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People Against the American Way By: David Horowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, May 13, 2003

You’ve got to admire the tenacity of leftists. The same people who were colossally wrong about the war on terror (in both Afghanistan and Iraq); who clamored for America to sheathe its sword when America itself was under attack; who defamed America and its supporters as enemies of freedom even after the wars that led to liberation -- these same people, now that history has thoroughly embarrassed them and refuted their claims, are … on the attack!

They have not taken a moment to reflect on their treacherous antics, which would have kept the Iraqi oppressors in power and anti-American terrorists on the loose; they have not reserved a second for regrets about blackening America’s image or weakening her citizens’ resolve in resisting the forces that would bring this nation down. But having attacked – in time of war -- their President as a “Nazi” and their country as “the real axis of evil,” the left is now complaining because others have called them to account.

From Greenwich Village to Hollywood the American left is crying victim -- “McCarthyism,” “persecution” -- because Americans are revolted by what they said and did. And of course the left is once again -- in the same hypocritical breath -- presenting itself as a defender of the American liberties it refused to defend. And of course the left is yet again “defending” them not against the fascist threat from Iran and other terrorist states still at large, but from America itself. “A chill wind is blowing in this nation,” is how actor and anti-war leftist Tim Robbins characterizes his triumphant country while complaining about his “persecution” and “silencing” on national TV.

Yet there is nothing new, even in this brazen reversal of the facts. As far as the left is concerned it is so familiar as to be, well, boring. Fifty years ago America was also engaged in a global war – at that time with the most oppressive empire the world had ever seen, and the left took an identical stance. American Communists who were organized and funded by Moscow created the Progressive Party to oppose America’s defense of freedom, and marched to undermine America’s defenses. They even formed the “Progressive Party” to attack America’s “Cold War agendas” and push for the United States to unilaterally disarm. And they did so for the entire duration of the conflict.

Yet when called to account they presented themselves as victims of a “witch-hunt,” and defenders of the Bill of Rights and other American freedoms. And they were successful. They gave the word “McCarthyism” its unending currency, ready for use any time they came under attack. Properly identified, of course, the era of the Fifties should be referred to as the era of the “Red Threat,” when hundreds of thousands of Americans sided with the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin and hundreds became actual spies for the Soviet Union. But thanks to the left’s hegemony in the media and the academy this treasonous epoch is today known as the era of the “Red Scare” instead.

Leading the leftist juggernaut in its current attack on America’s defenders is the largest and most influential hate group in America, misnamed “People for the American Way.” People for the American Way is a permanent campaign of fear and hate aimed principally at Christian conservatives but at every group that attempts to defend America against the assaults of the left.

People for the American Way conducts a permanent witch-hunt at “Rightwing Watch Online.”[1] No sooner was the war in Iraq successfully concluded than this site published a special “report” called “Talking Out of Turn: The Right’s Campaign Against Dissent.” A sister leftist site, TomPaine.com (funded by Bill Moyers among others) also posted the report. Echoes of its claims can be heard among leftwing Democrats in the chambers of the House.

Among the chapters of the report: “Demonizing Dissent,” “Protesters Are Communists,” “Protesters Hate America,” and “Protest Is Treason.” Needless to say, the conclusion of the complaint claims the “First Amendment As A Model” for the protesters. Of course, nothing in the report sustains the charges it makes in its chapter heads, just as nothing in the First Amendment guarantees a right to slander those who disagree, even when the slander is aimed at the political right.

People for the American Way begins its indictment with this piece of Alice-in-Wonderland logic (characteristic of the document as a whole): “While most people see President Bush's post-9/11 assertion—‘Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists’--as a call for the world community to join America in defeating terrorism, right-wing activists have taken a narrower view. To them, what the President is really saying is ‘Either you toe the administration’s line, or you’re in league with terrorists.’ They see Bush's policies toward Iraq as indistinguishable from America’s interests…. To them, President Bush is the state and, therefore, dissent is treason.”

Earth to People for the American Way: President Bush is the elected President and the war powers he used were given to him by a vote of the United States Congress, including the majorities of both political parties. It was, in fact, the second such majority vote calling for a “regime change” by force if necessary in the last four years. The other war resolution was submitted by President Clinton and passed by overwhelming majorities in both political parties. So yes opposition to the war on Iraq is opposition to the policy of the elected government of the United States in its entirety, and whose sovereign is the American people.

While this does not make dissent treason (more on this in a moment) it certainly does make opposition to America’s war in Iraq opposition to America’s war. Second, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” is a very narrow formulation by any standard. It does not mean you can be with the government of France or Iran and be with us at the same time. It means there is a war and a war has only two sides and everyone must choose which side they are on. BTW: What is this “world community” anyway, kemo sabe?

People for the American Way’s indictment continues: “From the beginning, the Right has sought to portray anti-war protesters as radicals. This does not gibe with the facts. A New York Times piece on dissenters emphasizes the diversity of the peace movement. While it is true that one group involved in the peace protests, International ANSWER, has socialist ties, most major anti-war organizations have mainstream connections to groups like the NAACP and the National Council of Churches. These mainstream peace coalitions have gone out of their way to distance themselves from more radical elements and to disavow their tactics.”

People for the American Way is of course itself a radical organization (although obviously not by its own standards). The New York Times story was conveniently written to serve the interests of People for the American way, which (as the Times reported) held a meeting in its offices of more “moderate” elements of the antiwar movement to discuss the counter-productive tactics of the antiwar movement to date.[2] Up to then (March 2003), all the large demonstrations (Washington, San Francisco etc.) had been held under the auspices of a self-proclaimed Communist Party[3] in the name of International ANSWER – an organization that has “socialist ties” -- as People for the American Way delicately puts it -- to the terrorist regime in North Korea. A second organizer of the antiwar demonstrations (not mentioned) was Not In Our Name – a group organized by leaders of the Revolutionary Communist Party. The meeting in the People for the American Way Offices created a new coalition organization, “United for Peace and Justice,” which held its first demonstration in New York in March 2003. The organizer and head of the new organization was Leslie Cagan, a pro-Castro Sixties radical who was still a member of the Communist Party USA after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Cagan called on protesters to “disrupt normal life” once the war started. So much for the “moderates.”

Now to declare a personal interest. As a former antiwar leftist, I have tried to sound the alarm over the internal threat to the security of this country presented by organizations like International ANSWER, Not In Our Name, United for Peace and Justice and other neo-communist groups.[4] I have done this through many articles documenting their activities published in www.frontpagemag.com and The War Room. People for the American Way is well aware of this and responds as follows: “David Horowitz of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture is perhaps the most rabid advocate of the view that dissent equals treason. Each weekday, Horowitz and his colleagues at FrontPage Magazine offer new articles on the evils of dissent, liberally sprinkled with such key phrases as “aid and comfort,” “clear and present danger”, “blame America first,” “hate America Left,” and “fifth column.” In fact, FrontPage has an entire “Fifth Column” section containing 380 articles to date.”

This is the typical Big Lie approach of the radical left. I have never equated dissent with treason nor given any indication I thought dissent as such was “evil.” Nor have any of the other conservative groups indicted in the People for the American Way hate sheet. Instead, I have asserted the right of critics to dissent from government policies both explicitly and by example – as when I published an article on the war[5] by Professor Todd Gitlin -- an antiwar dissenter who was even part of the Columbia teach-in at which the infamous “million Mogadishus” rant was given. I published Gitlin because despite his dissent on the war, he denounced the anti-Americanism of the antiwar protests, something that People for the American Way has failed to do, confining their idea of “distance” to creating an organization which is also radical in its agendas but careful in its “tactics” not to expose those agendas).

 The one admirable aspect of the People for the American Way document is that it provides quotes from the conservatives it defames that disprove its own accusations (the true test of a radical evidently is that being so far in left field that one reads plain English with entirely different meanings from ordinary people):

“A January 21st piece entitled ‘The 'Peace' Movement Isn’t about Peace,’ demonstrates Horowitz’s standard modus operandi: link dissenters with Communists and dissent with treason. ‘When your country is attacked, when the enemy has targeted every American regardless of race, gender or age for death, there can be no “peace” movement. There can only be a movement that divides Americans and gives aid and comfort to our enemies….The so-called “peace movement” today is led by the same radicals who supported America’s totalitarian enemies during the Cold War. They marched in support of the Vietcong, the Sandinista Marxists and the Communist guerrillas in El Salvador.”

And so they did. The organizers and board members of People for the American Way among them.


[1] http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oId=10389#1

[2] Kate Zernike and Dean Murphy, “Antiwar Effort Emphasizes Civility Over Confrontation,” NY Times, March 29, 2003

[3] The Workers World Party for which International ANSWER was a “front.”

[4] www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=7396

[5]Todd Gitlin,  “A Patriotic View From The Left: Gore Vidal and Other America Haters,” www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=2901

David Horowitz is the founder of The David Horowitz Freedom Center and author of the new book, One Party Classroom.

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