Reply to William Saletan
I CAN UNDERSTAND how Bill Saletan is peeved that I - a conservative intellectual - should have gotten so much publicity and so much (liberal) media support for my efforts to unhorse a corrupt, leftwing black political leadership bent on encouraging African Americans to butt their heads against the rest of the country and wind up frustrated, angry and grist for the next "civil rights" hustle. I can also understand why he does not like to be lumped with the campus totalitarians - who would?
But is it really unfair of me to dismiss critics of my egotism as critics of the left? Does he have some other critics in mind? And if I have not drawn fine lines between the hard left and the social democratic left in these matters could it not be in part because no social democrat to my knowledge has stood up to protest the systematic purge of conservatives from university faculties?
I am accused of repeating political sound-bites on TV talk shows. TV! Talk shows! Politics! This criticism can only come from someone who is peeved that I'm getting my message across and he isn't. Try placing an ad at UC Berkeley! I am accused of promoting division by repeating an anecdote about "Jose Martinez" who is struggling to put bread on the table for his children and is being asked to pay reparations to Johnnie Cochran. The Jose Martinez anecdote was designed to illustrate what the reparations crew is really proposing: A poisonous confrontation between recent immigrants and African Americans.
Instead of being outraged by the reparations proponents, however, Saletan manages to be outraged by me. Blame the messenger. I assure you that Jose Martinez is not watching The O'Reilly Factor or The Edge, where I am making these statements. But he will surely notice if someone takes a bite out of his paycheck and gives it to Mr. Cochran.
I am accused of saying "African-Americans have benefited from slavery." I don't remember saying anything like that. I don't remember thinking it. Yet the sentence has quotation marks around it. What I said in the ad was: "If slave labor has created wealth for Americans [as all reparations proponents claim], then obviously it has created wealth for black Americans as well." Obviously.
The rest of Saletan's gripe doesn't even make sense. He seems to be implying that I am not a victim because I wasn't killed. Perhaps it wouldn't matter to him if he couldn't enter a university classroom without being accompanied by armed guards. It does to me. And I think it should for everyone concerned about our democratic culture.
I have never denied the benefits that accrue to my argument and myself from all this attention. I have even acknowledged the obvious - that the campus fascists have done me a favor. On the other hand, if you read Randall Robinson's book The Debt you will be hard put to find anything that he thinks America has done for him or for blacks. Which was my point. "To rectify the left's crimes against Horowitz" (Saletan's formulation) is actually not my agenda. My agenda is to diminish the crimes the hard left is allowed to commit against today's students, including many whose views place them squarely on the social democratic side of things.