Famine and fraud

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The denialist’s bible

Douglas Tottle is a Canadian trade-union activist whose 1987 book Fraud, Famine and Fascism may fairly be described as the bible of Holodomor denial; Tottle himself has been called “a sort of guru” to his fellow denialists. The argument set forth in his book is that the whole idea of the forced famine was an invention of the Nazis, designed to discredit Josef Stalin and his benign regime, and that this myth, this lie, was then taken up by Western capitalists, who have kept it alive ever since as just one more chapter in a long history of evil Western propaganda against the Soviet Union. “Both to undermine support of a socialist alternative at home, and to maintain a dominant position in international economic and political relationships,” Tottle wrote in his introduction, “all manner of lies and distortions are employed” by the Western powers that be “to cast the USSR in as negative a light as possible.” Tottle, who had no apparent training or experience in historical research, singled out Robert Conquest for criticism and ridicule, accusing him of producing “anti-communist propaganda,” charging him with an “unswerving anti-communist bias,” and sneering that his “career as an obsessive anti-Soviet historian has spanned two cold wars.”

Tottle’s book, just so you know, was put out by a Communist publishing house, Progress Publishers, and was praised by such reliable authorities as the Stalin Society (yes, there is such a thing) and the Communist Party of Sweden.

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Josef Stalin

We noted yesterday that the timing of Jeff Coplon’s Village Voice article denying the Holodomor and smearing Conquest was less than fortuitous: only a couple of years later, the Iron Curtain came down, the archives were opened, and Conquest was proven right. Tottle’s timing was lousy, too. His book came out in December 1987, and almost simultaneously the head of the Ukrainian Communist party, Volodymyr Shcherbytskyi, publicly acknowledged the reality of the Holodomor. Being a good Communist soldier (and not an objective historian, as he’d presented himself), Tottle bowed to the party line and withdrew his book.

Nonetheless, the book remains available online, and continues to be cited as definitive by any number of apologists for the Soviet Union. Only last year, an official Russian government “news” site, Sputnik News (which has been described by Foreign Policy magazine, the Center for European Policy Analysis, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as a Kremlin propaganda outlet), ran an article by Ekaterina Blinova entitled “Holodomor Hoax: The Anatomy of a Lie Invented by West’s Propaganda Machine.” (Blinova makes her point of view crystal clear when she writes of the “bold historical experiment kicked off by Communists” and suggests that Soviet Communism failed only because “it did not comply with the plans of the Western financial and political elite.”)

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Judy Whitehead

Among the readers who gave Blinova’s fantastical rewrite of history an enthusiastic thumbs-up in the comments section was Judy Whitehead, a professor of anthropology at University of Lethbridge. “Thanks for this,” she wrote. “The anti-Communist paranoia in the west fueled this hoax. Its mythical nature and its use by Nazi sympathizers should be better known throughout the world.” Whitehead, it turns out, is a fervent supporter of the so-called “antifascist resistance in Ukraine” – in other words, the anti-democratic Putin puppets who seek to deny Ukraine a free and independent future and return it to the status of a Kremlin satellite.

Coplon v. Conquest

Yesterday we looked at the first wave of denial about the Holodomor, the famine that Stalin engineered in the Ukraine in 1932-33. We saw how New York Times Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty cemented his place in history by denying the reality of a genocide that he knew very well was taking place.

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Jeff Coplon

But denial of the Holodomor has lived on. One example: Jeff Coplon. Born in 1951, he’s spent most of his career working as a sports journalist and hack writer, ghosting autobiographies for the likes of Cher. But he made himself notorious with a 1988 article in the Village Voice, “In Search of a Soviet Holocaust,” in which he spun the Holodomor as a Big Lie served up by the American right to impugn the Soviet Union. The article began with an epigraph from Adolf Hitler, no less: “Something therefore always remains and sticks from the most impudent lies…. The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed.” Coplon went on to sneer at the 1983 documentary, Harvest of Despair, calling the entire history of the Holodomor “a fraud.” Yes, he admitted,

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Josef Stalin

There was indeed a famine in the Ukraine in the early 1930s. It appears likely that hundreds of thousands, possibly one or two million, Ukrainians died — the minority from starvation, the majority from related diseases. By any scale, this is an enormous toll of human suffering. By general consensus, Stalin was partially responsible.

But….

Stalin, Coplon insisted, hadn’t meant to kill all those people. He just made some really big mistakes. What’s more, other officials, further down in the power structure, were guilty, too. Even some of the starving Ukrainians themselves did things that weren’t in their own interests. In short, it’s one big muddle.

And…..

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Robert Conquest

Those who have pushed the narrative of the Holodomor, Coplon further argued, have had unsavory motives. They’ve been – gasp! – anti-Communists. Coplon dismisses one of them, Robert Conquest, as a know-nothing propagandist with CIA ties and careerist bent. This crude depiction of a truly great historian by a hack sportswriter is breathtaking in its audacity. Coplon does everything he can to discredit Conquest – pointing out, for example, that the research for Conquest’s book on the Holodomor was funded in part by “an $80,000 subsidy from the Ukrainian National Association, a New Jersey-based group with a venerable, hard-right tradition.” As for the book itself, Coplon mocks it as yet another piece of what he sneeringly calls “faminology.” For good measure, he ridicules Conquest as “an ideologue whose serious work is long behind him.” 

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One of Coplon’s masterworks

Alas for Coplon, timing was not on his side. Soon after his article came out, the Iron Curtain fell. The Soviet archives were opened. Conquest was vindicated – and then some. (The author Kingsley Amis, who was a friend of Conquest’s, suggested that his first book after the opening of the archives should be entitled I Told You So, You F***ing Fools.) By the time of his death last August, Conquest had been awarded a Order of the British Empire and named a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature; meanwhile, Coplon went on to co-author such classics as My Story with Sarah, Duchess of York (1996) and My Father’s Daughter with Tina Sinatra (2000).

Never, as far as we know, has Coplon publicly apologized for his reprehensible whitewash of the Holodomor and his inexcusable slander of Robert Conquest.

Denying the Holodomor

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The Holodomor Memorial in Washington, D.C., dedicated last November

Ukrainians call it the Holodomor, which means “extermination by hunger.” The man-made famine – conceived by Stalin as a way of eliminating Ukrainian nationalism – took the lives of at least 2.5 million Ukrainians (and perhaps three times that) in 1932 and 1933. It was, without question, an act of cold-blooded mass murder. Food supplies were cut off; grain produced in the Ukraine, in amounts large enough to feed Ukrainians several times over, was transported out of the Ukraine and sold abroad; Ukrainians seeking to leave the Ukraine to find food elsewhere in the USSR were turned back. The Ukraine reached such heights of desperation that widespread cannibalism resulted. And yet from the very beginning, there have been those in the West who have denied the existence of immense historical atrocity.

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Walter Duranty

The very first of these deniers – or, at least, the most prominent and influential of the first, contemporary wave of deniers – was our website’s own poster boy, New York Times reporter Walter Duranty.

As the Times‘s man in Moscow from 1922 to 1936, Duranty exercised immense control over what, and how much, Americans – and the Western world generally – knew about what was going on inside the Soviet Union. His overall record is disgraceful; he was one of the earliest modern examples (CNN, more recently, has provided us with many others) of a foreign correspondent who is prepared to systematically whitewash the dictatorship in which he is stationed, presumably in order to retain access.

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Gareth Jones

But none of the propaganda he served up about Uncle Joe was as bad as his thoroughgoing misrepresentation of the Holodomor. When a courageous young British journalist named Gareth Jones, who had traveled widely in the Ukraine and seen the starvation up close, reported honestly on his findings, Duranty was quick to shoot him down, calling his report “an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.”

Duranty – the man who had the name, the reputation, and the golden Times imprimatur – won the day; Jones, a nobody, was dismissed as a fabricator or, at best, a rank hyperbolist. In fact Duranty was well aware of the famine; he knew Stalin had engineered it; and he accepted it as something that simply had to be done in order to advance the USSR’s long, glorious march toward utopia. (It was, incidentally, Duranty, acknowledging the Holodomor in a private letter, who first wrote, apropos of Stalin’s tough love for his subjects, that “you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”)

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Louis Fischer

Joining Duranty in the cover-up was Louis Fischer, a staffer for The Nation who parroted the official Kremlin line, insisting that there was no starvation in the Ukraine, and blaming any food shortages on counterrevolutionary Ukrainians. (To his credit, Fischer, who at the time of the famine was a devout Communist, later turned against Communism and left The Nation because of its Stalinist slant.)

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George Bernard Shaw

The great playwright George Bernard Shaw, who defended Stalin’s show trials and summary executions (and whose fatuous stoogery deserves to be discussed at greater length on this site at a future date), was taken on a Potemkin tour of the USSR in 1932 and on his return to Britain stated that hadn’t seen “a single under-nourished person in Russia, young or old.”

But that was just the beginning. More tomorrow.

Eulogies for a Stalinist

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Alexander Cockburn

As we’ve noted, Alexander Cockburn‘s death unleashed a torrent of praise from the mainstream media, most of which pretended that he’d been something of a classical liberal. The New Yorker‘s Hendrik Hertzberg didn’t play that game – in fact, he admitted that Cockburn’s politics had been morally offensive – but he sought to put those politics into, shall we say, some kind of larger context. Emphasizing style over substance, personality over ideology, Hertzberg recalled “the dazzle of [Cockburn’s] charisma in the eyes of a certain cohort of bohemian and would-be bohemian youth” back in the 1970s. Hertzberg exulted: “what style! Cockburn was a rare bird, a peacock among the scowling mudhens of America’s humor-challenged Nixon-era New Left. He was a combative Fleet Street Oxbridge dandy, a prolific, lightning-fast writer, often laugh-out-loud funny, with a rich store of obscure (to us provincials) historical allusions and a knack for deploying a tone of elaborate courtesy in the joyful delivery of delicious insult.”

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Hendrik Hertzberg

He was a Stalinist, in short: an apologist for the Gulag, the Moscow show trials, the Holodomor, and much else. But oh, what sense of humor! What charm! What wit! And there was more: “Cockburn’s speaking voice was as seductive as his wit was sharp. He was good-looking, too, in the angular, joli laid way of certain British star performers. A bit of Jagger, a bit of Peter O’Toole.” 

Yes, a Peter O’Toole in the service of the Kremlin. 

One person who didn’t try to obscure the straightforward facts about this man was the distinguished historian Ronald Radosh, who quite rightly called Cockburn “the true successor of Walter Duranty, a man who wrote to serve the enemies of the United States and to glorify what he saw as the great achievements of the Bolsheviks and their successors.”

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Ronald Radosh

Radosh noted that when he, Radosh, favorably reviewed former Cuban political prisoner Armando Valladares’s memoir Against All Hope – a book that, as Radosh put it, revealed “the truth about the torture state that Fidel Castro had created in Cuba, thereby making the public aware for the first time in our country of the reality of how Castro treated his country’s political opponents” – Cockburn responded by disseminating the Havana regime’s lies, smearing the valiant Valladares and dismissing his accounts of torture as counterrevolutionary lies.

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Armando Valladares

In a letter to The Nation protesting Cockburn’s reprehensible effort to discredit Valladares, Radosh observed that the only reasonable conclusion one could come to after reading it was that Cockburn supported Castro’s torturing of his opponents. Cockburn, in his reply, derided Radosh as “a professional anticommunist, with the tunnel vision that goes with that trade,” and again denied that Castro’s government engaged in torture.

Given the kind of information to which Cockburn had ready access, it is impossible to interpret his statements about Castro and Radosh as anything other than the most cynical and heartless of lies. 

Duranty’s heir

In the last couple of days, we’ve met Claud Cockburn (1904-81), a loyal Stalinist stooge who was actually taken seriously – and respected – as a journalist, and his son Alexander (1941-2012), ditto.

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Alexander Cockburn in the 1970s

Repeatedly, Cockburn fils strove to understate the scale of Stalin’s crimes. In a March 1989 piece for The Nation, he expressed outrage at Soviet historian Roy Medvedev’s statement that about 20 million people had “died in labor camps, forced collectivization, famine and executions” under Stalin. Professing to find “a suspect symmetry about the number 20 million, which is the same total normally reckoned for Soviet losses in the war against Hitler,” Cockburn charged Medvedev with seeking to establish a “symmetry…between Stalin and Hitler.” Cockburn thereupon launched into a strained, desperate argument the manifest objective of which was to try to bring the number of Stalin’s victims down as much as possible. Like many another minimizer of Stalin’s crimes, Cockburn also took on Robert Conquest, mockingly referring to him as “the British chevalier de la guerre foide” and finding various exceedingly obscure professors who were willing to sneer at Conquest on the record.

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Robert Conquest

Cockburn knew it was impossible to totally rehabilitate Stalin, and always offered the obligatory acknowledgment that Stalin was, indeed, a bad guy. His modest goal was simply to ensure that Hitler remained unchallenged as the most evil dictator of the 20th century. In order to accomplish this objective, Alex needed to keep the numbers of Stalin’s victims below Hitler’s, and to insist that while Hitler committed genocide, Stalin did not.

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Leonid Brezhnev

But that wasn’t all. Cockburn rooted for Stalin’s successors, too. Here’s Harold Meyerson, whom we quoted yesterday: “Alex also periodically issued forth with defenses of Brezhnev, which was more remarkable yet: While Stalin retained a few nostalgic apologists, Brezhnev had virtually none. I still remember one column in which Alex enthused about the rise in the number of refrigerators in the Soviet Union.”

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Claud Cockburn

In an August 1991 op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Cockburn admitted that the collapse of the USSR made him “sad.” After all, “The Soviet Union defeated Hitler and fascism.” Never mind the total (and typical) omission from this picture of the role of the western Allies: what Cockburn was celebrating here was the defeat of one form of totalitarianism by another. “Without the Soviet threat,” he claimed, “there would have been no Marshall Plan.” This is kind of like giving a deadly disease credit for the discovery of its cure. “There would never have been the International Brigades, the workers my father used to describe to me when I was a boy. He met them in the trenches in Spain after they’d crossed the Atlantic or ridden the rails across Europe, mustered to defend the republic against Franco, fascism and the complicity of the Western powers.” We’ve already seen the disgraceful role that Cockburn’s father played in that war, in which he’d not only fought against Franco but consorted with the murderers of Republican soldiers who were actually fighting for freedom, rather than for Stalin. 

Second-generation Stalinist

Yesterday we met the late Claud Cockburn, a propaganda tool of Stalin’s who passed himself off as a legitimate journalist.

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Alexander Cockburn

Cockburn had three sons, all of whom became journalists of varying degrees of legitimacy. The oldest, Alexander – born in 1941 and educated, like his father, at Keble College, Oxford – was, more than his brothers, the keeper of their father’s flame and the follower in his footsteps. Which is to say that he routinely wrote columns celebrating his father’s legacy, shamelessly repeated his father’s flagrant lies, and himself made a career of defending Stalin, the Soviet Union, and, later, post-Soviet Russia.

Presumably because he was the son of such an illustrious, well-connected hack, Alex Cockburn made his name quickly, going straight from Oxford to the Times Literary Supplement and New Statesman and then – after relocating, in familiar British-journalist fashion, to the U.S. – to the Village Voice, then The Nation. In the 1990s he co-founded the loony-left rag CounterPunch, of which he served as co-editor until his death in 2012. When he died, Cockburn, like many another Communist, was given a thorough whitewash in the New York Times and other mainstream media, which memorialized him as a brilliantly crusading journalist and honorable liberal truth-teller.

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Irving Howe

In fact there was nothing liberal about him. As Harold Meyerson wrote after Cockburn’s death, a “contempt for liberals and social democrats was a hallmark” of his work; he “took particular pleasure in calumniating” anti-Communist socialists such as George Orwell and Irving Howe, because their “democratic scruples” threatened Cockburn’s own “claim to radical rectitude (not to mention communism’s claim to socialist legitimacy).” In short, he was the very tintype of his dad.

As with his father, Alex’s politics were always of a piece: ardently pro-Soviet, anti-American, anti-Israeli, and – not to mince words about it – unapologetically anti-Semitic. One of the things that made CounterPunch distinctive, as it happens, was that he actually allowed into its pages – which were mostly populated by far-left nuts – the occasional piece by a far-right nut who shared his own virulent Jew-hatred.

Exactly how anti-Semitic was he? This anti-Semitic: in 2009 he ran an article by Alison Weir accusing Israel of kidnapping Palestinians in order to harvest their organs for transplant.

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Josef Stalin

As for his devotion to Stalin, we’ll quote Meyerson again: “Alex never ceased casting Stalin in the best light possible, consistently downplaying the number of Russians (including virtually all the original Bolsheviks) who died by his hand.” He defended Stalin’s signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. He blamed postwar totalitarianism in Eastern Europe on the Cold War – in other words, on the West, rather than on Stalin, who’d actually imposed the totalitarianism. Though firmly opposed to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, he defended the USSR’s earlier incursion into that country. He also applauded the fact that the USSR had stolen America’s nuclear secrets, “thus ending the US monopoly on Armageddon, and in my view making the world a safer place.” In fact, the U.S. monopoly had lasted four years, long enough for the U.S. to have exploited that monopoly in the same way Hitler or Stalin would have done in a heartbeat – namely, by using it to subdue the entire planet.

“Pitcairn’s” propaganda

Yesterday we began looking at the late Claud Cockburn, a paid Stalinist hack whose lies about the Spanish Civil War moved George Orwell to write Homage to Catalonia, a forthright, meticulously observed account of that war – and of the bloody war-within-a-war that the Cockburn and his fellow Kremlin functionaries waged against their supposed Republican allies.

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Claud Cockburn

In his book, Orwell catalogued the systematic “discrepancies” and “fabrications” that ran “all through the accounts in the Communist press” of events in the Spanish war. Citing a report, for example, in which “Pitcairn” (Cockburn’s pen name) described the POUM as possessing much more in the way of weaponry than it really had, Orwell stated that: 

…these tales about tanks, field-guns, and so forth have only been invented because otherwise it is difficult to reconcile the scale of the Barcelona fighting with the P.O.U.M.’s small numbers. It was necessary to claim that the P.O.U.M. was wholly responsible for the fighting; it was also necessary to claim that it was an insignificant party with no following…The only hope of making both statements credible was to pretend that the P.O.U.M. had all the weapons of a modern mechanized army.

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George Orwell

All in all, Orwell pronounced it “impossible to read through the reports” about the Spanish Civil War that appeared in the Communist press “without realizing that they are consciously aimed at a public ignorant of the facts and have no other purpose than to work up prejudice.” Thus Cockburn’s statement that the Trotskyites fighting on the Republican side had been suppressed by the Popular Army (that is, the Spanish Republican Army, the main Republican faction):

The idea here is to give outsiders the impression that all Catalonia was solid against the “Trotskyists.” But the Popular Army remained neutral throughout the fighting; everyone in Barcelona knew this, and it is difficult to believe that Mr Pitcairn did not know it too. Or again, the juggling in the Communist Press with the figures for killed and wounded, with the object of exaggerating the scale of the disorders.

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Hendrik Hertzberg

This, then, was Claud Cockburn – a bought-and-paid-for propagandist for Josef Stalin. A Kremlin mouthpiece who, like America’s own Walter Duranty, disguised himself as an objective reporter.

And yet, as we’ve said, Cockburn enjoyed immense respectability among the media establishment on both sides of the pond. Remembering him four years ago, the New Yorker‘s Hendrik Hertzberg managed to make Claud’s appalling politics sound like merely one of several equally important, and equally colorful, personal attributes. Claud, wrote Hertzberg,

was a wit, a Communist, and a talented journalist — quite a combination. [Imagine writing, with obvious admiration, that someone “was a wit, a Nazi, and a talented journalist — quite a combination.”] Claud was versatile enough to report for both the Times (of London) and the Daily Worker (also of London). [Imagine writing, again with obvious admiration, that someone “was versatile enough to report for both the Times and Der Stürmer.”] In the nineteen-thirties, he started a scabrous, funny, influential, and badly printed paper called The Week, edited by him and discreetly financed by the Comintern. [Imagine…oh, never mind, you get the idea.] The Kremlin, alas, got its money’s worth; but on matters to which Moscow was indifferent (or which happened to serve its interests), The Week broke news that was true and important.

Note that “discreetly”; note that “alas.” The overall effect is to make propagandizing for (and accepting money from) Stalin look not like a reprehensible activity but like a sign of, as Hertzberg puts it, admirable professional versatility.

Stalin’s hack

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Claud Cockburn

He was one of those prominent British figures of the last century who seem to have known or been related to just about everybody else of public consequence. Married first to journalist Hope Hale Davis, second to journalist Jean Ross (on whom Christopher Isherwood is said to have modeled his character Sally Bowles, the heroine in Cabaret), and third to journalist Patricia Byron (mother of his journalist sons Alexander, Andrew, and Patrick), Claud Cockburn (1904-81) was a cousin of Evelyn Waugh and the grandfather of TV journalists Laura and Stephanie Flanders and actress Olivia Wilde.

He was also one of those prominent British figures whose extreme anti-democratic and anti-capitalist political views didn’t keep them from luxuriating in their own economic privilege – or to put the slightest dent in their perceived social respectability.

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Joe Stalin

And when we say extreme, we mean it. Cockburn was an out-and-out Stalinist. He’s rightly been called a “Stalinist shill.” While serving in the International Brigades, which fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, he “covered” the war for the British Daily Worker, writing under the name Frank Pitcairn. He was nothing remotely resembling a legitimate journalist, however; he was, quite simply, a Kremlin propaganda operative, and his closest comrades during his sojourn in Spain were Soviet agents, whose systematic murders of non-Communist Republicans he knew all about – and kept secret. His “reportage” from the front was in fact dictated from beginning to end by his bosses in Moscow, at whose behest he depicted decent liberals and socialists who were fighting for a truly free Spain (as opposed to a Soviet puppet state) as fascists, spies, saboteurs, and murderers. In one article, he actually invented an entire battle, his goal being to make the fascists look weaker than they really were, and thus win French support for the the Republicans.

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Andres Nin

As one socialist writer has put it, “Claud Cockburn’s slanders helped prepare the atmosphere in which [Andres] Nin [head of the POUM, a Spanish party that sought to be a Communist alternative to the Kremlin-directed Communist Party of Spain] and others were murdered. Moreover, his articles were published in the midst of the infamous Moscow Trials. His lies played an objective role in assisting in Stalin’s mass extermination of the Soviet socialist intellectuals and workers.” Cockburn’s “misrepresentations of the Spanish Civil War,” noted Harold Meyerson of the American Prospect, “prodded George Orwell to write Homage to Catalonia.” We’ll look at that masterwork tomorrow.

Smearing Elie Wiesel

Imagine the pride of a father who – having made a career as an unscrupulous world-class professional creep – lives to see his son, at a still relatively tender age, surpass his own monumental record for moral iniquity.

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Max and Sid

Whom else could we be talking about here but the execrable Sidney Blumenthal and his evil spawn, Max?

We’ve already looked in on Max a couple of times in the last year or so, noting the breathtaking rapidity with which he rose to the very top of the list of American Jews who make a career out of vilifying Israel (and, as a corollary, defending and justifying Islamic terror). His 2013 book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel was so repulsive that even Eric Alterman, hardly an apologist for Israel, wrote that it “could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club (if it existed).” Max supports the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement; he’s repeatedly accused Israel of apartheid and equated it with Nazi Germany; he’s even gone so far as to cheer, in a talk at the London School of Economics, a massacre of IDF soldiers in 2014 by members of Hamas.

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Elie Wiesel

No one should have been surprised, then, by Max’s disgusting response to the death, on July 2, at age 87, of Elie Wiesel – the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner who provided, in his 1960 memoir Night, an indelible account of the experience of Auschwitz, and who over the decades became an internationally respected prophet of decency and humanity, an eloquent critic of anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of prejudice who, at one moment of crisis after another, reminded the world where its moral duty lay.

All that mattered to Max, however, was that Wiesel recognized the very real difference between Israel (which Max has referred to as JSIL – the Jewish State in the Levant) and its terrorist enemies. And so, on July 2, Max tweeted out the following:

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Blumenthal and one of his most vocal critics, Rabbi Schmuley Boteach

Elie Wiesel is dead. He spent his last years inciting hatred, defending apartheid & palling around with fascists.

And:

Elie Wiesel went from a victim of war crimes to a supporter of those who commit them. He did more harm than good and should not be honored.

In a follow-up article, Max smeared Wiesel as a careerist who’d “secured his brand as the high priest of Holocaust theology, the quasi-religion he introduced.”

Joel Pollak had the perfect comment on all this: “Blumenthal’s bile,” he wrote, “is a perfect tribute to Wiesel, who was the living retort to such nonsense.”  

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Sid with Bill, back in the White House days

As it happens, Max’s dad, Sid, is a longtime Clinton functionary – confidante, adviser, fixer, bagman, snoop, go-between. Several of Hillary’s famous e-mails to Sid reference Max, praising his articles: “He’s so good.” “A very smart piece.” “[P]owerful and touching.” “Max strikes again!” Over the year, both Clintons have kept mum about Max’s vicious savaging of Israel. But his Wiesel tweets made headlines, and Hillary is running for president, and so she apparently felt compelled – finally – to distance herself from him, releasing a statement through her campaign rejecting his “offensive, hateful and patently absurd statements” about Wiesel, whom she described as a “hero.”

Better late than never. But it will take far more than this one incident, one suspects, for the Clintons to cut loose Max’s dad, whose utter lack of the kind of conscience that Wiesel embodied has made him the most useful of factotums.

Owen Jones: covering for Islam

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Owen Jones

As we noted yesterday, gay Guardian commentator Owen Jones lost his temper and walked off of a TV program on the night of the Orlando nightclub massacre. His purported reason? The other two people on-screen had refused to call the killings homophobic. This was not, in fact, the case. What bothered him, apparently, was that if he hadn’t thrown a fit, he would have been forced to listen to a discussion of a topic he has been trying to avoid for years – namely, the fact that Islam, which he has defended fiercely against all comers, does in fact preach the murder of gay people such as himself.

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Rod Liddle

The Telegraph‘s Julia Hartley-Brewer, who was on the TV show with Jones, accused him of making the massacre all about himself. Rod Liddle, writing in the Spectator, agreed: “the reliably idiotic left-wing columnist Owen Jones had a temper tantrum while reviewing the papers on Sky News — and stormed off the set, apparently because neither the presenter nor the other reviewer, Julia Hartley-Brewer, would accept that the tragedy was all about Owen.”

Liddle went on:

This was an attack upon an LGBT community, Jones insisted — needlessly, as it happens, because everybody had accepted that it was an attack upon an LGBT community….But none of it was enough for Owen. The only thing that mattered was that it was an attack upon gay people, and so it was a kind of singularity, an atrocity which Owen, being gay, could have to himself. The fact that a loathing of homosexuality is but one of the many problematic facets of Islam — along with misogyny, a contempt for those who are not Muslim, a hatred of Jewish people — was something which Jones could not accept. Presumably because this contradicted his resolutely fixed mindset that Muslims are oppressed people and are therefore as one in the struggle for liberation along with gay and transgendered people.

Indeed. In the Daily Mail, Katie Hopkins agreed with Liddle. While admitting that there was no love lost between her and Jones, she tried to be generous and sympathetic: “Owen is caught on a human fault line partly of his own making – he writes for the Guardian and is a cheerleader for Labour who prioritise Islam over the LGBT cause far closer to his own hurting heart.” She then read Jones the riot act:

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Katie Hopkins

Someone has to call this thing. Until Islam is tolerant of gay rights, we cannot tolerate Islam. In any sense. You have to choose.

LGBT rights or Islam. Black or white. Yes or no. Stop or go. It is a binary thing. You need to decide.

Douglas Murray, a somewhat older and infinitely wiser gay British writer, who recognizes Islam for what it is, summed up his view in a single tweet:

I’m sorry for Owen Jones. I would also feel guilty if I’d spent my life covering for the ideology that just killed 50 LGBT people.

If Jones was feeling guilty the night of the Orlando massacre, it didn’t last for long. The day after, he recorded a video (see below) utterly ignoring the issue of Islam – except for a brief mention of London’s new Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, whom he praised, absurdly, as a staunch defender of gay rights. The useful stoogery, in short, goes on.