David Horowitz

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David Horowitz
Horowitz in February 2011
Horowitz in February 2011
BornDavid Joel Horowitz
(1939-01-10) January 10, 1939 (age 79)
Queens, New York City, NY
OccupationConservative activist, writer
NationalityUnited States
EducationMA, UC Berkeley
BA, Columbia University
SpouseElissa Krauthamer (1959–19??; 4 children)
Sam Moorman (divorced)
Shay Marlowe (1990–?; divorced)
April Mullvain (current)
Children4, including Ben[1]

David Joel Horowitz (born January 10, 1939) is an American conservative writer. He is a founder and president of the think tank the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC); editor of the Center's publication, FrontPage Magazine; and director of Discover the Networks, a website that tracks individuals and groups on the political left. Horowitz also founded the organization Students for Academic Freedom.

Horowitz wrote several books with author Peter Collier, including four on prominent 20th-century American political families that had members elected to the presidency. He and Collier have collaborated on books about cultural criticism. Horowitz worked as a columnist for Salon. Its then-editor Joan Walsh described him as a "conservative provocateur".[2]

From 1956 to 1975, Horowitz was an outspoken adherent of the New Left. He later rejected liberal and progressive ideas and became a proponent of conservatism. Horowitz recounted his ideological journey in a series of retrospective books, culminating with his 1996 memoir Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey.

Family[edit]

Born in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, New York,[3][4] Horowitz is the son of Jewish high school teachers Phil and Blanche Horowitz. His father taught English and his mother taught stenography.[3] His mother's family emigrated from Imperial Russia in the mid-19th century, and his father's family left Russia in 1905 during a time of anti-Jewish pogroms. Horowitz's paternal grandfather lived in Mozir, a city in modern Belarus, prior to leaving for the U.S.[5] In 1940, the family moved to the Long Island City section of Queens.[3]

During years of labor organizing and the Great Depression, Phil and Blanche Horowitz were long-standing members of the American Communist Party and strong supporters of Joseph Stalin. They left the party after Khrushchev published his report in 1956 about "the crimes Stalin committed" and terrorism of the Soviet populations.[6][7]

According to Horowitz:

Underneath the ordinary surfaces of their lives, my parents and their friends thought of themselves as secret agents. The mission they had undertaken, and about which they could not speak freely except with each other, was not just an idea to them. It was more important to their sense of themselves than anything else they did. Nor were its tasks of a kind they could attend or ignore, depending on their moods. They were more like the obligations of a religious faith. Except that their faith was secular, and the millennium they awaited was being instituted, at that moment, in the very country that had become America's enemy. It was this fact that made their ordinary lives precarious and their secrecy necessary. If they lived under a cloud of suspicion, it was the result of more than just their political passions. The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima had created a terror in the minds of ordinary people. Newspapers reported on American spy rings working to steal atomic secrets for the Soviet state. When people read these stories, they inevitably thought of progressives like us. And so did we ourselves. Even if we never encountered a Soviet agent or engaged in a single illegal act, each of us knew that our commitment to socialism implied the obligation to commit treason, too.[8]

After Stalin's death in 1953, Phil, commenting on how Stalin's numerous official titles were divided among his successors, told his son, "You see what a genius Stalin was. It took five men to replace him."[9] According to Horowitz:

The publication of the Khrushchev Report was probably the greatest blow struck against the Soviet Empire during the Cold War. When my parents and their friends opened the morning Times and read its text, their world collapsed—and along with it their will to struggle. If the document was true, almost everything they had said and believed was false. Their secret mission had led them into waters so deep that its tide had overwhelmed them, taking with it the very meaning of their lives.[10]

Horowitz received a BA from Columbia University in 1959, majoring in English, and a master's degree in English literature at University of California, Berkeley.[11]

Career[edit]

New left[edit]

After completing his graduate degree in the late 1960s, Horowitz lived in London and worked for the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation.[12][13] He identified as a Marxist intellectual.

In 1966, Ralph Schoenman persuaded Bertrand Russell to convene a war crimes tribunal to judge United States involvement in the Vietnam War.[14] Horowitz would write three decades later that he had political reservations about the tribunal and did not take part. He described the tribunal's judges as formidable, world-famous and radical, including Isaac Deutscher, Jean-Paul Sartre, Stokely Carmichael, Simone de Beauvoir, James Baldwin and Vladimir Dedijer.[15]

While in London, Horowitz became a close friend of Deutscher, and wrote a biography of him.[16][17] Horowitz wrote The Free World Colossus: A Critique of American Foreign Policy in the Cold War. In January 1968, Horowitz returned to the United States, where he became co-editor of the New Left magazine Ramparts, settling in northern California.[13]

During the early 1970s, Horowitz developed a close friendship with Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther Party. Horowitz later portrayed Newton as equal parts gangster, terrorist, intellectual and media celebrity.[13] As part of their work together, Horowitz helped raise money for, and assisted the Panthers with, the running of a school for poor children in Oakland. He recommended that Newton hire Betty Van Patter as bookkeeper; she was then working for Ramparts. In December 1974, Van Patter's body was found floating in San Francisco Harbor; she had been murdered. Horowitz claimed the Panthers were behind the killing.[13][18]

In 1976, Horowitz was a "founding sponsor" of James Weinstein's magazine In These Times.[19]

Rightward evolution[edit]

Following this period, Horowitz rejected Marx and socialism, but kept quiet about his changing politics for nearly a decade. In early 1985, Horowitz and Collier, who also became a political conservative, wrote an article for The Washington Post Magazine entitled "Lefties for Reagan", later retitled as "Goodbye to All That". The article explained their change of views and recent decision to vote for a second term for Republican President Ronald Reagan.[20][21][22] In 1986, Horowitz published "Why I Am No Longer a Leftist" in The Village Voice.[23]

In 1987, Horowitz co-hosted a "Second Thoughts Conference" in Washington, D.C., described by Sidney Blumenthal in The Washington Post as his "coming out" as a conservative. According to attendee Alexander Cockburn, Horowitz related how his Stalinist parents had not permitted him or his sister to watch the popular Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies of his youth. Instead, they watched propaganda films from the Soviet Union.[24]

In May 1989, Horowitz, Ronald Radosh, and Collier attended a conference in Kraków calling for the end of Communism.[25] After marching with Polish dissidents in an anti-regime protest, Horowitz spoke about his changing thoughts and why he believed that socialism could not create their future. He said his dream was for the people of Poland to be free.[26]

In 1992, Horowitz and Collier founded Heterodoxy, a monthly magazine focused on exposing what it described as excessive political correctness on United States college and university campuses. It was "meant to have the feel of a samizdat publication inside the gulag of the PC [politically correct] university". The tabloid was directed at university students, whom Horowitz viewed as indoctrinated by the entrenched Left.[27] In Radical Son, he wrote that universities were no longer effective in presenting both sides of political arguments. He stated that left-wing professors had created an atmosphere of political terror on campuses.[28]

In a column in Salon[2] he described his opposition to reparations for slavery, calling it racism against blacks, as it defined them only in terms of their descent from slaves. He argued that applying labels like "descendants of slaves" to blacks was damaging and would serve to segregate them from mainstream society.[29]

In 2001 during Black History Month Horowitz attempted to purchase advertising space in several American university student publications to express his opposition to reparations.[2] Many student papers refused to sell him ad space; at some schools, papers that carried his ads were stolen or destroyed.[2][29] Walsh said the furor had given Horowitz an overwhelming amount of free publicity.[2][30]

Horowitz supported the interventionist foreign policy associated with the Bush Doctrine, but wrote against US intervention in the Kosovo War, arguing that it was unnecessary and harmful to US interests.[31][32] Horowitz strongly opposed the NATO-led intervention in the Libyan War.[33]

In the early 21st century, he wrote critically of libertarian anti-war views.[34][35] In 2005, Horowitz launched Discover the Networks, a website that he described as "the largest publicly accessible database defining the chief groups and individuals of the Left and their organizational interlocks."[36]

Horowitz accused Dana L. Cloud, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and 99 other professors, in his book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America of "explicit introduction of political agendas into the classroom."[37]

Cloud replied in Inside Higher Ed that her experience demonstrates that Horowitz damages professors' lives by his accusations and that he should be viewed as more than a political opponent.

Horowitz's attacks have been significant. People who read the book or his Web site regularly send letters to university officials asking for her to be fired. Personally, she has received—mostly via e-mail—"physical threats, threats of removing my daughter from my custody, threats of sexual assaults, horrible disgusting gendered things," she said. That Horowitz doesn't send these isn't the point, she said. "He builds a climate and culture that emboldens people," and as a result, shouldn't be seen as a defender of academic freedom, but as its enemy.[38]

After discussion, the National Communication Association decided against granting Horowitz a spot as a panelist at its national conference in 2008. He had offered to forego the $7,000 speaking fee originally requested. He wrote in Inside Higher Ed, "The fact that no academic group has had the balls to invite me says a lot about the ability of academic associations to discuss important issues if a political minority wants to censor them." An association official said the decision was based in part on Horowitz's request to be provided with a stipend for $500 to hire a personal bodyguard. Association officials decided that having a bodyguard present "communicates the expectation of confrontation and violence."[38]

Horowitz appeared in Occupy Unmasked, a 2012 documentary portraying the Occupy Wall Street movement as a sinister organization formed to violently destroy the American government.[39]

In 2018, Horowitz attracted many critical comments by attacking the Equal Justice Initiative's new National Memorial for Peace and Justice, calling it "a real racist project"[40] showing "anti-white racism".[41] "Lynchings were bad but they weren't mainly about whites yanking blacks off the streets and stringing them up".[41] "A third of the victims of lynchings were white. How many of them do you think this memorial features [ sic ]."[42]

Academic Bill of Rights[edit]

In the early 21st century, Horowitz concentrated on issues of academic freedom, attempting to protect conservative viewpoints. He, Eli Lehrer and Andrew Jones published a pamphlet, "Political Bias in the Administrations and Faculties of 32 Elite Colleges and Universities" (2004), in which they find the ratio of Democrats to Republicans at 32 schools to be more than 10 to 1.[43]

Horowitz's book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America (2006), criticized individual professors for, as he alleges, engaging in indoctrination rather than a disinterested pursuit of knowledge.[44]

Horowitz published an Academic Bill of Rights (ABR), which he proposes to eliminate political bias in university hiring and grading. He says conservatives, and particularly Republican Party members, are systematically excluded from faculties, citing statistical studies on faculty party affiliation.[45]

In 2004 the Georgia General Assembly passed a resolution on a 41–5 vote to adopt a version of the ABR for state educational institutions.[46]

In Pennsylvania, the House of Representatives created a special legislative committee to investigate issues of academic freedom, including whether students who hold unpopular views need more protection.[47][48][49][50][51][52]

David Horowitz Freedom Center[edit]

Politico states that Horowitz's activities and DHFC are funded in part by Aubrey and Joyce Chernick and The Bradley Foundation. Politico stated that during 2008–2010, "the lion’s share of the $920,000 it [DHFC] provided over the past three years to Jihad Watch came from [Joyce] Chernick".[53]

In 2018, Visa and Mastercard stopped processing donations to DHFC at the request of SPLC, which had labeled the organization a "hate group". Earlier, DHFC employee Robert Spencer, editor-in-chief of Jihad Watch, had been deplatformed from Patreon under pressure from MasterCard.[54]

Controversy and criticism[edit]

Academia[edit]

Some Horowitz accounts of U.S. colleges and universities as bastions of liberal indoctrination have been disputed.[55] For example, Horowitz alleged that a University of Northern Colorado student received a failing grade on a final exam for refusing to write an essay arguing that George W. Bush is a war criminal.[56][57] A spokeswoman for the university said that the test question was not as described by Horowitz and that there were nonpolitical reasons for the grade, which was not an F.[58]

Horowitz identified the professor[58] as Robert Dunkley, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Northern Colorado. Dunkley said Horowitz made him an example of "liberal bias" in academia and yet, "Dunkley said that he comes from a Republican family, is a registered Republican and considers himself politically independent, taking pride in never having voted a straight party ticket".[58]

In another instance, Horowitz said a Pennsylvania State University biology professor showed his students the film Fahrenheit 9/11 just before the 2004 election in an attempt to influence their votes.[59][60] Pressed by Inside Higher Ed, Horowitz later retracted this claim.[61]

Horowitz books, particularly The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, were criticized by scholars such as Todd Gitlin.[62] The group Free Exchange on Campus issued a 50-page report in May 2006 in which they take issue with many of the books' assertions: they identify specific factual errors, unsubstantiated assertions and quotations that appear to be either in error or taken out of context.[63][64]

Allegations of racism[edit]

Chip Berlet, writing for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), identified Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture as one of 17 "right-wing foundations and think tanks support[ing] efforts to make bigoted and discredited ideas respectable."[65] Berlet accused Horowitz of blaming slavery on "black Africans … abetted by dark-skinned Arabs" and of "attack[ing] minority 'demands for special treatment' as 'only necessary because some blacks can't seem to locate the ladder of opportunity within reach of others".[65]

Horowitz published an open letter to Morris Dees, president of the SPLC, saying that "[this reminder] that the slaves transported to America were bought from African and Arab slavers" was a response to demands that only whites pay reparations to blacks. He said he never held Africans and Arabs solely responsible for slavery.

Horowitz said that Berlet's accusation of racism was a "calculated lie" and asked that the SPLC report be removed.[66] The SPLC refused Horowitz's request.[67] Horowitz criticized Berlet and the SPLC on his website and personal blog.[68][69]

In 2008, while speaking at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), Horowitz criticized Arab culture, saying that it was rife with antisemitism.[70][71] He referred to the Palestinian keffiyeh, a traditional Arab head covering that became associated with PLO leader Yasser Arafat, as a symbol of terrorism. In response, UCSB professor Walid Afifi said that Horowitz was "preaching hate" and smearing Arab culture.[71]

Criticism of Islamic organizations[edit]

Horowitz has used university student publications and lectures at universities as venues for publishing controversial advertisements or lecturing on issues related to Islamic student and other organizations. In April 2008, DHFC advertised in the Daily Nexus, the University of California Santa Barbara school newspaper, saying that the Muslim Students' Association (MSA) had links with the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, and Hamas.[72]

In May 2008, Horowitz, speaking at UCSB, said that MSA supports "a second Holocaust of the Jews".[71] The MSA responded that they were a peaceful organization and not a political group.[72] The MSA's faculty adviser said the group had "been involved in interfaith activities with Jewish student groups, and they've been involved in charity work for national disaster relief."[71] Horowitz ran the ad in The GW Hatchet, the student newspaper of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Jake Sherman, the Hatchet's editor-in-chief, said claims the MSA was radical were "ludicrous".[73]

Horowitz published a 2007 piece in the Columbia University student newspaper, saying that, according to public opinion polls, "150 million out of 750 million Muslims support a holy war against Christians, Jews, and other Muslims."[74] Speaking at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in February 2010, Horowitz compared Palestinians and Islamists to Nazis, saying about the latter: "Islamists are worse than the Nazis, because even the Nazis did not tell the world that they want to exterminate the Jews."[75]

Horowitz created a campaign for what he called "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" in parody of multicultural awareness activities. He helped arrange for leading critics of radical Islam to speak at more than a hundred college campuses in October 2007.[76] As a speaker he repeatedly met with intense hostility.[77][78][79]

In a 2011 review of anti-Islamic activists in the US, the Southern Poverty Law Center identified Horowitz as one of 10 people in the United States' "Anti-Muslim Inner Circle".[80]

Conservatism[edit]

Horowitz's Frontpage Magazine published Ron Radosh's critical review of Diana West's book American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character. Conservatives John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, scholars of Soviet espionage, defended Horowitz for publishing the review and Radosh for writing it.[81]

Other[edit]

In 2007, conservative blogger Lawrence Auster stated that Horowitz had rejected him from publishing in Frontpage Magazine for making racist statements.[82][83]

Personal life[edit]

Horowitz has been married four times. He married Elissa Krauthamer, in a Yonkers, New York, synagogue on June 14, 1959.[84] They had four children together: Jonathan Daniel, Ben, Sarah Rose (deceased) and Anne. Sarah died in March 2008 at age 44 from Turner syndrome-related heart complications. She had been a teacher, writer and human rights activist.[1][85] She is the subject of Horowitz's 2009 book, A Cracking of the Heart.[85]

As an activist, she had cooked meals for the homeless, stood vigil at San Quentin on nights when the state of California executed prisoners, worked with autistic children in public schools and, with the American Jewish World Service, helped rebuild homes in El Salvador after a hurricane, and traveled to India to oppose child labor.[86]

In a review of Horowitz's book, FrontPage magazine associate editor David Swindle wrote that she fused "the painful lessons of her father's life with a mystical Judaism to complete the task he never could: showing how the Left could save itself from self-destruction."[87]

Horowitz's son, Ben, is a technology entrepreneur, investor, and co-founder, along with Marc Andreessen, of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.[88][89]

Horowitz's second marriage, to Sam Moorman, ended in divorce. On June 24, 1990, Horowitz married Shay Marlowe in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony.[90] They divorced. Horowitz's fourth and present marriage is to April Mullvain.[4]

Horowitz now describes himself as an agnostic.[91]

Notable books[edit]

  • The Anti-Chomsky Reader with Peter Collier (Encounter Books, 2004) ISBN 1-893554-97-X
  • The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America (Regnery Publishing, 2006) ISBN 0-89526-003-4
  • Horowitz, David (2011-12-13). Radical Son: A Generational Oddysey. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781439135198.

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]