Hating Whitey: And Other Progressive Causes. David Horowitz.
For Betty – Oh God, What Have We Done…. June 16, 2000
One brings to a book everything one is and has been through. Let me discuss David Horowitz’s Hating Whitey by seemingly digressing a little on my own experience. I grew up in the white suburbs of Detroit during the `60s and `70s and have vivid memories of the Detroit riot and my uncle and aunt’s bakery being almost burnt to the ground, while their neighbors and friends were increasingly driven out by violence and the erosion of social order. In the end, they too accepted the inevitability of flight for their lives. More than forty years of programs and promises of “renaissance” have only produced a dysfunctional city that often can neither educate its young nor reliably provide the most basic services such as snow removal and, for a couple of days now, electricity.
At the University of Michigan I studied with Robert Hayden, a former Poet Laureate at the Library of Congress, who thought of himself as a human being, first and foremost, though he begrudgingly accepted Afro-American, despite his preference at times for Negro, coming from an older time. The child of an interracial marriage, Hayden loathed the divisiveness of racial politics and lacerated radical blacks on more than one occasion. Ultimately, his vision of human oneness melded with that of Martin Luther King and similar figures, challenging us all to a deeply demanding spiritual ethic, a universal standard holding all accountable, before which all must struggle and strive.
David Horowitz devastatingly chronicles the result of the lack of such a standard on race relations during the last forty years; the result in the university; the result in the media; the result in the legal system; the result in politics; the result in the hearts and minds and souls of our entire nation.
As someone who has edited the poems and prose of a human being usually identified as black, I have had the experience several times of being invited for job interviews at colleges only to be met with disbelief and gaping mouths when I, a “whitey,” walked in through the department door! I am one who has lived through almost everything about which Horowitz writes regarding academia, including losing a tenure track job as the result of a relentless and byzantine conspiracy of “colleagues” who wanted a black in the position, one widely perceived by those fit to judge as nowhere near my intellectual equal and who eventually had to be removed from my post for incompetence.
Horowitz’s major shortcoming, typical of the modern secular mind, liberal or conservative, is that his critique, unlike Dostoevsky who understood the nature of modernity, does not go deep enough into the spiritual collapse that underlies the dynamics of race, as they underlay the collapse into communism. This failure is also evident in his Destructive Generation, which is, nevertheless, another of his brave and brilliant books. Perhaps someday Horowitz will plumb further into the depths of radical causes. (His autobiography Radical Son does touch on his ambivalence towards Judaism and religious belief, leaving him ultimately “stubbornly agnostic.”)
Being a white man and given the politically charged nature of race today, Horowitz demonstrates a rare streak of moral strength and courage by his daring to speak his conscience against black racism and the misguided designs of race elites. Fortunately, he is not alone. Along with Hating Whitey, those truly interested in beginning to understand and confront the race dilemmas of America should also read Ward Connerly’s Creating Equal, Shelby Steele’s A Dream Deferred, and Thomas Sowell’s The Quest for Cosmic Justice, works by exceptional, heroic human beings who have all been slandered as Uncle Toms by more than one race radical.