An American Threat

The controversy over Diana West’s book American Betrayal took a road trip to the Heritage Foundation today.

David Horowitz, whose website FrontPage Magazine began the uproar over American Betrayal with a review by Ronald Radosh back in August, appeared at Heritage to promote his new book, The Black Book of the American Left: The Collected Conservative Writings of David Horowitz. After he spoke he took questions from the audience, including three successive questions about his stance on Diana West and her book, from Dr. Sebastian Gorka of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Peter Huessy, a contributing editor for Family Security Matters, and M. Stanton Evans.

The video below contains 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:

“I see it as a threat to 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.”

This is the crux of the 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.

Notice that David Horowitz 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).

This is not about academic 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 book:

The full video of the Heritage live stream is available here.

For links to previous articles about the controversy over American Betrayal, see the Diana West Archives.

40 thoughts on “An American Threat

  1. In 2025 by all accounts these characters will have forever shattered the nature of America.

    May they choke on the sinews of the prey they so cruelly took down.

  2. I still don’t get it.

    Why was the book a threat to everything they’ve done? Why couldn’t the specifics be more fully discussed at this time? And 3 people raising issues and asking quesions are now “a small army … to attack” me?

    Mr Horowitz has previously resented accusations of irrational bias but does not take the opportunity to defend his & Radosh’s position in specifics – and yet he charges West with not being specific. West accused them of suppression in part because their arguments were volatile & incoherent – can we please have some accuracy & coherence? It seems inescapable that Mr Horowitz is engaging in deliberate obfuscation.

    Perhaps it is so that his own book launch isn’t the place for this and a formal debate would be profitable. But it seems to be just one more missed opportunity. Also, I get the feeling that a debate such as he suggests will never see the light of day…

    • It sounded like when M. Stanton Evans defended Diana West, David Horowitz’s response degenerated into a lot of mumbled mush. It sounds like he really doesn’t want to talk about it.

  3. The debate is on-going. It simply lacks legitimacy because of the continuing personal attacks. Without a respectable clarification of the issues, and fact-supported responses/interpretations, the rift is likely to widen.

    Either that, or the original attackers collapse under the weight of footnotes and inquiring minds.

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    • Yes, professional jealousy. Diana West dared to tackle a subject – the debunking of the myth created around FDR – that the others didn’t ever wanted to be touched. Notwithstanding the fact that Diana’s book published a few months before DH’s big opus – which I did not read – somehow pushes the limelight away from DH. So they, DH, Radosh, Feldman, Black and Co who tried to “take down” DW, think.

      • It’s probably more complicated than that. She is a different generation, coming behind him. Unlike those 1960s rabble rousers, she doesn’t appear to have had to be “awakened” so there is a large gap in their respective intellectual formations.

        So maybe envy is there, rather than jealousy, per se? Envy wants to spoil the threatening object so that it is ruined beyond redemption for itself and/or usefulness to anyone else. It’s a kind of intellectual ‘murder’.

        This thought occurred to me when I happened upon Mr. Horowitz in a Twitter thread way back in the beginning, or near it. As is my wont on occasion, I was simply wandering around to look at whatever current concerns were being discussed. I happened upon a fellow who was really giving DH a divil of a time for his strange behavior re Diana West, including the despoiling of his own (formerly) fine site, “Discover the Networks” via a hate page devoted exclusively to West. I was so taken aback at his screen cap of the page that I neglected to note the man’s name who was attempting to talk Horowitz into a calmer demeanor. But DH continued with “she attacked me first”…and utterly refusing to leave the realm of delusion. So I tiptoed away, but not before seeing the man say he was disgusted & would never put another dime into the Freedom Center.

        It was shortly after that episode that Horowitz came over here in our comments, with the same cut-’n’-paste claim. Bizarre – as I said before and he said last night, he’s a bizzy, bizzy man – so many projects, so much of mankind to save. He doesn’t have time to get into the minor details. Except when he does, of course.

        When the picadors are jabbing at the magnificent bull, then he must come over here and stomp on them.

        I agree with Hesperado, below. Ol’ HorrorWits is pretty much holding up the temple porch since Diana West removed some of the the supporting columns- there aren’t many true believers of sufficient stature to be of any real help, so he’s stuck there with only lesser beings to assist him.

        His ego is involved only in the sense that this is the temple of his beliefs and she is the heretic who is busily doing structural damage to the monument of his version of the truth.

        Okay, I’m done. If Lawrence Auster were still with us he’d express (quite specifically) the problems with my metaphor salad at this point. DH seems to evoke that…

      • Oh dear, I just noticed this:

        Notwithstanding the fact that Diana’s book published a few months before DH’s big opus…

        Of course. It gets even murkier from two directions: either she was “stepping on the baby” (the baby spotlight for his book – an old vaudeville expression) and thus reducing the span of attention he was likely to get, or in stirring up a ruckus re Diana West’s book, he draws more attention to his own.

        If the latter, a clever strategy. If the former, then maybe you’re right. A stage can only hold one headliner at a time and he was having someone use his cane to attempt to pull her off the stage and out of the spot (as in spotlight).

        Your thesis has an Occam’s Razor attractiveness.

  5. I think it’s a mistake to think Horowitz is primarily concerned about his ego. The “threat” he perceives from Diana West’s book is an ideological threat, against the paradigm he is upholding. Just because he may fuse that paradigm with his own ego, this doesn’t make his ego his primary concern. His paradigm is concerned to raise awareness of the danger of a “stealth Communism” — but also not to exaggerate that danger. Superficially, there’s nothing wrong with such a stance; but in concrete terms, he and his comr — er, cohorts — have comported themselves so outrageously in their defense of their stance on West — indulging a sloppiness about important details that is so egregious it cannot reasonably be anything other than pure obfuscation using distortion and disinformation about the facts of West’s book and her subsequent defenses, as meticulously and clearly revealed in West’s Rebuttal — that it calls into question not only his paradigm, but also his motives.

    • The “threat” he perceives from Diana West’s book is an ideological threat, against the paradigm he is upholding. — Hesp

      This.

  6. So, Mr. Horowitz has revealed himself to be an opportunist, who sees in Ms. West’s book a threat to his gig, which is personally very profitable. He has gone from one extreme to the other, believing in his long-gone days as a communist that the collective is all, the individual nothing, to evidently believing now that the individual (primarily himself) is all, the collective nothing. No pledging your lives, fortunes and sacred honor for him.

  7. In Defense of David Horowitz
    David Horowitz has stated that he sees Diana West’s American Betrayal as a threat. He is perfectly correct. According to Horowitz her book is “a complete reinterpretation of the Second World War based on the presence of Soviet agents and communists in the Roosevelt administration.” Her book is a threat to the conventional account of the war that is satisfying to both liberals and conservatives. Horowitz is happy for the most part to expose Communists in government but he is not willing to accept the implications of their influence on American foreign policy. Yes, there were Communists in the government but their impact was small. Diana West sees their role as crucial. Her reinterpretation has a dramatic effect on the conventional account of the Second World War.
    The conventional account maintains that the Second World War was a good war. The United States was attacked without provocation. We reluctantly went to war to defeat the greatest threat to civilization the world had ever seen. We defeated our enemies and immediately rehabilitated them. After the war we learned that the Soviets were not the benevolent force we had believed. We discovered that there were Communists in the Roosevelt administration and they were swiftly removed from government. Unfortunately, some Americans went to extremes and targeted Americans who were not Communists but merely progressive. Basically we are good people. End of story.
    The problem is that West’s interpretation begins the unraveling of war propaganda that we are still being subjected to. Soviet agents had a tremendous impact on American foreign policy. They were responsible for the U.S. government’s involvement it what can only be described as “crimes against humanity.” This has led both Diana West and Vladimir Bukovsky to claim that “we” were complicit in Soviet crimes. “We” were not complicit. These Soviet agents and their American sympathizers implemented their plans in secret. The American public would not have accepted their policies and these policies were directly contrary to American interests. As a result of these policies France and Italy were in danger of going Communist by 1947.
    Diana West has only scratched the surface of Communist impact of U. S. foreign policy. These agents and their sympathizers involved the U.S. government in the slave trade and a government orchestrated famine that led to the deaths of an undetermined number of people (The Morgenthau Plan and Yalta Agreement.) There is a fear that exposing these policies might lead to the relativization of the crimes of the Nazis. This exposure would give support to members of the extreme right. It does not occur to the defenders of the conventional school that intelligent people can be simultaneously anti-communist and anti-Nazi.

    David Horowitz said. “I don’t want to get into an historical thing.” What is this “thing” if it is not historical? Eventually Diana West’s reinterpretation will prevail because it is closer to the truth than the one Horowitz wants to maintain.

    • Quote:
      David Horowitz said. “I don’t want to get into an historical thing.”
      end

      It’s too late.
      You have been for at least three months.

    • As far as I am concerned DH has no defense, not re this matter anyway. It seems that he lifted himself out from the marxist/anarchist environment but you don’t take marxism/leftism out of him. His reaction to DW’s book was un-scientific, un-learned (he admitted not even reading the book), un-ethical coming from a journalist/editor and all in all un-called for. It was typical for a know-it-all leftist.

    • “There is a fear that exposing these policies might lead to the relativization of the crimes of the Nazis. This exposure would give support to members of the extreme right.”

      This I believe is at the core of the Horowitz/Radosh position.

      ” It does not occur to the defenders of the conventional school that intelligent people can be simultaneously anti-communist and anti-Nazi.”

      This is the tragic aspect. It is utterly beyond my comprehension why people need to see it as a zero sum game.

      I recall two decades ago describing the horrific human suffering caused during the firebombing of Hamburg in July 1943 and noted that the aiming point was a densely populated working class inner city residential district not Hamburg’s industrial or port facilities. My angry interlocutors rather than learn something instead invoked the Holocaust …

    • “…only scratched the surface of Communist impact of U. S. foreign policy. ”

      You’re right there.

      But what’s missing is the fact that the Soviets targeted not just US government, but the transmission belts of our culture. The cultural operation was much more effective and successful–though it took longer to bear fruit.

      West’s book is interesting, but adds nothing to the work that preceded her. Most valuable for the penetration of the government was Stan Evan’s “Stalin’s Secret Agents” from 2011.

      And my own book, “Willing Accomplices” covers in detail the KGB’s operations to penetrate our culture and to destroy American exceptionalism.

      Full details: http://www.willingaccomplices.com

  8. Historical arguments are not black letter law.
    Messrs. Horowitz and Radosh are not the arbiters of meaning in history.
    And, another fact, excellent history has been written by non-historians, and will continue to be written by non-historians.
    History is not a science, it’s not a STEM field. It’s a literary genre that employs some scientific method and systematic reasoning.

  9. In all the outcry against Mr Horowitz’s behaviour towards Diana West I suggest we don’t forget what prompted her research. As I recall from articles from a few months ago she was researching the covert influence of muslims in recent US administrations. My understanding is that Ms West has demonstrated strong similarities between communist and muslim infiltration.

    • That is exactly so and that was one point at which DH and Radosh attacked her saying that there isn’t necessary to draw historical parallels…I don’t know how to tell you but the whole hullabaloo appeared like a kindergarten, not even high school, bullying episode. The boys were caught guard down and a girl just outsmarted them. It should’ve been laughable but is was in fact sad. Grown ups who pretend to be intellectuals should act as such.

      • Quote:
        That is exactly so and that was one point at which DH and Radosh attacked her saying that there isn’t necessary to draw historical parallels
        end

        We are dealing with Islam, the Ummah, a culture that does not change.
        Never were historical parallels more necessary for understanding than NOW.

  10. I’m baffled at why everyone here (and most anywhere else where this brouhaha has even been noticed at all) minimizes the gravity of what Horowitz and Radosh have been doing. By explaining it as “ego” or as “professional jealousy” or as the pique of a “boy’s club”, etc., is strangely disconnected from the facts of their behavior (again, as meticulously documented and analyzed by Diana West in her Rebuttal).

    It’s as though, to use an analogy, one came upon an office that had shredded papers and torn books on the floor, curtains in shreds from being torn and cut with scissors and knives, ashes from various attempts at arson, and blood stains on the walls — and one sagely nodded one’s head and pronounced (without a trace of facetious sarcasm): “It looks like someone had a major disagreement in here”.

    Thus Diana West on her blog provides a transcript of a breezily brief interview with Frank Gaffney, in which the host, conservative radio pundit Hugh Hewitt, scratches his head in bewilderment at the whole Horowitz-West thing and pleads to Gaffney to please explain it to him. Gaffney does explain the general contours of the fracas, but he doesn’t really touch on the most important part of it — the conduct of Horowitz/Radosh/Black.

    So at the end of the interview Hewitt says:

    ” I just am, I just am stunned by all of this. I knew you would tell me — so, it’s really about the level of Soviet penetration of the FDR administration, and a disgraeement over that?”

    And Gaffney says yes.

    So it’s all just a “disagreement” about history…!? It’s obviously much more than that — for the behavior of Horowitz/Radosh/Black make it more. Given the nature and degree of that behavior, it cannot be merely ego, professional jealousy, boy’s club pique, or disagreements about history. It has to be something egregiously more than that. The only hypothesis to explain the bizarre behavior of Horowitz/Radosh/Black is that they are defending stealth Communism, which has flourished through the very same paradigm they are defending (hagiography of FDR + demonization of Joe McCarthy/J. Edgar Hoover).

    And what better way to advance stealth Communism than to pretend to be a stalwart anti-/ex-Communist?

    • You are right, I tried to say something similar earlier on. I don’t have enough literary talent to put in writing all my deep thoughts, but the problem as I see it with the likes of DH, Radosh, Black, Feldman & Co is the fact that their journey from the arm chair on the left to the arm chair on the right was a very short and comfortable trip. It is not the same thing to be a marxist/communist in a non-marxist country and being a dissident from a real communist dictatorship. DH will never become a Solzhenitsyn or a Bukovsky for that matter, and he will never become a real commonsense constitutional conservative either. The leftist bug remains in his DNA and it’s enough to push him into the corner to see him howling like a mad dawg. I have no sympathy for the type, I grew up far from here with the real thing.

      • It’s almost as if it is a soul thing. The sickness gets down so deep that rooting it out requires more than just an intellectual assent.

  11. Not long ago, someone wrote a little piece on Horowitz’s claim that Obamacare is in spirit a communist initiative and said this charge is all the more convincing given that back in 2009 Horowitz scolded those who, he believed, were exhibiting “over-the-top hysteria” about Obama, which he likened to the left’s Bush-Hitler analogy. Horowitz said we needed to give Obama a chance. IIRC, he also averred that Obama was not a “transformational liberal” but just a garden-variety liberal. (That was after Obama’s “fundamentally transforming the USA” comment.)

    The author of the article was essentially saying that you are more credible on a topic if you have changed your mind about it. DH might be operating on that philosophy. We’re supposed to think he’s deeply wise in calling Obama a communist now, after he called it a kind of hysteria to warn about Obama’s radicalism 5-6 years ago.

    Obviously, DH did not see the situation as clearly as others did back then. Those “hysterical” warnings about Obama rested on known facts — known to some, anyway — about Obama’s past and his ideological influences, and reasonable interpretations of his actions and pronouncements. (By contrast, nobody had any evidence that G. W. Bush looked favorably on Hitler or Nazi ideology, so DH’s comparison doesn’t hold up.)

    DH initially didn’t peg Obama accurately, but now he’s a voice of exceptional wisdom on what Obama’s all about? Wiser than those who were right all along? Maybe something like that is in play on the larger subject of communism in America: DH and RR were both very wrong about communism in the past, so now they must be righter about communism than those who always saw it clearly.

    • Communism is just a crow bar.

      It’s an illusion of a belief sysstem created for certain folk to seize power and inflict mass murder on the majority population.

    • Sometimes people are blinded by the behaviors/tricks that they grew up around. Perhaps DH just couldn’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to communist obfuscation. Add in a nice dollop of pride and there you have it — blind as a bat about the dangers.

      Or, he’s a conniving commie. At this point, I prefer the first explanation, but haven’t ruled out the second one.

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  14. Let me first say how much I appreciate the comments of John Dietrich, who very ably pointed out the crucial aspect was how heavily the US effort was influenced by Communist agents. The secret influence of Communist agents not only endangered the security of the United States during the war and afterwards, but directly involved the United States in unconscionable crimes.

    Having said that, and having watched the clip, I felt something was wrong. David Horowitz looked extremely uncomfortable. His attack on Diane West, and his defense of his position didn’t seem heartfelt. Horowitz sounded as if he would have been more than happy if West had written a rebuttal article in FrontPage magazine and let the controversy go at that.

    Remember the observation by Warren Harding: “I don’t mind my enemies. I know how to handle them. It’s my friends that keep me pacing the corridors at night.”

    Horowitz is a philosopher, not a historian. His books dealt with the corrosive effects of communist dogma and leftist religious thinking on individuals. West’s book didn’t really step on Horowitz toes.

    However, Ronald Radosh is a different story. Recall in the video, Horowitz said “My friend Ron called me and alerted me to the review.” My feeling is that Horowitz accepted Radosh’s claim that West misrepresented the historical record, and allowed himself to be drawn into the trashing of West’s book by pulling the favorable review. He was not expecting the matter to blow up in his face, and certainly was not prepared to argue the details. So, he was left with the option of either 1) admitting he made a poor choice under the persuasion of Ronald Radosh, or 2) stand firm, defend a bad decision, and not admit to any mistake. Horowitz obviously didn’t want to admit his mistakes. I think that’s the extent of Horowitz’ involvement.

    I haven’t heard Ronald Rodash, but I don’t have trouble believing that professional jealousy motivated his actions. His incompetent, factually-challenged attack on West showed that his powers of recall and analysis were seriously declining. He was instrumental in collecting details of Communist penetration of the US government, but West was the one actually showing the picture of how influential the communist agents were in shifting US policy away from its historical principles and the best interests of the country. Rodash’s best days are far behind him, but West, a journalist rather than professional historian, was breaking new ground in a field he viewed as his own bailiwick.

    The defensiveness of Horowitz, and the pettiness of Radosh, covered up what was the real point of West’s work: history as metaphor. The US government during the war was far more vulnerable to effective penetration by a hostile power than anyone was prepared to admit. Right now, we are similarly being subjective to a relentless, well-financed, program to penetrate our government at the highest level with Muslims specifically affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, not to mention Saudi intelligence. During World War II, at least we had the FBI tracking Soviet agents, although apparently, FDR’s administration was unwilling to take any defensive measures. Right now, the FBI and the CIA are specifically forbidden to engage in any philosophical or theological issues concerning Islam, and apparently, direct Muslim Brotherhood agents are allowed to occupy influential positions with access to classified information without any security check.

    I think what West showed, more than Radosh ever dreamed of doing , was that the US was at actual risk by not defending itself against systematic penetration, and that it’s luck, in continuing the same type of dysfunctional behavior, may not last forever.

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  16. My reading of both red-diaper babies Horowitz and Radosh has always been that they are severely damaged personalities. Not an ad hominem attack, just a psychiatric judgment appropriate to public figures. Horowitz the fanatical zealot whose website sends you daily e-mails that you cannot unsubscribe from. Radosh the prissy old lady who scolds conservatives who are not sufficiently respectful of their enemies. Do they not realize that lying poisons everything you say? I will never click on either of them again except for reconnaissance purposes.

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