Aliza Davidovit is a writer, commentator, journalist and former TV producer. She is a contributing editor at Lifestyles and Mann About Town magazines, specializing in interviewing the world's most famous and influential people for cover stories. Davidovit worked at ABC News' "20/20" for six years and the Fox News Channel. She is the author of "The Words that Shaped Me." Her website is Davidovit.com.More ↓Less ↑
It is said that most people have one book in them. But not Herb London. There is nothing about this ebulliently brilliant man that can be contained in one binding, a man with his own strong “spine,” the core axis around which the hundreds of thousands of pages he writes revolve. As one leafs through the wisdom of any of his 22 books, the integrity of his convictions and wit-whetted words engage the reader in such a way that leafing yields to hungry reading and then to deep thinking.
But who wants to think deeply with the splendors of summer bewitching Manhattan: the icy Cosmopolitans, outdoor dancing at Lincoln Center, the bird watching in Central Park, and the men watching in New York’s Meat Packing District. Thus, when London suggested I read his new book, “America’s Secular Challenge: The Rise of a New National Religion,” I recoiled inside and the secularist voice within me castigated him as the enemy to the summer ease and sycophantic breeze. Nonetheless, one sunny day upon a park bench, I opened his book. Soon it became evidently clear that the enemy indeed is among us, but it’s by no means Herb London.
As London points out, a secularist agenda has joined hands with fundamentalist Islam to destroy the Western way of life and replace it with its own ideology. Word after word it became evermore clear that the “summer delights” of secularism won’t last if London’s words – and those who think like him – are not heeded soon.
Quite simply put, his point is that the pervading threats against our very way of life cannot be met with accommodation and appeasement. He also deems it vital to win the war on terrorism.
London’s book is a must read for anyone who cares about America and the future of the free world. He takes a scrutinizing look at the weakness and deleterious effects of liberal pacification and exposes its attritional consequences on patriotism and national fortitude. Quoting Robert Frost, London writes, “A liberal [is] someone who refuse[s] to take his own side in an argument.” But that spineless stance leaves a dangerous vacuum for others to shape our future, London feels. He points out that the more open and liberal a society, the more likely it is a target for jihad.
He writes that “these radical secularists who oppose traditional religion yet embrace multiculturalism and cultural relativism, unbridled sexual expression, materialism and a belief in scientific rationality as the ultimate arbiter of human value have forged a view of life ill-equipped to meet the political and existential challenges of the twenty-first century.”
London’s concern with multiculturalism should by no means be confused with his full appreciation for diversity. “Multiculturism,” he writes, is “an attitude that proclaims the equality of all cultures but paradoxically assumes that non-Western cultures are somehow more equal, more worthy, than their Western counterparts.”
Secularists seem to not only hate themselves, but God as well. Religion and God have become casualties in their “enlightened” campaign of bettering the world, unless of course it’s someone else’s God – Allah, Brahma, Buddha. As for the Judeo-Christian One, well His usefulness has expired. “But the historical truth,” London says, “is that our way of life, including the liberty ensconced in liberalism, emerged from and is sustained by Christian principles.”
Why is London concerned? Because the naïve left continues to engage in suicidal tendencies as it humbly dispossess itself and this country of anything that may seem to resemble an opinion, a stance or a conviction. Meanwhile, a rapidly multiplying Islamist population is emboldening its own struggle to “destroy Israel, create a Middle East devoid of any religion but Islam, employ the oil empire to create caliphates from Madrid to Jakarta and then to launch a holy war against the West.” And as the West increasingly becomes a senior partner in its own demise, London questions whether decades hence the West will have the means or muscles to resist, to fight back, to reclaim itself.
G.K. Chesterton’s short story “The Yellow Bird” is not the best bedtime story to read your kids, but London tells it in his book to wake people up. “…[T]he protagonist, filled with libertarian zeal, frees his fish from its bowl and watches it die grasping for air. He then liberates his canary from its cage, only to see it eaten by a cat. He then attempts to liberate his mind from the confines of the brain – killing himself.”
Perhaps Ann Coulter was not too far off when she titled her book “If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans.” As for London, he is not quite ready to serve up his head on a secularist platter that is so hospitably gilded with guilt, apathy and apologies. He will continue to keep his mind in his brain, his brain in his head and his head on his shoulders as he fights for the future of this great country and the principles which made it so.
Herb London was 15 years old when he first picked up his persuasive pen – and he hasn’t put it down in 54 years. His goal is to change the world, and he has in some measure done just that by brandishing his most powerful and far-reaching weapon, his words, a sagacious unlimited artillery which he uses ever persuasively as weapons of mass instruction. As president of the Hudson Institute, a world-renowned nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., he seeks to guide global leaders in government and business on highly relevant and influential matters regarding domestic and world affairs. He has been listed among the Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century, Directory of Distinguished Americans, Who’s Who in Education, Who’s Who in the East, Men of Distinction, Who’s Who in America, Kingston’s National Registry of Who’s Who, and 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century. He is today a noted social critic who has been a guest lecturer on many major radio and television news programs, including the popular CNN “Crossfire,” which he co-hosted for one year. His work has appeared in every major newspaper and journal in the country. In addition to London’s television program, “Myths That Rule America,” he created a 47-part CBS series entitled “The American Character.” He is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, such as the Martin Luther King Award from the Congress of Racial Equality for Citizenship as well as the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, among numerous others. He also sits on the board of directors for more than two dozen important organizations that concern themselves with the betterment of this country.
London studied at Columbia University under Dr. Jacques Barzun, a leading American historian of ideas and culture. “I came to the realization that there is so much I wanted to know,” he said. “I wanted to go to the library and learn everything from A-Z – know as much as I could.” He graduated from Columbia in 1960 and in 1966 from New York University with a Ph.D. in history. By 1972 London was responsible for creating the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU and was its dean until 1992. He is also a professor emeritus and the former John M. Olin Professor of Humanities at NYU. When it began, the now famous Gallatin school – organized to promote the study of “great books” and classic texts – had a half-dozen students. Today it has 3,000. London has since built it from a $25,000 program to a $15 million one.
Always with the mission of changing the world for the better, London also entered the world of politics. In 1989, London was one of the Republican candidates for mayor of New York City. In 1990 he ran as the Conservative candidate for governor of New York, getting more votes than any third-party candidate in the state’s history. In 1994 he was the Republican Party candidate for New York State comptroller, losing in a close election. Today, with no air of sour-grapes syndrome, he says he is glad he lost because he finds politics a dirty game. “Politics is very corrupt and I’m very earnest,” London said. “I really had no recognition of how unseemly some of these people are.”
Regarding his stint in politics London jokingly says, “It was a midlife crisis thing. It was either run for office or get a convertible and a blonde.” Kudos to London, most politicos usually do both. But Herb London already has four beautiful women in his life: his wife, Vicki, a published author of steamy romance novels and his three daughters. His daughter, Stacy, who hosts the Discovery TV show “What Not to Wear,” often tries to inspire him to jazz up his conservative wardrobe.
But from London we can see that the suit jacket doesn’t make the man anymore than the book jacket makes the book. They are but lucky accessories if they are attached to Herb London – an elegant valiant warrior for humanity who continues his fight for right word by word and page by page.