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Ron Radosh

Dreier continues with the following:

The attacks on Robeson escalated dramatically after he spoke at the Congress of the World Partisans of Peace in Paris in 1949. Robeson said that American workers, white and black, would not fight against Russia or any other nation. In the United States, however, the media misreported his remarks, interpreting them to mean that black Americans would not defend the United States in a war against the Soviet Union. [In fact, Robeson was not misreported. He meant that American blacks would not fight the one socialist nation that supposedly had conquered racism.]
After that, it was open season on Robeson. He was denounced…as being disloyal to the United States, and a shill for the Soviet Union.

Two points. First, Dreier’s readers never learn that just as Robeson’s critics claimed, he was a member and leader of the Communist Party, U.S.A. As Paul Kengor has pointed out in his book The Communist, on the one-hundredth anniversary of Robeson’s birth in 1998, the CPUSA issued a document penned by its chief, the late Gus Hall, in which Hall acknowledged publicly what he called “the full truth and nothing but the truth. Just as we have had to tell and retell the truth about the Communist Party, so we have had to undo the lies about our Communist heroes.” Hall then wrote: “Paul was a proud member of the Communist Party USA.” He added that he did not “declare his Party membership openly” because that was policy for “well-known public personalities.”

Robeson, Gus Hall continued, was a man of Communist “conviction” and Hall wrote that Marxism-Leninism “defined, guided and motivated his whole life, his every word and deed. He never forgot he was a Communist. Marxism-Leninism and the Communist Party gave Paul’s life meaning and direction. Comrade Robeson’s magnificent life was nourished and sustained by Marxism-Leninism and the ever-growing Communist Party.” Hall noted that he met with Robeson regularly to collect his yearly dues and to renew his CP membership.

Second, Robeson was indeed a “shill for the Soviet Union.” Not only did he refrain from ever criticizing anything in Stalin’s totalitarian state, he also went out of his way to tell the world that the Soviet Union alone was building a worldwide progressive humanity, and that Soviet communism was the future of the world. At the time of the great purges in the 1930s, Robeson said, “From what I have already seen of the workings of the Soviet government, I can only say that anybody who lifts his hand against it ought to be shot!” No wonder Robeson received the Stalin Peace Prize in 1952, calling Stalin a “kindly, good” man of “wisdom, deep humanity” and “understanding.” Stalin’s “noble example,” he stated, left Russians “a rich and monumental heritage.” Upon the tyrant’s death, Robeson said it “left tens of millions all over the earth bowed in heart-aching grief.” A shill indeed, to put it mildly.

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