Improbably, Florida’s heated gubernatorial debate Wednesday night ended up pivoting around far-right firebrand David Horowitz.
The moderator—after mentioning Republican Ron DeSantis’s famous advice on the first day of the general election to Florida voters, that “the last thing we need to do is monkey this up by embracing the socialist agenda” of Democrat Andrew Gillum, who is black—the question pivoted unexpectedly to DeSantis’ four separate speeches at Horowitz’s annual Restoration Weekend.
Moderator Todd McDermott quoted Horowitz saying “this country’s only serious race war is against whites,” at which point DeSantis interrupted to say “you can play the McCarthyite game.”
McDermott then continued, again quoting Horowitz, this time asking “if blacks are oppressed in America, why isn’t there a black exodus?” And then McDermott quoted DeSantis calling himself “a big admirer of an organization (the David Horowitz Freedom Center, led by David Horowitz) that shoots straight, tells the American people the truth and is standing up for the right thing.”
Before the moderator could then ask his question, DeSantis interrupted again, first asking “How the hell am I supposed to know every single statement somebody makes?” and then launching into a monologue about, among other things, his military service in Iraq before declaring: “I am not going to bow down to the altar of political correctness. I am going to not let the media smear me like they like to do with so many other people.”
Forget about “every statement”—DeSantis could have listened to just about any statement Horowitz has made in the last few years.
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. However, he did support the overt racist Roy Moore in the alleged pederast’s recent race for Congress. When I asked Horowitz how he could do this, he told me that ordinarily he would oppose someone like Moore, but Trump needed every vote he could get in the Senate.
That’s typical of how Horowitz has gone off the deep end in recent years and in his support of Trump. Horowitz’s annual events used to have moderate conservatives and even liberals and self-proclaimed leftists, and vigorous debate. I once sat on a panel years ago that featured Nation contributing editor Marc Cooper and New York Times political reporter Matt Bai, and was chaired by Reagan’s attorney general, Ed Meese.
More recently, though, and in the years DeSantis spoke there, the list of speakers has been dominated by Trumpist supporters and others on the far right. Steve Bannon was honored as the group’s Man of the Year in 2016 as the Freedom Center and Horowitz’s website, Frontpagemag.com, have become devoted supporters of both Trump’s agenda and the divisive, dishonest and destructive ways in which he advances it.
If DeSantis is interested, here are just a few of the things Horowitz—whose group the would-be governor says “tells the American people the truth”—has said very recently, starting with his response to the mailbox bombs sent to a group of Democrats and Trump opponents:
There are no bigger or more compulsive or more shameless liars in this country than Democrats; no more vicious or cynical character assassins than liberal talking heads on CNN and MSNBC.
He deleted a second tweet:
"Obama, the Clintons, Soros and the Fake News channels get suspicious packages all on the same day. Jeez, do you wonder who sent them? The DNC perhaps?"
About the real villain if, as the Times reports, Trump refuses to use a secure phone:
Yes. Hillary put classified information on her multiple private phones. Then she destroyed the phones and deleted the emails. That's first treason and then obstruction of justice. You have no idea what Trump is saying on his phone but it's almost certainly not classified info.
And about DeSantis and the debate, and also Megan Kelly and blackface:
Anti-white racism is so pervasive on the left and in the university-media environment they control that innocuous and true statements like Megyn Kelly's , and recently Ron DeSantis' can be twisted to destroy you.
And on, and on, and on.
If DeSantis is angry that comments he made at Horowitz’s forum are being used to smear him as a racist and an extremist, he should think about his association with and praise of the Horowitz Freedom Center.