Saturday, October 4, 2003


By John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr

Encounter, $25.95, 300 pages


For parents who are spending tens of thousands of dollars in annual tuition fees, for those concerned with intellectual honesty in the academic profession, for college students enrolled in American history courses, and for members of Congress who appropriate taxpayer money to support the American university, the report in this book is a startling, even explosive expose of where the money and their trust are going.

The authors of “In Denial,” (John Earl Haynes is the Library of Congress expert on American radical history and Harvey Klehr, a professor at Emory University, is the leading historian on American communism) have described the outrageous rewriting of communism and communist espionage history by major American historians in these words:

“[A] sizeable cadre of American intellectuals now openly applaud and apologize for one of the bloodiest ideologies of human history, and instead of being treated as pariahs, they hold distinguished positions in American higher education and cultural life.”

I have been studying and writing about the Communist movement for years. Nothing I have read over that time prepared me for the growing shock as I turned the pages of this heavily footnoted book. What is depicted in these pages is a scandal of epic proportions in the American university. I have asked myself: If our history faculties were loaded with Holocaust-revisionists as they are loaded with Gulag-revisionists how long would they last, tenured or not?

This rewriting of history by leading American historians is intended, say the authors, to create a new set of moral standards which by legitimizing Marxism-Leninism, the defeated Soviet Union and espionage by Americans against their own country in favor of Moscow would then justify civil war, treason and conspiracy against the democratic capitalist system.

This twisting of historical fact is intended, first, to transform the defunct American Communist Party from what it probably was for seven decades, a Soviet-financed lackey and espionage recruiting agency, into a once mythical organization of independent, free-wheeling idealists; second, to transform American traitors like Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Lauchlin Currie, Theodore Hall and many others into saintly seekers after world peace.

Such lies are purveyed in leading academic journals even now despite the fact that a vast number of documents from Soviet archives have been made public, archives which confirm what was already known thanks to Venona, the code-breaking program which proved the existence of Soviet spy rings within the U.S. government and at Los Alamos. The final blow is that such revisionist cant seeks to destroy capitalism and resurrect Marxism-Leninism from the dead by creating as a chosen instrument the college generations they teach. From Day One of the Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin’s totalitarian system, to quote Robert Conquest, “had as one of its main characteristics falsification on an enormous scale.”

One can today amplify Mr. Conquest’s grim finding to include mainstream research and writing by the revisionist American historians of communism. And these historians, the authors point out, are tenured professors at some of our leading institutions of higher learning. Two beliefs are common to these revisionists: first, a profound grief at the Cold War defeat of the Soviet Union and, second, America got what it deserved on September 11.

Unbelievable? Professor Gerald Horne of the University of North Carolina wrote gloatingly that America was to blame for the terrorist act and, “the bill has come due, the time of easy credit is up. It is time to pay.” Professor Robin Kelley’s reaction to September 11 was: “We need a civil war, class war, whatever to put an end to U.S. policies that endanger all of us.” Call for civil war against America and you are hired away by Columbia University from New York University.

Professor Eric Foner of Columbia University is perhaps the leading academic whose hatred of capitalist America knows no bounds. His post-September 11 reaction made me shake my head at its dreadful meaning: “I’m not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House.”

The Organization of American Historians newsletter featured an essay by Professor Alan Singer of Hofstra University titled “Now is the Times to Teach Democracy” in which he wrote: “The events of September 11 do not compare in magnitude with a number of actions taken by the United States since the end of World War II … ”

Finally, Professor Paul Buhle of Brown University has described President Harry S. Truman as “America’s Stalin” adding, “when the judgment of the twentieth century’s second half is made, every American president will be seen as a jerk. After Truman, Nixon yields only to Reagan, still another Truman heir, as the jerkiest of all.”

Mr. Buhle is also co-editor of the Encyclopedia of the American Left which Mr. Haynes and Mr. Klehr (as “traditionalist” historians) attack for its inaccuracies, distortions and its disdain for evidence from Soviet archives which documents CPUSA subservience to Moscow. The authors charge that Mr. Buhle’s “encyclopedia” has about the same level of accuracy as the late and unlamented “Great Soviet Encyclopedia.”

The queen of the revisionist historians is Professor Ellen Schrecker of Yeshiva University. Her apologetics for treason goes like this: “[A]s Communists these people did not subscribe to traditional forms of patriotism. They were internationalists whose political allegiances transcended national boundaries. They thought they were ‘building … a better world for the masses,’ not betraying their country.” And there is more. In one of her books in defense of treason, she writes:

“Were these activities so awful? Was the espionage, which unquestionably occurred, such a serious threat to the nation’s security that it required the development of a politically repressive internal security system? … Because espionage is an issue that carries such heavy emotional freight, it is usually treated in a monolithic way that overlooks distinctions between different types of spying and different types of spies.”

By way of refuting her claims, Mr. Haynes and Mr. Klehr write that those who spied for Stalin “at least spied for what they thought was a good cause [but] she regards any attempt to stop Communist espionage as part and parcel of vile McCarthyism.” The authors point out that for this professor, “Soviet spies who lied are admirable; defectors who told the truth are reprehensible.”

One of the more egregious examples of an American intellectual defending treason is by Professor Victor Navasky of the Columbia University School of Journalism and publisher of The Nation. It was he, according to the New Republic (Nov. 4, 1997) who at a public meeting convened by the Central Intelligence Agency to discuss the meaning of the Venona encryptions posed this question: “Espionage, is it really so wrong?” This was said in defense of Alger Hiss.

The exculpatory syndrome is contagious among American historians of communism. Professor Bruce Craig explains it this way:

“For many [spies], it was a desire to humanize the American social system that first attracted them. Others sought merely to work for world peace, and still others sought to assist the Soviet Union in, what was perceived during the 1930s, as that nation’s lonely effort to fight fascism.” That lonely fight, Professor Craig forgets to note, ended with the Stalin-Hitler pact in August 1939.

This book has this startling conclusion:

“The dirty little secret of much revisionist writing about Soviet spying [is that] the ‘evil empire’ was the U.S.A., not the USSR, and any means were — and are — justified in bringing America to heel.”

I have barely touched on the many more American historians in the Haynes-Klehr book who — there’s no other way to describe them — are seeking to overthrow American democracy by whatever means possible. They now control the hiring, tenure, the leading journals and newsletters. This book is a warning of what has been long ignored by university presidents and university boards of trustees. But now, thanks to John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, they know.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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