David Horowitz, editor in chief and co-founder of the right-wing website FrontPageMag.com, vehemently insists that he is not a "racist," calling it a "slander" against him (though he appears to have few qualms about applying the term to others, as Media Matters for America has documented). But his actions and statements on racial matters regularly prompt others to point out his insensitivity on racial issues.
Conservative Baltimore Sun columnist Gregory Kane, who recommended Horowitz's book Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations For Slavery (Encounter Books, 2001) in a December 15, 2001, column, previously took Horowitz to task over some of the reasons Horowitz offered in a controversial ad setting out "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea -- and Racist Too." In response to Horowitz's claim that "[r]eparations to African-Americans have been paid" in the form of welfare benefits and racial-preference laws, Kane wrote in an April 1, 2001, Baltimore Sun column:
It is here that Horowitz left himself open to the charge that his ad was racist. He's guilty of muddling a bit of history as well. Welfare payments didn't start with the Great Society in 1965. They started during the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt as the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. And it isn't only blacks who receive welfare payments. Plenty of whites do. To call them "reparations" for blacks is just downright silly, and preferential jobs and admissions for blacks are no more reparations than similar preferences given to veterans.
In a March 25, 2001, column in the Chicago Tribune, syndicated columnist Clarence Page called Horowitz a "racial provocateur" who was "inciting racial divisions, fears, tensions and suspicions for fame and profit" with the anti-reparations ad. Page also noted that Horowitz was "portraying slavery as something less than evil."
The anti-reparations ad was not Horowitz's only questionable action on racial issues. On July 16, 2002, FrontPageMag.com ran a version of an article that first appeared in the publication American Renaissance, operated by Samuel Jared Taylor, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as "a courtly presenter of ideas that most would describe as crudely white supremacist." The article suggested that two black men in Wichita, Kansas, Jonathan and Reginald Carr, were motivated by hatred of whites when they robbed, sexually assaulted, and shot five white people in December 2000, killing four of them. In fact, prosecutors described the Carrs' crimes as "driven by greed, driven by selfishness, driven by lust, by twisted sexual gratification, disregard for the value of human life, disregard for life."
Despite the article's flawed premise, Horowitz called it "accurate and profoundly important" in a July 15, 2002, entry on his FrontPageMag.com blog. In a July 16, 2002, commentary accompanying the article, Horowitz wrote: "The fact is that the Wichita horror is but one of many spectacular lynchings of white people by black racists, which the nation's moral watchdogs choose to ignore."
In his July 15, 2002, blog entry, Horowitz defended FrontPageMag.com's decision to run the American Renaissance item, praising Taylor as "a very smart and gutsy individualist" and "a very intelligent and principled man"; Horowitz also defended him against the charge of being "racist," preferring the word "racialist":
There are many who would call Jared Taylor and his American Renaissance movement "racist." If the term is modified to "racialist," there is truth in the charge. But Taylor and his Renaissance movement are no more racist in this sense than [Reverend] Jesse Jackson and the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People].
Horowitz added that he disagreed with Taylor's separatist approach and insisted that FrontPageMag.com was not "racialist."
As Media Matters has previously noted, Robert Chrisman, editor in chief of the journal The Black Scholar, and Ernest Allen Jr., a professor of African American studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, issued a response to Horowitz's anti-reparations ad that directly challenged and refuted the ad's claims. Chrisman and Allen wrote:
While Horowitz's article [sic] pretends to address the issues of reparations, it is not about reparations at all. It is, rather, a well-heeled, coordinated attack on Black Americans which is calculated to elicit division and strife.
As one examines the text of Horowitz's article, it becomes apparent that it is not a reasoned essay addressed to the topic of reparations: it is, rather, a racist polemic against African Americans and Africans that is neither responsible nor informed, relying heavily upon sophistry and a Hitlerian "Big Lie" technique.
In his December 1 FrontPageMag.com column, Horowitz responded to the Media Matters item quoting Chrisman and Allen. He wrote that their criticism of his ad was "Alice in Wonderland stuff as anybody who bothers to read my ad or the article on which it is based would readily recognize." Read the ad here.
As Media Matters has also noted, Frank H. Wu, author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White (Basic Books, 2003), wrote an April 30, 2000, review (available via Nexis) of Horowitz's book Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes (Spence, 1999) in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. Wu wrote:
His [Horowitz's] condemnation of single black mothers, even if his empirical data about the likely poverty of their families were to be accepted, is cursory and harsh. It is likely to encourage racial stereotyping and reinforce patterns of unproductive behavior.
However perverse or offensive Horowitz's extreme rhetoric, it is admirable as an example of the triumph of right-wing commentators in appropriating the language of the civil rights movement. Instead of African Americans or the working class being oppressed by racial discrimination, the angry white males or "model minority" Asian Americans become the innocent victims of affirmative action.
In addition, as Media Matters has noted, TIME magazine national correspondent Jack E. White described Horowitz in an August 30, 1999, TIME article as a "real, live bigot." White's description of Horowitz came in response to an August 16, 1999, column Horowitz wrote for Salon.com, which bore the headline "Guns don't kill black people, other blacks do." In his December 1 FrontPageMag.com column, Horowitz claimed that the "terminally angry" White "twisted" his words.