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:
- June 6: ‘A Conspiracy So Immense’ — Was FDR Aide Harry Hopkins a Soviet Agent?
- Aug. 8: Diana West Dissed by David Horowitz?
- Aug. 16: Major Jordan, Carroll Reece, Birchers, Buckley and the Attack on Diana West
- Aug. 19: Conrad Black’s FDR Idolatry
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.
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.