National Review on Barbara Lee
Mark Hemingway of National Review Online posted a book review of Barbara Lee's Renegade for Peace & Justice with predictable results. Hemingway asks: "What exactly is wrong with her?"
Certainly Lee's recent visit to Cuba and her erstwhile connection to the Black Panthers are perfect grist for the right-wing mill. The review's title, "Comrade Barbara," is drawn from Bobby Seale's moniker for Lee after she became involved with the Black Students Union at Mills College.
Lee's book also figures in my Ramparts research, and on one of the points that Hemingway raises: her halfhearted defense of the Black Panthers in the murder of Betty Van Patter, the magazine's former bookkeeper. I won't rehearse the details here--that's what the book is for--but I don't think Lee's cursory discussion enhances her honor.
But let's not get too carried with Hemingway's argument, either. For one thing, he gets Betty's name wrong. He calls her Betty Van Tanner, thereby repeating Lee's mistake in the book. This despite the fact that Hemingway mentions David Horowitz's account of this brutal episode in Radical Son, which at least gets the names right.
I don't think I can credit anyone, left or right, whose control of the facts is that loose.
Speaking of National Review and its founder, William F. Buckley, some of us recall his television program, Firing Line. But did you know that Robert Scheer appeared on it? The title of that episode was "Is Ramparts Magazine Un-American?" If you know anything about the participants, you can imagine the tone of the exchange.
The Firing Line tapes are hard to find now--I had to visit the Hoover Institution to watch the Scheer episode--but I discuss that exchange in the book, whose publication date is September 8.
Labels: Ramparts magazine