Photo by Mark Taylor

The Black Book of the American Left, Volume 5: Culture Wars, by David Horowitz (Second Thought Books, 256 pp., $27.99)

Few colleges in America will invite David Horowitz to speak on their campuses. But, as a former leftist, Horowitz understands with uncommon depth and insight the psychology of those who refuse to let him address impressionable students. He senses the need among tenured leftists to believe in persecution fantasies. Fear—and the dream of constructing a secular utopia—motivates the academic Left to censor Horowitz and his small but influential Freedom Center, headquartered in that liberal bastion, Southern California.

In the eyes of the Left, Horowitz is an apostate. Raised a red-diaper baby by New York City school teachers, he first gained widespread notice as coeditor of Ramparts, a left-wing magazine. But Horowitz shifted to the right beginning in the 1970s. In 1985, he and frequent writing partner Peter Collier authored an article in the Village Voice declaring their changed sympathies. One of Horowitz’s ongoing projects is a multi-volume collection of his writings about the American Left. The fifth of these volumes, just published, contains pieces appearing over many years and concentrating, as its subtitle suggests, on the culture wars.

The best part of the new edition deals with the AIDS epidemic and what could have been done to reduce its severity. Horowitz argues that extreme elements in the gay rights movement were responsible for hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths. In essays dating back to 1983, Horowitz (often writing with Collier) urged public-health administrators to deploy all the measures traditionally used to combat active breakouts of epidemic disease. All, that is, except one: at no time did Horowitz argue for quarantining AIDS patients (a practice actually employed in Cuba). Horowitz has, however, argued for mandatory testing for HIV/AIDS of at-risk populations, noting that until recently most states required couples to take syphilis tests prior to granting marriage licenses.

Leaders in the gay rights movement, perhaps understandably, opposed this idea. Many also opposed Horowitz’s call to close bathhouses and institute mandatory contact-tracing of the infected. From the beginning of the epidemic, studies showed that a large proportion of those infected were unaware and so passed on the virus without taking any precautions. Even after the advent of drug “cocktail” treatments, AIDS remains a major cause of death in the United States. In 2012, 13,712 Americans died of AIDS—more than on 9/11 or in military service in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. In addition, almost 50,000 new HIV infections arise per year. Horowitz was right: the bathhouses should have been closed and contact-tracing should have been instituted. Many lives would have been saved.

Horowitz is likewise provocative—and persuasive—in arguing that the U.S. military’s response to a number of scandals involving sexual misconduct resembled witch-hunting. Career officers were cashiered or even imprisoned on slim or nonexistent evidence in order to placate feminist leaders in Congress, many of whom sought to use the military as a laboratory for social engineering. Horowitz also makes a compelling case for wholesale reform in the structure and leadership of public broadcasting. He cites extraordinary instances in which leaders at National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting sanctioned (and later defended) programming that promoted Stalinism, rabid anti-Americanism, and racial violence. In one such case, a Los Angeles public radio station was turned over for a weekend to Leonard Jeffries, Louis Farrakhan, and their acolytes. Farrakhan declared on the air that Caucasians and Jews constituted “the pale horse with death as its rider and hell close behind.”

Horowitz’s multivolume series is titled The Black Book of The American Left. One can wish that the Left didn’t provide so much material for each succeeding edition while being grateful that Horowitz is around to chronicle it all.


City Journal is a publication of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MI), a leading free-market think tank. Are you interested in supporting the magazine? As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, donations in support of MI and City Journal are fully tax-deductible as provided by law (EIN #13-2912529).

Further Reading

Up Next