[Marxism] The Execrable David Horowitz on Bettina Aptheker's Memoir

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Nov 11 11:40:41 MST 2006

Human beings often have a deep dislike of thinking about, remembering
and talking about things we don't like about ourselves. I'm not the
first nor will I be the last to mis-remember some historical or
personal events in which I've participated. Someone's testimony as
to what they saw is what they choose, and don't choose to share and,
memory being what it is, I'd be somewhat reluctant to assume that 
what's written today can provide exact quotes for what was said or
done decades ago. I know my memory is less than photograph and thus
my testimony is but that: my testimony. One can judge it only by its
internal coherence, it's ring of truth, or how it may compare or may
contrast with our individual experience. I found Bettina Atheker's
memoir, which I read through with considerable care, a page-turner,
a book I hated to put down. Her academic and religious discussions
didn't hold the same as what she wrote about her work as an activist
in the Communist Party, but what can you expect in 500 pages?

Unless Bettina Aptheker is subscribed to this list and or someone is
forwarding these messages to her, neither Kevin Lindemann nor I am in
a position to know whether or not Herbert Aptheker molested his
daughter. Readers who wish to form an intelligent opinion, especially
of they're planning to write about it publicly, really do have an
obligation, I think, to read more than what's been published by an
ultra-rightist, anti-Communist militant like David Horowitz, and one
small quarter-page snippet which was published in the L.A. Times.

Taking the word of David Horowitz against someone like Bettina
Aptheker, knowing that Horowitz's political line and project is to
promote ultra-rightist, anti-Communism should raise substantial
cautionary flags in any reader. Horowitz has a double target here:
to destroy Bettina Aptheker AND her father. Horowitz makes a point
of savaging Bettina Aptheker for, among other things, her stand in
opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Herbert Aptheker's
work in written history remains, to be judged by history itself and
subsequent scholarship. Horowitz, a self-appointed judge attacking
academics with left politics across the country, finds this another
occasion for yet another attack on the left, this time, Bettina.

It is similarly my impression that Kevin Lindemann has not actually
READ Bettina Aptheker's book. I noticed that Horowitz, who provide
OVER A HUNDRED footnotes to his long and tendentious essay, doesn't
provide a footnote to where Bettina Aptheker actually gives her
considered opinion as to what her father did and didn't acknowledge.
She provides her reading of his understanding. Unless some day
someone finds some letters or journal writing by Herbert Aptheker,
it's unlikely we'll learn more than is presented in the book by his

I have read the book, and it strikes me as very much the truth of
life as she saw and experienced it. The molest allegations are a tiny
fraction of what's in the book. As a whole it's the story of one
woman's odyssey through an unusual childhood in the family of a
central leader of the Communist Party, USA, and a childhood and then
a young adulthood as an activist and leader in the Communist Party. 
I assume she got to be a member of the CPUSA's National Commitee based
on a mixture of activism and last name, but I wasn't there. How can 
I know? Clearly her feelings toward her father contain a deep feeling
of ambivilence. What else would you expect?

Taking the word of a David Horowitz against someone like Bettina
Aptheker, whose politics and choices aren't ones I'd share, should
really sound an alarm bell. What is it that David Horowitz and Kevin
Lindemann are so anxious to disprove and discredit? And Lindemann 
himself hasn't bothered to read the book, only the words of Horowitz.

The profoundly misogyinstic (woman-hating) nature of the society and
culture which we inhabit must be understood as a cultural framework
within which any discussion of these matters must be undertaken if
it's to be useful. That doesn't mean that every or any allegation of
sexual abuse, or anything else is automatically true. Having worked
in the child protection system for many years, I know that false
allegations are a not infrequent occurrence. But it is a widespread
phenomenon. It's not surprising that someone like David Horowitz is
bound and determined to discredit this. Alas, it's unfortunate that
someone writing on a Marxist list should take an analagous posture.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

Daivd Horowitz is an odious person, but stopped clocks are right
twice a day, and I think Horowitz is right about one thing: It is
hard to credit Bettina Aptheker's allegations against her father. 
Her *LA Times* article misleadingly suggested that he admitted the 
sexual abuse, but the quotes from her book in Horowitz's article make it
clear that he did no such thing. On the contrary, he denied the
allegations. At the most--as a frail old man who had suffered a major
stoke and who had just suffered the loss of his wife of 52 years--he
said he couldn't remember, but that was after repeated accusations,
and I don't think that means much. I recall that sometime in the
early '90s he got up in a meeting and said that he couldn't remember
what had happened over the past year because of his health and its
effects on his memory. The denials about the allegations come
through, though.

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