What did I do on my summer vacation?
I stayed home. The family went to the country this week but not me. I stayed behind to deal with a white-hot controversy.
Thus, I am now engaged in the painstaking job of rebutting an explosion of falsehoods and distortions about me and my new book, "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character." These attacks began appearing on the Internet last week at several neoconservative websites: first and mainly Frontpage Magazine (FPM), Pajamas Media and The American Thinker.
Close to 10 pieces have appeared (more promised), all of them emanations of a 7,900-word book review at FPM that reviewer Ronald Radosh described as a "take-down" in one of his own three follow-up pieces. Two writers who followed suit admitted in print that they hadn't read the book.
It is important to note that this lengthy "take-down" comes after an earlier, positive review of "American Betrayal" appeared at FPM. Controversial books spark different reactions, of course, but instead of leaving the original, positive review posted and commissioning a new review from a different perspective, FPM editor David Horowitz -- noted free speech advocate -- pulled the positive review off the website.
The recent spate of attacks advance one notion in particular. They impugn my credibility as a writer based on allegations (which I am currently rebutting) against my accuracy, integrity and even sanity. Clearly, they want to kill this book. Thus, they depict me as inaccurate and dishonest. Fortunately, I have a nearly 30-year reputation as a journalist, columnist and published author to stand on as I mount what is, in fact, a defense of my livelihood.
As some readers know, I published "American Betrayal" earlier this summer with endorsements from noted historians Amity Shlaes and M. Stanton Evans. My book's publisher is St. Martin's Press, which also published my first book, "The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization."
Since my research took me to places in our history that shocked me, I knew the new book would be a controversial. Its thesis challenges consensus and cherished mythology about our 20th-century past by a rather novel mechanism. The book projects the dirty backstory of the Soviet-directed intelligence war against the U.S. -- waged by confirmed Soviet agents and agents of influence inside the U.S. policymaking chain from the 1930s onward -- onto center stage and into our familiar pageant of history.
What takes shape, I argue, is a story of betrayal -- American betrayal. By the book's end, many of our heroes don't look so heroic anymore; some of our "villains" end up looking like heroes.
Take Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR's reputation as a wartime leader and Depression-fighter earns him a place in the presidential pantheon near the top, not to mention his lavish monument by the Tidal Basin near the Washington Mall.
The historical record -- as extracted from Soviet archives -- proves, however, that FDR's administration was riddled with Soviet agents. Not just one Alger Hiss, who got his hands near the helm of U.S. policy at the State Department. Not just one Harry Dexter White, who managed to do the same via the Treasury Department. The records show there were hundreds of Kremlin-minded operators in government and other institutions who were not only trying to steal secrets but, more important, trying to influence U.S. policy. These operators even include, I argue (based on an extensive dossier of evidence and expert opinion that I invite readers to evaluate for themselves), FDR's top wartime adviser Harry Hopkins.
What "American Betrayal" also argues -- in a narrative anchored to 900-plus endnotes -- is that this makes us due for a massive historical revision.
This is not only a matter of re-examining the past. Coming to terms with what is a strategic "occupation" of the halls of power in Washington by agents of Soviet influence has crucial lessons for what we are undergoing today. There are striking similarities today as vectors of the Muslim Brotherhood and other sharia supremacist groups now seek to influence policymaking in Washington in the post-9/11 era.
These lessons of history apply today to legislators entrusted to defend our constitutional liberties. Remember what happened to Rep. Michele Bachmann and four other House conservatives last summer when they raised questions about Muslim Brotherhood influence in the Washington policymaking chain. Bachmann in particular was crucified, including by the Republican leadership, as the second coming of that devil-figure in American history, Sen. Joseph McCarthy. With rare exception, no one since has dared to raise questions about this still-unaddressed potential national security threat.
To be sure, McCarthy wasn't the only U.S. senator or representative to investigate Communist influence operations and espionage in the federal government in the mid-20th century. Yet having been sold to us as the worst American ever, he has come to symbolize all attempts to bring Kremlin-directed dirty work into the open. McCarthy's radioactive image today effectively stops all thinking about, all investigating and all addressing of malign influence operations and ideological assaults against the country today.
Will Americans one day live in a United States that is a borderless amalgam of Big Brother/Big Government socialism and sharia? Will they look back and scoff at Bachmann's mini-"Muslim Brotherhood Scare"? That's certainly the conventional attitude now, despite the evidence. Meanwhile, we still look back on and scoff at a supposedly imaginary "Red Scare" of 60 years ago, despite massive evidence that the threat was real -- and, as I argue in "American Betrayal," quite successful.
It's time to connect the dots.
All I ask is that readers judge my book for themselves.
Note: Diana West's complete rebuttal will appear on her website -- www.dianawest.net.
(Diana West's new book is "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character" from St. Martin's Press. She blogs at dianawest.net, and she can be contacted via email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @diana_west_.)