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The Racial McCarthyism of Jonathan Alter By: David Horowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, March 29, 2001


IN THE COURSE of an ill-conceived personal attack on me, columnist columnist Jonathan Alter derides the idea that "McCarthyism" - or as I prefer to put it, racial McCarthyism – characterizes the campaign against my "Reparations" ad on college campuses. This campaign is being waged by campus leftists and also apparently by a few liberal journalists in the opinion columns of magazines like Newsweek. Most editorialists and writers in the liberal press have actually been supportive of my right to place the ad, and have defended the legitimacy - whether they agree with it or not -- of the case I have made.

"McCarthyism" is an accepted term for the deployment of gross exaggeration to defame a person you disagree with. Thus Alter describes me as a thinker of "the extreme right" when, in fact, I am a mainstream conservative -- moderate on issues like abortion, a libertarian on issues of media expression, a defender of gays, a staunch advocate of civil rights for blacks and other minorities, and of government support for those left behind.

Another accepted meaning of "McCarthyism" is the defamation of others through "guilt by association." Alter says the ad I wrote "reminds me of those tiresome rants supporting a NAAWP (National Association for the Advancement of White People)." Alter doesn't even attempt to produce a citation from my text that would support this underhanded slander. The reason is that he can't.

My ad is a commonplace argument that expresses the views of 70% of the American people according to current polls. Almost all of its ideas were previously articulated in print by such distinguished African American thinkers as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and the libertarian columnist Larry Elder. Adrian Walker, an African American columnist for the Boston Globe, who is no conservative, and who does not agree with every argument I have made, has defended both my right to place the ad and also to be free from undeserved charges of "racism." To insinuate against all evidence that I am a white racist as Alter does is simply reprehensible. It is also a clear case of racial McCarthyism.

Finally, "McCarthyism" is the imputation of self-incriminating agendas without evidence to substantiate the charge, or in defiance of such evidence (e.g., McCarthy's attack on the patriotism of General George C. Marshall). Alter concludes his column by claming that "the not-so-subtle subtext [of the Horowitz reparations ad] was that we've given 'them' enough, and so should give up on addressing the continuing problems of race and poverty in America." This is a lie, and a damnable one at that.

I am presently the head of an organization that works with 57 inner city charities in Los Angeles to benefit disadvantaged children who are mainly black and Hispanic; I am the architect of legislation proposed last year by Congressman James Rogan that would provide $100 billion in government scholarships for 12 million mainly black and Hispanic children in failing government schools; and I am an outspoken and well-known crusader inside the Republican Party to turn its attention to the festering problems of America's largely minority inner cities.

The subtext of my ad is a critique of the bankrupt civil rights leadership, which thinks it is more important to launch an inflammatory and divisive claim for "reparations" over a crime committed more than 100 years ago, than it is to unite all of America's communities in an effort to address the problems that currently afflict poor Americans generally and African Americans in particular.

David Horowitz

David Horowitz is the founder of The David Horowitz Freedom Center and author of the new book, One Party Classroom.

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