Response to My Critics

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The remarks published on this website about David Horowitz aroused considerable comment, and it may be appropriate to respond to two of the recurrent censures that kept turning up on my email. Some readers felt that I was too harsh on a figure who has gone well beyond the neoconservatives, with whom he is generally associated, in taking on the liberal establishment, particularly on the issue of black racism.

These critics are right about David’s courage. Unlike the neocons and Buckleyites, who are perpetually holding lucrative and friendly dialogues with the Left, David goes after the white liberal media as well as civil rights demagogues for harping on and exaggerating white responsibility for the failings of American blacks. And he takes no prisoners in criticizing those who engage in this activity.

But at the same time David reveals his own neocon gestalt, e.g., when he makes unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism against American Christians, ignores the overshadowing role of the American managerial state as an enforcer of pc, and fails to draw a sufficient distinction between the totalitarian practices of the politically armed Left and the repugnance for blasphemy displayed by politically impotent Fundamentalist colleges.

If David were simply a neocon, one would not be surprised by any of these aberrations. Indeed one would expect them. It is precisely because David is better than the company he sometimes keeps that a well-intentioned rebuke seemed necessary.

On the other hand, if David sounded entirely like a paleo, it is doubtful that Fox News and other neocon outlets would provide him with a forum for his vituperative energy. His vestigial neocon gestalt and impeccably leftist background, as a Marxist radical and civil rights activist, make David a more successful public critic of the Left than are Taft Republicans or Southern conservatives. Those who have the misfortune of being identified as such certainly could not get the media access that David enjoys.

The second major criticism of my piece I’ve encountered is that by criticizing David from the Right I am "weakening the conservative movement." If there still is such an obnoxious entity, about whose past I have written voluminously, I’d be delighted to help place it on the road to extinction. That movement is now reduced to aging New York Jewish social democrats (who in Israeli politics support the nationalist Right), their numerous progeny and loads of useful goyim who take neocon money, or more precisely that of English and Australian press barons. While the neocons and their lackeys should be permitted the same constitutional rights as other Americans, I see no reason to cheer their rhetoric or to wish them well as "conservatives."

Arguably the disappearance of the present "conservative movement," associated with National Review, Weekly Standard, American Spectator, and CPAC, would be an unmixed blessing for the real Right, including traditionalists and paleolibertarians. Such a welcome development might force the liberal Left and (many Republicans as well) to confront a real adversary — rather than an accommodationist opposition that has run around suppressing voices on the right. As is generally known, I’ve been personally victimized by this "conservative" opposition, which has blighted my academic career. But this is not an extraordinary happening.

The ranks of the real Right are full of neocon casualties, who resemble the non-Communist Left in the Spanish Civil War as described in George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. Like their Stalinist predecessors, who in the thirties devoted more energy to destroying the non-Communist Left than to fighting the Nationalist Right, neocons are in top form cannibalizing their supposed allies. Beyond such widely known neocon victims of vilification as M.E. Bradford, Sam Francis, Murray Rothbard, and Joe Sobran, have been the hundreds more whose horror stories can be usually verified; all of them share the fate of having been ruined professionally by the generally baseless or meaningless charges that belong to the neocon arsenal of defamation, particularly "xenophobia," anti-Semitism," and "self-hating Jew."

This name-calling is the customary way that disputes are now settled and rightwing deviation controlled in the movement I have been exhorted to protect. I’ve no desire to shield such a vicious and dishonest movement or to refrain from criticizing a political journalist lest I damage what I take to be something unworthy of surviving. In fact I hope David Horowitz and his devotees come to share these perceptions and join with the real Right to drive "movement conservatism" into oblivion.

Paul Gottfried [send him mail] is professor of history at Elizabethtown College and author, most recently, of the highly recommended After Liberalism.

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