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Ron Radosh

Again: The New York Times Whitewashes Communist Paul Robeson

April 28th, 2014 - 9:39 am

This week, it was announced on the obituary page of the New York Times that the son of famed African-American singer Paul Robeson, Jr. had died. As I read it, the following sentence appeared, and I realized that once again “the paper of record” — as the old NYT used to be called — had whitewashed Paul Robeson’s activism:

While they had much in common, he said one difference was that he was a member of the Communist Party from 1948 to 1962 while his father never joined the party. (During the McCarthy era, his father faced F.B.I. surveillance after he criticized the government.)

That claim, as the Times writer could have found out with just a bit of research, is false.

Robeson was a secret member of the CPUSA for decades. On March 21, 1998, in the Communist newspaper The People’s Weekly World – at the time of the celebration of what would have been Robeson’s 100th birthday — General Secretary of the CPUSA Gus Hall announced:

We can now say that Paul Robeson was a member of the Communist Party. … During the period of McCarthyism, most of the Party was forced underground. Paul, and other trade union leaders were part of that.

Later, at a public meeting held in May, Hall said in a birthday tribute to “Comrade Paul” that he had a special “birthday present for Paul that no one else could give.” That present was Hall’s revelation that “Paul was a proud member of the Communist Party USA”; a man of true Communist “conviction.”

Hall added that it was “an indelible fact of Paul’s life, [in] every way, every day of his adult life.” The real truth, he said, was “he never forgot that he was a Communist.” His most precious moment, Hall said, occurred “when I met with him to accept his dues and renew his yearly membership in the CPUSA.”

One has to understand how the Communist movement operated. Its major public figures were always told that to be effective, they had to deny their CP membership, and if accused of being a Red, to simply reply that the right-wing was again engaging in “Red-baiting.” That was the tactic used by Robeson and by his son, when anyone — especially the press — made that accusation.

If Robeson was not a member, he was a dues chiseler. Everything he said publicly parroted the current CP line, whatever it was.

Robeson was in fact a Stalinist and a defender of Stalin throughout his public life.

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A short time ago, Brandeis University took the step of dis-inviting Ayaan Hirsi Ali from giving a talk at the forthcoming commencement ceremony, on the grounds that faculty who had protested her appearance had pointed out that she was not simply critical of Islamic practices, but blamed the religion of Islam itself for the kind of backward positions many Islamists took. Explaining her shock at the Brandeis position, Hirsi Ali gave the following statement to Time magazine:

I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin. For over a decade, I have spoken out against such practices as female genital mutilation, so-called “honor killings,” and applications of Sharia Law that justify such forms of domestic abuse as wife beating or child beating. Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices.

The result was that scores of academics as well as editorial writers rushed to her defense, attacking the university’s president and administration for their moral cowardice and their failure to stand up to those who wanted her views not to be heard at Brandeis — a university that ironically (given that it was created as a non-sectarian and co-educational institution honoring a major Zionist leader) often hosted virulent anti-Israel speakers and presented them with major awards. As Hirsi Ali herself noted, this was done in 1948, “at a time when many American universities still imposed rigid admission quotas on Jewish students.”

At the same time, a major Zionist writer and defender of Israel, Yossi Klein-Halevi, writing with a Muslim colleague, Abdullah Antepli, rushed to print endorsing the Brandeis ban on Hirsi Ali.  As these two writers argued, both Muslims and Jews often promoted “each other’s renegades.” They put it this way:

Some Muslim groups enthusiastically embrace born Jews who spew a form of self-hatred that borders on anti-Semitism, while some Jewish groups sponsor born Muslims who have repudiated Islam and have made a career of exposing their former faith. In each case the message is the same: the only authentic representative of the faith community is one who repudiates its commitments and beliefs.

As the two writers saw it, Hirsi Ali had “crossed the line from critic of Islamist extremism to demonizer of Islam itself, repeatedly labeling the faith of more than a billion believers as an enemy against whom war must be waged.” Such a stance violated the university’s own promise to abide by “inclusivist values.”

If they paused to look at their own words, they would see that what they are really saying is that any public figure who disagrees with them about what Islam stands for cannot be allowed to make their case in public.  I do not pretend to be any expert on Islam, although I am sympathetic to Daniel Pipes’ argument that “radical Islam is the problem; moderate Islam is the solution.” Pipes writes that he understands fully that moderate Muslims are “largely fractured, isolated, intimidated, and ineffectual.” He also, unlike Klein-Halevi, disagrees strenuously with engaging Islamists. The solution, he concludes, “ lies in Islam being modernized, dealing with issues like jihad, the status of women, and the role of Shari’a.” These issues are precisely the issues which Hirsi Ali regularly takes on.

Just yesterday, it was reported in Europe/Israel, a French Jewish website, that at a Muslim conference held in Paris, Hani Ramadan, the brother of the well-known Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan—who is widely but incorrectly regarded as a moderate–told the conference held by UOIF Bourget (the Union of Islamic Organizations in France) that “all evil comes from Jewish and Zionist barbarism.” The conference was held to discuss “what values for a changing society” should be adopted by contemporary European Muslims.

Clearly, at this mass gathering of Muslims, antisemitism was the one value that apparently all the delegates shared.  As the Europe/Israel website put it, “Unfortunately, antisemitism has occupied a prominent place with the intervention of Hani Ramadan (brother of Tariq) director of the Islamic Center of Geneva and presented as a ‘special guest’ to the applause of the public.” In his speech, Ramadan also said that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was to be condemned for “publicly wearing a kippuh” while he supported a ban on Muslim women wearing a a veil in public areas. He concluded his speech by saying that “against these international schemes of Zionist power, there is only one rampart: Islam.” He also refused to condemn French Muslim youth who went to Syria to wage jihad.

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The column  I wrote last week, it turns out, has created somewhat of a storm. This is due to one thing only: Rush Limbaugh read it aloud on his radio program. (Start reading in the middle from where it says “BREAK TRANSCRIPT.”) That one decision by Rush led all of our mutual enemies to go viral, sending numerous Tweets and Facebook posts attacking Rush and me for supposedly arguing that the anti-Semitic neo-Nazi Glenn Miller acted because of Max Blumenthal.

Of course, as I wrote last week in an addendum, this was not the point I was making. I wrote the following, and repeat it once again:

 Joan Walsh of Salon has tweeted my column, saying that a two year old blog post by the killer does not show that Blumenthal inspired his actions. What it does show, I argue, is how Blumenthal and his ilk have the same perspective on Israel and the Jews as does this neo-Nazi. Yes, he did not need Max Blumenthal’s book to get him to engage in murder against Jews, only classic antisemitism. My point is simple: It is revealing how the work of this would-be leftist is endorsed by a Nazi sympathizer, who sees things in the same way as Blumenthal. As Dan Pipes asks, how will The Nation folks respond to this?

Now, an even more important attack has been made on Rush, David Horowitz and me, and it comes from that so-called civil-rights organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center. It appears in a report from what the SPLC calls its “Intelligence Project,” and is in their publication called HATEWATCH: Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right. Its headline proclaims: “Limbaugh, Right-Wing Pundits Try to Blame Max Blumenthal for Kansas Rampage.

If you are not aware of what the SPLC really is, you must first look at these two very important articles. The first hails from Ken Silverstein and appeared in Harper’s in the year 2000. The second article, unfortunately under a firewall where it was originally published,  is by the always insightful investigative journalist Charlotte Allen, and was the cover story in The Weekly Standard  in their April 15, 2013 issue. It is titled “King of the Fearmongers: Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center, scaring donors since 1971.” (You can, however, read it here.)

Both Silverstein’s and Allen’s articles present a devastating case that can simply be put this way: The SPLC is not a civil rights group, but rather a far left group that trades in fear and guilt and gains phenomenal backing from gullible liberals who think they are helping to fight hate and racism. But instead, they are helping Morris Dees to line his own pockets and spread a grossly exaggerated picture of a United States dominated by merchants of hate. Interestingly, the paragraph in Allen’s article I find most interesting is the one in which she quotes the views of the late leftist writer Alexander Cockburn. Allen writes:

This leads to yet another SPLC irony: Its severest critics aren’t on the conservative right (although the Federation for American Immigration Reform, another “hate group” on the SPLC’s list, has done its fair share of complaining), but on the progressive left. It may come as a surprise to learn that one of the most vituperative of all the critics was the recently deceased Alexander Cockburn, columnist for The Nation and the leftist webzine CounterPunch. In a 2009 article for CounterPunch titled “King of the Hate Business,” Cockburn castigated Dees and the SPLC for using the 2008 election of Barack Obama as America’s first black president as yet another wringer for squeezing out direct-mail donations from “trembling liberals” by painting an apocalyptic picture of “millions of [anti-Obama] extremists primed to march down Main Street draped in Klan robes, a copy of Mein Kampf tucked under one arm and a Bible under the other.” Cockburn continued: “Ever since 1971 U.S. Postal Service mailbags have bulged with Dees’ fundraising letters, scaring dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America, in dire need of legal confrontation by the SPLC.”

Most interesting is Allen’s argument that Intelligence Report, the blog that attacks us, “features alarmed articles, often written by Mark Potok, who now serves as the SPLC’s press spokesman and also as the editor of Intelligence Report and the organization’s Hatewatch blog.” All, she notes, bear “scary sounding titles.” The new attack fits the mold and reveals the SPLC’s true nature.

Rather than condemn the extremist Max Blumenthal — a hater of Israel and one of the most vile and self-proclaimed journalists one can think of — and exposing his warped methodology and one-sided pronouncements, as even his Nation colleague Eric Alterman has done numerous times, Hatewatch chooses as its would-be evil hatemongers those who have appropriately noted the ways in which the racist and neo-Nazi Miller shares the world-view of Max Blumenthal.

So extreme is Blumenthal that last week the Democratic pro-Israel activist and lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz told that “Max Blumenthal is well outside the acceptable range of rhetoric about Israel. His constant comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Jewish state establish him as an extremist bigot whose greatest appeal is to antisemites and others who apply a double standard to the Jewish state.”  (Dershowitz was writing to warn Hillary Clinton that if she runs for president, she must dissociate herself from Max’s father Sidney Blumenthal, because he is vociferously defending his son’s book.)

Rush Limbaugh can speak for himself. If he got some details wrong, his overall point was correct. The dangerous words of someone born Jewish, like Blumenthal, were accurately cited by Frazier Glenn Cross,  AKA Glenn Miller, because Miller was saying in effect: Look, even a “Jew journalist” acknowledges that Israel was trying to buy “the presidential election for the neo-con, war-mongering Republican establishment.”

In other words, Miller sees Max Blumenthal as a courageous Jew who alone tells the truth. As Ben Cohen puts it in his valuable column in The Algemeiner:

It’s not an accident that today’s Nazis are attracted to left-wing, viscerally anti-Zionist writers like Blumenthal. Both share the view that the so-called “Israel Lobby” drove the U.S. into foreign wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both believe that politicians kowtow to Jewish interests because they fear the costs of not doing so. And both are convinced that the type of “Jewish supremacism” practiced in Israel makes a nonsense of American Jewish appeals for tolerance and understanding.

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As I sit writing from Berlin, Germany, I woke up this morning with the news that a demented American Nazi and KKK leader, Glenn Miller, (AKA Frazier Glenn Cross) has been arrested as the main suspect in the Kansas City murder of 3 American Jews. That all were undoubtedly preparing for tonight’s Passover Seder makes the tragedy even more abhorrent.

In a country and city where all of its residents are always aware of the horrors of the Nazi past, it comes as a shock that this wanton act of vicious antisemitic murder has taken place not in Germany, but in the United States. Of course, it is an outrage that the authorities are going out of the way to not call it by its name. Rather than condemning Miller’s action as a result of his Nazi beliefs, they say it looks like a “hate crime,” and they make light of his yelling “Heil Hitler” upon his arrest.

Even the regional director of the St. Louis branch of the Anti-Defamation League held her words. As The New York Times reports,

“ ‘While it is too early to label these shootings as a hate crime, the fact that two Jewish institutions were targeted by the same individual just prior to the start of the Passover holiday is deeply troubling and certainly gives us pause,’ Karen Aroesty, the group’s St. Louis regional director, said in a statement.”

Ms. Aroesty should have been more up front about the obvious motivation of Miller, and not hedged her words.

Fortunately, a quick look at some of the antisemitic extremist websites has led to the following post by Mr. Miller, reproduced verbatim below:

Israel Forming Super PAC to Attack Paul & Obama

This is some big dookee, yaw’ll.…on-paul-obama/

Jew journalist Max Blumenthal exposes and explains this attempt by a foreign government Israel, to buy the presidential election for the neo-con, war-mongering republican establishment.

Like I’ve been saying, the kikes simply do not trust a lame-duck black president with the name Hussein. Jews fear his re-election, thus this jewish Super PAC to defeat him.


1) Will Ron Paul and his close supporters fight back against this alien super-PAC by telling the truth about jew power in the U.S. ?? It’s insightful and somewhat assuring that the above video news report was posted on

2) How will Hussein and his 45 million black supporters and the tens of millions of other liberals and anti-war Americans react to this jewish attack on their president and commander in chief ??

3) How will the democrat establishment react, and the so-called liberal media ??

4) Does this signal a huge split among jews, and if so how big is the split ??

Like Dr Pierce once said, “the jews have a tiger by the tail, and they dare not turn loose.”

It sure looks to me like their grip is slipping.

Sieg Heil !!!

“To learn who rules over you simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize” —–Voltaire

These and other posts by Miller can be found on vn forum, where he regularly engaged in dialogue with other neo-Nazis and antisemites.

What will our good friends at The Nation say now, when his very first sentence notes how inspired he is by the words of none other than Max Blumenthal, whose antisemitic and anti-Zionist book was released by the magazine’s own publishing house, Nation Books?  I can look back to find scores of examples of how various racist rants are attributed by the Left to conservatives, Tea Party members and especially to  Rush Limbaugh. Some years ago, one man tried to enter a left-wing group’s offices with a gun, and many leftists immediately attributed his actions to the hate spread by right-wing radio talk show hosts.

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For many years, the American left-wing had a side business castigating the CIA for waging a “cultural war” in Europe, a propaganda offensive which the left said cast the evil American Empire in a bad light, while the CIA was doing everything possible to subvert the building of socialism throughout the world. In the late 90’s,  British author Frances Stonor Saunders made a splash with her book The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters. According to Ms. Saunders, “the American government had looked to the cultural Brahmins of the West to lend intellectual weight to its actions,” hence only harming what was one “the moral authority enjoyed by the intelligentsia,” thereby undermining and mocking it.

It is therefore good to be reminded, as we were in Sunday’s Washington Post front page story by Peter Finn and Petra Couvee, of how the Agency quickly realized the importance of Russian novelist Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago, which eventually became an Oscar-winning movie directed by David Lean, and starring Julie Christie, Omar Sharif, Tom Courtenay, Alec Guinness and Rod Steiger.

This was indeed the heyday of the CIA, and the Agency executives worked quickly and appropriately to get the novel, banned in the Soviet Union, to as many Russian readers as possible. The CIA’s Soviet Russia Division noted that the novel “has great propaganda value,” and hence they had “the opportunity to make Soviet citizens wonder what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by a man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for people to read.”

In Saunders’ book, of course, she sees that effort as something evil, and she quotes a chief of the Agency’s Covert Action Staff of writing that “one single book can significantly change the reader’s attitude and action to an extent unmatched by the impact of any other single medium,” thus making “books the most important weapon of strategic propaganda.” That goal was to be reached by publishing or distributing such books abroad without revealing the U.S. role. The CIA had a hand in publishing thousands of books, of which Dr. Zhivago was just one example.

So it is not quite so, as the authors of the article and their new book, The Zhivago Affair argue, that the CIA role in getting the novel into the hands of Russians was previously unknown. They do, however, provide the full story with all the details filled in. It is true, as they write, that “the novel galvanized a world largely divided between the competing ideologies of two superpowers,” and that the Agency both published a hardcover Russian edition and a miniature paperback edition printed at CIA headquarters, that could easily be hidden from the hands of the Soviet secret police.

The Communists used to have a slogan, “Art is a weapon.” The CIA realized the truth, and that the Americans could play the game as well or better than the Communists. The Soviet version of reality could easily be challenged by books that told the truth about what life in the West was like, as well as by books that exposed the fundamental rottenness that was the core of the Soviet system. To the Soviet rulers, as the authors write, Pasternak’s novel was “its overt religiosity, its sprawling indifference to the demands of socialist realism and the obligation to genuflect before the October Revolution” made it dangerous reading.

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I have no objections to Jeb Bush running for president. He obviously has a wide appeal as a potential candidate. With a Mexican wife, and as a man who speaks fluent Spanish, he would be able to increase the Hispanic vote in the GOP column. On the other hand, many in the Republican base find his position on immigration untenable, and would fight him tooth and nail during primary season. He is also a serious advocate of education reform. His support of Common Core, however, will also find many who are in the conservative ranks objecting, since they fear that Common Core represents educational centralism and having the government ram federal standards down their throats.

What I do object to is that Bush is already being heralded as the obvious candidate, the man to whom the big money must and will flow. As the Washington Post reports:

Many of the Republican Party’s most powerful insiders and financiers have begun a behind-the-scenes campaign to draft former Florida governor Jeb Bush into the 2016 presidential race, courting him and his intimates and starting talks on fundraising strategy.

Apparently, whoever makes up this somewhat mysterious Republican “establishment” fears that their former hope, Gov. Chris Christie, is damaged goods. Secondly, they fear that unless they intervene quickly behind a chosen candidate, Sen. Rand Paul could win the nomination and, in a time of the necessity of strong actions abroad by the United States, could push their party and the country in an isolationist direction.  As one prominent unnamed bundler told the reporters about Jeb Bush, “he’s the most desired candidate out there.” The article goes on to note that at a moment’s notice, Bush could activate a waiting national fundraising effort that would give him more funds than any competitor in the Republican ranks.

Whatever happened to letting members of the Republican Party choose their own candidate freely, and holding a convention in which delegates actually can make their own choice for the nominee? Evidently, that moment has already passed, and the folks who gave us McCain and Romney have already made up their minds.

Again, I do not necessarily agree with the arguments against a Bush run, but those arguments will be made, and the threat always is lurking in the wings that some conservatives, finding that their favored candidate is not likely to get the nod, will begin to talk about running a “real conservative” on an independent line in 2016. And such an act would siphon off just the right amount of votes to put Hillary Clinton in office.

As for the Democratic Party, its equivalents in the big-money community have anointed Hillary as their preferred candidate. Like Jeb Bush, she has not said she is going to run, but is already taking all the steps to have the money ready to flow and the organizations on the ground should she decide to take the step.

Hillary Clinton also has obvious vulnerabilities: Benghazi, Benghazi and Benghazi for a start, followed by the “Russian reset” with which she is identified. And nationally, Hillary would do all she could to counter her negatives by resurrecting the charge that Republicans are “waging a war on women,” and by arguing that nothing could destroy their goal more than putting the first woman president in the White House.

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Writing in today’s New RepublicJohn B. Judis once again shows how little he knows about the situation in the Middle East, and about which party is responsible for the forthcoming failure of the so-called “peace process.” About the only point about which he is correct is the one stated in his headline: “John Kerry’s Peace Process is Nearly Dead.”

Judis, as in his recent book Genesis: Truman, American Jews and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict (which I wrote a negative review of here), proves that he is seeking to present himself as an expert on policymaking in the Middle East, so that he can add to the chorus of those seeking to delegitimize and attack Israel as the sole power responsible for lack of movement towards peace in the region.

The truth is, as Jennifer Rubin points out, that President Obama was carefully orchestrating the talks to be able to paint Israel as the power that was obstinate, having attacked Israel before the talks while painting Mahmoud Abbas as a man of peace. As she writes: “In fact, Abbas last year forced out the only true Palestinian reformer Salam Fayyad, has refused to hold elections and occupies the presidency beyond the legally allotted term.” Moreover, he has agreed with the claim that Palestine will never give up “the right to return,” which would mean that Israel would be all Palestinian, as any Palestinian, even those born recently, could return to present-day Israel and take back the homes they claim were once theirs.

Abbas has also made it clear that the Palestinians will not accept Israel as a Jewish state. Already, Obama’s loyal troops in the Jewish community — in particular J-Street — have demanded that the Israeli government give up that demand. Its president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, wrote a letter to his supporters arguing that the issue of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state must not be raised by Israel, and if Israel does insist on this, Israel alone will be responsible for failure of the process. He echoes John Kerry, whom he quotes as saying that the issue of a Jewish state cannot be made into “the critical decider of their attitude towards the possibility of a state and peace.”

Judis also makes this claim, revealing how little he knows about the issues. He writes that Netanyahu has made what he calls “the new demand” for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, made only so that “the Palestinians would reject it and that he could then blame the failure of the talks on them.” Here, as Rick Richman points out, he is only repeating what the New York Times previously argued, “that recognition of a Jewish state is a new issue, allegedly raised by Netanyahu to prevent peace.”

But Judis and the anti-Israel New York Times are wrong. Judis, clearly, does not know that Dennis Ross has said that when he was negotiating with the Palestinians during the Clinton administration, that issue was part of the negotiations. Earlier this month, Ross said the following in a talk titled “Israel, America and the Middle East:Challenges for 2014”:

When I hear it said that this is the first time this issue has been raised — the people who say that think that no one knows history. Now maybe it’s true that most people don’t know history. But they should never say it to me. When we were at Camp David, this issue was raised. In the period after Camp David, before we did the Clinton Parameters, this issue was raised. This issue has been raised for obvious reasons. From the Israeli standpoint, there is a need to know that the Palestinians are committed to two states, meaning in fact that one state is Palestinian and one is the state of the Jewish people. They need to know the Palestinians are not about two states, one Palestinian and one bi-national.

Ari Shavit, author of the best-selling My Promised Land:The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, has also beautifully stated the need for acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. Shavit, a man of the Israeli left, writes in Haaretz “that it is the most natural and justified demand imaginable.”  To this day, he writes, “the Palestinian national movement refuses to see the Jewish people and recognize in this way its right to a Jewish state.” Their refusal to do so, he points out, is what is responsible for the 100-year war “between them and us.”

It is Israel that now recognizes the need for a Palestinian state, and as a man of the left, he argues that they indeed have “legitimate rights.” Israelis know there is another people living in the land they share, while it is the Palestinians who have not and will not recognize that right for the Jews. As for the “right of return,” Shavit accurately notes that no Palestinian leader dares tell his people that in fact they will never return to the villages and cities they lost in the 1948 war. The Jewish people, he sarcastically writes, “is a people of this land, and it did not arrive here from Mars.” The Jews of Israel, he writes, “are not colonialists but legal neighbors.”

And that point brings me back to the reprehensible John B. Judis. He believes, contrary to historical fact, that Zionism is a “settler-colonialist” movement, and that it was created in order to oppress the Arabs and to take the land from them that was rightfully theirs. His entire book is based on the premise that Israel should not have been created. No wonder he supports what Shavit calls a one-sided peace process, in which “Israel gives and the Palestinians receive.”

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You’ve heard the argument before, perhaps the single most-used foreign-policy cliché: “if we don’t work with the current regime — totalitarian, authoritarian, or otherwise repressive as it is — the hard-liners waiting in the wings will take over, and things will be much worse for the United States.”

It has, of course, been used most in recent times about Iran, especially after the election of the so-called “moderate” Hassan Rouhani. A staff member of the leading American apologist group for Iran, the National Iranian American Council, puts it this way:

Reza Marashi, research director of the National Iranian American Council, an advocacy group that supports the nuclear talks, said it is political suicide for any Iranian official to accept no enrichment. Tehran’s hard-liners would accuse them of capitulation to the United States and Israel.

The logic is clear: if those warlike neo-cons argue that the deal favored by President Obama is not acceptable, and if we don’t allow the regime in Iran to continue with enrichment, the real bad guys will win the argument in Iran — and then there is no hope for keeping Iran from getting the bomb.

(For an answer to the claims about Rouhani, read Sohrab Ahmari, here and here.)

Here is the argument again, presented most succinctly in an article by Harvard professor Matthew Bunn. He is also an advisor to the White House on nuclear issues. In his “Deal weakens Iran’s hard-liners and strengthens U.S. interests,” Professor Bunn writes that those who argue the deal with Iran actually increases Iran’s chances of getting a nuclear weapon are “ … wrong. With this deal in place, it will be much harder for hard-liners in Iran to argue that Iran should tear up its agreements and build a bomb.”

We’ve also heard the argument recently regarding Russia and its aggression against Ukraine. Gregory Feifer explains:

Despite Putin’s challenge to European values and security, a rising tide of commentary is urging Western leaders to moderate their response, arguing that sanctions would have little effect, that they’re not in their interests, or both. After all, the logic goes, Moscow says it’s not interested in invading eastern Ukraine.

For a rebuttal, in yesterday’s New York Times, Alexey A. Navalny — who ran for mayor of Moscow as a pro-reform opposition candidate, and is now under house arrest for his criticism of the Putin government — writes the following:

There is a common delusion among the international community that although Mr. Putin is corrupt, his leadership is necessary because his regime subdues the dark, nationalist forces that otherwise would seize power in Russia.

The argument that we can’t assert our values and defend American interests because it will hurt the moderates in adversary countries has always been false, and yet, it has been used way back in the early days of the 20th Century.

He is correct: during research for the book my wife and I are writing about the presidency of Warren G. Harding, we came across a letter written on Jan. 12, 1921 to Harding by Bruce Bliven, then managing editor of a New York City paper, The Globe. He was soon to become an editor of the “progressive” magazine of opinion The New Republic. Bliven told the president that he learned from the paper’s reporters, who were “in close touch with the Russian situation,” that the time had come for U.S. policy to change, and for the new administration to offer diplomatic recognition to the still young Bolshevik revolutionary government.

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We live in strange times. The Cold War is over, yet when it comes to Russia seeking to maintain its control of Ukraine, a new group of apologists for Vladimir Putin has emerged. Once again, the group in the West supporting the hegemonic attempts of control of Ukraine by the authoritarian Putin regime is made up of stalwarts on both the Right and the Left.

Support for Putin on the Right comes from the paleoconservatives led by Pat Buchanan, the editors of The American Conservative, and the writers for the website The entire group comes from the precincts of what historians call the Old Right, a phenomenon that harks back to the old isolationism of pre World War II conservatives and the large group they organized, the America First Committee.  Their motivations have been succinctly summarized by James Kirchick.

A new concern has been added to the traditional non-interventionist trope. They are favorable to much of Putin’s growing domestic positions on issues such as the growing repression of gays in Russia, actions which they also look kindly upon and wish were social policy in the United States. Opposition to gay rights is combined with support for Putin’s attempt to build what he calls a Christian Russia, and concern for what Buchanan sees as something greatly lacking in the secular United States.  In his book Suicide of a Superpower, Buchanan titled two chapters “The End of White America” and “The Death of Christian America.” He seems to be saying, “If only we had a leader in the United States with the vision of Vladimir Putin.” Indeed, he asked in one column, “Is Putin One of Us?” His answer, as you have undoubtedly guessed, is yes:

Nor is [Putin] without an argument when we reflect on America’s embrace of abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values.

Our grandparents would not recognize the America in which we live.

Moreover, Putin asserts, the new immorality has been imposed undemocratically.

The “destruction of traditional values” in these countries, he said, comes “from the top” and is “inherently undemocratic because it is based on abstract ideas and runs counter to the will of the majority of people.”

Does he not have a point?


As he bluntly says, America is not the nation “we grew up in,” and Putin sees Americans as “pagan and wildly progressive,” a statement with which Buchanan obviously agrees.

On the Left, leading the charge that the neo-cons are again trying to push us into war — a charge they assert whenever anyone makes an analysis with which they do not agree — is The Nation magazine and its writers and editors. And the number-one supporter and apologist for Putin is the historian of modern Russia, Stephen Cohen of Princeton and New York University. In the past two weeks, he has been on Fareed Zakaria’s TV program, on CNN, and on whatever other media outlets call upon him.

In Cohen’s cover story in a recent issue of The Nation, of which his wife Katrina vanden Heuvel is both publisher and editor-in-chief,  he claimed that American media coverage of Putin and Russia is “less objective, less balanced, more conformist and scarcely less ideological than when they covered Soviet Russia during the Cold War.” According to Cohen, Putin has worked to support American interests in stabilizing his nuclear-armed country, assisted U.S. security interests in Afghanistan, Syria and Iran, and has magnanimously freed over 1000 political prisoners.

Evidently, Professor Cohen does not acknowledge that in Syria, for example, Putin has managed to box the U.S. into working with and bolstering the Assad regime, to which Russia constantly gives new battle-ready helicopters, and which to this day has brutally seen to the horrendous deaths of hundreds of thousands of its citizens, all brought down with Russian assistance. We are somehow supposed to believe that this is in our security interests.

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The latest shame of the academy is a vote by the Rutgers University New Brunswick Faculty Council calling on the administration to rescind its invitation to Condoleezza Rice as the speaker at the university’s graduation ceremonies. Rice is scheduled to give the commencement address this coming May. The professors explained their position in these words:

Condoleezza Rice … played a prominent role in (the Bush) administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction. [She] at the very least condoned the Bush administration’s policy of “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding. A Commencement speaker … should embody moral authority and exemplary citizenship. An honorary Doctor of Laws degree should not honor someone who participated in a political effort to circumvent the law.

No one called out the lack of tolerance for any view different than their own other than columnist Juan Williams. The African-American liberal journalist, himself a veteran of the civil rights movement and author of the classic Eyes on the Prize, was simply enraged at the faculty council’s statement and vote. Williams wrote:

Rice holds a Ph.D. in political science. She has taught college for decades. She was Provost of Stanford University. She worked her way up from a working-class family in the segregated South to the highest echelon of world power and politics.

But according to the Rutgers faculty council, all of that is negated by her service in President George W. Bush’s administration.

Williams disagreed with many of the positions Rice took as national security advisor and secretary of State under George W. Bush. Nevertheless, Williams says that she deserves the honor, and that her life and career should be an inspiration to all students, as her life “personifies the American dream.” The decision, he added, is simply one that stems from a “disgraceful double standard” by liberals, who have nothing but “hatred for black conservatives.”

Indeed, he writes: “Black Americans must be obedient liberals on all things or risk being called a race traitor or an Uncle Tom.”

Williams asks a rhetorical question: Is the faculty afraid to hear her views because they might not be equipped to refute them? The answer is “of course.” They believe that only leftist views — i.e., the truth as they see it — should be heard by those they teach. Why confuse inquiring minds with ways to see the world that are different than those of the Left?

Those opposing her, he writes, are nothing but “pompous jackass professors.”

For more evidence that many professors — in this case, historians — are exactly what Williams calls them, note the second farce to appear in recent days: an amicus curiae brief in a case before the Supreme Court, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. John Rosenberg has written a first-rate contribution dissecting the fallacies of those who support affirmative action — you can read his long version here, and a shorter one at Minding the CampusHere is the gist of his answer about what affirmative action results in on a campus, and why it is a completely wrong-headed policy:

Under affirmative action preferred minorities are, of course, given preferential treatment because of their race or ethnicity, but the rationale for the preference is not to benefit the minorities but the whites and Asians who are exposed to them. “White students interacting with African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans sometimes come with stereotypes about these minorities,” Lee Bollinger, former president of the University of Michigan, told the Michigan Daily (quoted here). ”That kind of breaking down of expectations is the essence of what a liberal education is all about.” Bollinger did not address the evidence that admitting less qualified minorities who proceed to cluster at the bottom of their classes actually reinforces stereotypes of underperforming minorities.

Rushing to defend affirmative action, the brief by 75 historians was written to help the policy’s advocates in an effort to convince the justices of the Supreme Court why affirmative action should be upheld. Among the 75 are leading lights of the left-wing academy, including the red-diaper baby at Columbia Eric Foner Henry Louis Gates of Harvard, Annette Gordon-Reed of Harvard, Glenda Gilmore of Yale, Ira Berlin of the Univ. of Maryland, and many other scholars of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

The list is made up, one might say, of the big guns in the history profession. Basing their case on the 14th Amendment, they argue:

The history surrounding the Fourteenth Amendment demonstrates that the Amendment’s Framers intended to eliminate special burdens on racial minorities’ ability to seek legislative change such as the enactment of race-conscious affirmative action. 
In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, newly freed slaves found themselves unable to influence the legislatures of the former Confederate states. On one side, freedmen were bounded by Northerners, some of whom were not yet interested in granting blacks the franchise. 
On the other side, freedmen who sought to persuade their neighbors and countrymen to support their reform initiatives and policy goals faced systematic exclusion, as well as outright violence, from Southern Democrats and former Confederates hostile to the notion of black freedom — let alone self- determination. Northern blacks, most Northern white Republicans, and the small number of white Republicans and Unionists who lived in the South supported the freedmen’s efforts.

They are claiming, in other words, that the 14th Amendment is violated by a state when the legislature passes a law prohibiting preferential treatment based on race. But the historians in their brief are addressing history to try to prove affirmative action is necessary. In particular, they refer to what took place after the end of the Civil War. Schools in the Reconstruction states were created for the “freedmen,” which they argue proves that “race-conscious” actions were not intended to be prohibited by the 14th Amendment.

Actually, the policies enacted then were meant to prohibit discrimination based on “previous condition of servitude,” i.e., slavery — and race was not used as a criterion for the schools of the time. Yes, the slaves were black — but those who opposed it opposed slavery per se, not just slavery when imposed on blacks. The language used in particular avoided racial categorization.

The historians argue: “[T]he Amendment precludes a state from imposing special burdens on a minority group’s ability to access the political process.” So, the real question rests on whether or not a university can demand standards for admission that all students must meet before being admitted, or whether such standards can be lowered for those who happen to be in a racial group other than white — and who would not be admitted if the standards for most high school graduates were imposed on them.

Is being subject to the same standards as whites or Asians really a “special burden,” since it would demand equal treatment by all, not special treatment for those of one racial group?

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