Today, in continuing this series highlighting the achievements of my writing mentors here at PJ Media, I sincerely want to thank you for both the scholarly foundation and intellectual-activist traditions that you have established over your distinguished career.
I approach each of your articles as a lecture from an erudite, traditionally scholarly professor. And what classes do you teach via your PJ blog? Not just one but a whole department of history with areas of focus all across the 20th century of politics, war, history and culture. You are a walking, talking encyclopedia of American Communism, the New Left, Cold War espionage, folk music, the Labor movement, Israel, Hollywood, and the Democratic Party. And yet in spite of a life immersed in and now combating totalitarianism, you remain a remarkably upbeat, warm person. On the rare occasions when someone provokes you to take the gloves off, it signifies the subject’s seriousness.
Deeply valuable in your historical approach is the opportunity you offer readers to take in the full breadth of how Marxism has influenced politics and culture, metamorphosing to adapt to the times and resources available. Today in your writing and activism you are especially inspirational when you focus on specific individuals perpetuating revisionist and Neo-Marxist smears of American history. Your refutations of Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Pete Seeger, The Nation, the Rosenbergs’ apologists, and your recent effective battles with Oliver Stone are the definitive take-downs.
Now, regarding your most recent entry in this bare-knuckle genre, your skirmish with Diana West over the Soviet espionage claims in her book American Betrayal, I remain neutral, watching from the sidelines for now, not yet having read the book. (And a P.S. to Diana: I bear you no ill will and appreciate most of your work — I just put a hold on Death of the Grown-Up at the library, it’s been on the to-read list for sometime now. I’ve mainly been putting it off because as a 29-year-old wedged between Millennials and Gen-Xers I already very much agree with your thesis there. My apologies for that business a few years ago at my previous editorial position with John L. Work that you referenced in an earlier response to Ron. The decision to ban links to you was imposed on me.)
Ron, I’m generally very much with you when you’re training your critical focus on the Neo-Communists and antisemites, but when you start pulling out your Buckley-Purged-the-Bircher-Conspiracists-We-Need-To-Ignore-This-Person-Too sword then many of us in the blogosphere slow down, growing more cautious and skeptical. Sometimes you’re right about a nutty, irresponsible extremist; other times I think you’re much too hard on the more populist wing of the movement. I haven’t decided yet which camp American Betrayal falls into, but I’ll admit that West had never perked my Purge-the-Bircher radar — and as you know, I polemicize against the Paleo/Conspiracist/Nutjob Right with the same ferocity as their anti-American partners on the Left.
And actually, this is one of the other things that I most cherish about your writings: I don’t always agree with you. And you can probably guess where, my three main ideological disagreements with you on occasion (perhaps in 10-15% of your pieces, maximum): 1) I lean more toward David P. Goldman’s Augustinian Realism rather than your (generally fairly mild) neoconservative drifts on foreign policy, 2) I’m much more radical in vowing to chop apart the welfare state, and 2) You’re generally (the battle with West aside) more of a nice guy, effective at persuading those wobbling at the middle, whereas I remain an unapologetic practitioner of Breitbartian, Counterculture Conservative Ann Coulter-inspired broadsides. (See Susan L.M. Goldberg’s manifesto whose sentiments I share.) This demonstrates an important truth of this thing called “the conservative movement”: we may agree about the facts of history, but that doesn’t mean we’ll learn the same lessons from them.
Across your many books and articles (though crystallized in your moving memoir Commies) you provide the most effective summation of the evidence showing the intellectual continuity from Stalinism through the New Left to today’s postmodern-nihilist Alinsky-Obama-Democrat-Media complex Left. Through your scholarship — especially your massively important evidence of the Rosenbergs’ guilt — we can see that it spite of the smiles and “liberal,” “tolerant” labels, the Stalinist temperament remains the beating heart of modern progressive, true-believing activists. There is nothing new under the sun.
Thanks for your perpetual vigilance and commitment to pursuing historical truth, no matter who it upsets,