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Jewish World ReviewOct. 4,1999 /24 Tishrei, 5760

Thomas Sowell

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Pat's book being distorted? -- IT WAS PAINFULLY IRONIC that a court decision exonerating special prosecutor Kenneth Starr was reported in the midst of a new political and media campaign demonizing Pat Buchanan.

Despite White House charges that Starr had leaked grand jury testimony and committed other illegal acts, the judges who investigated the facts found no such thing. Yet the lies had served their purpose during the impeachment process by distracting attention from Bill Clinton's illegal acts.

Now the belated truth could serve the purpose of demonstrating how easy it is to whip up a lynch mob atmosphere against anybody. Unfortunately, the truth about Starr was drowned out by today's lynch mob atmosphere against Pat Buchanan.

Buchanan is being accused of racism in general and antisemitism in particular. His new book, "A Republic, Not an Empire," is supposed to say that it would have been better if Hitler had won World War II. This is pretty rough stuff. But, if Buchanan actually said it, why don't his critics quote where he said it, instead of putting their words in his mouth?

Just a few years ago, Pat Buchanan was being demonized because he said that John Demjanjuk was not the same man as a concentration camp guard nicknamed "Ivan the Terrible" because of his sadistic treatment of Jewish inmates during World War II. Buchanan's position was taken as evidence of antisemitism. But would anyone say that a claim of mistaken identity about someone accused of murder was the same as justifying murder?

In the end, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned Demjanjuk's conviction and set him free. Did anyone claim that the Israeli Supreme Court was antisemitic? Or admit that Buchanan might have had some basis for what he had said?

No one knows what is in someone else's heart of hearts. But what we should all know and understand is how easy it is to smear -- and how dangerous it is to the country as a whole when dissenting views are silenced by smears and the threat of smears, rather than being debated with facts and logic.

In a complex and dangerous world, shouting down ideas, instead of examining them, can be a fatal blindness. We need to consider many questions from many angles -- and not all insights will come from saints or geniuses. People who are profoundly mistaken about some things may hit the nail on the head with other things.

My reading of Buchanan's new book is that he thinks our leaders have in the past gotten too many Americans killed fighting other people's wars and that our current leaders are recklessly risking the same thing again by over-extending our military commitments around the world. If Buchanan said that it would have been better for Hitler to have won World War II, it wasn't in the copy I read. And it is too early for a second edition.

Second-guessing the political and military decisions of the past has been all too common. Professional historians and military experts can evaluate Buchanan's reading of the evidence. What matters for the present and the future is whether we are in fact speaking loudly and carrying a little stick in the international jungle.

That is a life and death question. It deserves to be dealt with as such. It is infinitely more important than Pat Buchanan's psyche or politics.

Republican politicians are of course upset at the prospect that Buchanan's expected defection to the Reform Party jeopardizes the Republicans' best shot of regaining the White House in years. Even that, however, does not justify smear tactics.

When all is said and done, Pat Buchanan does not have the power to send a single American soldier anywhere -- and probably never will. The danger comes from those who do have that power, both directly right now and indirectly for the future by making commitments all over the world.

Many of these people who think of themselves as internationalists love big government and would be happy to advance toward the biggest government of all, world government. They are uninterested in the prerequisites for realizing their vision -- or in how far the human race is from meeting those requirements.

Somewhere, out in the galaxies, there may be creatures who fit their theories, but the history of human beings on this planet says that globalists are playing with fire. If Pat Buchanan says the same thing, so be it.


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©1999, Creators Syndicate