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(born January 10, 1939) is an American conservative writer based in Southern California. He is a founder and current president of the think tank, the David Horowitz Freedom Center; editor of the Center's publication, FrontPage Magazine; and director of Discover the Networks, a website that tracks individuals and groups on the politicalleft. Horowitz founded the organization Students for Academic Freedom, purportedly to oppose political correctness and leftist orientation in academia.
Horowitz was raised by parents who were members of the Communist Party USA during the Great Depression, until rescinding their membership in 1956 after learning of Joseph Stalin's excesses. Between 1956 and 1975, Horowitz was an outspoken adherent of the New Left. He later rejected leftism completely and has since become a leading proponent of conservatism. Horowitz has recounted his ideological journey in a series of retrospective books, culminating with his 1996 memoir Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey
After the death of Stalin in 1953, his father Phil Horowitz, commenting on how Stalin's numerous official titles had to be divided among his successors, told his son, "You see what a genius Stalin was. It took five men to replace him."
In 1987, Horowitz co-hosted a "Second Thoughts Conference" in Washington, D.C., described by Sidney Blumenthal in The Washington Post as his "coming out" as a conservative. According to attendee Alexander Cockburn, Horowitz related how his Stalinist parents had not permitted him or his sister to watch Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies. Instead, they watched propaganda films from the Soviet Union.
In May 1989, Horowitz, Ronald Radosh, and Peter Collier travelled to Poland for a conference in Kraków calling for the end of Communism. After marching with Polish dissidents in an anti-regime protest, Horowitz spoke about his changing thoughts and why he believed that socialism could not create their future. He said his dream was for the people of Poland to be free. In 1992, Horowitz and Collier founded Heterodoxy magazine. The magazine focused on exposing what it described as excessive political correctness on American college and university campuses. Horowitz wrote in his memoir Radical Son that he thought universities were no longer effective in presenting both sides of political arguments. He thought "left-wing professors" had created a kind of "political terror" on campuses.
Horowitz supported the interventionist foreign policy associated with the Bush Doctrine. But he wrote against US intervention in the Kosovo War, arguing that it was unnecessary and harmful to U.S. interests. In the early 21st century, he has written critically of libertarian anti-war views.
In 2004, Horowitz launched Discover the Networks, a conservative watchdog project that monitors funding for, and various ties among, leftists and progressive causes. In his 2004 book, Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, Horowitz says that leftists support, intentionally or not, Islamist terrorism, and thus require ongoing scrutiny.
In two books, Horowitz accused Dana L. Cloud, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Texas at Austin, as an “anti-American radical" who "routinely repeats the propaganda of the Saddamregime." Horowitz accuses her and 99 other professors listed in his book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, of the "explicit introduction of political agendas into the classroom." (pp. 93, 377)
In the early 21st century, Horowitz has concentrated on issues of academic freedom, wanting to protect conservative viewpoints. He, Eli Lehrer, and Andrew Jones published a pamphlet, "Political Bias in the Administrations and Faculties of 32 Elite Colleges and Universities" (2004), in which they find the ratio of Democrats to Republicans at 32 schools to be more than 10 to 1.
Horowitz's book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America (2006), criticizes individual professors for their academic conduct. Horowitz accuses these professors of engaging in indoctrination rather than a disinterested pursuit of knowledge. Horowitz says that his campaign for academic freedom is ideologically neutral.
Horowitz has published an Academic Bill of Rights (ABR), which he proposes to eliminate political bias in university hiring and grading. Horowitz says that conservatives and particularly Republican Party members are systematically excluded from faculties, citing statistical studies on faculty party affiliation. Critics such as academic Stanley Fish have argued that "academic diversity", as Horowitz defines it, is not a legitimate academic value, and that no endorsement of "diversity" can be absolute.
In Pennsylvania, the House of Representatives created a special legislative committee to investigate issues of academic freedom and whether students who hold unpopular views need more protection. In November 2006 it reported that it had not found evidence of problems with students' rights.
Horowitz has been married four times. He married Elissa Krauthamer, in a Yonkers, New York synagogue on 14 June 1959. They had four children together: Jonathan Daniel, Benjamin Horowitz, Anne Pilat, and Sarah Rose Horowitz.
Sarah died in March 2008 at age 44 from Turner syndrome-related heart complications. She is the subject of Horowitz's 2009 book, A Cracking of the Heart. She was a human rights activist who cooked for the homeless, stood vigil at San Quentin on nights when the state of California executed prisoners, worked with autistic children in public schools, and with the American Jewish World Service, helped rebuild homes in El Salvador after a hurricane, and traveled to India to oppose child labor. In a review of Horowitz's book, FrontPage magazine associate editor David Swindle wrote that she fused "the painful lessons of her father's life with a mystical Judaism to complete the task he never could: showing how the Left could save itself from self-destruction."
Horowitz's second marriage to Sam Moorman also ended in divorce. On 24 June 1990, Horowitz married Shay Marlowe in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony conducted at the Pacific Jewish Center by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. They divorced.
(all co-authored with Peter Collier)