Diana West’s American Betrayal — a remarkable, novel-like work of sorely needed historical re-analysis — is punctuated by the Cassandra-like quality of “multi-temporal” awareness. Cassandra, during her scene from Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, is possessed with the unique ability to visualize past and present, and even to augur future events, all as if they were happening in the present. There is a terrifying quality to Cassandra’s intensity, her peculiarly broad, profound, and temporally extended knowledge, and the directness with which it is conveyed. But West, although passionate and direct, is able to convey her profoundly disturbing, multi-temporal narrative with cool brilliance, conjoining meticulous research, innovative assessment, evocative prose, and wit.
American Betrayal chronicles the nation’s original subversion by Communist totalitarianism — the ugly, watershed “Big Lie” event being U.S. recognition of the Soviet Union in November 1933 despite knowing the Ukrainian terror-famine (see Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow) orchestrated by Stalin’s Communist regime had already killed four to six million souls. Having long since crossed that ignominious threshold, West argues, it is easy to fathom how we are currently being subverted by the contemporary “Big Islamic Lie,” which romanticizes totalitarian Islam.
FDR, in a blatant lie designed to justify massive Lend-Lease aid to the Soviets, praised the USSR (in 1941) for its “freedom of conscience, freedom of religion,” which he further claimed was comparable to “what the rule is in this country [i.e., the U.S.].” Six decades later, George W. Bush mendaciously bowdlerized the timeless, global aspirations of Islam to impose its universal totalitarian system, Sharia (Islamic law), via jihad when sanctioning the American response to the mass-murdering jihadist terror attacks of 9/11. Addressing the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. on September 17, 2001, Bush opined:
The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.
By 2003, President Bush had fully embraced the delusive (and self-contradictory) Bernard Lewis Doctrine, which, squandering precious U.S. blood and enormous U.S. treasure, empowered the forces of Sharia to foster Islamic “democracy.” Similarly, FDR’s massive material and propagandistic support of Stalin’s Soviet transnational state abetted the metastasis of Communist “democracy” during the World War II era.
Despite its momentum, the grotesque transition to the acceptance (and at times blatant agitprop hagiography; see the 1943 film Mission to Moscow, aka “Submission to Moscow”) of Soviet Communism, which Diana West painstakingly details, was not seamless or uninterrupted. She also brings forth the countervailing efforts of a pantheon of brave, albeit isolated (and at times understandably shrill) truth tellers about Communism, Communist subversion, and Communist depredations: journalists and writers/educators (including ex-Communist apostates, or ex-fellow-travelers) such as Eugene Lyons, Gareth Jones, Malcolm Muggeridge, Fred Beal, William Wirt, J.B. Matthews, Victor Kravchenko, Whittaker Chambers, Elizabeth Bentley, Louis Budenz, Arthur Koestler, George Orwell, Max Eastman, Hanson Baldwin, Edward Kennedy [the AP and Atlantic Magazine journalist], Vladimir Petrov, Albert Konrad Herling, David J. Dallin, Boris Nikolaevsky, Elinor Lipper, Julius Epstein, Robert Conquest, Claire Stirling, Joseph D. Douglass, Tim Tzouliadis, M. Stanon Evans, Herbert Romerstein, Yuri Besmenov, Vasili Mitrokhin, Vladimir Bukovsky, and of course Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; military leaders, and intelligence officers and analysts including George Racey Jordan, Albert C. Wedemeyer, John Van Vliet, and Mark W. Clark; jurists Robert H. Jackson and Irving R. Kaufman; and politicians/staff lawyers, ambassadors, federal law enforcement, and even State Department officials, such as Martin Dies, Robert Stripling, Pat McCarran, Joseph McCarthy, Ronald Reagan, William Bullitt, George Earle, J. Edgar Hoover, Robert Kelley, Roy Atherton, Raymond Murphy, and Loy Henderson.
These truth tellers endeavored valiantly to put the lie to the myth of Soviet Communism as a “democratic” bulwark against singularly evil and dictatorial Nazism/Fascism, let alone a just, “utopian” system unto itself. (Bitter “vindication” of the anti-Communist truth tellers was catalogued, if belatedly, in The Black Book of Communism, which demonstrated that the victims of Communist mass killings were at least four times more numerous than those slaughtered by the Nazis, i.e., ≥ 100 million, vs. 25 million.) Immediately after World War II, when America’s erstwhile Soviet Communist “allies” emerged as a global totalitarian scourge more menacing than the Nazis — events forcing this undeniable reality even upon U.S. policymakers in stubborn denial of the threat — another dangerous myth began to take shape: Islam as an alleged bulwark against Communism.
Once again, early on truth-tellers possessed of both keen understanding of Islam and intellectual honesty underscored the pitfalls of such a misbegotten geo-strategy.
Sir John Troutbeck (d. 1971) was head of the British Middle East Office in Cairo from 1947-50, and was ambassador to Iraq from 1951 until his retirement in 1954. He referred to a revived Caliphate (the trans-national Islamic state empires, extant in different incarnations, from 644 A.D. until the dissolution of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924) as a potential buttress against Soviet Communism in an early September 1949 letter citing Pakistani advocates of a new “Pan Islamic bloc.” Troutbeck acknowledged the possible benefit of this phenomenon: “Islamic cooperation as a bulwark against the spread of Communism.”
But he was also very sober and forthright in expressing his concerns over such a development, arguing that should Caliphate advocates attain real power, they would be more inclined to “train their guns against Western imperialism” and also oppress indigenous non-Muslim minorities, especially Jews and Christians. Echoing Troutbeck’s trepidations, Orientalist Gustave von Grunebaum provided this pellucid and unapologetic warning of how the geostrategic paradigm of “Islam as a bulwark against Communism” would run amok in his 1955 review of writings by the immensely popular Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Muhammad al-Ghazzali:
We concern ourselves with the compatibility or otherwise of Islam with communism and regardless of the conclusion in which we acquiesce, we are apt to overlook the fact that the Muslim circles most emphatically opposed to communism are at the same time potentially if not actually the most formidable stronghold of hostility to the West. Ghazzali’s tirade against American Democracy with its warning “against the spreading American ways,” with its condemnation of “the domestic as well as foreign policy of America” as “actually a systematic violation of every virtue humanity has ever known” should make us aware that the Muslim “extremists” will be with the West not because of any recognized affinity but merely out of momentary political considerations. Ultimately, the self-conscious world of Islam would wish to consolidate into a power center strong enough to set itself up by the side of the Russian and the Western blocks, strong enough to determine for itself what its primary political concerns should be, and strong enough perhaps to be no longer compelled to westernize for the sake of survival. The hot-headed half-truths of Ghazzali must not delude us into considering absurd the aspiration of those who feel that for its revival Islam needs less rather than more gifts of the West.
American Betrayal opens with a striking juxtaposition of two men who passed through Union Station, Washington, D.C. in 1934 after disembarking from separate trains. One was Whittaker Chambers, then in his early thirties and working for Soviet military intelligence. Chambers sought to facilitate the transfer of “career Communists” from New Deal agencies (such as the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and the National Recovery Administration) to central government departments — notably, the State Department. The first member of Chambers’ new cell was Alger Hiss, who would go on to play a critical (and nefarious) role at the seminal 1945 Yalta Conference.
During late 1938, overwhelmed by the horrific actions of the Soviet Communist Party, in particular the Stalinist purges and forced starvation of Ukrainian peasants, and having rejected Communism’s militant atheism, Chambers left the Communist movement. The Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 was a seminal event for Chambers, who feared that much of the confidential information about the United States that he had forwarded to the Soviet Union might be passed to Germany. Thus Chambers, now an ex-Communist apostate, decided to divulge his prior activities for the Communist underground to the federal government. Shortly thereafter, Chambers was able to meet with the head of security at the State Department, A. A. Berle. However, it was not until 1948 — nine years later — that the information he provided to Berle was acted upon by the government.
Chambers was subpoenaed at that time by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) to corroborate the testimony of Elizabeth Bentley — the so-called blonde spy queen — who alleged that Soviet espionage was occurring within the U.S. government. Chambers corroborated Bentley’s allegations, supplemented them with his own, and confronted Alger Hiss on the first day of his testimony. (Eventually all twenty-one names that Chambers provided to HUAC were confirmed by subsequent Soviet archival research). In 1950, Hiss was convicted for perjury after two federal trials.
Oblivious to the machinations of Chambers and his Communist cellmates, William A. Wirt, a nationally respected schools superintendent from Gary, Indiana, arrived in Washington, D.C. during April 1934 to testify before a House Select Committee. Wirt would provide evidence gleaned from conversations with government officials at meetings, and at what would become a notorious dinner party. These officials, who Diana West notes “were mainly employed by the same New Deal agencies from which Whittaker Chambers was to marshal forces to fan out across the U.S. government,” had according to Wirt revealed their “concrete plan” for “the proposed overthrow of the established American social order.” Prior to the April 10, 1934 hearings, Wirt had laid out the crux of his allegations of the New Deal radicalism he had encountered:
The fundamental problem with the Brain Trusters is that they start with a false assumption. They insist that America of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln must first be destroyed and then on the ruins they will reconstruct America after their own pattern.
Testifying in the same caucus room where Whittaker Chambers would provide irrefragable evidence of overt Communist influence operations 14 years later, Wirt’s earlier efforts were deliberately stymied, as West describes:
[T]he committee voted (3-2) [3 Democrats/2 Republicans] not to call any of the key administration officials Wirt cited in his testimony — not the Agriculture Department official who told him about talk in the AAA about retarding the economic recovery in order to speed up the revolution, nor the housing officials planning to collectivize American workers in government-planned communities, nor the “brain trusters” advocating the seizure of the economy and the destruction of laissez-faire. House Democrats preferred, in the words of the scathing minority report on the Wirt investigation, to leave Wirt’s testimony as hearsay. Then it could be smacked down by denials and majority rule.
What followed, beginning within an hour of Wirt’s hearing, was an aggressive campaign of official government denial and “journalistic” calumny and ridicule, which even included a derisive “pun” about Wirt by FDR himself, as dutifully reported by the New York Times.
A subsequent round of hearings devoted to the now infamous dinner party Wirt had attended enabled the other dinner guests to lie in rehearsed unison, and required Wirt, as West writes, “silenced by committee rules,” to sit mute “looking on at the witnesses with ‘clenched hands’,” while he was characterized as the liar. West describes three of the parade of genuine Communist liars testifying against Wirt, as follows:
[Dinner party hostess Alice] Barrows, a U.S Education official, had been Wirt’s secretary for many years. But Barrows was also a secret member of the American Communist Party and a KGB source dubbed “Young Woman.” She would continue to serve the KGB for years, even if her Moscow masters chided her for engaging in serial love affairs with Soviet diplomat.
Hildegaard Kneeland, a senior economist at the Agriculture Department … might not have had so colorful a file as Barrows, but she too is ID’d in KGB archives as a secret party member and “intelligence contact/informant” who would be “in contact with Victor Perlo,” leader of the notorious Perlo Group, another Communist underground apparatus.
The final guest, Laurence Todd of the USSR propaganda agency TASS, also denied Wirt’s story, including the charge that Todd had described Roosevelt as “only the Kerensky of the revolution,” who would later be replaced by “a Stalin.”
Despite Republican minority Committee members’ rejection of the Democratic majority opinion that Wirt’s statements were untrue, he was branded a liar, the airing of his attempted public rebuttals were stifled, and West observes Wirt “disappears from the public record until 1938, when he died of a heart attack, by some accounts broken by his experience.”
However, on the sixth anniversary of the April 1934 Wirt hearings, a striking opinion editorial mea culpa was published (although not in the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Baltimore Sun), written by John J. O’Connor — one of the three Democrats on the Wirt Select Committee. In the op-ed, unearthed and reproduced by West from the Observer-Dispatch, O’Connor confessed how shortly after being appointed, the Committee convened “and discussed rules as to how to handle Dr. Wirt and to prevent the minority Republican members from converting the hearings into an investigation of the truth of the charges.”
O’Connor admitted to “personally presenting” a motion which limited the hearings to a sworn examination of Dr. Wirt focused primarily on revealing “the names and exact statements of his informants,” but barring their cross-examination. Regarding Wirt’s informants, O’Connor further acknowledged: “it was known at least six of them met and rehearsed their denials of what they had told Dr. Wirt.” Conceding that Wirt had been “dishonored and purged and retired,” O’Connor added, ruefully:
The pack got the smell of blood and tracked down the prey: A great job was done. Little did we know that most of the happenings which Dr. Wirt said the plotters had predicted would come to pass. … Maybe in our hearts we knew the plot was not idle gossip and we lunged at the discloser to appease our conscience. Many times privately have I apologized for my part in turning the thumbscrews, and I take this occasion to so publicly. May Dr. Wirt’s honest, patriotic soul rest in peace. His was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.”
West’s account of Dr. Wirt’s plight — a forgotten truth teller heaped with opprobrium for his honest, prescient efforts to sound the tocsin of looming calamity — illustrates exquisitely the unique first-person discovery presentation style she employs throughout American Betrayal. Marshalling the primary-source Congressional hearings testimony, an array of 1934 (and one key 1940) newspaper pieces, KGB archival materials, personal memoirs (in and out of print), and a modern biography, she weaves a compelling, richly edifying saga.
William A. Wirt, and even Whittaker Chambers, who was part of a significant Communist cell (then predictably vilified by media elites for his public revelations of Communist infiltration beginning in 1948, and further subjected to criminal investigation during the Truman administration because of the embarrassing truths he exposed), barely scratched the surface of the Communist penetration, or as West aptly terms it, “occupation,” of certainly the FDR era U.S. government. For example, Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev, in their comprehensive analysis of Soviet espionage in America (Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America) utilizing KGB archival materials concluded:
A remarkable number of Americans assisted Soviet intelligence agencies. The total exceeds 500.
American Betrayal, as filtered through Diana West’s unique prism — sorting out and logically organizing the disparate rays of evidence — rivets upon one sensational alleged spy, FDR “co-President” Harry Hopkins. West’s own summary assessment of the historical record, which “demands our attention,” avers that Hopkins “was at least an asset, at least an ally, and quite possibly an agent of the Kremlin.” She arrives at this conclusion through amassing copious documentation, and analyzing it with a piercing logic that is not warped by the conventional FDR court historians’ apologetic mindset.
As West recounts, in 1998 Eduard Mark (d. 2009), a U.S. Air Force historian, published his study of a decrypted KGB cable (from the so-called “Venona archive” of Soviet cable traffic decrypts), ostensibly authored by the notorious secret Soviet spymaster in World War II-era America, Iskhak Akhmerov:
In which a very senior Roosevelt administration official code-named “Source 19,” conveys the contents of a private, top secret conversation between FDR and Churchill in late May 1943 about the invasion of Normandy, which at that time was still a year off. By process of painstaking elimination, Mark determines that its “probable virtually to the point of certainty” that “Source 19” is Harry Hopkins.
Earlier, West notes, KGB defector and former KGB colonel Oleg Gordievsky, who also served the British as a clandestine operative in Moscow (1974-85), had heard Akhmerov (during a 1960s discussion):
Devote most of a lecture at KGB headquarters “to the man whom he alleged, was the most important of all Soviet wartime agents in the United States: Harry Hopkins.”
She supplements these intelligence findings with the observations of expert Venona cable analysts Romerstein and Breindel about the relationship between Akhmerov, an “illegal” Soviet spy chief, operating outside the protections of diplomatic immunity, and Hopkins:
[A]n illegal’s identity as a Soviet intelligence official is a secret from everyone except his espionage contacts. This, as the authors underscored in their 2000 book, is a weighty factor in favor of the argument that Hopkins was a conscious Soviet agent…Akhmerov, Romerstein and Breindel write, had no reason to break “cover” and reveal himself as an intelligence officer of the Kremlin to Hopkins “unless Hopkins were an agent himself.”
West adduces the most clear-cut, striking example of Hopkins’ traitorous perfidy by simply reproducing a letter FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote to Hopkins (dated May 7, 1943), and chronicling what followed via revelations from another KGB archive:
When we read what Hoover told Hopkins in his confidential letter — that a Comintern agent posing as a senior Soviet diplomat in Washington was passing money to the American Communist underground to establish Comintern networks within the U.S war industry to steal military secrets — and see Hopkins immediately turn around and tell the Soviet Embassy, where that same “diplomat” was posted, that the FBI was onto them, we have to realize that we are looking at a traitor, acting with Soviet, not American interests at heart. I don’t see any other plausible conclusion — and this traitor was the closest advisor of the president of the Unites States. … We wouldn’t know about this act of treason if a retired KGB archivist named Mitrokhin hadn’t bothered to copy, hide, and successfully smuggle his archives out of the former Soviet Union in 1992.
American Betrayal enumerates an almost numbing litany of Hopkins’ pro-Soviet activities: his excessive largesse toward the USSR via Lend-Lease, which he oversaw even to the point, arguably, of sacrificing American and British military needs; his relentless dedication to Stalin’s “Second Front” demands, rejecting at least equally viable military alternatives less “advantageous” to Soviet expansionist designs in Eastern Europe as originally laid out in the secret August 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the USSR and Nazi Germany; his dismissal of the 1940 Soviet Katyn massacres of 22,000 Polish civilians, soldiers, and officers; his labeling of Soviet defector to the U.S. Victor Kravchenko (author of the memoir, I Chose Freedom) a “deserter” while pressing FDR to deport Kravchenko back to the USSR, where he faced certain execution; and his facilitation of uranium-235 shipments to the Soviets, which also qualifies as another frankly treasonous action by any objective criteria.
Eduard Mark, whose 1998 analysis discussed earlier identified Harry Hopkins as “Source 19” in the cable putatively authored by Soviet spymaster Akhmerov, lamented:
The indifference of American diplomatic historians to intelligence and of their predominantly liberal political orientation which has led them to ignore the whole question of the relationship between internal security and foreign policy as smacking of “McCarthyism”.
Diana West’s unsettling conclusions from her reasoned, synthetic analysis of Hopkins’ pro-Soviet clandestine and public activities — gleaned from confidential diplomatic reports or correspondence, and intelligence files, as well as published memoirs, media accounts, and public speeches — demonstrate why Marks’ diplomatic historian colleagues in the (overwhelmingly Left-leaning) “academy” have never conducted any comparable studies.
To avoid giving away American Betrayal’s additional trove of fascinating (and disturbing) revelations — which West contextualizes, elegantly, with a cornucopia of supportive facts — here is a modest sample of other salient questions the book addresses (roughly in chronological order):
- What was the “Riga Agreement,” and how did President Warren Harding apply its conditions in 1921?
- Who was Alexander Grube, and what did he swear to have seen in 1927?
- What was the crux of the 1 page of pledged “concessions” by the Soviet Union, in return for official diplomatic recognition of the USSR by the FDR administration in 1933?
- What did William C. Bullitt — the first US ambassador to the USSR, and originally a confirmed “Sovietophile” — convey to FDR and Secretary of State Cordell Hull about the Soviet “mindset” in July, 1935?
- What was the theory of “convergence,” and which critically important persons abided it?
- What “critical biography” was withheld from publication by publishing titan Cass Canfield of Harper and Brothers, in December 1941, even after its famous author was assassinated for his efforts?
- What form of mass censorship did “storied” Random House chief Bennett Cerf propose in 1942?
- What was the March 1943, “Litvinov list”?
- Later identified by George Kennan as the earliest warning of this World War II strategic failure, what did William C. Bullitt further convey to FDR in a letter dated July 29, 1943?
- What did OSS Soviet expert John C. Wiley recommend in an August 11, 1943 letter to FDR?
- During the World War II “Second Front” debate, what viable alternatives to the Normandy invasion were proposed, and by whom, and who forcefully rejected these alternatives?
- What were General Eisenhower’s views on the “Second Front” debate as recorded at the Cairo Conference November 26, 1943 (but not published till 1961), and his memoir, Crusade in Europe, published in 1948?
- What was the World War II “Morgenthau Plan,” who were its most vociferous advocates, and what impact did it have on German resistance?
- Who was Admiral Canaris, what anti-Nazi and anti-Communist movement did he represent, why were his appeals to both the British and U.S. governments rejected, and what formal recognition did Chabad Lubavitcher (a center of the Hasidic Orthodox Jewish community) want bestowed upon him in 2009?
- Twenty-four years prior to the publication of the first English addition of Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, what major U.S. newspaper acknowledged in a review of Vladimir Petrov’s Soviet Gold that the book was “another addition to the already extensive list of memoirs by former prisoners of [Soviet] slave labor camps” ?
- What was the Allied reaction to the discovery of the Soviet “Katyn massacre” of some 22,000 Polish civilians, soldiers, and officers, as revealed by a chronology of events from April 13-May 15, 1943? What was the Van Vliet Report on Katyn, and what became of it? And who was Ivan Krivosertsov?
- What was the U.S. role in the “repatriation” of Soviet nationals after World War II, and what was the fate of those “repatriated”?
- What was the fate of American soldiers (and civilians) who wound up in the Soviet Gulag, and how did the U.S. government—from FDR onwards—respond to their plight?
- Why was discussion of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact—including documentary evidence of the agreement—suppressed at the post-World War II Nuremberg Trials?
- What was the Amerasia case?
- How did it evolve that the U.S. supported both Communist Tito over non-Communist Mihailovich in Yugoslovia, and Communist Mao Tse-tung over non-Communist Chiang Kai-Shek in China?
- Did procurement of nuclear weapons embolden Stalin to launch the Korean War?
- What did Khrushchev acknowledge to Life magazine about Lend-Lease during a 1970 interview?
- What did Brezhnev declare in a secret 1973 speech to Communist Party leaders at the height of “détente”?
- What was the “Chicken Kiev” speech?
- What did director Elia Kazan refer to as “crap” in his 1988 memoir, whom had he actually identified for Congress over three decades earlier, and who were the most aggressive protesters when Kazan received his 1999 lifetime achievement Oscar, and what behaviors did they exhibit at that time?
- What were the “Great Jihad Purges of 2012”?
- Which current European political leader stated (in October 2010) the following? “Islam is the Communism of today. But, because of our failure to come clean with Communism, we are unable to deal with it, trapped as we are in the old Communist habit of deceit and double-speak that used to haunt the countries in the East and that now haunts all of us.”
Indeed, one of the two most important overarching themes West elucidates is the shared totalitarian nature — and aggressive tactics — of Soviet Communism and its Ur-totalitarian antecedent, and successor, Islam. The other is the excruciating, conscience-burning answer she proffers to this query:
If Soviet overlords brutally and forcibly locked the truth and truth tellers away, we in the West freely blind ourselves to facts while ignoring or deriding our truth tellers out of existence. Why?
Perhaps the sine qua non of both Islamic and Communist totalitarianism is their amorality. Diana West describes how out of this perverse moral outlook — which rejects Judeo-Christian conceptions — flows endless jihad conquest, or in Soviet Communist parlance, “revolution,” employing propaganda, terror, enslavement, and mass killing, till their respective totalitarian orders are imposed, universally. A corollary is the disregard for treaties. Termed “hudnas” in Islam, these armistices are sued for, temporarily, when the Muslims are weaker than their adversaries, and abandoned, requisitely, when they are stronger. The Soviet equivalent, West notes, was depicted by William C. Bullitt, America’s first ambassador to the USSR:
Diplomatic relations with friendly states are not regarded by the Soviet government as normal friendly relations but “armistice” relations and it is the conviction of the Soviet Union that this “armistice” cannot possibly be ended by a definite peace, but only by a renewal of battle … Peace is looked upon merely as a happy respite in which future battles may be prepared.
William Gifford Palgrave (d. 1888) journeyed through the Arabian peninsula from 1862 to 1863, disguised as a Muslim physician, recording his detailed observations in a renowned travelogue. Palgrave, who developed an intimate understanding of Islam, in both theory and practice, left us with a timeless, clear-eyed characterization of Allah, pinpointing the origins of the irreconcilable differences between Islamic and Judeo-Christian understandings of freedom and morality. As Palgrave demonstrated, Islam’s deity, Allah, is not only a mercurial, unrelenting autocrat, his “Pantheism of Force,” whose “singular satisfaction [is] to make created beings continually feel that they are nothing else than his slaves,” leaves “no place for absolute good or evil.” James Freeman Clarke (d. 1888), America’s first, and arguably still one of her greatest, scholars of comparative religion expounded upon Palgrave’s analysis of Allah in his 1871 treatise, “Ten Great Religions — An Essay in Comparative Theology.” Clarke sees in Islam’s conception of Allah — “that which makes of God pure will … divorced from reason and love” — a regression from the Judeo-Christian God. Comparing Islam to Judaism, Clarke observes:
Goodness does not consist in obedience to divine will, but in conformity to the divine character. This is the doctrine of the Old Testament and one of its noblest characteristics. … Mohammedanism is a relapse [from Judaism] … for it makes God only an arbitrary sovereign whose will is to be obeyed without any reference to its moral character.
Clarke concluded that Islam’s alternate “central idea concerning God” — its conception of Allah — had not been salutary for Muslim societies:
Its governments are not governments. … It makes life barren and empty. It encourages a savage pride and cruelty. It makes men tyrants or slaves, women puppets, religion the submission to an infinite despotism.
Diana West highlights this concordant negation of morality in the totalitarian systems of Islam and Communism. She illustrates Lenin’s dogmatic moral relativism, which engendered a deep-seated, “universal legacy,” with these remarks (in the indispensable notes section) from the Communist dictator:
Our morality is entirely subjugated to the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat. … We do not believe in eternal morality, and we expose all the fables about morality.
But West features, appropriately, Solzhenitsyn’s comments following his expulsion (in 1974) from the Soviet Union, to capture the triumphal promulgation, and consequences, of Communist amorality. Solzhenitsyn observed:
Communism has never concealed the fact that it rejects all absolute concepts of morality. It scoffs at any considerations of “good” and “evil” as indisputable categories. Communism considers morality to be relative.…But I must say that in this respect Communism has been very successful.
It has infected the whole world with the belief in the relativity of good and evil. Today many people apart from the Communists are carried away by this idea. Among progressive people, it is considered rather awkward to use seriously such words as “good” and “evil.” Communism has managed to persuade all of us that these concepts are old-fashioned and laughable.
But if we are deprived of the concepts of good and evil, what will be left? Nothing but the manipulation of each other.
West’s final diagnosis of America’s moral malaise, epitomized by its willfully blind acceptance of “Uncle Joe (Stalin)” through, currently, “Uncle Mo (Islam’s warlord prophet Muhammad),” is uncompromising:
The U.S.-USSR relationship pitted a Judeo-Christian and primarily Anglo-Saxon notion of trust and bond against the ruthless expediency of a revolutionary and amoral regime. To initiate relations, the Terror Famine had to be ignored; a great moral crime on our part. To maintain relations, we had to shun the facts. For example, if it were a condition that the Russians cease and desist clandestine measures to overthrow the USA—and it was such a condition—then continued recognition in the face of continued clandestine measures to overthrow the USA was wrong.
All these decades later no one wants information or to open their eyes to the Muslim Brotherhood’s self-described “civilization jihad” either.
Her concluding blueprint for therapeutic intervention is congruently wrenching:
What’s needed is a full-scale assault on those bastions of unreality, those safe houses of secrets, all in a painful but restorative effort to upend the narratives of authority, to break open the conspiracies of silence, which have endured too many lifetimes. Put another way, it’s time to avenge the victims and the truth tellers, the voiceless and the voices of one. It’s time to avenge the American betrayal of Liberty herself.
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.