My response to Bukovsky.
I had decided three weeks ago, after responding to Diana West’s accusation that I am a book burner, that that would be the end of it. The storm she has created over a bad review of her book, American Betrayal, had reached a point where the controversy was no longer about the issues but purely personal and destructive. After five weeks of post after post attacking Radosh and me I hoped we had come to the end of it and if we just didn’t respond the furor would die down. I was wrong, the attacks have continued from her camp for another three weeks and the level of personal vitriol and slander directed at us has if anything reached new levels. Now, in the pages of Breitbart, even Vladimir Bukovsky, the great Soviet dissident, whose work we have previously admired in these pages, and will continue to admire, has joined her wolf-pack.
Vladimir Bukovsky is a formidable figure – the first to come to the support of West. I felt it necessary to respond to his attack in Breitbart. I hope this is the last time I will have to do this. My reply in Breitbart follows:
It grieves me to see a hero of the anti-Communist struggle, Vladimir Bukovsky, join the character assassins that Diana West has mobilized to attack Radosh and me because Frontpage posted a bad review of her book. It grieves me even more because he goes out of his way to defend her preposterous claims, e.g., that the division of Europe at Yalta was a Soviet plot when everyone knows the division was drawn by Winston Churchill, hardly a Soviet stooge. There are dozens if not hundreds of howlers like this in West’s 400-page, 900-footnote book, which is why we gave it a bad review.
West continually brings up her 900 footnotes as if that makes her book scholarly and factual. But footnotes do not protect an author from responsibility for the absurd conclusions she draws from them. Example: In writing about the proposed D-Day plan to invade France, which she opposes as a “Soviet plot” to give Eastern Europe to Stalin, West refers to the allied defeat of Hitler’s armies that would follow as an ethnic cleansing of anti-Bolsheviks. Here is the exact quote:
“Unopposed, unchecked, these Red Army troops would ride their Lend-Lease fleets of Jeeps and Dodges deep into a Europe that was being ethnically cleansed of millions of anti-Bolsheviks by U.S. and British troops.”
West’s invariable defense of ludicrous statements like this is that she never said them or they never meant what they meant. Bukovsky repeats this alibi, claiming that the Frontpage review by Radosh misrepresented her book. No it didn’t. Example: In her 22,000-word “rebuttal” to Radosh’s 8,000-word review West says it is “false” that she claimed that Washington DC was “occupied” by Communists and Stalin’s agents. Here is what she wrote in her book and actually quotes in her rebuttal:
“The vast and deep extent of Communist penetration, heretofore denied, had in fact reached a tipping point to become a de facto Communist occupation of the American center of power.”
Apparently she doesn’t realize that the Latin phrase de facto means “in fact.” It is impossible to argue with a mind as obtuse as this.
The fact that West’s book reports a lot of well-known facts about Communist infiltration and Soviet spies has led some people to believe that this makes her book worthwhile and important. If West had left it at that – as an accumulation of such already establish facts -- I would agree. The problem is that she has a much greater ambition, which is to rewrite the history of World War II and the Cold War because everything written by historians before her are “fictions.” She therefore proceeds to weave these facts into preposterous and patently false theories (as in the two examples above) that will only serve to discredit them and the anti-Communist cause.
The worst aspect of West’s relentless personal attacks on Radosh and me are that they convert intellectual disagreements about a book and excessive complaints about a bad review into a political witch-hunt whose clear goal is to stigmatize us as communist apologists, inventing our histories in the process. One of West’s champions, Andrew Bostom writes:
“Bukovsky (b. 1942) spent almost a third of his first 33 years of life in Soviet prisons, labor camps, and psychiatric hospitals. Compare that experience to Ronald Radosh’s (b. 1937) and his colleague Frontpage Magazine owner David Horowitz’s (b. 1939) first 33 years of privileged existence in the U.S., and their perverse support, during that same period, for the liberty-crushing, Soviet Communist totalitarian system that imprisoned Bukovsky.”
I have spent 30 odd years fighting for the anti-Communist cause. Yes I was born into a Communist family. I wrote a book about it. I am not going to make apologies for my political views as a five-year-old. But both Radosh and I became New Leftists when Bukovsky was only 14, and never supported the Soviet totalitarian state or Bukovsky’s jailers. Nor do I “own” Frontpage, which is a non-profit entity that has no owners. This is the kind of garbage West and her followers have been flinging at us for the last two months.
If Bostom and crew follow West down the path of the political purge, treating intellectual critics of her work as enemies of liberty and supporters of Communism, it is West that set the standard and gave the marching orders. This zeal in demonizing intellectual opponents and attempting to expel them from the anti-Communist ranks is characteristic of her mentality, and what makes the accusations in her book untrustworthy and self-discrediting. It is why I removed an endorsement of it that appeared on Frontpage and published Radosh’s accurate critique, which despite 22,000 words of abuse she has still failed to answer.
One final note. In the kind of projection that is typical of demonizers, West has accused Radosh and me of attacks on her character. Her evidence? I called her “incompetent.” I did, but in a private email which she chose to publish in order to play the victim. I have written two previous posts about West – both in response to vicious attacks on me personally by her, as a “totalitarian,” an “anti-anti communist,” a “commissar” and a “book burner.” I had resolved not to engage this dispute again, but the personal attacks on Radosh and me have forced me to explain myself again. I hope this is the last time.
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