Thursday, May 26, 2005

Deconstructing Horowitz

After months of reading and writing about him, I think I am finally beginning to understand the mindset of David Horowitz, a rightist so extraordinarily dedicated to the destruction of the left.

Though he is not directly identified with the neo-cons (having never studied with Leo Strauss or one of his students and having avoided work in either government or academia—favorite neo-con hang-outs), Horowitz does have a great deal in common with them. Most significantly, he believes (like they do) that there will always be a hierarchy in human society and that those at the top have the responsibility for making the decisions for the whole, simply by virtue of having proved themselves by making it to the top. Taking their cues from Plato’s Republic and Machiavelli’s The Prince, they believe in the validity of the ‘noble lie’ and the necessity of seeing things in terms of big pictures, even at the expense of individuals.

I had resisted lumping Horowitz with the neo-cons, in part because I did not want to accept the extent of their influence—and still don’t. The neo-cons scare me, for the average person is reduced (in their world view) to insignificance. In an article of mine (I’m a professor of literature) that will be appearing soon in a book entitled Jabberwock I: anuario de ensayo fantástico (Madrid: Bibliopolis, June 2005) entitled (in its English version—the book, obviously, will be in Spanish), "What’s Going Down: The Lessons of Philip K. Dick’s Short Fiction for the Post-9/11 World,” I even talk about the neo-cons:

In a recent neo-Straussian text, The Modern Prince: What Leaders Need to Know Now, Carnes Lord writes that, even in the face of the external threats from rogue states and terrorist groups, “the real problem facing the modern prince is not the barbarians at the gate; it is the barbarians within” (227)….

After recognizing the truth… that elites “may oppress,” Lord goes on to say that they “may also demonstrate farsighted leadership, engage in heroic self-sacrifice, and provide competent and honest administration of the public business” (55).

Horowitz believes that the greatest danger lies within and in his own “heroic self-sacrifice,” and he feels quite strongly that he should be among those running the United States. Years ago, he saw the left as his avenue to the sort of power he believes he should wield. That did not work out and, once he’d seen the writing on the wall about the “death” of the left, he moved to the right, where he felt he could find a way in.

He is still looking. Though his rightists are now in power, Horowitz himself is not, so has had to find reasons for his failure to gain real influence.

One of the lingering resentments from his younger days concerns academia, an arena where he did not succeed—at least, not to the level of his expectations (he did well enough—better than most—earning a Master’s degree from the prestigious University of California at Berkeley, but Horowitz expected more). Horowitz is an extremely smart man, and feels that his natural ability should be enough to convince people to follow his lead. Academics did not, however: most of them are smart, too, after all. They waited for him to prove himself, something he never did (not in academia, at least).

Of course, Horowitz sees it differently: he feels he did not succeed in academia because the academics did not like his ideas. And, in his view of the world, the academics are a monolith aligned against him: hence his claim that there are ten times as many Marxists in American universities as there are Republicans.

Think about that: let’s say that, out of 100 faculty members, nine are Republicans (taking an absurdly low percentage—I’m sure the rate is much higher than that). That would mean that another 90 of that 100 are Marxists, leaving only one for all of the other possible political possibilities. Obviously, that’s nonsense, but it is one that a person like Horowitz, who is only willing to explain his failure as external to himself, can use to explain why he is so universally rejected by academic faculties—and it also explains why he has chosen academia as the focus of his rancor.

Because he believes that the cream will always rise to the top, the fact that he did not rise to the top of academia must have an external cause (in his eyes). Like the neo-cons, Horowitz does not believe that the elite is formed through connection, inheritance, or luck—but through ability alone. Society, in all of their eyes, in inherently hierarchical and success in the hierarchy is based on talent and drive: those who make it to the top are the ones who can--and so, should be allowed to do. Horowitz has never been allowed to do so, because he is supremely confident in his ability, it must be because someone (those devious Marxists?) is stopping him.

One of the things that has frustrated me about Horowitz is the ease with which he lies, muddies issues, or switches terms for others that he knows are not synonymous. He claims huge salaries for college professors, for example, knowing full well that only an extremely small percentage even make $100,00.00 a year (I make less than half even that). He allows for Reagan to have supported Saddam Hussein in the 1980s for geo-political needs but claims that wasn’t really support for Saddam (Reagan, I guess, didn’t like Saddam, so it was OK)—while claiming that those who opposed the US invasion of Iraq were, therefore, Saddam supporters (not allowing that they, like Reagan, may not “really” have liked him). And he uses terms like “Marxist,” “Stalinist,” “communist,” and “traitor” almost interchangeably, though each has a completely distinct meaning. How, I kept asking myself, could he justify such deceit?

Well, like the neo-cons, Horowitz is following Plato’s justification of the ‘noble lie,’ the lie told by the elite for the good of the nation as a whole. This paternalistic “I know better” is so un-American that I have a difficult time understanding how anyone brought up in this country could embrace it—and have tried to deny that they actually do. More and more, however, it is becoming the clear modus operandi of our ruling classes (look at the justification for the war in Iraq, just as one example among many): so why should Horowitz, who wants to be one of them, be any different?

I suspect that the people with the real power in our country recognize Horowitz for what his is, a self-absorbed man who could never really operate within any system (governmental or academic)—unless he, himself, were at the top. Therefore, they keep him at a distance, using him as an attack dog, but never allowing him to come into the house. Still, I now see that he really is simply a caricature of the neo-cons who are running our country—and, as that, is worth studying. A caricature, after all, highlights the features of the subject, making that subject a little easier to understand.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Word Play

The right, of course, plays fast and loose with vocabulary. Words like “Marxist,” “socialist,” “communist,” “Stalinist,” “traitor,” and “terrorist” are often used interchangeably, thereby muddying whatever issue happens to be under consideration.

When I ask people on the right to define their terms, however, all I ever get is a continued use of interchangeable pieces, not definition at all.

For our own use, then, I am offering the following functional definitions:

These are simplistic definitions, I admit, but they can be used to reduce the confusion the right tries to engender by mixing the terms to suit its own ends:

Marxist: Usually applied to academics whose approaches to their studies have been heavily influenced by the writings of Karl Marx. They are not revolutionaries, but scholars. In fact, they often enjoy all of the benefits of bourgeois lifestyles without any feeling of contradiction and rarely want to overthrow existing regimes.

socialist: One who believes that worker control of the means of production would make for a more equitable society. A socialist can also believe in democracy and has no necessary revolutionary agenda.

communist: A supporter of a movement to implement an egalitarian system without private property. Some communists have believed that violent revolution is the only means of reaching that goal; others feel that different means can be used.

Stalinist: Stalin didn’t have a philosophy as much as a methodology. His was a top-down totalitarian regime, and a Stalinist was someone who obeyed orders from that top. There really can be no Stalinist today, because there is no Stalin and he left no body of theory for anyone to study or follow.

traitor: One who assists a foreign government to overthrow or otherwise attack one’s native government.

terrorist: One who uses acts of terror to advance a political agenda. Terror is a tactic, not a philosophy, as the fact that there have been terrorists from all spots on the political spectrum testifies.

From these definitions it is clear that a Marxist isn’t necessarily a traitor or a terrorist—though a traitor or a terrorist could also be a Marxist. Nor is a Marxist at all the same as a Stalinist or even a socialist or communist (each of whom has political agendas that the Marxist may not be interested in at all). Nor is a communist, even one who wants to overthrow his or her government, necessarily a traitor—for they may not be assisting a foreign government but simply fomenting home-grown revolution (something quite different from traitorous conduct).

Maybe these definitions are too vague and imprecise. Maybe they are downright wrong in one aspect or another. However, the more clearly we hold the definitions of these terms in our minds, the less likely we can be thrown off stride when the right uses them improperly.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Sermon on the Mount

One of the things that has bothered me most about present-day fundamentalists is their almost complete abandonment of The Sermon on the Mount. To me, this is the heart of the teachings of Jesus—and, therefore, the heart of Christianity.

Today, I found this on a fundamentalist site. It gives me a glimmer of how the fundies dance around what Jesus “actually” (in their view of the Bible as an accurate representation of his words) said:

The sermon on the mount in Matthew chapter 5 was not meant to be the “golden rule” for Christian ethics for today. Yet many think we need to obey this sermon for salvation when it was actually a rebuttal against Pharisaic Judaism and the true intention of the law as given to Moses.


Ah, ha! The Sermon on the Mount doesn’t have to be taken literally! Certainly, by this reason, it shouldn’t be, because Jesus wasn’t speaking literally, but was “actually” saying something else.

Well, they might want to be a little more careful in determining what Jesus “actually” meant. What this reasoning is based on, I think, is a deliberate mis-reading of Joachim Jeremias:

The result to which we have come is that the Sermon on the Mount is not law, but gospel. For this is indeed the difference between law and gospel: The law leaves man to rely upon his own strength and challenges him to do his utmost. The gospel, on the other hand, brings man before the gift of God and challenges him really to make the inexpressible gift of God the basis for his life. These are two different worlds. In order to make the difference clear, one should avoid in New Testament theology the terms "Christian ethic," "Christian morality," "Christian morals," because these secular expressions are inadequate and liable to misunderstanding. Instead of these, one should speak of "lived faith" [gelebter Glaube]. Then it is clearly stated that the gift of God precedes his demands.
If we take up once more the triad with which we began, we may now conclude: The sayings of Jesus which have been collected in the Sermon on the Mount are not intended to lay a legal yoke upon Jesus’ disciples; neither in the sense that they say: "You must do all of this, in order that you may be blessed" (perfectionist conception); nor in the sense: "You ought actually to have done all of this, see what poor creatures you are" (theory of the impossible ideal); nor in the sense: "Now pull yourself together; the final victory is at hand" (interim-ethic). Rather, these sayings of Jesus delineate the lived faith. They say: You are forgiven; you are the child of God; you belong to his kingdom. The sun of righteousness has risen over your life. You no longer belong to yourself; rather, you belong to the city of God, the light of which shines in the darkness. Now you may also experience it: out of the thankfulness of a redeemed child of God a new life is growing. That is the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount.


As usual, the fundies have simplified a sophisticated reading and twisted it to their own purposes. They take the half they want (in this case, that it is not law) and disregard the rest.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Horowitz and the Academic Bill of (No) Rights

Sure, there are problems with academia; we all know that, if we have been anywhere near a college or university over the past decades. But they are not ones that can be solved in the manner David Horowitz suggests in his misnamed “Academic Bill of Rights” (ABOR). Nor are they problems that can be addressed by lawmakers, but it is lawmakers Horowitz is addressing to get both his “Academic Bill of Rights” and its sister “Sister Bill of Rights” (SBOR) enforced. Right now, 17 states and the Federal government have at least begun to consider enacting them. They need to be stopped, or we will be on the verge of losing.

What is going on?

There have been plenty of posts on ABOR and SBOR (here is mine), so I won’t go into detail about the problems with it. I want, instead, to write more generally about the problems in academia and the way Horowitz is trying to turn them to his own advantage.

Horowitz is taking advantage of what is certainly a deplorable situation within American academia—but for his own ends, not really to help solve the problems that are most certainly there. It’s true, for example, that the entire peer-review system of academic publication effectively limits research only to areas that will be acceptable to established reviewers. In peer review, the panel is hidden (as is the name of the researcher being reviewed) and is generally made up of people in the higher reaches in the field. They are likely to be invested in previously perceived wisdom and unlikely to look kindly on something that rocks the boat—and anyone eyeing publication in a peer-review journal knows this, and tailors their writing accordingly. Ideas outside of the mainstream, therefore, are penalized by what is supposed to be a process protecting against cronyism. Yet peer-reviewed journals command the highest respect in terms of promotion and hire.

Peer-review is part of a hierarchy of publication evaluation that makes Horowitz crazy. In ”What Makes David Run: David Horowitz Demands Attention for the Idea that Conservatives Deserve a Place in Academe”, Jennifer Jacobsen writes about Horowitz that:

While he wants desperately to be included in the academy--for professors to assign his books and invite him to speak in classes--he seems eager to punish it, in part, for turning a cold shoulder to his work….

Mr. Horowitz has always wanted to be a scholar himself.

After earning a bachelor's degree in English from Columbia, he attended the University of California at Berkeley. He says he got bored with his graduate program and left with a master's degree in English. "Everything had been mined," he explains. There was "nothing to research that was interesting anymore."

Instead he wrote a book on American foreign policy in the cold war, a book on Marxist theory, and one on Shakespeare.


Horowitz had to publish elsewhere—and publish he did! But he has carried that resentment behind his dismissive statement that there was “nothing to research that was interesting anymore” (clearly nonsense, as anyone who has even scanned academic writing since will assure) with him ever since. His interests did not match those of the academic powers-that-be of the time.

Along with that hierarchy of types of publications (at the top are the university presses and the peer-reviewed journals), there are other hierarchies in academia, not the least being that of the degree itself. Horowitz did not earn the “terminal” PhD that would have brought him into the fraternity, and those books that tumbled from his pen were published by the likes of Tavistock and, today, Regnery, not known as the best academic houses. So, no matter how brilliant his work, he had two strikes against him when it came to academic viability: lack of degree and lack of “serious” publishing.

Was this wrong? Yes. And it may well be the basis of Horowitz’s jihad against academia. His solutions, however, will not solve the problem. Sure, they might get him into academia, but they would end up being used to keep people out. What Horowitz has done, then, is turn his anger at academia to another purpose, to destruction of any American opposition to the right-wing movement he represents.

According to an unsigned article in the May/June 2005 issue of AFT On Campus entitled “Silencing the Professoriate: Don’t let the Academic Bill of Rights Become Law in Your State,” Horowitz bases his claim for the ABOR on his contention that:

professors behave as “political advocates in the classroom, express opinions in a partisan manner on controversial issues irrelevant to the academic subject, and even grade students in a manner designed to enforce their conformity to professorial prejudices.” (10)

This is simplistic at best, and instituting the ABOR in response would be like using a bulldozer to transplant a rose—especially when the rose only needed to be moved a few feet to more appropriate light.

No longer would professors feel free to challenge their students, to get them to think and argue. They would move slowly towards simply presenting a party line. So, even if Horowitz is right, there would be no improvement. The rose might even live (though I doubt it)—but the destruction to the landscape would be incalculable.

Again, there are plenty of problems with academia. Another that does need to be addressed is the tenure system, or what it has become. Meant to protect scholars from retribution for unpopular positions, the tenure system serves now to compensate those who stick around and toe the line. It has become a reward, not a protection. In many universities, we now have two tracks: tenure and temporary (including adjunct). The difference? Those tenured or on the tenure track have job security and higher pay. Those who are temporary hires or working on a course-by-course (adjunct) basis have none and earn less. Are the tenured and tenure-track professors more experienced? Are they better teachers? Do they publish more? No, no, and no. Many of the tenured and tenure-track, when serving on hiring committees for temporary faculty, even find themselves rejecting applicants more qualified than themselves.

Combined with the hierarchy of publishing, tenure provides a way of keeping those in, in—and those out, out. It may or may not be true that academia is a great deal more liberal that most of America thinks (one recent study claiming this to be the case is flawed, at best), but those ensconced there have a great deal of power to keep those they want, and to keep others beyond the gates. Also, once you are in, and attain tenure, you are there for good. Many of the scholars who cannot get a toehold in academia, not surprisingly, are at least as good as those coasting along with cushy positions. Many of the outsiders are actually better.

But, bad though this is for academic pursuits in America, this will not be changed by Horowitz’s “Bills.” They will merely change one standard for another.

AFT On Campus goes on to say that:

"These bills are based on the assumption that academics don’t behave professionally,” says William Scheuerman, AFT vice president and president of the United University Professions/AFT at the State University of New York. “And they also side-step the fact that institutions have procedures for students to challenge abusive faculty.

“[Horowitz’s] goal of ‘intellectual diversity’ directly contradicts the principle of ideological neutrality in the classroom, the bedrock of his Academic Bill of Rights,” Scheuerman noted in a Northeast Public Radio commentary he delivered in March. “If professors should keep their politics out of the classroom, as Horowitz argues, why should a dearth of Republicans in the classroom matter? It only matters if you’re a conservative who wants to use the classroom as a platform for preaching your conservative ideology, which is precisely what they want to do.” (11)


Once more, there are serious problems for academia, and they won’t be solved until the established powers within the unions, administrations, and academic departments are willing to act for the good of the whole and not simply for their particular vested constituencies. Certainly, they won’t be solved by outside entities stepping in and, say, insisting that a certainly political “balance” be maintained in hiring, simply exchanging one vested group for another.

All of us could help change the universities—and we must (more on that in future posts)—especially if we are going to keep the real need for reform from becoming a stalking horse for the more nefarious agenda that Horowitz walks point for. First, though, we do have to fight the ABOR and the SBOR—harmless thought they might sound.

Think the vested interests in academia now are capricious?

Just wait. If Horowitz gets his way, they will seem absolutely benign.

[Posted on dKos, BoomanTribune, and BarBlog]

Dear Adam Cohen

I sent this to Adam Cohen of The New York Times:

Dear Adam Cohen:

How much have you really explored the worlds of blogs?

Not much, given your “Editorial Observer” column in today’s The New York Times.

Like so many others in the MSM, you have fallen into the trap of judging the blogs by examining “celebrity” blogs only.

In fact, the only blog you mention that is not celebrity driven is the Daily Kos. Arianna Huffington’s project, for example, is limited to “expert” diarists. Joshua Micah Marshall writes for The Washington Monthly and has had a high media profile for years, quite unconnected with blogging. Garrett Graff and Ana Marie Cox, both of whom have plenty of elite connections (familial and otherwise), were even tapped to appear together as panelists for the recent National Press Club (that MSM bastion) event “Who Is A Journalist?” And The Drudge Report never was a blog of the sort now associated with the term.

What you did is certainly understandable: with limited space, you need to use the well-known as something of a shorthand, allowing reader knowledge to elaborate your story. But it does draw you into one of those traps that make us in the blogosphere continue to call you (to quote your own column) “the LSM (that’s Lame Stream Media).”

If you had bothered to explore the “real” blogs (and not just the “celebrities”), you would have found that questions of ethics and fact-checking have been of great concern amongst the blogs for a long time, exploding into our consciousness after the “Jeff Gannon” affair, but sparking extensive discussion even before.

Questions of ethics were even part of the reason that ePluribus Media, a web-based group of “citizen journalists” was formed this past February. ePMedia insists that its members sign off on a statement of journalistic ethics.

Had you spent the time to really read the blogs, you would have also discovered that it is becoming more and more important for bloggers to provide links to any statement or person they refer to in their blogs. Within the larger blogging community, individual bloggers are only taken seriously when they are able to back up what they say. No longer is it sufficient to simply blow off steam. Links have become de rigueur.

Please, if you are going to write about the blogosphere in the future, take some time to really explore it. Don’t simply dip into one aspect of it (particularly one as unrepresentative as “celebrity” blogs) and then write as though you know the whole of it.

Otherwise, your future columns will be as lame and behind the curve as is your column today.

Peace,
Aaron Barlow

Friday, May 06, 2005

Oh, Soupy Sales! (A Last Word on Pies)

Pompous? Overbearing? Smug?

You are? Well, a pie in your face will quickly bring you down to a human level—and will tell the rest of us a great deal about you. If you smile and lick meringue off your finger, you’re one of us—one of the people (and probably don’t deserve the adjectives above). If you don’t, why then, you get what you deserve.

Reaction to a pie-ing separates the good from the bad and the ugly.

And that, I’ve decided, is what keeps pie-ings from being as dumb as I thought they were, just weeks ago.

That, and the fact (which I did not want to face) that they are funny.

Admit it: you laugh, too, when you see a picture of someone with pie on their kisser.

Of course, all of us deserve a pie-ing now and again. John Sebastian, in his Lovin’ Spoonful song “Daydream,” even sees a pie in his own face as a wake-up, an event brining him back to a world of work and responsibility. And, yes, in that respect, life itself throws pies at us quite frequently.

If all we get is pies, however, we are lucky.

Why?

Because, as Marc Maron of Air America Radio’s Morning Sedition yells:

“It’s a pie!”

It’s not a rock, nor a bomb, not even a false fire alarm. It’s not meant to shut anyone up.

“It’s a pie!”

As anyone who remembers Soup Sales’ TV shows in the 1950s can tell you, a pie in the face is not an act of violence. Nor is it a sign of intolerance.

It’s supposed to be funny. Though, today, it’s often humor with a political slant.

Though not everyone sees it that way.

In the May 2, edition of his commentary “The Point” for Sinclair Boradcasting, Mark Hyman called pie-ings “physical assaults” and claimed they result when “one side of the ideological divide loses the war of ideas and resorts to violence to try to maintain its monopoly.” Later, he speaks without the gobbledegook, maintaining that pie-ings are an “attempt to silence someone they just don’t like.”

Come on, Mark, lighten up!

Pie-ings have never silenced anyone. Nor have they been used in any attempt to do so.

Now, as BooMan of the blog BooMan Tribune pointed out to me, there’s a difference between throwing a pie and throwing just about anything else—even a shoe, for example (as happened to Richard Perle in February, 2005). There are even pies that don’t count: they have to be soft and edible. The pies thrown at the Dutch political activist Pim Fortuyn a week before he was assassinated contained urine. There’s no humor there, just anger, inappropriately expressed.

Inappropriate? Why?

The “victim” of a “legitimate” pie-ing has a choice: smile and go on with what they were doing or frown and rant—or even attack the pie-er. It’s a measure of character. Fortuyn, because of the inedible (and disgusting) nature of the filling, was denied that choice. He had to stop what he was doing and, at the very least, wash himself off before he could do anything else. Humor was missing; that one was an attempt to shut someone up.

So in that case, perhaps, even more than in the one of the shoe thrower, perhaps there’s a grain of truth in Hyman’s comment (though just a grain). But for “real” pie-ings?

Well, remember:

“It’s a pie!”

It’s a measure of the person how they react to a pie-ing. “Brother Jed” Smock was pie-ed at the University of Iowa in the early 1980s, while I was a student there. In the middle of an impromptu sermon. Smock kept preaching, turning the incident to his advantage. Just so, Pat Buchanan, who was doused with salad dressing earlier this year, told his audience to “Take it easy.” He did not react with anger, saying instead, “Listen, I want to thank you all for coming, but I’m gonna have to get my hair washed…. I don’t even like ranch dressing.” Later, he refused to press charges. Also William Kristol, who proved himself through a pie-ing at Earlham College in Indiana in March, 2005. He simply wiped off the pie and continued—to applause—saying “Just let me finish this point.” He went on to complete his talk and even to take questions.

Although I oppose almost any idea that might come from the mouth of Smock, of Buchanan, or of Kristol, their reactions improved my opinions of them as people. They rose to the challenge.

For that’s what pie-ing really is, a challenge. The pie-er is saying to the pie-ee, “I suspect that you are a small individual, unable to take a joke or an insult with equanimity. By pie-ing you, I expect to bring out the worst in you—and it’s up to you to prove me wrong.”

That is not violence; it is not censorship.

Pie-ing is no “act of terrorism” as Ann Coulter claims.

Coulter, not surprisingly, was not one of those to react to a pie-ing with dignity. As she recounts it, “a couple of alleged males attempted to sucker punch a 100-pound woman and missed. And they ended up with their faces smashed.”

During the October, 2004 incident, Coulter, who was merely splattered with pie, taunted, “From that far away they can’t even hit me?” The pie-ers, who call themselves “Al Pieda,” defended their action as one “in the spirit of humor and political satire.”

Terrorism? No.

“It’s a pie!”

Like Coulter, David Horowitz relied on others to attack his pie-ers when he was hit in April, 2005. Also like Coulter, he reacted with belligerence:

Horowitz's supporters followed the assailants out of the hall, and confronted them with what a witness called "pushing and shoving." However, the attackers got away.
"There's a wave of violence on college campuses, committed by what I'd call fascists opposing conservatives," Horowitz said. "It's one step from that to injury."

In a fundraising letter published by his frontpagemagazine.com, Horowitz asserted that he had been “physically assaulted” and that he would “not be intimidated by student thugs or radical professors,” tying his current bete noir into the incident. He went on to claim that the “assault was one in an increasing string of violence against conservative speakers.”

Left-wing violence?

Oh, come on:

It’s a pie!”

Coulter, not surprisingly, blames the Arizona authorities who did not prosecute her “attackers” for the spate of pie-ings since:

In interviews with NewsMax.com, Buchanan, who characteristically declined to press felony charges against his assailant, took the attack on him philosophically, seeing copy-cat behavior in the series of attacks; Coulter barely suppressed her anger over Arizona's failure to prosecute her attackers, which she says egged other thugs on; and Horowitz saw in the assaults an organized effort by the left to squelch criticism with violence.

Come on, people, follow Buchanan’s example (and Smock’s, and Kristol’s): the pie-ers are not thugs! They may be misguided, but they have done nothing more than attack your dignity and cost you a bit in dry-cleaning.

Their actions are not signs of an increasingly-violent left, as you, Coulter and Horowitz, would like to make people believe. The pie-ers have nothing in common even with the eco-terrorists who scrupulously avoid violence against people, concentrating on things. They have absolutely nothing in common with the Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, with Tim McVeigh, or with “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski, the most notorious domestic terrorists of the last quarter century (none of them leftists—quite the contrary).

They are out to make people like you look stupid, not to shut them up. And they have succeeded in two of the recent cases, yours, Coulter and Horowitz. So bound are you in trying to make political hay of the incidents that you can’t see the simple truth:

“It’s a pie!”