"The essential matter of history is not what happened but what people thought or said about it."
In the late summer of 1985, the San Francisco Bay area celebrated the 40th anniversary of VJ Day and the end of World War II. Part of the celebration consisted of a cavalcade of American Navy vessels around the Bay; this commemorative cavalcade, however, was shadowed by a squadron of small pleasure boats defiantly flying the Japanese flag. These boats were the forces of "The Berkeley Peace Fleet"—protesting the celebration. A story hard to believe, perhaps, but true (I witnessed it myself): to the American Hard Left, it seems that any enemy of American society will do—even Japanese fascism.
"Any enemy of American society will do": this is the brutal point hammered home again and again in the collection of essays that make up the disturbing new book by Peter Collier and David Horowitz, Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties. Long-time editors of the radical magazine Ramparts, Collier and Horowitz are also (for instance) the men who introduced Jane Fonda to American far-left politics. Again, when Jean Genet held his momentous "summit meeting" with the Black Panthers (at the home, of course, of a Stanford professor), it was natural that...