Posted on | September 21, 2012 | 13 Comments
An appalled David Horowitz, appearing on America Live with Megyn Kelly, passionately defended freedom of speech, Thursday, calling the arrest of the anti Islam movie maker, one of the “most disgraceful moments in the history of the American Presidency”, adding “if you don’t have the right of expressing your opinion, however hateful it may be, you don’t have any rights! Americans cannot defend all the other rights they have, if they don’t have free speech!”
“If Muslims are rioting against a film – SHAME ON THEM!” he exclaimed.
It’s not just the content of the message that makes this so powerful, it’s the authority of the messenger. The son of Communist Party parents — a so-called “Red Diaper baby” — David Horowitz was one of the original voices of the New Left in the 1960s. He was an editor of the influential radical journal Ramparts and certainly one of the most thoughtful and responsible spokesman for his generation of leftists. And then a few things happened: The Black Panthers murdered his friend, the Communists won in Vietnam, and Horowitz noticed that what the Left’s victories had produced — both at home and abroad — was the same kind of vast human catastrophe the revolutionary Left had always produced, and which the Right had consistently warned Americans about.
Horowitz’s pride in his intellectual integrity, and his refusal to ignore stubborn facts that were politically inconvenient to the Left, was the seed of an astonishing transformation. There was no one single road-to-Damascus moment, but rather a steady reconsideration of his ideological commitments, a process he called simply “Second Thoughts.” By 1984, he and his longtime editorial colleague Peter Collier were ready to stun their former leftist allies by declaring their support for Ronald Reagan’s re-election.
When I was first finding my way into the world of conservative thought, as an ex-Democrat disillusioned by the leftward excesses of Bill Clinton, one of the books that most helped me understand the fundamental problems of our era was the 1989 Horowitz-Collier compendium, Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the ’60s.
Because the 1960s New Left famously staged a “long march through the institutions,” attaining hegemony in academia, the news media and the entertainment industry, they were able to create a false and self-glorifying narrative of the 1960s revolution. The real history of that era is both more complex and more interesting that the simplistic triumphalism of the Left would have you think. The “Second Thoughts” account by Horowitz and Collier, who were eyewitnesses and participants in that revolution, is a powerful story, told fluently and poignantly, with meticulous concern for fact.
If our public education system had any real sense of patriotism and civic responsibility, David Horowitz’s personal memoir, Radical Son, would be on the reading list for every high-school AP/honors-track student in the country. In terms of both literary quality and historical significance, Radical Son should surely be ranked among the best American autobiographies of the 20th century.
Thus, when Horowitz speaks on a contemporary issue, he brings to the subject a seriousness that ought to compel our attention.