In Defense of Diana West
By M. Stanton Evans
Out of the public eye and far from the daily headlines, a fierce verbal battle is currently being waged about the course of American policy in the long death struggle with Moscow that we call the Cold War.
At ground zero of this new dispute is author Diana West, whose recent book, American Betrayal (St. Martin’s), is a hard- hitting critique of the strategy toward the Soviet Union pursued in the 1940s by President Franklin Roosevelt, his top assistant Harry Hopkins, and various of their colleagues. Ms. West in particular stresses the infiltration of the government of that era by Communists and Soviet agents, linking the presence of these forces to U.S. policies that appeased the Russians or served the interests of the Kremlin.
For making this critique, Ms. West has been bitterly attacked by writers Ronald Radosh and David Horowitz, Roosevelt biographer Conrad Black, and a considerable crew of others. The burden of their complaint is that she is a “conspiracy theorist” and right wing nut whose views are far outside the mainstream of historical writing, and that she should not have presumed to write such a book about these important matters.
Though the professed stance of her opponents is that of scholarly condescension, the language being used against Ms. West doesn’t read like scholarly discourse. She is, we’re told, “McCarthy on steroids,” “unhinged,” a “right-wing loopy,” not properly “house trained,” “incompetent,” purveying “a farrago of lies,” and a good deal else of similar nature. All of which looks more like the politics of personal destruction than debate about serious academic issues.
From my standpoint, however, what is going on here seems to be something more than personal. Having delved into these matters a bit, I think I recognize the process that’s in motion: the circling of rhetorical wagons around a long accepted narrative about the Second World War and the Cold War conflict that followed.
This narrative sets the limits of permissible comment about American Cold War policy, bounded on the one side by Roosevelt and Hopkins, representing generally speaking the forces of good (appeasing Moscow, e.g. , only in order to win the war with Hitler), and on the other by Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, the supposed epitome of evil. Between these boundaries, variations are allowed, but woe betide the writer who goes beyond them. Ms. West has transgressed in both directions, sharply criticizing Roosevelt/ Hopkins and speaking kindly of Joe McCarthy.
Read the rest at CNS News.
Previous posts about the controversy over American Betrayal by Diana West: