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Ron Radosh

Perhaps the president’s handling of the Bergdahl-Taliban swap will be the one action that will turn the tide, pushing even his most stalwart supporters to become fed up.  I say this based upon a phone call my wife received last night from a relative, one of those perennial liberals who up to now has supported virtually every Obama policy and act. True, this is hardly a scientific poll or sampling. But we were stunned to hear this relative tell us how angry she was with the president. The deal, she said, was unconscionable and dangerous.

There is legitimate debate to be had about whether or not the administration should have moved to get Bowe Bergdahl back. Charles Krauthammer, in his much discussed column, argued in favor of Bergdahl  being freed and then tried by the military. At NRO, Andy McCarthy wrote a strong critique of Krauthammer’s argument, arguing that in the midst of a war that is not yet over, giving five top jihadists at Gitmo for one possible deserter is more than counter-productive. Moreover, it is quite possible he will never be court-martialed. Michelle Malkin reminds us that ten years ago this very month, a Muslim Marine deserted and although he was supposed to be court-martialed, a trial never took place.  This particular soldier was known to be supporting jihadists and regularly listened to their propaganda tapes.

As yet, we do not have all the facts about Bergdahl’s  desertion. Was he simply unbalanced and naïve? Was he an actual sympathizer seeking the Taliban  out? Or was his conversion to Islam and documented training with Taliban members done to save his life and prevent them from killing him? Or did it arise from a case of Stockholm syndrome?

Despite administration denials, especially Susan Rice’s now famous claim last Sunday that he served with “honor and distinction,” we know that the desertion took place. And there is good reason why the military treats deserters harshly. An armed force cannot survive, and ensure that dangerous missions are carried out and that discipline is maintained, if any soldier can decide at any time that he cannot fight and has to walk away.

It is also an insult to those who go into battle knowing that they may never come back. We were reminded of that when we paused to honor the sacrifice and heroism of those who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, where thousands were cut down, especially in the first group who left the boats and faced a barrage of German fire without any defenses to protect them.

The filmmaker Ron Maxwell reminds us in a Facebook post that during our Civil War in the extremely cold winter of 1862-1863, Stonewall Jackson’s aide-de-camp reported that three soldiers from the Stonewall Brigade had deserted. He  hoped that because of their age and that they had fought honorably with the unit for two years, they would be spared. Jackson replied  that it was a plea he could not accept. In a scene from his movie Gods and Generals, Maxwell writes what he thinks is likely Jackson said when he denied this appeal.  “Desertion is not a solitary crime,” Stonewall Jackson tells his aide-de-camp. “It is a crime against the tens of thousands of veterans who are huddled together in the harsh cold of this winter.” And so the deserters are tried in a court-martial and then shot.

In World War II, Private Eddie Slovik was sentenced to death by firing squad for desertion. Many now believe he was unfairly singled out as an example. Out of the 50,000 deserters in the war, many of whom received long sentences of jail time at hard labor, he was the only soldier executed. As WW II veteran Nick Gozik, who observed his execution by firing squad, has noted, Slovik was a brave man. He was given two chances to rip up his letter of intent to desert by officers, and rejected them. Slovik believed he was not constitutionally fit to engage in warfare, and he went to his death bravely without even flinching. But his execution — fair or not — indicates how seriously the U.S. Army dealt with deserters in World War II.

Some years ago, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, historian Michael Oren, wrote a prescient article about whether it is right to honor those who deserted in past wars, as had been the case when the British government erected an actual monument to those who had been shot for desertion in WW I, and then retroactively pardoned them. Oren worries that excuses for desertion might spread, and that Europe’s views “are symptoms of European attitudes toward not just World War I soldiers but toward all soldiers, even those who fight in just causes. And, if that is true, one might well ask: Can a society that valorizes its deserters long survive?” Oren believes that an attitude is developing that, since many now believe all wars are immoral,  deserters can be viewed as honorable. Would, he asks, Americans honor a soldier who deserted from the Union Army when its task became liberating slaves? Indeed, he notes that the Union Army actually had far more deserters than did the Confederacy. Oren writes:

For some Europeans, the aversion to military force is insufficient; they want Americans to lay down their arms as well. The Wall Street Journal recently profiled U.S. Army Specialist Andre Shepherd, a deserter living in Germany. Shepherd, with assistance from German peace activists, is seeking to stay in the country under an EU directive offering asylum to soldiers who refuse to fight in illegal wars. The German government has been paying for Shepherd’s room and board. “It’s just amazing here,” he told the Journal.

Today, the American left wing deals with the issue of Bergdahl’s desertion in two ways. The first is the growing chorus of those who blame his own unit for lax security, and imply that his fellow soldiers themselves were an undisciplined and carefree bunch. This is the editorial position of the New York Times, whose editors write that “the army’s lack of security and discipline was as much to blame for the disappearance, given the sergeant’s history.” The editors believe that Bergdahl is simply “a free-spirited man” who is unfairly being demonized by those who call him a “turncoat.”

What Michael Oren called “the eagerness to immortalize deserters” has already been taken up by some on the left, who justify Oren’s fear that some Americans might follow the European attitude. This time, it comes from The Nation magazine, the flagship publication of the American left.  Writer Richard Kreitner’s article is titled “The Honorable History of War Deserters.”

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Two Anniversaries and Their Meaning

June 3rd, 2014 - 7:29 am

This week, two major anniversaries will take place. On June 6, Americans will observe the 70th anniversary of the landing of U.S. and Allied forces on the beaches of Normandy, the largest land invasion in military history. Three hundred thousand soldiers and 54,000 warships took part in the landing. As most of us know from Tom Hanks’ movie Saving Private Ryan, their effort was carried out at a momentous price and was truly heroic.

It is most likely, as Time magazine notes in a poignant article, that this will be the last observation held in Normandy at Omaha beach (they occur every five years) with D-Day veterans in attendance. Those still living are in their 80s and 90s. “The reason why World War II has such a powerful influence on our imagination,” the British military historian Antony Beevor told Time, “is because the moral choices were so great and important. That’s the most important lesson for younger generations.”

Today, it seems that there are not many  heroes (outside of those in the armed forces)  the equivalent of those young men who now are referred to as “the greatest generation.” One has to pause and wonder: if America was under attack now as it was at Pearl Harbor, would so many rush to Army recruiting stations to voluntarily enlist to defend our nation?

We are reminded of how lucky we are to be living in the United States of America when we reflect on the meaning of the other anniversary that takes place only two days later after the conclusion of the Normandy landing. This one, remembered today-June 4th, will sadly not be remembered publicly in the country in which it took place.

I’m referring, of course, to the forthcoming 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in the People’s Republic of China, in which thousands of democracy protestors were forced to end their non-violent demonstration in an orgy of spilled blood. The so-called “People’s Army” shot young Chinese protestors on the orders of the Communist Party leadership.

The New York Times reports that we are now learning more about what happened on that day. It seems that one army general, chief of the powerful and large 38th Group Army, bravely told the party leaders when summoned to headquarters that he believed the demonstrations could only be resolved by the political process, and not by military force. Major General Xu Qinxian told a historian: “I’d rather be beheaded than be a criminal in the eyes of history.”

History is precisely what the Chinese government fears, to this day. Since Tiananmen, hundreds of Chinese have moved into the middle class, others have joined the world’s super-rich, and yet the bulk of farmers still live in rural poverty or flee to the cities to try to find work. What the Chinese do not have is any semblance of political freedom.  Dissenters are arrested and thrown into jail, the internet is heavily controlled, and accurate memory of past repression — especially that undertaken at the party’s command on June 4 twenty-five years ago at Tiananmen Square — is prohibited.

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You may not have heard of reform conservatism, but you should. For those who want conservative ideas to be taken seriously and to gain adherents of market-based reforms addressing the plight of the working middle class and the remains of the blue-collar class, the movement is imperative. It is simply not enough to yell “repeal Obamacare.” The conservative movement desperately needs new thinking that shakes things up and provides the kind of reforms that will address the problems our nation faces.

I view it as a most encouraging development that American Enterprise Institute, along with the Young Guns Network and National Affairs, hosted a major event last week to present leading reform conservatives, who spoke alongside both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Other prominent speakers included Ramesh Ponnuru, Reihan Salam, Ross Douthat, Peter Wehner, and Yuval Levin.

To understand precisely their approach, you can download their new e-book, Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class. The book has important essays by some of the most important and talented of serious conservative thinkers, who present new ideas on health care, tax reform, K-12 education, what kind of safety net conservatives should support, and almost every major policy issue. The thrust of their approach is what Peter Wehner notes to be the importance of developing policies that will “assist and empower working families — those who are, and those who want to be, in the middle class.”

Without the kind of effort these reform-conservative intellectuals have put forth, conservatives will always be vulnerable to the charge constantly made by left/liberal and social-democratic Democrats: Republicans don’t care about those who work, or about the poor and minorities. In his essay, Yuval Levin builds upon that task, and writes that conservatives have until now failed to put the call for limited government within the context of taking on what he calls the Left’s “technocratic approach to American society,” as well as its demands for an ever-expanding and limitless welfare state that avoids dealing with “the decentralized vitality of American life” while proposing programs that undermine its moral and economic foundations.

What these writers and thinkers are doing is taking on the ideology and assumptions of the Left’s vision of the world, both by challenging it head-on as well as offering alternative proposals that address the issues the Left always claims conservatives do not care about.

Already, only a scant few days from its unveiling, the left-wing is responding, realizing that this new effort is not just more of the same politicking. First came New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, arguing that a great gap exists between the group’s ambition and its actual ability to influence any Republican politicians. Chait goes back to what the Republican journalist Josh Barro told him last June, which is that “Republicans lack the imagination to come up with ideas to get higher wages, more jobs and affordable health care to the middle class. It is that there is no set of policies that is both acceptable to conservatives and likely to achieve these goals.”

Of course, the new effort precisely addresses Barro’s previous concerns. Of course, the skeptics are like E. J. Dionne, who has evolved over the years from a sharp centrist liberal to an apologist for the Obama administration, and who argues that whatever their intent, they will not succeed. He writes: “they are also limited by an increasingly conservative Republican primary electorate, the shift in the GOP’s geographical center of gravity toward the South, and a rightward drift within the business community.” In essence, his advice is give up — it won’t work, no one will listen, and everyone should accept the inevitable triumph of the Democratic Party and a forthcoming social-democratic European-style welfare state. Dionne, in other words, does not want the reform conservatives to succeed. As he puts it, “reform conservatism is better than the conservatism we have had. … But the conservatism we have had — and the politics it entails — will make it very hard for members of this movement to be as bold or as creative as our national moment requires.”

The Left, as Ross Douthat told Chait, believes that “American conservatism in its very essence is intent on soaking, punishing and immiserating the poor.” The goal of these reformers is to show that this is indeed not what conservatives want. One might ask Chait what he makes of the failures of LBJ’s “Great Society” program, which turned out to be an abysmal failure on many levels, and which they are now celebrating on its 50th anniversary, proclaiming the need to return to and finish Lyndon Johnson’s programs.

One positive sign that goes against the grain is Danny Vinik’s article in TNR, in which he admonishes liberals to take reform conservatism seriously. He suggests that the approach of Dionne and Chait is a cop-out, since instead of taking their ideas seriously and debating them, they respond by simply arguing that Republicans won’t act on any of their proposals. He has one point: there is a tension between trying to get politicians to listen while at the same time critiquing what they have come up with so far. Josh Barro, who is now with the New York Times, comments on what some of the problems are and argues that conservatives do address the deficit, but have not come up with ways to implement the tax cuts they propose.

At least Vinik is honest enough to write that “responding to valid conservative ideas like increasing the child tax credit or converting antipoverty programs into a universal credit is more intellectually challenging. Many liberals are concerned that after eight years of Barack Obama and potentially eight more of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s agenda will grow stale. Without a contested primary, how will the party continue to improve and adapt? Democrats can start by evaluating their policies in comparison to those of reform conservatives.”

I don’t think many on the Left will listen to someone who actually uses the words “valid conservative ideas.” Instead, they will continue to push for a shift further to the left, arguing that their party of choice should follow the lead of either Elizabeth Warren or, God forbid, Bernie Sanders. But, if they have their dithers, the Left should instead take Vinik’s advice: “Liberals should not dismiss [the reform conservatives] because reformers may have underestimated the gap between their ideas and the Republican Party’s current platform.”

If that happens, then we can have a real and meaningful and honest debate between those of us who hold a conservative vision and others who adhere to a leftist and social-democratic one. In the meantime, the smart group of reform conservatives have made a challenge to all conservatives and Republicans to come up with new ways of thinking. It’s about time.

The Soviet Union and the United States were involved in an ideological, political, and military fight almost as soon as World War II came to an end. The United States took the leadership of the fight for freedom against the forces of totalitarianism, then under the control of Joseph Stalin. The situation has some similarities with the one existing today, especially with the emerging differences over Ukraine and Putin’s attempt to revive the Soviet empire in a new form.

With the new deal between Russia and China, Putin has managed to gain the funds he needs to feed his ambition, just when the economy of Russia was beginning to tank. During the Cold War, the Nixon administration managed to play Mao’s China against the Soviet Union, thereby weakening Russia’s grip on the world and its desire for hegemony. That option does not exist today.

There are, however, other major similarities that are pointed out today in a very important speech by Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic. Together with Yale historian Timothy Snyder, who has been writing some of the most insightful articles about Ukraine (such as this one, and this blog in the New York Review of Books), they put together a major conference of Western and Ukrainian intellectuals in Kiev, which was held a few days ago.

Wieseltier, in his introductory remarks, makes a telling analogy. He argues that the events in Russia bring to mind the historic Congress for Cultural Freedom, held in Berlin in the early days of the Cold War, in which anti-Communist liberals and conservatives put aside their differences. They sought to work together to let those in the West understand why it was imperative that the Soviet Union — then still run by Joseph Stalin — not be allowed to succeed in its goals of building a Communist world. The Congress, as Peter Coleman subtitled his book, was a “struggle for the mind of postwar Europe.” Wieseltier writes:

All historical analogies are imperfect, but they are not for that reason false. The analogy between 2014 and 1950 is in some ways imprecise and hyperbolic: Putin is not Stalin, for example. But Putin is bad enough. Putin is very bad. It is not only evil in its worst form that we must resist. The discontinuities of recent histories must not blind us to the continuities. It is also the case — here is another discontinuity — that the United States and its European allies are not inclined now toward a geopolitical struggle that would in any way resemble the Cold War, which many Westerners regard as a dark and cautionary tale. I am not one of those Westerners: Unlike many American liberals, among whom I otherwise count myself, I regard the Cold War as a mottled tale of glory, because it ended in the defeat and the disappearance of the Soviet Union, which was indeed (for American liberals this is a heretical prooftext) what Ronald Reagan said it was — an evil empire.

Wieseltier considers the condition of Ukraine as one of “the proving grounds of principle in our time,” and it is a “modern struggle for democracy” akin to that which took place in the 1950s against Stalinism. So he and Snyder sought, in creating this event, to show the solidarity of Western European and American intellectuals with their Ukrainian counterparts. He argues that the Ukrainians were fighting for principles Americans endorse: liberty, truth, and pluralism. He marvels at the arrogance of Putin, whose propaganda proclaims the Ukrainian activists fascist, when it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black — “a fascist regime [which] has the temerity to call you fascist.”

Wieseltier, one must stress, is indeed a man whose position is similar to that of a once-large group, but now a dying breed: the so-called “Cold War liberals.” This was a favorite term of hatred used by the Left to describe those who fought the Popular Front initiated by the Communists in the days of World War II and the U.S.- Soviet alliance, and which they sought to maintain in the early days of the Cold War.

Nevertheless, today’s liberals — really those who take the positions of the far Left — have already sought to attack Wieseltier’s speech. The first culprit, and I am sure more will follow, is well-known liberal writer Jim Sleeper, whose response appears at the Huffington Post. He titles his article “Ukraine’s Neo-con Champions Champion Mainly Themselves,” a title meant to show his leftist readers that he has nothing but disdain for their efforts at solidarity. In so doing, he ironically shows that his position is analogous to that of the fellow-travelers and Communists who attacked the Congress of Cultural Freedom in similar terms in the 1950s.

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At the very start of the early New Left — circa the 1964-65 academic year — students in Berkley, California, started what was called the Free Speech Movement (FSM). Back in those days, university administrators did not allow early supporters of the civil rights movement to try to gather support on campus or solicit donations to various civil rights organizations. The police were called in to arrest the offenders, mass arrests were made, and giant rallies surrounding the Sproul Hall steps had nationwide repercussions, including a backlash to the protests from California residents who backed Ronald Reagan’s campaign for governor of California a few years later. Reagan emphasized his opposition to the actions of the student radicals.

It also led to a speech by a young student named Mario Savio, whose following words sound today like a clarion call by a libertarian:

But we’re a bunch of raw materials that don’t mean to be — have any process upon us. Don’t mean to be made into any product! Don’t mean — Don’t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We’re human beings! … There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious — makes you so sick at heart — that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.

How times have changed. The very New Left students of that era — so many of whom now run the universities against which they once protested — have moved from support of free speech to what might be termed the “No Speech Movement.” Or, perhaps more accurately, speech for which only those whom they approve should be allowed. Nowhere has this been clearer than in the various incidents surrounding invited graduation speakers at some of the most well-known private liberal arts colleges as well as one state university.

Last week, Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund,  announced that she would not appear at Smith College in order “to preserve the celebratory spirit” of graduation ceremonies at the college. One must wonder what anyone objected to in the choice of Ms. Lagarde, a woman who by any standards ranks as highly accomplished. The answer came in an online petition signed by 480 students and 120 faculty members, all of whom believe that Lagarde works for an institution that is part of “imperialistic and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide.” Even the public statement by Smith’s president, who wrote students that an invitation to speak did not mean an “endorsement of all views or policies” of the IMF or Lagarde and that their petition was “anathema to our core values of free thought and diversity of opinion,” did not succeed in stopping Lagarde’s decision to step down.

Then, following Lagarde’s withdrawal by one day, Haverford College made known their strong opposition to scheduled commencement speaker Robert J. Birgeneau. Ironically, he was the former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley — the very university in which the FSM was born. Moreover, Birgeneau was a man of the political Left. Indeed, he was well known as an advocate for LGBT rights, the rights of undocumented immigrants (that is, illegal aliens), and “faculty diversity,” which many of us would call hiring by racial and gender classifications. What, indeed, could the student activists find objectionable in his scheduled commencement appearance?

One might consider his forced withdrawal a case of irony, as the chickens came home to roost, except for the fact that  it revealed only how far the collapse of free speech has taken place. Fifty students — 50, mind you — hardly a huge number, revealed that Birgeneau could appear, if only he accepted nine conditions they then laid out. First, they objected that in 2011, he had supported police being called to campus to deal with “Occupy Wall Street” protestors demonstrating at the infamous Sproul Hall. They demanded his admission that he played a role in police arrests and actions at the site, that he “support reparations for the victims of the November 9th beatings and arrests,” and that he publicly admit in a letter to Haverford students that his own “actions have not been in line with the values of peace, non-violence, and political participation.” This brings to mind  China’s Red Guards in the era of the ’60s “Cultural Revolution,” when the guilty had to confess their sins in a ceremony of humiliation. Birgeneau simply responded: “First, I have never and and will never respond to lists of demands. Second, as a long time civil rights activist and firm supporter of non-violence, I do not respond to untruthful, violent verbal attacks.”

Thankfully, Harverford’s president told students in a letter that they sounded “like a jury issuing a verdict.” And as Daniel Henninger put it in a superb column in the Wall Street Journal, “No one could possibly count the compromises of intellectual honesty made on American campuses to reach this point. It is fantastic that the liberal former head of Berkeley should have to sign a Maoist self-criticism to be able to speak at Haverford. Meet America’s Red Guards.”

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I was a friend of Marty Sklar since 1955, when I first met him as an entering freshman at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  His name had been given to me by a friend in New York City, who said that Marty was a leading figure on the left in Madison, and would gladly take me under his wing. He was also my graduate teaching assistant in the U.S. history course I took in Madison.

Since that meeting, I have been engaged with Marty for over half a century, agreeing and disagreeing with him about history, politics, and the state of American society. Throughout these years, one thing was constant about Marty: he said in 1955 — and held to this belief up to his passing — that he was a socialist.

Marty’s definitions of socialism, however, were something other than how most people would define that system. I have written about his concept before at PJ Media, particularly in this column, in which I tried to explain his original theory called “the mix,” in which he argued that all modern societies are composed of elements of both socialism and capitalism. This led him to argue that he considers himself to be a “Freedom Leftist” who believes in a pluralist-democratic and “publicly accountable left,” as opposed to Obama, whom he considers to be a “left sectarian doing his mass work.”

At his core, Sklar writes, Obama’s “world view is ‘Third-Worldist sectarianism.’” Moreover, he argues that Obama’s economic proposals are a high-tax, protectionist, and slow-growth program. Those of Republicans, in contrast, were based on a lower-tax, low-cost energy, “high-growth/job stimulus” program, and are not “ensnared in the green business/academia lobby agenda of high-cost energy,” which would work to both restrict economic growth and workers’ incomes.

Here is what Sklar wrote in 1999 in an essay titled “Capitalism and Socialism in the Emergence of Modern America,” which appears in Reconstructing History: The Emergence of a New Historical Society. His paragraph defines how he looks at both capitalism and socialism:

Social change in [the Progressive era] inaugurated an incessant interaction, both antagonistic and complementary, between capitalism and socialism that shaped and reshaped American society in the twentieth century. The continuing corporate reorganization of enterprise and the national economy has in its essence involved the meshing of capitalism and socialism in an American society distinguished politically by liberal democracy. … The rise of corporate capitalism in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century may therefore be understood as also representing the early phases of a sociopolitical reconstruction of American society based upon a hybrid of capitalism and socialism in a liberal democracy.

Sklar was insistent on the principle that state and society had to be separate from each other, and that the individual and liberty had to be protected against all encroachments by the state against individual citizens. Capitalism, he believed, broadened individual initiative and guaranteed principles of liberty and efficiency, as well as egalitarian values and behavior.

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This week, it was announced on the obituary page of the New York Times that the son of famed African-American singer Paul Robeson, Jr. had died. As I read it, the following sentence appeared, and I realized that once again “the paper of record” — as the old NYT used to be called — had whitewashed Paul Robeson’s activism:

While they had much in common, he said one difference was that he was a member of the Communist Party from 1948 to 1962 while his father never joined the party. (During the McCarthy era, his father faced F.B.I. surveillance after he criticized the government.)

That claim, as the Times writer could have found out with just a bit of research, is false.

Robeson was a secret member of the CPUSA for decades. On March 21, 1998, in the Communist newspaper The People’s Weekly World – at the time of the celebration of what would have been Robeson’s 100th birthday — General Secretary of the CPUSA Gus Hall announced:

We can now say that Paul Robeson was a member of the Communist Party. … During the period of McCarthyism, most of the Party was forced underground. Paul, and other trade union leaders were part of that.

Later, at a public meeting held in May, Hall said in a birthday tribute to “Comrade Paul” that he had a special “birthday present for Paul that no one else could give.” That present was Hall’s revelation that “Paul was a proud member of the Communist Party USA”; a man of true Communist “conviction.”

Hall added that it was “an indelible fact of Paul’s life, [in] every way, every day of his adult life.” The real truth, he said, was “he never forgot that he was a Communist.” His most precious moment, Hall said, occurred “when I met with him to accept his dues and renew his yearly membership in the CPUSA.”

One has to understand how the Communist movement operated. Its major public figures were always told that to be effective, they had to deny their CP membership, and if accused of being a Red, to simply reply that the right-wing was again engaging in “Red-baiting.” That was the tactic used by Robeson and by his son, when anyone — especially the press — made that accusation.

If Robeson was not a member, he was a dues chiseler. Everything he said publicly parroted the current CP line, whatever it was.

Robeson was in fact a Stalinist and a defender of Stalin throughout his public life.

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A short time ago, Brandeis University took the step of dis-inviting Ayaan Hirsi Ali from giving a talk at the forthcoming commencement ceremony, on the grounds that faculty who had protested her appearance had pointed out that she was not simply critical of Islamic practices, but blamed the religion of Islam itself for the kind of backward positions many Islamists took. Explaining her shock at the Brandeis position, Hirsi Ali gave the following statement to Time magazine:

I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin. For over a decade, I have spoken out against such practices as female genital mutilation, so-called “honor killings,” and applications of Sharia Law that justify such forms of domestic abuse as wife beating or child beating. Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices.

The result was that scores of academics as well as editorial writers rushed to her defense, attacking the university’s president and administration for their moral cowardice and their failure to stand up to those who wanted her views not to be heard at Brandeis — a university that ironically (given that it was created as a non-sectarian and co-educational institution honoring a major Zionist leader) often hosted virulent anti-Israel speakers and presented them with major awards. As Hirsi Ali herself noted, this was done in 1948, “at a time when many American universities still imposed rigid admission quotas on Jewish students.”

At the same time, a major Zionist writer and defender of Israel, Yossi Klein-Halevi, writing with a Muslim colleague, Abdullah Antepli, rushed to print endorsing the Brandeis ban on Hirsi Ali.  As these two writers argued, both Muslims and Jews often promoted “each other’s renegades.” They put it this way:

Some Muslim groups enthusiastically embrace born Jews who spew a form of self-hatred that borders on anti-Semitism, while some Jewish groups sponsor born Muslims who have repudiated Islam and have made a career of exposing their former faith. In each case the message is the same: the only authentic representative of the faith community is one who repudiates its commitments and beliefs.

As the two writers saw it, Hirsi Ali had “crossed the line from critic of Islamist extremism to demonizer of Islam itself, repeatedly labeling the faith of more than a billion believers as an enemy against whom war must be waged.” Such a stance violated the university’s own promise to abide by “inclusivist values.”

If they paused to look at their own words, they would see that what they are really saying is that any public figure who disagrees with them about what Islam stands for cannot be allowed to make their case in public.  I do not pretend to be any expert on Islam, although I am sympathetic to Daniel Pipes’ argument that “radical Islam is the problem; moderate Islam is the solution.” Pipes writes that he understands fully that moderate Muslims are “largely fractured, isolated, intimidated, and ineffectual.” He also, unlike Klein-Halevi, disagrees strenuously with engaging Islamists. The solution, he concludes, “ lies in Islam being modernized, dealing with issues like jihad, the status of women, and the role of Shari’a.” These issues are precisely the issues which Hirsi Ali regularly takes on.

Just yesterday, it was reported in Europe/Israel, a French Jewish website, that at a Muslim conference held in Paris, Hani Ramadan, the brother of the well-known Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan—who is widely but incorrectly regarded as a moderate–told the conference held by UOIF Bourget (the Union of Islamic Organizations in France) that “all evil comes from Jewish and Zionist barbarism.” The conference was held to discuss “what values for a changing society” should be adopted by contemporary European Muslims.

Clearly, at this mass gathering of Muslims, antisemitism was the one value that apparently all the delegates shared.  As the Europe/Israel website put it, “Unfortunately, antisemitism has occupied a prominent place with the intervention of Hani Ramadan (brother of Tariq) director of the Islamic Center of Geneva and presented as a ‘special guest’ to the applause of the public.” In his speech, Ramadan also said that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was to be condemned for “publicly wearing a kippuh” while he supported a ban on Muslim women wearing a a veil in public areas. He concluded his speech by saying that “against these international schemes of Zionist power, there is only one rampart: Islam.” He also refused to condemn French Muslim youth who went to Syria to wage jihad.

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The column  I wrote last week, it turns out, has created somewhat of a storm. This is due to one thing only: Rush Limbaugh read it aloud on his radio program. (Start reading in the middle from where it says “BREAK TRANSCRIPT.”) That one decision by Rush led all of our mutual enemies to go viral, sending numerous Tweets and Facebook posts attacking Rush and me for supposedly arguing that the anti-Semitic neo-Nazi Glenn Miller acted because of Max Blumenthal.

Of course, as I wrote last week in an addendum, this was not the point I was making. I wrote the following, and repeat it once again:

 Joan Walsh of Salon has tweeted my column, saying that a two year old blog post by the killer does not show that Blumenthal inspired his actions. What it does show, I argue, is how Blumenthal and his ilk have the same perspective on Israel and the Jews as does this neo-Nazi. Yes, he did not need Max Blumenthal’s book to get him to engage in murder against Jews, only classic antisemitism. My point is simple: It is revealing how the work of this would-be leftist is endorsed by a Nazi sympathizer, who sees things in the same way as Blumenthal. As Dan Pipes asks, how will The Nation folks respond to this?

Now, an even more important attack has been made on Rush, David Horowitz and me, and it comes from that so-called civil-rights organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center. It appears in a report from what the SPLC calls its “Intelligence Project,” and is in their publication called HATEWATCH: Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right. Its headline proclaims: “Limbaugh, Right-Wing Pundits Try to Blame Max Blumenthal for Kansas Rampage.

If you are not aware of what the SPLC really is, you must first look at these two very important articles. The first hails from Ken Silverstein and appeared in Harper’s in the year 2000. The second article, unfortunately under a firewall where it was originally published,  is by the always insightful investigative journalist Charlotte Allen, and was the cover story in The Weekly Standard  in their April 15, 2013 issue. It is titled “King of the Fearmongers: Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center, scaring donors since 1971.” (You can, however, read it here.)

Both Silverstein’s and Allen’s articles present a devastating case that can simply be put this way: The SPLC is not a civil rights group, but rather a far left group that trades in fear and guilt and gains phenomenal backing from gullible liberals who think they are helping to fight hate and racism. But instead, they are helping Morris Dees to line his own pockets and spread a grossly exaggerated picture of a United States dominated by merchants of hate. Interestingly, the paragraph in Allen’s article I find most interesting is the one in which she quotes the views of the late leftist writer Alexander Cockburn. Allen writes:

This leads to yet another SPLC irony: Its severest critics aren’t on the conservative right (although the Federation for American Immigration Reform, another “hate group” on the SPLC’s list, has done its fair share of complaining), but on the progressive left. It may come as a surprise to learn that one of the most vituperative of all the critics was the recently deceased Alexander Cockburn, columnist for The Nation and the leftist webzine CounterPunch. In a 2009 article for CounterPunch titled “King of the Hate Business,” Cockburn castigated Dees and the SPLC for using the 2008 election of Barack Obama as America’s first black president as yet another wringer for squeezing out direct-mail donations from “trembling liberals” by painting an apocalyptic picture of “millions of [anti-Obama] extremists primed to march down Main Street draped in Klan robes, a copy of Mein Kampf tucked under one arm and a Bible under the other.” Cockburn continued: “Ever since 1971 U.S. Postal Service mailbags have bulged with Dees’ fundraising letters, scaring dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America, in dire need of legal confrontation by the SPLC.”

Most interesting is Allen’s argument that Intelligence Report, the blog that attacks us, “features alarmed articles, often written by Mark Potok, who now serves as the SPLC’s press spokesman and also as the editor of Intelligence Report and the organization’s Hatewatch blog.” All, she notes, bear “scary sounding titles.” The new attack fits the mold and reveals the SPLC’s true nature.

Rather than condemn the extremist Max Blumenthal — a hater of Israel and one of the most vile and self-proclaimed journalists one can think of — and exposing his warped methodology and one-sided pronouncements, as even his Nation colleague Eric Alterman has done numerous times, Hatewatch chooses as its would-be evil hatemongers those who have appropriately noted the ways in which the racist and neo-Nazi Miller shares the world-view of Max Blumenthal.

So extreme is Blumenthal that last week the Democratic pro-Israel activist and lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz told Breitbart.com that “Max Blumenthal is well outside the acceptable range of rhetoric about Israel. His constant comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Jewish state establish him as an extremist bigot whose greatest appeal is to antisemites and others who apply a double standard to the Jewish state.”  (Dershowitz was writing to warn Hillary Clinton that if she runs for president, she must dissociate herself from Max’s father Sidney Blumenthal, because he is vociferously defending his son’s book.)

Rush Limbaugh can speak for himself. If he got some details wrong, his overall point was correct. The dangerous words of someone born Jewish, like Blumenthal, were accurately cited by Frazier Glenn Cross,  AKA Glenn Miller, because Miller was saying in effect: Look, even a “Jew journalist” acknowledges that Israel was trying to buy “the presidential election for the neo-con, war-mongering Republican establishment.”

In other words, Miller sees Max Blumenthal as a courageous Jew who alone tells the truth. As Ben Cohen puts it in his valuable column in The Algemeiner:

It’s not an accident that today’s Nazis are attracted to left-wing, viscerally anti-Zionist writers like Blumenthal. Both share the view that the so-called “Israel Lobby” drove the U.S. into foreign wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both believe that politicians kowtow to Jewish interests because they fear the costs of not doing so. And both are convinced that the type of “Jewish supremacism” practiced in Israel makes a nonsense of American Jewish appeals for tolerance and understanding.

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As I sit writing from Berlin, Germany, I woke up this morning with the news that a demented American Nazi and KKK leader, Glenn Miller, (AKA Frazier Glenn Cross) has been arrested as the main suspect in the Kansas City murder of 3 American Jews. That all were undoubtedly preparing for tonight’s Passover Seder makes the tragedy even more abhorrent.

In a country and city where all of its residents are always aware of the horrors of the Nazi past, it comes as a shock that this wanton act of vicious antisemitic murder has taken place not in Germany, but in the United States. Of course, it is an outrage that the authorities are going out of the way to not call it by its name. Rather than condemning Miller’s action as a result of his Nazi beliefs, they say it looks like a “hate crime,” and they make light of his yelling “Heil Hitler” upon his arrest.

Even the regional director of the St. Louis branch of the Anti-Defamation League held her words. As The New York Times reports,

“ ‘While it is too early to label these shootings as a hate crime, the fact that two Jewish institutions were targeted by the same individual just prior to the start of the Passover holiday is deeply troubling and certainly gives us pause,’ Karen Aroesty, the group’s St. Louis regional director, said in a statement.”

Ms. Aroesty should have been more up front about the obvious motivation of Miller, and not hedged her words.

Fortunately, a quick look at some of the antisemitic extremist websites has led to the following post by Mr. Miller, reproduced verbatim below:

Israel Forming Super PAC to Attack Paul & Obama


This is some big dookee, yaw’ll.

http://runronpaul.com/interviews/isr…on-paul-obama/

Jew journalist Max Blumenthal exposes and explains this attempt by a foreign government Israel, to buy the presidential election for the neo-con, war-mongering republican establishment.

Like I’ve been saying, the kikes simply do not trust a lame-duck black president with the name Hussein. Jews fear his re-election, thus this jewish Super PAC to defeat him.

Questions:

1) Will Ron Paul and his close supporters fight back against this alien super-PAC by telling the truth about jew power in the U.S. ?? It’s insightful and somewhat assuring that the above video news report was posted on www.runronpaul.com.

2) How will Hussein and his 45 million black supporters and the tens of millions of other liberals and anti-war Americans react to this jewish attack on their president and commander in chief ??

3) How will the democrat establishment react, and the so-called liberal media ??

4) Does this signal a huge split among jews, and if so how big is the split ??

Like Dr Pierce once said, “the jews have a tiger by the tail, and they dare not turn loose.”

It sure looks to me like their grip is slipping.

Sieg Heil !!!

__________________
“To learn who rules over you simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize” —–Voltaire

These and other posts by Miller can be found on vn forum, where he regularly engaged in dialogue with other neo-Nazis and antisemites.

What will our good friends at The Nation say now, when his very first sentence notes how inspired he is by the words of none other than Max Blumenthal, whose antisemitic and anti-Zionist book was released by the magazine’s own publishing house, Nation Books?  I can look back to find scores of examples of how various racist rants are attributed by the Left to conservatives, Tea Party members and especially to  Rush Limbaugh. Some years ago, one man tried to enter a left-wing group’s offices with a gun, and many leftists immediately attributed his actions to the hate spread by right-wing radio talk show hosts.

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