Thomas L. Knapp
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Tom Knapp is Managing Editor of Free-Market.Net and publisher of Rational Review.

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David Horowitz is an apt pupil

It's an article of faith among some that if you claim to remember the sixties, you weren't really there. Speaking as someone born in the latter half of that portentous decade, I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

Those of us who weren't old enough to occupy Columbia University or attend Woodstock are getting awfully tired, and with good reason, of watching the sixties crowd parade their memoirs in front of us as some kind of morality play in which we're taught ... wouldn't you know it ... that they were all screwed up for rebelling against their elders. And that, now that they find themselves getting a little grey around the gills, the best thing us young'uns could conceivably do is sit down, shut up and let them run the show.

I'm thinking, of course, of David Horowitz, the former editor of Ramparts who, having squeezed radical chic for every dime and media mention that it was good for, deserted the left for "neo-conservatism" and now lectures us daily on the evils of questioning the "war against terrorism" brought on by -- and simultaneously used to justify -- the same interventionist bullshit that he identified as such more than three decades ago.

It's possible, I suppose, that I'm being too harsh. And indeed, I think that I am, and that Mr. Horowitz's conversion to the true faith was not an act of callous betrayal for commercial gain, but indeed a true spiritual transformation.

There's a lot to be said for spiritual transformations, but they come in all shapes and sizes. Mr. Horowitz's conversion brings to mind a specific variety -- one best described in a Stephen King novella about a teenager who, over the course of his twisted relationship with a Nazi war criminal, becomes more and more like him until their psychological processes are indistinguishable.

David Horowitz is an "apt pupil" indeed.

In his sixties incarnation, Horowitz spoke truth -- or at least what he thought was truth -- to power. The real story between then and now is not his disillusionment with the hypocrisy of the left, but the fact that when the new boss turned out to be the same as the old boss, he let himself be fooled again ... and felt compelled to display his naivete in the form of FrontPageMag, a "neo-conservative" webzine.

Horowitz's latest jihad is a "Battle for the Minds of America’s Youth." If that seems to be a tall order, it is; and Horowitz doesn't help himself by filling out his order of battle with losers like Ann Coulter, a "conservative" columnist whose sole redeeming trait seems to be that she is possessed of a vagina and that wasting bandwidth on her incessant stream of whining drivel therefore mollifies FrontPageMag's EEOC compliance officer.

But enough on the inherent weaknesses of Horowitz's erstwhile replacements for Big Red One. It's not what you have, after all, it's what you do with it.

What Horowitz does with it is ... well ... get weird. That's about all one can do when one saddles one's self with what is ultimately a rationally unsupportable world view. Faced with the same issues that confronted him in the late 1960s, Horowitz resists the urge to mime Eldridge Cleaver ... and instead mimes Robert MacNamara.

This is not an improvement.

It's time to grow up, Mr. Horowitz. No, I mean really grow up, not just transform yourself into a cardboard effigy of all the people you hated as an idealistic youngster. Sending General Franks into whatever Middle Eastern shithole the monkey in the White House situation room chose this week -- no doubt by throwing darts at a map or rolling poker dice or something -- won't work any better than sending Westmoreland in to get Vietnam "under control" did.

The problem is, as it always has been, U.S. foreign policy. And while your former objections to that foreign policy stemmed from a misguided devotion to the idea of worldwide socialist revolution, your instincts were, nonetheless, correct.

A popular military retort to the "win their hearts and minds" plan of attack in Vietnam was "grab them by the balls, and their hearts and minds will follow."

Unfortunately, the right wing in American politics seems to be missing its testicles when it comes to contesting the profoundly leftist policy the Bush administration is pursuing in the "war on terrorism." There's nothing to grab and twist there.

And that's a shame. It really is.

For now, you see, libertarians shall have to burn the "conservative" village in order to save it.