One can’t help but notice a persistent moral equivalence in Mr. McCarthy’s view of the great “barroom brawl”. We continue to hear about “both sides”, each of which consists of “people I greatly respect”. David Horowitz and Ron Radosh are his “friends”. Diana West is also his “friend”, and he likes her book, despite the fact that it is “controversial”.
If a friend of mine picked up a whiskey bottle and without warning hit another friend of mine over the head with it, I might consider taking that first friend to task. I might advise him that his behavior was morally and ethically wrong. I might even reconsider my friendship with him.
And I most certainly would not ascribe a moral equivalence to the two friends, as if the first one had had the effrontery to assault that whiskey bottle with her head. As if she had snuck up on that innocent, unsuspecting bottle and used her occiput to smash it without warning.
That’s not quite what happened.
In his “take-down” of the book, Ronald Radosh constructed dishonest straw-man arguments, and even answered arguments that Ms. West did not make — putting words into her authorial mouth, and then “refuting” them. Did Mr. McCarthy even read The Rebuttal?
And whom is he quoting when he refers to “closet-Commies.”? Diana West certainly never used such a phrase. Who did?
Most telling of all is the phrase “honest, forceful debate”, to which Messrs. Horowitz and Radosh are alleged to have contributed. If there is one thing that has been lacking in this whole shameful fiasco, it is honesty.
But only on one “side”. Diana West has maintained a steadfast honesty throughout. She has also shown admirable restraint towards those who have hurled insults at her while treating her with such cavalier dishonesty.
It’s sad to see this sort of limp dissimulation coming from a well-known author. One expects better from a man of his skill and intellect.
Dymphna, the Baron’s better half at the Gates of Vienna, deposited the following comment at an earlier TT post concerning the lack of willingness on behalf of some of Diana’s friends to come and speak in her defense:
That review was strange, but then the whole ugly fight regarding the book was stranger still. The vituperative kneejerk reaction was astoundingly regressive – as though West’s attackers hadn’t left their marxist attack modes behind when they changed sides.
Strange also was the loud silence as “innocent bystanders” decided discretion trumped valor. A literary version of Kitty Genovese’s rape on the streets of NYC so many years ago.
The whole mess has left me homeless from an intellectual-political point of view. Not only the attacks from within the tent, but also people I heretofore admired – Allen West comes to mind – remaining silent in the face of loud lies when the *only* position of integrity would have been to speak up for the colleague they once avowedly admired.
The only thing which seems without smear now is Russell Kirk’s work in the ’50s. The very same work which influenced that whole generation of Buckleyites. Kirk does say that one is not “a” conservative, but that the word should be used as an adjective:
Do the silent ones with their averted faces think their behavior will keep them safe? Eemembering the countless times in modern history when this approach did NOT work – in fact, it could get you killed – one would assume that any rational being could viscerally understand the danger in such a belief. It shakes one’s confidence in “Never Again” because the reality is more akin to “still” and “yet”.
This was a sad, unnecessary business. I still have trouble believing it really happened. A wise man once told me that betrayal is *the* most common of human experiences but that each new one finds us unprepared, blindsided, and leaves us a little more heartbroken. When I asked him how one ever could prepare for betrayal, he said that we couldn’t. The best we could do was a daily reminder to oneself of the ever-present possibility of evil. This response not only allowed him to live with his eyes wide open, but also sensitized him to a visceral experience of gratitude – fragile but still there.
Later I realized he was really telling me that he prayed in the face of evil.