To the Editor:
David Horowitz’ column (“David Horowitz: Reflections of a campus provocateur,” 4/02) decries the witch hunt of which he claims to be a victim, maintaining that he has been rashly cast as a racist — a “career-ruining, reputation-wrecking charge.”
Rabidly eschewing the possibility of continued unfair treatment of African-Americans as a legacy of racialized slavery, Horowitz readily places himself in the position of victim. That is a gross mischaracterization of an individual with an exorbitant amount of money at his disposal and the (albeit laughably vague) position of president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture.
But what of the witch hunt and atmosphere of intimidation and fear — replete with hate mail and threats of violence — that has ensued at Brown University in the wake of Horowitz’ ad, which has arbitrarily targeted black students and faculty, particularly Lewis Gordon, the Director of the Afro-American Studies Program, and his family? What of the “career-ruining, reputation-wrecking” and, as is evident in at least this one instance, life-threatening position of being black?
Let us, then, talk about what is being implicitly stigmatized and dismissed here: the idea that race-based inequality exists as a legacy of slavery in America today. Tokenism and increasing class stratification aside, structural racism is a fundamental problem facing our society as blacks, as well as other minority groups, are still denied the wide array of democratic rights and opportunities presented to their white counterparts. Indeed, there already exists social alienation and isolation; there is no need to construct or anticipate such a condition.
But I suppose that many of us assumed that the inequities of the past and present, and the urgent need for redress through economic and educational initiatives, social development programs and the like were self-evident and did not necessitate “Horowitz-like” declaration.
I encourage us all to not limit ourselves, as Horowitz unfortunately does, to blind denunciation and trenchant agendas. Instead, let us critically recognize and evaluate “difficult ideas or difficult standards.”
Nilofar Gardezi ’03
April 2, 2001