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The Writings of Historian Ron Radosh
Posted By Frontpagemag.com On December 16, 2013 @ 12:54 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 11 Comments
Discover The Networks is proud to announce that it has newly added, to its website, a massive archive of the writings of the eminent conservative historian (and former leftist) Ron Radosh. This archive includes many hundreds of articles wherein Radosh shares his deep understanding of the leftist worldview, thereby greatly enhancing the mission of Discover The Networks as the premier database on the American Left for writers and researchers. To view the contents of the archive, click here.
In his writings, Radosh aims “to challenge those who believe they have no need to be tolerant or broad-minded, and think that anyone who sees things differently is a secret leftist, a fake conservative, or worse.” While characterizing himself as “a center/right conservative,” Radosh takes pains to emphasize: “I differ with many conservatives on many issues.” Marty Peretz, former editor and publisher of The New Republic, once described him as “the myth-busting historian”—and that, says Radosh, is “a term I am rather content with.”
Radosh was born in New York City’s Lower East Side in 1937. His parents, Reuben Radosh and Ida Kreichman, were Jewish immigrants from Russia who raised their son in a leftist, though not Communist, home. “Neither of my parents were Communist,” says Radosh. “I was brought up in a Red Diaper baby milieu, but my father was a fellow-traveler who distrusted the CPUSA, and my mother was an anti-Stalinist Jewish anarchist.”
In his youth, Radosh attended Camp Woodland for Children, in Phoenicia, New York—first as a camper, and later as a counselor. The children at this facility were thoroughly indoctrinated with Communist and socialist propaganda under the guise of “humanitarian values” like civil rights and social justice. “The camp’s ‘progressive’ agenda that it heralded,” Radosh recalls, “was a code-word for the politics of the Popular Front, the Communist-led coalition of liberals and Communists that formed the left-wing of FDR’s New Deal, and tried to stay together to fight the Cold War liberals in the period of Harry Truman’s presidency.”
In the early 1950s Radosh attended Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City, an essentially communist institution that was the upper division of The Little Red Schoolhouse, an elementary school that Radosh and his peers commonly referred to as “The Little Red Schoolhouse for Little Reds.” Today, Radosh traces his decision to become a historian to “the inspiration” he received from an admired Marxist-Leninist history teacher at EI, “who told me that ‘Marx said history is the queen of the sciences.’” “My adoption of communism and a belief that it was the key to all truth,” Radosh adds, “stemmed from what I was taught by my high school teachers,” virtually every one of whom was a member of the American Communist Party. “Impressionable young people like me learned that being decent meant being a good leftist,” says Radosh.
During the Vietnam War, Radosh was actively involved in the peace movement, from whose platform he extolled “the heroic Vietnamese people” while denouncing the United States as “the enemy of the world’s people.” He was particularly angered by what he perceived as ideological betrayal by Norman Thomas, the Socialist Party of America’s six-time U.S. presidential candidate, when the latter wrote that he did not “regard Vietcong terrorism as virtuous.” “My final judgment,” Radosh recalls, “was that Thomas had ‘accepted the Cold War, its ideology and ethics and had decided to enlist in fighting its battles’ on the wrong—the anti-communist—side.”
During the Vietnam War era as well, Radosh served as a faculty advisor to the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a radical organization that quickly morphed into terrorist activities as The Weather Underground. He was also a member of the Movement for a Democratic Society, SDS’s adult support group composed of young New York City faculty. In addition, Radosh joined the socialist New American Movement in its first phase, as well as the New University Conference, an alliance of leftist professors from the New York area.
A watershed moment in Radosh’s intellectual journey occurred when he began writing The Rosenberg File, published in 1983. At the outset of that undertaking, Radosh was convinced that the infamous Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were innocent of the espionage charges against them—and his objective was to use historical evidence to prove that premise conclusively. But his research led him to crucial information that he had not expected to find, and “it quickly became apparent that they [the Rosenbergs] were guilty as charged.” “Seeing that the evidence did not square with the views I believed,” says Radosh, “I went with the evidence, and began to reevaluate the left-wing mythologies I had always thought were true.” This, in a nutshell, has been a defining characteristic of Ron Radosh’s scholarship throughout his professional career, both as a leftist and, later, as a conservative. No belief, no icon, is so sacrosanct as to be inaccessible to the potentially withering light of reason.
Today Radosh finds a powerful sense of purpose in trying to help impressionable young people avoid being misled by the corrosive deceptions of the modern Left:
Although the period I considered myself a communist was thankfully a very brief one, and decades ago, I realize how if someone skillful had been around to counter the misinformation I was regularly fed, I could have avoided taking such a path that led to some wasted years. Today, equally idealistic and well-meaning young people, who now as before crave a better world, join movements and organizations that espouse a totalitarian mentality because they believe they are promoting social justice. They too think their oppositional stance will lead to the utopian future they think remains possible—not understanding that no such utopia exists for them to make possible, and that their actions will only make things worse.
Further, Radosh seeks “to hopefully provide the kind of wisdom that will allow some to avoid taking the path of utopian fantasies that can never be realized, and to write works as a historian that give my readers a real perspective on our country’s path—rather than the kind of ideologically motivated ‘history’ of an Oliver Stone, that takes material out of context to fit it to his preconceived, communist world-view.” “I find myself angry and as motivated as I ever was to try and tell what I consider to be the truth,” says Radosh, “and to take up and challenge all the charlatans that surround us.”
Harvey Klehr, Professor of Politics and History at Emory University, says: “Few contemporary intellectuals have been so reviled by the Left, but Ron has never flinched in his determination to tell the truth.” Historian John Earl Haynes views “Radosh’s refusal to be cowed or silenced” as “a model of how a scholar must resist the intimidation by pro-Communist partisans within and without the academic world.”
In addition to his writing, Radosh has served as a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Communitarian Studies at George Washington University; a Professor of History in the City University of New York’s Graduate Faculty; Research Director of a report on Radio and TV Marti, which was funded by Congress under the auspices of the United States Information Agency; Associate Director of the American Federation of Teachers’ Office of the President; Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute; and Professor of History Emeritus at Queensborough Community College.
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