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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: April 2013

Leave it to Salman Rushdie to bring back the Left’s favorite stratagem: moral equivalence. During the Cold War, leftists used to say the following: “Sure, the Soviets are doing bad things, but so is the United States.” Those a bit more to the left would advance the argument, and say: “The Soviets do terrible things, but the U.S. is responsible, since its leaders view them, as Reagan did, as ‘the evil empire.’ Since we won’t accommodate their just demands, they have to respond to us with hostility.” Those even further to the left would push the analogy even further, arguing: “The Soviets may do some bad things, but at least they stand on the side of progressive change. The U.S., on the other hand, oppresses Third World peoples and supports right-wing reactionary regimes all over the world.”

A good example of the old moral equivalence was to equate the Gulag in the Soviet Union, in which hundreds of thousands were imprisoned, starved to death and executed in massive frame-ups, with McCarthyism in the United States. During the so-called McCarthy era, relatively few were imprisoned or lost their livelihoods, and many actually guilty of being actual Soviet agents portrayed themselves as innocents accused because of their political views. Yet the Left in America argued both were the same.

Now Salman Rushdie has a lot to be wary of. After the Iranian revolution, the late Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa along with a reward for anyone who murdered him. Because of his novel The Satanic Verses, Rushdie had to go into hiding in different safe houses for a number of years, while under the protection of the British government. Intellectuals and writers in the West rallied to his defense. Eventually, Rushdie came into the open, moved to the United States, and became a favorite in the celebrity world, as well as a best-selling novelist.

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This has been a good week for George W. Bush. The opening of his presidential library and museum at Southern Methodist University has led to a widespread reassessment of his administration’s record. Indeed, public-opinion polls show that Bush now has a 47 percent approval rating, up from the dismal 33 percent when he left office, and the same that President Obama now has. 

The case for a positive view of Bush’s presidency has been well stated  by Charles Krauthammer and Michael Gerson, both writing in the Washington Post. 

The positive view, even the nice words about Bush spoken by President Obama at the dedication ceremony of the Bush Library, has not rubbed off on historians.  History News Network — the leading website for academic historians —  proclaims, “Historians Still Despise George W. Bush.”

Their judgment of Bush’s reign in office has little to do with a nuanced assessment of his presidency; rather, it has to do with their desire to show that they are leftists first and historians second.

The point was well-argued by historian Stephen F. Knott of the Naval War College in last Sunday’s Washington Post.  As Knott writes, few historians are having second thoughts about the Bush presidency not because of actual facts or assessment of policy successes or failures, but because “far too many scholars revealed partisan bias and abandoned any pretense of objectivity in their rush to condemn the Bush presidency.”

Knott cites two of the most prominent attacks made against Bush while he was in the White House, the first by Princeton’s Sean Wilentz, and the second by Columbia University’s Eric Foner, a man far to the left of Wilentz. Both were bested in their attacks — vicious and unbalanced as they were — by TV’s most well-known “presidential historian” (whatever that is), Doug Brinkley, who wrote in 2006 that “it’s safe to bet that Bush will be forever handcuffed to the bottom rungs of the presidential ladder” and that Bush purposely tried to “brutalize his opponents.” 

It is hard to realize, now that so many journalists who at the time hated Bush are now reevaluating their own biases, that the late Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. — always a partisan of the democratic left of the Democratic Party — actually wrote (as Knott writes) that “the Bush administration was purposefully ‘driv[ing] toward domination of the world,’ placing the constitutional system of separation of powers ‘under unprecedented, and at times, unbearable strain,’ and was intent on ‘outlawing debate.’”

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Let us no longer speculate about the motive for the actions of the Tsarnaev brothers: despite growing up in the United States, both became adherents of radical Islam. This truth, in our politically correct age, we are not supposed to mention. To do so in liberal circles is to be accused of Islamophobia. Ignoring the truth, however, is no protection against the consequences of an extremist radical ideology.

The most interesting tidbit on Sunday’s 60 Minutes was an interview with the late Tamerlan’s neighbor, who revealed a conversation he had with him about Islam. Tamerlan told the young man that the Bible was nothing but a warmed-over Koran, and that the United States was an oppressor of not only Muslims, but of Africans and Third World peoples. America, he said, was a “colonizing power.” This point of view, as we all know, is not only held by Islamists, but is commonplace among many living in Cambridge, MA, affectionately known as “The People’s Republic of Cambridge.” Growing up in the most radical of American communities, that point of view was an accepted shibboleth among many of the Tsarnaev brothers’ friends and associates. Combined with a growing attachment to Islamic tenets, it became a lethal one.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey (2007-2009) warns that our FBI, now in charge of the interrogation of the surviving younger brother Dzhokhar, “has blowdlerized its training materials to exclude references to militant Islamism.” Mukasey wonders whether this “delicacy” has also infected the FBI’s top-level interrogation group.

Let us not forget that when radical Islamist Major Nidal Hasan went on his rampage at Fort Hood in November of 2009, the government report called his action “workplace violence,” refusing to even term it a terrorist action. With the Tsarnaev brothers, it will be much harder to repeat this error. Due to diligent reporting, the world now knows about their social media sites, their visiting of jihadist websites, and their growing radicalization at home in our country.

With all we know now, there are lessons to be learned via comparison to the Cold War and how the United States faced up to dealing with the Soviet threat, and also the ways in which KGB (then NKVD) agents stationed in the United States diligently worked to undermine our security and to engage in espionage.

The key point: like today, our nation’s security service was not up to the challenge then.

We now know that the top levels of the U.S. government during FDR’s presidency were infiltrated by Soviet agents, the most important of whom was Harry Dexter White, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, who made actual policy as he tried to tilt our country’s actions to favor the Soviet Union. As Benn Steil has written, from the 1930s on, White “acted as a Soviet mole, giving the Soviets secret information and advice on how to negotiate with the Roosevelt administration and advocating for them during internal policy debates.” Steil goes so far as to argue that White “was arguably more important to Soviet intelligence than Alger Hiss.”

To those few like the liberal anti-Communist Sidney Hook — who from the earliest days on tried to alert the liberal community and the media to the actual Soviet threat — the need to be alert and to have our country face up to the Soviet threat at home and abroad was met with disdain. When Joe McCarthy came along and exploited the failure to face reality by leveling exaggerated charges — such as calling the vigorously anti-Communist editor of the liberal New York Post, James Wechsler, a secret Red — those who were actually guilty were able to hide their actual betrayal of our country by proclaiming themselves innocent victims of McCarthyism.

I recall listening to a lecture in my college years by the then-famous dean of American historians, the late Henry Steele Commager, who told students at the University of Wisconsin “there is no Communist threat.” He received round applause.

As in the 1950s, so many of our liberal elites today refuse to acknowledge that there exists a real Islamic threat, an ideology whose adherents reveal that they can swiftly drift into a commitment to wage jihad against the inhabitants of the country in which they live and which gave them opportunities to assimilate and to advance personally.

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While some on the Left speculated that the Boston bombing was the work of right-wing domestic groups, we now know that the two brothers who planted the bomb — the now deceased older brother Tamerlan Tzarnaev, and his younger sibling Dzhokhar — considered themselves to be religious Islamists as well as defenders of the Chechen cause.

On Dzhokhar’s Russian Facebook page, a drawing of a bomb has the heading “send a gift,” and on his sibling Tamerlan’s You Tube page, as Robert  Spencer points out, are “two videos by Sheikh Feiz Mohammed. According to a report published in The Australian in January 2007, in a video that came to the attention of authorities at the time, Mohammed ‘urges Muslims to kill the enemies of Islam and praises martyrs with a violent interpretation of jihad.’”

Now, Tamerlan’s Amazon wish list, that goes only to the year 2007, reveals his evolving interests. Since we know already that he acknowledged he had no friends and did not understand Americans, it is interesting to find that near the top of the list is Dale Carnegie’s old classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book which if he ever read he certainly did not take to heart.

In addition to an interest in music and voice, there is a clear interest in the Mafia, organized crime, the fall of Rome, the rule of the Ceasars, and, most significantly, the following titles: How To Make Driver’s Licenses and other ID on your Home Computer; The I.D. Forger: Homemade Birth certificates and other Documents Explained;  Secrets of a Back Alley ID Man; Face ID Construction Techniques of the Underground: Principles of Fraud Examination; Document Fraud Examination; and one titled  Document Fraud and Other Crimes of Deception. I would have expected to find the left-wing’s old classic, The Anarchist Cookbook, but evidently he did not know of this title.

Then we have his books about the Chechen cause, including Chechen Dictionary and Phrasebook; The Lone Wolfe and the Bear: Three Centuries of Chechen Defiance of Russia Rule, and the most revealing of all, Allah’s Mountains: The Battle for Chechnyawhich, as the author’s introduction indicates, considers what others view as terrorism to be “resistance” of the oppressed Chechens to Russian power.

As Charles Krauthammer argues today, the term President Obama used to describe such actions, “violent extremism,” means little. So does terrorism, unless one acknowledges that the tactic is used to make a political point. So it appears that the religious view of Islam held by the brothers is that of radical Islam, and if this turns out to be obvious, as current clues indicate, then one has to be clear, and attribute their actions to a belief in jihad, even if their actions were not coordinated by an al-Qaeda cell and were undertaken on their own.

Identifying the motivation of our enemies is but a first necessary step to eventually stopping them before more carnage occurs.

Two recent articles reveal the mindset of the Left, and tell us more about how leftists think than they do about the topic of the articles. One is about Israel and the meaning of its 65th anniversary; the other about Cuba and the future of the totalitarian state and U.S.-Cuban relations.

The first, written by Hillel Schenker, is supposedly a celebration of Israel. The writer asks, with 65 years of Israel: “Is Zionism Still Alive?” One might think that as most Americans understand, the Jewish state is a major success story: Rightfully called the “startup nation,” a small land and democracy situated in the midst of Arab monarchies and tyrannies, Israel has a vibrant culture, a major growing high-tech industry second to none, 10 Nobel Prize winners, the revival of Hebrew as the language of the state, and major acclaimed institutions of higher education. Indeed, Schencker acknowledges all of the above. It is hard to deny these accomplishments.

But Schenker begins by making it clear that when he made aliya to Israel in 1963, he came to the country as part of what he calls “the progressive Zionist youth movement Hashomer Hatzair.”

To many readers, that affiliation will mean very little. The euphemism “progressive” does not situate what it stood for.

It was, in essence a Leninist group whose members believed Stalin was the leader of world socialism and that the Soviet Union was right about every issue — except the Jewish question. Their goal was to create a Soviet-style state in Israel that would combine Zionism with Leninism.

Its theoretician was an intellectual named Ber Berochov, who as his Wikipedia entry rightfully explains, “became highly influential in the Zionist movement because he explained nationalism in general, and Jewish Nationalism in particular in terms of Marxist class struggle and dialectical materialism.”

What Schenker mourns for is the lost Israel of his youth, when as he writes, “there was no television,” the labor movement “was still the dominant force in Israeli politics”, and “all the progressive forces around the world identified with Israel.” He saw himself, he proudly says, as “part of a worldwide movement to change the world,” symbolized by May 1968 in Paris, Danny the Red, Joan Baez, “the anti-Vietnam war demonstrators and the counter-culture.”

There is no realization that the Israel which strives today is largely the result of the turn away from the bankrupt socialist model of the Kibbutz and labor control of industry, which prevented the economy from taking off.

So he sees, not unexpectedly, that once Israel won its fight with the Arab invaders in the 1967 War, this turn of events made him sad. It was not in his eyes a victory, but rather, the “beginning of the occupation.” The Left he loved and identified with turned en masse against Israel. The German New Left sided with neo-Nazis and Arab terrorists who sought to massacre Jews and destroy Israel. In the United States, his comrades sided with the black radicals and extremists, whose support was for the PLO and other Arab extremist organizations, all dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

So like other leftists, he sees Israel “living in denial,” ignoring the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and refusing to take steps that he believes will result in peace.

He lives in a dream world. He argues that when Sadat came to Israel in 1977, it proved “peace was indeed possible.” So — no surprise — his belief is that pressure must be put on Israel, which needs a return to the Oslo accords which failed to do anything, but which he sees as the remaining source of hope.

Who is really in denial?

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The American Left is at it again. This time, Mother Jones Washington, D.C., correspondent David Corn reported that last February 2, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell held a private meeting with his aides to discuss in particular how to develop attacks against possible Democratic contenders for his Senate seat, especially the actress Ashley Judd. How did the magazine know this? Corn reveals that they received a tape of the meeting from an anonymous source. The campaign aide who began the meeting started this way:

I refer to [Judd] as sort of the oppo research situation where there’s a haystack of needles, just because truly, there’s such a wealth of material.

They had many reasons to oppose Judd. As a self-proclaimed “radical,” Judd is pro-choice, for gay marriage, and, as the aide said, “anti-coal.” But what Corn sees as the real scandal is her well-known mental health issues. As the aide continued to state:

She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.

This is hardly a surprise, since, as the aide notes, the information comes from Judd’s own autobiography. As Corn himself writes, “In her 2011 memoirs, All That Is Bitter & Sweet, Judd recounts her past bouts with depression, noting that she had considered suicide as a sixth-grader and that as an adult she had checked into a rehab center for depression.” One might rightfully ask, “What’s the big deal?”  Is it that Corn revealed the tape of a secret meeting, thereby getting himself and his magazine publicity? Or is it that he told the world that in any political fight, the McConnell campaign would bring to light the question of Judd’s mental stability as an issue for the electorate to consider?

If the latter, is this not a just issue to be raised? Do people voting for a senator to represent them want to elect someone prone to hospitalization for depression? Indeed, Corn even reprints Judd’s own words about how she felt returning to the United States from abroad which, he writes, McConnell would have made public to make Judd seem like a weirdo. Here’s what Judd herself said:

I call it the American anesthesia. You know, I come back to this country. I freak out in airports. The colors, the sounds, all those different ways of packaging the same snack but trying to, you know, make it look like it’s distinct and different and convince consumers that they have to have it. I mean all of that. The last time I came home from a trip, I absolutely flipped out when I saw pink fuzzy socks on a rack. I mean, I can never anticipate what is going to push me over the edge.

But in a few weeks, you know, I’m driving along smooth roads and I think nothing of it. I’m, you know, choosing between four different brands of cereal from plastic dispensers so that I don’t have to have, you know, ugly, mismatched boxes on my shelf, and I don’t think anything of it.

Well, it does make Judd seem rather weird, and she said this herself in a speech. If a Republican said this, wouldn’t any Democratic opponent jump at the chance to make this public? Is it so outrageous? Of course not.

What is outrageous, however, is that David Corn and the other MJ editors see nothing wrong in releasing a tape of a private strategy session of Republicans. How did they get this? Clearly, a trusted aide would not jeopardize his or her job to secretly tape a meeting and then give it to a major left-wing publication. And that is precisely why McConnell has accused the magazine of possibly bugging his headquarters, and has asked the FBI to investigate.

“We’ve always said the left will stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but Nixonian tactics to bug campaign headquarters is above and beyond,” campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement reported by the Washington Post.

Benton is on solid ground. Moreover, it is the same David Corn who, in a previous life, was in the forefront of those on the Left who condemned secret wiretapping as a violation of American’s civil liberties. Writing at The Lid, a Jewish website, Jeff Dunetz points out that Corn wrote the following regarding NSA wiretaps of suspected terrorists:

It’s not every day a former deputy attorney general testifies that the White House violated the law–and did so knowingly. But that seemed to happen this morning when former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified before the Senate judiciary committee about the once-secret NSA warrantless wiretapping program that targeted citizens and residents in the United States.

So Corn is concerned about secret wiretapping of those who might be our very real enemies, and who might use their power to harm us in a terrorist action. Their civil liberties are being violated, and Corn is upset. But obviously his concern does not extend to violating the rights of political activists preparing for a campaign, even though every side, Democrat and Republican, engages in opposition research.

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The Rehabilitation of New Left Terrorists

April 3rd, 2013 - 9:04 pm

This week, the rehabilitation of the most extreme of the New Left groups — The Weather Underground — entered a new stage.

Yesterday, The New York Post revealed that convicted felon Kathy Boudin — who was released from jail a decade ago after serving 22 years for her role as getaway driver in a deadly 1981 Brinks truck robbery — was given the position of Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s School of Social Work.

At the same time, Boudin was also(!) given a position held concurrently at New York University, where she was appointed Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence. She recently gave a lecture for that program on “the politics of parole and re-entry,” something which she obviously knows about.

There are, of course, many other candidates who could have been given both positions, and none of them were part of a leftist terrorist group whose action resulted in the death of the first African-American police officer in that area, and two other police officers. Two of the three had families; children grew up without their fathers.

Nine children.

When she was pulled over, Boudin shouted to the officers whose guns were drawn: “put the gun back.” They put their revolvers in their holsters.

At that point — as the officers went to inspect the back of the van she was driving — her cohorts came out with weapons blazing, killing the two policemen and one other who had joined in pursuit.

Boudin was never repentant.

As David Horowitz points out today at NRO:

[Boudin is a] murderess who betted the cold-blooded massacre of three law-enforcement officers, including the first African-American on the Nyack police force; a woman whose actions left nine children fatherless and who has shown no genuine remorse for that.

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