Posted on | August 16, 2013 | 94 Comments
Diana West, interviewed by The Blaze, July 17
One of the stories Diana West tells in her new book American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character is about Army Maj. George Racey Jordan, whose tale about Lend-Lease shipments to the Soviet Union you can read beginning on page 110 of the book.
West recounts, on pages 139-140, Major Jordan’s narrative of an April 1943 incident in which his Russian liaison, Col. Anatole Kotikov, put him on the phone with top FDR aide Harry Hopkins. According to Major Jordan, Hopkins told him about “a certain shipment of chemicals,” ordering him to “just send it through quietly, in a hurry.”
Has anyone disproven Major Jordan’s account of that incident, or otherwise contradicted his tale of how, he said, the Lend-Lease program aided the Soviets in stealing U.S. secrets and materials necessary to the development of atomic weapons? I am unaware of any such contradiction or disproof, and the question is why — in the wake of what we have learned about Soviet espionage since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the release of the Venona decrypts — scholars have not done more to investigate Major Jordan’s tale, which made headlines when he testified to Congress in 1950.
Frankly, there are too damned many such questions that ought to be of interest to historians, and too few historians working to investigate accusations made during the Cold War that got laughed off as ridiculous or denounced as “witch hunts.” We should be grateful that Diana West is picking at the dangling loose ends of history.
Instead, she’s been denounced for her methodology and condemned as a conspiracy theorist by both Ron Radosh and David Horowitz. There have been some people who, persuaded by the arguments of Radosh and Horowitz, have condemned Diana West without ever reading her book. And I suppose the reputations and persuasiveness of these eminent critics are such that, if you went and bought American Betrayal right now, it would be impossible for you to view it in an unprejudiced light. How can she be right — an intelligent and honest investigator — if Radosh and Horowitz say she is so wrong?
Let me attempt to answer this by asking another question: How much do you know about the Reece Committee?
This is one of those Cold War mysteries that the John Birch Society has kept alive, God bless them. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to be intrigued by such mysteries, and I once knew a fellow, directly familiar with the inner circles of JBS, who explained to me that talk of a communist “conspiracy,” which has given Birchers such a bad name, was simply a mental framework for viewing the problem.
The Law of Inadequate Paranoia
One need not believe any of the more wild-eyed accusations made by Birchers in order to share their general suspicion that the full story is not known, and that if the full story were known, it would shock your socks off, curl your hair and scare you half to death.
This is what M. Stanton Evans has called Evans’s Law of Inadequate Paranoia: “However bad you think it is, it’s probably much worse.”
Start asking certain questions about subversive influences on American policy during the Cold War, and you will find enough evidence of that stuff to make you understand what Evans means by that.
So . . . the Reece Committee, officially the House Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations, was created in 1952 under the chairmanship of Rep. Edward Cox (D-Georgia) and continued later under the chairmanship of Rep. Carroll Reece (R-Tennessee). Reece believed that Cox had not gotten to the bottom of the matter — there was the suspicion of a “whitewash” — and brought in a staffer named Norman Dodd as the lead investigator.
Please, go read Dodd’s 16-page report of his investigation. And when you’re done reading that, then you’ll be prepared to learn that, according to Dodd, the Reece Committee’s further investigations were shut down and the committee itself disbanded, and Dodd said that this was done as a result of heavy political pressure.
Big money and important people didn’t want any more snooping around into Dodd’s accusation that there had been a “revolution” in the 1930s that had involved the American education system, and what children were taught about government and economics.
Think about this: A congressional committee with subpoena power to command testimony and requisition evidence as part of an investigation into how major non-profit philanthropic foundations — Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller, etc. — had influenced policy in a direction that some have called “un-American” or “subversive.”
And they shut that committee down.
You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist ranting about Commie infiltrators and pinko subversives to see the implications of this.
Let’s just say that, minimally, Dodd’s report to the Reece Committee raised questions, and that we don’t know all the answers. However, it appears that for many years there was a consensus among leading officials of major philanthropic foundations that U.S. policy needed to be shifted leftward, and that children needed to be taught to accept this shift as beneficial and necessary. In other words, they had their thumb on the scales, tilting everything to the left, and they expended millions of (tax-exempt) dollars for this purpose.
Research it yourself, and see if you disagree with that description.
Say whatever you want about “conspiracy theories.” My point is that if we don’t know all the answers about these things, there is a reason: Important people didn’t want anyone asking questions, and they exercised enough influence that they were able to discredit or shut down anyone who tried to get answers to certain questions.
In the present controversy regarding Diana West and her book American Betrayal, we see a strangely familiar echo of that theme. West is accused of being a conspiracy theorist and an irresponsible demagogue, basically because she calls attention to unanswered questions — which may seem moot to some people — about a shift in U.S. policy that began during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency.
What Would Bill Buckley Do?
West’s critics have invoked William F. Buckley Jr.’s famous “purge” of the Birchers from the conservative movement as justification for their campaign against her, thereby inviting others less familiar with the substance of the controversy to dogpile onto their side.
I lamented this controversy when it first arose, and declared myself committed to defending Diana West, and remain resolute. Radosh and Horowitz say that they have serious reasons as conservatives for their crusade against American Betrayal, and despite my general admiration for their work, I think they are misguided in this effort.
Whatever West’s errors, she doesn’t deserve this treatment, and I think serious people need to ask what could be so dangerous about West’s book that it has engendered such extreme hostility.
Well, what happened to the Reece Committee? Didn’t Norman Dodd’s report help answer some of the questions Buckley himself had raised in God and Man at Yale? Isn’t this where the whole modern conservative movement began, with Buckley’s inquiry into why collectivism and secularism had become the prevailing influences in America’s leading educational institutions by the early 1950s?
About 80 years ago, a certain elite in American society decided — more as a consensus than a conspiracy — to bring about this shift that Norman Dodd called a “revolution,” and this shift has proven impossible to reverse, I would argue, because so few educated people are aware of how the shift took place, or what the consequences of that shift have been. This in turn explains why the investigation of Major Jordan’s account, like so many other Cold War mysteries, remains so mysterious to this day: To be “educated” now means to believe that it is impossible for Harry Hopkins to have done what Major Jordan said Hopkins did.
Just by the way, you may be interested to know that in 1946, when Soviet agent Alger Hiss left his State Department job as Director of the Office of Special Political Affairs, he did so to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Maybe that was just a coincidence, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that Diana West’s book has caused such a firestorm. But whenever I see a situation like this — where it’s like someone hit the trip wire that set off the Claymore mines on the perimeter — my instinct is to think that the questions being asked are very important, and to disregard those who want to head off certain lines of inquiry.
OK, so here is a 52-minute interview with Norman Dodd, conducted in 1982. Maybe you can dismiss him as a doddering fool:
Was Norman Dodd a crackpot? Was he a paranoid conspiracy theorist? Or was he, as I believe, a man who unearthed some important information that he was not able to explain adequately? The system of organizations funded by major tax-exempt foundations, which was the subject of his 1954 report (if you haven’t read it yet, click here to read it now), may not have been a conspiracy, but neither was the direction of their influence random and coincidental.
Think about it. Try not to get paranoid, but remember what Stan Evans says: “However bad you think it is, it’s probably much worse.”