October 14, 2002

Irony is far from dead – I've been red-baited by an old Bolshevik!

While my opinion of the War Party's propaganda and tactics has always been low, I never thought they would stoop to the tactics employed by Ronald Radosh, the neoconservative author and frequent writer for Frontpage, whose recent piece in the Boston Globe [10/13/02] characterizes me as nothing but a . faggot. And a leftist oh yes, and also a fascist. "The red and the brown" is the title of this smear job, and it purports to be an analysis of The American Conservative, the new bi-weekly magazine edited by Pat Buchanan, Taki Theodoracopulos, and our sometime columnnist, Scott McConnell. In the course of misrepresenting the contents of the first two issues, and somehow dragging in Charles A. Lindbergh's infamous quote about the origins of World War II, he characterizes my contribution to the magazine as follows:

"The American Conservative proudly roots itself in this past by publishing Justin Raimondo's ode to 'the Old Right [who] knew something about the temptations of Empire.' Raimondo is a gay conservative activist from San Francisco whose chief claim to fame is his single appearance on 'Politically Incorrect,' when Bill Maher made fun of him for being one of the few openly gay supporters of Buchanan."

Gee, after writing two books, and helping to found a website that attracts some 20,000 unique visitors a day, I'm just a faggot after all. And the neocons used to call us "haters" and bigots on the campaign trail!

I've told the story of my encounter with the very over Bill Maher before. Suffice to say that Maher's obsession with my sexuality and Dweezil Zappa's vacant gaze made the experience an unpleasant one. And did I tell you that Maher billed me for the hotel? Tacky doesn't even begin to describe the guy, as even network executives eventually realized.

As for being a gay conservative activist from San Francisco I admit to being a San Franciscan, but that's about it. For the record, I have always been an out-of-the-closet libertarian, as even a cursory examination of my writings would reveal.

Since Radosh brings it up, I'll say this about my personal life: you wish you had it so good, brother!

It’s very telling how the same obsession with separating out "Left" and "Right" that permeates Radosh’s discussion of The American Conservative seems to preoccupy him, on another more personal level, when it comes to me. I have to be either "gay," or "straight" as if the complexity of human sexuality in all its broad range of expression could be squeezed into these two categories. I had to explain this to Bill Maher, too, which was odd considering how his job was to hobnob with the Hollywood elite.

It's also very odd to encounter this kind of spiteful rhetoric coming from someone with whom I've always had cordial relations. I wouldn't normally publish someone's email to me, because it seems in somewhat bad taste, but in this case it seems almost classy compared to the utter tastelessness cited above. After the rave review I gave to his book, Commies, Radosh sent me this note:


"I read your review. Really wonderful. I appreciate greatly the care with which you conducted your discussion, and your understanding of what I was trying to do in it. I also appreciate your ability to distinguish my approach from David Horowitz and others."

Yeah, Ron, too bad I can't say the same about you. You don't even discuss the content of what I wrote in The American Conservative, a modest little riff on a theme from Garet Garrett's The American Story. Instead, it's all about me:

"Now Raimondo runs a Web site called antiwar.com, in which he extols the good old days of the America First Movement. For a short time, he points out, that movement included not only conservatives, but socialists like Norman Thomas and, in the period before the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, the Communist leader Earl Browder."

To begin with, Earl Browder was never a member or even a fellow traveler, so to speak, of the America First Committee, and I'm surprised that a scholar of the Old Right, such as the learned Radosh, would make such a glaring error. Communists were explicitly barred from membership in the AFC, and, at any rate, as Radosh pointed out on page 31 of Prophets on the Right, the Commies disagreed with the America Firsters on a fundamental point:

"The Communists, in the period before the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Nonagression Pact, supported the President's sympathetic attitude toward collective security."

Indeed, Browder and the Communist Party took the same line that Radosh is now taking toward toward America First, past and present, by linking them with Lindbergh's alleged anti-Semitism. The Communists always denounced the AFC as a "reactionary" tool of the capitalists meant to deceive the workers and after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, they were smearing them as "fifth columnists" and calling for their prosecution for "sedition." Who am I to lecture to the author of Prophets on the Right: Conservative Critics of American Globalism, a book we give to all our donors, and which I cite copiously in my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement? Surely he knows better or ought to.

The two faces of Ronald Radosh which one is real? The public face, as expressed in his Boston Globe piece, or the private one, as expressed in his email:

"I do, however, disagree with you strenuously on foreign policy, and generally am in the neo-concamp, with some exceptions. But your discussions are principled and serious, and I welcome them. I'll try to address these issues in the new introduction to Prophets on the Right."

Yes, I admit to being principled and serious, but, again, it's a crying shame I can't say the same for Radosh. Having dealt with my sex life, he then accuses me, incredibly, of being a Communist with fascist sympathies:

"Indeed, it seems that Raimondo is now attempting to forge his own Red-Brown alliance, as Europeans refer to the coming together in post Soviet Russia of right-wing nationalists and unreconstructed Communists. In August 2001, he even published an article in Pravda (yes, that Pravda) in which he dismissed the idea that 'America is a civilized country,' and, referring to World War II, maintained that 'the wrong side won the war in the Pacific.'"

What's really galling is that I have to be red-baited by someone who was, for a good part of his life, an apologist for the Kremlin and a convinced socialist. He and his neocon confreres may have jettisoned their Commie baggage, but they are still masters of the lowdown tactics employed by that criminal sect.

On the burning question of whether I'm an agent of the Mikado, as well as a right-wing isolationist, I'll leave it to the curious reader to decide by going here and reading my original piece. Suffice to say that, having shed his old Stalinist ideology, it seems Radosh has retained the humorless character of the species. And of course there is the obligatory charge of anti-Semitism:

"As for Israel, last week Raimondo continued to proclaim the myth that 'Israel had foreknowledge of 9/11,' a claim that puts his Web site in league with the most extreme anti-Semitic canards coming from the Arab world, not to mention the poetry of Amiri Baraka."

Gee, I didn't know Carl Cameron was Arab, and – correct me if I'm wrong – I could've sworn Fox News was based in New York, not Riyadh. For the idea that Israel had foreknowledge of 9/11 was first broached on Fox in a four-part series narrated by Cameron, in which he said the following:

"There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are – quote 'tie-ins.' But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, quote 'evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified.'"

So, is rabidly pro-Israel Fox News spewing "the most extreme anti-Semitic canards coming from the Arab world"? And I have another news flash for Radosh: Die Zeit, a generally pro-Israel German weekly of some repute, is now reporting that the Israeli spy operation I've been detailing in this space since last year was indeed watching the hijackers, which is precisely what I've said all along. You can go here for articles in the "mainstream" media including Salon, the Forward, and Jane's Intelligence Digest reporting the facts Radosh thinks he can disappear by calling them "canards."

Am I now forced to comment on the "poetry" of Amiri Baraka? Good lord, am I to be spared nothing? Oh well, here goes: From what one can glean from his ravings, the Official Poet of New Jersey is saying that 4,000 Israelis didn't show up for work because they knew the attack was coming. As I pointed out to a black gentleman on a call-in radio interview during my recent appearance at Washington University, in St. Louis: what makes anybody think 4,000 Israelis worked at the World Trade Center? Has anyone ever tried to keep a secret by telling only 4,000 New Yorkers? Fuggedaboutit! I never said that 4,000 people had foreknowledge of the WTC attack, or anything close to it, and Radosh knows it. To even have to deny it is an obscenity, and Radosh owes me a public apology.

Radosh misconstrues the rest of the writers in the first issue of TAC in a similar vein: he simply ignores what Kevin Phillips has to say about the dangers of "Wall Street socialism" and blithely accuses him of being a "leftist." He also ignores Stuart Reid's paean to American culture not to mention his American wife and son and crudely smears him as a "blame America first conservative." It doesn't count that Reid, a deputy editor of the Spectator, supported the Vietnam war: what the War Party wants to know is "what have you done for us lately?"

Radosh, in short, is a liar. That is the only way the War Party can win: they're lying to the American people about a nonexistent "threat" to the United States, just as Radosh is lying his head off about me, without regard for either decency or plain common sense. And they aren't even very convincing lies.

George W. Bush tells us that Saddam is going to send drone planes over the U.S. a technology so advanced that we don't even have it! Now that was a whopper, and about as believable as the wacky idea that my secret plan is to raise Communism from the grave. Now that is a real canard! I was working for Barry Goldwater for President when Red Radosh was campaigning for Gus Hall.

Libertarian opponents of this rotten war are being attacked on several fronts: the print edition of National Review features a piece on the alleged "split" in libertarianism over the war question, by that noted expert on all things libertarian, Ramesh Ponnuru. Our sister site, Lewrockwell.com, comes under fire, along with Harry Browne, but the job of smearing Antiwar.com was left to Radosh, since we don't even merit a mention in NR. Oh boo hoo hoo.

What I've always found wonderfully funny, however, is the rave review the online National Review Book Service gives to my last book, An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard, a major theme of which is the evil role played by National Review and specifically Bill Buckley over the years:

"In these dark days of ever-encroaching statism, we need Murray Rothbard more than ever! An Enemy of the State is an engrossing introduction both to this dynamo of thought and action and to his incisive writings, which are still as fresh as they were when he wrote them.

"In the course of economist and political writer Murray N. Rothbard's tumultuous life, as detailed by Justin Raimondo in An Enemy of the State – he took up the cudgels for the anti-New Deal Old Right, the anti-war New Left, the Libertarian Party, and for a newly revived Old Right. But in all of these wanderings, Rothbard – as Raimondo demonstrates here – remained absolutely consistent: he was an indefatigable advocate for the freedom of each individual. He dedicated his life to defending this freedom against all attackers (whatever ideology they professed), and he did so with brilliant insight and trenchant wit."

Yes, we absolutely do need Rothbard more than ever. It's too bad he is no longer with us. His spirit, however, is laughing somewhere at the transparent viciousness of the attacks, and at all the fun we're having fighting his old enemies, the neoconservatives. He fought the neocons when they were Trotskyists, when they were social democrats-turned-Scoop Jackson Democrats, and, finally, in their final incarnation as right-wing neo-imperialists. Today, we're fighting them in his absence, and, inspired by Rothbard, we're doing a damn good job of it. Why else the recent flurry of drive-by shootings? As Rothbard once wrote:

"For the libertarian, the main task of the present epoch is to discover who his friends and natural allies are, and, above all, perhaps, who his enemies are."

We are hated by all the right people and that is an achievement worth boasting about.

– Justin Raimondo

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.