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Monday, March 10, 2003

As a Follow-Up to Our Buggy Commentary on Huntington, the Clash of Civilizations, and Radical Islamist Fundamentalism: Also David Horowitz, the scourge of the PC-Left

A well-organized, highly informative forum on the subject of Islam --- in particular, whether it is a religion of peace or violence --- is energetically recommended, especially if you've read the commentary posted a couple of days ago on Huntington, Islamo-fascist fundamentalism, and the clash of civilizations uncoiling with raw, rippling force in the Islamic world. A 3-part forum, the first two parts have already been published at David Horowitz's website, The Front Page. And like all the forums there, it features a well-balanced panel with a wide range of views, this time four specialists: "Ibn Warraq, the author of Why I am Not a Muslim; Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR); Robert Spencer, an adjunct fellow with the Free Congress Foundation and author of Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith; and As`ad AbuKhalil, a professor of political science at California State University at Stanislaus, and adjunct professor at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Bin Laden, Islam, and America's New War on Terrorism."

The published parts are Part I and Part II (go to Front Page

But who is David Horowitz, and why is he so widely and extravagantly hated by the politically correct left, on and off campus?

The answer:

1) Some people who aren't radicals find David Horowitz excessive in his pc-assaults, an obsessive, deliriously wildeyed ultra. Not me.

Recall his background quickly.

An erstwhile pillar of the radical left in the late 1960s and early 1970s ---the editor with Larry Collier of RAMPARTS magazine, Collier another pc-hater these days (the more you know them, the more you recoil apparently) ---Horowitz came around eventually to a different view: tersely put, he saw through the hoked-up rationalizations of these nihilistic and ultra-types --- a cover largely in his and others' view for pent-up grievances, grudges, resentments, and hostilities that would need a 6-volume Encyclopedia of Psychopathology to sort out and classify --- and moved to the right. At first, according to his autobiography --- RADICAL SON --- in a hestiant groping motion. Then, as his former radical allies grew more aggressive and denounced and threatened him (physically), in something of a harum-scarum sharp veering. Since then, running the Front Page site --- the successor to Heterodoxy (a journal that rallied the anti-pc types in the academy) --- he's been instrumental in publicizing the extravangantly shameless pc-propaganda and thought-control campaigns, complete with purges, witch-hunting and kangaroo-courts, that now infest many of our universities and liberal arts colleges . . . backed with administrative clout. The long march through our institutions as the radicals of the 1960s put it when they turned in their posters and megaphones for comfy tenured positions in academia. With these new Orwellian mind-monitors, it goes without saying, all pursuing their thought-control antics in the name of high-sounding ideals. Each and every one of them pure-at-heart, the self-chosen spokesmen --- oops, spokespersons --- for ALL women, ALL people-of-color, ALL people oppressed by capitalism and globalization around the world, and of course ALL the rest of mankind who are of good-faith and favor peace and justice and motherhood.

2) No, I take it back. Not motherhood.

Huh?

Well, as traditionally understood, motherhood is a blatant no-no in those circles, a rank social construction of male dominance . . . nothing more, nothing less. Even to suggest that, over millions of years of evolution, there is good evidence that women are far more sensitive then men to the verbal and physical motions of their babies --- including discomfort --- is to commit a core fallacy in pc-circles. Never mind that this evidence is supported by dozens of studies carried across dozens of cultures (the studies also find that women are more verbal themselves than men, while men --- hunters for millions of years, the successors to primate hunters --- have better geometric talents). Studies mean nothing. They are carried out most likely, you see, by male Ph.D's or brainwashed female accomplices (date-raped nightly too no doubt). Broadcast these studies and the alleged evidence they substantiate, and the next thing you know, the Nazis will be in charge prattling that the designated roles of women are to be found strictly in terms of Kinder, Kueche, und Kirche (kids, cooking, and cathedrals).

Others of us, addicts you see of western philosophy and reasoning, might argue that to show that something is factually the case does not entail any moral judgments --- or for that matter require any limits on career selection; rather, only only that women are better with rearing babies than men. The belief that factual matters entail moral judgments is called the naturalistic fallacy. It was first clarified by a great English philosopher at the start of the last century, a colleague of Bertrand Russell and Wittgentstein at Cambridge: G.E. Moore. (A great novel on these three giants of philosophy -- a thoroughly absorbing and convincing fictional portrait based on their biographies --- is THE WORLD AS I FOUND IT, by the American poet, Bruce Duffey --- a philosophy major in college. I've appended the customer-reviews of this exciting, vividly written work at the end here, hoping that it might stimulate a few of you to buy and read it. Or find it at a library.)

3) As the pc-lexicon also tells us, the single most important thing about people is their race or their gender or their class status . . . the latter, let us say, something tricky to define, as is come to think of it "race" and "gender', not least because it's the pc-types themselves who assure us that there are no biological determinants at work in human affairs, only socially constructed views. It does leave you wondering, in the end --- assuming you're not a true-believer (and haven't been hauled before a witch-hunting committee to confess your errors) --- why their particular social constructions are supposed to be subscribed too if everything is relative and our verbal constructs aren't controlled in some way by an objective reality outside our cultures. But hey, even to suggest that there are philosophical problems here is enough to get you charged with logocentrism --- Derrida's term for the fallacies going back to Plato, imposed on all the world by western imperialism, that logic and science can somehow make contact with a reality beyond the consensus of any group and its cultural views.



4) Naturally Holrowitz -- to return to him, the new Attila who has dared to say publicly that the scheme dreamed up by a few academics of reparations for the descendants of slavery (always assuming you could tell which African Americans these days descend from slaves and which from the 10,000 free African-Americans who owned slaves until 1865) is about the silliest idea to emerge into the public realm since the last flat-earth conference --- is hated in all right-thinking bien-pensant circles. Daringly, like a Columbus set out to chart the pc-waters, he ignores their hatreds and demonstrations and has the gumption to think that individuals are what matter, not ascriptive group-designations imposed arbitrarily by some committee-in-charge. Note something. Whether you like the idea of reparations or not, here is a simple unadorned prediction: any Congressman who doesn't represent a heavily black district will be committing political hare Kari if he or she backs it. You see, the pc-types who prattle about "power to the people" don't really mean it. The people are brainwashed, victims of logocentrism and racism and sexism and homophobia and capitalist-manipulated false consciousness. They need their betters to enlighten them, to show them the true path to political nirvana.

The doctrine here, I hasten to add, is not new. Just the contrary.

It was first cooked up by Lenin in writing off the working classes as the repository of revolution, substituting the Communist party for the workers as the vanguard of that revolution (1903: "What's To Be Done?"). And of course everybody knows what wonderful things emerged from that presumption. Yes, even Leon Trotsky, the other great Russian revolutionary, came around to recognize its role in setting up the Stalinist madman totalitarian system with the blood of tens of millions on its hands. Stalin, like the Arab governments these days, didn't show much interest in debate; he simply had Trotsky's head axed by a KGB henchman in Mexico.

5) All of the above is by way of bringing Horowitz's revealing piece (reprinted below) center-stage.

It's about the lack of diversity in our universities, which --- oddball that he is --- should be reflected in the range of debate, not in more efforts to favor more ethnicities. The piece does have one error: its views of Richard Rorty, the ONLY first-class thinker ever to associate with the Academic New Left. A great philosopher, Rorty has become as disgusted with these former allies as Horowitz. He now denounces them as members of the Academic School of Resentment, tediously self-righteous, semi-literate, and politically useless. And he's at Stanford, not Virginia now. That Rorty has sided in some respects with the Horowitz camp ought to be cause for celebration, so those of you who know Horowitz personally might inform him of this.

6) For what it's worth, I add that I have plenty of anecdotal evidence to back up Horowitz's claims how ideological tests.

Example: one of the best doctoral students we ever had, a specialist on Latin America with a good grounding in IR and political economy, was on the short list of candidates interviewed at a California campus. The chairman called me: we knew each others' work. Is this guy as good as he seemed on both paper and in his presentation to us? Yep, you'd be lucky to get him. The outcome? A woman professor was chosen . . . not by the department. The department voted unanimously to give our former student an offer, but the dean, you see, was convinced that a woman would be a better role model, and so the woman was chosen. Two years later, owing to incompetence without parallel --- according to my sources (another former student, a professor in that dept.) --- the woman was sacked and the dept. wanted to know whether our male Dr. would apply again. I asked. He said no, he was happy where he was.

Example: this time, a prestigious liberal arts college. One of the best scholars of Asia in our time, another specialist in political economy whom we gave a doctorate too, was on the short list of candidates there (winnowed down from 300 candidates or so). He gave an impressive presentation, and the department wanted him. No, said a dean: a woman was needed. I can't say whether she turned out to be inept either. The scholar is happily entrenched at a university in the East.

Example (not you, understand from our dept: I would adhere to the confidentiality requirement even if put on the rack and flayed by a pc-demon getting me to defect). A dept. at UCSB narrowed 463 applications for a position in . . . . down to 5 candidates after weeks of discussion by the committee's 5 professors and 3 grad student members, and then consulatation and soundings of virulent nature with the entire dept. Some dean was unhappy that this dept. had no minorities or women in the final 5-list, whose candidates the dept. would then fly out and interview after a presentation by each of them. According to my sources, the dept --- rather than tell the dean to fly a kite (the faculty at UCSB is in total control of these matters except in extraordinary circumstances) ---- then panicked like bunny-rabbits scenting the distance presence of a sneaky fox. Surely --- SURELY -- some of these final 5 candidates qualified as minorities. One had a Hispanic name: didn't he qualify? No, came the reply from the candidate (a well-known scholar): he wanted to be considered on his merits, nothing else. Well how about the candidate with the Asian name? Sorry, he's Japanese in origins; Japanese-Americans don't qualify under the new Racist-Criteria that could have been drawn up by a fugitive from the Nazi party of the 1930s. Since none of the other candidates would own up to 1% of Inuit blood, how could this dept of bunny-types possibly appease the Dean-Inquisitor.

Well, a smarty-type in the dept --- let us say he's very familiar to me, a kind of bugged-out guy --- suggested that we ask each of the five candidates whether they wouldn't show up at UCSB in drag. That way, we could claim that since gender is entirely socially constructed, the cross-dressing guy was really a woman trapped in a man's body, and maybe the Dean would be the first to contribute money to a sex-change operation.

Sad to say, none of the male candidates seemed to want to have their testicles cut off.

Such is the thrilling life in our universities these days, the repository of 2600 years of Western wisdom (itself, you understand, highly suspect --- the cause of what Jacques Derrida calls the evil of "logocentrism": i.e., logic and respect for evidence).



For a typical Horowitz article, go to

Missing Diversity