A Florida Lynching & A Broken Friendship

When a vote for Trump provides a license to destroy a man’s character and credibility by any means necessary.

We live in strange times. Since the election of Donald Trump, it has often seemed as if 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 was first the target of accusations that he was a traitor, colluding with the Russians, a racist and white nationalist betraying the country’s founding principles. And it was the Democrats who launched a “resistance” to his presidency, boycotting his inauguration and demanding his overthrow from day one of his presidency.

During the week when the FBI was searching for the Florida pipe-bomber, the anti-Trump media was busy accusing the president of inciting his violence because he referred to them as “Fake News.” According to the talking heads, chants of “CNN Sucks” at Trump rallies had directly inspired a nutcase loner with a long arrest record who had begun threatening bomb attacks decades before Trump had even entered politics. 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 can be said to be interested in facts) the term “nationalism” was coined by Joseph Mazzini, who created the modern state of Italy. Far from being a dictator, he 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 whose goal is to demonize the president by any means necessary. That same week CNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell was connecting Trump to Hitler in his own perverse manner. Commenting on Trump’s comment that he was a nationalist, O’Donnell said to his audience: “And we all know what word is associated with nationalism: white.”

Obviously “fake news” is much too kind a description of the openly partisan press corps whose one-time journalists 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 in his tenure as Tallahassee mayor as 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.” [1]

I am one of those “racists” to whom Gillum is referring, perhaps even the primary one. A poor choice, one would think, since I have a public record stretching over 56-years since the publication of my first book, 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.

Well, I would have been a poor choice in more sober times, rather than our present circumstances where anyone on the right – or anyone who supports President Trump - is fair game for racial slanderers and a press that no longer cares about the facts. 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.” De Santis had attended the Weekend four times to give foreign policy speeches. So the logic was – if we were racists, then DeSantis must be.

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 our event, which we have held since 1994 with no such attacks, or with 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 leftwing 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 that 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 Ron 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 was 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 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 Acts sixty 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 partisan audience – why he should be familiar with everything I had ever said.

This summary moment in the DeSantis lynching was written up for The Daily Beast by a former friend of mine and now a Never Trumper – Ronald Radosh. 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 adding 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. Actually, 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 was _Big Agenda: Trump’s Plan to Save America._” The book was 11 weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller 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 Never Trumper 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:

From: Ron Radosh
Date: January 10, 2014 at 9:11:18 AM PST
To: David Horowitz

Happy birthday David. I knew it was coming up, but didn’t realize it was today. So accept my heartiest wishes for a milestone that I passed a year ago.

You are not only a good friend, but the only one I have who is a national treasure and whose good work serves our country as no one else does. 

Apparently, a vote for Trump is enough to throw all that out the window, along with the friendship. Apparently, it also provides a license to distort a man’s work, and attempt to destroy his character and credibility by any means necessary. 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.   



[1] Brad Slager, “Andrew Gillum Defies His Claim to Keep Race Out of the Election … Over and Over and Over,” Sunshine State News, October 27, 2018