The war on American Betrayal launched from the Right continues to perplex people. I hear the same question everywhere I go, and notably from people who have actually read the book: What is inside the covers of American Betrayal that could have inspired the no-holds-barred smear campaign against it waged by putative political allies?
M. Stanton Evans has discussed his theory in "In Defense of Diana West" here; Vladimir Bukovsky and Pavel Stroilov weighed in with "Why Academics Hate Diana West" here. I have my own theories, too.
Now, Ned May of Gates of Vienna, a leading counterjihad site that distinguished itself during the hottest weeks of this battle in its defense not only of my book and me personally but also free and civil debate more generally, has published here his further and deeper thoughts on the controversy. These also include Ned's take on the crashing silence on the part of professional commentators on the matter.
Titled "American Betrayed, Part 2: Planet X," the essay opens with an apt metaphor:
The 19th-century French astronomer Alexis Bouvard deduced the existence of an as yet undiscovered eighth planet of the solar system by measuring the discrepancies between the predicted path of the planet Uranus and its telescopically observed positions at different points along its orbit. Later astronomers discovered “Planet X” — which was eventually named Neptune — in the precise orbital position laid out by Bouvard’s calculations.
We are in much the same predicament regarding the controversy over Diana West’s book American Betrayal. Based on perturbations in the scholarly orbits of numerous illustrious writers and editors, we may deduce the existence of a massive undiscovered black body. It’s out there somewhere, exerting its gravitational influence on its planetary neighbors in the ranks of conservative American literati. We can’t see Planet X, but we can observe its effects. We know it’s there.
No firm conclusions can be drawn about this mysterious astronomical object. Without access to sources on the editorial boards of FrontPage Magazine, Pajamas Media, National Review, etc., there is no way to determine the motivation behind the repeated, virulent, personal attacks against Diana West.
However, after pulling together information from a variety of sources, it’s possible to make some educated guesses. Although its exact position is not yet determined, Planet X is beginning to take shape out there in the night sky, blotting out segments of the starry host as it wanders past. ...
Thus, the Baron trains his telescope on the dim forms and currents under which the events and actions of the past several months took shape, locating some points I hadn't seen so clearly before.
1) Despite what has been by all accounts a vigorous, private lobbying effort by my original detractors to enlist others to publicly condemn American Betrayal, only one figure of any note (or at least notoriety) took the bait and joined the trash-AB-team: Radosh, Horowitz ... and Conrad Black. After four months, that's it. The glass is more than half empty here, but, in this case, that's a good thing.
However, it’s worth remembering that all but one of the targeted luminaries failed to join the Two-Minute Hate against Diana West. This tells us that the case against her was unable to withstand close scrutiny. A careful examination of the screeds against her reveals nothing except straw men, misrepresentations of what she said, and contemptuous name-calling, mostly written by people who had never read the book. No substantive criticism ever emerged. One may conclude that conservative writers of integrity and judgment examined the case and found it lacking on the merits.
2) Another novel point concerns whose oxen American Betrayal gores. To be sure, the book reappraises American hero-worship of FDR and Truman (others, too) by following the disastrous implications of Soviet infiltration and subsequent White House efforts to cover it up. Conversely, the information uncovered necessarily calls into question the (conditioned) reflex demonization of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and others who either bore witness to, or investigated this massive enemy infiltration by American traitors. Ned points out also that this same line of inquiry makes one wonder about the subsequent "purge" of the non-interventionist right, "nativists," "John Birchers," and the like from the so-called polite (mainstream) Right as defined by William F. Buckley, a place where neo-conservatives would later come to have a home.
When I was a kid, the Birchers were widely considered kooks. They protested against the fluoridation of the water supply. They put up billboards demanding the impeachment of Chief Justice Earl Warren. And one of their major slogans was “Get US out of the UN!”
In the fifty years since then, events have made it obvious that the United Nations is a corrupt, dangerous organization that we would be well-advised to abandon. Recent scientific studies have shown that the fluoridation of drinking water is indeed harmful. And, given the dubious decisions handed down by the Supreme Court since 1960, impeaching a dozen or so justices doesn’t seem like such a bad idea after all.
What if a lot of what the John Birch Society said was true? Where does that leave us?
It means that a major myth beloved by both liberals and conservatives would have to be deconstructed.
Make that, another major myth.
It would require rethinking a lot of issues that have been considered settled since World War Two. And it would mean tarnishing the haloes not just of FDR and Truman, but of William F. Buckley Jr. himself.
And we can’t have that, can we?
This is why the “Bircher” epithet has been so hurled so angrily in Diana West’s direction. Reconsidering the reputation of the John Birch Society is something that is absolutely forbidden, a heresy of the first order to conservative and liberal alike. The irrational fury unleashed by American Betrayal reveals the quasi-religious nature of these sentiments. Diana West is an apostate, and must be consigned to the faggots and the stake that provide the only fitting punishment for heresy of that magnitude.
Ned next raises the question about conservative Jewish philanthropy. He writes:
A further complication is provided by the “nativist” aspects of the John Birch Society. Such sentiments make American Jews nervous — and rightly so, since a lot of the resentment against immigrants in the first half of the 20th century was directed at Jews, back before the country was flooded with Mexicans, Hmong, Afghans, Somalis, and Iraqis.
Which brings us to the final element in the hypothetical composition of Planet X: Jewish philanthropy. The topic is a sensitive one, to be touched with trepidation, since discussing it can set off a firestorm of vituperation from Jews and Jew-haters alike.
One of the notable features of the controversy over Diana West is the high proportion of Jews who entered the fray on both sides of the issue. Like so many intellectual endeavors in the United States, Jews were over-represented in the fight about American Betrayal.
(NB: I, author thereof, am Jewish, too.)
It’s no secret that some of the major funding for American conservative non-profits and think tanks comes from prominent Jewish donors. Is it possible that the potential rehabilitation of the John Birch Society was enough to cause such an intense aversive response? Or have other factors been at work?
When researching communist infiltration in the United States, one may notice the large numbers of Jews among prominent communist leaders, including those appointed to high office in the federal government during the New Deal. It is not considered polite to mention this aspect of American communism, but the facts are out there for anyone who cares to examine them. And Jews themselves are aware of the issue.
John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr are historians and well-known experts on American communism and Soviet espionage in the USA, who together and separately have written numerous books and articles on the topic. In May 2012 Dr. Klehr gave a lecture at a conference entitled “Jews and the Left”. In his lecture he gave the numbers without hesitation: at least 40% of Communist Party members and associated traitors were Jewish. In the Los Angeles party the proportion may have been as high as 90%.
Lest readers think this event was a congress of anti-Semites, it must be pointed out that Dr. Klehr himself is Jewish. He was addressing a largely Jewish audience at a conference sponsored by a Jewish organization, so this was hardly a venue for wild-eyed David Duke supporters.
Some Jews would prefer not to discuss such matters, while others are always ready to examine the truth, whatever it might be, and let the chips fall where they may. Unfortunately, the fact that Jews were also over-represented among anti-communists is not considered a mitigating circumstance by those who are preoccupied with Jewish conspiracies.
To my mind, International Socialism is no more a “Jewish institution” than, say, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Communism was (and is) fashionable primarily among the intelligentsia, so it’s no surprise that Jews are over-represented among communists, just as they are in any intellectual enterprise.
However, the public discussion of this phenomenon over the years has hardly been a rational one, so it’s no wonder that Jews would prefer not to talk about it.
Could that be one of the motives for suppressing Diana West? Can there be a fear that a full and open discussion of the number of Jews among communist infiltrators would awaken latent anti-Jewish sentiments?
And is this fear strong enough to mobilize major Jewish donors against American Betrayal?
I don’t have the answer to these or any of the other questions. All I can do is point to the obvious existence of a planet-sized mass out there somewhere, exerting its telltale influence on the orbits of other celestial bodies.
The interesting thing about these four factors Ned explores is that each may have a Planet X of its own. For example, if there is something that may be isolated as notably Jewish about the opposition to American Betrayal, it may in fact be related not so much to Judaism but to liberalism -- in this case, FDRism, to which most Jews, as liberal then as they are now, subscribed. This includes Jews who would decades later emerge among the neoconservatives.
So long as FDR's sainthood remains in American eyes pure and untarnished by the massive boring from within he enabled/tolerated/was duped by (all three, I think), the erstwhile liberalism, Marxism, Communism, even Stalinism of these ex-Leftist seniors remains protected, beyond challenge, cloaked in the "great" president's heroic context. So long as history keeps FDR on a pedestal, these former Marxists still retain a rationale for having supported the Evil Empire, because so did FDR -- and, after all, he won WWII, the "Good War," America's shining moment, all thanks to Stalin (is the myth). Once FDR is deposed as a flawed and failed commander-in-chief who defeated one tyranny while assisting the rise of another, both abroad and, at least ideologically, at home, that ample mantle is gone.
What is left is the history of subversion, the story of the republic's downfall, and the long-hidden, misunderstood or distorted story of those who sought to expose and stop it, from, among many others, Dies to McCarthy, from Kravchenko to Solzhenitsyn, from Lyons to Epstein, from Jordan to Stripling to Romerstein.
What is left is the history of American betrayal.