Horowitz’s Angry Rhetoric

My two favorite comedians with “angry” acts are Don Rickles and Lewis Black. After both are done with the performance, they show their real selves to be kind, calm, and smart; indeed, Rickles tends to get sentimental.

When it comes to David Horowitz’s long-running as author, foundation-directory, and media personality, I can’t tell whether the anger is a performance or not. In the following video from Youtube, it seems not to be a performance, and Horowitz seems genuinely full of rage:

Horowitz podium

His view of professors irrational, but his view of students is worse. When he claims that generations of students have been indoctrinated, he seems to be ignoring a few circumstances: the students are 18-22 at the youngest, already independent, with lots of firm ideas and beliefs. Anyone who’s been the parent of a teenager, or who has observed parents of teenagers, knows the degree to which persuasion, let alone indoctrination, is a tough sell with teenagers.

After Horowitz warms up on his old subject, he moves on to Blacks in the U.S., asking why, if Blacks suffer oppression in the U.S., many Haitians want to immigrate here. My answer: Poverty. But kinds of oppression may still exist in the U.S. while poverty persists in Haiti. This is not an either/or proposition.

Then Horowitz says American inherited a slave-system: not quite the right verb. Many founding fathers owned slaves, so the transition from slave colonies to slave states wasn’t really an unwanted inheritance. He mentions that “90 years” after the founding of the Republic, slavery was outlawed, but doesn’t mention the hundreds of years of slavery preceding that, nor does he mention the Jim Crow South, persistent problems with disproportionate incarceration and son. But the main source of fascination is his rage, which seems to make his face twitch.

On the Larry King show, however, Horowitz’s performance seems pure schtick, so much so that Congressman Rangel chuckles and says, “David has his schtick” (and a New Yorker would know–Broadway and all that). In this video from the King show, Horowtiz defends Ann Coulter’s attack on 9/11 widows and claims Coulter did not write the book to make money, at which point other guests just can’t stop laughing:

Horowitz on King

The rhetorical tactics are pretty weak. Anyway: Horowitz’s anger: real or schtick? I’d say mostly schtick, highly remunerative. Around issues of race in the U.S. and academia, however, Horowitz seems to suffer from a blinding pathology.

And if he really opposed indoctrination, he’d go back to the classical rhetoric of Aristotle: respectful, balanced, logical, sober.


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