“I recently returned from Ireland where a typical pub brawl prompts the question: “Is this a private fight or can anyone join in?” David Horowitz has taken his private fight with me public and I’m only too glad to join in. Primarily, he takes issue with my depiction of him in Something You Did. It’s unclear if he merely misread the play or whether he even read it at all. In any case, plays are meant to be seen not read. Had he seen my play he would know that he is not depicted in it at all. The character Gene Biddle might share certain attitudes with Horowitz (certainly Gene has read many of his books and blogs), but their resumes diverge in countless ways. Simply put, Gene Biddle is not David Horowitz; he is a character from an earlier play of mine entitled Bovver Boys.
Working from a false premise and a dubious grasp of dramatic writing, Horowitz predictably makes a number of incorrect assumptions. I’ll try to correct the most egregious ones. To start with, I never identified him as the “villain” of the story. I don’t write villains. I write complex characters who engage one another as antagonists. He then accuses me of drawing a “malicious…moral parallel” between Kathy Boudin’s role in a fatal armored car robbery and his role in the death of Betty Van Patter. Neither event is mentioned in the play, even though both are referenced in my program notes. Horowitz is welcome to critique those notes but frankly it’s a little like judging one of his books by the jacket copy without actually reading the book. In point of fact, I read his memoir Radical Son cover to cover, twice. In it, Horowitz admits that he recommended Van Patter as a bookkeeper for the Black Panther Party despite his well-founded fears and “images of danger” (p. 243) surrounding Elaine Brown, who had replaced Huey Newton as Chairperson.
Horowitz goes on to misrepresent Something You Did as an apologia for the violent excesses of the radical Left, citing the character Alison Moulton and her convoluted defense of her innocence. The play makes the opposite point – that she has continually denied her part in creating an anti-personnel explosive device and has even lied about it to the victim’s daughter. Horowitz adds, “In the play it is my character who persuades her to buy the nails…” This is patently false. The play says no such thing and only a shallow or dishonest reading would fail to see that the fictional fatal explosion is condemned in the harshest terms. Horowitz wants to equate the series of Weatherman bombings in the 1970s with the deadly fanatical Islamic terrorism of recent years. The play gives full voice to that position just as it gives equal voice to those who see a profound difference between the two. But for Horowitz anything short of sanctifying his worldview is deemed a “radical cliché.” His devious attempt to reduce my personal politics to nostalgic radical chic is nothing more than facile neo-Conservative cliché, especially when he knows nothing of my political views (many of which might surprise him).
Horowitz further complains that in Something You Did he is “…represented as a cynical narcissist…” I’ve already demonstrated that he’s not represented in the play, although a narcissist might assume otherwise. Horowitz asserts that Gene Biddle is singled out as an attempt to “smear conservatives as racists.” It’s hard to know whether to attribute this to paranoia or a guilty conscience since every character in the play – white and black – perpetrates some form of racial thinking. If Gene Biddle states his views bluntly, Alison Moulton is duly excoriated as the “poster girl for the failure of the Left” for the tragic way in which her misguided gesture at overcoming “white skin privilege” resulted in the death of a black man.
Finally, Horowitz lectures that the fictional bombing in the play couldn’t possibly have been “a protest against the Viet Nam war” since the war had ended years before Boudin’s actual crime. That’s precisely why I fictionalized and moved up the timing of the event; that and the fact that the Nyack armored car robbery was indefensible and incomprehensible from any sane moral or political orientation. I chose, instead, to create a realistic event that hypothetically asks: what if one of the nail bombs that destroyed the West 11th Street townhouse and three of its occupants had found its way to a public place with fatal consequences? If, as Horowitz glibly writes, Something You Did is “dishonest to its core,” why has he resorted to distortion, misrepresentation and outright lies to dishonestly disparage it? It is absurd for Horowitz to condemn me for not writing the play he would have written were he a playwright. Then again, if he ever does write that play I promise to see it and not take cheap shots based on second-hand reports and a cursory reading.
So there, we’ve had our fight and we might even be the better for it. I believe that at it’s best theatre is a public fight and that everyone should join in – especially David Horowitz. Unfortunately, this written scuffle is not nearly as satisfying as it would have been in person. For one thing, I might have taken him out afterwards for pint of Guinness.”