My friend Ron Radosh has once again mistaken a political hatchet job for a historical argument. Sean Wilentz’ target in this case is Glenn Beck and through him the tea party movement. To his credit Ron responds to Wilentz’ dishonest attack on the Tea Party movement with an honorable defense. But he gives credence to Wilentz’ attack on Beck and fails to reflect on the way Wilentz has once again debased his academic calling in the service of a leftwing political cause. Wilentz, a Clinton lap dog, is the author of a notoriously stupid Rolling Stone article calling George Bush “the worst president in American history” because the professor didn’t like the war in Iraq . Before that in congressional testimony he had warned Republicans seeking Clinton’s impeachment that lying to grand juries was in effect constitutional and “history will track you down” for impeaching him. In other words, his public displays of historical scholarship are a species of intellectual fraud. Is Wilentz now interested in the historical errors of Glenn Beck (as opposed say to the historical errors of Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann)? Hardly. If Wilentz were exercised about historical inaccuracies he could have written a New Yorker piece about Howard Zinn’s Communist Party history of the United States which is now the most popular text on the subject both in universities and K-12 schools — far more influential than Beck, and unlike Beck filled with malicious errors — and which is about to be foisted on the semi-literate public as well through an epic TV series powered by Hollywood celebrities Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and others, and marketed as an “educational” tool for the schools.
I read in vain through Ron’s blog to find something actually about Beck — about what Beck had actually said as opposed to whose books he had mentioned. Instead I found a lot of guilt by association because he had recommended books by Cleon Skousen which Ron and Wilentz didn’t like — books Skousen wrote forty years ago about the Communist conspiracy. Does Ron think Skousen’s books are more erroneous and harmful than the writings of Obama’s friend Billy Ayers? Indeed, if we were talking about Obama and Ayers Wilentz would be all over us with charges of “McCarthyism.” Having witnessed the wild conspiracy theories spread by political activists like Wilentz about George Bush not too long ago, I’m mystified as to why Ron would want to encourage snobbish attacks on American patriots by people like this.
Editor’s Update: Ron Radosh responds to this critique here.
David Horowitz replies:
It’s all about context Ron. You joined an attack on the wrong side at the wrong moment. Beck is not above criticism any more than you or I or Wilentz, nor would he claim he was. But you chose to join an unscrupulous and malicious wolf pack. Not a good choice.