to camouflage it by a show of extraordinary certitude and frantic aggressiveness. He insists that the world should recognize his uneasy conscience as the clearest conscience of all. He may no longer be concerned with any cause except one -- self-justification. And that is the most dangerous motive for any political activity."