Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
In the days and weeks after June 16, 2015, when Donald Trump descended an escalator at his eponymous Fifth Avenue tower and announced his candidacy for president of the United States, America’s mainstream media also underwent a historic descent. Even at their best they had never been moored in fact, but as Trump began what now seems his inexorable progress toward the White House, they stopped merely hugging the shore of truth, at a greater or lesser distance, and sailed out over the horizon into the open seas of pure propaganda. Casting journalism almost totally aside, they became full-time Democrat megaphones, echoing without shame, during the months and years that followed, the party’s ridiculously fraudulent talking points about Trump and America.
Front and center during most of Trump’s presidency, of course, were the absurd Russia conspiracy charges, which the media pushed as relentlessly as they would later dismiss highly credible reports of Biden family corruption. Likewise, the same journalists who throughout 2020 called Antifa and Black Lives Matter violence “mostly peaceful” went on to describe the far less sensational events of January 6, 2021, as a terrifying attempt at a pro-Trump coup.
The last few years, in short, have been a time not of systematic racism, as the left would have it, but of systematic mendacity; and anyone whose news diet during this period has consisted exclusively of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, NPR, etc., etc., has a view of recent events that diverges radically from reality.
Fortunately, there exists a superb antidote to the MSM’s unbroken stream of toxic waste. It takes the form of four slim, powerful philippics, all written by the redoubtable David Horowitz and all published within the last three years. Each of these books – Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America (2019), Blitz: Trump Will Smash the Left and Win (2020), The Enemy Within: How a Totalitarian Movement Is Destroying America (2021), and the just-issued I Can’t Breathe: How a Racial Hoax Is Killing America – has a somewhat different focus, but taken together they add up not just to a desperately needed corrective to the daily torrent of fake news but also to a definitive analysis of the ongoing left-wing campaign to radically transform America.
In the first of these volumes, Dark Agenda, Horowitz reminds us that America was established on a “Protestant ideal of freedom of conscience and religious dissent”: if the rights enjoyed by American citizens are regarded as inalienable whereas those of Europeans are not, it is because our rights are specifically characterized in our founding documents as divinely ordained, as opposed to being handed down from some lofty, omnipotent state (or superstate) with the power to withdraw as well as to bestow. Because our founders belonged to a range of denominations that varied widely in doctrinal specifics, and because they had no truck with any kind of magisterium, the republic they created was a secular one that had no established church, thereby allowing all faiths to flourish – which they did. And because so-called progressives have, ever since the French Revolution, recognized Christianity as an impediment to their cause – as, in Marx’s formulation, a heady opiate that disinclines the masses to join their utopian crusade – the standard bearers of the American left have, for the last half century, made war on our country’s Christian roots.
This campaign, as Horowitz recounts in Dark Agenda, dates back to Engel v. Vitale, the 1962 Court case on prayer in schools; but it has advanced by stages over the decades since, and it took a particularly dark and grotesque turn after 9/11, when the very same people who have eagerly scrubbed the Pilgrims and Puritans from schoolbooks have also eagerly supported Islamic proselytising in the classroom, and when the same Barack Obama who sneered about Americans’ love of “God and guns” (a Christian God, naturally) beat the drum for Islam in a transcendently shifty speech in Cairo. As Horowitz notes, even though Trump was not a regular churchgoer and plainly didn’t know his way around the Bible, conservative Christians took him to their hearts because they recognized in him a proud patriot and defender of the Constitution against godless progressivism. But the left, baffled as ever about what makes middle Americans tick, concluded – to quote Horowitz – “that evangelicals were attracted to Trump because of racism.”
No surprise, then, that Democrats and the media spent the Trump years repeating the mantra of racist, racist, racist – a charge that, in their minds, justified even the most outrageously extra-judicial efforts to unseat him. He was racist for opposing sanctuary cities. He was racist for initiating the so-called “Muslim ban” (which affected only seven of 49 Muslim-majority countries). He was racist for wanting to stop the flow of illegal immigrants at the southern border. He was racist for daring to say that certain countries are, as he put it, “s**tholes.” (Of course they are: why else would their citizens be so desperate to get into the U.S.?) He was racist for calling the savage rapists and murderers of MS-13 “animals” (no, countered Nancy Pelosi, they’re “God’s children”). And he was racist simply for promising to put America first, because his globalist enemies seem to think the U.S. government’s primary obligation is not to protect Americans – Marx forfend! – but to open its borders, its job market, and its pocketbook to the rest of the world.
In fact Trump may well have been the least racist president ever. He saw – and deplored – what fifty years of Great Society programs had done to black families and communities, and, to an extent unmatched by earlier GOP candidates for president, invited black voters to leave the Democratic plantation and support him. And a remarkable number did so: for a GOP candidate, Trump received a record number of black voters in 2016 – and he went on to produce record results, including the lowest black unemployment ever. Unlike Hillary Clinton (“I ain’t in no ways tired”) and Joe Biden (“They’re going to put y’all back in chains”), he never pandered; and in place of Democratic politicians’ meaningless photo ops with shakedown artists like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, Trump actually sat down and did real work with black business leaders, the heads of historically black colleges, and other serious men and women who were genuinely committed to improving the lot of black Americans. For this reason, he enjoyed the support of some of the country’s most distinguished black thinkers, such as Thomas Sowell and Larry Elder, as well as of black celebrities – among them Herschel Walker, Lil Wayne, and 50 Cent – who recognized his genuineness, saw through the Democratic con, and were gutsy enough to say so.
In Blitz, Horowitz provides a definitive account of the achievements of Trump’s presidency – as well as of the grotesque lies and misdeeds (still unpunished) of the highly placed crooks who strove to bring Trump down. Horowitz reminds us that the Times – which, in the (leaked) words of executive editor Dean Baquet, had “built [its] newsroom” around the Russia collusion hoax – reacted to Trump’s exoneration not by repenting its anti-Trump lies but by switching to a newer, bigger lie. Now it wasn’t just Trump who was to be falsely accused of racism day after day, but America itself: cynically, in the aftermath of a black president’s eight-year tenure, the black executive editor of the Times led a campaign to convince Americans that their country – quite properly described by Horowitz as “the most tolerant and inclusive nation in the world” – was, in fact, born in white racism and is still defined by it.
Thus was born the 1619 Project, which painted a picture of American history so false that historians from across the political spectrum protested it openly – to no avail. In response to its distortions, Horowitz proffers a battery of facts and statistics. For example, in several states of the antebellum South, not only whites but blacks owned slaves; Cherokees did too, and took them along on the Trail of Tears; whereas 350,000 white Americans died to free black slaves, an unknown number of black Africans, more than a century and a half later, continue to own slaves.
The 1619 Project is a textbook example of a Big Lie. But then, where would today’s left be without its colossal deceptions? The preposterous charges leveled against Brett Kavanaugh; the endless Jessie Smollett-type racism hoaxes (which are necessary precisely because actual white-on-black racism is in such short supply in today’s America); the continuously retreating date by which climate change will destroy the Earth; the new leftist article of faith that a man becomes a woman the moment he proclaims himself one: as Horowitz writes, the left, despite its ludicrous claim to be the party of science, routinely relies on “assertion rather than evidence” – hence the scores of anti-Trump books that are pure name-calling. Published during the 2020 campaign, Blitz cogently made the case that if Americans wanted their country to endure in recognizable form, Trump’s re-election was an urgent necessity; and its very subtitle unhesitatingly predicted that “Trump Will Smash the Left and WIN.” Now, as we approach the first anniversary of the 2020 election, it is becoming clear even to many of those who pulled the lever for Biden that America did indeed need Trump – and that Trump did indeed win.
Blitz was succeeded by The Enemy Within, in which Horowitz pulls back from Blitz’s close-up of Trump and his enemies to a panoramic picture of today’s “woke” America, where, to an astonishing extent, political, media, cultural, corporate, and educational leaders have been infected, co-opted, or intimidated into silence by an ideology focused on collective identity, on the purported power relations among supposed oppressor and victim groups, and, most particularly, on the idea that absolutely everything in America comes down to racism – period. And for those who refuse to fully embrace this new leftist dogma, the punishment is cancel culture, which Horowitz covers in depth: the academic lynch mobs, the character assassins (such as Christine Blasey Ford), the deplatformers at Facebook and Twitter, and the blacklisters at the Southern Poverty Law Center and elsewhere, all of whom have made it their business to cleanse the public square of dissent.
As Horowitz emphasizes, America’s new ideology could hardly be more un-American. If Martin Luther King, Jr., urged us to judge one another by the content of our character, “woke” ideologues who claim to be anti-racist are, in reality, selling us racism in a new package, instructing all of us, whatever our pigmentation, to obsess constantly over skin color – thereby inviting blacks to live in a constant state of rage and resentment and whites in unending and irremedial recrimination, with no possibility whatsoever of charity, clemency, closure, and comity.
The Enemy Within doesn’t just anatomize the present nightmare; it also explains how we got here. Dr. King may have helped white Americans to recognize that desegregation was a matter of America “liv[ing] out the true meaning of its creed,” but the people who came to dominate the academy during the last half-century had a very different creed – one that regarded America not as the bulwark of freedom but as the evil wellspring of international capitalist tyranny. Over the decades they transmitted their far-left doctrines to millions of students, some of whom managed to shake off the infection but many of whom brought their Marxist baggage with them when they found jobs in publishing houses, media organizations, Silicon Valley firms, and other influential institutions, not excluding police departments, the military, and various intelligence agencies.
In The Enemy Within, Horowitz recounts the climb from academic obscurity to mainstream orthodoxy of every bad set of ideas that helped nudge America from sanity to pathological race-obsession: the rise of identity politics, the advent of the perverse precept that (to quote “anti-racist” poohbah Jeff Hitchcock) “[t]here is no crime that whiteness has not committed against people of color,” the institutionalization of the concept of “systematic racism” (whereby Oprah Winfrey, though a billionaire, is a victim, and some poor toothless sap in an Appalachian shack is an oppressor), the invention by Kimberlé Crenshaw of “intersectionality” (which maintains “that multiple ‘interlocking’ oppressions are inflicted on multiple victim groups by ‘a matrix of domination” – a model that, notes Horowitz, makes the nuanced reality of actual human lives grow “ever more distant and obscure”), the increasing influence of Critical Race Theory (which, cooked up by Crenshaw’s mentor and Louis Farrakhan acolyte Derrick Bell, dismisses American law as infused with racism and thus “unjust, invalid, and undeserving of non-white minorities’ respect”), the exaltation of Ta-Nehisi Coates, a mediocre writer and appalling bigot (the cops and firefighters who died on 9/11, he has written, “were not human to me…they were the menaces of nature”) whose white-bashing tracts have been rewarded by the literary establishment with glowing reviews and armfuls of prizes, and, finally, in the last year or two, the exorbitant amount of attention paid throughout the culture to dopey, unreadable “anti-racist” manifestos by such insipid mischief-makers as Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendy.
What made Trump unique, Horowitz realizes, was that unlike the go-along-get-along RINOs, he challenged all this crap head-on. He saw that the left was determined to silence dissent and fill the nation with the kind of immigrants who, whether or not they were legal, and whether or not they seemed likely to become assets to American society, could reliably be expected to vote Democratic and thereby help turn the U.S. into a country ruled by one party with the support of its propaganda arm (the MSM) and its militant wing, Antifa and BLM.
Which brings us to Horowitz’s newest book, I Can’t Breathe, which is a deep dive into BLM – its rhetoric, its leaders, its actions. And, not least, its martyrs: the 26 dead and wounded – from Trayvon Martin (Sanford, 2012) and Michael Brown (Ferguson, 2014) to Breonna Taylor (Louisville, 2020) and George Floyd (Minneapolis, 2020) – whose stories of victimhood have been ceaselessly recounted (like chapters of a new gospel) in BLM speeches, whose images have been immortalized in pavement “murals” and statues (even as statues of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln have been pulled down) and whose names have been given to parks and squares and street corners.
The premise behind all this martyr-making is, of course, that these people’s deaths or wounds testify to the race hatred of American whites (especially white cops) and hence legitimize BLM’s war on “police brutality” and “systematic racism.” Examining each of these cases in detail, however, Horowitz shows that two of the 26 martyrs were not killed by cops, three were “victims of tragic circumstances,” and the other 21 were “criminals resisting arrest,” some of them “so high on illegal substances as to be unconscious of the fact that resisting arrest was a crime.” Accordingly, none of the cops demonized by BLM for their actions against these people “can reasonably be described as having committed a cold-blooded murder” or pilloried “as white racists determined to kill innocent blacks.” Bottom line: “the racial charges at the heart of Black Lives Matter’s indictment of America have no basis in fact, and its leaders are the cynical perpetrators of deadly lies.”
Yes, some of us already know this. But tens of millions don’t: the mainstream media have seen to that, and in the process have engendered dangerously high levels of utterly baseless racial tension. And Horowitz’s martyrdom stories are only the beginning of this powerful jeremiad. He contrasts these famous casualties with the many killings by BLM members of quickly forgotten police officers. Horowitz names those cops, each “murdered in cold blood, and murdered because he was a cop and not black.” The plain truth is that BLM has more blood on its hands than all the white cops whose supposed atrocities gave it its raison d’etre.
Some of Horowitz’s accounts of the BLM martyrs drive home the message that the organization’s very name has nothing to do with its actual agenda. Take the deaths of Tony Robinson and Robert Wilson. One day in 2015, on probation for an armed robbery conviction and high on Xanax, psilocybin, and marijuana, Robinson, a biracial 19-year-old, engaged in a few hours of criminal mayhem on the streets of Madison, Wisconsin, then went to an apartment building and caused a “disturbance.” Summoned to the scene, police officer Matt Kenny was punched by Robinson several times and sent tumbling down a flight of stairs before managing to shoot Robinson to death. Inflamed by a BLM petition that “completely misrepresented the circumstances that had led to Robinson’s death,” thousands of people took to the streets in a series of protests, demanding “justice for Robinson” and calling for Kenny to be charged with murder. “Black Lives Matter,” observes Horowitz, “has a long memory for the deaths of black criminals like Tony Robinson. Not so long when it comes to black men like thirty-year-old police officer Robert Wilson,” who – one day before Robinson’s death – “was murdered when he and his partner interrupted a robbery by two black gunmen.” Were there multiple large-scale protests over Wilson’s death? Did BLM try to stir up public rage about it? Guess. Do black lives matter to Black Lives Matter? Only when they can be used to sell the slander that evil white cops are gunning for innocent blacks.
I Can’t Breathe contains a mountain of data that counters BLM propaganda: American police are, on average, more restrained with black suspects than with whites; while blacks make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, they commit 40 percent of the nation’s violent crimes and over 50 percent of murders, yet represent only about a quarter of those killed by police; black cops are more likely than white or Latino cops to kill unarmed black suspects; in violent crimes involving blacks and whites, blacks are the perpetrators 85 percent of the time, whites 15. And of course when blacks are killed, the perpetrators are almost always black.
Simply put, every BLM claim is a fiction. BLM has convinced millions of Americans that there is an epidemic of white cops killing innocent blacks, with numbers in the hundreds, if not thousands, when in fact the number of such killings every year is in the low two digits – meaning that in America today, racial prejudice plays virtually no role in the death of suspects at the hands of law-enforcement officers. This is a fact of which every American should be proud; yet millions of Americans have been persuaded that the average white cop today is no better than a Gestapo officer.
It is relevant to note, as Horowitz does, that most of BLM’s martyrs not only died ignoble deaths but led ignoble lives. Just two examples: Freddie Gray (Baltimore, 2015) was a drug dealer with eighteen arrests for assault, burglary, and other crimes; Alton Sterling (Baton Rouge, 2016) was a registered sex offender with a long history of violence. In other words, these were not upstanding citizens. To suggest that they are in any way remotely representative of black America (let alone heroes and role models for black youths) and that their deaths add up to an indictment of systematic white racism is nothing short of repulsive.
Needless to say, the case of BLM brings into sharp focus the contrast between Trump and Biden. Whereas Trump unequivocally calls out BLM as a threat to American society, Biden parrots its prevarications. Does he know what he is saying? Who cares? His puppeteers know. They are progressives, and BLM’s agenda is their agenda.
A sobering thought. A terrifying thought, in fact. Which is the reason why David Horowitz has written this definitive study of Black Lives Matter – and the tetralogy that lays bare the truth about the American left’s values and objectives. Himself a veteran of the left, he has no illusions about it, and he recognizes that if America is to survive as a free country, Americans need to know what today’s Democratic Party and mainstream media are all about and to act upon that knowledge. Which, in turn, is why every American – especially younger Americans whose history and social-studies classes have consisted very largely of leftist propaganda – should read all four of these books. At a time when precious few high-schools or colleges are remotely honest about any of this stuff, these books add up to a valuable crash course in the American left’s philosophy, modus operandi, and road to power. It’s a subject that should matter to all responsible Americans, as well as to citizens of all free countries who want them to stay free. If you want to do the cause of liberty a service, give all four of them as Christmas gifts to the millennial or Gen Z person in your life who may have cost his or her parents a boatload of cash in tuition but who, in exchange, has been fed nothing but propaganda. And if you want to be sufficiently armed when some brainwashed creature starts spouting left-wing propaganda at you, read them yourself.