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May 10

Written by: Diana West
Sunday, May 10, 2020 8:18 AM 


I can't think of a better word than "blithering" to describe Conrad Black's writings about FDR, especially in conservative publications.

His writings about American Betrayal and Yours Truly, however, are something else again but I haven't found the apt word to encapsulate the crude, pompous and vicious streak in him that my work has magically inspired.

To wit:

Diana West, a right-wing loopy who has occasionally aroused cautious hopefulness that she has been house-trained, has published a novel presented as a non-fiction work, entitled “American Betrayal." ... The West farrago of lies has been thoroughly debunked, especially by Ron Radosh in his FrontPageMag piece titled “McCarthy on Steroids.”

Well, we all know what happened to him.

Here's a bit more from this first of four Black attacks, just to convey the erupting toxicity and runaway thesaurus abuse.

These conspiratorialists [Black has llinked me with Oliver Stone] are idiots: pernicious, destructive, fatuous idiots. West and Stone and Kuznick are entitled to freedom of expression, though they abuse it with their unutterable myth-making and jejune dementedness, as they hurl the vitriol of the silly and the deranged ...  

Illustration by Ned May

These particular heaps of Blackian prose appear under the title "Defaming FDR." The 32nd POTUS is a very, very touchy subject for hagiographer Black, who once upon a time "invested" $8 million of his media company's funds to buy FDR memorobilia (later resold at a fraction of the cost). Of indeterminate loyalty -- born a Canadian, "created" a British lord, corrected in a US penitentiary and granted a full pardon from President Trump -- Black is an Anglospheric on a mission. It is a very strange mission. He has made a career out of attempting to reframe the US president who first "fundamentally transformed" America into a burgeoning socialist welfare state as the Great Conservative Hope. Because the basis of the mission makes no sense, Black is actually forced into blithering. He really has no other choice. Every historical argument he makes simply has to be twisted and papered over with historical errors. What drives him on such a mission is a mystery, although I can think of a few possible reasons. What drives conservative publications to publish it all without fact-checking is a mystery, too.

Here is just a smattering of Black's errors, large and huge.

Headline from The Evening Review (Ohio), March 20, 1940

Black in The New Criterion:

When he [FDR] broke a tradition as old as the republic and sought a third presidential term in 1940, the unemployment rate was low in the United States,

No, in 1940, the unemployment rate in the US was 14.45 percent. That's not "low." 

Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoye

Also from The New Criterion:

This required Japan either to cease its invasion of China and Indochina, which Roosevelt knew they would find too humiliating to do, 

Wrong again. Roosevelt knew full well that the Japanese government of Prime Minister Prince Konoye was eager, even desperate to meet, leader to leader, and bring about an end to Japan's disastrous Chinese war and find a modus vivendi with the United States. Drawing on State Department documents and Ten Years in Japan, the memoir of US Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew, the formidable journalist John T. Flynn summed up the historic opportunity before Pearl Harbor that Roosevelt failed to seize.

From Flynn's 1944 expose, The Truth About Pearl Harbor: 

*Note that the only troops the Japanese wished to leave behind in China were "to garrison certain strategic points in order to maintain order to suppress communism" -- Mao Tse-tung.

Hiss and Stettinius at Yalta

Black in National Review:

Alger Hiss had no influence, ceased his incompetent efforts at espionage in the mid Thirties, and did not exchange a word with Roosevelt at Yalta; his only contribution was to recommend, unsuccessfully, that the USSR not have three votes in the United Nations general assembly.  

Black is all wrong again.

M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein 100 p/c debunk this particular set of blitherings in a chapter from their book Stalin's Secret Agents called "See Alger Hiss About This." The chapter title pays homage to numerous hand-written notes that Evans and Romerstein found on the manuscript of Secretary of State Edward Stettinius's 1949 memoir, Roosevelt and the Russians. In this heretofore undiscovered marginalia, the former Secretary of State directed historian Walter Johnson, who was helping him draft the book, to consult with Alger Hiss about decisions that were made at the post-war planning meeting of the "Big Three" at Yalta in 1945. 

Evans and Romerstein:

On the subject of assigning a German occupation zone to France, for instance, Stettinius told Johnson: "Alger Hiss can fill in the background." On the issue of forced German [slave] labor as a form of reparations: "See Alger and we'll discuss this again." In later discussions of the German occupation: "Hiss would remember. Consult him." On the question of who drafted the Yalta declaration on Liberated Europe: "[See] Alger Hiss again. On voting arrangements of the United Nations: "See Alger Hiss about this." And again: "Alger Hiss can fill in important background about that."

Whether, as Black blithers, Roosevelt exchanged not a word with Alger Hiss at Yalta, according to Stettinius, Roosevelt did ask that Hiss be present at the conference. 

Evans and Romerstein write: 

Though Hiss is now well-known to history, in January 1945 he was merely one State Department staffer among many, and of fairly junior status -- a mid-level employee who wasn't even head of a division ...It thus seems odd that Roosevelt would single him out as someone who should go to Yalta ... 

 Once there, Hiss worked closely with Secretary Stettinius. 

The documents indicate that Hiss was an outspoken participant in the Yalta sessions, addressing a wide array of topics [also including China], and at times dealing virtually as an equal of British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden. 

The document (below) from Stettinius's papers is reproduced in Stalin's Secret Agents. It not only is a record of mid-level staffer Hiss in action at Yalta, but in action as an equal of Foreign Secretary Eden and even speaking for the United States to press for unity between Chinese Communists and Chiang Kai-Shek's nationalist government. NB: It was by such "united front" strategies that communists undermined and seized democratic governments all over the world.    

Black in The Epoch Times:

By the left, he is manipulated like prayer beads, to legitimize everything they wish to accomplish, from universal government-operated (“free”) medical care to open borders, (both of which he would have militantly opposed).

This notion that FDR would have been "militantly opposed" to the endgame of "free'" medical care negates Roosevelt's drive for national health insurance in the early days of the New Deal. Indeed, the Social Security bill was originally intended to fund national unemployment insurance, national old age insurance and national health insurance. (See Universal Coverage: The Elusive Quest for National Health Insurance by Rick Mayes.) It was the intense political opposition by doctors across the country that doomed the medical piece of the program to non-starterdom, not anything resembling "militant opposition" by FDR. Black's sweeping statement, however, is strongly suggestive that FDR would have been an opponent of Obamacare!

I could go on; however, unlike on previous occasions, I don't have to, and the fact is clean-up exercises such as these are pure drudge work. I hope these corrections will give conservatives pause before they let Black blither all over our history again.  



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