"The Democratic inquisition"

By David Horowitz

Published January 25, 2001 9:00AM (EST)

Read the story.

In his most recent column, David Horowitz quotes a passage from an MSNBC.com column by Paul Begala. Horowitz selects the passage to suggest that Begala is implying that those states which voted Republican in the presidential election are busting at the seams with homicidal homophobes and bigots.

But Horowitz fails to provide some simple context. Begala's piece was in response to commentary on MSNBC by Mike Barnicle, in which Barnicle claims that states that voted for Bush represent good and wholesome middle America, while states that voted for Gore represent elitism and entitlement. Begala's point -- which Horowitz turns on its head -- is that broad assumptions about different regions of the country, based in part upon presidential preference, are ridiculous oversimplifications at best.

Horowitz is not stupid, his paranoid conservatism notwithstanding. I am therefore forced to conclude that he read Begala's piece, and then deliberately omitted its context to -- get this -- make the exact same point Begala was making.

Not only is Horowitz guilty of the same crime of which he was essentially accusing Begala -- gross and deliberate misrepresentation -- but he can't even be bothered to use this naked piece of hypocrisy to make an original point.

In the race to intellectual bankruptcy, Horowitz manages to lap himself in the space of one column. Way to go.

-- Tyler Steward

David Horowitz's provocative rant "The Democratic Inquisition" may be full of passion, but in it, he commits a deeply irresponsible act.

In "Democratic Inquisition," Mr. Horowitz labels MSNBC contributor Paul Begala as assisting the Democratic Party in racial "witch hunting" and uses key sections of the infamous Begala-penned article, "Banana Republicans," to underline this alleged behavior.

However, Horowitz chose to omit the paragraphs that followed those inflammatory statements:

"But that's not the whole story, either. Cultural warriors like House impeachment managers Bill McCollum and James Rogan, and ultra-conservatives Senator John Ashcroft were defeated. A gun control measure passed in Colorado and Oregon, and school vouchers were rejected in Michigan and California. Democrats gained seats in the House, the Senate and state legislatures -- and Al Gore carried the popular vote.

My point is that Middle America is a far more complicated place than even a gifted commentator like Mike Barnicle gives us credit for. It's not all just red and blue -- or black and white."

In fact, Horowitz also chose to omit the fact that Begala's statements were in fact a rebuttal to statements made by columnist Mike Barnicle to MSNBC.

In omitting the above, Horowitz is behaving in a most manipulative and dishonest way. Frankly, his behavior is more worthy of tabloids than of a reputable venue like Salon.com.

-- Karen Higgins

Dear David,

You are so right. The real racists in America are the liberals of the Democrat Party. Their desire is to keep blacks uneducated and poor; that is why they resist vouchers and any privatization of Social Security. Republicans seem afraid to carry this message into the black community.

Bush should propose vouchers for inner-city schools, explain to Blacks how Democrats have fooled them with a Social Security that does not allow them to keep their own money. Bush should implore Ted Turner to take one of his other billions to start businesses in inner cities, realizing that while profit is their intent, none might come for a few years.

Republicans cannot sit by and allow lefties to convince blacks that conservatives are their enemy. But it would take balls to play the Machiavellian game as the Democrats do. Were Bush to offer a voucher plan in the black communities, how many Democrats could support it? Stop chipping away at so-called victims and the liberal Democratic Party goes the way of the Know-Nothing Party.

Thanks for your great articles.

-- Al Davis

Why are Republicans so convinced that the majority of racism is anti-white, not black? Who was enslaved? Not whites. Who was blocked from voting (even this election)? Not whites. I suppose that Republicans are angry because the vast majority of black people are Democrats.

And why do Republicans defend things that aren't being attacked? Nobody is accusing Colin Powell of being racist. Few people are accusing John Ashcroft of being racist. Maybe Republicans know that they are wrong in the places where they are attacked, and are forced to ignore those places.

Republicans do ignore those issues. I haven't seen one article from Horowitz on the fact that Bush lost the popular vote, or that Ashcroft lied about White, or that Gale Norton is anti-environment. Horowitz, a man who idealizes Nixon (a racist), dances around issues to try to make the GOP look great and all liberals look evil. Either he lies to himself, lies to his readers or is just plain dumb.

-- Shaked Sivan

Hate crimes are expressions of hatred that parallel a history of oppression. This concept is explained in any number of books on the subject, any introductory class in black studies or any other civil rights education curriculum.

That David Horowitz has not grasped this simple concept would seem to indicate a lack of adequate education on the issues about which he speaks.

Racism and hate crimes should be considered more serious than other crimes because they oppose our basic national values. Even more than peace and freedom from violence, the United States values the equality of all its citizens, and freedom from religious or racial persecution.

That is why racial hate crimes (whites committing racially motivated crimes against blacks), which follow and invoke the history of oppression, are more serious. In short, it is more serious for a white person to burn a cross on a black family's lawn than it is for a black person to burn a shoebox on a white person's lawn.

Mr. Horowitz uses a cheap but transparent tactic to intentionally blur this distinction: by comparing hate crimes to crimes that are at the extreme end of violence. We are so horrified by the crimes he describes, that it is both morbid and disturbing to attempt to compare them in a historical context.

If one can grit his teeth, however, and make an attempt, it becomes clear that a crime motivated by racism is indeed something more serious than random violence.

-- Gregg Murray

By Salon Staff

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