October 21, 2008


Shame on McCain and Palin for using an old code word for black (Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star)

The "socialist" label that Sen. John McCain and his GOP presidential running mate Sarah Palin are trying to attach to Sen. Barack Obama actually has long and very ugly historical roots.

J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI from 1924 to 1972, used the term liberally to describe African Americans who spent their lives fighting for equality.

Those freedom fighters included the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who led the Civil Rights Movement; W.E.B. Du Bois, who in 1909 helped found the NAACP which is still the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization; Paul Robeson, a famous singer, actor and political activist who in the 1930s became involved in national and international movements for better labor relations, peace and racial justice; and A. Philip Randolph, who founded and was the longtime head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and a leading advocate for civil rights for African Americans.

Okay, maybe we'd better assume that this one actually is parody, because it's hard to believe anyone could propound such a devastating comparison and pretend to be a genuine supporter of the Unicorn Rider. Consider the facts about these four men:

The FBI and Martin Luther King: Martin Luther King was never himself a Communist—far from it. But the FBI's wiretapping of King was precipitated by his association with Stanley Levison, a man with reported ties to the Communist Party. Newly available documents reveal what the FBI actually knew—the vast extent of Levinson's Party activities (David J. Garrow, July/August 2002, The Atlantic)

The crucial figure was Stanley David Levison, a white New York lawyer and businessman who first met Martin Luther King in 1956, just as the young minister was being catapulted to national fame as a result of his role in the remarkable bus boycott against racially segregated seating in Montgomery, Alabama. The FBI knew, in copious firsthand detail from the Childs brothers, that Levison had secretly served as one of the top two financiers for the Communist Party USA in the years just before he met King. The Childs brothers' direct, personal contact with Levison from the mid-1940s to 1956 was sufficient to leave no doubt whatsoever that their reports about his role were accurate and truthful. Their proximity to Levison also gave them direct knowledge of his disappearance from CPUSA financial affairs in the years after 1956.

In the months immediately following Levison's visible departure from CPUSA activities, his selfless assistance to King soon established him as the young minister's most influential white counselor. But when the FBI tardily learned of Levison's closeness to King in early 1962, the Bureau understandably hypothesized that someone with Levison's secret (though thoroughly documented) record of invaluable service to the CPUSA might very well not have turned up at Martin Luther King's elbow by happenstance. With the FBI suggesting that Levison's seeming departure from the CPUSA was in all likelihood a ruse, Robert Kennedy and his aides felt they had little choice but to assume the worst and act as defensively as possible.

To You Beloved Comrade (Paul Robeson, April 1953, New World Review)
Today in Korea - in Southeast Asia - in Latin America and the West Indies, in the Middle East - in Africa, one sees tens of millions of long oppressed colonial peoples surging toward freedom. What courage - what sacrifice - what determination never to rest until victory!

And arrayed against them, the combined powers of the so-called Free West, headed by the greedy, profit-hungry, war-minded industrialists and financial barons of our America. The illusion of an "American Century" blinds them for the immediate present to the clear fact that civilization has passed them by - that we now live in a people's century - that the star shines brightly in the East of Europe and of the world. Colonial peoples today look to the Soviet Socialist Republics. They see how under the great Stalin millions like themselves have found a new life. They see that aided and guided by the example of the Soviet Union, led by their Mao Tse-tung, a new China adds its mighty power to the true and expanding socialist way of life. They see formerly semi-colonial Eastern European nations building new People's Democracies, based upon the people's power with the people shaping their own destinies. So much of this progress stems from the magnificent leadership, theoretical and practical, given by their friend Joseph Stalin.

They have sung - sing now and will sing his praise - in song and story. Slava - slava - slava - Stalin, Glory to Stalin. Forever will his name be honored and beloved in all lands.

In all spheres of modern life the influence of Stalin reaches wide and deep. From his last simply written but vastly discerning and comprehensive document, back through the years, his contributions to the science of our world society remain invaluable. One reverently speaks of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin - the shapers of humanity's richest present and future.

Yes, through his deep humanity, by his wise understanding, he leaves us a rich and monumental heritage. Most importantly - he has charted the direction of our present and future struggles. He has pointed the way to peace - to friendly co-existence - to the exchange of mutual scientific and cultural contributions - to the end of war and destruction. How consistently, how patiently, he labored for peace and ever increasing abundance, with what deep kindliness and wisdom. He leaves tens of millions all over the earth bowed in heart-aching grief.

But, as he well knew, the struggle continues. So, inspired by his noble example, let us lift our heads slowly but proudly high and march forward in the fight for peace - for a rich and rewarding life for all.

In the inspired words of Lewis Allan, our progressive lyricist -

To you Beloved Comrade, we make this solemn vow
The fight will go on - the fight will still go on.
Sleep well, Beloved Comrade, our work will just begin.
The fight will go on - till we win - until we win.

“Our Reason for Being” (A. Philip Randolph, March 1919, The Messenger)
There is a new leadership for Negro workers. It is a leadership of uncompromising manhood. It is not asking for a half loaf but for the whole loaf. It is insistent upon the Negro workers exacting justice, both from the white labor unions and from the capitalists or employers.

The Negroes who will benefit from this decision are indebted first to themselves and their organized power, which made them dangerous. Second, to the radical agitation carried on by The Messenger; and third, to the fine spirit of welcome shown by the Industrial Workers of the World, whose rapid growth and increasing power the American Federation of Labor fears. These old line Negro political fossils know nothing of the Labor Movement, do not believe in labor unions at all, and have never taken any active steps to encourage such organizations. We make this statement calmly, coolly and with a reasonable reserve. The very thing which they are fighting is one of the chief factors in securing for Negroes their rights. That is Bolshevism. The capitalists of this country are so afraid that Negroes will become Bolshevists that they are willing to offer them almost anything to hold them away from the radical movement. Nobody buys pebbles which may be picked up on the beach, but diamonds sell high. The old line Negro leaders have no power to bargain, because it is known that they are Republicans politically and job-hunting, me-too-boss-hat-in-hand-Negroes, industrially. Booker Washington and all of them have simply advocated the Negroes get more work. The editors of The Messenger are not interested in Negroes getting more work. Negroes have too much work already. What we want Negroes to get is less work and more wages, with more leisure for study and recreation.

Our type of agitation has really won for Negroes such as concessions as were granted by the American Federation of Labor and we are by no means too sanguine over the possibilities of the sop which was granted. It may be like the Constitution of the United States-good in parts, but badly executed. We shall have to await the logic of events. In the meantime, we urge the Negro labor unions to increase their radicalism, to speed up their organization, to steer clear of the Negro leaders and to thank nobody but themselves for what they have gained.

Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois Joins Communist Party at 93 (PETER KIHSS, November 23, 1961, NY Times)
A co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Dr. Du Bois long ago split with that organization. Since 1948 he has been associated with a number of left-wing causes.

His Leftist Ties

From 1949 to 1955 he was vice chairman of the now-defunct Council on African Affairs, cited by the Attorney General as subversive and Communist. In 1951, as chairman of the Peace Information Center here, he was acquitted of a charge of failing to register as a foreign agent. In 1959 he received a Soviet Lenin Prize "for strengthening peace."

A Communist party spokesman said Dr. Du Bois had sent his application to join on Oct. 1 from his Brooklyn home. Since then he has been in Ghana, the spokesman said, as head of a Ghana secretariat planning a new Negro encyclopedia.

In the application Dr. Du Bois wrote that he had been "long and slow" in deciding to apply for part membership, "but at last my mind is settled." He said he had joined the Socialist party in 1911, but had resigned to support Woodrow Wilson for President.

For the next twenty years, he said, he attacked the Democrats, Republicans and Socialists. He said he had "praised the racial attitudes of the Communists but opposed their tactics in the case of the Scottsboro boys and their advocacy of a Negro state." In 1926, he said, he began a "new effort," visiting Communist lands.

Dr. Du Bois said he had concluded that "capitalism cannot reform itself; it is doomed to self-destruction."

"No universal selfishness can bring social good to all," he said. "Communism -- the effort to give all men what they need and to ask of each the best they can contribute -- this is the only way of human life."

That's not to say that these guys didn't also do great things, but to act like it was beyond the Pale for America to worry about their politics is to warp history.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 21, 2008 8:01 PM
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