Mary Mostert
July 11, 2003
Are liberal Democrats the party of treason?
By Mary Mostert

I know its summer when news commentators start attacking each other. What else is there to write about on hot, lazy summer days? This summer, it appears, the target is Ann Coulter, author of a book called Treason — Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. Ann begins her book with a discussion of McCarthyism: “Liberals invented the myth of McCarthyism,” Ann wrote, “to delegitimize impertinent questions about their own patriotism.

“They boast (lyingly) about their superior stance on civil rights. But somehow their loyalty to the United States is off-limits as a subject of political debate. Why is the relative patriotism of the two parties the only issue that is out of the bounds for discussion? Why can’t we ask: Who is more patriotic — Democrats or Republicans?”

David Horowitz, founder of the New Left in the 1960s and today the President of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, wrote a column this week scolding Ann for statements in her book in which she says leading Democrats were and still are “striking a position on the side of treason.” David Horowitz, the 1960s liberal, who now heads a well-financed organization that claims its mission is to “change the leftist, anti-American, elitist culture that is dominant in the entertainment industry [and to expose] the idiocies and the viciousness of the radical leftism in universities, the media, mainstream churches,” wrote a column that seemed to second the view of a Washington Post liberal who dubbed her book “Crackpot Conservatism.”

Horowitz, however, doesn’t exactly deny treachery. In fact he states in his column that “It is important for conservatives to make distinctions between those on the left who were (and are) traitors or self-conceived enemies of the United States, and those who were (and are) the fellow-travelers of enemies of the United States, and those who are neither traitors, nor enemies, nor friends and protectors of enemies, but are American patriots who disagree with conservatives over tactical and policy issues.”

Is there, actually, that much difference in the RESULTS of wrong actions taken by people who want to hurt America, wrong actions taken by who are merely following those who want to hurt America and the wrong actions taken by those who don’t want to be caught appearing to support anything a conservative might support?

When you are dealing with enemies that might have the capability of killing thousands with a weapon that can be held in the palm of the hand, should we just continue our past very lax behavior where the enemy is concerned?

According to the United States Constitution, “treason” is defined quite narrowly as “only in levying war against them (i.e., against the United States), or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” The word “adhere” means to stick to, or cling to.

So, in our current situation, an American who sticks to or clings to enemies of the United States with whom we are at war, which would include terrorists, or those clinging to terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein, would appear to qualify as “traitors” and their actions that help terrorists or their leaders would be called “treason.”

Ann’s position is that we have basically ignored treasonous acts for the last fifty years. She maintains Senator Joeseph McCarthy, who claimed the U.S. Government was had been infiltrated by Communists was right. Frankly, I’ve thought for 50 years that Joe McCarthy was a double agent. I remember when he called Dwight D. Eisenhower, who defeated the Germans in World War II, a “dupe” of the Communists. Americans promptly stopped worrying about Communists after that, figuring Communists were no threat if Gen. Eisenhower was not all that concerned about them.

Coulter was asked by Chris Matthews’ on Hardball:

MATTHEWS: Let’s talk about the question of your book “Treason”. What do you mean by treason? Talk about the word treason? I mean, I’ve looked it up in the dictionary the other night, it has a couple of meanings. One is, treason. I mean you turned over of the documents to the enemy. You are Alger Hiss, someone like that. That’s treason.


MATTHEWS: What do you mean by-in terms of this cover of this book?

COULTER: What I mean is that the Democratic Party, as an entity, has become functionally treasonable, including what you are talking about, turning over documents to the enemy.”

The publication of documents that aided the enemy was a big issue during the Nixon Administration. In 1971 the New York Times began publishing stolen top-secret Defense Department documents on Vietnam, used for planning. The Justice Department went to court and obtained a restraining order against further publication, contending that publication of the documents would cause “immediate and irreparable harm to the national security interests of the United States and the nation’s security.”

The Supreme Court, in a six to three decision, allowed the papers to be printed, declaring that the Pentagon papers “belonged in the public domain and that no danger to the nation’s security was involved.” The publication of those papers, which showed a lot of ambivalence on the part of the American government, became a major factor in Ho Chi Minh concluding that America would eventually give in to his demands if he just waited long enough and he was right.

Would the actions of the New York Times and the majority on the Supreme Court be “treason” then? A literal interpretation of the Constitution would make it appear so. They certainly gave Ho Chi Minh a lot of aid and comfort.

Communication with the enemy has been a treasonable act for a long time. In 1775 the first Surgeon General of the US Army, Dr. Benjamin Church, a member of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, wrote a letter to the captain of the British warship, the Rose and told his mistress deliver it.

The patriots discovered the letter, Church was arrested, and tried by court martial in October 1775, with General George Washington presiding. Church was found guilty of “holding criminal correspondence with the enemy.” He was expelled from the Provincial Congress, and the Continental Congress ordered him imprisoned. He was later paroled and allowed to sail for the West Indies where he died.

Is Ann Coulter being too “extreme” in her charge that “Liberals have a preternatural gift for always striking a position on the side of treason?” Have they really “contained, appeased, and retreated, often sacrificing America’s best interests and security,” as she says?

After looking at the record, including Democrat Congressmen flying to Baghdad prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom to criticize President Bush in the very front yard of Saddam Hussein, I suspect that George Washington might sympathize with a lot of what Ann is saying.

© Mary Mostert


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Mary Mostert

Mary Mostert is a nationally-respected political writer. She was one of the first female political commentators to be published in a major metropolitan newspaper in the 1960s... (more)

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