By John Perazzo
It’s unlikely that you’ve ever heard of the late Oseola McCarty (1908-99), but David Horowitz will never forget her—nor how her life story served as a testament to the limitless possibilities that are open to all Americans, regardless of race, if they will simply refuse to view themselves as helpless victims of circumstance. McCarty was a black, uneducated, hardworking, longtime cleaning woman from Mississippi, and Horowitz reflects upon her in his new book, Progressive Racism. The author cites McCarty as a flesh-and-blood refutation of the progressive article-of-faith which maintains that because “America is saturated with racism and oppression,” nonwhite minorities “cannot compete unless the system is rigged in their favor.” “A black woman living in the most racist and poorest state in the union (almost half her life under segregation),” writes Horowitz, was able to earn, from her modest wages, “enough money washing other people’s clothes to save $150,000 and give it away”—to a student scholarship program at the University of Southern Mississippi. “If Oseola McCarty can do that, what American black or white cannot?”
Blending McCarty’s life story into a discussion of his own evolution from radical Marxist to conservative, Horowitz writes: “I still believe in the ‘liberation’ of blacks, minorities, and the poor, as I did in the 1960s. Only now I believe in their liberation from the chains of ‘liberalism’ and the welfare state—from permanent dependence on government handouts, from perverse incentives to bear children out of wedlock, from inverted ethics that imply it is better to receive than to give, and worse, to receive without reciprocity or responsibility and above all without work.” Moreover, Horowitz sounds the trumpet for liberation from “the kindness of those who would cripple us with excuses for attitudes and behaviors that can only hold us back and eventually destroy us,” from “the charity of those who would chain us to their benevolence with lifetime handouts,” and from “the compassion of saviors who secretly despise us, who think we cannot compete on our merits or live up to the moral standards they expect of themselves.” His book is, in short, a clarion call for the rejection of progressive racism and, as a former U.S. president once phrased it, “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
Throughout Progressive Racism, Horowitz dissects the mind of the left and lays it bare for all to see. He reminds us that while “few people outside the halls of academia may think of themselves as Marxists” or pursuers of socialist utopias, “the old socialist left is alive and powerful”—though camouflaged “behind protective labels like ‘populist,’ ‘progressive’ and even ‘liberal’.” He explains that the “contemporary leftist faith” is, like Marxism, centered around the belief that “oppressive ‘alien powers’ (as Marx referred to them)” are the corrupt and illegitimate rulers of any non-socialist society. This accounts for the left’s obsessive and relentless need to portray America as a battleground where noble, morally pure victims must constantly defend themselves against the depredations of a greedy, power-hungry “trinity of oppressors: a class-race-and-gender caste.” And Horowitz warns us that for the left, the promotion of this worldview is not merely a topic for polite conversation or spirited debate. Rather, it is all-out war—“class war”—where society’s “victim” groups are assured that a utopian “world without chains” awaits them at the end of the battle.
Horowitz, who understands the mind of the left as well as anyone alive, explains that the left’s professed desire to “level the playing field” is simply a devious effort to present the ideal of “Marx’s classless society” in “politically palatable terms”; that for the left, “real” equality means not equal opportunity or equal treatment before the law, but rather, “equality of results—which is the communist ideal.” In this model, says Horowitz, inequalities in any sphere of life—income, school grades, standardized test scores, college graduation rates, incarceration rates, unemployment rates, etc.—are condemned as prima facie evidence of “the persistence of covert prejudice” or “institutional racism,” which is “the contemporary left’s version of Marx’s alien power.” And of course, the left’s response to these inequalities is always the same: to mandate an ever-growing array of race-based double standards designed to offset—under benign labels like “affirmative action” and “social justice”—the unfairness that supposedly creates inequality in all its forms. But as history has shown us not only in the U.S. but around the world, such double standards serve only to transform molehills of injustice and grievance into mighty mountains of the same.
Spitting in the eye of the race-grievance industry that the civil-rights movement has pathetically devolved into, Horowitz notes that “the primary reason that African-American children are poor is cultural, not institutional or racial.” “If it were racial,” he reasons, “there would be no (or only a small) black middle class, whereas the black middle class is now the majority of the black population.” Horowitz impugns the race pimps of the modern civil-rights establishment—who are foremost among today’s progressive racists—for reflexively attributing every black ill to their all-purpose bogey-man, white racism, while virtually never mentioning that “statistically speaking, a child born into a single-parent family is five times more likely to be poor than a child born into a family with two parents, regardless of race.” The very deliberate failure of progressive racists to acknowledge this hard and discomfiting fact has bred, among many African Americans, a victim mentality and a permanent sense of bitterness and disconnection from the larger culture. And the progressive racists of our day are delighted by this development, for it has enabled them to cast themselves as the aspiring saviors of society’s “victims,” and to thereby win a permanently reliable voting bloc for the Democratic Party.
Rejecting the left’s contention that Americans, by and large, should be ashamed of their nation’s history, Horowitz emphatically affirms that “the political history of the United States is … in large measure the history of a nation that led the world in eliminating slavery, in accommodating peoples it had previously defeated, in elevating nonwhites to a position of dignity and respect, in promoting opportunities and rights for women, and in fostering a healthy skepticism towards unworthy leaders and towards the dangers inherent in government itself.” Horowitz further explains that “this view of American history is now called ‘conservative,’ but only because leftists currently shape the political language of liberalism and have been able to redefine the terms of the political debate.” “There is nothing ‘liberal’ about people who deny the American narrative as a narrative of freedom,” he writes, “or who promote class, race, and gender war in the name of social progress.”
Also in Progressive Racism, Horowitz bluntly explains that the “moral legacy” of the civil-rights movement led by Martin Luther King “was in large part squandered by those who inherited it after his death.” Those inheritors, says Horowitz, were “racist demagogues” like Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Kwesi Mfume, and Julian Bond. The deliberate failure of such individuals “to condemn black racists, and black outrages committed against other ethnic communities, has been striking in its contrast to the demands such leaders make on the consciences of whites, and the moral example set by King when he dissociated his movement from the racist preachings of Malcolm X.”
We’ve all heard the venomous tirades of grievance mongers like Farrakhan, Sharpton, Jackson, Mfume, and Bond. And we’ve all heard the stern lectures of buffoonish, self-congratulating white progressives who dutifully remind us of the racism that allegedly sits at the very heart of our national character. But we’ve heard precious little about the quiet dignity of Oseola McCarty and others like her. In Progressive Racism, David Horowitz explains exactly who America’s real racists are.