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Ron Radosh

Again: The New York Times Whitewashes Communist Paul Robeson

April 28th, 2014 - 9:39 am

No one put it better than — amazingly — a writer for Daily Kos, someone calling himself Yosef 52. He titled his entry: “Yes, Paul Robeson was an Unrepentant Stalinist”:

Robeson always found much to admire in Stalin’s slave camp regime. The farcical, horrible show trials of 1936-38, in which the Communist Party’s surviving founders and many of the USSR’s top military leaders were destroyed, were obvious travesties, utter caricatures of justice. The robotic testimony given by the defendants, implicating themselves and confessing to ludicrous charges, had obviously been wrung out of them by torture and threats against their families. Robeson’s reaction to these grotesque proceedings?

From the testimony I read at the time, I believe that justice was done to these men on the whole. In the critical struggle then going on, some innocent men might have suffered, but as to the general fairness of these trials, even reliable American observers like Raymond Robbins (sic) testified.

In other words, lynching when done in a good cause is defensible. Disgraceful. Totally disgraceful. Inexcusable.

He continues to summarize’s Robeson’s horrendous apologias for Stalin better than anyone has:

Robeson cheered for Stalin’s pact with Hitler, and then, like the rest of the Communist world, did a 180 degree reversal on 22 June 1941, the date Germany invaded Russia, and demanded all-out aid to the Soviet Union. But I guess principles are disposable, and I guess intellectual and moral consistency are for the weak.

Robeson played a concert in Prague in 1949, celebrating his good Soviet friends. His good Soviet friends were then in the process of crushing Czech democracy into the dirt, but this didn’t detract from Robeson’s celebration. Robeson just didn’t give a damn about it.

Robeson remained a fervent Stalinist, even after the following events:

The crushing of national independence and democratic movements in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and elsewhere in eastern Europe, by Stalin. Stalin’s attempt to strangle the people of West Berlin into submission through an illegal blockade.The insane post-war purges inside the USSR and the preposterous worship of Stalin that accompanied them. The Communist invasion of South Korea.

And most damningly, even AFTER Nikita Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” of 1956. Robeson could STILL not bring himself to denounce Stalin. Even then. Even then.

Robeson himself wrote a major apologia for Stalin in an essay written after Stalin’s death in 1953. It should be added that Robeson was awarded the year before that the so-called “Stalin Peace Prize,” which he proudly accepted. Today, were he alive, he probably would have received the Nobel Peace Prize. This is what Robeson wrote:

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!

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.

This was written in what might be called Communist-speak. It is a sycophantic, revolting and despicable praise to a man who at the time had been one of the 20th century’s greatest tyrants, the double of Hitler. It reveals better than any other Robeson statement what an utter fool and useful idiot he was.

Let me change that; it reveals what a total idiot he was, and shows us that it did not matter whether or not he was a CP member. He served the Party 100 percent in every word he uttered.

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20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
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20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's time to mob the New York Times into repudiating their boy Duranty's Pulitzer.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
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20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
New York times has been lying for decades. They have colluded with despots even during WWII. It's time people stop giving them the headlines.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Communism was the religion of fools. The blind dogmatic adherence caught many an intellectual in its trap. But such fools don't happen in a vacuum. Sympathy for communism in the Red Decade was normal in such journals as The Nation and The New Republic. Closing their eyes to the horror, they helped many to do the same.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
From what I read in Diana West's book about WWII, American Betrayal, Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins were Stalinist's well after the informed public knew he was a monster. The Roosevelt administration arranged to send Stalin all the materials he needed to assemble the first Soviet nuclear bomb. Much other assistance was provided by these two to Stalin during WWII. So Paul Robeson was a singer. The New York Times defended Stalin during much of his reign. What is the surprise here?
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just so we're clear, Kentfromohio, when you say Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins, do you mean FDR or Eleanor? I'm asking because when word got out that Stalin was a monster to the American public, FDR was already six-feet-under from a stroke, so we need clarification on what you mean by that.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Old Man River!

Ever see The Emperor Jones? Now that is a weird friggin movie.

Robeson had Asperberger's Syndrome and spoke like 20 languages. An honest to God genius. But, yeah, a die heard Stalinist.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Robeson did not have Asperger's syndrome, a version of autism. He could never have lived as he did if he had had it.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
It amazes me that the rewriting of history proceeds apace. During his radical phase, Ralph Bunche was close to Paul Robeson and his wife. Some of their correspondence is at UCLA Special Collections. And yet the Carnegie Corporation persuaded Bunche to identify red Negro betterment organizations. See http://clarespark.com/2011/08/04/carnegie-corp-and-the-negro-problem/.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is sad that such a great artist was such a great idiot, but it is hardly unheard of.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
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