Horowitz had become an early champion of the outraged right, showing a keen ability for spotting minor flares in the culture wars and showering them with the appropriate dose of gasoline. His was a grab bag of evil-liberal targets that would soon make up the hit lists of better-known conservatives like Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck.

The Freedom Center's annual Restoration Weekend, a white-meat gathering of right-wing notables, featured such prominent speakers as Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Horowitz became a regular on the lecture circuit and Fox News.

His message was designed to incite. Take his 2006 book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, which sought to out the instructors polluting the nation's youth with un-American bias. His logic wasn't built from the finest mortar; the Boston Globe called it a "one-sided screed" that simply targeted "professors who hold political views different than [Horowitz's] own."

David Horowitz at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Gage Skidmore
David Horowitz at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference.
The Horowitz Freedom Center “Where Are They Now?” ad that ran in campus news papers including the Jan. 23, 2012, edition of The Lantern at Ohio State University.
The Horowitz Freedom Center “Where Are They Now?” ad that ran in campus news papers including the Jan. 23, 2012, edition of The Lantern at Ohio State University.

But that wasn't really the point. Like most on both the left and right fringes, Horowitz's primary goal was starting fires, hoping they'd burn bright enough to reach the news cycle, where the propaganda points are earned.

Republican sugar daddies took notice.

Benefactors like Richard Mellon Scaife, publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, wrote checks to Freedom Center coffers. So did the Bradley Foundation, which also backed well-known conservative institutions such as the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. In 2010, Politico reported that Horowitz personally took home a total of $461,000 in salary and benefits during the previous three years.

Yet the polemicist's profession is a crowded one. It's difficult to break through the noise when your competition has its own syndicated radio shows and prime-time news slots. So Horowitz found a reliable niche by standing bullish on Israel.

In 2007, he began providing conservative college students with starter kits to hold their own Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Horowitz would parachute onto campuses across the country, promoting documentary screenings and appearances by Freedom Center speakers. He showed students how to conduct sit-ins at Women's Studies departments to protest feminism's silence on Islam's oppression of women. According to the center's website, he's appeared at 114 schools.

He followed up by purchasing an ad in the New York Times proclaiming "The Palestinians' Case Against Israel Is Based on a Genocidal Lie." Another ad likened boycotts of Israeli products to the first step toward Nazism. He even began to argue that the White House had been infiltrated by extremists, in a Freedom Center publication titled "The Muslim Brotherhood in the Obama Administration."

His work could easily be dismissed as braying theatrics, '60s radicalism re-engineered for the conservative sensibility. "The way that he approaches all of this is very much still in the strategies and rhetoric of the Berkeley left," says Eli Clifton, a writer for the Center for American Progress who profiled Horowitz as part of a report on groups involved in spreading Islamophobia. "It's very much the same hardware. They've just changed the software."

But sometimes Horowitz does more than kick a nugget of truth into a rockslide of indignation. Sometimes — as in the case of Florida State — he's actually right.

Somewhere in a CIA bunker, algorithms spit red-flagged names linked to terrorism. More than a few Muslim Student Association alumni are among them. They include everyone from bit players in bungled terror plots to those who've left sizable fingerprints in recent history. These are the names that Horowitz plasters throughout his ads in college newspapers.

Born in America to Yemeni parents, Anwar al-Awlaki served as president of the MSA at Colorado State in the late '80s. Though he reportedly walked a moderate line in Fort Collins, the post-9/11 al-Awlaki would become one of the most popular clerics in the Muslim world.

His rallying cries beamed via Internet from Yemen, sprinkled with references to "Joe Sixpack" and other bits of Americana, became must-see screeds for the young and violent. He swapped e-mails with Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist who turned his gun on fellow servicemen at Fort Hood in 2009, leaving 13 dead. Officials also believe al-Awlaki was the puppeteer behind Umar Farouk Abdulmutalla, the would-be terrorist who failed to ignite an underwear bomb on a flight to Detroit in 2009.

Al-Awlaki became the first U.S. citizen to rank on the CIA's kill list. A drone strike in Yemen took him out last year.

Omar Hammami, crowned the "Jihadist Next Door" by the New York Times, grew up feeling ostracized as a Muslim in a small town in the Bible Belt. He was president of the MSA at the University of South Alabama before dropping out in 2002.

After heading overseas and rechristening himself Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, Hammami became the media face for al-Shabaab, a Somalian insurgency group now affiliated with al-Qaeda. Besides appearing in recruitment videos, al-Amriki recorded rap songs with a jihadist message. He recently earned a spot on the FBI's most-wanted list.

Ali Asad Chandia was a third-grade teacher at a Muslim school in College Park, Md., when the feds booted in his door in 2003. The Pakistan native was eventually handed a 15-year sentence for providing support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Muslim extremist group focused on liberating Kashmir from India. The organization is responsible for numerous attacks on military and civilian targets, including the coordinated attacks across Mumbai in 2008, when 164 people were massacred.

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It's so important to write about prejudice, to offer alternative view-points and to dissect the simplicity and disrespect of those that blatantly nurture and perpetrate intolerance. 

But to do so with the same simplistic, blatant means? Reading this article left me with a really bad taste - Kyle Swenson uses the same lame tactics he denounces and thus greatly cheapens his effort. A few examples: "Muslim Hunting" - the title. I doubt Kyle Swenson has ever been hunting or else he wouldn't have used such lurid comparison. "A white-meat gathering"?? Why should this kind of disrespect towards one race be ok but not towards others? There is no room for ambivalence in our efforts for mutual respect (perhaps Kyle Swenson suffers from a case of self-hatred? I assume he is Caucasian). And also his mentioning of funding is completely one-sided and doesn't allow the reader to get a comprehensive picture.

red.marcy.rand topcommenter

Horowitz is the Ashkenazi male version of a Yenta. He's a perpetual crank in league with Jihadists of the Right like the Ayn Rand Institute and its crazed founder Leonard Peikoff, Pam Geller, Robert Spencer and other such Israel First warmongering trash. Occasionally he's right on the reparations for blacks issue and a few others but mostly he's a windbag in it for the big bucks. Being a left radical in Berkeley never paid off like this but being a right radical gets you a Bel Air mansion. Friedfish, thanks for your cogent comments on Obama's statist fascism. However thank Allah Romney-Ryan lost. We had this Zionist nut Lee Rodgers spreading anti-Arab racism for years at KGO and then KSFO. Is that latter station even still around ?


My goodness! The Left admits that David Horowitz - a Conservative - can be correct at times? The staff of SF Weekly will have to sent to re-education camp!

The main disgrace that the Left sweeps under the rug (Islamic prayer rug?) is that Obama has intensified the Bush-originated SWAT tactics against the Muslim residents and Muslim citizens in the US. I, a conservative Independent, had always objected to Bush-built Homeland Security network. An yet, Obama gave more powers to Homeland Security. Obama is making the USA more militarized and making the US and the US government becoming more and more fascist (government control - not necessarily ownership - of all means of production). This is the disgrace that the Left hides from the public.

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