Below is Mark Tapson’s review of David Horowitz’s new book, “Progressive Racism,” which is volume 6 of The Black Book of the American Left, a multi-volume collection of David Horowitz’s conservative writings that will, when completed, be the most ambitious effort ever undertaken to define the Left and its agenda. (Order HERE.) We encourage our readers to visit BlackBookOfTheAmericanLeft.com – which features Horowitz’s introductions to Volumes 1-6 of this 10-volume series, along with their tables of contents, reviews and interviews with the author.
In 2008, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in no small part because of the compelling possibility that this biracial harbinger of hope and change would finally bring America into an epoch of post-racial unity.
But over seven years later, America is on the verge of a race war. Particularly since August 2014, from the shooting of black suspect Michael Brown by white officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement which has wedged its way into national prominence, racial unrest in this country under Obama’s reign has gone from a tense simmer to a churning boil.
The left want to pin this ugly decline on what they perceive to be the right’s racist refusal to accept a black man as President; but in fact, it is left’s own corrosive, inherently racist, identity politics, spearheaded by Obama himself, that has exacerbated rather than healed our racial divide.
Progressive Racism, the sixth, just-published volume of The Black Book of the American Left, looks at a wide range of David Horowitz’s thoughts on the topic over the course of the last twenty years. Divided into five parts – “The Reds and the Blacks,” on the Marxist roots of progressive racism; “Decline and Fall of the Civil Rights Movement”; “Racial Correctness”; “Reparations for Slavery”; and “Progressive Racism” – the nearly fifty essays in this book expose leftist hypocrisy about race and dismantle the false narrative that the left is fighting for justice and equality against an irredeemably racist right, the guardians of a supposedly systemic white supremacism in America.
In “The Reds and the Blacks,” an essay written in 1999, Horowitz notes that although the left may not embrace the Marxist label anymore, Marx’s vision is alive and well at the core of the “contemporary leftist faith.” A central article of this faith is the notion that blacks and other minorities are “the new stand-ins for Marx’s proletarians,” and they are under the thumb of a “trinity of oppressors” – class, gender, and most of all, race. Thus “racial grievance is the spearhead of the modern radical left,” which couches itself as warriors for social justice while successfully demonizing as racist those “who defend the constitutional framework of individual rights, and attempt to guard it against the nihilistic advocates of a political bad faith.”
In subsequent sections of the book, Horowitz chronicles the degradation of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil rights vision into “civil wrongs.” “Progressives support racial division,” reads the title of one piece. In another essay, Horowitz points out that liberals don’t want racial dialogue; they want a racial monologue, in which blacks “express displeasure at a status quo that denies them equality” and whites simply acknowledge their racist guilt. Hate crimes can be multicultural too, Horowitz writes in another piece.
The book features a parade of racial characters and themes such as O.J. Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran, affirmative action, Louis Farrakhan, celebrated academic and “affirmative action baby” Cornel West, black-on-black crime and gun control, talk show host Phil Donahue’s “casual racism,” racial McCarthyism on campus, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, perennial race hucksters Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and reparations for slavery, a topic on which Horowitz has devoted a great deal of his energy in the past (see his slim 2002 book Uncivil Wars, for example). In “Ten Reasons Why Reparations Are a Bad Idea,” published in 2000, he sums up this demand as “factually tendentious, morally incoherent and racially incendiary. Logically, it has about as much substance as the suggestion that O.J. Simpson should have been acquitted because of past racism by the criminal courts.”
In the section “Progressive Racism,” Horowitz addresses the left’s agenda to recreate “a race-conscious political culture in which blacks and a handful of designated minorities were singled out as the groups to be racially privileged,” while “whites were made targets of exclusion, suspicion, and disapprobation.” In “The Death of the Civil Rights Movement,” he writes that there is no such movement any longer, and in its place “there is only a self-righteous, fact-denying lynch mob looking for white victims and law enforcement officials to make the targets of their wrath.”
In “Freedom From Race” in the final section, Horowitz takes on the left’s hypocrisy about racial profiling, which leftists favor when it suits their agenda (job placement, school admissions, scholarships, and the like), and which they decry when it does not (in law enforcement and deterring terrorism). This hypocrisy is due to the left’s obsession with power: “Whatever serves their need for power is right; whatever frustrates it is wrong.”
Progressive Racism includes a couple of essays some might find surprising: Horowitz’s controversial essay “Second Thoughts About Trayvon,” for example, in which he sets himself against general conservative opinion about the shooting of black Florida teen Trayvon Martin by “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman, who ultimately was judged to have acted in self-defense. “Is the Zimmerman case really open-and-shut?” Horowitz begins. He goes on to question whether the incident was quite so black-and-white, so to speak, as both the left and the right viewed it: “Might it not be possible that the toxicity of the racial environment also infected Zimmerman, so that he saw in Trayvon a caricature” from the racial and political melodrama surrounding the incendiary case?
Another piece that might run against the grain in some conservative quarters is “An Argument with the Racial Right,” in which Horowitz distinguishes himself from the white “Euro-racialists” of the right who have “surrendered to the idea that the multiculturalists have won” and who demand “a white place at the diversity table.” This runs counter to Horowitz’s brand of conservatism, which is grounded in “the fundamental truth of individualism” and “the good old American ideal of e pluribus unum.”
The book closes on Horowitz’s knockout-punch collaboration with John Perazzo, a lengthy essay titled “Black Skin Privilege and the American Dream,” originally published in booklet form by the Horowitz Freedom Center. That essay concludes that progressive racism – racial privilege enforced by government – “tears at the very fabric of the social order… Building racial bias into the framework of the nation compromises the neutrality of the law that governs us all… and creates a racial spoils system that is the antithesis of the American Dream.” Horowitz correctly identifies the drive to “level the playing field” – the left’s utopian justification for government intervention – as a totalitarian one and a threat to freedom:
In a free society, composed of individuals who are unequal by nature, the highest government good is neutrality in the treatment of its citizens before the law. One standard and justice for all. This is the only equality that is not at odds with individual freedom.
“It is the only equality,” David Horowitz concludes in Progressive Racism, “that can make a diverse community one.”
Mark Tapson is the editor of TruthRevolt.org and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.