The Rebuttal: Part One
by Diana West
“Well-designed attacks on an opponent’s credibility can overpower well-crafted messages.”
Calumnious charges against my new book, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character (St. Martin’s Press), originated in a review that appeared at FrontPage Magazine on August 7, 2013. The 7,000-word review by Ronald Radosh was titled “McCarthy on Steroids” (FrontPage editor David Horowitz wrote the title). The Radosh review is referenced as source material for a series of attack-pieces that followed at FrontPage Magazine, Pajamas Media, The American Thinker, National Review, and elsewhere.
In one of three follow-up pieces Radosh published, he described the original review as a “take-down.” David Horowitz, in one of two pieces written about American Betrayal, wrote, “She should not have written this book.”
Who says that and why?
I have since come to understand the “take-down” of my book and the ad hominem attacks on my person in terms of a scorched earth policy to preserve and protect the conventional narrative as promulgated by mainstream academia.
“But FrontPage is a conservative site,” I can hear people say.
This stopped me, too, at first. Then I realized that the books Radosh cites in his “take-down” — not to debate my ideas, but to impugn them — are written by academics from Yale, Harvard, and Stanford. That’s liberal academia. Another source Radosh draws heavily from is a British historian and BBC documentary-maker whose works appear on PBS. More conventional (read: liberal) consensus.
My book threatens that consensus with arguments that are densely and meticulously documented. My sources are listed in 944 endnotes that draw from a bibliography that conventional historians consistently ignore. Specifically, I draw from the vast bibliography of Soviet espionage and infiltration that conventional historians ignore when writing World War II and even Cold War history. Indeed, the books Radosh cites omit or barely reference the same bibliography American Betrayal draws upon.
The Radosh review, then, is a defense of a conventional, tightly blinkered historiography — “the court histories that continue to obscure key facts about our backstage war with Moscow,” as M. Stanton Evans wrote in his endorsement of American Betrayal. But Radosh’s is in no way not a fair defense. It is not a fair debate. Instead, the Radosh review misrepresents my work by continually attacking my credibility.
For example, Radosh calls American Betrayal “yellow journalism conspiracy theories,” all the while failing to inform readers about my book’s copious source material, which in itself is a rebuke to such charges. Such is the Radosh modus operandi, however, in defense of the conventional narrative. Indeed, a reader of the Radosh “take-down” is led to believe I made the whole thing up due to my “conspiratorial mindset.” This is a gross and destructive calumny.
But it is only the first. That makes what follows anything but a rejoinder in a traditional battle of ideas. It is instead a detailed defense set forth to disprove the smears and expose the fabrications and distortions that went into the 7,000-word “take-down” of American Betrayal.
The rebuttal begins.
I will open with an email from FrontPage Magazine editor David Horowitz. I received this message after I declined FrontPage’s invitation to reply at FrontPage to the August 7 Radosh review of American Betrayal. Most readers don’t realize that the Radosh review is FrontPage’s second review of my book. The first, a positive review by FrontPage writer Mark Tapson, was removed from the website by Horowitz on July 8. I declined FrontPage’s invitation to reply to the Radosh review on the principle that eliminating one opinion, as Horowitz did, and replacing it with a more “correct” opinion is no way to conduct a debate. I had and have no intention of legitimizing such an uncivil action, which, among other things, makes a mockery of FrontPage’s commitment to free speech.
David Horowitz has, to date, written two pieces attacking me and American Betrayal. In the first, he cited the first reviewer’s alleged lack of expertise as the reason for his decision to take down the positive review. In the second, Horowitz wrote: “She should not have written this book.” As an example of the first reviewer’s inexpertise, Horowitz wrote the reviewer “readily conceded he was not familiar with the sources and could not properly assess such crucial matters as her claim that Soviet agents had gotten the United States to ship fissionable uranium to Stalin via Lend-Lease.”
As an aside, the word “fissionable” doesn’t appear in American Betrayal’s discussions of uranium. I mention this to flag a consistent pattern of misrepresentation or distortion that is evident in the Radosh review and follow-up pieces in which critics overstate a fact as stated in American Betrayal and criticize their own exaggeration.
That said, uranium shipments did indeed go to Stalin during World War II under the Roosevelt administration’s Lend-Lease program. Among my sources for this shocking fact is one source “familiar” to all: the United States Congress. I cite “Hearings on the Transfer of Atomic Material to the Soviet Union During World War II.” As such, this is quite easy to “properly assess” — if one has read my book.
This is just one of dozens of false claims about American Betrayal that Radosh, Horowitz, and the echo chamber they triggered have made, some even written by people who admitted they haven’t read it. The baseless sloganeering against me now includes such falsehoods as: I called Eisenhower a Communist (false); I claimed the FDR administration was “run” by Soviet agents (false); I portrayed Churchill as a Soviet dupe (false); I argued for an “entente with Hitler’s army against Stalin” (false).
If there is a beginning to the lies, gross distortions, and outright fabrications that I now must sort through, it is the editors’ note posted (in full knowledge of its gross distortion of the facts) over the Radosh review at FrontPage:
Editors’ note: FrontPage offered Diana West equal space to reply to Professor Radosh’s points below. She refused.
I refused to reply only at FrontPage — and the editors know that I refused to reply only at FrontPage. In other words, they decided to publish a gross distortion of the truth to encourage readers of the Radosh review to believe I am either incapable or uninterested in responding to the charges therein.
Here is the Horowitz email.
Our decision to remove the review of American Betrayal was not because it offered an incorrect opinion that we wanted to suppress. The review was removed because the reviewer was as incompetent to provide an informed assessment of your book as you were to write it.
My task is to disprove this intemperate and, worse, baseless charge against my competence in handling evidence and evaluating it. This is the basis of the Radosh-Horowitz critique and, therefore, the basis of the multiple copy-cat critiques that have been written since, even by people who openly admitted they had not read my book. (I repeat this fact because it is incredible to me.) This competence issue makes my rebuttal about more than score-keeping, or tit-for-tat. These widely repeated attacks on me and my book undermine my integrity as a writer, and thus my livelihood.
My challenge to readers: Determine for yourselves who is “incompetent.”
There is something else. The vitriolic intensity of the attacks against me and my book is harder to analyze, veering into a murkier realm of the psychological. Nonetheless, this vitriol remains the leading edge of the story.
In his FrontPage editorial against American Betrayal, Horowitz wrote:
Neither West nor her supporters have begun to meet that standard or attempted to answer even one factual claim that Radosh has made about her book.
Mind you, Horowitz was writing one day after the Radosh’s 7,000-word “take-down” appeared.
I don’t have a lot of hope that this will change because West has already shown herself to be a very angry, very self-centered and very reckless partisan, with a paranoid streak and a disposition to think in extreme terms that have only a tenuous and deceptive relation to the truth.
Such vitriol fed the hysteria against American Betrayal, inspiring what I can only describe as ritual denunciations of me for exhibiting signs of so-called McCarthyism and John Bircherism.
These are buzz terms that are not being used to shed light and truth but rather to stop debate.
Like pulling a review off a website.
Stopping debate is what this Horowitz-Radosh campaign is about.
I refuse to let them.
Read the rest of Part 1 at Big Government.
Previous posts about the controversy over American Betrayal by Diana West: