I first saw the signs advertising David Horowitz as “the man the Daily Nexus was afraid of.” Then I saw a new set of signs announcing Horowitz as “a hateful little gnome.” I thought this second comparison was funny, but then I realized how unfair it was.
David the Gnome is a beloved cartoon icon from my childhood, and to connect him with David Horowitz in any way is cruel and unjust. I have many fond memories of the man who I could find every morning on Nickelodeon, wearing a pointy hat and riding his faithful fox. So for the sake of my childhood friend, let’s stop calling Horowitz a gnome.
So who exactly is David Horowitz? Well, he’s an ultraconservative journalist based in L.A. that writes for Salon, an Internet magazine. During the ’60s, throughout which he worked for Ramparts magazine, he was a liberal crusader for civil rights. After an incident where a friend of his died while dealing with the Black Panthers, Horowitz’s political orientation shifted from the far left to the far right. Ever since, he has been writing books and columns trying to stir up trouble.
Lately, he’s been making noise with his “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery Is a Bad Idea for Blacks – and Racist Too.” He originated his arguments about reparations in his nationally syndicated column before repackaging it and submitting it to college campuses as the now-infamous ad. Since then, he’s been touring college campuses with armed body guards on his self-proclaimed “freedom tour.”
If nothing else, Horowitz is definitely more than capable of trying to cause as much trouble as possible. His ad and the subsequent reactions to it from different student papers throughout the nation have caused a whirlwind of debate and argument over things ranging from the issue of reparations to questions of free speech. Despite all the complaints by Horowitz against reparations and censorship, it seems that this shit storm is exactly what he wanted.
The ad itself is worded in an extremely clever way so that it could do nothing but spark outcries from the public. It seems strange that someone who’s had as much experience as Horowitz in the field of civil rights would write something that parallels the propaganda of Holocaust deniers. “Ten Reasons” is just an exercise in pushing buttons and a cry for attention more than it is a rally against certain policies of the day.
Horowitz also submitted his arguments as an advertisement to the different college campuses instead of sending it to their news or opinion pages, which are the normal outlets for discussion and debate. Again, that funny little feeling starts tingling on the back of my neck. How can someone who’s been in journalism as long as Horowitz not foresee what would happen by issuing something so obviously inflammatory to colleges nationwide? You get the feeling that Horowitz is either an idiot or that all he wanted to do was piss people off.
All signs point to Horowitz stomping around simply to hear the sound of his own feet on the ground. If he wants to run around the country stirring the pot as much as possible, let him. Just as long as we see Horowitz for what he really is, a man with a large chip on his shoulder, we can’t be suckered in to his games.
Now his little tour has brought him to UCSB. For everyone going to see Horowitz speak tonight, go in peace. Whether he actually is dumb enough to believe what he’s preaching or whether he just wants to make trouble, be respectful. You may not like what he has to say, but he does have a right to say it; he’s an American citizen, too. Also, he’s a bit skittish as well. If you starting being rude to him during his talk, he’ll probably start hurling nasty little words like “anti-Semite” or “fascist” and may even walk off the stage. He’s done it before.
Lastly, for God’s sake, stop comparing the man to a gnome; it’s disrespectful. He looks more like a troll, anyway.
Steven Ruszczycky is a sophomore English and biopsychology major and a Nexus columnist.