My blogging abilities are hampered by my lack of access to my customary computer. Not only is this screen way too small for comfort — I have to break every five or ten minutes to get away from it for a while — but my regular computer is all but directly linked to my brain via special neuronal connections. I feel as though I’m missing a limb while writing this.
As a result, the following overview of the controversy over Diana West’s book American Betrayal will be a rambling account of what happened, with some speculative thoughts about the possible reasons for these strange and distressing events. Dymphna and I have been tossing ideas back and forth for the past six weeks, trying to make sense of what happened.
Rather than fill in all the background, I invite readers who are unfamiliar with the “take-down” of American Betrayal to visit the Diana West Archives.
Ms. West’s book was published last spring to favorable reviews in a number of conservative outlets, and the author was interviewed on television about its controversial topic: the extent of the penetration of the United States government by Soviet agents of influence before, during, and after World War Two.
Controversy is one thing — arguments about Ms. West’s conclusions and speculative deductions are to be expected — but personal attacks on her capabilities as a writer and researcher are another matter entirely.
In early August a favorable review of American Betrayal was published at Front Page Magazine’s website, and then quickly pulled by the editor, David Horowitz. It was replaced some days later by a 7,000-word attack written by Ronald Radosh, who went beyond criticizing the book on the merits and descended into name-calling and personal insults. His piece was followed almost immediately by several vitriolic pieces by David Horowitz himself (also at Front Page), additional attacks by Mr. Radosh in other venues, and a particularly snide hit-piece by Conrad Black at NRO.
The sentiments of Messrs. Radosh, Horowitz, and Black were echoed in short order by several satellite writers at smaller sites, who amazingly enough, had not read the book, and were not loath to admit that fact. As far as I am aware, no one who denounced the book had actually read it, with the exception of the Denouncer-in-Chief, Ronald Radosh.
And even he may not have read the book in its entirety, since he misattributed several arguments to it that it did not make, and “corrected” those errors with new misattributions. One is forced to conclude that he either deliberately misrepresented the truth, had not actually read the whole book, or had some sort of mental lapse, perhaps a sudden fit of absent-mindedness.
From then on, prominent defenders of Diana West were few.
Andrew Bostom has spoken up on her behalf, as have Stacy McCain, M. Stanton Evans, David Solway, Clare Lopez, Frank Gaffney, Edward Cline, and a few others. Overwhelming support for the book and its author may be found on many smaller blogs, in forums, and in the comments on various websites. FPM itself has been deluged with angry commenters decrying the treatment of Diana West.
But no conservative pundit of major stature — not a single one — has written an article or op-ed protesting the ad-hominem attacks on Ms. West (an “unhinged” “conspiracy theorist” who has not been “house-trained”).
Their silence speaks volumes.
First of all, it suggests that they are afraid of the power wielded by Mr. Horowitz, and intend to make sure they don’t end up as her next-door neighbor in the Outer Darkness.
Secondly, it indicates a lack of agreement with Messrs. Radosh, Horowitz, and Black. The leading pundits were almost certainly requested to join the Two-Minute Hate against Diana West. If so, with the exception of Conrad Black, all of them declined.
The capstone to the whole sorry farrago came when Clare Lopez was fired as a Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute. In an article published at Gatestone, Ms. Lopez had referred to American Betrayal in a favorable manner when citing parallels between Soviet penetration of our government in the 1940s and the penetration by the Muslim Brotherhood today. Like the favorable review at FPM, Ms. Lopez’ article was immediately pulled from the Gatestone site, but not before it had been sent out to Gatestone’s email subscriber list and published elsewhere. The following day Ms. Lopez was summarily fired with no explanation.
This tells us that there is more at work than meets the eye, and that considerable money must be at stake, since Gatestone would not have engaged in such blatantly dishonorable behavior without good reason — at least not in public.
Since then there has been a Silence of the Lambs among the Lions of Conservatism. The silence has been tentatively (and only lightly) broken in recent days by Mark Krikorian, Brad Thor, Newt Gingrich, and Ann Coulter, who Tweeted about M. Stanton Evans’ article summarizing what happened and supporting Diana West.
Perhaps this is the beginning of something more. However — and it may be curmudgeonly of me to say so — it seems too little, too late.
That’s all my eyes can take for tonight, and I have many other things I must do. Part 2 will consider the possible explanations for this unexpectedly sordid behavior on the part of people who should know better.
For links to previous articles about the controversy over American Betrayal, see the Diana West Archives.