Our current divisions have poisoned our political discourse. Instead of discussing the important public policy issues that should drive our national conversation, too often we find ourselves engaged in name calling and character assassination of those with whom we may differ on policy matters. No word in our language has the ability to damage a public figure more deeply than “racist.”
I know this for a personal fact. I was recently smeared as holding a “racially charged event” by an irresponsible headline writer at the Washington Post. I then watched as this smear was picked up by Florida papers, and escalated into the claim that I was actually a “racist.” This false claim was then reprinted by media all over the state. Their apparent goal was to attack Congressman Ron DeSantis by linking him to me... or rather this distorted image of me. The alleged link was the fact that I had invited him to give a speech at my Restoration Weekend, an event I hold every year at The Breakers in Palm Beach. The goal of this headline and article was to defame me, hoping that my name would be unfamiliar enough that most readers would not realize how absurd the characterization was.
For the record, I am a lifelong civil rights activist. I marched in my first civil rights protest against racial discrimination in 1948 and have been fighting for equal rights for African Americans and other minorities ever since. I persuaded the Trump administration to back a $130 billion scholarship program for inner city kids. I am one of the only conservatives who spoke out in defense of Trayvon Martin and said that George Zimmerman was guilty of manslaughter.
Far from being “racially charged,” the Restoration Weekend, at which Rep. DeSantis and many other public officials, internationally prominent writers and thought leaders have spoken, reflects my dedication to diversity, inclusiveness and equality. To call it racist is pure fabrication. The Weekend has featured many African Americans as keynote speakers, including former Democratic Mayor of Washington, D.C., Business Owner Herman Cain, Adrian Fenty, Wall Street Journal editor Jason Riley, Fox Business Channel anchor Charles Payne, former Congressmen Allen West and J.C. Watts, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, radio talk show host Larry Elder, Turning Points USA activist Candace Owens, Breitbart columnist Sonnie Johnson and others.
To call the events I have hosted in West Palm Beach “racist” is ludicrous. To then imply that anyone who speaks at the event is a “racist” is fraudulent and despicable. Today, “racism” is less the description of a hateful pathology, as it was all those years ago when I first marched against segregation, than it is a weapon used to indiscriminately destroy reputations and wound those with whom we disagree. As Americans who care about preserving the fabric of our democracy, we need to reject this cynical effort to use race to divide us.
I am no racist and neither is Ron DeSantis or anyone else who attends and speaks at our events. Such a mindset would not be tolerated at any event sponsored by the David Horowitz Freedom Center. We invite you to visit our website, www.horowitzfreedomcenter.org, to learn about our mission and our work promoting freedom and liberty for all Americans.