That is, people discussing the extreme reactions against her work — whether they agree with her or her critics — revisit the historical events themselves, and the inferences that may be drawn from them. Was Normandy really a better option for the Second Front than the Balkans or Italy? Could Britain and the United States have acted differently so that the Soviets would not have been able to overrun Central Europe? Was Eisenhower an inept commander? How many actual agents did Stalin have in place in Washington? etc. etc.
These are arguments about content. They seem to be missing the point about what happened after Diana West published American Betrayal last year. What is significant — and astounding — is what was done to her, as an author, beginning in July 2013. That is, the issue is process.
The first sign of what lay in store for Diana West was the removal of Mark Tapson’s favorable review of her book from FrontPage Mag immediately after it was published on July 8, 2013. Since then, almost no positive reviews have appeared in any prominent venues. The settled consensus in respectable “conservative” circles is overwhelmingly negative.
Other parts of the process were the untold thousands of words penned against her book in the months following the initial broadsides fired by FPM. Dozens and dozens of articles, opinion pieces, and reviews were published condemning the book and vilifying its author, many of them written by people who acknowledged they hadn’t read American Betrayal themselves. Included in those pieces were the following words and phrases, which are just a small sample of the invective aimed in her direction during the weeks after the public attacks on her began:
- West’s fictions
- unhinged theories
- dangerous one dimensional thinking
- truculent recklessness
- a right-wing loopy
- [who had not yet been] house-trained
- very angry, very self-centered and very reckless partisan
- organized a kook army
- unutterable myth-making and jejune dementedness, as they hurl the vitriol of
- the silly and the deranged
- she should not have written this book, which betrays a conspiratorial mindset
- a preposterous book
- paranoid fantasy
- conspiracy mongering
- farrago of lies
In contrast, the vast majority of comments by readers ran in exactly the opposite direction. Whenever another hit-piece appeared, the commenters swarmed to that location to declare their outrage at what was being done to Ms. West. With the exception of a few obvious shills for whatever site hosted the review, the vast majority of the comments ran contrary to the “accepted history”.
Another facet of the process was the inability of Diana West to publish any replies, rebuttals, responses, or defenses of her work in the same outlets that were savaging her. The most recent example was American Thinker, which devoted 12,000 words to a series of negative articles about American Betrayal, but declined to allow the author to publish a reply that corrected the record without claiming the right to edit it for “tone”.
In a similar manner, other reviewers who attempted to publish articles supportive of Diana West’s conclusions found their pieces turned down by the regular venues. On those rare occasions when such articles were published, they were usually buried on the outlet’s website, often without a link from the main page where new work is normally headlined.
The exception to the above is Breitbart, which is to be commended for publishing both sides of the controversy without favoring one or the other. Ms. West was able to publish her work there when no other outfit above the level of this blog would host her defense of her book.
Another thread of the process might be deduced from personnel changes in various organizations. Some of these may be hard to recognize — we aren’t always aware of it when an author is demoted or an editor is reassigned to a less prestigious desk for allowing positive statements about American Betrayal to see the light of day.
However, one particular public expulsion was blatant: the termination of Clare Lopez as a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute. On September 3, 2013 Ms. Lopez published an article at Gatestone that referred favorably to American Betrayal as a prelude to a discussion of the recognition of the Soviet Union by the United States in 1933. The article was immediately pulled from the site, but not before it had been sent out to Gatestone’s email list, so that numerous people were aware of it.
The following morning, Gatestone’s editor, Nina Rosenwald, informed Ms. Lopez that she had been terminated from her position as a senior fellow.
Clare Lopez is a defense analyst, a former CIA operations officer, an expert on Iran, and a respected author. Sending her summarily packing from Gatestone was a sign that something momentous was going on.
There was a process underway, one that had far more significance than the content of Ms. Lopez’ disappeared essay.
Last but not least, consider the sudden disappearance of fellow writers and pundits when one of their colleagues was viciously attacked. Col. Allen B. West, for example, who had called Diana West his friend — and even, jokingly, his “sister” — was conspicuously absent from the ranks of her defenders. The same was true of almost all major figures from the conservative scene. There were some exceptions (notably including Vladimir Bukovsky, M. Stanton Evans, Frank Gaffney, Stacy McCain, David Solway, Edward Cline, John Dietrich, J.R. Nyquist, and Andy Bostom), but generally speaking, prominent conservatives either sat this one out or joined the chorus against American Betrayal.
The most telling example was the author and former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, who was a co-writer with Diana West on the Team B II Report for the Center for Security Policy. Like Ms. West, he has been a tireless Counterjihad activist, and up until last summer had always been a staunch supporter of her work.
When things turned nasty last August I expected Mr. McCarthy to jump into the fray on his friend’s behalf. After several months went by with no word from him, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. Finally, in December — five months after the first spittle-flecked invective had been flung — he penned an equivocal account of what happened, followed by his (what would have been for me, anyway) humiliating climb-down after being taken to task by Conrad Black for the slight praise he had directed at Diana West.
A few months later, after Andrew McCarthy’s new book came out, he was lavishly fêted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Were these events in any way connected? Your guess is as good as mine.
However, taken together with everything else mentioned above — along with all the other bits and pieces that could be included, but are far too much for this brief essay — they are part of a process.
The process was the occluded but systematic excommunication of Diana West from the higher reaches of conservatism in the United States, all because she wrote a carefully-researched book about how thoroughly the Roosevelt administration had been compromised and influenced by agents of the Soviet Union.
It is this process, and not the minutiae of the history itself, that preoccupies me, because it demonstrates that something is rotten in the state of American conservatism. Something is dreadfully amiss when the people who have struggled for sixty years against the progressive Left emulate the repressive totalitarian behavior of their adversaries.
I expect that even here, in a post about process and not content, at least 90% of the comments will resume the arguments about Normandy vs. the Balkans and whether President Roosevelt was incapacitated by dementia at Yalta. But, just this once, I urge you to look up from those fascinating details and contemplate what has been done over the past year to Diana West.
This appalling incident was the practicum for those lions of conservatism who would suppress at all costs anyone or anything that questions what they have determined to be the accepted narrative of history.
For links to previous articles about the controversy over American Betrayal, see the Diana West Archives.