most significant critical phenomena occurring within the last five years was
the persistent and oftimes viciously personal neoconservative (“neocon”) attack
on Diana West’s compelling and thoroughly documented account of how the U.S.
lost World War II because of Soviet infiltration and manipulation of the
Roosevelt administration. These machinations were fiddled not so much by Josef
Stalin, as by his fifth column and domestic politburo of American Stalinists
and an obliging U.S. president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The book is American
Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character. The U.S.
government then was termite-riddled with Soviet agents and sympathizers (“fellow-travelers”),
much as our government now is termite-riddled with Muslims.
Diana West’s path-breaking book in May 2015 in my Rule of Reason column, “Blaming
the Right Culprits.” In it I wrote:
yeoman’s work in exposing the Soviet-FDR connection in American
Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character. She has aired
out America’s dirty laundry and hung it out to dry. Neocons and other strange
creatures attacked her for contradicting their over half-century-old meme that
FDR was a blameless dupe of Joseph Stalin and that there were no real Soviet
agents and fellow travelers in FDR’s administration.
attacks and the personalities making them that she had to write another book to
counter all the lies, misconceptions, academic pufferies, character
assassinations, and misrepresentations about her and American Betrayal in those attacks, in a second book, The
Rebuttal: Defending ‘American Betrayal From the Book Burners. I
followed this ongoing exchange between West and her detractors from Day One….
neocon is someone who is an ex-leftwing “radical” who finally understood the
error of his ways, recanted, and joined the Non-Fight Club.
We’re ex-communists and ex-socialists who have seen the light and acknowledge
the horrors visited upon millions of people by those collectivist ideologies in
practice. What, however, are we for?
We’re for the status quo! Whatever that is or may be at any given point in
this column is the review of a new movie, Trumbo, by Ronald Radosh, who
participated in a veritable witch-hunt to discredit – nay, destroy – both West’s
book and her intellectual, scholarly, and moral bonafides. PJ Media ran his
November 26th review of the film, “Red Star
Falling: The Trumbo Train Wreck.” This was a follow-up review of his
November 2013 predictive critique of the film before it had been made, “Will
the New Trumbo Movie Rehash Old Myths?” in the National Review.
review of the Trumbo movie is fair-to-middling. Not a trace of malice can be
detected in his appraisal of the film or of its subject, Dalton Trumbo, one of
the “Hollywood Ten” who refused to testify before the House Committee on
Un-American Activities in 1947 concerning Communist influences in Hollywood and
the sly boots campaign by many directors, screenwriters, and producers to
indoctrinate Americans from the big screen.
Bryan Cranston would play Dalton Trumbo in a new movie about the late
blacklisted Communist screenwriter, I wrote an article
for National Review
that asked a simple question: would the film be honest and portray Trumbo
accurately, or would it perpetuate the myth of innocent and victimized
producers and/or the publicity people of Bleecker Street Cinema claimed that I
had “trashed the film” in advance and barred me from the screening, thus preventing
me from writing about it for a national publication. One could say that
Bleecker Street Cinema blacklisted me — but we all know they are against
starring Cranston as Trumbo, Louis C.K. as one of the Hollywood Ten, Helen
Mirren as Hedda Hopper, Diane Lane as Trumbo’s wife Cleo, and John Goodman as a
schlock film producer for whom Trumbo wrote lousy films under a pseudonym while
blacklisted. The film is good at recreating Hollywood in that era, but does
exactly as I feared.
hero and martyr for free speech, a principled rich Communist who nevertheless
stands firm, sells his beautiful ranch for a “modest” new house in Los Angeles,
and survives by writing film scripts — most run of the mill but some major
films (such as the Academy Award-winning Roman Holiday) — using a
“front” who pretended to be the writer. Trumbo brought in other blacklisted
writers to do likewise, his theory being that if enough films were scripted in
this way, when the truth came out, the blacklist would end. Trumbo was right.
After it was revealed that he would write the movies Exodus and Spartacus,
the blacklist was effectively over. At the same time, Trumbo is shown as having
an extraordinary work ethic — working day and night to support his family,
while existing on alcohol, nicotine, and amphetamines.
interesting and colorful character, the film gives us the story of the
Communists and the blacklist in the mold of the Ten’s own propaganda book
published after their HUAC appearances. The book is Hollywood
on Trial, which portrayed them as advocates of free speech who were
defending the American Constitution, civil liberties, and American freedom
In both the National Review and PJ Media articles, Radosh reveals some unsavory
details about Trumbo’s character and actions. Read them for yourself. He was a
Stalinist, and then he wasn’t one when the truth came out about Stalin’s
horrendous policies and body count. Then he apparently threw up his hands and
became…a neocon, in every way but name,
in a manner of speaking. Radosh and his colleagues in calumny did not wish to
acknowledge itinerant conversion. Trumbo became a neocon just as the three
former Left Wing individuals and activists had – Radosh, David Horowitz, and Conrad Black – who later
pilloried Diana West for writing an anti-Communist book about the scope of
espionage and manipulation of U.S. policies and strategies during WWII.
Alger HIss, the Rosenbergs
– these were “soft targets” for the neocons. Easy pickings. They can be
condemned or criticized. Radosh even wrote a September 2008 piece for the Los
Angeles Times about how guilty the Rosenbergs were, “Case closed:
The Rosenbergs were Soviet spies.” This was a Johnny-Come-Lately
piece (by thirty years) on which is based Radosh’s claim-to-fame.
question to ask is: If these three were now anti-Communist, as well, why did
they object so much to West’s book? Why did they go to extraordinary lengths to
attempt to refute her thesis that our WWII military strategy was stealthily fine-tuned
to oblige Stalin, with a great assist from a State Department more or less run
by Communists and Communist sympathizers? Why the strenuous denial and
attempted excoriation of West’s thesis, punctuated by adolescent name-calling?
individuals were so confident that West was wrong, and instead had embarked on
a calm and courteous and reasoned refutation of her thesis and the pages of
information she produced to support and validate her conclusions, why then did
they launch a venomous personal campaign to kick her down the stairs? Why was
their response to her book couched more in anger than in sorrow?
so determined to extinguish her? Why were they willing to resort to misrepresentations
of her work, to misquoting her, to consecutive, thickly layered,
pseudo-scholarly obfuscations, to smears? Why did they behave as though their
authority was being challenged, jeopardized, and threatened?
wrong, why did they feel it absolutely necessary to berate and belittle her now? Bad ideas and hypotheses over time
are outed and refuted by reality and facts. Could they not wait? Or were they
afraid that her thesis was anchored in facts and they didn’t want it to be
communicated to the nation, because that would not reflect well on FDR and how
he conducted the war?
part of the answer can be found in their adoration and “iconization” of
Roosevelt, a Populist Progressive and champion of the mixed economy – that is,
an economy of some freedom and a lot of government regulation and controls, all
subject to the direction Roosevelt wanted to take it. Rooseveltian policies perhaps
represented to them and may still represent to them the status quo they would
prefer reigned over the country.
purpose of this column to revisit all the issues that were the center of the
assault on West; that is impossible, as it would take more than a column. In
fact, another book. Speaking of books, in his entry, “An American Threat,”
Baron Bodissey of Gates of Vienna in November 2013 made this salient
observation about Horowitz and Radosh on the occasion of Horowitz’s appearance
at the Heritage Foundation. It gives us a peek at the motives behind the attack
fourteen minutes of footage excerpted from an hour and a half of live stream
from the Heritage Foundation. Listen closely to the questions directed at the
guest speaker, and his answers. To my mind, the most telling statement by Mr.
Horowitz is this one:
everything that I’ve done, and that Radosh has done, and that Harvey Klehr and
John Earl Haynes and all of the conservatives who have dredged up the information
from the archives about Communist influence.”
matter in a nutshell: Diana West’s book was a personal attack from the
point of view of David Horowitz and his associates. It was not something with
which they could simply disagree, and present reasoned arguments against in
rebuttal. The author had to be “taken down” through personal attacks, snarky
insults, misrepresentations of what she said, denigration of her character, and
anything else that would serve to consign her to academic oblivion.
brings up historical events, and then declines to “get into the weeds” when
confronted on what he said by a historian who is an expert on the subject
matter involved (which Mr. Horowitz admits he is not).
matters. This is not about history. This is a personal conflict initiated by
someone who feels his pre-eminent position being threatened by another writer’s
in his July 2014 American Thinker column, “Diana
and Ron: What Was Going On?“ asks:
instead of a review of her book?….
is that Radosh has done West a real injustice, but American Betrayal
nonetheless has some significant flaws. It’s an important book, as well
as a riveting one, and deserves a close and critical reading.
book twice, and also her book-length The
Rebuttal : Defending American Betrayal
From the Book-Burners. I noticed
no flaws in either work, significant or otherwise, but for the occasional typo
or ill-formatting. But Lipkes must have been shaking his head and felt
compelled to make this observation:
the controversy was the venom directed at West.
articles from Radosh and his cohort are revealing, starting with “McCarthy
on Steroids”: “Diana
West vs. History,” “Why
I Wrote a Take-Down of Diana West’s Awful Book,” “Diana
West Attempts to Respond,” “Diana
West’s Epic Fail,” “Diana
West Down Crackpot Alley,” etc.
appeared on the Gateway Institute site by Senior Fellow Claire Lopez, which
drew on West’s account of the decision to recognize the Soviet Union in
1933. The article was pulled later in the day and the next morning Lopez
was informed that her relationship with Gateway had been terminated. Less
than a month after the Radosh review, Diana West had become radioactive.
What precipitated the ongoing Muslim gang-like beat up of West, in Horowitz’s
own words, was the removal from FrontPage of an article that endorsed American Betrayal, which, in another
salvo launched at West, Horowitz refers to as an “embarrassingly kooky book” (“Diana
West Invents a New Conspiracy”). In his editorial of August 7, 2013, “Our
Controversy with Diana West,” Horowitz wrote:
Ronald Radosh’s FrontPage
review of American Betrayal, as a reasonable author might, Diana
West has launched a series of personal attacks not only on Radosh but on the
editors of FrontPage, calling us “hypocrites,” “totalitarians,”
“ossified totalitarians,” commissars” and liars (“If
FrontPage Will Lie about This, What Won’t They Lie About?”) and claiming we
“suppressed” — also “purged” – a favorable review of her book because its
opinions were “incorrect,” clearly implying that they were politically
incorrect. She also seems to have inspired a small army to conduct a war on her
behalf in our pages, whose attacks use the same talking points and seek to
defame and discredit us, representing us as renegades who have persecuted her
because of her views. In other words, instead of answering the factual
criticisms that Radosh has made of her book, she prefers to treat his review as
part of a political conspiracy against her work by people who only pretend to
have the views they do. Readers of American Betrayal will find this kind
of paranoid fantasy all too familiar.
the decision to remove the positive review of her book that originally appeared
on FrontPage on which she builds her anti-FrontPage case. Here is what
happened. When the FrontPage review of American Betrayal appeared
I received an email from Ron Radosh whom I have known for more than sixty
years, and whose work as a historian is respected not only by me but by every
conservative academic historian with whom I am familiar….
feelings were hurt. He’s an authority, you see, and I’ve known him for years. Horowitz
to the rescue. But the question here should be: Why remove the “offending”
column that endorsed West’s book? Why not let it stand, and let others read it
and judge for themselves whether or not it speaks to the truth? Horowitz can do
whatever he likes on FrontPage. But the act of removing an editorial with which
he and others might disagree is a telltale sign of what West accused him and
others of: a penchant for censorship (not a strictly appropriate term, since
only governments can censor), or at least for selective “information
management.” It smacks of the New York Times.
and deprecatory response to West’s book, and the nearly visceral resentment
against her campaign to defend herself against her attackers, were so
disproportionate to the subject that it can’t be deemed a mere academic
dispute. It was more like a Mafia vendetta, meant to draw blood instead of civilly
addressing a crucial historical issue. It echoes Turkey’s refusal to
acknowledge the Armenian
genocide. “It never happened! It was all the Armenians’ fault!”
Horowitz’s FrontPage is “Inside every liberal is a totalitarian screaming to
get out.” The behavior of Diana West’s neocon enemies remains inexplicable. It’s
what you’d expect from The Huffington Post or Salon. It’s abnormal. Perhaps for
these veterans of the Left, old habits die hard. Perhaps something else
screamed to get out, and it did get out to hound West everywhere she turned.
Those old Communist “let’s squelch the opposition” habits can be suppressed for
a time, but flare up in the most unflattering circumstances and at the most
all forgotten why they repudiated Communism, ostensively over the suppression
of freedom of speech and the purging of dissenters from the ranks.
case, then we are dealing with a form of selective amnesia.