American Betrayal Redux
by Diana West
Not one but several of the lowpoints of what Vladimir Bukovsky & Pavel Stroilov have called a “Soviet-style propaganda campaign” against American Betrayal, what Jed Babbin tagged a “disinformation campaign,” and what M. Stanton Evans has described as my “mugging” were logged by The American Thinker website edited by Thomas Lifson.
There was the (1) unsubstantiated parroting of the lies, distortions and fabrications (all debunked here) in an otherwise positive review (which, not incidentally, included the reviewer’s declaration that he was now persuaded that Harry Hopkins was an agent of Soviet influence inside the Roosevelt White House); there was the (2) rapid enforcement action by Rado publicly whacking the positive reviewer (and, of course, my book again in one of a blizzard of Rado-Horo attack pieces); there was (3,4) not one but two other attacks posted at American Thinker by writers who actually admitted in print not to have read my book at all; and (5) lowest of all, there was Thomas Lifson himself, who actually refused to run the rebuttal I wrote in response to false and unsubstantiated attacks on my scholarship contained in (1).
An ugly chapter of an ugly saga, to be sure. It would be compounded when several other writers subsequently and separately told me that their defenses of American Betrayal — or simply arguing for fair and honest dialogue about American Betrayal — were turned down at American Thinker, The party line was and is clear and inviolate. Congratulations to all concerned.
Today on Twitter someone responded to a brief blog Lifson wrote about the Sovietsky posters hanging in the home of Jay Carney and Claire Shipman by urging people to read American Betrayal to understand the phenomenon. (Thank you, @southsalem.)
I don’t know or care whether Lifson ever read or ever reads American Betrayal, but it is certainly the case that Western elites’ zest for Communist iconography is discussed in American Betrayal as a manifestation of the callous indifference to genocidal Communist crime that marks our society, a subject deeply analyzed and weighed throughout the book. There is some measure of irony to AT’s glib treatment of the topic, after everything, that somehow bears noting.
So noted. Here, then, for weekend reading, is a short excerpt from the book where the concept is introduced. The excerpt picks up after a discussion of the wrath of the Truman administration toward Whittaker Chambers for revealing the truth about Alger Hiss when, of course, Chambers deserved a medal. If an act of national-security-saving patriotism can be sundered from plaudits, it follows that multiple acts of mass murder can be sundered from condemnation. It’s all connected….
From American Betrayal, p. 63:
Important to note is that with a twist of the timeline, Chambers could just as easily have been subjected to the “wrath” of the Roosevelt administration or the “wrath” of the Eisenhower administration. Both of these administrations shared with Truman’s the same propensity for suppression when it came to the touchy subject of domestic Communist conspiracy. In the end, this had the effect of protecting the Communist conspiracy itself. In FDR’s case, for example, the president personally tried to shut down Rep. Martin Dies’s investigations into Communist conspiracy—and later his political career.8 In Eisenhower’s case, as president he was personally involved in efforts to shut down Senator Joseph McCarthy’s quite similar investigations.9 In all such cases, as with the Hiss case, this meant that both the extent and the impact of the conspiracies were officially downplayed, denied, suppressed, and/or ignored by those elected leaders directly responsible for defending the Constitution. In each and every instance, it was the anti-Communists, the ex-Communists, and the Cassandras who were punished and castigated by the Washington Establishment, and then ostracized for their “crimes” of exposing treason.
This question drove me further past the pat narratives that have sufficed for too long. It is particularly pertinent today as we watch the same Establishment forces coalescing anew to suppress logical and, indeed, patriotic questions about hostile Islamic penetration of the U.S. government particularly since 9/11.10 When did this ugly stuff really get going? A related question: When did anti-Communism itself—the philosophical and political drive against state domination of the individual—become a radioactive inheritance of perceived bigotry and mass hysteria to be passed down, gingerly, generation to generation? It must be here where the origins of our indifference to the plight of the anti-Communist witnesses and to Cold War victory and Communist crime lie. What I was looking for, then, was the beginnings of the greatest propaganda coup and flimflam operation in history: the hocus-pocus transformation of liberty-loving anti-Communism into a force of repression to be reviled—not always by the people, who were reflexively anti-Communist, but certainly by the elite expression of public conscience. There was a flip side to the phenomenon, too: the hocus-pocus transformation of totalitarian Communism into a force of liberalism, later liberation, to be shielded or even fully embraced by that same public conscience. It was almost as if a giant syringe of novocaine had been injected into the body politic at some unknown point and with permanent effect: the numbed sensibility that reflexively reviles the evil of Hitler but calmly accepts that of Stalin, Mao, and other Red thugs and killers. Among the many manifestations of this weirdly insensate state, my symbolic favorite is the eye-catching frequency with which Warhol’s silkscreen of Chairman Mao pops up as an aspect of chic in lavishly decorated homes, glorious fruits of the freeish market as celebrated in four-color, glossy shelter magazines. And no, irony is not a fig leaf for the mass murderer over the mantelpiece. His pride of place is more evidence of internal rot and betrayal…
It is also, as the book explains, more evidence of the disconnect between cause and effect, facts and conclusions, which is so much an aspect of the intertwining relationship of lies and double standards and departures from reality that held the US in thrall to the USSR. Increasingly, we rely on cant — much like something to be found in Mao’s Little Red Book, as a matter of fact.
Below, from p. 239, one of my distillations, which I’d wager suits the Carney-Shipman household — and other media-elite households — to a T. In fact, I just looked up a column I wrote back in 2003 noting the Warhol portrait of Mao over the fireplace of a home belonging to a Newsweek/Wall Street Journal couple, at that time recently returned home from Beijing and featured in Vogue. The couple was having problems Americanizing their son, it seemed, whom they had enrolled in St Ann’s School in Brooklyn, a school so Left-wing, I noted at the time, it featured third graders’ portraits of Lenin on the website. I just checked the school site, and eleven years later, it still does.
From American Betrayal:
…Sterling’s comment is testament to the awesome powers of “the belief” in the Big G-Goodness of the “Left,” the political, cultural catchall term we use to encompass all abstractions and ideologies of the revolutionaries and “reformers” who were, and are, naïve or egotistical or zealous or power-mad enough to force utopian transformation on the rest of us by government fiat, by mandatory “inclusiveness,” by police-backed diktat. The Left is all and only about social harmony by command performance. We can chalk up at least one hundred million murders to its most successful alumni, as tallied by The Black Book of Communism, but the animating spirit of “the Left” still retains its glow, its catechisms archaic but basically unchanged, the faith long having become a hardwired reflex:
Left, Good; Right, Bad.
“The people,” good; We, the People, “imperialist.”
Individuals (especially businessmen), greedy.
Hollywood Blacklist, bad.
Hollywood Ten, martyrs (except “squealer” Dmytryk).
Elia Kazan, Judas.
Communists: persecuted freethinkers. Have you left no sense of decency?
Mao, expensive decorative art.
Che Guevara, fashion statement.
Ho Chi Minh, agrarian.
Mommy, who’s Ho Chi Minh, and what’s an agrarian?
Scratch Ho. The signposts recede from view, but the direction is fixed, which is why the phrase “evil empire” still triggers that patronizing chortle to make Pavlov proud and earn his dog a cookie. How Neanderthal can you get? says the roll of the eyes. No answer is necessary because our minds have been battened down against logic and morality both. Seventeen a year, ten a month, a thousand a month, forty thousand a month… Solzhenitsyn’s moral calculus, like Conquest’s compendia of Communist slaughter, or Bentley’s eyewitness evidence of Communist treason, or Bukovsky’s “détente” nightmare in psychiatric hospitals and prisons, remains beyond our ken and comprehension, much like Solzhenitsyn himself, who was virtually locked out of the White House in the summer of 1975. Twenty-four years later, Elia Kazan had to be sneaked into a side door to receive his special Oscar to avoid pro-Communist (pro-hundred-million- killed?) protesters in front of a Los Angeles theater. In the meantime, Solzhenitsyn never really got inside with his story, the one he always wanted to tell us Americans…
Some people still don’t want that message to be heard — and certainly don’t want to weigh its implications.
For links to previous articles about the controversy over American Betrayal, see the Diana West Archives.