Editor’s note: Below are the video and transcript of David Horowitz’s speech marking the Freedom Center’s 30th anniversary at the Center’s annual Freedom Dinner. The event featured guest speakers such as Rep. Ed Royce, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Dennis Prager and Larry Elder and took place May 2, 2018, in Los Angeles, California.
David Horowitz: Thank you all for joining us on this 30th anniversary of the Freedom Center, and thank you for your support for all our efforts to defend our nation – the most free, most tolerant and most inclusive society on earth. Among those in spirit here tonight are more than 150,000 supporters whose generosity makes our work possible.
Our featured speakers, Congressman Louie Gohmert, Dennis Prager and Larry Elder are all champions of the struggle to save our nation. They have been friends and supporters of the Center for more than twenty years, and we are grateful once again to them for taking out the time to be with us tonight. The Center’s supporters are like the early Trumpers who have helped to change the face of American politics, giving defenders of individual freedom a fighting chance against the race-gender-sexual orientation collectivists who would destroy it. This is what our mission at the Center has been for all these thirty years.
Over much of that span we felt like voices crying in the wilderness. On many occasions after I left the left, this famous line would pop into my head: “I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” Which is what Ishmael, the narrator of Moby Dick said as the lone survivor of the Pequod after the whale sent his shipmates to the bottom of the sea.
But, of course, I was not alone. My friend of more than fifty years, Peter Collier, had escaped with me, and together we founded the Freedom Center. Other ex-leftists also stepped forward, but they were too few and far between. After the fall of Communism, the majority of leftists who had waged relentless war against their country, regrouped to resume the war, no longer as communists but as “progressives” and “social justice warriors,” which is actually the same thing.
In 1989, the year of the Communist Fall, and a year after we created the Center, Peter and I published Destructive Generation. It was a call to arms to conservatives who were far too tolerant to appreciate the truly malignant nature of the movement that was about to regroup and come at them. Included in the book were two memoirs we wrote about our radical pasts. Peter’s ended with this warning: “People from the Sixties left are still out there – the dark shapes under our political waters.” Peter described his new role as “keeping an eye on these deep swimmers,” adding, “when I see one of them come near the surface, pointing out who he is, what he is doing, and what the consequences are likely to be.” It was a good definition of the mission the Center would pursue over the next three decades. Calling the left by its right name and prodding patriotic Americans to fight the left’s fire with theirs.
Because our mission was to push the political envelope we never sought to be inside players in Washington or electoral politics generally. The task we set for ourselves was to sharpen the swords of conservatives, to get them to confront the left bluntly and truthfully. Nevertheless, in 2000 I was invited by Karl Rove to meet with Governor George Bush who was contemplating a run for the presidency. Lee Atwater, the manager of the first President Bush’s successful election campaign, had made Destructive Generation required reading for his staff. Rove was on that staff and was now the son’s campaign manager and wanted me to provide the younger Bush and his staff with the insights into the left contained in our book.
Unfortunately, it was still too early for Republicans like Bush to grasp what we were about, let alone join our cause. Bush did invite me to the White House – once – for a Hanukah party. But he and his team found it difficult, indeed impossible, to speak our language, or to adopt the confrontational – today one might say Trumpian – politics we were proposing.
At the same time, I had a kind of epiphany about the situation. I had just completed a book titled Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes. It was so direct in confronting the race threat from the left that one of my board members begged me not to publish it. Race was too much of a third rail in American politics for normal Republicans and conservatives to approach. But that was just the fear the left counted on to silence patriots, while leaving themselves free to carry on their hateful campaigns unopposed. My board member’s concern prompted me to think of the repercussions my book would have on my relations with the White House. I immediately realized that if I published it with this title, there would be no more invitations.
I thought about it for maybe a minute, and decided to go ahead with the book and forget the invitations. Moreover, I was determined that its vision would be the Freedom Center’s as well. Race was the primary weapon the left deployed against conservatives, and against our country. I knew in every fiber of my being that if we lost the fight against identity politics, which is in fact cultural Marxism, we would lose everything we held dear. Fighting the anti-white racism of the left was precisely what we were born to do.
It took Barack Obama, a lifelong leftist and racial divider to wake up conservatives to the threat they were facing. As they woke, they began to see the importance of the Freedom Center’s work and came to appreciate the vital nature of its mission. Nowhere was this more evident than in the new White House emerging from the 2016 election. Many friends of the Freedom Center who have attended our events, embraced our cause or helped to advance our work have been part of the Trump team: Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence; Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General; Jim Bridenstine, Trump’s NASA administrator, Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign manager; Steve Miller, Trump’s chief policy adviser and speech writer; Kelley Ann Conway, Trump’s chief political advisor; John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor; Larry Kudlow, Trump’s chief economic advisor; Reince Priebus, Trump’s first chief of staff; Sean Spicer, Trump’s first press secretary; and Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump national security adviser.
We did not go to the mountain, the mountain came to us – and that’s a good thing for our country, and its future.
From the outset, the task we set for ourselves was to be a beacon for others, to hold fast to what we know, and not to sugarcoat the results. Most members of our team have been in the trenches together for nearly twenty of the Center’s thirty years. Our organization is run by Mike Finch whose literary and intellectual talents are evident to everybody familiar with his work. Fortunately for us, Mike has sacrificed his personal ambitions in those fields to dedicate himself to administering the Center and organizing its support. We are blessed to have such a devoted and dedicated individual as our president. The Center would not be what it is today without him.
My executive assistant Elizabeth Ruiz is familiar to most of you and has been an indispensable aid to me and my work. Jamie Glazov, who edits Frontpage, is the son of a prominent Soviet dissident and has made our flagship publication a powerful weapon in the Center’s battles. Our courageous Robert Spencer is the nation’s foremost intellectual warrior against Islamic imperialism. John Perazzo is the indefatigable researcher who runs Discover the Networks, our encyclopedia of the left, which has been used by innumerable writers and journalists to identify and track our nation’s enemies. Our Frontpage writers are formidable intellects – first of all Daniel Greenfield who contributes so much brilliant work to our sites seems to be three or four people rolled into one; joining him are Raymond Ibrahim, Mark Tapson, Bruce Thornton, Matthew Vadum, Michael Ledeen, Lloyd Bilingsley, Joe Kaufman, Joseph Klein, David Harsanyi and many others. Finally, we wouldn’t be here without our legal team of Manny Klausner and Paul Hoffman, who have tirelessly defended us from attacks by the litigious left.
I have concluded with this all too brief description of our team because the Freedom Center’s work is just beginning, and it is going to depend on the support of people like you to continue its service to our country into the future.
Thank you and goodnight.