February 18, 2009
IF I HAD A WITCH HAMMER...:
Who’s Sorry Now? (Lloyd Billingsley, 2/18/09, FrontPageMagazine.com)
Last week the San Diego School Board issued an apology to banjoist and singer Peter Seeger, 89, fresh from his performance with Bruce Springsteen at the pre-inaugural concert for President Barack. The San Diego episode gave little hint that Seeger has a few items to apologize for himself.
He was a communist convert, and there were plenty of those in the 1930s, when it seemed that American capitalism was on the rocks and that the USSR, under Stalin, represented the wave of the future. When Stalin signed a pact with Hitler in 1939, the act that started World War II, many abandoned their communist faith and defense of the USSR. Pete Seeger was not one of those.
He was one of those “artists in uniform” as the CP doctrine had it, and considered his songs to be weapons. He hit stride during the Nazi-Soviet pact, following the Communist Party line of opposing military action against Hitler. In March of 1941, when the Pact remained in effect and Hitler had occupied much of Europe, Seeger crooned this:
Franklin D., listen to me, You ain't a-gonna send me 'cross the sea, 'Cross the sea, 'cross the sea, You ain't a-gonna send me 'cross the sea.
You may say it's for defense, But that kinda talk that I'm against. I'm against, I'm against, That kinda talk ain't got no sense.
Seeger also shilled for Birobidzhan, Stalin’s “homeland” for Jews, way out near Mongolia. This forlorn outpost might well have become a killing ground had not Stalin died before his latest anti-Semitic campaign could hit stride. Seeger remained in the Communist Party USA through the nadir of Stalinist brutality, including the deportation of artists, writers to the gulag, from which few returned. If this bothered him, he never said much about it. Neither did Seeger deploy his banjo, guitar, or voice against the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe.
Posted by Orrin Judd at February 18, 2009 7:39 AM