Who Says Dishonesty Doesn’t Pay?

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by Paul Gottfried by Paul Gottfried

Although the attack on Tom Woods by Ronald Radosh in FrontPageMag (March 10) did not contain any new accusations against Tom or his best-selling guide that one could not read in other establishment publications, what made the newest screed stand out was the accuser’s mask. Unlike the motley crowd of left-libertarians, neo-liberals, and global democratic chicken hawks who previously weighed in against Tom, his latest critic speaks as a concerned conservative. Radosh is fuming over the supposed misrepresentation of Tom’s work as "conservative" by Adam Cohen of the New York Times (January 26); and so he feels impelled to rush to the aid of the true American right-of-center. He is further incensed that Tom had quoted him about the Amerasia case in a discussion of Joe McCarthy and had thereby created the impression that Radosh was a closet McCarthyite.

Radosh exaggerates, as Tom points out, the connection drawn between him and the former junior senator from Wisconsin, and it is easy to imagine that Tom cites Radosh on the documented Communist affiliation of Amerasia, partly because no one but a hardened Communist would think of Radosh as a right-winger. In fact it is a bit unsettling to see someone whose career has moved in a trajectory from the anti-anti-Communist Left to leftist anti-Stalinism claiming to be defending the true Right. What exactly are this chap’s credentials to tell us what we are to believe about Lincoln or Joe McCarthy or about what image to project in presenting ourselves to the New York Times? I suppose Radosh has the same right to engage in this exercise as I would to instruct Shiites about how they should interpret the Koran. The difference in that case, however, is that an authentic Shiite publication would not publish me as someone who speaks for their theology. By contrast, the "conservative movement" has been turned into something that resembles the American conservative tradition even less than it does the New York Times.

This brings me to my last point, which is the absence of any conceivable misunderstanding in Adam Cohen’s review in the New York Times that Woods is presenting an identifiably conservative view of American history. As Radosh certainly notices, Cohen expresses the concern that if Tom’s book continues to sell well, he may contribute to a "boomlet for rightist attacks on mainstream history." What makes Tom a dangerous author therefore is his "attempt to push the record far to the right." Why should one imagine that Cohen would be attacking neoconservatives, who would not differ from him significantly in their established interpretation of "mainstream" American history? If Cohen would utter only two views, which he may in fact already hold, that Stalin was bad for the Jews and that the American government should actively spread its current version of democracy throughout the solar system, he and Radosh and the website that paid Radosh to attack Tom Woods would all be on the same page.

In closing, I should reassure Ron that he and his neocon buds will be allowed to continue to write for liberal publications. No one could possibly confuse him or Max Boot with Tom Woods or me. The reason liberals court neocons but not Ralph Raico or Tom DiLorenzo is that they do understand certain palpable differences. But Radosh may know all of this and have written his otherwise senseless screed to indicate to his establishment liberal friends that he is still willing to attack the real enemy, on the right. Perhaps the reward will be a full page photo of him in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, with a flattering bio, the kind of tribute that their liberal friends bestowed ten years ago on Bill Kristol and David Frum. The hour for Radosh, Cathy Young, and Max Boot to be showcased as "conservative" stars should not be long in coming.

March 14, 2005

Paul Gottfried [send him mail] is Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College and author of, most recently, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt.

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