2013 Speaker Series

ICON Series Speaker: Diana West

June 18th, 2013, 7pm Diana West

The first ICON (Issues Confronting Our Nation) Lecture was a roaring success last night (June 18).  

Diana West, author of the newly released book, ‘American Betrayal, The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character’  gave us chilling details from her new book that reveals not just the familiar struggle between communism and the Free World, but the hidden war between those wishing to conceal the truth and those trying to expose the increasingly official web of lies.  American Betrayal shatters the approved histories of the time period from the build up to  WW II through the end of the Cold War.  She argues that deception and self-deception by many of our government officials during that time sent us down the long road to ‘political correctness’   and other cultural ills  that have left us unable to ask the hard questions:  Does our silence on the crimes of Communism explain our silence on the totalitarianism of Islam?  Is Uncle Sam once again betraying America?

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In American Betrayal, Diana West shakes the historical record to bring down a new understanding of our past, our present, and how we have become a nation unable to know truth from lies.

The next The ICON Lecture will be held on Thursday, September 19 at 6:30 at the Levin Jewish Community Center at 1937 Cornwallis Road, Durham, and will feature 4 well known speakers who will lead a discussion on education and will specifically examine Common Core, the new controversy in education that is sweeping our nation.  

Speaker Bio and Lecture Review

“American Betrayal Then, American Betrayal Now”

Diana West (born November 8, 1961, Hollywood, California) is a nationally syndicated conservative American columnist and author. Her father was a lone conservative TV writer and author. She graduated from Yale with a degree in English and became a journalist in Washington DC.

Her weekly column, which frequently tackles controversial subjects such as the impact of Islam, the failures of counterinsurgencystrategy (COIN), and the questions about President Obama’s eligibility, is syndicated by Universal U-Click and appears in about 120 newspapers and news sites. She is the author of the books The Death of the Grown Up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin’s Press, 2007) and American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character (St. Martin’s Press, 2013).

West has contributed essays and features to many publications including: The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post, The New Criterion, The Public Interest, and The Women’s Quarterly.[citation needed] She has also been a columnist forThe Washington Times, Scripps Howard News Service and United Media. As a former CNN contributor, West frequently appeared on the former CNN Lou Dobbs show. She blogs at dianawest.net.

The Book (information courtesy of Wikipedia.org)

American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character

On May 28, 2013, St. Martin’s Press published Diana West’s second book, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character. With the fall of the Soviet Union and access to files and archives, historians have had ample opportunity to explore the scope of Soviet spying but have fail to “adjust the historical record.” West explores the extent of Soviet influence during the Roosevelt and Truman Presidencies. She argues that infiltration of the American government by Stalinist agents and fellow-travelers had significantly altered Allied policies in favor of the Soviet Union during the Second World War. Frank J. Gaffney Jr. finds that West “painstakingly documents how America’s government, media, academia, political and policy elites actively helped obscure the true nature of the Soviet Union.”West finds there is a parallel with the failure to face the dangers of communism in the 1930s and the failure to face the threat ofradical Islam today.
Frank T. Csongos argues that West is right “up to a point.” He notes that West rejects the standard narrative that Franklin Roosevelt, like George W. Bush, took drastic steps to “save capitalism.” Unlike West, he believes that Roosevelt was merely naive when trusting Stalin. A Kirkus review finds that she has a number of valid points but ends with the warning: “A frustrating mixture of incontrovertible facts and dubious speculation. Proceed with caution.” West’s book received praise from historian Amity Shlaes, author M. Stanton Evans, Fox commentator Monica Crowley and a host of conservative blogs and websites, including Frontpage magazine, whose reviewer Mark Tapson wrote on July 8, 2014:

“With her characteristic fierce passion, West argues in her new book that the Communist infiltration led to a successful ‘assault on our nation’s character’ during the Cold War that left us the ‘heirs to a false and hollow history’ and ‘unwitting participants’ in ‘a secretly subverted pageant.’ In other words, perhaps we didn’t win the Cold War after all. … West argues that the impact of this ‘deep occupation’ did not simply fall away with the collapse of the Soviet Union. It lives today in our embrace of the Communists’ false historical narrative, exemplified in our ‘denial of the Soviet regime-engineered Famine in the Ukraine … a seminal moment in the history of the world. The seminal moment, perhaps, of the twentieth century.’ It lives also in our weakened resistance to their ideology. ‘Americans are not equipped,’ West notes, ‘not prepared, to regard anything resembling Communism … as an existential threat to liberty.’ Instead, we still romanticize Moscow’s agents as ‘idealists’ and ‘are continually conditioned to embrace Communistic principles, all serving to expand the power and authority of the state over the individual.'”

As Frontpage editor David Horowitz later admitted, he deleted this positive review from the Frontpage website on the recommendation of historian Ronald Radosh.

On August 7, 2014, Ronald Radosh published what he called his “take-down” of American Betrayal at Frontpage, “McCarthy of Steroids.” This essay of roughly 7,000 words launched a long series of posts by Radosh, Horowitz and others based on Radosh’s charges. Some writers, such as American Thinker’s Clarice Feldman, admitted they repeated Radosh’s charges while admitting they had not read the book.

In a similar vein, former Canadian newspaper publisher and FDR biographer Conrad Black published a critique of American Betrayal in the conservative journal National Review in late 2013, to which West responded and Black then rejoinded. Like Radosh et.al., Black believes West grossly exaggerates Soviet influence in the Roosevelt Administration, whose policies were driven by the extreme social and economic crisis America was going through during the Depression. Moreover, like Radosh, Black believes the alliance with the Soviet Union in the Second World War, while driven by realpolitik, was a dire necessity to prevent the victory of Nazi Germany which had already conquered France and was threatening Britain, and finds West’s dismissal of the D-Day invasion of Normandy as somehow the result of Soviet subterfuge to shift the strategic thrust from the campaign in Italy to be an absurd and amateurish contention that ignores the realities of logistics and terrain. All these authors also point out that for the first two years of World War 2 during the period of the Stalin-Hitler Pact, widely considered odious among liberals, the policy of the FDR administration was at loggerheads with that of the Soviets in aiding Britain through Lend-Lease and point out the irony that at that time communists allied with isolationists and the America First movement, whose legacy West extols.

West, according to Nicholas Goldberg, “believes she has exposed ‘the Communist-agent-occupation of the U.S. government’ during the Roosevelt and Truman eras.” He describes West as the conservative counterpart to Howard Zinn in terms of faulty scholarship and exaggerated narratives. Ronald Radosh, “a well-known conservative scholar,” has criticized West’s methodology and her conclusions in his FrontPage Magazine article. Michael J. Totten also praises Radosh’s “masterful takedown.” Jonathan Chait says that West’s “thesis that American foreign policy under presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower was secretly controlled by the Soviet Union” has found supporters at the Heritage Foundation and the American Spectator.

A hot war over American Betrayal continued online throughout the late summer and fall of 2013, much of which is archived and chronicled at the counter-jihad website, Gates of Vienna, a defender of West.

John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, scholars of Soviet espionage, came to the defense of Radosh. They wrote an article in FrontPage Magazine disputing a crucial contention that Roosevelt’s right-hand man, Harry Hopkins, may well have been a Soviet spy. Vladimir Bukovsky, a Soviet dissident forcefully rejected Radosh’s criticisms of West’s book, condemned the attempt to portray West as a deluded and historically inept conspiracy-monger, and supported her conclusions about the infiltration of the Roosevelt government by Stalinistagents and fellow-travelers.Untitled (3)

M. Stanton Evans, author of Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Sen. Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies, and co-author most recently with the late Herbert Romerstein of Stalins’ Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government, also wrote in support of West. On September 13, 2013, Evans wrote an essay called “In Defense of Diana West”. In it, Evans strongly backs American Betrayal and specifically West’s contested metaphor that Washington was, in effect, “occupied” due to the influence on policy-making and US actions by hundreds of agents working on Moscow’s behalf inside the federal government and related institutions, some of whom actually reaching the inner sanctums of the White House, the State Department, the Treasury, OSS, and elsewhere. Evans writes:

“By using the ‘occupied’ image, Ms. West is of course not saying Soviet tanks were patrolling the streets of Washington, or that Red martial law was imposed on its cowering citizens. What she is arguing instead is that Soviet agents, Communists and fellow travelers held official posts, or served at chokepoints of intelligence data, and from these positions were able to exert pro-Soviet leverage on U.S. and other allied policy. Though ignored in many conventional histories, the evidence to support this view is overwhelming.”

Responding to her detractors’ many charges, West published a rebuttal of 22,000 words at Breitbart News in three parts. In October 2013, West published the complete rebuttal along with selected commentary generated by the controversy in The Rebuttal: Saving American Betrayal from the Book-Burners.

On November 27, 2013, Bukovsky and Stroilov published their second essay in defense of West called “West’s ‘American Betrayal’ Will Make History.”Untitled (2)

Soviet expert Jeff Nyquist also came out in support of West, publishing a strategic analysis of the controversy called “In Defense of Diana West”. In it, he calls American Betrayal “the most important anti-Communist book of our time.”
Andrew C. McCarthy also came to West’s defense in a review-essay in The New Criterion, where he writes West relies on M. Stanton Evans book that comes to the defense of Senator Joseph McCarthy and cites the “groundbreaking scholarship of John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr” to back up Evans’ claims. Klehr responds that Andrew McCarthy is mistaken about the Senator who was “correct about the larger issue of Soviet infiltration of the government [but] reckless errors and unsubstantiated charges.” Klehr argues that West’s reckless and sloppy research has led to “serious historical interpretive errors.”

UntitledWest responded to Haynes and Klehr, writing: “Notice they do not claim American Betrayal makes serious historical errors. According to [Haynes and Klehr], American Betrayal makes serious interpretative errors. If you are wondering who sets the standard of interpretation, who deems what is in alignment or out, what is “incorrect” or correct, so am I.” As noted above, however, Haynes and Klehr do claim West made serious historical errors, the most egregious being that Harry Hopkins was the soviet spy “source 19” named in the Verona transcripts, who they believe the evidence shows was actually State Department official Laurence Duggan.