The Other McCain

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The Urge to Purge: Strange Events Inspired by Diana West Controversy

Posted on | September 6, 2013 | 73 Comments

Diana West, interviewed by The Blaze, July 17

In case you missed it, we have been intermittently following the controversy surrounding Diana West’s new book, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character:

This is good publicity in the sense that there is no such thing as bad publicity. When you’re trying to attract crowds for a book signing, “controversial author” is excellent advertising, and I hope Diana is holding up amid the firestorm. However, it is beginning to appear that Ronald Radosh and David Horowitz have decided that it is not sufficient to attack Diana’s book. Now, conservative organizations must purge those who do not share their implacable hostility:

Clare M. Lopez, the excellent Middle East analyst and my Team B II colleague, has been fired for favorably mentioning my book in an essay.

Diana links to Baron Bodissey at Gates of Vienna quoting an e-mail describing how Lopez was informed this week of her termination:

The real shock came the following morning, though, on September 4, when Ms. Lopez received an email from Nina Rosenwald notifying her that her relationship with the Gatestone Institute had been terminated at the request of the Gatestone Board of Directors. On September 5, Ms. Rosenwald confirmed in an email sent to Ms. Lopez and others what some had already suspected, that her firing was due to her “choice of books to promote…,” a clear reference to Ms. Lopez’ citation of historical events from Ms. West’s book. Although Ms. Lopez also had cited about the same 1933 events to a second book, The Great Terror: A Reassessment, by Robert Conquest, for some reason, that reference did not seem to pose any issues for the Board. Only Ms. West’s book about the very same events seemed to irritate the Board, whose recently-appointed Chairman is former UN Ambassador John Bolton.

This is the “urge to purge,” a phrase Allen Sullivant often used to describe the battles within the Sons of Confederate Veterans that began during the mid-1990s, when SCV members angry over liberal attacks on Southern history became politically active.

Activists complained about what they called “eat, meet and retreat” leadership that refused to fight back against the re-location of monuments and re-naming of streets and schools, et cetera, that characterized the Culture Wars waged by the forces of Political Correctness in the South. The clash between activists (“hard-cores,” as they were frequently called) and more moderate leaders devolved into a series of purges and counter-purges, with some of the ousted leaders whining that their activist antagonists were dangerous racists, accusations that only served to further incite the SCV’s liberal enemies. In fact, to those familiar with the inner workings of the SCV, motives of personal ambition were far more relevant to these conflicts than any outsider could understand. Some people were so selfishly obsessed with their own status and prestige — including their authority as arbiters of what constituted “true” Confederate heritage — that they lost any sense of perspective and engaged in unnecessarily harmful tactics that damaged themselves as well as the organization.

Diana West’s critics seem to be engaged in quite a similar crusade against her. There is an “Us and Them” attitude, where neutrality can only be obtained through silence, where anyone who offers an opinion on the controversy is forced to choose sides, and where the basic tactical rule is, “War to the knife, knife to the hilt.”

My long friendship with Diana West obligates me to her defense, despite the fact that I also regard her antagonists as friends.

Since I first became aware of this unfortunate conflict, I’ve urged a truce, or at least a de-escalation of hostilities; instead it has turned into a relentless intellectual civil war with no end in sight.

Your big clue that something unexplained is happening here should be obvious from a glance at Clare Lopez’s biography:

Clare M. Lopez is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on national defense, Islam, Iran, and counterterrorism issues. Currently a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, the Center for Security Policy and the Clarion Fund and vice president of the Intelligence Summit, she formerly was a career operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, a professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee from 2005-2006, and has served as a consultant, intelligence analyst, and researcher for a variety of defense firms. She was named a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute in 2011.

Whoa! Lopez’s neocon credentials were hitherto impeccable. Neither a Norquist-friendly libertarian nor a Buchananite paleocon could obtain a Lincoln Fellowship from the Strauss/Jaffa hive at Claremont. Ergo, this can only be explained as an internecine fight for supremacy between competing neocon cliques.

Grant the seriousness of the specific historical dispute — and I am certain of David Horowitz’s sincerity in this regard — what kind of backstage machinations were involved in the ouster of a Jaffa-certified neocon from the Gatestone Institute? Is this dispute so serious that these kinds of scorched-earth tactics are justified?

Gatestone Institute President Nina Rosenwald is on Twitter, and perhaps she should be required to explain how this happened.

It is important, I think, to see the crusade against Diana West in proper context. In 2007, National Review permitted Radosh to savage Blacklisted by History, M. Stanton Evans’s definitive defense of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Ann Coulter was obligated to defend Evans, one of her earliest mentors, whom she praised as having written “the greatest book since the Bible.” And Evans himself replied at length to Radosh, quoting Radosh’s review and observing:

This is going pretty heavy on the quotations, but they are offered to suggest what degree of trust may be placed in the assertions and paraphrases of Radosh as to the contents of my book. As these instances suggest, that degree of trust is roughly speaking zero. All of which is very bad, but from my standpoint by no means the worst of it. Far more disturbing is a recurring ad hominem element in Radosh’s comments — revealing a nasty penchant for turning a debate about substantive issues into a species of personal slander.

That is to say, Radosh has a demonstrable habit of harsh rhetoric against conservatives whose writings about Cold War history he disagrees with and, while I’ve never been nominated for any honors in the “Plays Well With Others” sweepstakes, I’m unaware that I’ve ever gotten anyone terminated from a think-tank gig, either.

As I see it — and I admit this may be unfair, but it is my honest impression of this lamentable affair — Radosh is turf-guarding.

Study his biography and it’s hard to avoid this impression. Radosh is a Ph.D. historian and CUNY professor emeritus and you get the idea that he resents these amateur interlopers encroaching on his professional turf. Given his background as a “Red Diaper baby” who subsequently co-authored a book about the Rosenberg espionage case that was extraordinarily controversial when it was published in 1983, you have to see Radosh as a sort of Coriolanus who, having earned his scars in Rome’s service, resents being compelled to condescend to the plebian mob. In other words, it is about respect.

OK, so if you are a conservative who wants to write a book about Cold War history — and especially about Communist subversion  — your first move, before even beginning to outline your proposal, must be to consult Radosh, describe your thesis, and ask his permission: “If I write this book, can I expect you to praise it?”

Otherwise, you could become a Controversial Author, which might help sell books, but makes life quite risky for your friends.

American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character — buy it now, before Ron Radosh can burn every copy in existence.



73 Responses to “The Urge to Purge: Strange Events Inspired by Diana West Controversy”

  1. Bob Belvedere
    September 6th, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

    It’s well-worth the denarii.

  2. Jeanette Victoria
    September 6th, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

    Funny I really hated that line it MATTERS what you believe in and it matters a lot!!

  3. SteveBayrd
    September 6th, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

    Thanks for your kind comment. There are a few I can trust who were raised amongst the full-bore Left but only a few. These are ones who have proven over time that they reject totally the meme of their Leftist families. One is from the former USSR, brought here at age 11 and onto Welfare immediately (true, never a Committed Radical). She looked around her new country, saw opportunity and freedom, and shrugged off the early teachings and family urgings. Now a huge patriot warning others of the current danger. But she is the exception. I agree with you that most have been ruined in their souls, though they spout words we might like to hear sometimes. Their methods grate upon the traditional honor that once so imbued the American psyche. Interestingly, IMO, your comment can be carried over to Middle Eastern culture. Having been amongst many of all backgrounds and religions, something in the culture makes trust a useless word. Keep up the good stuff, Bob. Thanks.

  4. La Pucelle
    September 6th, 2013 @ 11:17 pm

    I was thinking the same thing. Old habits die hard. I’m not convinced either of them can completely break away from their conditioning and probably can’t even see when their proclivities start leaning into dangerously into fascist territory.

    The cynic in me would dismiss them as not even caring that they’re doing this, though the optimist likes to hold out hope that someday, they might have an epiphany that everyone can become the monster they fight.

  5. palazzi
    September 7th, 2013 @ 2:26 am

    RT @MarkSKrikorian: Why the jihad against @diana_west_ book on Soviet influence ops? If you disagree w/ it, argue yo…

  6. K-Bob
    September 7th, 2013 @ 5:11 am

    But that leaves you with very few comrades in arms. A huge percentage of Conservatives are former leftists, “mugged by reality.” It’s what explains the puzzlingly high rank of Hot Air as a “conservative” website.

    Once the Rule 4 bump has passed (and for works in politics and political history, it passes very quickly, I’m sure), continuing this sort of escalation serves only the left.

    The whole thing reads like a personal fight being waged as a fake war over scholarship. The fact that the principals’ friends are all writers (many of whom are also aware of Rule 4) makes it seem like a much more sinister plot than seems possible. You know the drill: once someone has been deemed an “enemy” every single action they take is draped in malice by their opponents. Think, “girls in middle school.”

    They ignore Stacy’s call to truce at their peril.

    This brouhaha (ha-ha) is one of the bigger reasons why I almost never read any book on politics or political history. Only in Tolkien’s account of dwarves will you ever find as many axes being ground.

    Far better to read works of philosophy. Those guys use scalpels.

  7. K-Bob
    September 7th, 2013 @ 5:45 am

    All this proves is that leftists fight like children. People on the right really bring the smack. Unfortunately it’s all too often directed at other people on the right.

    Diana West has had to fight pretty hard to be taken seriously because she’s chosen to write books that are at odds with the prevailing “wisdom.” So I’m betting she probably hit send before counting to ten on some of her emails and posts.

    Likewise, people like Horowitz, Radosh, Pam Geller, Robert Spencer, and Walid Shoebat have all been fighting in the trenches in an area where they have too often been treated like the crazy uncle in the attic by the right, because they say things most leading pundits on the right refuse to say. Thus, they tend to be fairly brusque and defensive.

    You get that way when people who should be listening to you are constantly dismissing what you have to say. Trouble is, that brusqueness makes them harder to listen to. And frankly, they are so full-on all the time that they get tiresome, as well. They all need an editor like Stacy to keep them on point.

    As far as I’m concerned I’m going to totally forget about this stupid “fight” because the one we should be focused on is the Convention of the States movement, and also anything we can do to restore Liberty.

    Sure, it’s useful to understand FDR’s administration was thoroughly compromised by Communists. But a fight about it is beyond stupid. The communists we have now are the problem.

  8. DonaldFairbanks
    September 7th, 2013 @ 9:28 am

    RT @MarkSKrikorian: Why the jihad against @diana_west_ book on Soviet influence ops? If you disagree w/ it, argue yo…

  9. Roy_Cam
    September 7th, 2013 @ 9:52 am

    RT @rsmccain: The Urge to Purge: Strange Events Inspired by Diana West Controversy | @AnnCoulter @diana_west_ @daver…

  10. Roy_Cam
    September 7th, 2013 @ 9:52 am

    RT @MarkSKrikorian: Why the jihad against @diana_west_ book on Soviet influence ops? If you disagree w/ it, argue yo…

  11. JBinRC
    September 7th, 2013 @ 11:24 am

    The Urge to Purge: Strange Events Inspired by Diana West Controversy via @rsmccain

  12. rsmccain
    September 7th, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

    RT @JBinRC: The Urge to Purge: Strange Events Inspired by Diana West Controversy via @rsmccain

  13. AmPowerBlog
    September 7th, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

    RT @JBinRC: The Urge to Purge: Strange Events Inspired by Diana West Controversy via @rsmccain

  14. AmPowerBlog
    September 7th, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

    This @RSMcCain essay on the #AmericanBetrayal purge showcases Robert’s conservative bona fides with grace, erudition.

  15. AmPowerBlog
    September 7th, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

    .@RSMcCain Okay, how can you imply that Radosh was behind the Gatestone purge? It’s logical, but? …

  16. serr8d
    September 7th, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

    RT @rsmccain: The Urge to Purge: Strange Events Inspired by Diana West Controversy | @AnnCoulter @diana_west_ @daver…

  17. Quartermaster
    September 7th, 2013 @ 9:57 pm

    I knew him through email, a pretty crippled method at best. I was truly sad when I heard of his death. A great American had passed. By comparison, Radosh and Horowitz aren’t worthy to sniff his dirty underwear.

  18. Quartermaster
    September 7th, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

    I haven’t been able to spare the money to buy the book yet, alas. But the question I have is does the arguments, like the soft underbelly of Europe thingy, damage the rest of the argument. Anyone here that has read the book have any input on this?

  19. War to the Knife, Knife to the Hilt : The Other McCain
    September 8th, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

    […] Sept. 6: The Urge to Purge: Strange Events Inspired by Diana West Controversy […]

  20. No RNC
    September 9th, 2013 @ 8:29 am

    Good job RSM! Diana West has evidently stuck a finger in Radosh’s eye. These Red DD babies Radosh and Horowitz need a bit O’ da Lash applied to their ah so special brand of Alinsky!

  21. mokeyandabandit
    September 9th, 2013 @ 10:20 am

    RT @rsmccain: The Urge to Purge: Strange Events Inspired by Diana West Controversy | @AnnCoulter @diana_west_ @daver…

  22. DonaldFairbanks
    September 10th, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

    RT @AmPowerBlog: This @RSMcCain essay on the #AmericanBetrayal purge showcases Robert’s conservative bona fides with grace, erudition. http…

    September 12th, 2013 @ 6:19 am

    […] for her favorable spotlight on West’s book in a recent essay. McCain, reporting on the “purge,” quipped that readers should hurry and buy American Betrayal now, “before Ron Radosh […]