David Horowitz, the ex-Communist and former Black Panther groupie turned stereotypical right-winger, has kicked off his pro-war “Think Twice” speaking tour of college campuses on a rather bizarre note. The “red diaper baby” who morphed into a neoconservative went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and gave a strangely disjointed and vehement rant directed not only at the antiwar movement but at the Chancellor of the University, James Moeser, and the school itself: “I can’t find words to express my contempt for the chancellor and this University for supporting these views.” Pretty gracious, eh?
‘THINK TWICE’ OR ELSE
Without citing anyone in particular, Horowitz went on to characterize the views of unnamed antiwar professors and students at UNC as “jumping up and down” in glee as the World Trade Center burned. As usual, the implication that the “treasonous” activities of antiwar student groups and professors ought to be shut down was implicit in his complaint that antiwar teach-ins took place at a taxpayer-supported institution. Apparently, only “patriotic” activities such as his “Think Twice” tour ought to be permitted. Even the moniker he has attached to his campus blitz is shot through with ominous overtones: students had better “think twice” before they openly oppose the war and get their name on a list.
A SINISTER FIGURE
Horowitz was always a dubious character, but, post-9/11, he has become positively sinister and also somewhat out of it. According to reports, his tirade against UNC-Chapel Hill included a denunciation of Moeser
“for considering a proposal to establish a UNC-CH campus with an undergraduate business program in the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar, which he said is led by ‘an Islamic radical.’
"’There are no human rights [in Qatar] not only for homosexuals and for women but for anybody who disagrees with the sheik,’ Horowitz said.”
A RADICAL ISLAMIC STATE WITH A US BASE?
Gee, that’s funny, but I could’ve sworn that was an American military base being hosted by the “Islamic radical” ruler of Qatar reputedly the largest American base and arms depot outside the United States. When a lone gunman opened fire outside the Al-Adid air base, near the capital city of Doha, he was shot and killed by Qatari soldiers. Qatar has long been in the American camp, cravenly praising the presence of US and British troops for “protecting the Arabs from each other,” as Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasem al-Thani put it in an interview with al-Jazeera television. Qatar was good enough for the World Trade Organization to host a summit there in November of this year: why isn’t it good enough for UNC-Chapel Hill?
AN OASIS OF MODERNITY
Horowitz paints a grim picture indeed of life in Qatar, but the US government tells a different story altogether in its official human rights report card. While not exactly a Western-style democracy, Qatar, alone among the Gulf states, does have elections to a consultative body in which women are allowed to vote: as Thomas Friedman points out in the New York Times, Qatar, like other small states on the periphery of the Arab world, is among the most modern and socially progressive of the Muslim countries. Another Qatari idiosyncrasy is a media relatively free of censorship and government control. Extra-judicial killings, torture, disappearances of political dissidents these routine features of life in many Middle Eastern countries (including Israel) are entirely absent from Qatar.
LAND OF THE (RELATIVELY) FREE
The US State Department 1999 Country Report demonstrates that life in Qatar is not much different from life in these United States, at least in certain respects: “The law prohibits arbitrary arrest,” we are told, “however, the police have the discretion to arrest persons based on a low level of suspicion, and arbitrary detention in security cases remains a problem.” Sound familiar? Perhaps John Ashcroft is modeling some of his own methods on the Qatari example. “Suspects who are detained in security cases generally are afforded access to counsel; however, they may be detained indefinitely while under investigation. There were no known recent cases of incommunicado detention.” Unlike John Ashcroft, at least the Qataris release the names of their detainees.
If there is any really brutal political repression in Qatar, it is directed primarily against Islamic hard-liners, such as Abdulrahman Al-Nuaimi, a Ministry of Education official who distributed a letter to the press critical of the Amir’s decision to allow women to vote and run for office in the Municipal Council elections. This is a “radical Islamic state”?
AN IGNORANT DEMAGOGUE
Horowitz, as usual, is running off at the mouth and demonstrating his complete ignorance of the facts. But facts don’t matter to a demagogue whose frenetic posturing has turned him into a caricature, a living parody of his own invented persona.
But there is, in this caricature, a lot that is revealing. In his "The Art of Political War," a pamphlet devoted to strategic questions, Horowitz urges conservatives to lay off the complex arguents that make them sound like debaters at the Oxford Student Union and appeal directly to people’s emotions:
"But the audience of politics is not made up of Oxford dons, and the rules are entirely different…. You have only thirty seconds to make your point. Even if you had time to develop an argument, the audience you need to reach (the undecided and those in the middle who are not paying much attention) would not get it. Your words would go over some of their heads and the rest would not even hear them (or quickly forget) amidst the bustle and pressure of daily life. You will never have time for real arguments or proper analyses. Images symbols and sound bites will always prevail."
GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
In other words, emotionalism will always prevail over reason and the latter is not a Horowitz ally, in any case. Doggedly pursuing this emotionalist strategy, Horowitz seeks to channel and manipulate the inchoate anger of potential recruits by blatant appeals to racial prejudice, hopped-up rhetoric that is always in a white heat, really over-the-top abuse of his political opponents (he has lately been using obscenities in his editorial replies to letter-writers) and mindless computer games that resemble an Orwellian Two-Minute Hate. His last one, "SlapHillary.com," gave players an opportunity to smack around a favorite hate-object, and now SlapOsama.com has been set up along the same lines. You can slap Osama with a pile of camel dung, target him with a missile, subject him to airstrikes, or go all the way and nuke him. Just about what one might expect of someone who disdains "real arguments or proper analyses" in favor of "images, symbols, and sound-bites."
But as even one sympathetic visitor to the site pointed out in a posted letter, "Although I love being able to exercise my emotions on the head of OBL repeatedly, I somehow am not too fond of the idea of the ‘unending’ game, that the head pops back every time." But that is precisely what excites Horowitz and his fellow neoconservatives the idea (or hope) that the "war on terrorism" is unending. Perpetual war means endless government subsidies to their big business patrons, as well as the unlimited opportunity to demonize, spy on, and purge their enemies from public life, with a little assist from various law enforcement agencies. It means perks, privileges, and prestige for the laptop bombardiers, and full coffers for the merchants of death; enormous profits for certain business interests, and a continuous flow of tax-exempt contributions for Horowitz’s "Center for the Study of Popular Culture." If ever a law is passed against war profiteering, Horowitz should be the first one carted off to jail.
As this clown takes his road-show from campus to campus, reveling in his self-generated notoriety as a shrieker and would-be “treason”-hunter, he is clearly looking to the authorities to take action against campus-based antiwar organizations. While calling for “free speech” against the intellectual conformity of left-wing political correctness, he berates UNC-Chapel Hill for “allowing” antiwar teach-ins at a state-subsidized institution. Clearly, in his view, such activities ought to be banned.
HOROWITZ EXPOSES HIMSELF
We must defend to the death this idiot’s right to make a fool out of himself in public, and not only on general principles of free speech, but as a strategic move: The more he speaks, the more he discredits himself. If the sinister “Think Twice” tour gets to your campus, what you need to do is let this jerk expose himself for what he is with a little help from you and Antiwar.com. You can assemble your own “David Horowitz Truth Kit” by downloading the following printer-friendly files and distributing them to interested parties. Get the lowdown on Horowitz here:
DAVID HOROWITZ TRUTH KIT