Cleaning up the Blood and Broken Glass

Andrew McCarthy discusses the controversy over Diana West’s book today in a brief piece entitled “On American Betrayal” posted at The Corner. In it he addresses the “awful things” that certain parties have said to or about certain other parties in the course of the fracas.

Several people have written to tell us about Mr. McCarthy’s post, and all of them are convinced that his essay is a response to yesterday’s article about the “barroom brawl” that ensued after the publication of Diana West’s book.

But I’m not so sure. The nasty ad-hominem attacks against the author of American Betrayal have been hanging in the air for the past four months. Anyone who has been paying attention to the book is well aware of them. The fact that Andrew McCarthy decided to discuss the issue today may well be a complete coincidence.

Be that as it may, let’s take a look at what the former prosecutor has to say about the egregious treatment of his colleague Diana West by certain critics who disagree with the conclusions she reaches in her book. Here’s the text of his remarks, with suitable phrases bolded for further attention:

Contrary to the views expressed by some people I greatly respect, including Conrad Black here at NRO, I liked my friend Diana West’s controversial book, American Betrayal. I explain why in the new edition of The New Criterion, here. I do not want to belabor the argument — it is there for anyone who is interested. I do want to address something I did not get into in the review: the name-calling that has marred the controversy over the book. Awful things have been said about Diana, who is not “deranged,” “a right-wing loopy,” “McCarthy’s heiress” (that would be Joseph McCarthy) or the like. Awful things have also been said about my friends David Horowitz and Ron Radosh, who have made lasting contributions to the conservative movement and to the imperative of honest, forceful debate, and who are the antithesis of “book-burners” and “closet-Commies.”

There is a worthy debate to be had about the wages of Soviet espionage in the U.S. during the 20th century and what it can teach us about, for example, the contemporary infiltration of American institutions by Islamic supremacists. Unfortunately, that debate has been overwhelmed by the heated rhetoric on both sides, which even more regrettably got very personal. As I detail in the review, Diana has written a serious book, and estimable historians have some weighty objections to her account of the Roosevelt administration’s conduct of World War II. It is, moreover, very difficult to quantify the impact of hostile intelligence operations intended to influence governmental decision-making. Even though it is incontestable that FDR’s administration was penetrated by some Communist operatives and sympathizers, it is very hard to assess how much wartime U.S. policies that favored Stalin’s regime may have been driven by espionage (the ingredient Diana stresses) as opposed to battlefield realities and the imperative of keeping the Soviets on the Allied side of the war (the rationales favored by Diana’s critics). Since I have friends on both sides of the controversy over the book, my sense is that, going forward, there will be less heat and more light. Here’s hoping.

First of all, consider the reappearance of “both sides” — each of which, according to Mr. McCarthy, engaged in “heated rhetoric”, “which even more regrettably got very personal”.

Notice the passive voice here. Who “got very personal”? Ronald Radosh? David Horowitz? Conrad Black?

No! Not at all! The “heated rhetoric” itself got very personal!

That’s some rhetoric, that heated rhetoric.

Now take note of this statement: “[E]stimable historians have some weighty objections”. This is the sort of assertion that, if made by a Wikipedia contributor, would be flagged with [Which historians?] by an alert administrator.

Who made these weighty assertions? What did they say? How esteemed are these historians? And exactly how much do their assertions weigh?

Furthermore, what about those estimable historians who applaud the book? Such as Vladimir Bukovsky, say, or M. Stanton Evans — just to name two? How much do their opinions weigh?

What are they, chopped liver?

Well… As we all know, only two historians, estimable or otherwise, are included in the weighty opposition: Ronald Radosh and Conrad Black. Plus one kibitzer, David Horowitz. The rest of the opprobrium directed at American Betrayal emerged from the Amen Corner for these three. The “me, too!” chorus simply echoes their weighty sentiments without contributing any further ounces of substantive argument to the balance of the historical debate.

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One can’t help but notice a persistent moral equivalence in Mr. McCarthy’s view of the great “barroom brawl”. We continue to hear about “both sides”, each of which consists of “people I greatly respect”. David Horowitz and Ron Radosh are his “friends”. Diana West is also his “friend”, and he likes her book, despite the fact that it is “controversial”.

If a friend of mine picked up a whiskey bottle and without warning hit another friend of mine over the head with it, I might consider taking that first friend to task. I might advise him that his behavior was morally and ethically wrong. I might even reconsider my friendship with him.

And I most certainly would not ascribe a moral equivalence to the two friends, as if the second one had had the effrontery to assault that whiskey bottle with her head. As if she had snuck up on that innocent, unsuspecting bottle and used her occiput to smash it without warning.

That’s not quite what happened.

One “side” launched an ad-hominem attack against Diana West, calling her all kinds of vile names. It even told the world that “she should not have written this book” — hence her reference to would-be “book-burners”.

Are those two “sides” morally equivalent?

In his “take-down” of the book, Ronald Radosh constructed dishonest straw-man arguments, and even answered arguments that Ms. West did not make — putting words into her authorial mouth, and then “refuting” them. Did Mr. McCarthy even read The Rebuttal?

And whom is he quoting when he refers to “closet-Commies.”? Diana West certainly never used such a phrase. Who did?

Most telling of all is the phrase “honest, forceful debate”, to which Messrs. Horowitz and Radosh are alleged to have contributed. If there is one thing that has been lacking in this whole shameful fiasco, it is honesty.

But only on one “side”. Diana West has maintained a steadfast honesty throughout. She has also shown admirable restraint towards those who have hurled insults at her while treating her with such cavalier dishonesty.

It’s sad to see this sort of limp dissimulation coming from a well-known author. One expects better from a man of his skill and intellect.

I am forced yet again to deduce the influence of Planet X. I can only assume that some large celestial body is at work, diverting the path of an accomplished writer. What gravitational source compels him to step so awkwardly around a frank account of what was done to Diana West?

I don’t know what it is, but it’s out there somewhere.

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

17 thoughts on “Cleaning up the Blood and Broken Glass


  2. Thank you for your insight and reality check, Baron. Casting the attack against Diana West in terms of moral equivalence is dishonest and evil, and reminds me of the way the Arab-Israeli “conflict” is almost always portrayed in mainstream sources. There is a right & wrong. There are aggressors and a victim here. And they don’t have the same moral standing, by any objective view. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

    It’s rather condescending, as if the two sides are just two schoolyards bullies–both equally guilty, which is not the case here–or in the case of Israel.

  3. Might I add that Diana West is a lady, and a very classy one at that. It is unimaginable that she would ever have anything to do with a bar room brawl.

    • She certainly is a class act, and there is a mass of information in the book. I’m currently working my way through it but there are one or two things I can’t quite get
      my head round. For exaample, on I think about page 38
      she says and belabours the question, that FDR’s deliberate prioritising of the European War over the
      Pacific War was inexplicable. Is she taking the Michael, or
      is she innocent of the international financial influence over the entire course of the War ? Churchill, a career
      politician from the start, was the ONLY person in UK
      pushing constantly for war against Germany, and when UK entered the War he harassed FDR constantly to join in. Anyone who thinks FDR was not OFFERED some
      form of remuneration to take the US in, is living on
      Fantasy Island.

      • s ducain,
        Your reply indicates that you know very little about 20th Century history. The fact is that the Japanese Empire was not a serious threat to the US and US global influence, including the role of the dollar. Germany however was a very serious threat, they had come within a whisker of defeating the Allies in WW1 and had in 1940/41/42 the most powerful military in the world.
        Churchill was not the only UK politician who advocated a strong response to Germany. It was Neville Chamberlain who took Britain into WW2 and who was PM until May 1940.
        Anybody the pushes the idea that FDR was bribed to bring the US into the war has their own fantasy island. Germany declared war on the US in December 1941, Hitler intended to attack the US but knew he had a severe naval deficit vis a vis the US, Japan attacking the US solved that naval deficit.
        A word of warning; by all means read DW’s book, but I can guarantee that she has misread many of the political and military issues of the conflict. I recommend to you “A World At Arms” by Gerhard Weinburg. This is the best single volume political/military analysis of WW2 I have ever read, and I have read hundreds of books on 19th and 20th century history.

        • Diana has perhaps not joined up all the dots, in effect throwing up more questions than answers, but she is certainly over the drop zone, as is indicated by the amount of flak. Are you serious that FDR was not
          influenced by the ‘ Invisible Government’ ?
          Checkout JFK speech circa 1962 or Hitler’s
          speech on international finance, they do
          imply SOMETHING.

          • By “invisible government” I do hope you are not peddling Jewish conspiracy.
            when the US govt. acts, it rarely tells the truth about why it is acting. For instance; why did GWB invade Iraq? Well he told us didn’t he: “Inside every human heart is the yearning for freedom”. Thank you President Bush for operation Iraqi freedom; well except that the freedom of Iraqis was nothing whatsoever to do with it, Saddam Hussein had begun oil transactions using Euros as the medium of exchange, this is absolutely unacceptable to the Anglo-American banking cartel that runs the world’s financial system, of course SH had also attempted to assassinate GW’s dad, and GW being the [gentleman whose qualities I deprecate] that he is, was eager to avenge this slight.
            About 70% of the value of all bank accounts world wide are US dollar accounts, New York and London control this trade and they will not give it up easily.
            The US has just concluded some sort of agreement with Iran, ostensibly to limit Iranian nuclear misbehavior, rubbish, the agreement will keep Iran using US$ for oil transactions. They (Iran) have been conducting serious and extremely threatening negotiations with China to start using the Yuan as petro currency, but Iran (unlike Iraq) is not so easily pushed around, thus the cave in.
            FDR understood that Germany posed a very threat to this financial hegemony, so certainly he was influenced by agendas never made public, but then there was no possibility of a US declaration of war against Germany, Congress would not have allowed it.
            This is nothing new BTW; Alexander Hamilton was busy setting up the Anglo-American financial empire immediately after the war of independence. He scoffed at Ben Franklin’s desire for a “land of independent yeoman”, Hamilton was determined that the US was going to be a capitalist enterprise run largely for the benefit of the rich and powerful, and so it has been.

        • Diana West may have “misread many of the political and military issues of the conflict.” However, her contention that U.S. policy was heavily influenced by Moscow’s agents is 100% correct. Much has been made of her assertions about the Normandy landing. This and other issues are a distraction. Soviet agents were responsible for the Morgenthau Plan. The conventional accounts of the postwar period go from the surrender right to the Marshall Plan. This is a very pretty scenario. We are good people. “We” would never be involved in crimes against humanity. The truth is that U.S. postwar policy was devised in Moscow and it involved the U.S. Government in serious crimes including slave labor and mass starvation.

  4. It would be fascinating to learn more of this “mysterious celestial body”, if it exists. The real explanation however may be simpler; this is nothing but good old fashioned misogyny: Diana West; to DH, RR and CB is nothing but an uppity skirt, who doesn’t know her place. how dare she posit another, and damming, explanation for the events of mid 20th Century. CB is an FDR Idolater, and I suspect DH and RR are also great admirers of FDR. I doubt these two have actually shed all their earlier left wing leanings, for DH particularly I suspect his conversion to “conservatism” was more a reaction against the ghastly people he was associating with rather than a fundamental shift in his political and economic philosophy.
    Andrew McCarthy is treading very warily through this minefield, there are huge egos at work here and it is not unreasonable for someone like AM, and others, to consider their own interests first.
    As for DW’s thesis, what does it matter now? The real question that needs to be addressed now is the extent to which islam, particularly Saudi petro money, has corrupted the US political system.
    Some years ago, during the Clinton administration, James Carville, the political operative, made the observation that “If you drag a $100.00 bill through a trailer park” you can get anything. Well, he was right to some extent of course but as US society is at the lower end so it is at the highest levels: Drag $1,000,000.00 through Congress and you can buy new laws, exemptions from existing laws and special favors of all sorts. Drag a few $billion and you can have the US military as your personal bodyguard (KSA). The problem now against the problems then is that the sympathy for the USSR that existed pre and during WW2 was based on personal conviction that a better way had to be found to manage the economy. Now the Islamic influence is corruption pure and simple, no US recipient of Saudi funds believes that the Saudis and their fellow travelers are anything but a loathsome gang of medieval thugs.
    That is our challenge now.

    • You have a point, BUT… It is ironic that you acknowledge the deep demoralization that the US (and the West in general) is in now and you even acknowledge it to be the most important reason of Islamic influence, but at the same time you seek to dismiss the underlying cause of demoralization being so rampant (that is, Soviet infiltration and subversion activities going on for decades) as irrelevant to today’s world. Also, the fact that Islamic influence is the greatest danger to the West to date does not mean that it is the only disaster looming on the horizon. To be able to get out of the trap we are in, we need to understand how we got there and, most importantly, we need to get back our sense of reality, which presupposes exposing the dark sources of all the outlandish ideas that the average voters head is so tightly crammed with.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for taking revenge on the Soviets whatever it may cost. But there is a big difference between granting amnesty to some veteran KGB agents provided they are not able to cause any more trouble on the one hand, and dishonestly attacking those whose expose the truth about these KGB-agents on the other. Besides, with all the anti-Americanism in the world today, it is definitely in the interest of the citizens of the US if it is demonstrated that much of what the US is being criticized for wasn’t actually done because of cynical imperialistic considerations on the part of the US leadership but was actually the result of the machinations of undercover agents in that government seeking to undermine the true interest of the US.

      • anon,
        However deep the Soviet penetration was, and I don’t believe it was very deep, the fact is that our “deep demoralization” is our own fault. We have accepted our own demise as free and responsible individuals, we have accepted the degradations of our respective countries; US, Britain, France, Germany, Holland, etc. through unrestricted third world immigration. We have accepted and even embraced the sordid saga of “sexual liberation”, and it’s accompanying ills of divorce, abortion, and family destruction. We have accepted financial irresponsibility from our elected leaders on a scale that beggars the imagination. We have accepted “globalization” and the attendant evisceration of our economy and the working and middle classes who once were the backbone of our societies. We have accepted the most vile anti-social behavior as excusable because of some real or imagined disadvantages perpetrated generations and centuries ago. We have accepted the accusations of modern day tyrants and con men who castigate our history and insult us with impunity.
        What to do? I have long been an agitator on the fringes of politics but have had absolutely no impact. I joined our local Tea Party and enthusiastically waved signs, picketed, wrote letters, etc. but was then ejected from the tea Party for use of intemperate language.
        Perhaps a savior will come, but then perhaps we are just destined to fail, individually, globally, galaxially and universally.

        • Roger, don’t be so quick to use that “we” pronoun. There are quite a few of us who have tried and failed to break the consensus attitude on many of the things you lament. About the nicest of the negative things I’ve been labeled is as a Jeremiah. Knowing full well, where it all leads, many people agreeing, but nobody heeding.

          What most is needed are local blocs with mostly common interests to bust up local corrupt hegemony and from that bigger movements can grow. But even that has become tough since the central planners understand this too.

          I watched helplessly as nascent blocs (long ago precursors to your Tea Party) got torn apart by various sub-establishments entities. Bribes, threats, infiltrations by loons in sub-blocs of their own. All have played a part in breaking up alliances that could have gone somewhere but for the fact that the good guys also had jobs and other things to do, whereas the trouble makers only had the trouble-making. Stop me if I am wrong and you yourself have not witnessed some of what I just recounted.

          And yet even on this site there are those who dismiss my history as simply anecdotal and not a major causality of the very diseases you lamented to which I am addressing.

          You may have been ejected for “inappropriate language,” but I’m sure even more strident language of favored ones was overlooked. That is often how the upper chambers weed out the more effective or the more aware. Let us even accept that maybe you are a hothead. God knows we need more “hotheads” than meek and easily steam rolled moderates! The evidence of that is the “we” of whom you accurately portrayed.

          One more thing. I really am tired of hearing of all the advances by the Downers. What I’m looking to hear more of are their defeats, even small ones. Because our Soviet-Style Media sure is spinning all of those as wins, it leaves us demoralized at best. Even that little bit of spreading of good cheer seems to have become a lost concept to “we.” See? I fighting against my very nature. I’m fighting my the Jeremiah within me.

  5. I am a survivor of the great depression, a vet of WWII in the Pacific and an active democrat the first 30 years of my life and now an active anti progressive these past 50 + years. History I find fascinating, both that which I have “lived” and that which I have read. I have more faith in what I have lived because I know its what I felt. I also know that I could be Wrong about events for any number of reasons that I, maybe, was unaware of. At the risk of offending many historians, – If you weren’t there, your opinion is a guess and no more sacred than anyone else’s. I know not any of the participants, but I do know a hatchet job and this one is shameful on the part of all those attacking Ms.West. But maybe far worse is the damage to the cause of anti totalitarianism,

    • Thanks so very much for your comments which I both agree and disagree with – you see you don’t need to live through history to know what happened at a particular time and place. Some people today are rushing to sign up for Obamacare – that is pretty clueless frankly.

      Historians SHOULD be objective, but alas, sometimes they are not as they have a particular axe to grind, a deadline to meet, a publisher who will only accept their work if it includes a certain angle. Honest historians admit they are wrong by providing the full story, OR by admitting that they have not surveyed the papers of X for example. It shounds like DW has done a great job, but that her detracters are pissed because they didn’t write it, or something. Have not read her book but it sounds good.

      The reality also is that you cannot include EVERYTHING in one book as there is always more information. I’ve been working on something for three years, and just as I was writing up the analysis realized that it should have been extended for another few years (perhaps 5). Not sure what I’m going to do about this, but it happens. Rarely is any historian the last word on any topic, the audience for history and history books needs to understand that they should be critical but not cut-throat in their criticism. There are so many things we will never know, and so many things that will be revealed in the course of time (I’m thinking of the Venona papers.)

      Am I the only one that remembers the 11th Commandment from Ronald Reagan “thou shalt not attack your fellow conservative.” Not asking for some girly feel-good mutual admiration society stuff, but let’s lay off the vicious attacks. I guess this whole episode shows us something about the attackers. You can always attack if it is justified but the name calling is more of a left-wing thing.

  6. It’s a Smoke Screen–or should I call “Squirrel!” ?
    West’s book is a very well-researched dose of truth, and is thus an assault on those who have lived too long on lies. The truth is that hostile foreign influence on US Foreign Policy has for very long had a malign effect on our history.
    The purpose of this “controversy” with attendant smoke–is to PREVENT further research in to that topic. West’s book STOPS with the first glimmering of the Cold War. Who knows what will turn up when the ‘rocks’ of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s……….etc. are flipped over? She started her research with addressing Muzzie penetration of government AND policy–surely THAT kind of research could be $topped with enough re$ource$. Maybe our mi$$ing planetary influence wears a turban?
    What’s going on now, as in RIGHT NOW?
    How about our recent past, then?
    John ‘Fitzgerald’ Kerry–our present Sec (sic) of State–was an enemy agent (fer North Vietnam) in a past war, so what about NOW, boys and girls?
    Somebody would rather we did not look.

  7. Can anyone of you replying here not see the America of the twenty first century. I would strongly suggest the left has won the narrative. Is that not her point in the final analysis.

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