A Florida Lynching and a Broken Friendship

We live in strange times. Since the election of Donald Trump, it has often seemed as though half the country has gone blind or, more likely, lost the ability to see beyond their noses. The divisions that have resulted are so deep they have split us effectively into two nations, damaging and destroying individual relationships at every level.

The political Left and its media blame Trump for this fracturing of the nation’s fabric. But Trump is merely a symptom, not the cause. What’s more, Trump was first the target of accusations that he is a traitor, colluding with the Russians, a racist, and white nationalist betraying the country’s founding principles. In striking back at these outrageous charges, he is branded intemperate, “abnormal,” and worse. Meanwhile,  it was the Democrats who launched a “resistance” to his presidency, boycotting his inauguration and demanding his overthrow from day one. Intemperate is as intemperate does.

During the week when the FBI was searching for the Florida pipe-bomber, the anti-Trump media was busy accusing the president of inciting violence because he had the temerity to refer to them as “Fake News.” According to the talking heads, chants of “CNN Sucks” at Trump rallies had directly inspired a nutcase loner. Never mind his long arrest record—including the fact that he had begun threatening bomb attacks as far back as 2002, long before Trump descended the escalator to announce his 2016 campaign.

That same week, I happened to watch an MSNBC panel hosted by Nicole Wallace, where every panelist was comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler. Why? Because Trump had just announced he was a “nationalist” and nationalists, according to the panel, without exception, were authoritarian dictators like Hitler.

In fact (if anyone at MSNBC could be said to be interested in facts) the term “nationalism” was coined by Joseph Mazzini, who established the modern state of Italy. Far from being a dictator, Mazzini was a democrat. Moreover, Hitler was not exactly a nationalist, since Germany was already a powerful state. He was a racist who wanted to create an Aryan empire. But this hardly matters to MSNBC panels, the goal of which is to demonize the president by any means necessary. That same week MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell was connecting Trump to Hitler in his own perverse manner. Commenting on Trump’s remark that he was a nationalist, O’Donnell said to his audience: “And we all know what word is associated with nationalism: white.”

Slander on the Campaign Trail
Obviously “fake news” is much too kind a description for that commentary. The openly partisan press corps is composed of one-time journalists who are now pursuing careers as professional character assassins.

The same politics of personal destruction is also the staple of many campaigns by Democratic Party candidates. None more so than in the state of Florida, where a full-fledged public lynching of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis is in progress. His opponent, racial demagogue Andrew Gillum, calls every accusation of incompetence and corruption during his tenure as Tallahassee mayor a “racist attack” because he is black. There could hardly be a more classic example of such demagoguery than this Gillum statement, “Now, I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”

I am one of those purported “racists” to whom Gillum is referring with this jab, perhaps even the primary one. Though I must confess to having been a poor and ineffective racist, given that my public record, stretching back more than 56-years since the publication of my first book, is loaded with examples in which I have promoted equal rights for all Americans regardless of race or national origin. I am possibly the only conservative who publicly defended Trayvon Martin during the trial of his killer, George Zimmerman.

I participated in my first civil rights demonstration for African-Americans in 1948, 70 years ago. Since then, I have worked tirelessly on behalf of racial equality, sometimes foolishly as when I was a leftist and raised money for and promoted the Black Panther Party, which turned out to be a criminal gang. Over the last 20 years, I have written three books and several hundred thousand words, all devoted to Martin Luther King’s vision that Americans should judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

In more sober times, no one would imagine getting away with such a calumny as accusing me of being a racist. But in our present circumstances anyone on the Right—or, rather, anyone who supports President Trump—is fair game for racial slanderers and a press that no longer cares about the facts.

Bald-Face Lies About DeSantis and “The Restoration Weekend”
Now I find myself treated as a prop in the public lynching of DeSantis. A Washington Post headline writer described a gathering I host annually in Palm Beach—“The Restoration Weekend,” as a “racially charged event.” DeSantis had attended the Weekend four times to give foreign policy speeches. So the logic was, if we were racists, then DeSantis must be, too.

The absurdity of the Post’s description of our event—for which no credible evidence was produced—would have been obvious to anyone familiar with it. Restoration Weekends have been happening since 1994 with no such attacks leveled against us or against the list of our featured speakers and award winners who have included such African-American leaders as J.C. Watts, Ben Carson, Herman Cain, Allen West, Jason Reilly, Charles Payne, Candace Owens, Larry Elder, Sonnie Johnson and even the former Democratic Mayor of Washington D.C., Adrian Fenty.

On the basis of the false Post headline, and equally groundless accusations floating around the left-wing hate-sphere, the gathering DeSantis attended was slandered as an event hosted by “an infamous racist,” a “white supremacist,” a “hate-monger,” and an “anti-Muslim fanatic” (this last despite the fact we featured my good friend, Muslim leader Zuhdi Jasser, specifically to defend Islam in a debate with Robert Spencer). These hateful stigmas appeared in the Huffington Post, GQ, Newsweek, New York Magazine, and virtually every major paper in the state of Florida. I asked the Washington Post to print a correction, or provide me with an op-ed column to set the record straight, but to no avail.

Two weeks before the election, when DeSantis and Gillum squared off in a second televised gubernatorial debate, the moderator turned to DeSantis and the race issue. Pointing out that DeSantis had attended four Restoration Weekends hosted by me, he then claimed I had said, “If blacks are oppressed in America, why isn’t there a black exodus?” This was supposed to be my racist comment. To clinch the case, he quoted a DeSantis statement in which he said he was “a big admirer of an organization (my Freedom Center) that shoots straight, tells the American people the truth and is standing up for the right thing.” Gotcha.

My hat is off to DeSantis for having the courage to defend an organization that is under such malicious attack. But the situation that a malevolent, and dishonest media had created for him is an impossible one. In fact, I have said on many occasions that no one is oppressed in America, which is an obvious truth. Otherwise why are there caravans of “people of color” trying to break into our country right now, albeit illegally? To be oppressed?

Over a 200-year period Americans have struggled to make good on the Founders’ promise that everyone is created equal and has equal rights. Americans established constitutional amendments and established laws, crowned by the Civil Rights Act 54 years ago, which outlawed all discrimination on the basis of race. It’s time to celebrate these victories not wallow in the oppressions of the past that are now illegal.

A TV debate, however, is not a venue conducive to history lessons or unpacking complex legal victories for the edification of hostile audiences. DeSantis attempted to defend himself by asking—to the groans of the hostile partisan audience—why he should be familiar with everything I had ever said.

A Former Friend’s Incomprehensible Attack
This summary moment in the DeSantis lynching was written up for The Daily Beast by a former friend of mine who is now a hostile NeverTrumper,. His article was presented under this headline: “Association With Extremist David Horowitz Catches Up With Ron DeSantis.” In other words, to save the failing racist narrative, Radosh was happy to add another character assassination —“extremist”—to the implausible “white supremacist.” Radosh did have the decency to write: “I have known David Horowitz for about 50 years. He is not, and never has been, a racist, and has defended himself ably from that charge.”

Unfortunately—and incomprehensibly—Radosh chose to preface that honest character witness with a reckless jibe at DeSantis for asking how he could be held responsible for everything I have said: “Forget about ‘every statement,’” Radosh wrote, “DeSantis could have listened to just about any statement Horowitz has made in the last few years.” In other words, any statement would demonstrate that I am an unhinged extremist. This is what you might call throwing mud at the wall—in this case me—and hoping something will stick.

What inspires Radosh’s reckless attacks on me is that I voted for Trump. I not only voted for Trump, I wrote a book about him and his Democratic adversaries, which Radosh could have mined for extremist statements if they existed. Its title is Big Agenda: Trump’s Plan to Save America. The book was 11 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and even received a favorable notice from Huffington Post, whose reviewer pointedly noted, “Horowitz also stresses the importance of offering a new deal to Black America in the inner cities, who have suffered for decades under the rule of the Democrats.” The review concludes: “Horowitz’s book will be an epiphany for those who haven’t been paying attention to the political landscape over the last ten years, but it is common sense for the rest of us.”

But not for Radosh, a NeverTrumper who has gone over to the other side of the political divide to join a disgraceful lynch party in its attempt to destroy a decent and good man in Ron DeSantis. For Radosh, the ends now apparently justify the means. Once known as a critic of Joseph McCarthy, Radosh’s hatred of Trump has caused him to join a witch hunt that dwarfs anything McCarthy ever attempted.

Two years before the Trump election, Radosh sent me a birthday email which provides a measure of what has happened. Radosh and I were close friends and political allies for 65 years, from the time we met in 1951 until 2016, when Trump was elected. This is his summary of what those years meant to him:

A vote for Trump was enough to throw all of that out the window, along with the friendship. Apparently, it also provides a license, by any means necessary, to distort a man’s work as well as to attempt to destroy his character and credibility. That is the state not only of my broken friendship with Ron Radosh and the political fate of Ron DeSantis, but also of our nation as we approach the days to come.

Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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