If Paul Kengor is correct about Frank Marshall Davis is it anything to worry about that the “mentor of the current president of the United States was a Communist — and not only a party member, but an actual propagandist for Stalin’s USSR”? From the PR point of view, probably not. For some reason no lasting stain attaches to those who have associated with one of the two great totalitarianisms of the 20th century. If Frank Davis Marshall was a Nazi it would have been politically worrisome. That he was a Communist only makes him — in the view of the public — interesting.
There are two reasons for this benign view. First, the Communists won in their fight against the Nazis and victory brought with it immunity — even for the villains. The Communists entered the elite, and being on the side of the victors could not really be hindered from doing so. A Communist or ex-Communist in public life is so common that any serious attempt to exclude them would probably empty the university faculties and the newsrooms.
The second reason that nobody worries about Communists is that too few know anything about it personally. To most people, Communism is just a stupid, slightly malevolent ideology that foolish people like Bill Ayers, for example, subscribe to. But those who have really experienced the Party up close and personal will divide into two camps. Those who remain true believers will be delighted that Frank Marshall Davis mentored President Obama. On the other hand, those who have abandoned the Party will be utterly terrified by Kengor’s revelations. Both the true believers and the apostates understand all too well that Communists aren’t just funny people but Nazi-equivalents who knew how to win. They were more clever, better spoken than Hitler’s crude spokesmen, but they were every bit as cunning and ruthless as the minions of the Third Reich. Communism owns most of the major genocides of the 20th century. By comparison to Stalin — Frank Marshall Davis’s idol — Hitler was a low rent clown.
That doesn’t mean that President Obama is necessarily tainted by the same brush. I would be the first to claim that I probably know more Communists than he does and have a reasonable chance of being right. But it does point to the pervasiveness of a strand of evil that has descended, sanitized and unremarked, through the bloodstream of post-War Western culture. We are all of us to some extent, marred or inoculated by this dark meme. To some degree the current world crisis is at heart an immune reaction to themes which have so embedded in the Western society that they are almost unnoticed. Unnoticed that is, but for the fact that they are killing us, silently, secretly, springing almost from within. Self-hatred, casual abortion, the worship of the state, virulent atheism and sexual license: these are ideas which by their very success have become almost part of the mainstream. Like cigarettes, we are habituated to our poison to the point that our dooms gnaw at us unnoticed, venom in the guise of pleasure.
Maybe the problem isn’t that Barack Obama was once mentored by Frank Marshall Davis. The real difficulty is that in our own ways, all of us have sat at Communism’s feet.