Monday, November 30, 2015

The Selective Amnesia of Neocons

One of the most significant critical phenomena occurring within the last five years was the persistent and oftimes viciously personal neoconservative (“neocon”) attack on Diana West’s compelling and thoroughly documented account of how the U.S. lost World War II because of Soviet infiltration and manipulation of the Roosevelt administration. These machinations were fiddled not so much by Josef Stalin, as by his fifth column and domestic politburo of American Stalinists and an obliging U.S. president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The book is American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character. The U.S. government then was termite-riddled with Soviet agents and sympathizers (“fellow-travelers”), much as our government now is termite-riddled with Muslims.

I reviewed Diana West’s path-breaking book in May 2015 in my Rule of Reason column, “Blaming the Right Culprits.”  In it I wrote:

Diana West has performed yeoman’s work in exposing the Soviet-FDR connection in American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character. She has aired out America’s dirty laundry and hung it out to dry. Neocons and other strange creatures attacked her for contradicting their over half-century-old meme that FDR was a blameless dupe of Joseph Stalin and that there were no real Soviet agents and fellow travelers in FDR’s administration.

Such were the number of attacks and the personalities making them that she had to write another book to counter all the lies, misconceptions, academic pufferies, character assassinations, and misrepresentations about her and American Betrayal in those attacks, in a second book, The Rebuttal: Defending ‘American Betrayal From the Book Burners. I followed this ongoing exchange between West and her detractors from Day One….

What is it that a neoconservative wants to “conserve”? A neocon is someone who is an ex-leftwing “radical” who finally understood the error of his ways, recanted, and joined the Non-Fight Club.

We're neocons! We're ex-communists and ex-socialists who have seen the light and acknowledge the horrors visited upon millions of people by those collectivist ideologies in practice. What, however, are we for? We're for the status quo! Whatever that is or may be at any given point in time.

The occasion for this column is the review of a new movie, Trumbo, by Ronald Radosh, who participated in a veritable witch-hunt to discredit – nay, destroy – both West’s book and her intellectual, scholarly, and moral bonafides. PJ Media ran his November 26th review of the film, “Red Star Falling: The Trumbo Train Wreck.” This was a follow-up review of his November 2013 predictive critique of the film before it had been made, “Will the New Trumbo Movie Rehash Old Myths?” in the National Review.

Radosh’s review of the Trumbo movie is fair-to-middling. Not a trace of malice can be detected in his appraisal of the film or of its subject, Dalton Trumbo, one of the “Hollywood Ten” who refused to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947 concerning Communist influences in Hollywood and the sly boots campaign by many directors, screenwriters, and producers to indoctrinate Americans from the big screen.

When it was announced two years ago that Bryan Cranston would play Dalton Trumbo in a new movie about the late blacklisted Communist screenwriter, I wrote an article for National Review that asked a simple question: would the film be honest and portray Trumbo accurately, or would it perpetuate the myth of innocent and victimized Hollywood Reds?

Indeed, because of this piece, the producers and/or the publicity people of Bleecker Street Cinema claimed that I had “trashed the film” in advance and barred me from the screening, thus preventing me from writing about it for a national publication. One could say that Bleecker Street Cinema blacklisted me -- but we all know they are against blacklists….

Now we have the latest incarnation in the film Trumbo, starring Cranston as Trumbo, Louis C.K. as one of the Hollywood Ten, Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper, Diane Lane as Trumbo’s wife Cleo, and John Goodman as a schlock film producer for whom Trumbo wrote lousy films under a pseudonym while blacklisted. The film is good at recreating Hollywood in that era, but does exactly as I feared.

Which is:

The film presents Trumbo as a hero and martyr for free speech, a principled rich Communist who nevertheless stands firm, sells his beautiful ranch for a “modest” new house in Los Angeles, and survives by writing film scripts -- most run of the mill but some major films (such as the Academy Award-winning Roman Holiday) -- using a “front” who pretended to be the writer. Trumbo brought in other blacklisted writers to do likewise, his theory being that if enough films were scripted in this way, when the truth came out, the blacklist would end. Trumbo was right. After it was revealed that he would write the movies Exodus and Spartacus, the blacklist was effectively over. At the same time, Trumbo is shown as having an extraordinary work ethic -- working day and night to support his family, while existing on alcohol, nicotine, and amphetamines.

While Trumbo was an interesting and colorful character, the film gives us the story of the Communists and the blacklist in the mold of the Ten’s own propaganda book published after their HUAC appearances. The book is Hollywood on Trial, which portrayed them as advocates of free speech who were defending the American Constitution, civil liberties, and American freedom itself.

Fair enough. In both the National Review and PJ Media articles, Radosh reveals some unsavory details about Trumbo’s character and actions. Read them for yourself. He was a Stalinist, and then he wasn’t one when the truth came out about Stalin’s horrendous policies and body count. Then he apparently threw up his hands and became…a neocon, in every way but name, in a manner of speaking. Radosh and his colleagues in calumny did not wish to acknowledge itinerant conversion. Trumbo became a neocon just as the three former Left Wing individuals and activists had – Radosh, David Horowitz, and Conrad Black – who later pilloried Diana West for writing an anti-Communist book about the scope of espionage and manipulation of U.S. policies and strategies during WWII.

Dalton Trumbo, Alger HIss, the Rosenbergs – these were “soft targets” for the neocons. Easy pickings. They can be condemned or criticized. Radosh even wrote a September 2008 piece for the Los Angeles Times about how guilty the Rosenbergs were, “Case closed: The Rosenbergs were Soviet spies.” This was a Johnny-Come-Lately piece (by thirty years) on which is based Radosh’s claim-to-fame.

So, the question to ask is: If these three were now anti-Communist, as well, why did they object so much to West’s book? Why did they go to extraordinary lengths to attempt to refute her thesis that our WWII military strategy was stealthily fine-tuned to oblige Stalin, with a great assist from a State Department more or less run by Communists and Communist sympathizers? Why the strenuous denial and attempted excoriation of West’s thesis, punctuated by adolescent name-calling?

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?

I think that part of the answer can be found in their adoration and “iconization” of Roosevelt, a Populist Progressive and champion of the mixed economy – that is, an economy of some freedom and a lot of government regulation and controls, all subject to the direction Roosevelt wanted to take it. Rooseveltian policies perhaps represented to them and may still represent to them the status quo they would prefer reigned over the country.

It is not the purpose of this column to revisit all the issues that were the center of the assault on West; that is impossible, as it would take more than a column. In fact, another book. Speaking of books, in his entry, “An American Threat,” Baron Bodissey of Gates of Vienna in November 2013 made this salient observation about Horowitz and Radosh on the occasion of Horowitz’s appearance at the Heritage Foundation. It gives us a peek at the motives behind the attack on West:

The video below contains fourteen minutes of footage excerpted from an hour and a half of live stream from the Heritage Foundation. Listen closely to the questions directed at the guest speaker, and his answers. To my mind, the most telling statement by Mr. Horowitz is this one:

“I see it as a threat to everything that I’ve done, and that Radosh has done, and that Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes and all of the conservatives who have dredged up the information from the archives about Communist influence.”

This is the crux of the matter in a nutshell: Diana West’s book was a personal attack from the point of view of David Horowitz and his associates. It was not something with which they could simply disagree, and present reasoned arguments against in rebuttal. The author had to be “taken down” through personal attacks, snarky insults, misrepresentations of what she said, denigration of her character, and anything else that would serve to consign her to academic oblivion.

Notice that David Horowitz brings up historical events, and then declines to “get into the weeds” when confronted on what he said by a historian who is an expert on the subject matter involved (which Mr. Horowitz admits he is not).

This is not about academic matters. This is not about history. This is a personal conflict initiated by someone who feels his pre-eminent position being threatened by another writer’s book.

Jeff Lipkes, in his July 2014 American Thinker column, “Diana and Ron: What Was Going On?“ asks:

Why a “take-down” of West instead of a review of her book?....

The prosaic truth, however, is that Radosh has done West a real injustice, but American Betrayal nonetheless has some significant flaws.  It’s an important book, as well as a riveting one, and deserves a close and critical reading.

Frankly, I have read West’s book twice, and also her book-length The Rebuttal : Defending American Betrayal From the Book-Burners.  I noticed no flaws in either work, significant or otherwise, but for the occasional typo or ill-formatting. But Lipkes must have been shaking his head and felt compelled to make this observation: 

The distinguishing feature of the controversy was the venom directed at West. 

The titles of some of the articles from Radosh and his cohort are revealing, starting with “McCarthy on Steroids”:  “Diana West vs. History,” “Why I Wrote a Take-Down of Diana West’s Awful Book,” “Diana West Attempts to Respond,” “Diana West’s Epic Fail,” “Diana West Down Crackpot Alley,” etc.

There was also a back-stage email campaign.

On September 3, an article appeared on the Gateway Institute site by Senior Fellow Claire Lopez, which drew on West’s account of the decision to recognize the Soviet Union in 1933.  The article was pulled later in the day and the next morning Lopez was informed that her relationship with Gateway had been terminated.  Less than a month after the Radosh review, Diana West had become radioactive.

What precipitated the ongoing Muslim gang-like beat up of West, in Horowitz’s own words, was the removal from FrontPage of an article that endorsed American Betrayal, which, in another salvo launched at West, Horowitz refers to as an “embarrassingly kooky book” (“
Diana West Invents a New Conspiracy”). In his editorial of August 7, 2013, “Our Controversy with Diana West,” Horowitz wrote:

Rather than responding to Ronald Radosh’s FrontPage review of American Betrayal, as a reasonable author might, Diana West has launched a series of personal attacks not only on Radosh but on the editors of FrontPage, calling us “hypocrites,” “totalitarians,” “ossified totalitarians,” commissars” and liars (“If FrontPage Will Lie about This, What Won't They Lie About?”) and claiming we “suppressed” -- also “purged” – a favorable review of her book because its opinions were “incorrect,” clearly implying that they were politically incorrect. She also seems to have inspired a small army to conduct a war on her behalf in our pages, whose attacks use the same talking points and seek to defame and discredit us, representing us as renegades who have persecuted her because of her views. In other words, instead of answering the factual criticisms that Radosh has made of her book, she prefers to treat his review as part of a political conspiracy against her work by people who only pretend to have the views they do. Readers of American Betrayal will find this kind of paranoid fantasy all too familiar.

I am solely responsible for the decision to remove the positive review of her book that originally appeared on FrontPage on which she builds her anti-FrontPage case. Here is what happened. When the FrontPage review of American Betrayal appeared I received an email from Ron Radosh whom I have known for more than sixty years, and whose work as a historian is respected not only by me but by every conservative academic historian with whom I am familiar….

So, Radosh’s feelings were hurt. He’s an authority, you see, and I’ve known him for years. Horowitz to the rescue. But the question here should be: Why remove the “offending” column that endorsed West’s book? Why not let it stand, and let others read it and judge for themselves whether or not it speaks to the truth? Horowitz can do whatever he likes on FrontPage. But the act of removing an editorial with which he and others might disagree is a telltale sign of what West accused him and others of: a penchant for censorship (not a strictly appropriate term, since only governments can censor), or at least for selective “information management.” It smacks of the New York Times.

The emotional and deprecatory response to West’s book, and the nearly visceral resentment against her campaign to defend herself against her attackers, were so disproportionate to the subject that it can't be deemed a mere academic dispute. It was more like a Mafia vendetta, meant to draw blood instead of civilly addressing a crucial historical issue. It echoes Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. “It never happened! It was all the Armenians’ fault!”

The motto of Horowitz’s FrontPage is “Inside every liberal is a totalitarian screaming to get out.” The behavior of Diana West’s neocon enemies remains inexplicable. It’s what you’d expect from The Huffington Post or Salon. It’s abnormal. Perhaps for these veterans of the Left, old habits die hard. Perhaps something else screamed to get out, and it did get out to hound West everywhere she turned. Those old Communist “let’s squelch the opposition” habits can be suppressed for a time, but flare up in the most unflattering circumstances and at the most inopportune times.

Perhaps they’ve all forgotten why they repudiated Communism, ostensively over the suppression of freedom of speech and the purging of dissenters from the ranks.

If that is the case, then we are dealing with a form of selective amnesia.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Slandering the Prophet

 “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.  But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.”  President Barack Obama before the U.N. General Assembly, September 25, 2012.

It seems, to judge by his record before and after his U.N. address, in this instance that Obama delivered a verbose, sanctimonious dose of his golden-tongued taqiyya that mentioned desecrated images of Christ and Holocaust denial just so he couldn’t be accused of bigotry or favoritism. However, he hasn’t had much to say about the desecration and destruction of Christian and Jewish edifices and objects by ISIS, or by Islamic enthusiasts in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, and in other culturally enriched Islamic pestholes.

On the other hand, it’s fairly well known that Muslims can slander other creeds with legal and social impunity, and even publicly threaten death and dismemberment of anyone who slanders Mohammad and Islam or mentions them with a jaundiced eye.

But, how can you slander an icon, or a cartoon character, a fictional book, movie, or TV character, or a person who might not have even existed historically except in the minds of countless “believers” whose minds anyway are not too firmly anchored to reality? But perhaps it isn’t the icon of Mohammad that should be slandered, mocked, and defamed, but those to whom the icon is a reality.

Those people actually exist. But you can't slander or libel someone whose existence a), has never been demonstrated except in the dubious assertive texts of an apocryphal “holy scripture” knocked together by two or three dozen “scholars” and tongue-in-cheek scribes over a thousand years; and b), whose physical appearance is unknown, nay, forbidden, under penalty of death. Mohammad left no dental records for forensics specialists to examine, no DNA samples to put through comparative analyses, no real surviving artifacts or memorabilia of things he might have owned or handled. Where’s the spear, the turban, the sword? His sandals? There’s the Kaaba in Mecca, but that’s been rebuilt a dozen times. Western and even Persian artists over the centuries have produced an encyclopedia of depictions of Mohammad’s physical appearance.

Is the Muslim belief in the holiness of Mohammad and the existence of Allah so tenuous, so shaky, so precarious that any slander or libel of them can precipitate a desperate, quivering, emotional outburst of anger? Are Muslims so addled that questions about Mohammad and Allah threaten the insular, super-sensitized mindset of the faithful?  I have yet to encounter a Christian or a Jew who blew up at me for the suggestion that God and the Bible or the Torah might be ripping good fiction but otherwise are age-old figments of the imagination.

Of course, I could pose the same questions about the Christian and Judaic Jesus, but then Christians and Jews aren’t threatening to kill me if I don’t convert to their creeds. I could mock the idea of Moses parting the waters of the Red Sea and the antecedents of the Shroud of Turin, but I needn’t fear for my life. Jews and Christians wouldn’t be out to remove me from this mortal coil. They might not invite me to dinner, or they might curse my name in private, but that would be the extent of their persecution of me.

It’s only adherents to the Islamic creed who behave like raving tyrants and homicidal maniacs every time someone gives Mohammad a raspberry shower or a scholarly vetting. And Islam cadged not only Jesus to add to its pantheon of “prophets,” but other Biblical characters, as well. Finally, Allah was a moon god appropriated from a pagan creed. Given enough time and a little imagination, Mohammad and his successors might have chosen Steamboat Willie, otherwise known as Mickey Mouse, to be their all-merciful and all-powerful deity. However:

There is absolutely no question that Allah was worshipped by the pagan Arabs as one of many polytheistic gods. Allah was worshipped in the Kabah at Mecca before Muhammad was born. Muhammad merely proclaimed a god the Meccans were already familiar with. The pagan Arabs never accused Muhammad of preaching a different Allah than the one they already worshipped.

Many scholars say "Allah" is derived from a compound Arabic word, AL + ILAH = Allah. "Ilah" in Arabic is "God" and "Al" in Arabic is a definite article like our word "the". So from an English equivalent "Allah" comes from "The + God". Others, like Arthur Jeffery say, "The common theory is that it is formed from ilah, the common word for a god, and the article al-; thus al-ilah, the god," becomes Allah, "God." This theory, however, is untenable. In fact, the name is one of the words borrowed into the language in pre-Islamic times from Aramaic." (Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, Arthur Jeffery, 1958, p 85)

The article, “The pagan origin of the word “Allah,” goes on to reveal:

It is not related that the Black Stone was connected with any special god. In the Ka'ba was the statue of the god Hubal who might be called the god of Mecca and of the Ka'ba. Caetani gives great prominence to the connection between the Ka'ba and Hubal. Besides him, however, al-Lat, al-`Uzza, and al-Manat were worshipped and are mentioned in the Kur'an; Hubal is never mentioned there. What position Allah held beside these is not exactly known. The Islamic tradition has certainly elevated him at the expense of other deities. It may be considered certain that the Black Stone was not the only idol in or at the Ka'ba. The Makam Ibrahim was of course a sacred stone from very early times. Its name has not been handed down. Beside it several idols are mentioned, among them the 360 statues. (First Encyclopedia of Islam, E.J. Brill, 1987, Islam, p. 587-591)

"The verses of the Qur'an make it clear that the very name Allah existed in the Jahiliyya or pre-Islamic Arabia. Certain pagan tribes believed in a god whom they called 'Allah' and whom they believed to be the creator of heaven and earth and holder of the highest rank in the hierarchy of the gods. It is well known that the Quraish as well as other tribes believed in Allah, whom they designated as the 'Lord of the House' (i.e., of the Ka'ba)...It is therefore clear that the Qur'anic conception of Allah is not entirely new." (A Guide to the Contents of the Qur'an, Faruq Sherif, (Reading, 1995), pgs. 21-22., Muslim)

I could also slander Karl Marx and his “religion” of Communism, and Hitler and Nazism’s central belief system. Well, okay, the Socialist and Communist might retort, Socialism and Communism have ruined every nation in which it’s been tried, and resulted in the impoverishment, starvation, enslavement, and deaths of millions, but it can work if only we could produce the perfect Socialist or Communist man in the masses who could make it work. The Nazis had the same contention.  And this explains why state control over education is so necessary to Socialists and Communists. Children and adolescents and grown adults must be mentally “conditioned” to labor with the most altruist spirit to sustain that ideal polity.

Mohammad in disguise as Georgetown University
Professor of Islamic Studies, John Esposito

The “reality” of Mohammad and Allah seems to congeal into a pandemic gestalt whenever a Muslim prays. I mentioned this state of mind in a previous column.

Islam prohibits almost every pleasure. If a supernatural belief prevents a person from indulging in pleasures, then this belief also relieves this person of the guilt. And when the person is relieved of his guilt and shame because of this belief, his conviction that this belief is ‘genuine’ is consolidated. This re-enforces the validity of this belief in the person’s mind on a constant basis. He feels ‘pure’, clean about himself as a result, while those who indulge in pleasure, appear ‘filthy’, dirty to him.

Compounding this phenomenon are the Islamic prayer gestures. While a Muslim is engaged in pretentious bodily movements and gestures of the Islamic prayer, his brain is subjected to a trance like state, which resonates with his desire to believe in a god, thereby again re-enforcing the notion that this belief is genuine, and is making him a better human being with each prayer.

A particular part of the human brain plays a critical role in this phenomenon. This part gives rise to a thirst for supernatural connection, which is quenched by Islam, and hence manipulates and motivates the person psychologically toward believing in Islam. This feel-good factor acts as the psychological impetus behind him being attached to Islam. He now clings on to Islam, because Islam makes him feel better about himself. Hence this person is motivated to keep practicing Islam, continue being delusional and keep following the imaginary Allah. Even kill in his name.

This is the secret behind the success of Islam.

And this is as close as any Muslim will ever come to Allah and his right-hand enforcer, Mohammad: by literally losing his “self” in a trance, by submitting to some kind of Islamic “rapture,” by suspending his consciousness and his mind. It matters not if he erases himself privately or in a mass arse-liftings on Madison Avenue or Fleet Street or the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. When he’s in this state, he’s in that gestalt. 

And this is as close as any Muslim will ever come to Allah and his right-hand enforcer, Mohammad: by literally losing his “self” in a trance, by submitting to some kind of Islamic “rapture,” by suspending his consciousness and his mind. It matters not if he erases himself privately or in a mass arse-liftings on Madison Avenue or on Fleet Street or on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. When he’s in this state, he’s in that gestalt.

What is a gestalt? Merriam-Webster's definition of it is:

1.  Psychology : something that is made of many parts and yet is somehow more than or different from the combination of its parts; broadly : the general quality or character of something

2. A structure, configuration, or pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts

E Pluribus Umma. From the many, one.  You, Abdul, are nothing. We are all.

How does a Muslim know Allah exists, that Islam is “true,” and that Mohammad is the “Prophet”? Through his feelings. Sensory perception plays no role in this “knowledge.”

How do you calmly discuss the delusions of Islam and Marxism with a Muslim and a Marxist without getting your head chopped off? How do you make any progress in persuading a Muslim and a Marxist that their ideologies are evil and even self-contradictory?

You don’t, and you can't. As a correspondent remarked after watching Stephen Coughlin’s video version of Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad:

The Marxists and Islamists are working in tandem to bring us down. Coughlin goes into detail on that issue, including how "political correctness" works to undermine the law of non-contradiction in those who fall prey to it. One section of his video briefing is titled "Interfaith Dialogue and the War on Reason". As the Marxists destroy the philosophical basis of the culture and the culture continues to disintegrate, the Muslims step in to offer an alternative to "truth" and "order", as the Nazis did in Weimar Republic Germany.

Au contraire, Mr. Obama. The future belongs to me and everyone else who values freedom of thought and of speech. If Muslims and Islam can't take criticism or mockery or slander, perhaps they should get out of the kitchen.