“Never trust anyone over thirty” was a slogan of the 1960s New Left. The movement’s members may now be in their 70s, but many of them never really grew up. Now, one of those who did become an adult, David Horowitz, is giving them the comeuppance they richly deserve in Volume One of his collected conservative writings, The Black Book of the American Left.
This first volume, titled My Life and Times, is autobiographical in nature. It is divided into four parts: “Reflections From My Life,” “Reflections on the Left,” “Slander As Political Discourse,” and “Two Talks on Autobiographical Themes.” Horowitz gives his powerful testimony in a way only a defecting, Whitaker Chambers-like witness of the left-wing can.
In December of 1974, Horowitz’s friend Betty Van Patter was murdered by the Black Panthers. The event rocked Horowitz to the core, since both he and Van Patter were among the forefront of the legions of left-wing supporters of the Panthers. To his horror, Horowitz discovered that the left didn’t care, that it viewed human life as dispensable in its quest for utopia.
This was confirmed shortly afterwards when the Communists in Southeast Asia, whom Horowitz and the rest of his New Left comrades promoted as liberators fighting against American imperialism, conquered the entirety of Indochina and began to murder the newly enslaved peoples by the millions. As Horowitz writes, “More people–more poor Indochinese peasants–were killed by the Marxist victors and friends of the New Left in the first three years of the Communist peace than had been killed on all sides in the 13 years of the anti-Communist war.” And the left continued to support them, since it was America, not its totalitarian (and often genocidal) opponents, who were its real enemy.
These were tough years of soul searching, but Horowitz realized what the left was and could no longer support such a bankrupt, immoral, and bloodthirsty political religion. Thereafter, he made it his mission to warn his fellow Americans what they were up against.
A good example, worth quoting at length, is Horowitz’s account of how New Left leader Tom Hayden orchestrated the takeover of the Democratic Party by the (as Horowitz would say) Neo-Communists:
In 1968 Hayden was already calling the Black Panthers “America’s Vietcong,” and planning the riot he was going to stage at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in August. Hayden’s attack on the Democratic Party convention is conveniently misrepresented as a “police riot” in [Stephen] Talbot’s film [1968: The Year That Shaped a Generation], [Todd] Gitlin’s book [The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage], and Hayden’s own disingenuous memoir, Reunion… In a year when any national demonstration would attract 100,000 protesters, closer to 3,000 actually showed up for the Chicago blood-fest. That was because most of us realized there was going to be bloodshed and didn’t see the point. The two-party system was a sham; the revolution was in the streets. Why was Hayden focusing on a Democratic Party convention? In retrospect, Hayden was more cynical and proved to be shrewder than we were. By destroying the presidential aspirations of Hubert Humphrey, he broke the power of the anti-Communist liberals in the Democratic Party and paved the way for a takeover of its apparatus by forces that dramatically shifted the party to the left.
One reason the historical facts surrounding the Chicago riots have been obscured by the left is that the nostalgists don’t really want to take credit for getting Richard Nixon elected. As a matter of political discretion, they are also willing to let their greatest coup–the capture of the Democratic Party–go un-memorialized. Instead, they prefer to ascribe this remarkable development to impersonal forces that apparently had nothing to do with their own agendas and actions. Talbot summarizes: “‘While the whole world [was] watching,’ [Daley’s] police rioted, clubbing demonstrators, reporters, and bystanders indiscriminately. The Democratic Party self-destructed.” Well, actually, it was destroyed.
When the fires of Watergate consumed the Nixon presidency in 1974, the left’s newly won control of the Democratic Party produced the exact result that Hayden and his comrades had worked so hard to achieve. In 1974, a new class of Democrats was elected to Congress which included anti-war activists like Ron Dellums, Pat Schroeder, David Bonior, and Bella Abzug. Their politics were left as opposed to the anti-Communist liberalism of the Daleys and the Humphreys, and their first act was to cut off economic aid and military supplies to the regimes in Cambodia and South Vietnam. Though it is conveniently forgotten now, this cut-off occurred two years after the United States had signed a truce with Hanoi and all American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam.
“Bring the Troops Home” may have been the slogan of the so-called antiwar movement, but it was never its ultimate goal. The ultimate goal was a Communist Vietnam. Anti-Communist regimes in Saigon and Phnom Penh fell, and the killing fields began, within three months of the cutoff. The mass slaughters in Cambodia and South Vietnam from 1975 to 1978, which took place as a result of the withdrawal of aid, was the real achievement of the New Left and could not have been achieved without Hayden’s sabotage of the anti-Communist liberals like Humphrey and Daley.
…It is not that important to me what lessons my former comrades draw from our service to the wrong side in the Cold War. I just wish they would remember it as it happened. I also wish they wouldn’t make themselves retrospective supporters of the latter-day struggle against Communism, whose true warriors and champions–however distasteful, embarrassing, and uncomfortable it must be for them–were Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, the leaders they most resented and despised.
When I decided to write an essay about these events in a university class about the 1960s, I was told that Horowitz’s account was not a reliable source and would not be accepted as such. I was only able to get around this de facto Horowitz embargo and describe these events truthfully because some of the liars on the left let the truth slip out. To cite one example, one of the 1968 Chicago DNC riot plotters, Jerry Rubin, later admitted: “Let’s face it. We wanted disruption. We planned it. We were not innocent victims. We worked on our plans for a year before we came here [Chicago]… We were guilty as hell. Guilty as charged.”
Horowitz, in his book, describes a similar and even more egregious example of this historical blacklisting:
Following the collapse of the socialist empire the marginalization of conservative ideas in the academy has been so pervasive that even those conservatives whose analyses were dramatically vindicated by the events continue to remain hopelessly obscure. As far back as 1922, Ludwig von Mises wrote a 500-page treatise predicting that socialism would not work… As close as any analysis could, Mises’s warning anticipated the next 70 years of socialist history… Given the verdict of history on the socialist experiments, Mises’s works and others that derive from the tradition of classical liberalism should provide the central texts of any respectable academic discourse. Instead they are so marginal to the university curriculum, it is as if they had never been written. In contrast to Mises’s fate, Stalinist intellectuals like Gramsci, Hobsbawm, and Zinn have become icons of the left-wing professoriate, their writings reissued in scholarly editions, their texts well-thumbed by undergraduates, their ideas developed and refined in doctoral studies.
No review, of any length, can do this book justice. Ever since reality came crashing down on his head in the mid-1970s, David Horowitz has devoted his life to telling the truth about America’s enemies. It is our job, as patriots, to spread the word.
In Edward Jay Epstein’s papers at Boston University, I found an internal NBC News memo dated 3/25/69, titled “Re: Business of tv news – May 1, 1969” “Source: 2/20 Wallace Westfeldt – Exec Producer, Huntley-Brinkley, NBC” – in which Mr. Westfeldt complains (as quoted in the memo):
One problem we had with the Chicago Convention Coverage was because we have to abide by FCC obscenity regulations. When we were criticized we were asked why we hadn’t shown what the kids were doing. Hell, we couldn’t. I agree it distorted the situation, but we were forced into it by the law.
What were those “kids” chanting during that riot? “The whole world is watching.” If only that were completely – not just partially – true.