Sunday, February 26, 2006

Why David Horowitz Scares Me

In a post on The Daily Kos, I make a comparison between David Horowitz’s new book listing the professors he sees as most dangerous and Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television that appeared in 1950 and heralded the infamous blacklist of that era. Now, I don’t think Horowitz has the influence to start something similar today, but I fear the totalitarian impulse behind any attempt to publicly vilify any class of people such as Horowitz is doing. After all, few people took Red Channels seriously when it came out—and look what it did to way too many lives.

Look what it did, even to lives well removed from the spotlight. My own father was forced to become something of a wandering scholar, thanks in part to the loyalty oaths that many American organizations were stampeded into demanding soon after the appearance of Red Channels. He was a man of integrity and strong belief, one who had begun to doubt the value of war while serving in the Philippines in WWII, joining the Quakers not too many years after his return to civilian life. His life, my mother’s, mine, and my brothers’ were all changed, thanks to the Red Scare and my father’s insistence on integrity before comfort.

So I get angry when I see something like the Horowitz book appearing. And I want to attack it. And I do. On his own blog, Horowitz has noticed:

Last week I wrote in this space: "Over the weekend I came across this 'review,' which appears on TPMCafe a collective blog site created by Joshua Micah Marshall. The writer of the review obviously hasn't read the book, and hasn't the foggiest idea of what its argument is.

The writer, Aaron Barlow spotted my post and wrote this response: "Uh, David, that’s not quite it, now, is it? And you know it. My blog isn’t a review' at all. I’ve no interest in reading your book and don’t pretend to review it." Just to attack it.

If you will notice, David, it’s not your book I attack, it’s you and your methodology. You, and the moneymen behind you, who have seen that the Right now controls nearly all American institutions, so have set sight on academia. What you are attempting is intimidation, pure and simple, and it has to be responded to with vigor. And I will continue to do so, as long as I can.

Real freedom of expression is only possible when attempts to stifle it (like yours) are resisted every step of the way.

Oh, as to the fears you raise about our impressionable young: Many of the people on your list have been teaching for twenty or thirty years, as have their “fellow travelers.” Yet our college graduates continue to reflect the opinions of the population as a whole with no appreciable leftward drift. Clearly, our universities haven’t “brainwashed” them.

Clearly, your intention has nothing to do with "protecting" the youth of America--they don't need it, and you know it. Clearly, your intention is the investing of the Right with additional power. I hope you fail, and will do all I can to make sure you do.

Of course, we all know my real reason for attacking you: I'm jealous.  I'm neither famous enough nor leftist enough to make your list!

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