Some months ago, joining an online discussion initiated by a gay Facebook friend on the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, I countered a bitter remark about Ronald Reagan’s “homophobia” and his primary role in causing so many deaths by (as tactfully as possible) observing that gay activists had to bear their share of the blame for the epidemic in having obstructed public health measures to curtail its spread.Keep reading.
The hostile blowback to this remark startled me in its denialist fury, but the salient point here is the sneering tone in which more than one critic on the thread accused me of merely reiterating talking points raised by conservative polemicist David Horowitz. I was taken aback by the rapidity of the redirect to Horowitz in particular, as though nobody else at that time had raised the question of gay-liberationist complicity in maintaining a cone of silence over the elevated HIV risks inherent in unprotected, promiscuous anal intercourse. (Others did, but nobody else with the persistence, straight-talking candor and politically incorrect judgmentalism of Horowitz).
I conceded that my information about the role played by the gay liberation movement in the AIDS crisis was indeed based in Horowitz’s many public criticisms; but since, like all his writings, his accusations were evidence-based, what difference did it make, so long as his information was accurate? This question elicited anger of an even greater ferocity, and my original Facebook friend finally intervened to end the debate.
That was the last time I ever posted a remark on my friend’s page about anything (he didn’t “unfriend me,” a testimony to our real friendship, even though he expressed private sorrow about my reference to Horowitz), but it remains a sobering reminder of the tenacity of ideology over fact on the Left, and the demonization that is the truth-teller’s lot when attempting to set the record straight on identity-politics myths. When stakeholders in one of our culture’s official victim categories have invested themselves in a self-serving narrative, the last thing they want to think about are facts and statistics that threaten the comforting duvet of the rewritten past in which they have chosen to wrap themselves.
Such historical amnesia, arguably the single greatest besetting sin of the Left and the reason leftist illusions are so difficult to dislodge, is only held in check by the dogged, often thankless determination of objective witnesses to history who record unpalatable truths, and then patiently insert them at regular intervals into the slow-grinding mills of the historical archive until a Day of Reckoning forces respectful attention on them.
That day has not yet arrived. The illiberal liberalism known as progressivism remains ascendant in the West, winning battle after battle in the Culture Wars. Every day, more precious freedom to express one’s opinions is lost, as convenient ideological narratives are privileged on university campuses and in the media, while inconvenient truths are fed into the oubliette of Political Incorrectness.
As the little Facebook fracas I unwittingly set off demonstrates in microcosm, there has been no more determined witness to America’s ideological history in the last half century than David Horowitz, a superior intellect and skilled investigative journalist, whose most formidable weapon is his own history as a hard-left political insider turned apostate, and forensic specialist in the pathogens of his own childhood disease.
Or, for another metaphor, Horowitz might be compared to a political archeologist for whom no potsherd, no coin, no amulet is too imperfect or humble to warrant respectful assessment as a clue in reconstruction of a culture. Horowitz has excavated his life and times with a patience and thoroughness that gives new depth of meaning to the words “second thoughts” in exposing the irrationality, hypocrisy and self-righteousness that characterize the intolerant and punitive mindset that dominates our culture.
Now aging, but with his passion for exposing the Left’s sins undimmed, this happy heretic has for the past few years been re-issuing his essays, speeches and newspaper columns in a series of 10 books under the general title of The Black Book of the American Left: the Collected Conservative Writings of David Horowitz.
With the comprehensive Index that will fill the last book, the series will endure as the definitive prosecution of the Left’s subversion of American freedoms, ideals and willingness to lead in spreading the blessings of democracy that have been the greatest, and sometimes the only, hope for a world struggling to emerge from a variety of totalitarian regimes, from godless Communism to God-drenched Islamism.
Volume Five, Culture Wars, amasses Horowitz’s writings from the 1990s and very early 2000s that explore the Left’s transmogrification of American culture in the second half of the 20th century by means of “the long march through the institutions.” This phrase, coined by Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci, references a dramatic change in Marxist tactics that was conceived in the 1930s, but only took root with a vengeance in the 1970s and ‘80s...
And don't miss Horowitz's The Politics of Bad Faith: The Radical Assault on America's Future, of which Chapter Five covers the radical left's extreme politicization of the AIDS crisis, "A Radical Holocaust."