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August 31, 2005
Yes, Virginia, There Really Are Communists, Just Not That Many

Dana Milbank and Alan Cooperman do a pretty good job of making John J. Tierney look like an alarmist nut based on their report of his presentation at the Heritage Foundation yesterday. His upcoming book apparently researches the funding and momentum behind the burgeoning anti-war protest industry and finds a lot of evidence that it primarily consists of unreconstructed communists. The Washington Post report of the event has Tierney painting a pretty broad brush on this score, however, and starts out by using what it believes to be a killer emotional rebuttal:

Cindy Sheehan: anti-American communist?

That was the accusation coming yesterday from the Heritage Foundation, which hosted author John J. Tierney Jr. for a forum titled "The Politics of Peace: What's Behind the Anti-War Movement?" ...

Tierney, of the Institute of World Politics, identified five groups: ANSWER, Not in Our Name, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice, and He said these groups "come from the Workers World Party" and are an "umbrella" for smaller groups, such as the "Communist Party of Kansas City" and the "Socialist Revolutionary Movement of the Upper Mississippi." Of the last two, he said, "I'm just making these up."

Tierney singled out Sheehan, whose son died in Iraq and who camped out at President Bush's ranch this month to protest the war. "I've never heard of a woman protesting a war in front of a leader's home in my life," he said. "I've never heard of anything quite so outrageous."

The problem that comes with some people who get something right about their political opponents is a tendency to go too far, and Tierney falls into this trap. I have no doubt that Milbank and Cooperman give us the most egregious quotes possible in this piece, but the one above demonstrates a high level of cluelessness. Truly Tierney cannot have been serious when he said this, or he exposes himself as little more than a rube. Considering the permanent moonbat display across the walkway from the White House, where our "leader" lives, the notion of protests at his residence should not surprise anyone. That protest zone hardly qualifies as a men-only zone, either. If Tierney objects to the protests following George Bush to Crawford, then the responsibility for that goes to Bush for moving his base of operations to his ranch while Congress is out of session.

Overshooting the target allows for criticisms to stick. Tierney names a lot of organizations in his speech as reported by the Post, which doesn't report on whether the author brought any evidence of communist infiltration or backing within all of them. That scattergun approach leaves Tierney open to charges of McCarthyism -- seeing Red wherever he looks -- and diminishes his credibility even further.

Which is a shame, because he gets it exactly right with at least one of these groups: International ANSWER. One need look no further than their own website to find out the people who direct ANSWER's political direction to understand what fuels their passion, and it isn't an abiding love of democracy. In the About Us section, ANSWER lists its "steering committee", the organizations that comprise its leadership:

* IFCO/Pastors for Peace
* Free Palestine Alliance - U.S.
* Haiti Support Network
* Partnership for Civil Justice - LDEF
* Nicaragua Network
* Alliance for Just and Lasting Peace in the Phillippines
* Korea Truth Commission
* Muslim Student Association - National
* Kensington Welfare Rights Union
* Mexico Solidarity Network
* Party for Socialism and Liberation
* Middle East Children's Alliance

Edward Immler at FrontPage wrote an extensive expose of ANSWER in September 2002 which demonstrated the connections between the group and Stalinists such as the Workers World Party and the International Action Center. On this count, Tierney is on solid ground, and to the extent that ANSWER alone fuels these rallies, then he can show a solid link to communist participation in anti-war protests.

And while Cindy Sheehan may be anti-American, based on her public statements such as "America is all about killing" and her assertion that the country is not worth defending with one's life, that doesn't make her a Communist by default. Moreoever, it hardly helps to overly demonize Sheehan past what can easily be said about her based on her own words.

With polls showing a growing discontent with the direction of the war, one still has to presume that America has not suddenly turned Communist. Plenty of blame can go towards the media for this weakening of support, as they relentlessly cover explosions and deaths but report little of the rebuilding efforts seen by our troops and the few embeds still left in Iraq. Readers find little context in daily tallies of combat deaths (which after two years still doesn't come close to the one-day loss on 9/11) without understanding that nation-building takes long, hard work, but if successful will lead to many more lives saved, not just American but Iraqi as well. The White House shoulders some of this blame as well. It needs to communicate these issues better.

Regardless of the blame, Tierney and others like him need to remain precise and careful about their charges. Hyperbole only destroys the credibility and gives material assistance to the lunatics at the fringe, which need real exposure that includes solid evidence that speaks for itself.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 31, 2005 5:20 AM

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