Making Nice With Racists: David Horowitz and The Soft Pedaling Of White Supremacy
Iâ€™m not sure who said it first, but whatever the case, it bears repeating: there are plenty of assholes on both the right and left of the political spectrum, and David Horowitz has the distinction of having been both in the course of one lifetime. Pretty good work if you can get it.
Since his conversion, Horowitz--the Marxist-turned-right-wing culture critic--has demonstrated a special hostility towards civil rights activists and liberal/left commentators on issues of race, calling us racists for supporting things like affirmative action. According to Horowitz, such policies are racist because they presume that blacks are incapable of succeeding in America on their own, and need what he views as paternalistic government assistance to get ahead. By "lowering" standards for African Americans, such efforts patronize blacks as inferiors, according to Horowitz.
In truth, affirmative action was never predicated on the notion of black inferiority, and to the extent the concept has long enjoyed black support, to suggest otherwise is especially putrid: as if blacks think themselves inferior; as if blacks are masochists, incapable of intuiting their interests, or so gullible as to be led down the primrose path by scheming white leftists seeking to use them for political gain.
Fact is, no one on the left suggests that blacks canâ€™t "make it" without such initiatives. We insist only that racism really has skewed the distribution of resources, opportunity and accumulated "credentials." As such, people of color are likely to be overlooked for job and contract opportunities even when fully qualified, in the absence of deliberate efforts at inclusion. Common sense dictates that when a society has oppressed a group of people, that group will find itself in an inferior social position relative to those in favored groups.
Indeed, to expect subordinated groups not to lag behind the dominant one in terms of income, wealth, and occupational status would require holding blacks to a higher standard than others, since it would mean expecting those who started out five laps behind in an eight leg race to not only run as fast as everyone else (a reasonable expectation that would still leave them behind), but much faster than others so as to catch up. That such a burden is the height of injustice--what with the five-lap deficit not a function of black shortcomings but rather white racism--should be obvious.
Ironically, what is most telling about Horowitzâ€™s charge of racism against the left is that while he ridicules us for supposedly implying that blacks are inferior, he remains silent about those in his own camp who do far more than imply black inferiority, but indeed scream it from the rooftops.
After all, I donâ€™t recall any indignant criticisms by Horowitz in response to Charles Murray and Richard Herrnsteinâ€™s book, The Bell Curve--a collection of sociobiological nonsense, whose authors say blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites, and who praise and include the research of Richard Lynn: a racist scholar who has called for the "phasing out" of "inferior" peoples. Among other things, Murray and Herrnstein conclude that for most blacks there is little benefit that can be gained from education since the cost of educational enrichment will not likely be "repaid" by greater black cognitive development.
Yet far from condemning The Bell Curve or the conservative movement that greeted the volume in the mid-1990â€™s, Horowitzâ€™s group--the Center for the Study of Popular Culture--has received roughly $4 million from the same Bradley Foundation that subsidized Murrayâ€™s research for the book and continued to support him after its publication. At no point has David apparently lost sleep over taking money from an outfit that proudly supported and financed the publication of this blatantly racist scholarship. In fact, when pressed about racial linkages to IQ, Horowitz is willing to go no further than to say he is "not convinced." How ecumenical.
That the GOP delegation invited Murray to speak to them after taking control of Congress in 1994 (just months after the release of The Bell Curve) apparently caused David no concern. To Horowitz, people who claim that blacks are genetically predisposed to crime, out-of-wedlock childbirth and poverty apparently arenâ€™t racists, but people who support programs to ensure racial equity are: by which logic, Klansmen would be less racist than Martin Luther King Jr., who did in fact support affirmative action and even reparations programs, as I have pointed out in a previous column (http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=12396).
Furthermore, the website for Horowitzâ€™s organization (FrontpageMag.com) includes a number of articles that flirt dangerously with racism or even praise it outright. One piece by John J. Ray includes praise for the "very scholarly" book on IQ by Christopher Brand, an admirer of eugenics (policies to promote selective breeding of "superior people"), and an adherent to the belief that blacks are intellectually inferior to whites. In a more recent essay by Ray, on the opening page of Davidâ€™s site for October 8th, the author concludes that racism is not always bad, and is a rather natural human instinct, suggesting, "Feelings of racial, national or group superiority are natural, normal and healthy and can as easily lead to benevolent outcomes as evil ones."
But for the best evidence that Horowitz is a rank hypocrite when it comes to criticizing supposed leftist racism, consider his recent comments about Jared Taylor: a self-proclaimed white nationalist who advocates an all-white U.S.
Recently, Horowitz reproduced an article from Taylorâ€™s American Renaissance website concerning the brutal murders of four white youth by a pair of black assailants. While the murders of the four, and attempted murder of another who survived did not appear to have been racially-motivated (one of the killers was dating a white woman and the survivor has not mentioned any comments made by the assailants that might indicate hateful motivation), Taylorâ€™s group pounced on the incidents as proof of how dangerous blacks are to whites--a consistent theme on the AR website.
In fairness, it should be said that Horowitzâ€™s motivation for running the piece was apparently different from Taylorâ€™s. First, he excised some of the more overtly racist aspects of the original article, and secondly, his own comments suggest that his primary interest was pointing out how little media attention was given to the crimes, as opposed to what he assumes would have been the deluge of coverage had the racial roles been reversed. That most crimes--including most white-on-black crimes--are never discussed in the news fails to register with Horowitz; so too studies suggesting that crimes with black perps and white victims are actually more likely to garner media attention than other combinations.
But that said, it was Davidâ€™s side comments about Taylor that indicate how comfortable Horowitz has become with the racist right, even as he blisters the left for supposedly condescending to people of color in a racist fashion. For example, about Taylor, Horowitz says that he is "author of a pioneer book of political incorrectness on race...a very smart and gutsy individualist...a very intelligent and principled man."
Although Horowitz criticizes Taylorâ€™s white nationalism as a capitulation to destructive "identity politics," he cannot bring himself to call Taylor a racist. Indeed he defends him against the charge, saying it is more accurate to call him a "racialist." That this is a distinction without a difference, and the same term David Duke uses to describe himself--all the while adhering to the beliefs in white superiority shared by Taylor--apparently matters not to Horowitz, who goes on to say that Taylor and AR are no more racist than Jesse Jackson or the NAACP.
Yet when has Jackson or any representative of the NAACP said anything resembling the following from Taylor:
"...in some important traits--intelligence, law-abidingness, sexual restraint, academic performance, resistance to disease--whites can be considered 'superior' to blacks."
"Without constant urging from liberal whites, virtually all Africans would be content to put their fate in the hands of a (white) race that they recognize as smarter and more fair-minded than their own."
"Whites and north Asians build successful societies that other races cannot build. At some point, nature will reassert itself and whites will decide not to commit racial and cultural suicide."
"The possibility of black inferiority is the goblin that lurks in the background of every attempt to explain Black failure."
Furthermore, since 1994, Taylor has hosted an annual conference attended by lifelong neo-Nazis like David Duke and Don Black, and featuring speeches by "scholars" like Philippe Rushton, who says blacks have smaller brains because they have larger penises and "you canâ€™t have everything." Other speakers invited by Taylor have included:
--Recently-deceased professor Glade Whitney, whose comments to the conference in 1998 included referring to black marathon runners as "biologically adapted cattle thieves," and American blacks as "primitives." Whitney wrote the fawning introduction to David Dukeâ€™s 1998 racial manifesto, in which Duke called for whites to become "Aryan warriors."
--Philosophy professor Michael Levin, who proclaims that blacks are biologically less intelligent than whites and says "some forms of racism are justified." Levin has also claimed that "there is nothing wrong with eugenics. Itâ€™s a perfectly respectable idea."
--Steven Barry, a retired military officer who promotes white nationalism to soldiers and is a member of the openly neo-Nazi National Alliance.
--Samuel Francis, a close friend of Taylorâ€™s and a former columnist for the Washington Times, who has said, "The civilization we as whites created in Europe and America could not have developed apart from the genetic endowments of the creating people."
--Gordon Baum, of the Council of Conservative Citizens, who in 1995 attempted to recruit the chief of security for the Aryan Nations to the CCCâ€™s national board of directors. Among the things published in the CCCâ€™s newsletter, have been columns calling for the repeal of all existing civil rights laws, and articles claiming that immigration will cause America to become "just a slimy brown mass of glop." The CCC has also published columns proclaiming, "Any effort to destroy the (white) race by a mixture of black blood is an effort to destroy Western civilization itself," and arguing that the only good idea Abraham Lincoln ever had was to deport blacks to Africa. It should be noted that Taylor has spoken at CCC events and written papers for the group to distribute.
In the end, it is inconceivable that Horowitz does not know of Taylorâ€™s true views or affiliations. He knew enough, after all, to issue a disclaimer when deciding to reprint an article from Taylorâ€™s website, knowing that some might find the decision troubling. Perhaps he thought no one would check to see if his assurances that Taylor was not a racist could hold up. Or perhaps he doesnâ€™t care, having spent the better part of his life willing to cozy up to dubious characters and ideologies, making excuses along the way. At long last, however, Horowitz has played himself out: a Jew who makes nice with Nazis. Imagine that, all from a guy who accuses other Jews (like me) who merely support Palestinian statehood of being self-hating.
As the saying goes, "when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas"--an apt metaphor for Horowitz, whose willingness to traffic in racially-inflammatory rhetoric as well as to write articles justifying racial profiling have made it difficult for him to now draw the line between respectable commentary and that which is more fascistic: this is, after all, where right-wing race thinking leads. To the extent Horowitz lends even the faintest credibility to a character like Jared Taylor, he should be viewed as ultimately no better than the latter, and afforded just as much legitimacy, which is to say none whatsoever.
Tim Wise is an anti-racist essayist, lecturer and activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and footnotes for this article can be obtained from him at this address.