Almost a year ago, Gates of Vienna joined the controversy over Diana West’s book American Betrayal. The fight had already been raging for several weeks, but I had been reluctant to join the fray, because Ms. West’s topic — the Communist influence on the American political establishment in 1930s and ’40s — was off our mission statement, even though both Dymphna and I found it fascinating. Moreover, the fight was turning out to be an ugly one, and not something that one would want to be involved in without a good reason.
A good reason eventually appeared: Diana West was unable to find a venue that would accept an article answering some of the heated charges aimed at her by her critics. So we hosted her essay here, and continued to follow the course of events through the fall and winter as further doors slammed in her face and more and more prominent writers called her nasty names or deprecated her abilities as a researcher.
It quickly became evident that something more than scholarly disagreement was behind the virulence of all the attacks on her. From the moment her critics began panning the book, they employed less-than-scholarly terms to express their opinions. They referred variously to “West’s fictions”, her “unhinged theories”, her “dangerous one dimensional thinking”, and her “truculent recklessness”. They called her “a right-wing loopy” who had not yet been “house-trained”. She was a “very angry, very self-centered and very reckless partisan” who “organized a kook army” against her critics. She and her defenders were engaged in “unutterable myth-making and jejune dementedness, as they hurl the vitriol of the silly and the deranged”. Most tellingly, “she should not have written this book, which betrays a conspiratorial mindset”, was “a preposterous book”, a “paranoid fantasy”, “conspiracy mongering”, and a “farrago of lies”. (See “An Addled Barroom Brawler”, our post from last December, for the authors of the all those insults and epithets, and the links to where they were published.)
The attacks on American Betrayal continued into the winter. Then, in the new year, the sound and fury faded away, and all the hoopla seemed to be over. However, as I mentioned the other day, the arbiters of the “accepted history” seemed to be dissatisfied with the take-down of Diana West, so they commissioned a 12,000-word rehash of all the arguments. It was published several weeks ago at American Thinker.
What prompted this new wave of Westophobia? Are her book sales still running too high? Are there too many five-star ratings of the book at Amazon? Are positive reviews still being posted on a lot of websites?
Whatever the reason, it’s clear that those who want to suppress American Betrayal have mobilized their forces again. A year after the initial fight, someone in allegedly conservative circles has decided to spend the money to add more concrete to the containment facility surrounding Diana West. This operation is not like a rant posted on an obscure blog — the editors of these venues are on salary, and the free-lancers who pen the screeds expect to be paid. In other words, somebody who has money wants Diana West to lie back down and stay dead.
And the campaign involves more than just the publication of hit-pieces against American Betrayal. Over the past year almost all major conservative venues have been closed to any significant supportive articles about the book. Now the author herself is unable to respond to a 12,000-word error-ridden critique of her work without having her response edited by those who published the piece against her. The cordon sanitaire around American Betrayal is all but complete. One or two more loads of transit mix, and they’ll be done.
If Gates of Vienna becomes the most prominent outlet that allows Diana West and her supporters to respond to her critics, you’ll know for certain that something is seriously amiss in the “conservative” movement.
There is absolutely no doubt that some person or group is behind the push to encase American Betrayal in concrete so that none of its dangerous “McCarthyite” radiation can escape. In the past I’ve referred to this mysterious and well-funded entity as Planet X, a large body that is invisible to the unaided eye, whose existence may be deduced only through its gravitational effects on other bodies.
The other night, when Dymphna and I were discussing this whole sordid business, another metaphor emerged. I said: “What got Diana in trouble is that she threw a bucket of paint over the Invisible Man.”
And indeed she did. Now he’s out there in the darkness frenziedly dousing himself with paint-remover in an attempt to erase his suddenly visible outline. But what was he doing there in the first place, crashing around in the undergrowth frightening the animals?