Were neoconservatives the heroes of the Cold War? Or were many of them latecomers to the cause of anti-communism, too long enamored of its ugly little sister, socialism?
Consider. Last week, The Washington Times reported on a party at the Slovak embassy given to honor America’s Cold War heroes.
In the photos were such stalwarts as Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, the Reagan speech-writer, Gen. “Jack” Singlaub, a legendary warrior, Al Regnery, whose father was the bravest anti-communist publisher of the Cold War, and Jon Utley, whose mother, Frieda, took the road traveled by Whitaker Chambers.
But it was not these Cold War veterans who were being bemedaled.
Indeed, the first clanging note came in the name given to the awards being presented: the Truman-Reagan Medal.
What is Truman’s name doing on a medal honoring victims of communism? Did Harry not himself create 2 million of those victims when he ordered Russian POWs sent back to Stalin in Operation Keelhaul? Did Harry not come home from Potsdam singing the praises of “good old Uncle Joe”?
Did Truman not sit silent while communists cleansed Eastern Europe of 15 million Germans, mostly women and children, beating and killing 2 million in the exodus?
Was it not Harry who panicked when Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech at Fulton, Mo., appeared to backfire, and who then offered to send the battleship Missouri to pick up Joe Stalin and bring him over here, so he could have equal time to refute Churchill?
Was it not Truman whose envoy, George Marshall, godfathered the policy that led to the loss of China to Mao, who would create more victims of communism than any other monster?
Was it not Truman whose government was honeycombed with communist traitors who had to be ferreted out by Richard Nixon and “Tailgunner” Joe McCarthy, as Truman ranted on about “red herrings”?
Was it not Truman who fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur and wrung his hands as Americans died in the tens of thousands in his “no-win war” in Korea, until his party was wiped out in 1952 for having been “soft on communism”?
Truman did approve the Berlin Airlift, did send aid to Turkey and Greece, and did create the Marshall Plan and NATO. But, in his near eight years, more people were lost to communism and murdered by communists than under any other president. Why, then, is Truman’s name twinned with that of Reagan, who was cleaning communists out of the Screen Actors Guild while Harry was covering for them in his own household?
Then, there are the honorees given the Reagan-Truman Medal from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation: Carl Gershman and Michael Novak.
Gershman is a former chairman of Social Democrats, USA, a socialist organization founded by Trotskyite Max Shactman, who became disillusioned with Stalin only after Stalin’s murdering had been going on for decades. Not until the 1960s did SC/USA join the Socialist Party of Norman Thomas. Not until the 1970s did Gershman scoot over to Sen. Henry Jackson, along with other ex-socialists and former Trotskyites.
Gershman’s career path raises a question: Where was he during Vietnam, the anti-communist war of his generation? Was he with Johnson and Nixon against the leftist agitators against war, or was he one of those agitators, as Michael Novak seems to have been?
Novak was a co-author of the antiwar tract “Vietnam: Crisis of Conscience,” a 1967 work “designed to clarify the moral issue and point to lines of action which responsible repentance requires,” by one review.
Novak was also associated with Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam (CALCAV), a leftist organization. In 1972, he wrote speeches for vice presidential nominee Sargent Shriver, who railed against Nixon’s bombing of communist North Vietnam.
When America left Vietnam, tens of thousands of Vietnamese were slaughtered or sent to concentration camps by the communists, while a million Cambodians were massacred by the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot. CALCAV was wrong, dead wrong.
Has Novak or Gershman ever apologized for or explained their roles during what Reagan called the “noble cause” to save South Vietnam from communist barbarism, a cause for which 58,000 Cold War heroes gave their lives?
Leftists are not the only ones rewriting resumes to paint themselves as heroic in the Cold War. So, too, are the neocons. Why is the right letting them get away with it?
Perhaps next year, the Victims of Communism will honor life-long anti-communist warriors who paid heavier prices than Gershman or Novak ever did, folks like Ollie North, Jesse Helms, Phyllis Schlafly and “Jack” Singlaub, who spent as much time behind enemy lines as Gershman and Novak did singing, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”