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[Editor's note: Many thanks to Diversity Lane for the cartoon. Be sure and visit for more great conservative cartoons at Diversitylane.wordpress.com.]
My friend and mentor Dr. Jamie Glazov has a new book out, Showdown with Evil: Our Struggle Against Tyranny and Terror which you can purchase here.
The book is a collection of some of the best of Jamie’s interviews that he’s conducted over the years for FrontPage Magazine. I helped Jamie with the project, writing introductions to each section and conducting the interview which concludes the book. To promote Jamie’s new book, we’re printing that interview here. Enjoy.
David Swindle: Dr. Glazov, let’s discuss the themes of this collection and what conclusions we can reach from them.
First, in several interviews in this work you discuss your background as the son of two prominent Soviet dissidents. Can you tell us a bit about how you became politically aware over the course of your childhood and adolescence? Most young people are blissfully ignorant of political matters and the often disturbing realities of the world. Given your family’s history of fighting tyranny and terror, perhaps you did not have such a luxury?
Glazov: Thanks David. Well I am grateful to God I didn’t have this so-called luxury. To say the least, it would be an understatement to say that I never envied a lot of the people I grew up with in the West who walked around without one idea in their head or any yearning for anything. I remember being around certain friends growing up and they would be sitting around aimlessly and complaining that they were “bored.” I can understand being happy or sad, or being elated or depressed, but I could never understand being bored. My heart and mind has, from the time I was young, been consumed with worrying for the dissidents back in Russia, and in other totalitarian societies. I am not trying to glorify myself; I’m just being honest in that I was perpetually troubled by the suffering inmates of the communist gulag and I yearned for their release and for the punishment and overthrow of their tormentors.
My soul was intertwined with my dad’s and mom’s battle and perpetual concern for the martyrs that fell and the heroes that rose fighting against communist despotism. I was forever perplexed not only at the indifference around me about these matters, but, as I grew older and entered high school and the university, at the actual excuse and support for it. Liberal and leftist friends and acquaintances chastised my parents and me constantly about our inappropriate views and concerns, explaining to us that our focus should not be on communism, that really wasn’t so bad, but on American imperialism, aggression and oppression — supposed realities that, no matter how hard I tried, I could not detect my entire life.
These circumstances in which I grew taught me, on many levels, what life was and gave me a priceless gift: the gift of caring for justice, of caring for something greater than just my own immediate material or physical needs. I am forever grateful to my parents for having given me access to the divine gift of having an inner life and world.
My parents took on one of the most evil regimes in human history, a regime that massacred millions of people and brought misery and destitution to millions of others. Because of this background, I think I have a little inkling of what freedom is and what real oppression is. And so I have developed a reflexive nausea when I am confronted with the smug liberal and leftist, of whom I have met a million, who thinks he knows it all, is better than conservatives, and yet, when it comes down to it, has absolutely no concern for the truth or for the millions of human beings who suffer under the tyrannies that he supports and makes excuses for – and under which he himself would perish.
Swindle: Please tell us a bit about your odyssey through academia. What drove you to pursue scholarly work? What were some of the subjects you studied which influenced you the most? How did your studies affect your political philosophy? What was it like being a son of Soviet dissidents in a leftist academic culture which celebrated the monsters who had brought so much pain to your family?
Glazov: Going to university was just a given thing to do. I come from a family of academics and pursuing knowledge is something that you just love and pursue, there’s not really a question about it. I did my undergrad in history and then went on to do Ph.D. studies in history as well. I did it because I longed for fighting for the truth about communism and for telling the truth about it. I studied the Cold War because America was a divine entity to me and the Soviet Union was, for anyone with eyes to see, a clear evil empire that represented a toxic threat to every single human being, whether they were under its totalitarian grasp or outside of it.
I detested the leftists in academia who not only apologized for the Soviet Union, but cheered for its victory. I observed the glorification of Mao, Che Guevara, Castro, the North Vietnamese and other mass murderers everywhere I went on campus. No academic professor, with an exception or two, had the courage or integrity to put Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago or Armando Valladares’ Against All Hope on their syllabuses, even though the Soviet Union and Cuba played prominent roles in their courses. No professor would dare to accompany his reading list full of Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn with a counter-reading from a David Horowitz or Thomas Sowell. You were only allowed to get one side of the story. And if you thought that capitalism was a good thing or that Ronald Reagan was a great president, you would get a bad mark, because it meant you didn’t understand the course and the truth.
It hurt my heart and infuriated my whole being watching these people on campus apologize for evil and heap abuse and slander upon the United States and Israel, the two most beautiful countries in the world that represent and stand up for freedom, justice and equality (well, with the U.S. up until Obama), and are on the frontlines of defending it. In this context, a desire was born in me to expose leftists and their true motives. I wanted to understand and to explain the typical colleague I looked at daily who worshiped societies under which he himself would be exterminated and who heaped criticism at a society that was allowing him every luxury, liberty and material allowance to sit around and think up everything he hated about it.
Swindle: With this background it’s quite obvious how you could connect with David Horowitz and the Freedom Center. Could you discuss how you became FrontPage Magazine‘s managing editor?
Glazov: Well, back in 1997 I had decided to write a script on how to be a good leftist, a satirical kind of thing. I found leftists so pathetic as I was observing them, that I decided to create a comedic how-to-guide. So I was reading a few books to crystallize my ideas and then, before finishing, I got my hands on Radical Son, David Horowitz’s memoir. I was totally overwhelmed by it. It had really grabbed me. I remember I had not been that moved by a book for a very long time — and haven’t been since. I was very sad, I remember, when the book ended. I really didn’t want to move on to anything else, the narrative had such a hold on me. Picking up another book just wouldn’t do, and that really was the situation for awhile. Radical Son enters your consciousness in a way that you really can’t explain unless you read it. It delivers some of the greatest truths about life, the human condition and the Left in the most powerful of ways.
So I decided to write a letter to David and tell him how much his memoir meant to me and how much I respected him. And when I sent him the letter, I decided to include my script with it, which was called “15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist.” I just included it for something to do, not really expecting to hear anything back. But I did leave my phone number along with my address on the bottom of the letter I wrote.
A few weeks later my phone rang. So I picked it up and said “Hello?” And a voice asked: “Is Jamie Glazov there?” And I said, “Speaking.” And the voice said, “Hello Jamie, this is David Horowitz.” To say the least, well, it would be an understatement to say that it was quite a surprise. He thanked me for my letter and also expressed an interest in publishing my satire as a little booklet at his Center. So of course I agreed and it became the Center’s pamphlet. After that, I started submitting to FrontPage Magazine as a regular writer and eventually I became a columnist. One day I got an email from David and it said: “What’s your day job?” And well, it all kind of happened from there. I became an assistant editor and then just kind of moved up I guess. And here I am today. David gave me a great opportunity and it has been an honor and privilege to work with him, the Center, and at FrontPage. I consider him the most important political thinker and activist of our time. He’s a warrior battling on the frontlines. He’s a hero. And I am grateful to fight by his side against the totalitarians of our time and their human-hating ideologies.
Swindle: You edited and wrote a very impressive introduction to Horowitz’s anthology of his writings, Left Illusions. There are few people more familiar with Horowitz’s writings and with Horowitz personally than you. What do you think are some of the intellectual lessons that we can learn from Horowitz’s work? Are there particular Horowitz books that you especially appreciate?
Glazov: Well David comes from within the Belly of the Beast. He was in hell and was able to come out of it and to tell us how the devil thinks and what his strategy is. In essence, David demonstrates how the totalitarianism in communist practice is rooted in the socialist idea itself. He has shown, in the most profound way, how the utopianism of the Left leads to the monstrosities of its earthly incarnations. And he experienced all of this personally in terms of what he witnessed as a child of communists and as a leader of the New Left. He has illuminated the belief system of the believer, which envisions replacing this earth and its human beings with a new earth with perfect human beings. This child-like fantasy, as he has termed it, is the “original sin” of the Left. And it is this fantasy that has led to Stalinism, Maoism and all the other communist totalitarian experiments that have killed more than a hundred million human beings and caused mass suffering for millions of others.
My favorite Horowitz books, the ones that had the deepest impact on me, are Radical Son and The Politics of Bad Faith. Radical Son, as I mentioned earlier, was extremely moving. The memoir goes beyond Whittaker Chambers’ Witness in that it engages in a fearless examination of self, which is almost unprecedented in political memoirs. By going further than any previous narrative in demonstrating how deeply the Marxist fairy tale is entwined with the character and psychology of its believers, David shows how the socialist lie reaches into every corner of its believer’s soul. He makes clear why the break from radicalism can be such a personally devastating decision. And that’s why, as we know and have seen, a leftist can never look back or say “I’m sorry.”
The Politics of Bad Faith builds on this incapacity of the progressive to say “mea culpa” and for leftists to say “nostra culpa.” The book, a collection of essays, is extremely powerful in that it exposes the refusal of radicals to accept the implications of the collapse of Communism for the future of the socialist project. David shows how the Left simply ignored (and ignores) the lessons of communism’s collapse, and has just renamed itself and its agendas. And so leftists just continue with their destructive agendas. This is the politics of bad faith. There is really no literature out there that deals with this phenomenon in the way that David’s does. This remains really the only book written after the fall of the Berlin Wall that systematically confronts the arguments of the Left with the history that refutes them. Not surprisingly, the Left has ignored it. It deals with David’s work the same way that the Soviet regime simply took people out of existence when it rewrote its own history.
Swindle: Let’s now discuss the subject of this volume: the ideas you have encountered and promoted at FrontPage Magazine over the past decade. What has been your understanding, as the editor of the last nine or so years, of the threat posed by tyranny and terror?
Glazov: Well, radical Islam is now the greatest threat the West faces. We are, as Norman Podhoretz has noted, in World War IV. We face totalitarian and religious zealots who seek to establish an Islamic caliphate worldwide. They hate freedom and liberty, and so they hate and need to destroy the United States and Israel the most, since these two nations are the bulwarks and representatives of freedom in the world.
The threat of radical Islam is rooted in the teachings of Islam, which mandate Islamic supremacism and the subjugation of non-Muslims. Unfortunately, the liberal stronghold on our culture does not allow us to confront this truth, and so it remains a serious challenge how we will be able to defeat an enemy that we cannot name.
We now see this tragedy inherent in the Obama administration, headed by leftists, that somehow cannot see the presence of Islamic jihad in the Fort Hood massacre and in Abdulmutullab’s attempt to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253. Nidal Hasan and Abdulmutullab themselves insist that they were inspired by Islam and the teachings of the Koran, but the Obama administration treats them as criminals rather than as war combatants. This is simply suicide, it puts American lives and security at risk. And it is, of course, all part of the workings of the unholy alliance that David Horowitz has delineated. It’s how the Left makes us vulnerable to our totalitarian enemy. Both seek to destroy our society.
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