Reviews of Dark Agenda
David Horowitz Exposes the Left’s Dark Agenda
By Richard Kirk
March 10, 2019
This review was originally published in The American Thinker
Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America, by David Horowitz, Humanix Books, March 5, 2019 (224 pages, $17.70, Hardcover)
David Horowitz has always been a writer whose work I’ve appreciated since his compelling political biography, Radical Son, which related the author’s break from his communist upbringing after Black Panther associates murdered his bookkeeper friend Betty Van Patter. But brevity and crisp linkage of multiple intellectual threads were never characteristic of Horowitz’s brilliant, often voluminous, exposés of leftist thought and practice. By contrast, Dark Agenda is a concise, chilling book brimming with evidence that links numerous cultural depredations to one overriding theme: The left’s attack on Christian America’s founding in the name of “cultural Marxism.”
“Christian America” is the novel component in Horowitz’s analysis, a term that acknowledges the historical fact that America, at its founding, was 98 percent Protestant. Protestantism, in turn, was intimately linked to the doctrine of “the priesthood of all believers” and to the more broadly Christian idea that all people are created by God. In view of these beliefs and the fact that Protestant groups were living side by side, it followed that in America there would be no institutional or governmental mediator between the individual and God. It also meant that each individual’s rights were endowed solely by their Creator and that freedom of conscience and speech would be hallmarks of the new republic.
“Cultural Marxism,” by contrast, represents the application of its “oppressor versus oppressed” vision of society to various victim groups: blacks, “people of color,” women, native Americans, homosexuals, transsexuals, and any other group claiming victimhood. For Marxists what stands between these oppressed groups and a world in which “social justice” and equality is fully realized are the oppressors, those who supposedly establish the laws and mores that keep them in power. Thus, failure or success isn’t the result of individual choices but the inevitable outcome of a system designed to unfairly help one group (white, Christian, males) and harm the others. Accordingly, what matters politically is destroying the patriarchal Christian system itself with its emphasis on individual moral and economic choices and replacing it with a group-focused system that, in my own words, oppresses the oppressors. Put quite simply, “Christian doctrines were foundational to the American Republic, which the left despises.”
After reading the last two paragraphs, one might think Dark Agenda is highly philosophical and abstract. This impression couldn’t be further from the truth, as these core ideas are given clear expression and development via an array of examples, many of which are doubtless unknown to even the most politically-astute readers. Who knew, for example, that the $621 million U.S. Capitol Visitor Center that opened in 2008 “is less a monument to the nation’s founding and institutions than it is to the antireligious left’s vision for America. When it opened, all references to God and faith had been carefully, deliberately edited out of its photos and historical displays.” For example, the national motto was said to be “E Pluribus Unum” when, in fact, it is “In God We Trust.” Among other historical travesties, a large “image of the Constitution was photoshopped to remove the worlds ‘in the Year of our Lord’ above the signatures of the signers.” Similarly, the “table on which President Lincoln placed his Bible during his second inauguration is on display — just the table, not the Bible.”
These examples are picayune compared to the spiteful governmental coercion that’s been employed to force The Little Sisters of the Poor, among others, to violate their consciences thanks to Obamacare abortion provisions. The Supreme Court has been the giant secular lever employed by leftists to fundamentally transform “Christian America” into a state hostile even to a school-girl who joined hands with classmates to give thanks for her food. These politically-motivated “lawyers,” as Horowitz contemptuously labels the high court, began their anti-Christian, anti-Constitutional mission with the expulsion of prayer from public schools in 1962 (Engel v. Vitale). That assault on the free exercise of religion now extends beyond commencement ceremonies and football fields to a bakery that was embroiled in legal battles for years for refusing to provide a celebratory cake for a gay ceremony billed as a wedding — a “crime” made possible by Court rulings against the Defense of Marriage Act and in favor of redefining marriage.
The case of Roe v. Wade (1972), which awakened religious conservatives to the fundamental attack on Christian America, is cogently dissected in Dark Agenda, both from a constitutional perspective as well as through the eyes of Norma McCorvey, the anonymous “Jane Roe” who was intentionally deceived and reduced to a legal prop to secure the Supreme Court’s “right to privacy” abortion ruling. (As Horowitz notes, in Marxist thought it’s the grand arc of history and oppressed groups that matter, not mere individuals.) That ruling officially brought about the cultural civil war that for the anti-Christian left involves not simply a virulent hatred of President Trump but also hatred directed toward his supporters who are regularly vilified as Nazis, sexists, racists, homophobes, and “deplorables” who are rightly denied freedom of speech and conscience. Trump’s Oval Office predecessor did his best to stoke these emotions as Horowitz’s litany of anti-Christian comments and actions by President Obama illustrate — from avoiding religious references during a traditional Thanksgiving ceremony to pursuit of a foreign policy that led to the annihilation of the ancient Christian community in Syria.
Among the sidebars accompanying Horowitz’s central narrative are insights into the abusive and mendacious character of atheist Madelyn Murray. For example, in 1960 Murray “set out with her two sons . . . intending to renounce her American citizenship and defect to the Soviet Union.” Her repeated attempts at emigration were rebuffed by the Soviets who were probably aware of her emotional instability and violent outbursts. Murray’s revolutionary predecessor, Margaret Sanger, was also a communist sympathizer and racist. A 1930 article in The New Yorker about Ms. Sanger noted that her monthly newspaper, Woman Rebel, “mixed its birth-control propaganda with a good deal of red-flag-waving, and perorations of the ‘Workers of the World, Arise!’ variety.” The author also observed that she “composed an editorial declaring: ‘Even if dynamite were to serve no other purpose than to call forth the spirit of revolutionary solidarity and loyalty, it would prove its great value.'”
Horowitz ends Dark Agenda with this chilling paragraph reminiscent of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “A nation divided by such fundamental ideas — individual freedom on one side and group identity on the other — cannot long endure, any more than could a nation that was half slave and half free. The urgency that drew the religious right into politics fifty years ago is now an urgency of the nation itself.” Even individuals well aware of the cultural Civil War that now rages in America would do well do arm themselves with the insights in this book — insights that both explain the ideological roots of the conflict and document a host of grievous wounds that “Christian America” has already suffered. Horowitz, an honest agnostic, is doing his best to prevent those wounds from becoming mortal.
The Best Book in Politics for Christians in 2019
By John Zmirak
April 04, 2019
Reprinted from TheStream.org.
If you read The Stream regularly, you’ve waded through tens of thousands of words that aim to explain what we’re up against. The power of social media to censor and silence. The corruption of our courts. The completely unearned sense of superiority which ignorant, sneering 20-year-olds display toward seasoned believers. The slow-motion train wreck of the Democratic Party, which has ceased to be a patriotic or even a sane organization. The rise of a new, inquisitorial religion, which worships a flittering shadow called “social justice.” The slow grind of laws meant to persecute our faith.
I write about these topics five days a week, every week of the year. (At about 1,000 words per column, that’s a 250,000 words I write per year — the length of four decent-sized books.) It sometimes feels like I’m fighting a swarm of wasps. Because those who hate Christianity, the nation it helped to make, and the civilization it built, are tireless. They never stop. Let’s say we find an honest court that debunks one cobbled together attack upon our freedoms. They shop for another venue, and relaunch the same offensive. We rouse ourselves to repeal some profoundly evil policy of the government’s. So our enemies cozen or bully massive corporations to impose it on us instead. It. Is. Relentless.
If you’ve ever watched a movie depicting an exorcism, you’ll see the resemblance. The spirit tries to wear down the priest by every possible means. He’ll lure him into subtle logical games. If that doesn’t work, he’ll batter him with profanity. Threaten his life. His congregation, his family. Then back to mind-games again. Or else mere grinding repetition of the same obscene phrase, over and over again. You know, like those Tweets from Planned Parenthood that say “Abortion is health care” sixty times, interspersed with little smiley faces or idiotically clapping hands.
In the midst of this storm of squalor, it’s helpful when someone steps in and blows a whistle. Or rather sounds a foghorn that parts the roiling miasma, so you see what’s going on. For that we must thank David Horowitz. In his new book Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America, Horowitz manages something amazing. He exposes in fewer than 200 pages the motivations, strategies, and logic of anti-Christian campaigns. He shows, not incidentally, why those who fight hardest to erase every trace of Christian culture also usually hate the Jews. And America, from its free economy to its culture and Constitution.
Those things stand bound up together, you see. America, at its best, was governed by reason and knitted together by faith. It avoided both the thuggish coercion of theocracy, and the vapidness of secularism. It proved, to the blank astonishment of clerical conservatives and godless philosophes alike, that liberty and virtue could be compatible. That they could together thrive, in a kind of celestial dance. In fact, you could map the checks and balances of our magnificent Constitution in just that way. That document and the institutions that birthed it and cherished it (from town meetings to churches, civic clubs to moral crusades) compelled Americans to dance with each other. No one could get away with pushing too hard, or corralling everyone on the dance floor to goosestep in one direction. And the outcome was often … beautiful.
WHY THEY HATE GOD, AND US
But not to everyone. As Horowitz knows, and tells us. He grew up in a family that was loyal to Stalinist Russia. His family rejected the religious core of Judaism. Like so many millions, Jewish and gentile, his family found a messianic hope in this world, not sent by God but cobbled together by human efforts. And imposed upon hundreds of millions at the point of a bayonet. Horowitz recounts here briefly (as he has elsewhere at great length and depth) what it feels like to worship that idol. And the shocking, violent experiences that goaded him to abandon it.
Horowitz grew from a cocksure, anti-Christian atheist and Communist to a bemused, respectful agnostic who admits to being jealous of those with the gift of faith. His attitude toward Christian institutions and culture (which have often been intolerant and imperfect) is now generous and charitable. It shows that within this culture warrior beats a warm and benevolent heart.
JADED BY DREAMS OF UTOPIA
Horowitz explains in detail why “progressives” have come to hate Christianity, the State of Israel, the market economy, and the free play of different ideas. They have adopted an intolerant and brittle false religion. It’s not quite Marxism anymore — that system is too rigorous, and has anyway been comprehensively refuted by events. It’s a sort of free-floating cynical scorn of pretty much everything as it really exists, compared to a fuzzy, emotive sense of how things ought to be — once you toss out the window every constraint of what it would cost. Not in money (though of course, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, they wave that question away). In freedom. And human spontaneity. In genuine diversity, which isn’t skin deep, but twinkles, deep down in the brain.
In Dark Agenda, Horowitz exposes the sloppy logic elitist bullies and leftist cranks employed to impose their eccentric agendas on America. They did it mostly via tortured court decisions. Or executive mandates. Or policies foisted on us by bureaucrats we didn’t elect and can’t remove. He points out how much more divisive such methods were than democratic debate and honest voting. And he notes how close we are coming to the moment which Ronald Reagan warned of, when he said that “We are always just one generation away from losing our liberty.”
Quotes about Dark Agenda
“One of the most intellectually compelling and rational defenses of Christianity’s role in America. A delightfully readable explanation of how Christian principles were the bedrock of the American Revolution, and how the anti-American left has targeted Christians because of that.”
“Read this disturbing but vital book.”
“An eye-opening account of the left’s 60-year war against America’s Christian foundations. If you want to understand the political crisis our country is facing, read this book.”
—Gary Bauer, Former Reagan Under Secretary of Education
“David Horowitz understands the attacks on Christianity better than any academic… Thank God we have him on our side.”
—Bill Donohue, President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
The War to Destroy Christian America
David Horowitz’s new book examines the secular left’s dark agenda.
A review by Mark Tapson
Originally published at Frontpagemag.com
Today, the free exercise of religion has ceased to be a guaranteed right in America. Instead, it has become a battlefield. – David Horowitz
For years, Morris County in New Jersey had been giving historic churches money to make repairs under an historic preservation program. In 2015, the State Supreme Court ruled that taxpayer funds should not be used to repair places of worship. A challenge to this ruling recently went before the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case, but Justice Brett Kavanaugh pointed out that “[b]arring religious organizations because they are religious from a general historic-preservation grants program is pure discrimination against religion.” This “would raise serious questions under this Court’s precedents and the Constitution’s fundamental guarantee of equality.”
This seems like a relatively minor, local issue but it is yet another instance of the fierce conflict referred to in Horowitz’s quote above. As the Freedom Center’s founder notes in his brand new book Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America, we are engaged in “a war against this nation and its founding principles: the equality of individuals and individual freedom. For these principles are indisputably Christian in origin. They are under siege because they are insurmountable obstacles to radicals’ totalitarian ambition to create a new world in their image.”
Those totalitarian radicals are today’s progressives. “Since its birth in the fires of the French Revolution,” Horowitz writes, “the political left has been at war with religion, and with the Christian religion in particular.” He knows this from personal experience. As a “red-diaper baby,” he learned early on that his parents and their leftist friends were true believers in a faith, but not one concerned with the fate of souls. The label “progressivism” masked their true religion, which was Communism, and their “cause was the salvation of mankind” – but “they thought of themselves as the redeemers, not God.”
As Horowitz demonstrates in his slim but compelling and disturbing new volume, the left’s ruthless antagonism toward Christianity stems from its own arrogant determination to shape the world according to atheist Karl Marx’s utopian vision of perfect equality and social justice (with Edenic environmental harmony thrown in for good measure). “Those who believe they are changing the world, or saving the planet, or transforming the human race,” Horowitz writes, “are intoxicated with self-aggrandizing pride.” Those afflicted with this arrogance, such as the so-called New Atheists like political comedian Bill Maher, condemn the violence and bigotry spread in the name of religion (especially Christianity; Islam is usually off-limits to condemnation partly because it shares an anti-Western animosity with the left, and partly because open criticism of Islam tends to get the critic targeted for death). But they “are blind to all the positive influences religion has had on human behavior, and they ignore all the atheist-inspired genocides of the last 250 years,” Horowitz writes. He rightly points out that the danger lies not in religion but in human nature; it is our flawed humanity that sometimes poisons religion, not the other way around.
The left, however, is loath to acknowledge this because human nature is messy and incompatible with their utopianism; thus it must be either ignored, denied, or forcefully molded to fit the glorious collectivist dream. Similarly, our nation’s Christian roots must be denied or cut off to pave the way for the realization of that dream. Horowitz explains, for example, that “America is the logical, if not inevitable, development of the Protestant Reformation,” which “led directly to the principle at the heart of the Declaration of Independence, that ‘all men are created equal’ and endowed with rights by their Creator – rights no government has the authority to deny.”
But the statist left demands this authority for itself, so it seized upon the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to undermine American religious traditions, and found a willing instrument in an activist Supreme Court: “In one despotic decision after another, the Supreme Court inflated the Establishment Clause while letting all the air out of the Free Exercise protection. Again and again, the High Court jammed its radical redefinition of the First Amendment down the throat of an unwilling, unready society.”
“Once the left had built a wall of separation between church and state,” Horowitz continues, “it had to change history and make the past conform to the present.” Thus, for example, schools and textbooks began to reflect a de-emphasis on our Christian roots, such as referring to the early Pilgrims as merely “settlers” or “European colonizers.”
Horowitz identifies the weaponized Supreme Court as the principal villain in this drama:
In case after case – religious expression in schools, contraception, abortion – the Supreme Court handed down a string of earthshaking decisions founded on the flimsiest and even bogus constitutional reasoning. The unintended consequence of these decisions was to place the Supreme Court on the front lines of an epic culture war. It was not merely a war between left and right, but between secularism and religion, especially the Christian religion. The secular left had discovered an all-powerful instrument – the Supreme Court – with which it could impose its radical, anti-Christian agenda on an unwilling nation.
The cast of characters in Dark Agenda includes the rabidly anti-Christian activist Madelyn Murry (later O’Hair), who filed a lawsuit against school prayer which Horowitz calls “the Fort Sumter of the war over religious liberty.” Murray shrewdly found an ally in the Supreme Court, and the rest is history: “A circus put on by a calculating, truth-challenged anti-American crackpot, egged on by ACLU radicals, provided an opportunity for eight lifetime political appointees, elected by no one and accountable to no one, to reinterpret the Constitution, overturn nearly two centuries of precedent and tradition, and change the life of a nation.”
Horowitz also tells the tale of eugenicist Margaret Sanger, a feminist icon who declared in her manifesto Woman and the New Race that women could be liberated from what feminists perceived to be the bonds of motherhood by means of “reproductive freedom,” and may, “by controlling birth, lift motherhood to the plane of a voluntary, intelligent function, and remake the world.” [Emphasis added] Sanger strove to implement her aims by promoting the previously socially unacceptable tools of contraception and abortion.
Horowitz describes how, in order to get the Supreme Court to legalize abortion, feminists sought a sacrificial lamb, a woman whose case would be compelling enough to assure legal victory. That lamb was Norma McCorvey, manipulated into serving as the “Jane Roe” of the immeasurably damaging Roe v. Wade decision (McCorvey never actually had an abortion and became an anti-abortion advocate).
The cast also includes Horowitz’s friend Christopher Hitchens, the New Atheist author of God is Not Great; constitutionalist Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, infamously demonized by Ted Kennedy and the anti-Christian left; Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker the left tried to destroy because he refused to compromise his Christian beliefs by baking a wedding cake for a gay couple; and of course, former president Barack Obama, whom one faith-based website declared “America’s Most Biblically Hostile U.S. President.”
Today, after eight years of Obama’s relentless castigation of Christian institutions and individuals as bigoted (Horowitz even provides a timeline of hostile acts toward people of Biblical faith during Obama’s tenure), President Donald Trump has been embraced by the religious right despite Trump’s problematic personal character because, as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council put it, “My support for Trump has never been based upon shared values; it is based on shared concerns.” Predictably, in its obsessive hatred for Christianity and for the upstart political outsider who “stole” the White House from progressive icon (and Saul Alinsky protégé) Hillary Clinton, the left set out to delegitimize Trump by claiming the religious right’s backing is grounded in racism.
This critical front of the culture war that has riven our country still rages. David Horowitz’s Dark Agenda is a must-read for every citizen who wants to understand, and to fight back against, the radically secular drift of our country and the assault on America’s core values, traditions, and freedoms.
Mark Tapson is the Shillman Fellow on Popular Culture at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.