Persona Non Grata at the 'Washington Times'

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"Be sure Norman and Midge are on your side!" was the sage advice that I received from an Israeli columnist at the Washington Times when I went to work in 1987 as senior editor at a sister publication The World and I. The friend (recently deceased) who furnished the advice was correct, as shown by my rocky relations with the newspaper whose power structure he understood all too well.

In 1987 minicons, represented by John Podhoretz and Liz Kristol, held key editorial positions at Washington’s second largest paper. Editor-in-chief Arnaud de Borchgrave made no important decisions without phoning his de facto superiors in Midtown Manhattan. At work Borchgrave used to defer to "Normanson," who, as I eventually learned, was Podhoretz the Younger. A plate of sweetmeats was kept on his desk, from which his regular portly visitor would help himself. When Borchgrave came across my published critical remarks about his "very good friends" in New York, he tried (unavailingly) to get me sacked. Fortunately my Korean superior shielded me from his machinations.

But even then I knew that I was persona non grata at the Washington Times, as long as the neocons were running things. Over the years the book review section has studiously avoided mentioning any of my books, although it reviewed the other works in the Princeton series in which After Liberalism was the first to appear. In 1993 the city reporters minutely covered the speeches given at Pat Buchanan’s American Cause conference, with the exception of my keynote remarks. Strenuous efforts were made to discuss the conference without bringing up my name. I should have read more carefully between the lines when the toadyish book review editor Colin Walters explained soon after I arrived that "Russell Kirk is a Catholic anti-Semite." Whether the assertion was true or not, I was supposed to regard it as infallible because "Norman said so."

Never have I been given the privilege of putting even a single jot into the Washington Times’s Commentary Section, save for a guest column that I ghosted for George Roche in 1983. It was Roche’s ideas as well as name that were associated with that piece.

The Commentary section, which seems invariably patched together out of paid speeches for AIPAC, windy eulogies to Martin Luther King, and dated tirades against international Communism, will not raise any hackles. This section continues to march backward, because certain facts have never registered with those in charge.

Already years ago the minicons left the paper to suck up the fortune of Rupert Murdoch; and even in the eighties they sneered openly at their Unification Church sponsors, who paid heavily for their presence, at work and in their own publications.

For those who may think that the paper only excludes on the Right (white gentile) racial nationalists, a charge directed against former Times columnist Sam Francis, it may be useful to underline the truth. The paper blacklists anyone on the Right whom the neocons don’t happen to like. The editors have treated me even worse than Sam Francis, although I do not write on racial issues and my family includes bona fide Jewish refugees from the Nazis.

Twenty years ago the top guys could not have not have disagreed with my views on Israel, which were as hawkish as theirs — and Norman’s. But I had criticized the neocons for shoving around real conservatives and for their obsessively anti-German view of Western history. And that was quite enough.

There is only one relevant reason why the Times ostracizes someone, namely that the Midtown Manhattan mafia, which runs their operation just as the ghost of Stalin ruled European Communist parties, expresses disapproval — or is imagined to. I’ve no idea why the old party line, which is based on the alliances and authority figures of the 1980s, continues to reign. Unless shown otherwise, I doubt that paper’s sales would justify the tender incessant regard showered on Scoop Jackson Democrats and the far Right in Israel.

For me, this state of affairs poses a problem, inasmuch as the Times’s owners have asked me to do a history of its achievements on the occasion of its twenty-fifth anniversary. There is no way I can carry out such a task without mentioning the experiences contained in this account. Although the paper might have been for conservatives a truly inclusive venture, it was highjacked by Cold War liberals and name-calling Zionists, who closed it off to the Old Right. This process of exclusion affected me personally, and I cannot write an honest history of the Washington Times without noting that unpleasant fact. Indeed I have received far kinder treatment over the years from liberal publications, which have discussed my work and published my commentaries, than from this "conservative" paper.

This deplorable situation does not gainsay the good things that one can attribute to the Reverend Moon’s enterprise over the last quarter century, from exposing anti-anti-Communist hypocrisies on the Left to publishing occasionally hard-hitting paleo polemics, and even Lew Rockwell in years past.

Last week, for example, the paper dared to print Paul Craig Roberts’s savage comments on the hate fest against whites and Christians at the U N’s Durban conference. In addition, I do have young friends of sound conviction who have survived at the Washington Times, and for their sake I hope it does not collapse, at least not until they can relocate.

Contrary to a lie spread by the neocons and their liberal pals, the paper does not suffer from being controlled by the Moonies. It has suffered far more because of the indecision and anxieties of its owner and his Korean associates, who have given irresponsible employees all too much power. The Reverend Moon should have thrown them out onto the street years ago. In short, he should have done what his critics falsely accused him of, behave like an Oriental autocrat. As matters now stand, his neocon masters have been allowed to play that role, even in absentia.

Paul Gottfried [send him mail] is professor of history at Elizabethtown College and author, most recently, of the highly recommended After Liberalism.

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