For those who lived through the prelude to World War II and then the Cold War, the current American dilemma dealing with Islam is all too familiar. Countering Islamic radical infiltration resembles nothing so much as a century of struggle against communism before the Soviet Union, as Lenin would have said, was consigned to history's dustbin.
In the bitter climate of the Great Depression — for younger readers, do go to the marvelous reportage of John Steinbeck — reform was not only fashionable but critical. The movers and shakers of the era were a strange lot, drawn from all parts of American society and all ideologies. An example was the blossoming of the 1930s trade union movement, as a veteran labor leader once told me, that was advanced by three factors: government (the New Deal's Wagner Act), socialists and communists (the "community organizers" of their day).
As the years go by, we old reprobates are handed more and more proof of the incredible penetration of Moscow's espionage. James Jesus Angleton, the CIA's Cold War stalwart, may have been paranoid but, as the saying goes, that doesn't mean he wasn't persecuted. Even more important, the Cambridge University scandals dramatized as no other single episode the widespread subversion of Western thought as well as of institutions by Stalinists flying under the two false flags of reform and anti-fascism.