"Something strange has been going on at FrontPage Mag.
Some time back, I read a post on that site that reflected the patently false claim that Pope Pius XII had sat by idly during the Holocaust. As they who run the site seem to pride themselves on getting the facts straight, I assumed that they would welcome help and replied with some brief points that described the massive efforts of the Pontiff to save tens of thousands of Jews. I also noted that these had to be done with the utmost of secrecy since, as Stalin illustrated by his rhetorical question "How many divisions has the Pope?", any operation not well below the radar would have been torn apart by the Nazis. I also offered to correspond with the writer to give him/her a chance to check with some good sources.
I received no response, so I decided that FrontPageMag had intentions contrary to their implied mission and consequently stopped visiting that site.
A few days ago, I followed some source links which wound up bringing me back to that site. As I was about to click off that page, something caught my eye; a post describing what appeared to be a running battle with much-respected author Diana West on her recent bookAmerican Betrayal - The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character.
Hitting the brakes, I read the post. It was a hastily written defense of an individual that had gone out of his way to attack the credibility of Ms. West's work. I learned that FrontPageMaghad originally given the book a good review, performed a volte-face and turned the reins over to this other guy who smeared it, then was stuck having to defend both the ubercritic and their decision to back him. The reference to Ms. West's work as that of a "John Bircher" type was particularly striking as I have never seen that term used to denigrate anyone or anything except by a hard-core Liberal. The sad part is that very little of what John Birch claimed can be proven wrong in the first place, so where does that leave an organization like FrontPageMagthat supposedly is concerned with the doings of the American Left?........"
Yet, non-academic history books certainly have their advantages. For one thing, they are readable. More often than not, they are better researched too. Above all, they are intellectually honest, free from the unspoken taboos of the academic world and from allegiances to theories and to colleagues that tie the hands of many an academic.
Where a professional historian pursues an academic career, the amateur seeks after the truth. Ignorant of taboos, the amateur can follow the trail of evidence to wherever it leads and discovers things which, according to the academic conventional wisdom, are best left untouched and unsaid.
That is what Diana West does in American Betrayal:The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character. By her own admission, she started that book with no intention of writing much about the Cold War. She started not as a historian, but a simple mortal puzzled and disturbed by the obvious question: how on earth could this great civilization of ours have degraded into such a hypocritical nonsense as political correctness? Having written her previous book about the death of the civilization of grown-ups, now Mrs. West, in her own words, attempts a post mortem--only to discover unmistakable signs of a murder.
She digs deeper, “tracing references and footnotes backward along a well-mapped historical route that has simply fallen into disuse”, as she puts it--and discovers the true history of the 20th century, the history of communist crimes against humanity, to which so many in the Western Establishment were accomplices and collaborators; and then a massive cover-up of those crimes, which infested our entire public life with a culture of hypocrisy and double standards............
"Mrs. West has proven her point without access to secret archives on the basis of published sources alone. She would have found this much more difficult if she tried to continue her narrative much beyond the Second World War. Scandalously, most secret archives of that period remain classified to this day, and very few historians ever complain about that. It required some extraordinary efforts on our part to smuggle some of those archives out of Russia and make them available to the Western public. Of course, our efforts were attacked furiously by the very same academics who now attack American Betrayal, using exactly the same expressions. It is their job to suppress any truth about the Cold War. However, despite all their efforts, we now know that the so-called Cold War was never particularly cold on the Soviet side and never much of a war on the Western side:
How the "consensus" of Western Establishment had accepted socialism as the inevitable future of the world, and "convergence" with the Soviet system as the only alternative to the Cold War.
How Western leaders developed their "détente" with the Soviets secretly, treacherously, through KGB channels, as a means to achieve that "convergence."
How all Western policy throughout the Cold War was aimed to preserve ‘stability’ of the Evil Empire and not to achieve its destruction.
Finally, how all Western governments sided with the last Soviet leader against his people, and secretly worked with Comrade Gorbachev in the last desperate attempt to save his regime and his empire. Ever at Gorby’s service, they did everything in their power to prevent unification of Germany, de-communisation of Eastern Europe, collapse of the Soviet Union, and finally--alas, successfully--a Nuremberg-style trial of communism.
That treacherous Establishment is still there. We are still governed by a nomenklatura of collaborationists, Petains and Quislings of the Cold War. Mrs. West has reached that conclusion merely by examining the first chapters of this sad story. Sure enough, there are mountains of other and more recent evidence to support her conclusions. But of course, whatever the evidence, the "consensus" will never plead guilty. Rather, they will try and usurp the judicial seat.
As Mrs. West rightly points out, the moment the free world recognized the evil empire of Communism as a country we could make deals with, even alliances with (be that even in such desperate circumstances as the Second World War)--that moment was “a Faustian turning point." By the very nature of the Soviet system, the history of "East-West relations" could only be a history of deals with the devil, with all the unfortunate consequences such deals had always been reputed to entail. From Yalta to Malta, all those summit-meetings were cannibal feasts of the same kind as Western journalists’ party with a Soviet censor in 1933 Moscow. Therefore, if some 80 years later we find the Western Establishment to be utterly corrupt, we should know what has corrupted them............
She [Diana West] attacked certain cows that are sacred across the political spectrum; gentlemanly "formulas of denial" long agreed between academics of all colors; certain "common values of mankind," to use Comrade Gorbachev’s favorite phrase. Her facts (it has been reluctantly admitted) are of course correct, but her awful conclusions contradict “the consensus of every historian of the war”. The “consensus” is that Soviet agents of influence had no real influence, that FDR was a great patriot and war leader, and that Stalin’s occupation of half of the world was the best possible outcome of the war. On these points, it has emerged, the "conservative" and "liberal" academics have no disagreements. All their disagreements are about how exactly to explain away the facts that do not fit into their “consensus," and how exactly to suppress dissent..................
Amazingly and alarmingly, it was FrontPage Magazine that published the Pravda-style header which triggered that campaign, and provided a catalog of smears and insults for endless repetition by other members of the consensus. No doubt a highly distinguished "conservative historian" named Professor Ronald Radosh wrote a lengthy review ofAmerican Betrayal, headlined (with remarkable wit, good taste, and academic courtesy, if we may say so) McCarthy on Steroids. There, the Learned Professor dismissed the author as Sen. “McCarthy’s heiress” and the book as a “yellow journalism conspiracy theory” not really deserving the honor of his eminent critique. In his infinite generosity, however, the Learned Professor reluctantly agrees to provide some, and picks several specific points from American Betrayal to accuse Mrs. West of dishonesty and incompetence.
For anyone who has read both Mrs. West’s book and the Professor’s review, however, it is the review that is dishonest and incompetent. The Professor’s trick is to pick a couple of minor points from the book, invent a few more points of his own which he falsely attributes to the book, declare all those points to be “the pillars of West’s conspiracy theory," and then to "disprove" them with all academic solemnity. Unable to argue with the book itself, he instead argues with his own misrepresentation of the book.
He starts with Harry Hopkins, FDR’s alter ego and the most important Soviet agent in his administration. The fact that Hopkins was a Soviet agent has been known for a long time (though perhaps not as widely known as it deserves to be). Mrs. West simply brought together the mountain of evidence already available. That includes the testimony of Oleg Gordievsky, a very high-ranking and very reliable KGB defector. That includes the statement of George Marshall, the wartime US Army’s Chief of Staff and Hopkins’s friend, who told his official biographer: “Hopkins’s job with the president was to represent the Russian interests. My job was to represent the American interests.” That includes the episode documented in the Mitrokhin archive about Hopkins tipping off the Soviets about the FBI surveillance of certain Soviet spies; and so on, and so forth. There are several chapters in the book devoted to the evidence of Hopkins’s treason. In addition to all that, in one paragraph Mrs. West mentions the suspicions, expressed by some, that the mysterious Soviet agent identified in Venona cables only as "Agent 19" was none other than Hopkins.
And here is what is supposed to be a fair summary from Professor Radosh: “A key assertion for West is that FDR’s closest advisor, Harry Hopkins, was actually the Soviet agent known in the Venona decrypts as ‘Agent 19’." In the next thousand words, the Professor endeavors to prove that Agent 19 was in fact another man, and then hastily concludes that Hopkins therefore was not a Soviet agent, and therefore Mrs. West’s book is rubbish.
Whoever "Agent 19" in fact was, it appears to have escaped the scholarly attention that the very codename "Agent 19" suggests that there might have been more than one Soviet agent in wartime Washington. Hopkins still might have been one of them, and a lot of other evidence suggests that he was. But even if he was not, the difference between an agent and a fellow-traveler is hardly significant for Mrs. West’s argument. She is writing not about cloaks and daggers, but about the moral corruption of the Western world, resulting from complicity of the likes of Hopkins in Stalin’s crimes, and the subsequent cover-up of that complicity. How does it matter whether this particular Hopkins was in fact recruited by the Soviets or simply acted as a Soviet agent by his own choice? The difference is no greater than between a "liberal" academic liar and a "conservative" one.
Next, Professor Radosh takes objection to Mrs. West’s point about the massive military supplies to the Soviets under the ‘land lease’ program, administered by Hopkins. Mrs. West cites evidence that those supplies were given a priority even over urgent needs of US troops on the grounds, and that this policy contributed to such major catastrophes of WWII as the defeat on Philippines and the fall of Singapore. Rather sensibly, she links this with the evidence of Hopkins’s treason. Among other things, she cites interesting evidence that under the cover of ‘lend lease’, Hopkins secretly supplied the Soviets with top secret technology, including details of the Manhattan Project and sensitive atomic materials such as uranium and heavy water.
In response, the Learned Professor solemnly proves that the uranium was in fact Uranium-238, not Uranium-235, and therefore did not help the Soviets to make the nuclear bomb; that the first Soviet nuclear bomb was only made in 1949; and that it was made of plutonium. Ergo, all the "lend-lease" supplies to the Soviets were perfectly kosher and in the national interest.
With equal honesty, Professor Radosh then conclusively disproves several amusing historical anecdotes which he falsely attributes to Mrs. West’s book. Towards the end, however, he has another trick to play. Mixed into his list of alleged factual inaccuracies (which are not really in the book), we suddenly find Mrs. West’s alleged opinions about the merits or motives of FDR’s decisions to invade Normandy, not to work with German anti-Nazi underground, or to go along with Sovietisation of Eastern Europe. Not only does the Learned Professor distort the substance of those opinions, he also treats them as if they were factual inaccuracies; and then purports to "disprove" them by citing the conventional opinions of people such as Averill Harriman, whom he describes as “a stalwart anti-Communist."
Having thus demonstrated that Mrs. West’s conclusions contradict the academic consensus, Professor Radosh evidently considers this to be the end of the matter. The rest of his review is just a copy-paste of his usual comments on anything new anybody said or wrote about the Cold War in recent years (or at least, anything without a satisfactory number of Radosh quotations). As per usual, this book is another “yellow journalism conspiracy theory," it is McCarthyist, there is nothing really new in it, and academics know best.
This "review," with all its hatred and lies, comes as no surprise to those of us who have had the misfortune of hearing about Professor Radosh before. What is disquieting is the sight of the "conservative" crowd rushing into that campaign on sheer herd instinct, not only without reading the book, but apparently even without reading the Radosh review.
After all, its dishonesty is crying out to be noticed. It is dishonest to use meaningless labels in a debate. It is dishonest to attack anything whatsoever as "McCarthyist." It is dishonest to attack anything as a "conspiracy theory." So long as there are conspiracies in the world, a conspiracy theory may be perfectly true. It is a conspiracy theory that Al Qaeda organized the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and yet, it happens to be true. It was a conspiracy theory that the Nazi leaders plotted aggressive wars and genocide, but it was proven, and the conspirators went to the gallows. Unlike "academic consensus," conspiracy is a concept with a clear definition; so much so that prosecutors can prove conspiracy theories beyond reasonable doubt in court. Moreover, the criminal law concepts of conspiracy and complicity are not very far apart. Almost anything we say about communist crimes against humanity can be attacked as a conspiracy theory--and, as a rule, is attacked in these terms by Radosh & Co.
It is high time to stop dismissing things as conspiracy theories or accepting things as being consistent with the academic consensus. Some of us here are talking about truth and lies. And this, perhaps, is precisely what annoys the academics, whose monopoly on writing history depend upon the half-truths of the "consensus."...............
It is in the nature of a totalitarian regime to try and corrupt not only its own society, but anybody within its reach. This is how they conquer the world. Communism has corrupted greater men than a few arrogant academics. Indeed, the academics turned out to be one of the easier targets. As "Sovietologists" and "Kremlinologists," their position depended on their ability to travel to Moscow, and therefore, on KGB’s good will. Having now mutated into "Cold War historians," they are dependent on having such limited access to secret archives as Moscow would choose to grant them. As academics, they are committed to their own theories, true or false. As a ‘community’, they are bound together with their corrupt colleagues, and have to defend their collective monopoly against intruders. It is for a very long time that they have been no more than a self-serving nomenklatura, caring nothing about the truth, but only about their own elevated positions. Like politicians. Like the media. Like the rest of the modern world.
American Betrayal is a book about the origins of that corruption. No wonder it has been so popular with thousands of readers who are sick to death of today’s world with all its hypocrisy and lies, and long for an explanation of our moral crisis. Mrs. West sought an answer and found it. As a civilization, we have gone through a major moral disaster. We have been accomplices to mass murders. Moreover, we then tried to cover them up and to live on as if nothing happened. Without a reckoning, without so much as facing the truth about our history, we shall never recover:...............
Diana West, with her “reckless” discoveries, has jeopardized their comfortable world. Once you start talking about moral responsibility for crimes against humanity, what is left of that academic hair-splitting which has been the whole basis of their consensus, and their very existence? How great is a moral difference between an executioner and a mere conformist, between an agent and a sympathizer, between a "liberal" academic and a "conservative" one?
One thing that has particularly irritated the Consensus was Mrs. West’s comparison of America, governed by Soviet agents, to an occupied country. No wonder. If the country was occupied and governed by quislings, we have to stop talking about "spies" and instead have to talk about collaborationists. Any country that has done this in the past could not escape the conclusion that the entire Establishment, to a greater or lesser extent, had been responsible. And this is one conclusion which the entire Consensus had been working hard to avoid for the past 75 years.
While American Betrayal does reveal many little-known and interesting facts, Mrs. West is very far from claiming any credit for her discoveries. She pays excessive tribute to her academic sources. What she does say is that all those facts do not fit into the overall "conventional" theories of history; that the known facts invite very different conclusions from those we have been offered. The only role she claims is that of the child from Andersen’s fairy tale, pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes on, while the chamberlains still walk behind him bearing the train that isn’t there. She only claims “to connect the dots," which is a very modest description of the huge and brilliant work she has obviously done. Yet, it is a fairly accurate description of what the Learned Professors have obviously failed to do. No doubt, when they angrily protest that they had known all these facts all along, they are for once truthful. The sheer number of their academic degrees bears witness to their infinite knowledge. It is just that they lacked honesty and courage to tell us the truth.
Clearly, history is far too important to be left to the historians."