Last week an article appeared in the Jewish magazine Tablet, in which I am portrayed as politically “homeless” and depressed, while the David Horowitz Freedom Center is described as long past its “heyday.” The article further alleges that I have come to a point in my life where I feel my efforts as a conservative have been “a waste.” All of these are false allegations made by a writer who is a political leftist, tone deaf and hostile to conservative ideas. As it happens, within the past year I published a book called, A Point in Time, which is a summary of my views on life and the battles I have waged and which is also the strongest possible affirmation of the philosophy that underlies my conservative worldview. Far from being abandoned by other conservatives, moreover, I have received the strongest possible endorsement from the reviewers of this book.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center is supported by 100,000 individual donors, which is more than three times the number of its supporters ten years ago. Conservatives who have spoken at events the Center has hosted include four of the contenders for this year’s Republican presidential nomination (Santorum, Gingrich, Bachmann and Cain) former president George Bush, his Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, his Attorney General John Ashcroft, Senator Marco Rubio, and his colleagues, John McCain, Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions and others, Speaker John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, and Victor Davis Hanson. A recent pamphlet I wrote called Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution has sold half a million copies and has been distributed to another two million. Contrary to the Tablet’s description of the Center as a declining institution it has doubled its revenues in the last ten years and its influence in the conservative movement through its websites Frontpagemag.com and DiscovertheNetworks.org is greater than ever.
I obviously made a serious mistake in judgment, in agreeing to be interviewed by someone who misrepresented what I told him and ignored the evidence that contradicted his distortions. For being so unguarded, I owe an apology to my friends and supporters, several of whom expressed their dismay to me after reading the article. It is partly their concern that has prompted me to set the record straight. But, in a perverse way, I am also appreciative of the opportunity provided by the author of this tedious and hostile piece of writing because he has caused me to look at how embedded in the conservative movement I and my colleagues at the David Horowitz Freedom Center are, and how deeply we are indebted to it as well.
When I received the Tablet request for an interview, I was inclined to say yes because it came from a magazine with which I had a history, and which did occasionally published first-rate conservative writers such as Bret Stephens and Lee Smith. They even published a defense of Nonie Darwish that I submitted when she was attacked by one of their writers. I was also disarmed by the author himself who sent me an email about his intentions:
I am a leftist, though not a dogmatic one, and I usually don’t write directly about politics. For The Nation, I write mostly for the Books and Arts section, which isn’t nearly as ideologically-driven as the magazine’s editorial page…. So, we may not find much common ground politically, but that may make for a more stimulating piece. I’m less interested in debating Islamo-fascism than exploring your work’s position at the intersection of autobiography, politics, history, manners, and polemic. I think I can do so fairly.
In the past, my work has been attacked by leftists who will take a phrase from a fund-raising letter, or a heated polemic and omit its context or distort its meaning to discredit my work. The prospect of a leftist writer distinguishing the intellectual from the polemical in my work looked to me like an opportunity to break through the censorship that leftists had imposed on it.
I could not have been more mistaken. When the article “David Horowitz Is Homeless” appeared, it was apparent that none of its author’s assurances — interested in the intersection of styles of thought, not interested in scoring political points, will do it fairly — were sincere. Here is an illustrative example: “If what was once labeled extremism is now mainstream GOP boilerplate,” the author wrote, “then Horowitz deserves at least some of the credit.”
Not only was this a political attack, it was wildly inaccurate in both of its claims. The Republican Party today finds itself defending policies that were once the province of liberal Democrats like John F. Kennedy, specifically capital gains tax cuts, balanced budgets, strong defense budgets, color-blind racial standards and aggressive anti-totalitarian foreign policies. Only an extremist of the left could so mis-label a party that just nominated a former Massachusetts governor as its presidential candidate.
But the author isn’t done. He also wants to pin Republican “extremism” on me – the man whom conservatives have allegedly abandoned:
In a widely distributed 2000 pamphlet called The Art of Political War, praised by Karl Rove and endorsed by 35 state Republican party chairmen, Horowitz wrote: “In political warfare you do not fight just to prevail in an argument, but to destroy the enemy’s fighting ability. Republicans often seem to regard political combats as they would a debate with the Oxford Political Union, as though winning depended on rational arguments and carefully articulated principles. But the audience of politics is not made up of Oxford dons, and the rules are entirely different. … Politics is war. Don’t forget it.” If you can remember a time when conservative discourse sounded like an Oxford lecture hall, then you have a sense of how far Horowitz has helped to steer this ship off course.
The missing context in this presentation is that the little pamphlet I wrote twelve years ago argued that it is Democrats – not Republicans — who have transformed the political arena into a combat zone. The pamphlet then urged Republicans to stop behaving as though it wasn’t.
The kernel of truth in the description is that I did remark to the author that Republicans haven’t really heeded my advice. It is true that 35 state party chairman endorsed the pamphlet, but none of them acted on its recommendations. Republicans have come a long way since then – thanks in the main to the emergence of the Tea Party. But they still have a long way to go.
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