Friday, August 9, 2013

David Horowitz and Ron Radosh Attack Diana West and American Betrayal

Folks will remember I attended the Diana West book signing last month. It was a lively event and I was excited to meet Diana.

At the time I'd read a couple of chapters of the book. I'm frankly not well read in the historiography of Communist Party infiltration of the U.S. government, although from my own training I thought that some of Diana's conclusions were quite broad, especially on WWII strategic issues and the origins of the Cold War in Europe. Indeed, I mentioned to Diana that I thought her book was very "bold" and that I'd be interested to see the reactions among academic historians.

Unfortunately, this isn't what I had in mind.

It turns out that former Communists-turned conservatives David Horowitz and Ronald Radosh have launched a vicious, personal and ad hominem attack on Diana and American Betrayal. And right off the bat I have to say that any writer/scholar is going to face criticism and pushback against their work. But in an ideal world such criticism comes with an abundance of collegiality, reflecting normative expectations of elevating the community of scholars and scholarship. But with Horowitz and Radosh the attack is actually the exact opposite. It's an attempt to destroy any scholarship that isn't the acceptable form of anti-communism. This is conservative political correctness of the most extremely ugly kind.

Lots of interested parties are weighing in on this, and the heated exchange has seen a flurry of salvos issued at FrontPage Magazine, PJ Media, with Diana responding at her blog. But to be clear, at this point it's not wether Diana's book is right or wrong on facts and interpretations. It's that she's being treated as shabbily as can be, and sadly this is by people I've long held in very high esteem.

Let's start with Diana's initial, shocking email exchange with the folks at FrontPage. See, "If Frontpage Will Lie about This, What Won't They Lie About?" Diana was responding to Radosh's attack on her book at Horowitz's website, which included a nasty disclaimer falsely alleging that Diana refused to publish a response to Radosh at FrontPage. Check that link for the full post. (And note that Horowitz pulled his website's initial glowing review of the book, written by Mark Tapson, "MARK TAPSON ON DIANA WEST’S “AMERICAN BETRAYAL”.") But here's the exchange:
The email sequence starts at the bottom. I note that Horowitz cc'd his email (immediately below) to three other people -- presumably to display his cleverness.

On Aug 7, 2013, at 1:08 AM, david horowitz wrote:

Dear Diana,
Our decision to remove the review of American Betrayal was not because it offered an incorrect opinion that we wanted to suppress. The review was removed because the reviewer was as incompetent to provide an informed assessment of your book as you were to write it.
David [Horowitz]

From: jamie glazov
Subject: Fwd: review of your book
Date: August 6, 2013 7:41:00 PM PDT
To: David Horowitz

I guess we're not friends anymore.

From: Diana West ...
Date: Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 9:38 PM
Subject: Re: review of your book
To: jamie glazov

Dear Jamie,
What gall. You and your crew behave like little totalitarians, suppress an "incorrect" opinion of my book, and, now that you have your "correct" reveiw at the ready, ask me to dignify your nasty tactics by engaging in civil debate. If I deem it worth my while to respond to the Radosh review, I will find another outlet.

On Aug 6, 2013, at 9:41 PM, jamie glazov wrote:

Dear Diana, I just want to give you a heads up that our review of your book, written by Ron Radosh, will be going up on our site at 9:30pm Pacific time this evening (12:30am Eastern).

David would like me to pass on to you that you are most welcome to write a response to this review, and to feel free to write at length to defend your position (but not longer than the review itself).

Sincerely, Jamie.
I've placed Horowitz's email in bold as the condescension and contempt for Diana is really astonishing.

And the exact same contempt bleeds across the page at Radosh's angry review at FrontPage, "McCarthy on Steroids." He's so fired up that he posted another piece at PJ Media even before Diana was able to respond, "Why I Wrote a Take-Down of Diana West’s Awful Book."

And then on it goes. Here's David Horowitz, "Editorial: Our Controversy With Diana West."

There's also a review by historian Jeffrey Herf, "Diana West vs. History." And then Ron Radosh lashes out again, "Diana West’s Attempt to Respond."

And then back over at Diana's blog, "If Frontpage Lies about This, They'll Lie about Anything, Pt. 2," and "'Professor' Radosh Gets an 'F'."

Again, I'm still reading and evaluating Diana's book, and I expect to be reading more books in the genre of Soviet espionage against the U.S. My argument here is that the attacks on Diana are unscholarly and unprofessional. Nothing here works to elevate the community of scholars above the routine bilge we navigate on a daily basis in the blogosphere. There's a prodigious amount of research that went into American Betrayal, and I'd expect that the work would be seen as advancing an important debate and offering much needed provocation in our current era of official state-sponsored ignorance and the media's capitulation to daily Orwellian lies.

In any case, Robert Stacy McCain, who's very well versed in the works on Communist infiltration in the U.S., has weighed in at his blog, "Diana West Dissed by David Horowitz?" And Edward Cline has this, "FrontPage's Spitballs Strike Diana West":
Why would the editors remove Tapson's review? Because it contradicts Radosh's in substance and in style, in truth, and in honesty. The removal of Tapson's review speaks volumes about the motives of FrontPage's editors. Instead of issuing a statement to the effect that while they respect Tapson's views on West's book, there is another perspective and here is Mr. Radosh's, and even providing readers to a link to Tapson's review. But to remove a contradictory and controversial article is a confession of intellectual weakness and moral turpitude. The editors do not wish readers to compare the Tapson review with Radosh's. They wish to play Big Brotherish Ministry of Truth games with readers' minds.

In his rambling, Alinskyite article, Radosh expects West to have read or consulted every book ever published whose subject was FDR's conscious, insouciant, or unwitting complicity in the preservation of the Soviet Union. He claims she didn't read this or that authority or author. Her knowledge and command of the field of Soviet-American studies ought to have been encyclopedic, and if it wasn’t, then, as far as Radosh and his editors are concerned, she should be shot down, discredited, and her work consigned to a dustbin.

Reading his purported review, I was constantly reminded of that old legal saw, "When did you stop beating your wife?" "But I never beat my wife." "Prove it." "I can't prove a negative." "Too bad. Let the implied charge be entered into the minds of the jury." "Objection!" "Objection overruled."

Reading Radosh's "review," one is first knocked silly by the highly personal animus he nurtures for West. It colors his purported review and does him no favors, and certainly, as West herself points out, does nothing to lend his reputation as a neocon any credibility. I could not shake loose the impression that Radosh was attempting to defend Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins, and even Stalin from West's charges. The invective present in his long screed is demonstrable and there for all to see who choose to see.

But rather than attempt to counter Radosh's allegations of West's incompetency and illiteracy – which in itself would require a book-length treatment, something I am not willing to undertake because the soundness and value West's book speak for themselves – I will simply stress that FrontPage's editors have shown their dishonest and manipulative hands by removing Mark Tapson's review. That is an unconscionable and unforgivable journalistic and moral crime.
There's more at the link.

And see the Lonely Conservative, "Front Page Mag vs. Diana West."

And also Kathy Shaidle, "Ron Radosh takes issue with Diana West’s ‘American Betrayal’." And note Kathy's update:
UPDATE: Andrew Bostom sent me two articles critical of Radosh’s reviews of new books about McCarthy, as a sort of “consider the source” thing. So I will check those out.