Ten Questions for David Horowitz
By: Asher Smith
The Emory Wheel | Wednesday, February 25, 2009
1) You spoke at Emory several years ago; two years ago, you ran an
ad in the Wheel; your attempt to speak at Emory last year was
interrupted by outside protestors. Now you’ve returned. Why the
continued interest in Emory?
Well, the College Republicans invited me, which was a surprise. I’m a
little bit engaged with Emory as a result of what happened last year.
My first speech at Emory was about academic freedom, and it came after
I had done a campaign about reparations for slavery. Because it came
shortly after that controversy, there were about 500 or 600 students
present at Glenn Memorial, but there were no incidents and practically
no security to speak of.
My appearance was important because I was the first conservative
speaker invited to Emory in four years. (Four years previously Ward
Connerly had come and he had been hooted off the stage and couldn’t
even finish his speech, and that was student-organized.) I had said at
the outset of the evening that you couldn’t get a good education if
they were only telling you half the story. After that first speech the
College Republicans invited me again, and five administrators descended
on the Student Council meeting when College Republicans were asking for
funds for the event telling them not to invite me. (They even had
someone from the admissions office who claimed that if I spoke minority
enrollment would drop at the University). And that’s the level of
animosity from the staff, who I believe gins up the students.
The problem is that there are groups at Emory who can’t deal with
conservative ideas. And the students who suffer the most from this
situation are liberal students, because they don’t get their
assumptions challenged. If you’re a conservative student and you open
your mouth in class and reveal that, you better be prepared to defend
yourself. But if you’re a liberal student, you don’t really have that
2) You said the ad published in the May 7, 2007, edition of the Wheel
— titled “What Americans Need to Know About Jihad” and quoting Osama
bin Laden — attempted “to call attention to the threat of radical
Islam.” Do you believe this is the most productive method to get your
An ad is a fairly blunt instrument. You have 350 words, 400 words
maybe, to get a lot of points across. The accusation that the ad was
directed at Muslims was just slanderous; it was not directed at
Muslims. I would stand behind the ad and I don’t see anything wrong
with it — and I didn’t read anything in the criticisms of the ad that
were criticisms of the substance. We quoted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, we
quoted Osama bin Laden, we said that radical Islam was a war against
Christians, gays, Jews — and it was true.
I think it’s mainly that there’s a vacuum around conservative ideas. If
you had more conservatives on campus, people wouldn’t be as prone to
mistaking these ideas for ideas that they’re not.
3) In 2001, you published ads in a number of college newspapers
criticizing reparations for slavery, referring to the idea as “racist”
and calling attention to black involvement in slavery and the slave
trade. Do you see any tension at all between your calls for civil
discourse and deliberately provocative rhetoric?
I always get asked this question. I don’t really think that the ad was
uncivil in any way. You know, everyone walks on eggshells around the
race issue. I’m a former leftist, and I have the same positions on
civil rights that I had in the 1960s. So, I just didn’t want to do the
genuflections and say in the ad things like, “Oh, slavery was just a
terrible thing,” which should be obvious to even the most dense among
I don’t think it was uncivil. If you show me a phrase that was uncivil,
I’ll reconsider it. But I think I was pretty careful. You know, when I
get on a platform and I’m doing a speech, I sometimes get riled up. But
when I’m debating against someone from the Left such as Ward Churchill,
who blames the U.S. for the attacks of 9/11, or the head of the
reparations movement (which is rare, since the Left won’t debate me),
it’s always very civil from my side.
4) How do you feel about being paired in debate with individuals
such as Ward Churchill, who you termed “an idiot”? Is it demeaning to
be paired with them in debate, as if they’re your equivalent?
Yeah, totally. Believe me, the internet is wonderful and horrible. I
know everything that’s said about me thanks to Google. A lot of it is
deliberately disrespectful and hateful and is meant to destroy me.
The attacks have been so unprincipled that I have had to create my
Center [the David Horowitz Freedom Center] in order to have a platform.
But I don’t feel unique in being smeared by the Left — Dinesh D’Souza,
who’s a very cerebral and a very, very smart guy, gets treated the same
way I do. There’s just very little respect for conservatives among
5) Since you last spoke at Emory, the University has hosted a number
of controversial speakers, including Jonah Goldberg, who wrote a book
discussing the parallels between liberalism and fascism. None of them
encountered similar opposition. Why do you think it is that you inspire
such an intense reaction?
There are two things. The first is that I have taken on some very
volatile issues, such as reparations. If you read the ad you could see
that it was a reasonable argument, but I got no public support even
from conservatives. They made a concerted effort to distance themselves
from me, and members of my board begged me not to do it. The Left is
effective this way; they rallied around Ward Churchill. How could you
rally around Ward Chuchill? But they did! But when conservatives see
you go out and see you committing hara-kiri, they watch to see if
you’re going to survive it.
You have to understand, I spent 25 years on the Left. So, I feel a
personal betrayal by the Left. The Left betrayed the progressive ideal.
They defended murderers. They barely can see even now that the
Rosenberg spies were guilty. And of course the black issue was a really
important one to me. I marched for civil rights back in 1948. I
demonstrated as a very young man for blacks who were imprisoned or
executed or lynched. And then to discover that the Black Panthers, who
were the heroes of the Left, were murderers — they murdered my friend
Betty [van Patter] — that’s a very great betrayal, especially because the Left
defended the murderers — and became a very hot issue for me. If I were
to remain silent, it would be like the people who remained silent about Communism, which was all of the progressives at the time.
And now, with Islamo-Fascism — I think that the situation with the Jews
is worse than in the 1930s. I mean, Hitler hid his Final Solution from
the Germans. Now it’s shouted from the rooftops. So, I’m not going to be
silent on this issue, either, which is an emotionally charged issue
obviously. Add to that the fact that I inflame the Left because I’m a
defector. I inflame the Left because I know the issues that really
matter to them and am ready to confront them. With someone like Jonah
Goldberg, because he’s never been a leftist, it’s just a little
different. One conservative who comes near is Ann Coulter. She’s a
satirist, and I think she’s quite funny. But she goes over the top
sometimes, and she incites liberals the way I incite leftists.
6) During the 2008 election, much was made in certain circles about
whether Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim. Do you see any link between
your campaigns to raise awareness about what you term “Islamo-Fascism”
and the paranoia concerning Obama’s religion?
Not at all. I thought this attack on Obama was ridiculous, and it was
not the only one. There was a movement challenging Obama’s birth
certificate, and I attacked that — and got a lot of attacks back from
conservatives for doing so.
Obama has been, in part, a victim of the failure of the press to really
vet him. My son was a big Obama supporter, and my daughter, as well. So,
I have not leaped to conclusions about him as some other conservatives
have. I think he should be given a chance to show who he is.
7) You published a book in 2006 alleging that the Democratic Party
had been taken over by George Soros and 1960s-era liberals. Does the
election of Obama in any way run counter to that claim?
I wrote a fairly positive piece about Obama, following the inaugural
celebrations, in which I said that there were a lot of pluses to Obama.
Though my view of him now is getting a little bit more jaundiced, I
liked his first appointments, especially at Defense and with the
National Security Council, and I liked the appointment of Hillary
Clinton, whom he seems to have been undermined by having Joe Biden and
Richard Holbrooke and George Mitchell dealing with Afghanistan and the
Middle East. I liked his appointment of Rahm Emanuel, even though he’s
a notorious p---k. He’s a smart guy and he supported the Iraq War,
which I think is good.
But what I wrote in the book, about the Democrats and Soros, I think is
right. The Left controls the apparatus of the party now. The apparatus
of the party is just so far to the Left institutionally — just remember
all the Democrats who voted against the Iraq War — as to be very
troubling when it comes to questions of national security.
8) What do you make of the Obama administration thus far?
I said from the start that the jury is out, and he has to be given a
chance. I haven’t criticized Rush Limbaugh for doing what he’s doing
now, going after Obama, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to come
out swinging so early. Sorry not to be the lunatic right-winger that
I’m portrayed to be, but I think [Obama is] a very smart man. I liked
his victory speech, and I liked the inclusiveness of the Inaugural
Celebration. He’s very careful in his speeches to talk about protecting
the private sector, and about bipartisanship, but not so good about
following through on the latter.
But I think this so-called stimulus package is a disaster. I don’t like
his support of the UN, an organization that is run by supporters of
terrorism, by the Arab states, by racists, by Kleptocrats and
slaveowners. But I haven’t attacked Obama on this, because he wants to
see if he can pull it back from the brink and try a more conciliatory
approach. And I haven’t attacked his openings with Iran: I think he
needs to be given a chance.
9) What would you suggest the Republican Party needs to do to regain control of Congress or the presidency in the future?
Well, losing Bush was a good start. He had become an albatross. Now
that Republicans don’t have to defend the Bush administration and its
spending habits they can take principled stands, like they did on the
stimulus package. They have a bright young leadership in the House:
Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, Thaddeus McCotter. Cantor in
particular is impressive to me. Republicans usually have bad
candidates. They don’t like government, and therefore they don’t like
politics, whereas liberals love politics. That’s what they live for;
that’s the job. But Cantor is a really attractive political personality.
10) Is there anyone that you see as the future leader of the Republican Party?
I have no idea. That’s going to make for an interesting question over the next few years.
I will tell you though that the unjustly despised Sarah Palin really
ignited the party. What she has to do now is gain gravitas. Dan Quayle
had this problem. He was a bright guy, could give good speeches and
probably was a good administrator. But after all those attacks he
needed to run for governor and run a state, and he didn’t. Now Sarah
Palin is already running a state. But she needs to get up to speed on
everything. She was given a really unfair task, catapulted from a small
state into an incredible spotlight. I think that she was mishandled
when she was put in front of the media, because the media is always
gunning for conservatives. She could be formidable, but she has an
avalanche of negative attacks from the late-night talk shows and other
liberal venues to overcome.
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