“What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.”
Recently conservatives have rightly cried foul in regards to the mainstream media’s late discovery of the Benghazi scandal and the Kermit Gosnell murder trial. Lately, they have also slowly begun to buy White House talking points on the IRS and DOJ scandals as well. Conservatives assert the media is in the pocket of the left, which means there is no real “news” only degrees of propaganda.
If Whittaker Chambers were still alive he would say, “duh!”
Chambers was a Soviet agent from 1930 to 1938 who converted to Christianity after reflecting on intelligent design and becoming disillusioned by the violent Machiavellianism of his fellow communists. Chambers left communism and became a respected journalist. But during the so-called “Red Scare” (more aptly named the “Red Threat” because we know now from KGB documents that even Senator McCarthy may have underestimated the number of traitors in our own government), Chambers was called before the House Unamerican Activities Committee to testify. As a Christian, he felt compelled to tell the truth and named Alger Hiss as one of his fellow agents who smuggled documents from the state department to Chambers who, in turn, sent them to Moscow.
Chambers naming of Hiss was a bombshell because the latter was a liberal hero. Hiss was a Harvard Law graduate who clerked for Oliver Wendell Holmes, advised FDR and worked for the United Nations. The press immediately took Hiss’ side, labeling Chambers a liar. One man, however, was convinced that Chambers was telling the truth–a young California Congressman named Richard Nixon.
Nixon pressed the case (with the support of fellow young Congressman John F. Kennedy) and evidence eventually came to light, which helped convict Hiss of perjury. This didn’t stop the mainstream media from lionizing Hiss and libeling Chambers as he documents so well in his biography Witness (Random House 1952).
For decades, the left continued to view Hiss as a martyr to the “reactionary red scare” and depicted Chambers and Nixon as his unjust executioners (while conveniently ignoring the complicity of the Kennedys). Yet, in the late 1990′s, de-classified KGB documents proved that Hiss had in fact been a long time Soviet agent. The media largely ignored the revelation.
There is nothing new under the sun and Chambers isn’t the only one who would “amen!” the statement if he had lived to witness current events–the late William F. Buckley would also join the chorus.
In 1951, a very young Buckley would publish God & Man at Yale (Regnery 1951). The book was a sensation thanks largely to the red-faced attacks on the work by the mainstream media. Buckley argued that Yale had departed from its charter by employing leftists, agnostic professors who attacked religion and championed Keynesian economics both of which were counter to the founding principles of the school itself. Buckley argued that Christianity (rightly understood) and capitalism had been forces for good and should be championed by the university. At the very least, the school should insist on a balanced view of every subject rather than the secular, leftist indoctrination students were receiving at the time.
The media responded to Buckley by oddly referring to him as a fascist for his views. This is odd because professors at Yale were actually teaching collectivism, socialism and atheism, which are all core tenants of fascism (which is really just nationalistic communism). Yet, as Thomas Sowell noted in his wonderful work Intellectuals and Society (Basic Books, 2012), the early fifties were a time the left intentionally attempted to distance itself from its earlier support of Leninism and fascism by applying the terms to conservatives. The inaccurate taunts continue today for the likes of the Tea Party and pro-marriage groups.
Every Christian conservative should read both works even though they are several decades old and Witness is a bit long. Yet, other than being wonderful lessons in American and conservative history, they are books that helped shape the modern right and proof positive that there is nothing new under the sun.