Free speech: For leftists only?
Geoff Metcalf interviews reparations critic David Horowitz

Editor's Note: Author David Horowitz raised the ire of black activists last year when he exercised his right to disagree with the concept that contemporary African-Americans are entitled to reparations for the slavery of their ancestors. Besides making certain people angry, Horowitz learned firsthand about censorship on America's college campuses. Editor-in-chief of and president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, Horowitz's book "Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations for Slavery" details his battle with "leftist-dominated" universities that refused to print his advertisement listing 10 points against slavery reparations. He recently discussed his new book with Geoff Metcalf.

By Geoff Metcalf
Q: There are really two parts to this book. There is no way we can cover everything, and, frankly, we want to encourage people to buy the book. One story is what many feel is the absurdity of reparations for slavery. You have 10 really good reasons listed of why that dog doesn't hunt. The other half of the story is what happened to you when you tried to spark the debate, which, frankly, highlights many of the things that are wrong with academia.

A: There is a link between these two. We are dealing here with the "hate-America left." Both the pro-reparations crowd and the people on the campuses -- the little totalitarians on the campuses, I should say -- who tried to shut me up. Eventually, I tried to place an ad in 70 college papers. It was rejected by 40 on political grounds. It was an ad I was paying $1,000 a pop for. The papers that printed it came under attack.

Q: What kind of attack?

A: A characteristic attack was at the University of Wisconsin. They actually have two papers: The Daily Cardinal and The Badger Herald. The Badger Herald, being the more conservative of the two, actually printed it. So the multi-cultural student coalition went to The Cardinal, and they got an ad which called the first paper, the one that printed my ad, a "racist propaganda machine." At Brown, the entire issue of The Brown Daily Herald was stolen because The Brown Daily Herald actually printed the ad. The editors of The Brown Daily Herald, on the other hand, are Gore/Nader Democrats. They just happened to believe in ...

Q: The concept and axiom of the First Amendment? They actually read Voltaire.

A: Yes. The totalitarian left was able to censor the ad at 40 top schools in this country. And it continues this year. I tried to place an ad for this book, "Uncivil Wars," about the controversy in the Daily Aggie at the University of California at Davis, and they rejected it.

Q: On what grounds?

A: Get this: on the grounds that I was looking for publicity. Well, yeah! It's an advertisement for a book.

Q: Go figure.

A: The point is that the idea that reparations for slavery 137 years after the fact is a bad idea -- which is position shared, according to polls, by 75 percent and actually more of Americans -- is somehow a racist idea and to be banned. That is a fascist mentality. When I went to Berkeley, as I describe in this book, the university itself assigned 30 campus police -- I actually do not go on a campus anymore without body guards -- and these little fascists are not only protected by the administration but ...

Q: They are encouraged in many cases.

A: This is a shakedown operation. Here are the budgets for this year to support the student objectivist and multicultural students: Students for objectivism get $100 to run their club. The multicultural student coalition gets $1 million of student funds.

Q: That is outrageous!

A: That's why it's not so stupid what the crazy left is doing. You know Jesse Jackson is a multi-millionaire. He's not stupid.

Q: David, I have been saying for over a decade that there are some people who just don't want to be confused with facts that contradict their preconceived opinion.

A: Especially if it is making them money.

Q: And you really crystallize that bromide in this book. The 10 reasons why reparations for slavery are a bad idea, and according to you, racist to boot. Can you run through them?

A: I will. Of course, slavery existed in Africa a thousand years before white people ever set foot there ...

Q: Still does!

A: ... and still does. So how is it that only the United States and Britain are put in the dock?

Q: We got the money, honey!

A: How are you going to persuade, or by what morality do you ask a Hispanic immigrant, a Mexican-American who has been in this country 10 years and is struggling to put bread on the table for his children, to pay reparations to Jesse Jackson and Johnny Cochran and Oprah Winfrey -- Oprah Winfrey being the richest woman in the United States. Given that so many blacks have done so well, that 50 percent of the black population is in the middle class, how can you argue that slavery (which ended 137 years ago) hampers them in any way?

Q: David, is there an individual who can say my great-great-great-grandfather and on down the line directly to me, that we suffered as a direct result of slavery?

A: Nobody has established that anybody is suffering from the consequences of slavery. Conservatives have to understand what is going on here. You read Randall Robinson's book, and it's a hate manifesto against America. Everything that is wrong in the black community is caused by white America. A whole chapter plays on Fidel Castro, because Randall Robinson comes from the communist left, and that's the way he thinks.

Q: Which you know very well.

A: Exactly. If I go on a television show, even a Fox television show, with Randall Robinson, he'll be treated with kid gloves and I'll be roughed up. That's the nature of the American cultural scene today. But conservatives have to understand what's at stake here. Ten days before the World Trade Center attack, Cynthia McKinney, the racist, communist-like Democrat from Atlanta, took her little side show to Durban at the infamous U.N. racism conference, where the agenda was set by the Iranian delegation -- that is the Islamo-facists -- to condemn the United States and Britain, the two countries most responsible for ending slavery in this world, and to demand reparations from them. So you have to understand there is a fifth-column left inside the Democratic Party, and Cynthia McKinney is one of them. John Conyers, who would be the chair of the Judiciary Committee if the Democrats win the House, is another.

Q: The whole list of DSL (Democratic Socialists) usual suspects.

A: Right.

Q: At the beginning of your book, you quote Tom Sowell: "Anyone who actually reads David Horowitz's carefully reasoned and factually based ad will understand why his critics did not simply reply to him and try to prove him wrong. The painful irony is that those who are crying out against slavery of the past include many who are trying to impose enslavement of the mind through storm-trooper tactics." Ain't that the truth?

A: Yup. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Q: Which is probably why you quoted Tom.

A: I go through with not only what happened with the ads, but I made a tour of campuses. I think this book -- because instead of being just one incident on one campus, it's across the nation -- really shows better than any I know the terrible state of our campuses and exactly what are the forces that make it that way.

Q: It is fascinating how they tried to marginalize you and paint you as a publicity hound and so forth when, frankly, had they provided you a forum ...

A: They created the publicity.

Q: Exactly! They created it.

A: And then they attacked me for it. The left is very good at that. For example, at the University of Chicago, I went to speak, and I didn't open my mouth before they started to demonstrate. This black woman started to rant. The campus police were there, and the dean was there and they wouldn't remove her.

Q: Why not?

A: The reason was there had been an incident. The left goes out and acts like a bunch of fascists, then when the police come in to try to let other people speak to establish what ought to be a university atmosphere, they call them Gestapo. So they didn't want the bad photo op of dragging a black person out of the hall, even though the woman was obstructing 250 people who had all come to hear me speak. It was impossible to restore order.

Q: We've had discussions in the past with guys like Glynn Custred, who teaches in the university system here in California.

A: I spoke at his school, Cal State Hayward.

Q: Glynn's a good guy. And we've discussed the stranglehold the liberal left has on academia.

A: No, no, no -- the totalitarian left. These are not liberals. Part of my crusade is to get all conservatives to call liberals what they are, which is leftists.

Q: I've been calling them socialists.

A: We're liberals. At one of the campuses I was on, I spoke with the lone conservative in the history department, and I asked him how he was treated. He said, "Well, they keep me off the search committees." He told me, "I haven't been on a search committee since 1985. And when I was the chairman of the search committee, we hired a Marxist." This was a conservative. What happened this year was they had to hire an Asian, a professor of Asian history. He said, "By far, the best candidate was from Stanford, but he didn't get the job. So I asked the chair of the committee (a leftist, although he probably said a liberal) why he didn't get the job."

Q: What was the excuse?

A: The chair of the search committee said, "He was unquestionably the most qualified. But then we had lunch with him and he let out that he was for school vouchers." Let this sink in. The way this university is appointing professors whose expertise is supposed to be Asian history is whether they toe the party line on vouchers for school children. That is the way the communist left thinks.

Q: "Communist left"?

A: When I say "communist left," I am speaking from great experience in this movement. Obviously, it changed its language somewhat. Certainly, it has a different attitude toward dead revolutions of the past, which it is free to criticize now. But it has the same mentality as it always had.

Q: What was the worst episode on a college campus that you experienced?

A: At the University of California at Davis. But I think that the ugliest left was at the University of California at Berkeley. There are people who call themselves Bolsheviks. It was the Spartacus League that followed me all over the country. The fact of the matter is, wherever I went, I would draw a hundred to a thousand students, and most of them would be on my side.

Q: What's "most"?

A: I would say 80 to 90 percent. Our universities have been captured by the left, which controls the faculties and has administrators who are either leftists or are sympathetic to them.

Q: I have always been curious about how they attempt to rationalize oppressing speech, which is contrary to their preconceived opinions.

A: Let's look at it this way: People who are leftists are like partisans of a religion. It's like you are dealing with people who are deeply religious, except for one thing -- they don't believe in God. They view themselves as God in a way, history as God. They believe if you are on the left, you use words like "social justice" and "progressive." You think that you can change the world and bring about a kingdom of heaven on earth. Now why wouldn't you suppress somebody's speech that is obstructing such a noble and wonderful cause? That's the whole explanation. I put up this ad. They think that this ad is obstructing their agenda, which is now reparations. I put up all these really good arguments, so they get really mad, and they call me a racist and try to obliterate me. It's all justified because if Horowitz and people who think like him are obliterated, we will get reparations and blacks will have their day in the sun.

Q: That's not going to happen.

A: Of course it's not going to happen. Look, if I were a racist, I would be encouraging them, because their campaign is going to cause more people to become disgusted with blacks and black leaders than any other campaign you could probably think of.

Q: Has anyone from your horde of critics taken the time to sit down and go through the 10 reasons you delineate in your ad for why reparations are bad and racist and refute them?

A: Almost nobody. On two or three campuses, there appeared 10 reasons. The reasons were "Horowitz is a racist. His argument is racist. Racist, racist, racist."

Q: No, David, hold on. I'm asking if anyone has addressed the 10 points you raise and attempted to refute them.

A: This is the way they do it. The point that there was slavery in Africa is refuted by saying -- and I kid you not -- "Slavery: If blacks are doing it, it is not as bad as if whites are doing it."

Q: Oh, really?

A: It's in Randall Robinson's book. In this book I've just written, "Uncivil Wars," I give examples. The argument is they were "house slaves," and of course that is a complete lie.

Q: Yeah, how about asking the slaves in Sudan right now? David, one of the common refrains is, "Well, the Japanese we put in camps during the Second World War got reparations." But it is possible to identify who those individuals were.

A: It's not just that you can identify them, but they are the actual people who had their property taken and had to live in interment camps.

Q: By the way, are the Jews planning to seek reparations from Egypt?

A: No, and you know, there are some Jews who are suing the United States government now for not bombing the Nazi death camps, and I'm completely opposed to that. If anybody wanted to give every Jew reparations for anything, I'd be opposed to that. The problem here is: Who are the injured parties? The slaves are gone. The children of slaves are gone. Their children are gone. You have people two and three generations removed, and as I say, an awful lot of the black community is doing very well. One of the things that really got in their face was my comment that blacks in America -- the average black in America -- is 20 to 50 times richer than the average black in West Africa, whose ancestors were dragged here in chains.

Q: And that puts their panties in a bunch for you to suggest they have benefited from the travails of slavery.

A: Every black alive today in America, if there were any benefits from slavery, which is an open question. If you listen to the "hate-America left," what you hear all the time is that American wealth is based on slavery, and only white people got the wealth. That is two lies in one. If you look at the economic historians -- there are actually books out on the controversy, the completely unsettled controversy as to whether slavery was a net drain on the economy or not. The argument you always hear is that Americans never came to terms with or dealt with slavery.

Q: Excuse me?

A: You know, 600,000 Americans were killed in the Civil War, for crying out loud. Of course we dealt with slavery. It is so stupid, but who is going to say to Randall Robinson or to Jesse Jackson on television, "That's really stupid, what you just said, and ignorant"? Only people who are willing to risk the lightning and be called "racists." You know, this book "Uncivil Wars" is a record of what happens to you when that happens.

Q: Recently, I saw an absolutely absurd little sidebar-type story. James Earl Jones was to receive some special award on Martin Luther King Day.

A: Yes, and the plaque was inscribed "James Earl Ray."

Q: But what really got me was the excuse from the guy who made the plaque. He said, "We have a lot of people who don't speak English too well." That was their excuse.

A: Well, it is probably true.

Q: The fascists on the left really don't care about black people. This has been a wedge issue for years. Your arguments are all solid, and your facts that contradict their preconceived dogma are routinely ignored. So what do you do in face of the reality that you have people who don't want to even try to argue logically and instead take a knife to a gunfight?

A: I took a howitzer to this gunfight. What I was able to do was to split the left. What the ad did was it brought the totalitarians out of the woodwork. I actually got editorial support from The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune; I had writers in The Washington Post supporting me, and the journalist association. The reason was I provoked the left into attacking the institutional free press right in broad daylight. Those kids at Brown, who were in my corner because they published the ad, were really Gore and Nader Democrats.

What conservatives have to do is we have to pick the battle lines where we are seen as defending freedom, defending people, defending the principle of fairness. My ad was not mean-spirited. It didn't call names. In fact, if you read it carefully, it really was an ad in the interest of black people. I was saying, "Why always dwell on failure?" I know your readers are familiar with Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams, so they know these arguments. I incorporated them in the ad. Why always dwell on failure? How about the success of black people in this country? And then, how about acknowledging what America has done for all minorities, including black people?

Q: A common gripe from listeners and readers is that even in a venue like Fox News, we wind up with people allegedly representing the "middle" like Robert Wexler, Jerry Nadler or Maxine Waters, who are all card-carrying members of the DSL.

A: You just named them.

Q: Yeah, but these folks are led in front of the cameras as the so-called "progressives" who are somehow supposed to be the centrists in the country, and that is a lie. And just when I start to think that dog won't hunt anymore, we get O'Reilly actually saying for God and everyone to hear that "John McCain is a conservative Republican." I don't think so!

A: Politics works in strange ways. That actually works for conservatives, because John McCain is actually much more palatable to the center in this country. You can skin a cat many ways. Politics is like poker. It's a sport.

Q: Hold on. You say it's a war.

A: Yes, I'm associated with the idea it's a war, so I shouldn't get away from that metaphor. But I don't see that as a terrible negative.

Q: I have interviewed Ward Connerly several times, and Ward takes offense at this victimization mantle that the black race baiters insist on draping themselves in.

A: Look, if you convince people they are victims, you cut their cojones off. Here's what the professorial left was encouraging students to do: to say that their feelings were hurt. Black students were to go and whine to the administration that their feelings were hurt by David Horowitz's ad. What kind of manhood is that? It makes people children, it infantilizes them, which is what the left's agenda is. It's a very sinister system. The president of Duke University, who is of course a friend of Hillary's, Nan Keohane, called up the student demonstrators who were trying to destroy The Duke Chronicle, which is the main college paper. They were trying to shut it down. So here are little fascists trying to destroy the First Amendment again right in broad daylight, and the president of the university calls them, the leader, and explains that this is not a good idea for them to do. And if they do something else, she'll give them some money.

Q: That's a bribe isn't it?

A: You know, I was a radical on campus, and I never had a university president call me up and offer me money and advise me what to do. This is a very sinister system, and the liberals (so-called), the establishment left is really responsible for what is wrong with the black community in this country.

Q: One of the most astonishing and outrageous things is the fact that, apparently, universities and college campuses have now turned into a venue where if the thought is considered "politically incorrect" -- if it is something that challenges the established dogma of the ...

A: The party line!

Q: Yeah, the party line, somehow it is anathema. I thought that was what universities were supposed to be all about -- to encourage divergent thought.

A: Universities were changed. The left took over and has excluded conservatives. I recently had Luntz do a study of Ivy League faculties. Three percent of professors at Ivy League schools identify themselves as Republicans. Here's a better statistic: 44 percent of Ivy League professors say the organization they identify with most fully is the ACLU, 0 percent the Christian Coalition, 1 percent the NRA. ... We're talking the ACLU, an organization whose president appeared at Al Sharpton's racist march in August at the Lincoln Memorial, alongside ... all these race-baiting, race-warring people. That's where the ACLU is, and 44 percent of Harvard professors. I'm not saying all 44 percent would appear with Al Sharpton, but it is a reflection of what the balance of forces is.

Q: I need to make a point here about your book. This is not a rant. This book is deeply researched and thickly footnoted.

A: And it's a good read.

Q: Yes, it is. And I strongly recommend people get a look at it. I'd like to see critics who haven't read it but don't like it anyway because of what they think David Horowitz is. Read it, and base your opinion not on what a preconceived opinion of what you think the guy might be, but rather on the content of what is in the book.

I recently heard from a listener who was in the Air Force delivering a bunch of lame-duck members of Congress to Africa. He said he was a black man, and after bouncing around the different countries, he eventually made the observation: "Thank God for slavery."

A: Now, I didn't say that. But I got roasted.

Q: Well, your point No. 9 in the ad was: "What about the debt blacks owe to America?"

A: Right. But I was accused of saying, "Thank God for slavery." In my book, I have quotes from Booker T. Washington and others who say basically the same thing. Of course, blacks alive today did not suffer from slavery, and they hugely benefit from being Americans. But the left does not want anybody to say they benefit from being Americans. Right after the World Trade Center attack, there was a State of the Black World Conference in Atlanta, where Al Sharpton said, "We don't owe America anything. America owes us." And it's that mentality that drives these leftists.

The reality is the black community's political leadership has been captured by the left. In order for conservatives to fight this, we have to be very careful not to walk on eggshells as conservatives often do but to think in terms of the way the left oppresses black people. I don't understand why every Republican doesn't stand up and point out that every inner city in America of any size -- that's every inner city, big city -- which is where most of the black and Hispanic poor are, where most of the children are being screwed in the public schools, every single one of those inner cities has been controlled for 50 years -- its school boards, its councils, all the agencies that work there -- by the Democratic Party and by the political left.

Q: You are right when you say everything that is wrong with the inner city that policy can affect, Democrats and leftists are responsible for.

A: If conservatives would just approach these questions that way, we could make a lot of headway.

Q: David, you have to have principles to stand for. The problem is, a prime reason folks get frustrated with the Republican Party is they don't have the stones to stand up and defend the principles they claim to have.

A: It's a problem with politicians. I agree with you. But I don't think we should let ourselves off so lightly. We have a responsibility. The reality is the Republican Party of Bob Michel was a whole different party from today's party. And the change came because people were willing to fight, because New Gingrich carried on a long trench warfare battle, went out and organized candidates, organized people and stood up and so forth. WorldNetDaily is doing a similar job here. But sometimes conservatives get very fatalistic, negative, and while it's very frustrating, don't forget the founders designed the system to be frustrating. Politics is very frustrating. But as the left has shown, and as conservatives in transforming the Republican Party to this point have shown, if you stay in and fight and don't quit and don't run away from it when you don't get everything that you want, you can accomplish a tremendous amount.

Q: It is the hypocrisy of the left that is so galling. Take a look at the Progressive Caucus. In their statement of purpose, they actually claim to be a "non-discriminatory society." Bullfeathers!

A: Look, there is nobody more racist than Democrats and so-called liberals. They couldn't handle one ad that I wrote. That's what this book is really about. All I did was attempt to take out a one-page ad. The editors of each one of these papers who didn't like the ads had a whole newspaper they could have filled up with attacks on me. But they don't want there to appear in the world an opinion with which they disagree.

Q: So what happens next?

A: I went back to the University of Wisconsin in December, and I had about 1,200 students. I got support from The Daily Cardinal that had attacked me. Like I said, you stay in the battle and keep on fighting. I would like to see conservatives raise a stink about the political bias in the hiring process at universities. There's something wrong when even Harvard, which is a private institution, gets probably hundreds of millions, but I'm certain tens of millions of dollars every year in defense contracts and so forth from the government. It has an $18 billion endowment that is tax-exempt. Why is it tax-exempt if it is going to be a partisan political institution? It is being subsidized by you and me, and yet you never hear Republicans utter a peep. The Kennedy School of Government has 155 faculty members, and five of them are Republicans, and the Republicans are people like David Gergen and Sheila Burke. Yet you never hear a peep from Republicans about the political bias in the hiring at universities.

Q: David, there are consequences to the things we do and don't do in life, unless you are a black politician.

A: That's true. That is absolutely true, but again, don't fall into the victim mentality. Fight! Look at the changes that have come with the Internet and with institutions like WorldNetDaily. Look at what Fox has done. How did Alan Keyes get hired on MSNBC? Roger Ailes got Alan Keyes hired on MSNBC.