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02 August 2009

A Noteworthy Subversive American Historian


I was researching anti-White revision of American history, specifically Francis Jennings (whose ethnic identity is not yet known to me) when I ran across a New York Times book review that contained this statement:

"One revisionist, Theodore Draper, whom Jennings generously singles out several times for credit, has written exactly the successful revisionist narrative history for which Jennings has so long been clearing the ground -- A Struggle for Power: The American Revolution."

It was very easy to find out the relevant facts about Theodore Draper. For one thing, he had been a supporter of the Soviet Union. Like many other Jews, he moved away from Stalinism as he noticed that it clashed sometimes with Jewish interests. He became a "liberal" but in the 1950s, he was among those insisting that Fidel Castro was not a Communist. He was born in New Jersey with the surname Dubinsky but his mother chose to conceal the family's ethnic identity, for purposes of an academic career according to the New York Times, with a name-change to Draper, an Anglo-Saxon name dating back to the colonial period in North America.

The Jewish surname with which he'd been born would have earmarked his historical writing as attack-propaganda from an alien group rather than a new pinnacle of objective self-criticism from the Anglo-Saxon mainstream.

His obituary, below, makes it clear that "Theodore Draper" was not a man who should have been trusted to tell the American People their own history.


From Famous New Jerseyans
(cribbed from the NY Times)

February 22, 2006
Theodore Draper, Freelance Historian, Is Dead at 93
By CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT
Theodore Draper, a combative historian and social critic and one of the last of a generation of freelance intellectuals who wrote and lectured largely without academic affiliations or formal credentials, died yesterday at his home in Princeton, N.J. He was 93. His death was announced by his wife, Priscilla.

Mr. Draper went from Communist Party fellow traveler in the 1930's to liberal anticommunist in the 1950's and 60's before breaking with the Cold War hawks and attacking the United States' role in Vietnam. For a time he was also the leading historian of American Communism, writing two authoritative books about it.

Mr. Draper was dogged in pursuit of whatever issue caught his attention, whether it was France's collapse on the eve of World War II, Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution, the American war in Vietnam, Henry Kissinger's conduct of Middle East policy or the Reagan administration's Iran-contra affair. On each of these subjects he made himself a respected expert and wrote a book exhaustive in its research. His prose was blunt and factual, its logic severe and pitiless. His pithy judgment of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 as "a perfect failure" became the earmark of that misadventure. As he said in his preface to "A Present of Things Past," a collection of his essays published in 1990: "I have rarely stayed with a single subject for more than five years. I get interested in a subject; I devote myself to it; I do what I can with it; I know — or think I know — as much as I want to know; I turn to something else."

Among the most productive of those five-year periods was the first half of the 1950's, when he completed his volumes on American Communism, part of a project under the auspices of the Ford Foundation. Anti-Communists in particular embraced Mr. Draper's conclusion that "each generation had to discover for itself in its own way that, even at the price of virtually committing political suicide, American Communism would continue above all to serve the interests of Soviet Russia."

Mr. Draper's insistence that American Communism had always been a tail wagged by the Soviet Union made him a lightning rod for a new generation of historians in the 1970's and 80's. These new historians, as they called themselves, were rooted in the New Left of the 1960's. In seeking to define what was native and distinct about American Communism, they attacked Mr. Draper, saying that rather than offering a social and cultural history of the party, he had taken an institutional approach obsessed with the heavy hand of the Soviet Comintern.

Mr. Draper responded to the attacks in 1985 in The New York Review of Books, accusing the new historians of waging "a curious academic campaign for the rehabilitation of American Communism."

His investigations would usually result in books, some 14 in his lifetime. But he would often vent the results of his research in long book-review essays, prompting Paul Berman to describe Mr. Draper as "an investigative book reviewer."

In a review of Norman Podhoretz's book "Why We Were in Vietnam" in The New Republic in 1982, Mr. Draper sharply criticized the author's defense of the war, saying it "represents a trend of selective moralistic zealotry which, if permitted to spread, will give both anti-Communism and neoconservatism a bad name." He called Podhoretz a "potted historian." The review reflected a sharp turn in Mr. Draper's political thinking and left Mr. Podhoretz bewildered over what he called the cruelty of the attack, especially since Mr. Draper had been a friend.

If Mr. Draper was obsessive about politics, he was equally so about his privacy. When approached by a reporter for an interview about his life, he declined and offered instead to write a statement to be sent in a sealed envelope and not opened until his death. In it, he said of his review of "Why We Were in Vietnam": "I broke with Podhoretz when he changed the political line of Commentary," a reference to what he saw as the magazine's shift to the right in the mid-1970's.

Theodore Draper was born on Sept. 11, 1912, the first of four children born to Samuel and Annie Kornblatt Dubinsky, who lived in Brooklyn. His mother changed the family name to Draper in 1932 because she thought it sounded "American" and would avert any anti-Semitism that might threaten her children's prospective academic careers. His father, a manager of shirt factories, died in 1924, leaving his widow to make ends meet running a candy store. His parents, he said in his posthumous statement, "were not members of the Communist Party."

Mr. Draper attended Boys High School in Brooklyn and then the Brooklyn branch of the City College of New York. In college he fell in with a group of older students who formed the National Student League, an ostensibly independent organization that he later found out was controlled by the Young Communist League. Although he never joined the Young Communists, he said, he continued to work in the Student League and became editor of the Young Communists' monthly publication.

After graduating from Brooklyn College, he went on to Columbia University, where he planned to take an advanced degree in history. In his second year he met the foreign editor of the Communist newspaper The Daily Worker, who hired him. Mr. Draper left The Daily Worker in 1937 to take a job as foreign editor for the Communist magazine New Masses, a position that allowed him to take his first trips to Europe. One assignment, to write about the fall of France, led to his break with the Communist Party. His prescient conclusion that the Soviet Union would be Hitler's next target contradicted the party line, and his article was rejected, prompting him to leave New Masses for the Soviet news agency Tass. But growing restive with the party line, he left Tass after only six months to take a job with a new French weekly in New York.

Out of this period came his first book, "The Six Weeks' War: France, May 10 - June 25, 1940," an intellectual history published in 1944.

In 1935 he married Dorothy Sapan, a grade-school teacher who was active in the United Federation of Teachers. They divorced in 1953. In 1960 he married Evelyn Manacher, a singer, and divorced her after he met his third wife, Priscilla Heath Barnum, a medieval scholar. She survives him, as do a son by his first wife, Roger, of New York; a brother, Robert, also of New York; a sister, Dorothy Rabkin of Ashland, Ore., and four stepchildren, Diana, Terry, Parker and Benjamin Barnum.

After serving in the Army during World War II as historian of the 84th Infantry Division, Mr. Draper returned to civilian life in 1945 and set about writing books and articles, mainly for Commentary and The Reporter, a public affairs magazine. He became The Reporter's expert on Cuba before falling out with its publisher, Max Ascoli, over Ascoli's insistence that Fidel Castro was a Communist, a point that Mr. Draper much later conceded he had been wrong about. But his knowledge of Cuba led him to accept a fellowship at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, at Stanford University, where he stayed until 1968. Uncomfortable with the Hoover Institution's growing conservatism, however, he left in 1968 and joined the Institute for Advanced Study, at Princeton, where he turned his attention to race relations in America and wrote "The Rediscovery of Black Nationalism" (1970). After Mr. Draper had stopped writing for Commentary, he became a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books. It was during these years that he produced "A Very Thin Line," his thorough study on the Iran-contra affair. In a review in The New Republic, Mr. Berman saw in the book all the hallmarks of Mr. Draper's life's work.
"Draper's methodical approach conjures a spirit, an ideal, that is very powerful," Mr. Berman wrote. "Rigor, thoroughness, factualness and intellectual discipline," he said, "were not exactly in fashion during the Age of Reagan, nor did they pop up very prominently in the House and Senate hearings. They are evident, however, in Draper's massive deed of citizen responsibility, and the effect is strangely moving."


For what it's worth, here is a review of Theodore Draper/Dubinsky's book about the American Revolution which suggests that it is grossly overrated and even sophomoric, contra the Jewish-owned New York Times.



A Struggle for Power: The American Revolution. - book reviews

National Review, April 22, 1996 by Forrest McDonald


[...] Draper repeats himself endlessly, capping his performance by reproducing,substantially verbatim, seven paragraphs on pages 167 - 170 that he hadpreviously used on pages 3 - 5. He introduces characters he has already introduced at length. He garbles his footnotes, for example by citing"ibid." when his text could not possibly be taken from the source cited immediately above. The charitable way to account for such slipshod work is to suppose that it was composed on a word processor.

[...] Draper has set out to formulate a major reinterpretation of what was at issue in the coming of the American Revolution. The view that has prevailed for about three decades now (one that itself replaced an earlier, simplistic economic interpretation) is that of the ideological school: the Revolution was the product of the Old Whig or country-party mentality that Americans imbibed from late-seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century English writers and blended with a revived enthusiasm for classical republicanism. That is nonsense, Draper asserts; the slogans and declarations of principles and constitutional arguments on both sideswere rhetorical smokescreens, employed to obscure reality, which Draper sees as the naked struggle for power.

How, he asks, were Americans to be taken seriously when they professed loyalty to the crown but no allegiance to Parliament (constitutionally an impossible position to take in England since 1689), or when they groaned that paying a three-penny tax on a pound of tea would lead them into slavery or, indeed, amount to slavery? Surely, Draper suggests, Washington was disingenuous when he wrote that the British ministry was following a studied design to reduce Americans under slavery, and was merely playing with words when he referred to the enemy as the "ministerial force," not "His Majesty's forces," to affirm loyalty to George III and opposition to his ministers.

Draper can reach his cynical, power-struggle conclusion, I suspect, because he has somehow been desensitized to the nuances of language. Whether or not the computer is the culprit, his brain seems to have been robbed of the capacity to wander --appreciatively, comprehendingly, and joyfully -- in the world of ideas, and especially among the convoluted delicacies of eighteenth-century political thought.

Americans of the Revolutionary generation were remarkably literate and knew how to use language persuasively, but they used it differently from the way we do. All educated men were trained in rhetoric, which means that they persuaded through the enthymeme, the major premise of which is not absolutely and axiomatically true, as in a syllogism, but based upon the reputable beliefs of the audience. Such beliefs are conventional and are normally formulated in code words. We use code words in discussing politics today and understand one another. Eighteenth-century Americans employed very different codes, and they are not easy for moderns to crack: it takes years of immersing oneself in the sources.

[...] Americans' understanding of English history was that it had been an ongoing struggle between wicked and designing men, who were perpetually seeking to reduce the people under absolute tyranny, and the people themselves, whose vigilance must be eternal. They thought of events in such terms and were accustomed to hearing them described in such terms. Hence when Patriots equated the tea tax with slavery, they could have said instead, "If we let Parliament impose even a trifling tax, it will by degrees be increased until inevitably it becomes burdensome," and that would have expressed their meaning. But nobody would have heard; one does not whisper at a fireworks display.

Had Theodore Draper let the cacophony of eighteenth-century voices into his brain rather than trying to reduce it to simplistic megabytes, he might have noticed an enormous variety of power relationships, each containing naked struggles for power: not merely between the Americans and the British, contesting for power within the Empire, as he supposes, but also among Americans who competed to rule at home; among rival ideologies which offered disparate answers; among competing experiences in colonial government; among competing experiences in self-government; among myriad economic interest groups; and among religions, philosophies, family connections, ethnicities, and singularly cussed individuals who just "knew" what part they had been chosen to play in the unfolding drama. He noticed none of this, and as a result his striving for originality and hard-boiled realism produced old-hat naivete.


When we encounter cynical renditions of our own history with all idealism stripped away, we are inclined to think, Aha! At last the truth! This makes us feel righteous and we see ourselves as objective. (The same effect occurs when Freudian psychology reduces all our motives to the gutter: since it is unflattering it must be true.) But what we get from these Jewish writers is ersatz, Jew-acceptable revisionism, just as Marxism is ersatz economic populism. The fact that so many of the Founding Fathers were adherents of Jewish-controlled Freemasonry suggests that there is an underlying story to be ferreted out, but we are not likely to get it from a Jew. We can also take it for granted that there is no proper credit given to the role of Jews in Draper/Dubinsky's "two authoritative books" about Communism -- especially since he was even disguising his own Jewishness.

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