The Corner

Re: Palmer: Hmmmm

John – I’ll take your point under advisement. But some preliminary thoughts:

1) Surely you have no problem illuminating the inconvenient fact that the Red Scare was the product of a liberal Democratic administration. To listen to liberals talk about McCarythism, one would think that such episodes can and must spring forth only from Republican and conservative administrations and politicians. Surely, the fact that the Wilson administration was far more complicit in a far greater crackdown on dissidents, socialists, and “Bolshies” than anything which transpired on Eisenhower’s watch or was done by Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn is significant.

2) When I condemn Palmer — at least in this context — I’m trying to illustrate that by the standards of the liberal-left Palmer was a very bad guy. For some reason, when the liberal-left commits heinous acts we’re supposed to believe they were the product of America’s fundamental badness. When “conservatives” do bad things, however, we’re told such crimes are a direct and logical consequence of their ideology. In this way, liberals can (or try to) claim that they have always and everywhere been on the right side of history, which is utter nonsense.

Hence “America” failed when a liberal president interned Japanese-Americans. Hence America or, even better, “right-wingers” were responsible for the Red Scare under Wilson when in fact liberals and even socialists deserve much of the blame.

Industrialists, for example, may be partly to blame for the “rush to war” in WWI, but that explanation was in no small part put forward to hide the blame which deserved to rest squarely on the shoulders of pro-war socialists and liberals in America. Indeed, most liberals and socialists in America were very pro-war. And for all the grief conservatives get these days for being “haters,” we can’t hold a candle to those guys. Pro-war socialist Charles E. Russel declared that his former colleagues should be “driven from the country.” J.G. Phelps Stokes insisted that anti-war socialists should be “shot at once without delay.” Etc. Etc.

3) I do not dispute that during the witch hunts of the Red Scare there were real witches. But that doesn’t absolve the Wilson administration of everything it did. Truth be told, the Palmer Raids and that stuff doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the way Wilson and Creel manipulated the public into war. But that’s a subject for another day.

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