My favorite of the putative right-wing intellectuals, David Horowitz, is renowned for attributing to his “enemies” exactly the tactics that he uses. Case in point? His most recent blog posting, entitled “Take No Prisoners.”
Horowitz loves lists. The more lists he creates, the more detailed the categories, the more he flatters himself that he is involved in some sort of scholarly activity. And this blog entry is the announcement of a whole new set. He has constructed pages on his Front Page Magazine website for his:
• Replies to critics of his book on “dangerous” professors,
• Replies to critics of his Orwellian “academic freedom” campaign.
• Replies to critics of his lists of people he sees as some sort of clandestine leftist network.
• Replies to places like Media Matters, which he calls “smear sites” (without ever showing a smear).
• Replies to individuals (including me).
Horowitz claims he created these “archives” for “sheer self-preservation,” but I think that even he is now realizing that his campaigns are running out of gas—so is reverting to what he sees as his “greatest hits,” like some pop band with no creative juice left so it constantly recycles its one mid-level hit to justify its continued existence.
I mean, look at the headlines on Front Page Magazine today: “The Green-Big Tobacco Death Alliance,” “Russia’s Dying Democracy,” “Opeds Count More in War than Bullets,” “Latin America’s Leftist Menace,” “L.A. Teachers for Terror,” and “’Red Letter’ Leftists.” These articles are either loony (the first, fifth, and sixth) or retreads with no impact on current American situations (the other three). Three weeks from a critical election, one would think that a site like this would be in the midst of it, throwing up whatever it can against the Democrats. But no, there’s really nothing there at all, as there is nothing in Horowitz’s blog but a nostalgia for the “battles” he believes he has fought.
Of course, Horowitz does see himself as a warrior (don’t laugh). That’s where that headline “Take No Prisoners” comes from, as does the title of his essay “The Art of Political War.” In the blog, he brags of “relentless web-wide attacks” that he claims are meant to “to eliminate [him] from any debate all together.” Of course, nobody wants to eliminate Horowitz—we on the left like having him around, especially now that his campaigns are grinding to a halt. He’s useful, for his attempts to illuminate what he sees as the perfidy of the left end up only shedding more light on the right.
Horowitz claims that we who oppose him misrepresent him. But I challenge him to find anything that I have written about him that has not come directly from his own words. And I challenge him to show where I have twisted his words into positions that do not logically extend from them.
In his blog, he charges his critics as having produced “falsehoods” about him—without giving a single example. They can be found in the lists, he implies. He says we see him, along with people like Ann Coulter, as “morally indecent (racist, sexist, homophobic, dishonest).” Well, I don’t know about the rest, but I am but one who has pointed out instances where Horowitz has not been exactly honest. Just one mundane example: in his book on dangerous professors, Horowitz places Todd Gitlin at an event Gitlin did not attend—something that could have been checked, but that would have weakened Horowitz’s point. (Go to the Free Exchange on Campus Horowitz Fact Checker for more examples).
But I do thank Horowitz for compiling his lists. Now, anyone can quickly see the weaknesses of his arguments. Unfortunately, they do have to work back through his responses, including his response to me, where he twice uses the insightful argument “BLATHER” (capitals his). Still, if you skim his “responses” and work back, you will quickly see just why it is that he, like the rest of the right, is falling on hard times.
You will discover, in Gertrude Stein’s words, that there is “no there, there.”