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The Leftward Course Of Human Events
This betrays the modern mindset of the Human Events editors: Focus exclusively on "energy policy" wonkery and avoid the notorious lawlessness that flourished in New Orleans —murder, rapes, assaults, pillaging and looting—because that might mean mentioning its racial component.
As the former managing editor of Human Events, I can recall several instances in editorial meetings and private discussions in which race was simmering just below the surface—whether crime rates in the nation's capital, immigration, or educational disparities in student achievement. When the conversation became increasingly awkward, one of the other top editors would caution: "I suppose we shouldn't discuss that." Then they would quickly move on to a safer subject.
Mind you, this is from a group of conservative editors who would frequently boast of taking brave stands on other topics.
The New Guinean expression Mokita (truth that is widely known but rarely spoken) captures these Establishment Conservatives' attitude to contemporary racial taboos. Certain truths are accepted, but are not to be publicly mentioned.
Politically correct radical egalitarianism—the belief that there are no natural differences between human groups—now reigns as unchallenged in the salons of the Conservative Establishment, as it does everywhere else in America's political and social elites.
Last January I was forced out of my job at Eagle Publishing (home of the Conservative Book Club, Human Events, and Regnery Publishing) after serving nearly three years as managing editor of Human Events. The reason: editing, entirely on my own free time, another publication, The Occidental Quarterly (TOQ), that addresses important cultural, racial, ethnic, and political issues facing the future of Western civilization.
My work performance at Human Events was never questioned. I enjoyed my work, got along well with the editors, valued the camaraderie and good will of my colleagues at Eagle, and always put forth my best effort to meet my employer's expectations to produce a solid, informative conservative weekly newspaper. Other staff members freelanced regularly on the side without losing their jobs.
However, one afternoon the Southern Poverty Law Center, the fanatical left-wing enforcer organization, called my office supervisors to inquire about my work for Human Events, the Evans and Novak Political Report (an Eagle newsletter), and a "white supremacist" publication (TOQ).
To my bosses, the SPLC's Heidi Beirich was a faceless, nameless individual. Nevertheless, without hesitation or reservation, they accepted at face value her accusations and descriptions about my avocational work. Three years of collegial respect simply vanished instantaneously over accusations that were never questioned.
Much of the day passed on a routine schedule when late that afternoon, Tom Winter, the long-time editor in chief of Human Events, sternly demanded that I follow him to the office conference room. I sensed at that point we were not going to discuss a raise or promotion. Near the end of a ten-minute interrogation about my work with TOQ, the vice president of the company said, "How do you think we should handle this?" I was given a few seconds to decide to either resign or be fired.
I asked why I had to either resign or get fired. The response: "We think you know why."
For personal reasons, I decided to resign. We filed out of the conference room as people would leave a wake at a funeral.
As I was packing up my possessions in my office, Winter showed up and complimented me for my work as managing editor. I could sense a degree of unease about what had transpired. He didn't seem to know much about the SPLC and their aggressive agenda to undermine any threat to egalitarianism. For conservatives of his generation, the embodiment of evil liberalism had always been the ACLU.
We talked briefly as I scrambled to find empty spare boxes around the office corridors for my family photos and personal mementos. He tried to smooth things out, but his own admission that I was a "good" managing editor was only a kick in the teeth.
It made me realize the full force of political correctness—imposed by the far left on a prominent "conservative" publication. My departure from Eagle was an expedient way to avoid the likely negative publicity that the SPLC could stoke if Eagle ignored their claims.
Although I had made it a point not to discuss my freelance work around the office, out of respect for my colleagues who might have strong opinions, individuals at Human Events knew of my involvement with TOQ—three Eagle employees, including a senior editor at my sister company Regnery Publishing and a former co-owner of the paper. Not to mention my working relationship with two members of the Regnery family, cousins—the one, Al Regnery, a member of Eagle's corporate board and former publisher of Regnery; the other, William Regnery, a friend…and the publisher of TOQ.
My forced departure was wholly political. Further proof: articles by Marian Coombs and Wayne Lutton, two freelance writers I had used who also write for The Occidental Quarterly, were retroactively stripped off the Human Events website. (But this Soviet-style rewriting of history doesn't work in the age of the internet: the articles can still be found in Google's cache,).
And the way Eagle abruptly dealt with my severance from the company was more callous than I could ever have anticipated. I received a few days pay and compensation for sick leave, vacation time and benefits. As the father of two precious daughters and a wonderful wife, I couldn't imagine how a so-called "family oriented" employer could react so brutally.
It would have been one thing to say, "We see a conflict of interest, we don't like how you spend your time outside the office, but in appreciation of your valued work for the company, here's a few months compensation. We wish you the best of luck."
Nothing doing—I had to evacuate that evening and leave my access card to the building, as if I couldn't be trusted to return and pack up my personal possessions.
Breaking the news to my wife later that evening, awaking her after our two daughters were asleep, was one of the most difficult experiences I've had to face. How do you explain to your wife that you lost your job—not for some work-related grievance—but for exercising your first-amendment rights and, as a freelancer, expressing a point of view?
The late syndicated columnist Sam Francis said that when he was similarly fired from The Washington Times, the experience was comparable psychologically to rape. As Sam put it, you feel personally violated, as if you needed to disinfect yourself by taking a thorough shower. I felt the same way.
One might think that the editors of Human Events would have brushed aside the SPLC's effort to purge one of its employees. Eagle is an employer whose owner, Tom Phillips [email him], a mover and shaker in elite GOP circles, boasts about upholding "traditional American values of free enterprise, limited government, and individual liberty"—and presumably the U.S. Constitution. But Eagle executives were seemingly blind to the fact that the SPLC's agenda actively tries to undermine the limited government and individual liberty of traditional patriotic Americans. The fact that such a radical left-wing organization could generate such a swift response out of, not just any conservative employer, but the flagship publication of social conservatives who politically remain entirely at odds with the SPLC's outlook, is mind-boggling.
For example, in 2003 Human Events selected Judge Roy Moore for its man-of-the-year award for his principled stand in his fight to keep the Ten Commandments monument in his courtroom. The SPLC had filed the suit against Judge Moore that resulted in the removal of the monument.
Furthermore, SPLC's founder Morris Dees said in March 2004, "The most dangerous threat in America today is not from the Ku Klux Klan and it's not from the Neo Nazis, it's from the religious right." Dees added, "I think of Judge Roy Moore in Montgomery, Alabama…. We took that case because it was a case of extreme religious intolerance."
The SPLC even lists the American Enterprise Institute as a "hate" group. [KL correction 10/5/05: In fact, AEI is not listed in the SPLC's "hate group" page, but an article describes AEI "sponsored scholars" as having "views" that are "seen by many as bigoted or even racist", citing Dinesh D'Souza, author of The End of Racism, and Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve.] SPLC's sister organization's website, Tolerance.org, has a glowing interview with former Weatherman and radical educator Bill Ayers, an unrepentant advocate of Communism, who as recently as 1995 described himself as "…a radical, Leftist, small 'c' communist." As Ayers candidly admits in a published interview, "the ethics of Communism still appeal to me." Ayers is married to former Weatherman radical Bernardine Dohrn, who in 1969, according to the Claremont Institute, attended a Weather Underground "war council" in Michigan, in which she "gave a three-fingered 'fork salute' to mass murderer Charles Manson and gloated: "Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, they even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach! Wild!"
To think that Human Events, a staunchly anti-Communist periodical that unapologetically defends Joseph McCarthy and Gen. Augusto Pinochet, would force a loyal employee to resign out of fear of the SPLC would have been, until very recently, inconceivable.
What explains this bizarre spectacle?
Unquestionably, Phillips' takeover of Human Events in the early 1990s has subjected the once-independent paper to conventional corporate pressures. And Tom Winter, unfortunately, has been in poor health.
But over the years, especially since the 1980s, the American right has drifted leftward along with the rest of the political culture, especially on third-rail issues involving race, multiculturalism, and "diversity." Human Events is now far from the staunchly conservative views that it championed not so long ago.
"In its 60-year history, Human Events had never 'knowingly hired a racist, never published racist articles, and never tolerated racist sympathies…and we never will.'"
This may be true, but Winter had no problem granting The Citizen, the monthly publication of the segregationist Citizen's Council, permission to reprint, in August 1979, the columnist M. Stanton Evans' eyewitness account of the Rhodesian election that first appeared in Human Events.
Moreover, Human Events once published detailed critiques of egalitarianism, such as John O'Hara's 1965 article, "Is There a Brotherhood of Man?" It also published the late David Brudnoy's laudatory review of Jared Taylor's Paved With Good Intentions in 1993. Brudnoy noted:
"Taylor's analysis of the double standards operating in America and of the overall circumstance of the underclass is unsurpassed in a single volume intended for the general reader…a document of first-rate significance for analyzing where we are."
The irony of Human Events' publishing this review is that it was Sam Francis's affiliation with Taylor's monthly newsletter American Renaissance that contributed to Francis's banishment from Human Events. Throughout the late 80s and early 90s, his biweekly syndicated column frequently appeared in the paper, occasionally on the cover. But after Francis was purged from The Washington Times, his column likewise vanished from the pages of Human Events. Winter would edit his name from the text whenever it mentioned Francis favorably—just as the Soviets would airbrush an ex-comrade out of existence.
Earlier, contrary to Winter's pronouncements against "racism," Human Events in fact had a long history of publishing provocative commentary on race and politics and maintaining affiliations with segregationist-minded politicians and journalists.
It ran the writings of Major Gen. J. F. C. Fuller, a leading historian of military strategy and a former supporter of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, and Professor Hans Sennholz, an economist and ex-Luftwaffe pilot who was also listed as a contributing editor of the John Birch Society's American Opinion.
American conservatives once vigorously opposed radical changes that the left was forcing on society under the guise of racial equality—spawning the Brown v. Board of Education decisions, "civil rights" laws (including the "Open Housing" and "Voting Rights Acts"), affirmative action policies, court-ordered busing to achieve racial desegregation, the outlawing of merit-based employment testing in the private sector via the Griggs decision, and to a large extent, the current immigration crisis that has followed in the wake of the Immigration Act of 1965. Conservatives opposed this transformation of the culture, customs, and traditions (what the eminent sociologist William Graham Sumner called "Folkways") of America's national character. They unabashedly represented the interests of their core constituents: white, middle-class voters—what Howard Dean has accurately identified as the base of the GOP. In another era, this constituency was known as the "Silent Majority." Today, this constituency is euphemistically referred to as "redstate America," "soccer moms" and "NASCAR dads."
Politically, this conservative continuum included Republican and southern Democratic politicians. Coalitions led by Sen. Barry Goldwater, who opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Ohio Rep. John M. Ashbrook, and Senators Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, and James Eastland stymied radical egalitarian reforms. Grassroots activists to the right of the emerging Conservative Establishment formed patriotic organizations. Broad coalitions of conservatives made possible the Reagan era, ushered in just twelve years after LBJ's Great Society programs seemed to have swept the country.
It is true that over the years Human Events was careful in confronting the race issue. It never was explicitly a racial publication and it would be inappropriate to characterize it as such. But by the same token, it was never a champion of radical egalitarian social policies. It routinely opposed forced busing, Head Start, affirmative action, and aggressively exposed the Communist influence within the civil rights movement. The paper's editors tacitly understood that grassroots cultural conservatives, such as Birchers and members of the Southern Citizen's Council, formed a considerable core of Human Events' readership base. The paper unapologetically looked up to prominent conservative public officials—including former segregationists such as Strom Thurmond—without being explicitly racial in outlook.
Times have changed. One dramatic example: Two years ago Human Events' editor Terry Jeffrey [email him] insisted on using for the cover of the paper a color photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. making his historic 1963 speech to accompany Linda Chavez's column criticizing the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy.
But historically Human Events had been enormously critical of King and his unreported Communist affiliations. In 1983, the paper reprinted in full text Jesse Helms' speech detailing the full range of conservative objections to making King's birthday a national holiday, including the infamous photograph of King attending the Highlander Folk School run by Marxist Myles Horton, which appeared throughout the South on billboards in the 1960s.
By publishing this large, laudatory image of King on the cover of Human Events, the editors must have made a number of older readers wonder if this is the same publication they were reading twenty years ago. (Hint: it isn't).
In 1973, Human Events published "A Tale of Two Heretics," an article by M. Stanton Evans defending the research of Arthur R. Jensen, then at the University of California, Berkeley, and the late Richard Herrnstein of Harvard University. Jensen had published a controversial paper in the Harvard Educational Review in which he argued that the underlying cause of the black/white IQ gap, as measured by valid intelligence tests, was largely genetic in origin. It remains one of the most cited pieces of scholarship in the social science literature. Herrnstein's 1973 book I.Q. and the Meritocracy received widespread condemnation from the left for arguing that class differences, poverty and economic disparities were not the result of capitalism or oppression, but primarily due to differences in IQ.
In a well-written summary of their work, Evans denounced the attempted censorship aimed against them in academic circles. He wrote:
"These parallel stories from our enlightened campuses tell us much about the condition of freedom of speech and publication in America today, as construed by radical activists and certain members of the liberal professoriate. Leftward tolerance of 'dissent' will obviously extend just so far and Herrnstein and Jensen have exceeded the limits. Where hereditarian heresies are concerned, the radicals will not permit expression and conventional liberals in many cases will not defend it—although there are various honorable exceptions to both rules."
Unfortunately, the Conservative Establishment in general and Human Events in particular is no longer an "honorable exception" to this repression.
Thus just over two decades later, in June 2002, Ann Coulter, the legal affairs correspondent for Human Events, wrote a first-rate column titled, "Murdering the Bell Curve." She lambasted liberals for suddenly discovering IQ tests—because they thought they could be used in court to get convicted murderers off death row.
I had been away vacationing that week and noticed, after it appeared in the paper, that one of our reporters had inserted the paperback release date (1996) as the initial publication of the book, which actually was first published in the fall of 1994. In the meantime, the late Jude Wanniski, one of the journalistic proponents of supply side economics, emailed the editors at Human Events, hysterically criticizing Ann's favorable mention of The Bell Curve, denouncing it as a highly flawed book that rested on faulty social science research, citing Gregg Easterbrook's critique from The Washington Monthly, [The Case Against The Bell Curve, Dec, 1994] and claiming that of the more than a hundred scholars who signed the statement of support that appeared on the op/ed page of the Wall Street Journal, no credible biologist or geneticist supported the book's findings.
Wanniski's error was to assume that no psychologist who supported The Bell Curve's thesis had any adequate understanding of genetics. (A high school biology student would know that, based merely on his professional credentials as a self-taught economist, Wanniski would know even less about genetics than a psychologist.)
Anyone familiar with The Bell Curve controversy could easily spot these inaccuracies, as well as other wild, unsupportable assertions in Wanniski's screed, including the number of scholars who signed the Wall Street Journal statement. (Actual number: 52). So I thought it would be a good idea to publish his letter, followed by an editor's note explaining our error in botching the original publication date of The Bell Curve—and offering a point-by-point rebuttal to Wanniski's blunders. I drafted a note and then provided Winter with a proof of the page to edit.
The next morning, I noticed Winter downstairs outside the Eagle office building proofing pages on his cigarette break. As I exchanged greetings and headed into the building's lobby, he said he had one question about my comments on Wanniski's letter. I figured he would drop by in a few minutes and raise the point.
But most of the day had passed when he finally came around to my office, a nervous wreck, leaning over next to me, explaining, "I'm just nervous about being called a 'racist'," as he read off some of the scholars I had listed in the editor's note. When he got to Arthur Jensen's name, he had asked that I edit it out since he was told that Jensen was a "racist." Although I knew this wasn't true, I complied with his request. Other than that, he had no other text changes.
As he was leaving the office, I had discovered that Winter had contacted several close friends and former associates throughout the afternoon to check to see if any of them had read The Bell Curve. He had faxed over a copy of the proof to Stan Evans (of all people) to see if he had read Herrnstein and Murray's book, accompanied by an urgent note to get back to him ASAP.
I couldn't help but think to myself: this is (pinch me) Human Events?!? The same publication that once vigorously defended Jensen and Herrnstein? What's going on?
One of the issues that HE Editor Terry Jeffrey prides himself on is illegal immigration. As a former director of Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign, he is tougher and remains more focused on social and cultural issues. (Winter would frequently describe cultural issues, such as multiculturalism and "diversity," as "boring.")
Consequently, Human Events has published some first-rate reporting on the problems of border security, terrorism, and lack of resolve on the part of public officials in halting the flow of illegal immigrants across our borders. One example: the recent cover story, "Is Your Security Guard an Illegal?"
Much of this reportage, however, has been through the post-9/11 prism of terrorism and national security. As important as it is, there are other aspects of the immigration issue that get far less attention—if any at all—in the pages of Human Events.
For example, where is the paper in the discussion on a moratorium on legal immigration? Why don't it just come right out and admit that, generally speaking, some immigrants are more preferable than others? Why not just admit that "diversity" has its limits and this demographic trend is proving to be detrimental to our nation's survival?
Unquestionably, some on the staff shared the Beltway Republican orthodoxy that Hispanic immigrants could be converted into dedicated Republicans and the country would be one harmonious giant Disneyland as a result.
Just as long as they're not Democrats—then everything will be fine!
Historically, Human Events published occasional pieces on immigration. Some articles, like Palmer Stacy's 1981 "Uncontrolled Immigration: Silent Threat to America," were exceptionally informative. But it must be said that, unlike National Review, at the time Human Events had peculiarly little to say about the 1965 Immigration Act, which historian Otis Graham has described as "the single most nation-changing measure of the era." The paper published one brief op/ed that first appeared in the Arizona Republic, "Limit Needed on All Immigration," in early October 1965 and a small news item, "Immigration Ceiling Advances," in September 1965.
This, however, was better than nothing. The paper's current priorities were well illustrated by an instance last year. One of the paper's more informative freelance writers, Jim Edwards, an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute, had submitted a piece critical of Utah Representative Chris Cannon's amnesty program titled "Loose Cannon in Utah." The piece highlighted Cannon's abysmal record on immigration legislation, which in many instances bucked his constituents' interests, and triggered a GOP primary challenge by former state legislator Matt Throckmorton.
Winter always liked Edwards' columns and suggested that we publish this one. He forwarded it to me for publication and to our web editor to post on the website. Subsequently, I worked it into the paper.
The next week, while on vacation, I received two frantic messages on my cell phone from Winter: "Kevin, I know you're on vacation, but please call me as soon as you can." I returned his call and he seemed puzzled by the fact that we published Edward's piece, especially with the "Loose Cannon in Utah" headline. The Phillips executive charged with overseeing Human Events had called him and hit the roof. Winter wanted me to describe the piece to him so he could explain what happened. He couldn't remember proofing the article. I reminded him that Edward's article had been up on the web and that I received the column from him to publish.
It had turned out that Rep. Cannon is related to Eagle board member Joseph A. Cannon, the chairman of the board of Geneva Steel, Inc. The Phillips executive was concerned about Cannon's reaction to reading something so critical about his family member in Human Events and berated Winter for publishing it.
In March 2003, I approached Jeffrey about covering the LewRockwell.com "Lincoln Reconsidered" conference that was being held later that month in Richmond, Va. I thought it would make for a perfect "Conservative Forum" item in Human Events—just a brief description of the event from someone in attendance. He expressed interest in it so I called and received a press pass from Ron Holland, one of the organizers of the conference. He was thrilled to have Human Events cover the one-day forum.
A number of authors and scholars were scheduled for the event, including Emory University professor Donald Livingstone; Clyde Wilson, a contributor to Chronicles and professor at the University of South Carolina; Thomas DiLorenzo of Loyola College and author of The Real Lincoln (a hot-selling featured selection offered by Human Events' sister company The Conservative Book Club); and Paul Gottfried of Elizabethtown College.
I wrote a brief description of the event and had it proofread shortly before our Thursday press deadline. Then Jeffrey came around to my office and said that he had second thoughts about publishing it. The event wasn't exactly what he initially had in mind, and to publicize it would divide conservatives who were split on Lincoln's legacy.
I complied with Jeffrey's request and replaced the item. But I thought at the time that if someone approached Jeffrey and had argued that taking a rigid, pro-life position is "divisive" among conservatives—splitting social conservatives from libertarian-leaning conservatives—he wouldn't have cared less. In his mind, conservatives are expected to be pro-life, if they aren't, that's their problem, not his. But when it comes to politically incorrect subjects, such as race, or even criticizing Lincoln or King, conservatives must now conform to conventional dogma.
The leftward drift of Human Events isn't limited to the issue of race. Over the years, Human Events has been the leading pro-family publication among grassroots social conservatives, firmly opposed to the agenda of homosexual activists, such as "gay marriage."
Thus in 1960, Human Events published one of its most popular feature articles, "Homosexual International" by Countess Waldeck. The article began by noting that the Deputy Undersecretary of State Carlisle Humelstine had ousted 119 homosexuals from the State Department in 1951. One morning, I received a call from one of our readers in Arizona inquiring about how he could obtain copies. I asked Winter and he immediately recounted how popular the article was at the time it was published.
As late as the mid-1980s Human Events published numerous articles critical of the emerging, aggressive homosexual subculture, such as Stan Evans' "AIDS: Homosexual Plague." Lengthy reviews of books such as The Homosexual Network by Father Enrique T. Rueda appeared on a regular basis.
Again, times have changed. One of Human Event's editors who wrote hard-hitting copy about outrageous homosexual news items in the old blunt language regularly complained to me that Winter would make it a point to tone down the rhetoric, replacing "homosexual" and "sodomite" with "gay" in proofing the text.
Here too, Human Events was regressing to the media norm.
Similarly, Human Events dropped Ted Baehr's mini reviews of films, a family-oriented feature popular with many parents because of his detailed ratings for foul language and nudity. But this wasn't swank enough for the Phillips executive's tastes (he would ridicule it in editorial meetings) and eventually it was dropped as a regular feature.
In his recent book Winning the Future, Newt Gingrich complains that
"Since the 1960's, the conservative majority has been intimidated, manipulated and bullied by the liberal minority. The liberal elites who dominate academia, the courts, the press and much of the government bureaucracy share an essentially European secular-socialist value system. Yet they have set the terms of the debate, which is why 'politics as usual' is a losing proposition for Americans."
But the reason liberals have set the terms of the debate is that conservatives let them.
For many Beltway "conservatives," attending events like the White House Christmas Party [VDARE.COM note: Er…Multicultural Holiday Party, see here, et cetera.] is the pinnacle of achievement. Everything else is secondary. Anything that jeopardizes this social standing is beyond the pale. Status is the fuel that drives the Conservative Establishment.
This explains why "conservatives" have given up so much ground on issues that were once important to them: truth about race, IQ differences, egalitarianism, decadent societal trends, immigration restrictions, and the threat that ethnic balkanization poses to the future of American society.
Kevin Lamb (email him) is a former library assistant for Newsweek and managing editor of Human Events. He was also assistant editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report. He is now the editor of The Occidental Quarterly.