Coulter and Her Critics

The trouble with so many of Ann Coulter‘s critics is they’re conspicuously ill-informed. Take for instance, their attacks on the late Sen. Joe McCarthy, the legendary anti-Communist she champions in her current best seller, Treason. When Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly said McCarthy “demonized people who didn’t deserve to be demonized,” Coulter shot back: “Name one.” O’Reilly balked for a moment, then boldly proclaimed: “I’ll name one. Dalton Trumbo.” O’Reilly was breathtakingly mistaken. When Coulter countered McCarthy “had nothing to do with Trumbo,” O’Reilly blithely compounded his error. “Sure, he did,” he said, and then plowed ahead, “It was a House of Un-American Activities Committee, all right, and he was overseeing that.” How could the No-Spin-Man, normally a sensible observer of the passing scene, pack so much giddy nonsense into so few words? First off, Coulter was right: McCarthy never, ever investigated Dalton Trumbo, a famous Hollywood screenwriter. Nor did McCarthy ever serve on the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA). Period. In what civics lesson did O’Reilly learn that senators run House committees? The HCUA did investigate Trumbo—over two years before McCarthy launched his anti-Red crusade—but Trumbo was well worthy of investigation. True, Trumbo was a witty and talented fellow, whose hectic life—including Communist Party activities, jail, breaking the blacklist, and scripting such movies as Exodus and Spartacus—was being celebrated at the Westside Theatre in New York this summer. But for much of his life—he died in 1976—the writer acted as an appendage to Joe Stalin. He yearned for Communism to come to the United States, by force and violence if necessary (although his still-substantial fan base will never admit it). Trumbo’s allegiance to Communism is beyond dispute. With Rep. J. Parnell Thomas (R.-N.J.) presiding, the HCUA on Oct. 28, 1947, heard Trumbo’s “testimony.” He repeatedly refused to say whether he was a member of the Communist Party, but demanded “to be confronted with any evidence” that he was. “Well, you will pretty soon,” said a mischievous Thomas. Within minutes of Trumbo’s dismissal from the stand, Thomas and his chief investigator, Robert Stripling, poured into the hearing record nine pages of finely detailed information proving beyond quibble the screenwriter’s Red activities. Louis Russell, a former FBI agent working for the committee, then produced, in Russell’s words, “a photostatic copy” of Trumbo’s 1944 party registration card bearing the name “Dalt T” and “the number 47187.” Years later, Trumbo would admit this much (contained in his papers at the Wisconsin State Historical Society): He joined the CP in 1943, stayed an active member through at least 1947, remained in a somewhat uncertain relationship (following his contempt of Congress conviction plus a stint in jail), and then “reaffiliated” in 1954, the experience, one surmises, having been so delightful the first time around. He also told his biographer, Bruce Cook, that his views were such that he “might as well have been a Communist ten years earlier [i.e., as early as 1933].” In other words, for most of over two decades Trumbo concedes he either was a CP member or behaved like one. Joining the Communist Party was not on a par with belonging to the Rotary Club. If you remained for any length of time, this meant your primary loyalty was to the Soviet Union, that you were a willing agent of Joseph Stalin’s murderous regime, and that you were capable of doing almost anything—betraying your own country, spying for Russia, shilling for Moscow or closely allying yourself with Adolph Hitler—to bring about the absolute destruction of liberty in the West. Trumbo never engaged in espionage, but over several decades he faithfully fronted for Stalin’s predatory policies directed against his own people, America and the non-Communist world. If the Soviets were for it, so was Trumbo. A hard-line, pro-revolutionary American Communist Party, Stalin’s pact with Nazi Germany (which triggered Hitler’s invasion of Western Europe), the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe, the Cold War, the hot war in Korea—Trumbo could invariably be counted on to be in Moscow’s hip pocket. O’Reilly may be concerned about this prominent screenwriter’s demonization, but, for some folks, Trumbo has never been demonized enough. The Rabinowitz Attack The Wall Street Journal‘s Dorothy Rabinowitz, who fancies herself as quite the intellectual, was more devious when she mocked Coulter’s claim that McCarthy was right when he accused Army code clerk Annie Lee Moss of having been a Communist Party member. How come, McCarthy wanted to know, could Moss, known to her superiors to have a Communist record, get a security clearance to deal with classified material? McCarthy never got the answer, and Moss falsely contended she never was a Communist. Rabinowitz bought her denial, sniffing that the Moss case was one of the senator’s “most notorious.” But Rabinowitz, despite her condescending tone, was embarrassingly wrong—and deceitful in failing to note Coulter’s most powerful evidence to the contrary. The March ll, 1954, McCarthy hearing, in truth, was a devastating indictment of Army security procedures—and Moss herself. Moss denied she was a Red, but admitted receiving the Daily Worker, the official organ of the Communist Party, at various addresses she had inhabited over the years. She conceded, after some prodding, that the paper “might have been addressed to me” (instead of her husband). She acknowledged that Robert Hall, one of three top Washington, D.C., Communists, had visited her home and that she had lived for a time, with Hattie Griffin, an active CP member who hosted Communist meetings at her home. More damning evidence was produced. Moss, as the hearings disclosed, had been identified as a dues-paying member of the Northeast Club of the D.C. Communist Party by FBI undercover informant Mary Markward, and the committee’s majority counsel, Roy Cohn, stressed that Markward’s testimony had been “corroborated” in “a sworn statement” by another witness in executive session. The clincher came four years later, when the Subversive Activities Control Board, an agency of the federal government, held a hearing on Markward, partly to determine if she had told the truth about Moss. The SACB’s Sept. 19, 1958, verdict, based on D.C. Communist Party records, such as membership and dues rosters, was that the exhibits “corroborate Markward’s testimony in the Moss security hearing. . . .” (emphasis added). The SACB hearing also proved another crucial point: that the Annie Lee Moss named by Markward was the very same Annie Lee Moss named by McCarthy. Case closed, for most reasonable people, though not, apparently, for Ms. Rabinowitz. (For a thorough discussion of the Moss case, see M. Stanton Evans’ article in the May 26 issue of HUMAN EVENTS, written a month before Rabinowitz’s essay in the Journal.) Beichman Misfires Arnold Beichman’s attack against McCarthy is atypical of this noted columnist. Beichman has been a highly knowledgeable and indispensable critic of Communism for decades, but he slipped when he fervently pleaded with Coulter to discover McCarthy’s sins by reading an article by Richard L. Walker in the fall 1998 issue of the National Interest. The Walker piece is not only weak tea, but manifestly misguided. Walker makes it clear he agrees with those who lament the “wild charges by McCarthy that Owen Lattimore and the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR) represented part of a Communist conspiracy.” But they did and serious students of the subject agree. The most thorough and discriminating investigation of the IPR was undertaken by the Senate Judiciary’s Internal Security Subcommittee headed by Pat McCarran (D.-Nev.). The bipartisan panel held hearings over an ll-month period, from July 25, 1951, through June 20, 1952, with the printed record of the hearings totaling over 5,000 pages. Sixty-six witnesses were heard, including Asian scholars, major officers of the Institute, former high-ranking military, intelligence and diplomatic officials and ex-Communists, both foreign and domestic. The committee also uncovered thousands of IPR files. The case against the IPR, which played an instrumental role in paving Mao Tse-tung’s climb to power in China, was overwhelming. Based on massive amounts of evidence, the final report found that key staff positions, projects and publications of the IPR were controlled by Communists and pro-Communists. Frederick Vanderbilt Field, its executive secretary from 1934 through 1940, and an influential figure subsequently, acknowledged in his autobiography that “At the height of my involvement with the IPR, I became associated with the Communist Party.” Michael Greenberg, who ran the IPR’s influential Pacific Affairs publication, was a known Communist. Owen Lattimore, a key IPR player, was viewed by the McCarran report—after extensive investigation and testimony from Lattimore himself—as having been “a conscious, articulate instrument of the Soviet conspiracy.” Asian scholars, such as David N. Rowe of Yale University, ex-American Communists such as Louis Budenz, and ex-Russian Communists, such as Alexander Barmine, testified the IPR was tilted toward Moscow and Mao. And this, as they say, was just the tiny tip of an enormous Red iceberg. Coulter’s critics, in short, haven’t yet laid a glove on her—or on the real target of their venom, Joe McCarthy.