Straight outta "Star Trek"

Salon readers accuse David Horowitz of writing science fiction.

Published June 28, 2001 9:47PM (EDT)

Anger management

If there were a medal for the columnist Salon liberal readers love to hate, David Horowitz would walk with it. Just as Joe Conason gets the most hated liberal award hands down, there's just something about David that gets our liberal readers excited.

Most of it has to do with simple ideology: Salon's liberal leaders reliably deluge our in boxes with vitriolic letters every other Tuesday, starting at about 12:01 a.m. Eastern time, just after Horowitz's column goes live. And the new liberal online gatekeepers routinely malign and bash Horowitz the way Freepers go after Chelsea Clinton.

Take this little ditty from American Politics Journal's Jeff Koopersmith. "If I ever actually meet this bastard, I promise to clonk his chubby bearded head in as many places as possible before the Gestapo rips me off him."

Safe to say Horowitz won't be spending Thanksgiving at the Koopersmith estate.

But when an apparent factual error appeared in Horowitz's latest column, our mailboxes overflowed, thanks in part to a posting on taking Horowitz to task. Here's a little sample:

H.L Williams writes, "Horowitz states, 'On one ship, the Aurora, 10 percent of the women en route to the war zone got pregnant.' Strange thing about this floating pleasure palace, the Aurora ... it doesn't seem to exist! A browse through the list of current U.S. Navy Ships doesn't show an Aurora, nor does the Navy's list of de-commissioned ships.

"The only use I was able to find of the Aurora name in the U.S. Navy was an Argo Class Patrol Boat from WWII, WPC-103, commissioned the 21st of December, 1931! Can Horowitz account for the phantom ship?"

Other amateur naval historians, and a few sci-fi buffs, also chimed in. A reader named Zach writes, "So, 10 percent of the female soldiers on the USS Aurora got pregnant on the way to the Persian Gulf? Funny the only USS Aurora I have been able to find any reference to is the USS Aurora from 'Star Trek.' Did Mr. Horowitz just make up that little factoid? If he did, then can I be a columnist, also? I can make up much better fiction without stealing it from a TV show."

Thank you for your interest, Zach. Form letter to follow.

But it turns out our readers were right. The ship was named the Acadia, and 36 women were sent home due to pregnancy at some time during its seven-month stint in the Gulf, not en route to the conflict. The 10 percent stat has been widely thrown around by people opposed to women serving in the military, but the Navy has always disputed the figures and says the actual number was 5 percent.

The level of Horowitz-based hatred is proof of the fact that if Horowitz didn't exist, liberals would have to invent him. In any event, mistakes were made, and that calls for a correction. You can read the entire correction here.

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By Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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