BRIAN LAMB, HOST: David Horowitz, author of "Radical Son," who was Betty?
MR. DAVID HOROWITZ, AUTHOR, "RADICAL SON:" Betty Van Patter was--that's Betty Van Patter. Betty Van Patter was 42 years old in that picture, which was taken around 1974. She was a woman that I had asked to do bookkeeping for a school for the Black Panther Party that I had raised a lot of money for. I raised over $100,000 and bought a church in the East Oakland inner city and there were 150 students in the school. They were, you know, f--ages three to nine. And Betty took the job and in December of 1974, shortly after that picture was taken, she disappeared. And a month later, in January, the police fished her body out of San Francisco Bay with--she had her head bashed in. And at that point I knew the Panthers--the Black Panther Party, which had been called the vanguard of the revolution by the New Left, America's Viet Cong by Tom Hayden, celebrated by people like Leonard Bernstein, who raised millions of dollars for it. I knew they had murdered Betty Van Patter, and that was the end of my career in the left.
LAMB: How did you know that?
MR. HOROWITZ: I knew it because I--her daughter called me about four days after she disappeared saying her mother had disappeared and, `Can you help me to find her?' And I called Elaine Brown, who was the head of the Black Panther Party then, and Elaine--and I've described in the book--I actually tape recorded one of my conversations with Elaine and I printed that in the book. Elaine ripped into Betty. Here was a white woman who had disappeared, the Black Pa--you know, I said, `The police will be looking.' The Panthers, of course, we believed, were a very surveilled and--party and--that the FBI wanted to destroy. That was the mythology. And-- but Elaine, instead of being concerned and trying to find her, s--was--started attacking Betty and accusing her of being from the CIA, which was laughable. And I just got a--a sinking feeling. I denied it to myself that they could have killed her at that point because it had so many implications for my life.
And then I talked to her daughter, Tamara, and she, you know, told me what the police had found out and, you know, she hadn't taken her credit cards, she hadn't taken her birth control pills. They had interviewed the friends that she had. Nobody knew where she was. And then I also knew--and I put that together with what I knew about the Panther Party a--and how it was run, and I just-- I knew before she was discovered that they had done it.
MR. HOROWITZ: And then afterwards, you know, since I was so--I knew so many people in the party, people who had fled, although I didn't realize exactly why they were fleeing--it ha--it happened again, you know, with Jim Jones' temple. People fled and I remember talking to Daniel Ellsberg at the time. He was going to go to Guyana and I said, `I--I understand.' When people flee, you have to pay attention. But I--in those days, I wouldn't have paid attention. And--but I--they contacted me about a year later, and I talked to them and other people, and--and they said that the Panthers had killed her. And...
LAMB: They never--they never found anybody that--I mean, they ever accuse anybody of--specifically of killing her?
MR. HOROWITZ: The--d--d--you know, it is very difficult when a gang--I--I also describe in "Radical Son" a lunch I had with Huey Newton where he told me--he said, `Elaine killed Betty.' Out of the blue, he just volunteered it. And other reporters have done investigations. Hugh Pearson wrote a book and interviewed me for it but interviewed --others--Panthers in particular. So I--it's--it's pretty established.
The daughter of Betty Van Patter went to an--a private eye named Hal Lipsett, who worked for left-wing lawyers doing their investigations, very well-connected in the left. And she hired him to investigate her mother's death and he--his conclusion was that the Panthers had killed her.
LAMB: Wh--where's Elaine Brown today?
MR. HOROWITZ: She's in Atlanta.
LAMB: You have no problem accusing her, sitting right here?
MR. HOROWITZ: I've done again, as I've described in "Radical Son," in 1993 Elaine came out with a book, her autobiography, and in it she reveals for the first time, I mean, the criminal activities of the Panthers. Peter Collier and I had written about this in our book, "Destructive Generation," but this is the first time that, you know, there was authentification from somebody inside the party and, also, reveals, you know, how--how she had people beat up so their faces disappeared in a pool of blood on the floor and stuff like that. So you can see what kind of person she is.
And--but she was so celebrated in the media. The New York Times did a big piece in the magazine calling her a feminist heroine, as did many other--she was on all wh--out there in the media and there was a film--there is a film being planned about her. And I thought at this point I could take the risk and say what I knew and what I felt. And in our magazine Heterodoxy we published a story called Black Murder Incorporated about the Panthers. They, of course, killed...
MR. HOROWITZ: ...more than a dozen people. The rest were all black. And I f--I figured that my life would be in some danger. Elaine has appeared in public with convicted murderers who were in the party. They were convicted of murders after they left the party.
LAMB: What's she do in Atlanta now?
MR. HOROWITZ: I don't know. Her daughter, I think, is a professor in Atlanta. Actually, the Atlanta Constitution wrote a piece celebrating her arrival there as a fighter for justice. I mean, that--well, now everybody who's viewing this has sort of--inhabits kind of the world I inhabited in 1975, where--which was turned upside down. I think this book has a lot more credibility now that--because of the O.J. Simpson case, where, I think, it's apparent to people how difficult it can be to convict--indict and then convict a--a black person accused of murdering a white person, provided the defense will kind of fudge over the facts, and prosecute the police and prosecute America as a racist country.
When that happens, all white people are guilty before the fact, and that's what happened with all of Huey Newton's--in all of his cases. It--always the--his defense lawyers put the system on trial, put the police on trial.
LAMB: At the height of the Black Panthers' prominence in this country, how many were members?
MR. HOROWITZ: Oh, I don't know. They had chapters all over the country and they probably had several thousand members. When I became involved, Huey Newton had dissolved all of the chapters except Chicago because Bobby Rush--that's Huey Newton--Bobby Rush--and, you know, I printed--th--that's an unusual picture, but--you know, to show--you know, I could have printed him--a picture of him in his crack phase, but that's the way he was when I--when I--when I met him. He was a very impressive figure. He was very intelligent, he--and--and appealing, a seductive leader.
LAMB: Well, at the--at the height--say there are several thousand Panthers--when was the height of their prominence in the country? What year?
MR. HOROWITZ: I would say 1968, probably, '60--maybe '69. Already--you know, Huey Newton shot a policeman in 1967 and became an instant hero to the New Left. I think the poster of Huey Newton holding the spear and the gun in the wicker chair was the most popular campus poster --of the '60s.
LAMB: If you could go back in time to the most prominent group of people that you knew, that you remembered that supported the Black Panthers, who would be at that party? Fund-raisers.
MR. HOROWITZ: Well, Marlon Brando and, you know, Leonard Bernstein. I guess they'd kind of be the headliners, but it was anybody in Hollywood. I mean, Jane Fonda raised money for the Panthers.
LAMB: Who did they think they were raising money for?
MR. HOROWITZ: Well, you know, people today will say to me, you know, `If Huey Newton did bad things, it's the oppressive system that made him do it because of America's racists,' you know, and I have to point out to people that Huey Newton had a brother, Melvin,, who's a professor. He had another brother, Sonny, who was a gangster. And, you know, he eventually got himself a PhD at the point of a gun in--in Santa Cruz. George Jackson, another celebrated black revolutionary, so-called, of the '60s, whom I write about in this book--his father was a postman, law-abiding postman. George Jackson was a psychopath and killed a lot of people. And this book is-it was-- a necessity for me to write because there's been so much mythology written about the '60s and it so much affects who we are now, that you know, that it's been written that way.
LAMB: Where do you live now?
MR. HOROWITZ: I live in Los Angeles.
LAMB: What do you do for a living?
MR. HOROWITZ: I have created a Center for the Study of Popular Culture. We publish magazines, like Heterodoxy, which is a--oh, kind of an irreverent --it looks --a magazine that looks like an underground paper, like those alternative papers that Peter Collier and I did in the '60s, and Peter edits it and we take on the politically correct.
LAMB: Where is Peter in this photo right here?
MR. HOROWITZ: Peter is over here, and this man is a defector. This is the way I looked--and that--and that--this is 1972. That man is a defector from the most important US intelligence agency, the National Security Agency.
LAMB: The man in the middle.
MR. HOROWITZ: The man in the middle. It's interesting, that picture was printed in the review in The Washington Post, but the review never mentioned what the picture is about. He had come to us at Ramparts. His name is Perry Fellwalk, although he appeared under the name--Winslow Peck was the name he gave us--to tell us about America's ec--electronic intelligence capabilities and to claim that we had broken the Soviet code, which is a h--you know, one of the most highly guarded intelligence secrets.
LAMB: What year was this?
MR. HOROWITZ: 1972. And the--the--I sent the article to Charles Nessen, who is still a professor of constitutional law at Harvard, who was on the Ellsberg defense team.
LAMB: Isn't he the fellow that does those programs you see from time to time on PBS? He's the moderator?
MR. HOROWITZ: No.
MR. HOROWITZ: I don't think so. I don't know. I don't know. I got...
LAMB: He's a tall, thin--it doesn't matter.
MR. HOROWITZ: No, no. I think that guy's--oh, I don't know. I don't think that--he's that professor, but he is a professor at Harvard and was then. And I asked him about our liability and he said, `If you print this article, you will be violating the Espionage Act of 1918,' he said. `However,' he said, `the act is written in a peculiar way so that it refers to documents and documents taken out of the government offices,' and y--remember, Ellsberg was accused of Xeroxing Pentagon papers and smuggling them out.
So he said, `If you deny that there were any documents and destroy any that you have, you will be protecting yourself. And further,' he said, `we live in a democracy. And therefore, the government's going to have to prove that you've damaged national security and, therefore, it's going to have to reveal a lot more about this agency than it's going to want to probably. And, therefore, there's a very good chance that you won't be prosecuted.' And that was enough for us and we did it. And, I mean, this is only one of many, many acts in the '60s which were done which violated, you know, Amer--America's national security laws, which could be called treason and probably literally were. And nobody has talked about it. I talk about, you know, meeting with the KGB or they--they sought me out. I rejected their advances, but they met with a lot of people. I don't know who did or who didn't.
And--and why do I think this is significant now? I think it's significant because it's a me--i--not only a matter of the historical record but for the country itself. It's important to exonerate the people who were concerned about national security and who defended this country in the '60s and the '70s against its enemies. And I--you know, the FBI is one of them. It--my experience with the Panthers showed me that the FBI--of course, COINTELPRO was ended in 1970 and the FBI inept in dealing with the Panthers. How could they kill so many people and--and not be prosecuted? The--you know, and as I say, I'm not the only writer who's discovered this, if the FBI was doing what we had said it was.
And, of course, everybody now views the police as brutal and repressive. I point out in the book how the head of the Oakland police force called Huey Newton to warn him that the Pimps of the East Bay had a contract on his life, and this is something that his lawyer even said. They did have a contract on his life. And Huey's response was he wanted a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but it shows--the head of the Oakland police--now we had been calling the police facists, racists and so forth, and here they are warning Newton, knowing full well that the reason the Pimps had the contract on Newton was because he was shaking them down. I mean, he was--you know, extortion, shakedowns, a lot of criminal operations.
And this affected, you know, my whole view of the the social political struggle, if you will. I had a different appreciation of the police force, the difficulties they operate under, how hard it is for them to apprehend criminals that are protected by left-wing lawyers and, you know--and the liberal-- press.
LAMB: In addition to the politics, you talk a lot about your personal life. Why did you do that?
MR. HOROWITZ: Well, I had noticed, even as a--when I was a radical, how left-wing memoirs often avoid the personal entirely. You can read, you know, Irving Hale's memoirs, for example, and it--it's really a pol--a history of his political thoughts, and I understood--I--because I had thought so much about this. I mean, these events happened in 1974 or '5, so I've been thinking for 20 years about the ef--impact of the--of being a leftist on myself, of having that world view. And I was determined to write a very personal story as well to show what it means to--to be in the--what's called now the Progressive Left. I believe it is a kind of religion. It is as powerful as a religion and has that impact, and that is my little family.
LAMB: Who--about the top picture here. Who's that?
MR. HOROWITZ: That is-- that is Lisa, who is the mother of my children, and that's our wedding picture.
LAMB: What year?
MR. HOROWITZ: That is 1959. And I often wonder if my root--the reason that I have become who I am--, I guess, the most prominent critic, if you like, of the left is not because I had a nuclear family in the '60s. That--you know, that has a very powerful impact on you when you're responsible for children, for, you know, leading them into a productive life. You have quite a different attitude towards some of the things we encouraged in the '60s, like, you know, drugs, like basic kind of contempt for family structures, contempt for authority.
LAMB: Are all those your children?
MR. HOROWITZ: Those are my children. They're now in their 30s, except that I have one who's still in her late 20s.
LAMB: How long were you married to Lisa?
MR. HOROWITZ: Twenty years.
LAMB: What year did you get divorced?
MR. HOROWITZ: We got divorced in probably--I don't know technically, but in 1978--the fall of 1978 is when I left the family, which is the hardest. Oh, you know, it was extremely painful and is a painful memory, and it was a direct consequence of the disintegration, I would say, of my being after the death of Betty Van Patter. The analogy I would draw is of somebody was born to the priesthood or their rabbinate and had become a priest or a rabbi, and then had found that his church had murdered an innocent mother of three children and that the whole congregation would support the church against him. And it--i--my whole life had been lived and that's one of the reasons--I guess I was also working backwards. Seeing the disintegration--feeling the disintegration of my person and personality, I understood how important being a radical was to the constitution of--of my identity. You know, I felt I had followed all the rules. I was the good student. I was never tardy. When I was in elementary school, I, you know, got A's. I was very, you know, responsible.
LAMB: Where'd you go--where'd you go to school?
MR. HOROWITZ: I went to--Columbia is my--my college.
LAMB: But you went to--your grade school was...
MR. HOROWITZ: P--Bryant--I went to music and art in--in New York City and then transferred to William Cullen Bryant, you know. It was just a neighborhood school. Whitey Ford was probably its most s--illustrious graduate.
LAMB: The famous pitcher.
MR. HOROWITZ: Yes, the famous pitcher for the Yankees. I wanted to, you know, break rules. I felt I had denied myself, I had sacrificed, I had, you know, done all the right things and it had made me complicit, in a way, in a murder. I never suspected that the Panthers were that kind of--at least the--you know, Huey, the people I dealt with were vicious criminals. I did not...
LAMB: You didn't think they were.
MR. HOROWITZ: I didn't. And, you know, a lot of the--my contemporary critics, people who are in the left, say, `Oh, everybody knew the Panthers were criminals, you know, and David got involved with them.' But the reality is that Murray Kempton was writing in a--you know, a left-wing journalist was writing--wrote a review of Huey Newton's autobiography on the front page of the Sunday Times Book Review comparing him to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther in 1973. Gary Wills wrote a similar review about the Panthers in that year, and it just--and Eric Erikson, who, I guess, is kind of forgotten now, but he was the leading psychologist in the country in that period, and he held a joint seminar at Yale with Huey Newton in 1973. And just two years--well, three years before, you remember Yale University was shut down by demonstrations on behalf of the Panthers that Hillary Clinton was part of. So the Panthers were pretty well thought of.
LAMB: You had an affair with Abby Rockefeller.
MR. HOROWITZ: Yeah.
LAMB: Who--who was she? And how did that figure into your divorce?
MR. HOROWITZ: Well, I don't--I-the divorce--I mean, the--it was part of my disorder at that time. This happened, actually, simultaneous with--with these events. And Abby was a radical. She--you know, she was younger than I was and she still had a kind of purity of faith, and although I no longer--I had many doubts. I had lots of doubts because of the--what happened in the Vietnam War. I guess I felt, you know, invigorated by being connected to her. It was mainly platonic, although there--you know, it wasn't wholly platonic, and it created a crisis in my marriage. But, you know, Lisa and I had been married a very long time and we had these children, and I think a marriage would have survived something like that if that wasn't just an indication of the much, much greater problems to come, and that--and that was that I couldn't keep my commitments and my--I couldn't keep myself in order. I was so depressed. I felt like a dead person and I needed to discover how to get myself out of this pit and, you know, I couldn't get that out of my marriage and out of--so...
LAMB: Where's your first wife now?
MR. HOROWITZ: She's in California. I am very--you know, as the book tells the story, you'll know that I--you know, I'm very close to my family and I consider that one of the great blessings of my life, that she is a very good woman and we have this bond from having raised these children, and the children are the joy of my life.
LAMB: Who's this woman right here?
MR. HOROWITZ: That is a--that is my third wife.
LAMB: There's no picture in here of your second wife?
MR. HOROWITZ: No, I actually don't have a picture of her. It was a very--the--the book tells--part of the story of this book is the difficulty of putting together a life in midlife. I think a lot of people out there will identify with this. It's very hard--when you're young, you get, you know-- and romantically in love and you sort of are getting into the same boat at the same time in your life and setting out over this great unknown, and then you have children. I mean, there's a lot to be said for the whole traditional way of doing things. I am a conservative now, but I've become one the hard way. And so there are a lot of--of bonds that strengthen, the, you know, marriage, the family union, the--of course, men and women, despite what the--some feminists think, are very different, and it's part of the excitement of any kind of heterosexual connection. But it's also fraught with difficulties and...
LAMB: Who-- was the second wife?
MR. HOROWITZ: She was a--a California woman who had been married to a count. She --I knew her as the Countess Kresbe, although she was--you know, she
wasn't exactly a Valley Girl, but she came from, you know, sort of the Los Angeles region and was a film producer at the time. But it was a very brief--Oliver Stone was at my wedding. That was part of the intoxication of being in Hollywood. See, I was somebody who had lived a very spartan life for the revolution because I felt that, you know, that was the good life. You know, as I say, it was like being a priest or something. I--and when all of that collapsed and when I saw that my church was a church involved in huge crimes and unable to deal with those crimes itself--I mean, still covering them up to this day--it's 20 years later--and the left, you know, is still covering this stuff up or will not deal with it.
LAMB: How long was that second marriage?
MR. HOROWITZ: That was very brief. That was less than a year.
MR. HOROWITZ: And I--you know, it just was an episode. The third one was more significant and I--and what it does is--this--this woman had a drug problem that I was not aware of how serious it was...
LAMB: Her name was Shay.
MR. HOROWITZ: Shay. And I was on a--it shows how deep in my character is the rescuer. I think that, you know, people on the left are--are rescuers. I tell another story about my--a childhood friend named Ellen Sparer, who was also a missionary to poor people and to--you know, to blacks, and--and she was brutally murdered, I believe, as a direct consequence of her unguarded attitude.
LAMB: Where did she live?
MR. HOROWITZ: She lived in Inglewood, New Jersey, which is an integrated area. She was a high school teacher and was sodomized and strangled by a 15-year-old whom she had helped.
LAMB: At what--what time of year--or what year?
MR. HOROWITZ: Right after Betty's murder.
MR. HOROWITZ: So I had a double--yeah, two huge traumas. And i--anyway, I was-- I told the story of my--of that last marriage in the book because I had actually started the autobiography when this woman disappeared. I mean, she--I came back one weekend, and the house was--had been half-emptied and, you know...
MR. HOROWITZ: Yeah, Shay. She was gone.
LAMB: What year is this?
MR. HOROWITZ: That was 1993.
LAMB: So not--not too long ago.
MR. HOROWITZ: It was right when I wrote the article about Elaine Brown. And I--in looking at myself, I have to see that I am the kind of person who--you know, a conservative person would look and say--look at this woman's past and make certain judgments about it. And as a radical, I always wanted to leap over boundaries. I mean, Huey Newton, I mean, had a knife wound in his side, he had been to jail. Why wouldn't you avoid somebody like that? Because we were making a new world.
I mean, that's what it's--it is to be a progressive. You don't accept the world as it is. You want to make a new and much better world. You want people to be different. And as I say, you know, I invoked the feminists before, but they're--you know, they want to end, you know, 5,000 years of history between the sexes that's been, you know, recorded. We know how males and females, you know, behave and think about each other, and they want to transform these relationships into something we've never seen before. And my book is a book about how dangerous that can be and if I had to tell my personal story to show, you know, what a huge price I have paid.
LAMB: Is that hard to talk about now?
MR. HOROWITZ: Well, some of these things are. I mean, I'm--you know, even talking about them and this is fairly intimate, you know, it's--it's difficult. It was...
LAMB: I've always wondered: If people write this and then they come talk about it, it's hard--it seems like, watching them, it's harder to talk about than it is to write it.
MR. HOROWITZ: It was hard to write. Let me tell you, it was hard to write. But, of course, a writer--you know, it's a--it's a lonely profession. I mean, you--you're really communicating with a page, and then the page goes out there, and it's almost--that's a story about somebody else. I'm already on to a new phase of my life, which is much happier. I'm engaged to a woman with a very good heart, and I discovered that that's very important. It's very important to have--this woman is a very--I mean, she has a child and I--you know, I have tried to learn this process through my life, to look at people and see them as they are and to realize they're not going to change very much. So if I see somebody who is loving towards their child and takes care of them and protects them, then I can know that--you know, if they love me, that'll be transferred to me. If I see somebody like Shay, who was rootless, who had no connection, no friends, I should have been much more--I should have been warned that this is going to be dangerous.
LAMB: Where is she now?
MR. HOROWITZ: I have no idea. She disappeared.
LAMB: Let's talk about these two people in these two pictures.
MR. HOROWITZ: That on the left is my father right near the end of his life, and on the right is myself and my mother, who had some strokes, and that was near the end of her life. And I had brought her to California and took care of her out there. And below that, of course, is Ronald Reagan. And I took great pleasure in receiving an award from Reagan because Reagan, to me, symbolized all those decent Americans who stood on the ramparts during the Cold War and defended this country against Communism while I and all my fellow new leftists, you know, supported Communist dictators, whether it was in Russia or in Cuba or in Vietnam and worked very hard to undermine the institutions of this country.
And I see people like Reagan still scorned by the--you know, the literary crowd, a lot of whom will probably watch shows like BOOKNOTES, and getting no credit for what they did. And when I-- saw Reagan the--you know, he smiled at me and he said, `I had second thoughts before you,' reminding-- you know, me of how he had started out also somewhat on the left.
LAMB: Who, by the way, would want to tangle with you today who didn't leave the left that you knew back then who'd love to take you on and say you're nothing but a cop-out?
MR. HOROWITZ: Well, I--they do it, but they won't do it in person. I mean, I--you know, I have--when Peter and I surfaced, that's...
LAMB: Peter Collier.
MR. HOROWITZ: ...Peter Collier, I c...
LAMB: I--there's a picture in here I'll show the...
MR. HOROWITZ: Of Peter and...
LAMB: And his wife.
MR. HOROWITZ: ...and his wife, Mary.
MR. HOROWITZ: Who--when Peter Collier and I first surfaced and brought to light these stories, particularly about the Panthers, we were really savagely attacked by The Washington Post and The New Republic, although as you know, The New Republic has at least two personalities, but the left personality attacked us. Accused us of all--everything that we had revealed, that we were the only ones who had done it. And so there are a lot of them, but they will not appear. I mean, I am a writer now. I have a column on Salon magazine on the Internet--it's salon1999.com --where I have a column opposite James Carville.
And they invited Todd Gitlin, who is a very well-known--is a professor, and he wrote a book about the '60s, to debate me and--on the Internet. And Todd refused to do it. And to me, it's--I mean, I'm--would never confuse Todd with a Stalinist, but it it reminds me of when Stalin used to airbrush Trotsky's picture out of the photographs. The left does not like to engage in dialogue or debate.
I spoke at the University of Pennsylvania two nights ago, and they have a large undergraduate course in the '60s taught by three professors, all of whom were kind of--are new leftist tenured radicals, Rodgers, Kimball (unintelligible). And none of them would come--they were all invited to come and debate me; none of them would. They didn't invite me into their class. You know, I'm a kind of living historical specimen. You would think a professor who was teaching instead of indoctrinating his students, but actually trying to teach them, would leap at the chance to have me come to the class and, you know, just discuss my life. So there's a wall out there that the left does not like to engage this book or me.
LAMB: Make a connection did I read in your book that Marty Peretz started Ramparts?
MR. HOROWITZ: Marty was an early funder of Ramparts, and I think that Ramparts...
LAMB: Current owner of The New Republic.
MR. HOROWITZ: Yes. And Marty Peretz, although we will disagree on some things like Al Gore, is a good friend. He's a--he's a good man, Marty. And...
LAMB: And Marty Peretz is a big fan of Al Gore's?
MR. HOROWITZ: Yes. Well, you know, I accept people and their contradictions. I have always-I am--you know, welcome any people from my past, even if they're still on the left. After all, we're all getting older. This book is about mortality. I think being on the left is about mortality. It's an attempt to stay young forever, to be always present at the creation, the be--the year zero of the revolution. But I think that, you know, any of us who've lived long enough tend to get pretty tolerant of each other.
LAMB: Go back to your dad and mom. They grew up where?
MR. HOROWITZ: My--my father was born in Russia but came here when he was young--one. And my mother was born here. They met in the '30s. I-- my dad went to the Soviet Union in the early '30s, and I found...
LAMB: That's him in this picture?
MR. HOROWITZ: That's my dad. And I tried to understand myself through my dad.
LAMB: And this is you?
MR. HOROWITZ: And that's me. And, yeah, this is a biography. I mean, even people who might disagree with the political conclusions--that's not really the center of the book. This is about--it's about my odyssey and it's about--you know, it's about fathers and sons. I mean, I think, you know, we all--as John F. Kennedy said, `We all have fathers,' and I think people can identify with that.
But I did, you know, the New Age people talk about having--you have past lives, and in a sense our parents are our past lives; all of our ancestors are. Because they're deeply--somewhere in the genetic code is a core of personality. I discovered this from my children. I have four children, same--you know, Lisa and I brought them all up, and they almost came out with different personalities. I mean, it was not like a child is a mere reflection of the parent. There is something in that--in the DNA that-- creates that personality. And that, of course, is a very conservative idea when you see that.
LAMB: What-- were the politics of your father?
MR. HOROWITZ: My father was --both my parents were members of the Communist Party. And that means that they were, you know, part of a vast international conspiracy that was orchestrated from Moscow, as we now know because of the opening of the Soviet archives and coding of the Venona transcripts. There's a lot of vindication for the sort of anti-Communist right in this book. And that's the way our lives were lived. They were middle-class schoolteachers. They never broke laws. But they belonged to these secret cells. They had secret names--my mother told me hers, Ann Powers--for when they would, you know, move into their illegal mode to overthrow the government.
LAMB: What was their reas...
MR. HOROWITZ: They were loyal to the Soviet Union. Well, because they believed, as we all did, that there was a new world possible in which there would be no war, no racism, no poverty, no--We called it male chauvinism then--no war--oh, I said no war. Basically, all social problems would be solved, and that this new world had already begun. It existed in the Soviet Union. And that's why they could support a mass murderer like Stalin. They--just the way the left would not believe 20 years ago that Huey Newton was a murderer, so we didn't believe that Joseph Stalin was a murderer.
LAMB: When your father went to Russia, what year was it?
MR. HOROWITZ: '32.
LAMB: And what did he see there?
MR. HOROWITZ: Well, he saw a lot of poverty, and he--I think he understood that there were some--I don't know if he realized there was a famine going on because that was fairly concealed. But he blamed that on the capitalist powers. He didn't realize that it was the Marxist government. Marxism is a crackpot economics, as we now know, because--but not everybody realized that. You know, as late as the '80s, Harvard professors like John Kenneth Galbraith, very distinguished economists, Paul Samuelson were saying Russia's economy was catching up to the United States when, in fact--you know, with like a Third World country. So that Marxist delusion has been very powerful in our century.
And my father, you know, thought that this was the first time that the people owned their government. I mean, he kept writing in this book about how the people are the real owners, whereas in capitalism, of course, he was just a peon. He was just a, you know--and he also wrote--the thing that struck me the most was that he felt--my father was a very depressed individual and a very unhappy one, and he felt at home in Russia and he felt that there was true comradeship. He kept talking about, you know, going to events and feeling that everybody is, you know, one; it's a community. I think a lot of the left is about that, and that is a--it's a kind of--it's a religious desire to be part of the flock.
LAMB: Where did he go to school?
MR. HOROWITZ: He went to Townsend Harris and then--which was a kind of special school where they taught Latin and where he had a very hard time. And then we went to City College, which was the kind of fountain of a lot of the New York intellectuals. But my father was not able to go on to an academic career; he had to support his parents. He went into teaching.
LAMB: There've been a lot of people that have come through over the last year or two with books to talk about beginning at City College, becoming Communist or socialist, transferring over to being neoconservatives, doing what you did.
You go to Columbia...
MR. HOROWITZ: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...have some of the same experiences. Why did you pick Columbia? What impact did that have on you?
MR. HOROWITZ: I have no idea, actually, why I picked Columbia, except it was an Ivy League school in New York. My father felt betrayed. I will never forget when as a freshman, walking on the campus with him and being awed by, you know, the great names on the library--Sophocles, Dante. And my father was distressed, and I didn't understand that distress till later. But he thought that I had kind of left the fold by going to the rich man's school. I mean, I was a scholarship student. And when I was in my mid-30s, he asked me if it was Columbia that had kind of stolen my soul. But I was thrilled by, you know, learning. I mean, I loved my college experience.
LAMB: How much of the radical son in you came from college? How much of it came from your parents?
MR. HOROWITZ: Well, none of it college, because I remember I'd belonged to the NAACP at Columbia, and we had a hard time getting signatures on a petition for a federal anti-lynch law. There was no radical activity in the '50s at campus. I wrote papers as a Marxist, and I will say that it was freer in the McCarthy '50s for people on the wrong side of the kind of ideological tracks than it is today for conservatives. Conservatives in today's academy are graded politically, and they're, you know, persecuted for their political ideas, whereas I was not at Columbia as a Marxist. I am grateful to my professors for not doing that, and I'm--you know, some of the outrage I still have--I am somewhat mellowing as I get older--but is--for those students in today's colleges that are not--not getting the education they should be.
LAMB: The--there are all kinds of connections in this book that I wanted to ask you about, things--and by the way, many--there's a lot of books that have been written by people who used to be on the left who have gone over to the right. How many do you know that have been on the right that have gone to the left in the last 20 years?
MR. HOROWITZ: Well, there are two that I'm aware of. One is Gary Wills, who was not treated the way Peter Collier and I were. He you don't-- you don't identify--or one doesn't identify Gary Wills with, you know, being an ex-right winger who did a 180-degree turn or being a renegade. And all these terms are ritually used about Peter and me when we're treated in the press. And the other--well, I would say Gary Wills is the one. Michael Lind has also written a book, but Michael Lind was never, by his own account in his own book, a conservative. He says he was a lifelong Lyndon Johnson Democrat, so...
LAMB: A name that pops up in the middle of your book...
MR. HOROWITZ: Yeah...
LAMB: ...on Page 274, if I can find it, is Michael Lerner. Is that the same Michael Lerner of Tikkun?
MR. HOROWITZ: That is the Michael Lerner of Tikkun, and the...
LAMB: How about--I'll just read it here. It says, `Michael Lerner, who came to recruit me into a vanguard he was willing--he was calling the New American Movement, summed up their reaction with characteristic crudeness. "Even to raise such questions," he said, "to me is counterrevolutionary."'
MR. HOROWITZ: Right. I was trying to ask at that point--it took me many years. I--I did not switch sides in the way Michael Lind did or even Gary Wills. I ended--I--I never was an active leftist after the death of Betty Van Patter, the--the murder of Betty Van Patter in 19--January '75. I--I wrote an article in The Nation in '79. I voted for Jimmy Carter in '80. I wrote an article in Mother Jones in '81. It was not until the second Reagan election and the--the support for the Sandinista Marxists in Nicaragua that made Peter and me sort of come out and be political again.
And when I--when Michael Lerner said of me that the--my ideas--my questions were counterrevolutionary--this was part of my process. This was about 1977. And I was asking whether socialism was viable because I--as I say, it--it is comparable to a religious faith. It is a--Berdyayev, the Russian philosopher, compared it to idolatry in a book he wrote in 1905 because you--you believe that you can create, in effect, a heaven on Earth, only you can do it without a divine intervention; therefore, what you're worshiping as saviors is, you know, the vanguard. That--that's the problem with radicals. You worship the vanguard and you give them enormous power. And, of course, they commit enormous crimes because the objective is so noble, which is the redeemed world.
And I--around 1907, that--that period-- I was very influenced by the Polish philosopher--he had been a Marxist--Laza Kolakafski, in questions that he asked, which I discuss this in the book. And I wanted to know--I didn't think socialism was workable at that point, and I wanted somebody to convince me that it was. And Lerner's response was, `To ask those questions is counterrevolutionary.' And--there's a whole series of incidents I describe that taught me that the left is unable to think itself and to--you know, to really deal with these questions. It's-- a matter of faith.
LAMB: You say that you have something in common with Whittaker Chambers, and we just did his biography on this program.
MR. HOROWITZ: Yes.
LAMB: What--in common...
MR. HOROWITZ: W...
LAMB: ...do you have with Whittaker Chambers?
MR. HOROWITZ: Well, Whittaker Chambers was somebody who p-- he had--you know, he had been a Communist and then he was recruited into the Communist underground and did a lot of illegal things and basically spied. And then it bec--went public with the fact that Alger Hiss was a spy. That was the big thing that he did. And first his attitude s--was dismissed. And then he was crucified. And to this day--I mean, I'm so glad you did the program on the Chambers biography because I have interviewed many college students who have never heard of Whittaker Chambers, although they have heard of Alger Hiss. That is the work of the left. That's that airbrushing out of the picture. Peter Collier and I were best-selling authors when we became conservatives.
LAMB: Having sold what?
MR. HOROWITZ: We wrote biographies of the Rockefellers and the Kennedys that were not only best sellers, they were front-page New York Times reviews. The minute that we revealed that we had voted for Ronald Reagan, our literary careers in that--at that level were over. We knew we were not going to get any awards because they, the Pulitzers--we had been nominated for a national book award--are heavily, you know, political. We didn't expect and we didn't get a front-page review in The New York Times ever again. I will say that since the--since this--in-- I don't want to suggest that there's a conspiracy. It's just an attitude. And there are always individuals who are very principled and--and whom I respect.
And Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, the daily reviewer for The Times, did give our Ford book and s--he said it was our best work. The Sunday--was not--was not the same. We found ourselves excluded from the principal magazines of the culture: the Harper's, the Atlantic, The New York Review and, you know, the magazines of--The New York Times magazine, The Washington Post magazine. The--this became terrain that we--we could not walk on again.
LAMB: What's the worst thing you think you did to--against this country?
MR. HOROWITZ: Well, I have no idea what the consequences of that one act that we did--I described earlier were. I think the worst thing is in sowing cynicism about this country. I think what the left does--they're like termites that eat at the the social foundations. And my--a book I wrote as a leftist, "The Free World Colossus," had a--had a bad influence on the National Security Council. Chief--the point man for Nicaragua was Robert Paster--says he was influenced by my book not to intervene in behalf of the Democrats in 1979. Nicaragua could have been saved a lot of grief if we had intervened and protected the Democrats against the Sandinistas.
But the general indictment of America--my book, "The Free World Colossus" was the first book that indicted--did the litany of the CIA and Guatemala and Iran and, you know, Vietnam and Cuba and so forth as though that is American foreign policy or, you know, even as though that is always a bad thing. But the left has gone much further. It's demonized now not only America, but white males, European culture. It has created a whole new racist attitude, an anti-white racist attitude that is terribly divisive and is destructive to minorities and to black people in particular.
MR. HOROWITZ: And I was part of-- I was a--being a New Left intellectual who had a pretty wide influence in the New Left. I was responsible for that. And that's one of the reasons that Peter Collier and I, instead of, you know, going on and sort of just making money or something like that--I mean, we could have written literary books only. Our biographies were not very political--have decided to, you know, get back in the fray and pay some of our social debt. I said, `We have a serious debt to society.' I--that's the way we feel.
LAMB: You say that AIDS created your move from left to right?
MR. HOROWITZ: The lef--yes. I --the AIDS epidemic and the attempts to c--the attempts to combat it have been pretty much controlled by the liberal left. The--there's very--it's one of the most politically correct parts of the culture. Peter Collier and I did a--an early story on AIDS, 1983. There were, I think, only 300 cases in San Francisco at the time. And we did it--we were inspired to do it because they were attacking Ronald Reagan as, you know, the source of the AIDS epidemic. And we knew there was something wrong with that. And I contacted Randy Schultz.
I tell this whole story in "Radical Son." I contacted Andy Schultz--Randy Schultz, who wrote "And The Band Played On" and was the San Francisco Chronicle's gay correspondent covering the gay community. And Randy gave us a remarkable story which it was before HIV was isolated. And the fact was that the gay community leadership--the leadership which--who were highly political people and tended to be new leftists, were denying that AIDS was sexually transmitted, even though the doctors knew it was, were--had, you know, made the literature in any health clinics not mention anything like this and were, of course, opposed to closing the bath houses which were the kind of the petri dishes where this culture was spreading.
And--and I went and--we did an investigative report and interviewed a lot of gays--gay leaders who were terrified to state what was going on; that there was all this misinformation. It was like a--like the McCarthy period--that was the same atmosphere--and gave us the story. And we printed the story in a California magazine, and the magazine was instantly picketed. But I saw then--I understood then that there was a political correctness which had seeped into the battle against AIDS, which then went on to affect--there was no testing, no contact tracing. The bath houses were not closed. And I firmly believe--I mean, that the tens of thousands of deaths could have been avoided. There are now 200,000 dead and you could extrapolate it right then by just doubling the number every six months, which was--and so I knew in 1983 that there would be 200,000, 300,000 people dead now if this politicization of the epidemic continued.
And to this day the media has not ever done an investigative report of--just on the issue of testing. I mean, the big argument is people would be outed. It would--you know, it's like we're going throw gays in concentration camps, which is--you know, it's paranoid. The reality is that when, you know, Liberace died--I mean, there was this national outpouring, I mean, this tremendous feeling in the g--of course, there are bigots everywhere. I mean, you know, there's always been bigots. But the nation as a whole is not going to do that.
When I interviewed the--Don Francis, who's the hero of "And--And The Band Played On"--he's an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control--I asked him about the confidentiality issue. And he said, `Look'--he said, `we've been studying gay diseases since before Stonewall. And I don't know of a single case of breach of confidentiality.' And then you have the hypocrisy of gay groups that have outed people, like they outed Pete Williams when he was--and that's a good example. They outed Pete Williams when he was the spokesman for the Pentagon. And Pete Williams, being a Republican and being a Bush--you know, in the Bush administration--and there were no consequences for Pete Williams. I mean, the fact that he was gay--Republicans are, you know, not intolerant. He went on--now he's at ABC. But he wasn't fired or anything.
And so there's a lot of--the left feeds off paranoia. It tells black people that there are government conspiracies against them; that now Tom Hayden, who is a figure in this book, is running for mayor of Los Angeles and was in parade in March in which he said, you know, the CIA is planting crack in the ghetto. I mean, that is just an incitement to race warfare, which is what the left is really about these days.
LAMB: By the way, we're about out of time. Where's this picture--where was this taken?
MR. HOROWITZ: This was taken in the studio. I look like a--you know, somebody in the witness protection program. But the--the publisher thought--and it probably was a good idea--that that would intrigue people, and it does. It indicates--I mean, I'm looking at it now--to me, although I would have like a genial, smiling picture on the front because I am --there is a tendency to demonize me-- it shows a troubled, thoughtful--it's--that look, troubled and thoughtful. And that's the book.
LAMB: David Horowitz, our guest; "Radical Son," the book, "A Generational Odyssey." Thank you very much.
MR. HOROWITZ: Thank you, Brian.
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