One of the most frequent questions I am asked about my transit from the political left to the right some thirty years ago is why I did not stop somewhere along the way, and in particular somewhere “in the middle,” by which the questioner usually means on the Democratic Party side of the political divide. In fact, I remember very clearly why I did not. At the time of my transition, just before the 1984 re-election, Ronald Reagan and the Republicans were trying to hold the line against a Communist offensive in Central America, while Democratic senators – Tom Harkin, John Kerry and Christopher Dodd among them – were conducting their own private diplomacy in Central America to cut deals with the Communists while the Democratic House was seeking to cut funds for the anti-Communist forces on the ground. I had turned my back on the left because of the support it gave to the Communists in Indo-China, which had enabled the slaughter of two-and-a-half million peasants when Democrats cut-off funding to the anti-Communist forces.
I was reminded of these events by a report that appeared recently on the Newsweek website: “Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein and other prominent Senate Democrats have accused spies at the Homeland Security Department of basing official intelligence reports on dubious open-source material. Inquiries … indicate that at least some of the data that Feinstein and her colleagues deemed ‘questionable’ came from a website set up by outspoken conservative activist David Horowitz to catalogue negative information about the political left.”
This was a reference to DiscovertheNetworks.org, an encyclopedia of the left, which I launched in February 2005 and which has attracted over the last five years 22.4 million unique visitors, among them the producers of innumerable radio and TV talk shows. According to the Newsweek report, Senator Feinstein’s immediate concern was
“a profile of an unnamed but prominent American Islamic leader and was produced by Homeland Security’s intelligence office during the latter years of the Bush administration. The report was requested by the Department’s civil rights office, whose officials were preparing to meet with the Islamic leader. But instead of sending the civil rights office a quick bio of the individual in question, Homeland’s intelligence office issued a ‘finished’ intel report that was circulated to other intelligence agencies and, eventually, to Congressional oversight committees.”
In other words, Senator Feinstein and the Democrats were objecting to the scrutiny of a prominent Islamic leader scheduled to meet with the Bush Administration, even though leaders of prominent “mainstream” Islamic organizations such as CAIR have been convicted of terrorist activities, while others have been linked by the FBI to a formally organized network of the Muslim Brotherhood, the fountainhead of Islamic terrorism.
The letter from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is the focus of the Newsweek article, complains that the Department of Homeland Security “used ‘certain questionable’ source material to glean ‘derogatory’ information about [a particular] Muslim leader, including information from an unidentified source ‘with obvious political motivation whose stated purpose is to “identif[y] the individuals and organizations that make up the left”.’ The senators added that the source also included information on “’numerous members of Congress and two former Presidents of the United States.’”
The source was censored from the Intelligence Committee letter, but Newsweek’s Mark Hosenball was able to identify it using a Google search as Discoverthenetworks.org: “The website is one of a number of anti-left and anti-Islamic websites operated by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Los Angeles-based assortment of conservative political organizations founded and headed by David Horowitz, a 1960s-vintage far-left organizer who migrated sharply to the political right.”
When Hosenball interviewed me, I told him that I had no knowledge of the Homeland Security incident but hoped that intelligence officials were consulting DiscovertheNetworks regularly – for the sake of the country. The political left, I told him, “including some members of Congress – [the one I named was Barbara Lee, head of the Black Caucus] has a long history of … actively working with and collaborating with America’s enemies.” I also assured him that the material on his DiscovertheNetworks.org is “factual,” and not written in an inflammatory manner, which could be easily checked.
Of all the projects of the David Horowitz Freedom Center over its 22-year history, its university campaigns, the scores of books its principals and contributors have authored, the hundreds of lectures they have given and the thousands of articles its websites have published, I regard the creation of DiscovertheNetworks as its single most significant achievement with the most far reaching long-term impact on the future of this country. This is not because it is a “catalogue [of] negative political information about the political left,” as Newsweek claimed. It is no such thing, but rather a map describing the origins, activities, agendas, funding and interlocking networks of a political movement whose collective goal is the destruction of American capitalism and pluralism, and the framework its Founders created more than 200 years ago.
Ever since making my political conversion I have been aware that the American public is dangerously naïve about the nature and purposes of the American left (although mercifully it is an innocence that is rapidly coming to an end). The extent of this innocence is reflected in an incident twenty years past when I gave a speech to the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation in St. Louis. Cardinal Mindszenty was a hero of the anti-Communist cause, and the Mindszenty Foundation was as conservative an organization was likely to host me.
In my days as a radical I would have described myself as a “Marxist revolutionary,” but when it came to my introduction, my host presented me as “a former peace activist and civil rights worker.” How familiar is this? Sworn enemies of American capitalism and American democracy such as Angela Davis and Michael Moore are universally described by mainstream media as “liberals” even though they are Marxists. The campaign to prevent America from toppling Saddam Hussein was portrayed in the mainstream media as a “peace movement” even though its leaders were self-described supporters of Korean dictator Kim Jong-il and other Communists, and they did not organize a single “peace” demonstration in front of the Iraqi embassy to demand that Saddam Hussein cease his defiance of 17 UN arms control resolutions and allow inspectors the required access to his weapons sites.
DiscoverTheNetworks strips the veil from thousands of radical groups who fly under false flags and attempt to slip beneath the radar by referring to themselves as peace movements and civil liberties organizations and campaigns for “social justice.” For the first time the left’s history, and agendas and commitments are displayed for a public that has not made the study of the left a lifetime occupation. This is a service to the country and the cause of freedom. For that reason, the most alarming aspect of the Newsweek report is the fact that the Bush Homeland Security Department had to refer to our research to warn the White House of the dangers a prospective visitor might pose and did not have this information in its own files.