Comments appeared everywhere. The humorist and writer Mark Steyn, like many others on the conservative side, thought I let him off the hook too easily. He wrote that “The Washington Post’s Style section, with its usual sly elan, hailed him as America’s ‘best-loved Commie’ — which I think translates as ‘Okay, so the genial old coot spent a lifetime shilling for totalitarian murderers, but only uptight Republican squares would be boorish enough to dwell on it.’” Steyn continues:
Still, Ron Radosh was thrilled that, just 54 years after the old brute’s death, a mere three-quarters of a century after the purges and show trials…the old protest singer had finally got around to protesting Stalin, albeit somewhat evasively…But given that the guy got the two great conflicts of the 20th century wrong [fascism and communism] …it’s a start. I can’t wait for his anti-Osama album circa 2078.
Later in his essay, he writes:
Mr Seeger has a song called “Treblinka”, because he thinks it’s important that we should “never forget”. But wouldn’t it be better if we were hip to it before it snowballed into one of those things we had to remember not to forget? Would it kill the icons of the left just for once to be on the right side at the time? America has no “best-loved Nazi” or “best-loved Fascist” or even “best-loved Republican”, but its best-loved Stalinist stooge is hailed in his dotage as a secular saint who’s spent his life “singing for peace”. He sang for “peace” when he opposed the fascistic armaments stooge Roosevelt and imperialist Britain, and he sang for “peace” when he attacked the Cold War paranoiac Truman, and he kept on singing for “peace” no matter how many millions died and millions more had to live in bondage, and, while that may seem agreeably peaceful when you’re singing “If I Had A Hammer” in Ann Arbor, it’s not if you’re on the sharp end of the deal thousands of miles away.
Showing that in fact he has learned very little, Seeger now turns his public scorn on Israel alone, the country he once celebrated in his hit record with The Weavers, “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena,” and his song about the Kibbutzim in Israel, “Hey Daroma.” [“Who’ll bring bread and water/Food for Your Sons and Daughters/Life and youth is what we bring”] Of course, these were written when the Soviet Union stood with the U.S. in favor of the partition resolution at the UN in November of 1947, and in Israel’s first years, when Seeger thought of it as a labor-led country that could move quickly to the kind of socialism he liked, like the regimes in Stalinist Eastern Europe.
Now he stands firmly with the BDS movement, and gives royalties from “Turn, Turn, Turn” to the anti-Israeli cause, something you should remember next time you hear it played on the radio. (I wonder how Roger McGuinn feels about this, since his version with The Byrds made it popular.) Have no mistake about what BDS is for. It says nothing when Hamas lobs rockets on Israel; when suicide bombers ply their trade in Jerusalem, as happened yesterday. It offers no criticism; calling only for sanctions against and boycotts of Israel. I have not heard Seeger protest about the brutal and vicious killing of the Fogel family last week, a brutal murder by Palestinian terrorists celebrated by Hamas with the handing out of candy to the Gaza populace.