Truth Over Ideology


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The interview with Harvey Klehr and John Haynes, historians whose work in the Soviet archives revealed the extent of Communist Cold War spying in America, provides another example of the inability of many on the left to accept indisputable historical fact. Klehr and Haynes discuss the hysterical response to the evidence that they uncovered proving that left-wing journalist icon I. F. Stone worked briefly for the KGB. Haynes attributes this massive denial to the Left’s view of history as “infinitely malleable.” Thus, “when historical evidence on some issue does become so heavy that even the intellectual equivalent of shouting, screaming, and throwing sand in the air is no longer sufficient to obscure the facts, the hard Left just drops the issue and pretends that it doesn’t exist.”

Readers are bound to disagree with some of the arguments that they find here. Former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician Natan Sharansky’s book, The Case for Democracy, is a forceful and eloquent defense of the transformative power of political freedom, one that influenced George W. Bush’s foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the points that Sharansky makes in his interview about the experiences of Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union in casting off totalitarianism and embracing democracy are misleading when applied to the Muslim Middle East. Germany and Japan did so after a devastating war left their countries in ruin. They started over from nothing, reminded of their political folly by the rubble surrounding them. Soviet Communism was an atheistic, materialist ideology imposed by force on a deeply religious people. Such an ideology could never put down cultural roots deep enough to survive its manifest failures. But Islamic jihadists root their motivations in traditional Islam and the scriptures of the Koran. In this theological context, political freedom in this life, no matter how desirable, will not trump obedience to God, particularly when the freedom projected by the West is often the unrestricted license of appetite and desire. Thus it is debatable that, as Sharansky asserts, “the vast majority of Muslims and Arabs, like everyone else will choose a free society over a fear society.” Not if they think that doing so will jeopardize their souls.

This is just a brief sample of the illuminating interviews that Glazov has gathered. Particularly fascinating is his conversation with atheist apologist Christopher Hitchens, one of the best debates between a believer and a nonbeliever I’ve encountered. It shows that issues of profound importance can be discussed with civility and respect. For anyone interested in joining a conversation with first-rate minds that place fidelity to truth and sound argument over ideology, Showdown with Evil is a must-read.

Bruce Thornton is the author of The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama’s America, recently published by Encounter Books.

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