I don't know why this didn't occur to me much, much sooner.
It probably had something do with the task (repeatedly) at hand, which I will quickly review for new readers. ("Advanced" readers may want to skip.)
For more than two years, that task has been to refute lies, distortions and fabrications set forth in a score of straw-man attacks on American Betrayal as launched by a small, identifiable cabal. Such attacks are then either repeated, accepted, acquieseced to, or even enforced by a wider circle of "colleagues." A long time ago, I thought I was dispensing with it all here, but it went on and on.
The cabal's attacks are different from even the harshest of normal criticism, and are distinguishable by two tell-tales. One: they fail to engage with the material and arguments that are in fact to be found in my book. Two: they distort, lie and even create a set of material and arguments that are not to be found in my book, and then attack all of that, smearing me as the progenitor of same.
I will link to my rebuttal of the last such attack I am aware of, which ran in NRO earlier this year (two years after American Betrayal was published) because it offers a concise introduction to this Soviet-style- disinformation oeuvre.
Enough. But do you see what I mean? Even the shortest-shrift explanation skirts the weeds and swampy undergrowth, where it is easy to miss the wider picture as framed by the perennial question: Why? Why did ex-Communists-turned-anti-Communists choose to lead a smear campaign against a copiously endnoted, and, I am happy to say, well-received anti-Communist book? I cannot answer with certainty, but it seems clear that the range of possible motivations, like the mendacious attacks themselves, are not within the range of normal.
Back to this week's epiphany, for which I have Ed Cline to thank. Ed, a decorated veteran of the earliest AB wars, found himself wondering, once more, why the disinformation campaign (or "mugging," as the late M. Stanton Evans called it) was cranked up in the first place. The trigger this time was recent coverage on conservative websites of the new Dalton Trumbo movie -- PJ, NRO, Powerline -- as farmed out to the commanding agent of anti-AB disinformation, Ron Radosh.
A distasteful state of affairs -- but there is a Red-rich irony to glean.
Ed's latest cogitations are here in "The Selective Amnesia of Neocons." I was struck anew by the kind of questions that spurred him to return to this subject.
If these individuals were so confident that West was wrong, and instead had embarked on a calm and courteous and reasoned refutation of her thesis and the pages of information she produced to support and validate her conclusions, why then did they launch a venomous personal campaign to kick her down the stairs? Why was their response to her book couched more in anger than in sorrow?
Why were they so determined to extinguish her? Why were they willing to resort to misrepresentations of her work, to misquoting her, to consecutive, thickly layered, pseudo-scholarly obfuscations, to smears? Why did they behave as though their authority was being challenged, jeopardized, and threatened?
If West was so wrong, why did they feel it absolutely necessary to berate and belittle her now? Bad ideas and hypotheses over time are outed and refuted by reality and facts. Could they not wait? Or were they afraid that her thesis was anchored in facts and they didn’t want it to be communicated to the nation, because that would not reflect well on FDR and how he conducted the war?
These are normal questions about completely abnormal behaviors.
So, to Dalton Trumbo. Trumbo was lock-step loyal to blood-drenched terror-dictator Stalin and his Communist Party, parroting, promoting, supporting and enforcing CP line in the USA designed to overthrow our government. But there was even more to Trumbo's treasonous role than that. Trumbo bragged also about party-line machinations to prevent anti-Communist works from coming to public view as movies.
From American Betrayal, p. 98:
Trumbo’s statement, made in 1946 in The Worker (petted Hollywood screenwriters are “workers,” too!), brags about a de facto anti-Communist blacklist that effectively prevented stories told from the anti-Communist perspective from getting to the silver screen.
There might be a dearth of “progressive” movies on-screen, Trumbo admits, “but neither has Hollywood produced anything so untrue or reactionary as The Yogi and the Commissar, Out of the Night, Report on the Russians, There Shall Be No Night, or Adventures of a Young Man.” He goes on to tick off a few more significant anti-Communist manifestos, gloating over their never-to-be-exploited commercial value. “Nor does Hollywood’s forthcoming schedule include such tempting items as James T. Farrell’s Bernard Clare, Victor Kravchenko’s I Chose Freedom, or the so-called biography of Stalin by Leon Trotsky.”28
Clearly, there existed a Hollywood blacklist before there existed the Hollywood Blacklist. Trumbo’s statement breaks down to a basic message: Even if “progressive” (read: Stalinist) movies are tough to put over, take heart, comrade; every “untrue,” “reactionary,” “Trotskyist” hot property that comes along and gets rejected is a victory for Mother Russia. Some of those titles, it’s important to note, preceded the U.S. wartime alliance with the USSR (1941–45), coming along during the time of the Nazi-Soviet Pact (1939–41). This is something to keep in mind the next time tears are ordered up for a Hollywood Blacklist pity party. The fact is, Dalton Trumbo, martyr of the 1950s “Red Scare,” hero to the 1960s Berkeley Free Speech Movement, was himself “a blacklister before he was himself blacklisted.”29
At NRO, Radosh, too, describes this facet of Trumbo's service to Communism as de factor enforcer against proscribed anti-party-line works:
In later years [Trumbo] bragged how he had used his position to stop anti-Communist films from being made. Stalin, he said, was “one of the democratic leaders of the world,” so he used his position to stop Trotsky’s biography of the dictator from being filmed, and did the same with anti-Communist books by James T. Farrell, Victor Kravchenko, and Arthur Koestler, all of which he called “untrue” and “reactionary.”
As he explained in 1954 to a fellow blacklisted writer, the Communist party had a “fine tradition . . that whenever a book or play or film is produced which is harmful to the best interests of the working class, that work and its author should and must be attacked in the sharpest possible terms.”
Suddenly, this looks like a page out of Radosh's own anti-American Betrayal playbook. Like Trumbo, Radosh bragged how he had used his position to stop my book (or try) -- as in, "Why I Wrote a Takedown of Diana West's Awful Book"; he used his position all over the place to try to stop it, even, as my appalled editor at St Martin's Press told me, calling up my publisher; he obsessively followed that "fine" Communist tradition Trumbo invoked regarding "harmful" books and authors, which "should and must be attacked in the sharpest possible terms." There was absolutely nothing soft or bourgeois about Radosh the Enforcer -- and the hypocrisy of his Trumbo commentary is not to be missed.
After all, motivations aside, one thing is certain. When it comes to American Betrayal, Dalton Trumbo would have done exactly the same thing.