The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Did Someone Say ‘Desperation’?

Posted on | November 27, 2010 | 9 Comments

Yeah, it’s Ed Driscoll talking about the attempt of liberals to make sense of their election “shellacking” through conspiracy theories.

By the way, Michael Gerson’s invocation of John Stormer’s 1964 book None Dare Call It Treason is unfair to John Stormer, a patriotic American whom I interviewed in 1999 after the publication of his book None Dare Call It Education.

There is, perhaps, some analogy between (a) the inability of Americans in the mid-1960s to understand why Cold War liberalism failed to cope effectively with the Soviet menace, and (b) the inability of liberals in 2010 to understand why Democrats lost the election. But Stormer’s conspiratorial interpretation of events at least was aimed at defeating a real existential threat to the United States, whereas liberal conspiracy theorists like Matthew Yglesias and Steve Benen are merely seeking scapegoats for partisan political purposes. (Scapegoats — you know, like that evil Nazi Glenn Reynolds.)

Certainly, there were those during the Cold War who interpreted every unfortunate development as evidence of Bolshevik treachery. The problem was that liberals refused to confront the real evidence of such treachery. The question “Who lost China?” was a legitimate question and — between the Amerasia case, the Hiss case, the Rosenberg case and other documented examples of pro-Communist subversion — there were legitimate reasons to believe that Soviet agents and/or communist sympathizers were deliberately betraying their country.

Rather than lend their aid to efforts to expose security risks and prevent the propagation of subversive doctrines, however, the leading lights of liberalism from the 1940s through the ’60s instead strove to convince the American people that the greater danger to the commonweal was anti-communists like Joe McCarthy. And it was this typical reaction — i.e., “anti-anti-Communism” — which did so much to convince many conservatives that liberals were secretly pro-communist.

Most younger Americans today know very little of Cold War political history, and what they know of it consists of liberal mythology about the evils of McCarthyism. American anti-Communists are portrayed as a collection of dimwit kooks, demagogues and warmongers. That one can trace a straight line of influence from Whittaker Chambers (who exposed Alger Hiss) to William F. Buckley (who co-authored a book defending Joe McCarthy) to Ronald Reagan — you know, the guy credited with finally winning the Cold War — is one historical circumstance that students today are expected to ignore.

Because no one can expect to gain a tenured professorship if he writes his Ph.D. thesis with the aim of vindicating American anti-communists, there are very few defenders of Chambers, Buckley and Reagan in academia, and anti-communism therefore lacks respectability among the intelligentsia. And so Gerson doesn’t hesitate to depict John Stormer as a tinfoil-hat kook.

But look again at the 1964 question asked by Stormer that Gerson quotes: “Is there a conspiratorial plan to destroy the United States into which foreign aid, planned inflation, distortion of treaty-making powers and disarmament all fit?”

Yes, there was such a plan and there still is such a plan. It’s called “liberalism.” Its adherents do not admit or declare their intention “to destroy the United States” — and may not consciously intend such a result — but the result will be the same, if liberalism prevails. Consider for a moment New York Times columnist Bob Herbert’s battle cry for class warfare:

What’s really needed is for working Americans to form alliances and try, in a spirit of good will, to work out equitable solutions to the myriad problems facing so many ordinary individuals and families. Strong leaders are needed to develop such alliances and fight back against the forces that nearly destroyed the economy and have left working Americans in the lurch.

One need not be a conspiracy theorist to discern in such rhetoric very familiar ideas — “workers of the world unite,” “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” etc. — and no one is accusing Bob Herbert of being an agent of the KGB. Yet what are these “forces that nearly destroyed the economy”? Doesn’t Herbert mean capitalism? And is his phrase “working Americans” not a synonym for the proletariat? And what are these “equitable solutions” that Herbert urges us to adopt?

You see that certain harmful ideas are being advanced which, however, are not called by names that would cause us to take alarm. This is the sort of phenomenon that long ago inspired a poet’s maxim, which in turn inspired a famous book title.

Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

Sir John Harrington


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