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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: July 2009

When Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama was announced, The New York Times almost immediately ran a major profile of the judge by Sherl Gay Stolberg, “Sotomayor, a Trailblazer and a Dreamer,” that appeared on p. Al of the paper and continued for two more pages.

Scroll down in the article to the paragraph that begins with the words  ”In her student thesis.” The paragraph reads:

Ms. Sotomayor wrote about Puerto Rico’s long struggle for political and economic self-determination. While [Gov.] Munoz Marin created great hope among Puerto Ricans, “the island has continued to be plagued by unemployment, absentee ownership and dependency on mainland revenues,”  she concluded.

But there is a very strange and troubling omission in the online version of Stolberg’s article, when compared with what was in some of the actual print editions, and was removed from the version published online by the Times.

In the printed version- at least the version that appeared in certain editions including the one I clipped-the following sentence appears after the quote from her thesis about Muonz Marin, and the ending words “she concluded.” Here is the missing sentence from Stolberg’s article:

In the footnotes, Ms. Sotomayor wrote that she relied on books that used “Marxist-Leninist analysis”- not an uncommon tool for historians- to study the impact of colonialism on the island.  

Let us examine this sentence, and particularly Stolberg’s claim that Marxist-Leninist analysis is “not an uncommon tool for historians.” As my friend the lawyer and historian Henry D. Fetter puts it, “except perhaps at the old East German Institute for Historical Studies or [Moscow's] Patrice Lumumba University in their ‘glory days.’”  One must also add, of course, Moscow University from Lenin through Brezhnev. One recalls that Mikhail Gorbachev’s wife got her degree  in “Marxist-Leninist philosophy.”

There are many Marxist historians and others who use Marxist analysis as a starting point for historical exploration. The most well known in America is the major historian of slavery and the Old South, Eugene D. Genovese. Although he is now a political conservative, he has never disavowed those who use Marxist analysis to gain insight into the historical process. But only in the Soviet bloc countries did anyone ever refer to “Marxist-Leninist” analysis. That very term confers credibility to a hard-line Leninist and Stalinist weltanschauung, used only by supporters of Soviet style communism.  One must wonder whether Judge Sotomayor used any books that contradicted or did not use Marxist-Leninist analysis to reach her conclusion?

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