Anti-communism: More than one kind of smear


With the McCarthyite antics of newly elected tea party Senator Ted Cruz from Texas, we see an increase in right-wing efforts to smear liberal opponents as Communists, as supporters of terrorism, as un-American. Apparently, several years ago, Cruz falsely proclaimed that there were 12 Communists on the faculty of the Harvard Law School, of which he was a graduate.

Last year, Allen West, since-defeated congressman from Florida, accused the entire Congressional Progressive Caucus of being Communists, declaring that he "knew" of 80 or 81 members of the Communist Party currently in Congress.

Michele Bachman famously told Chris Matthews on Hardball that congresspeople should be investigated for "anti-Americanism." They want the public to think of any opposition to their right-wing ideology as being allied with Communists, terrorists, or both.

We also see this in tea party fulminations against Obama as a socialist, fascist, communist, Marxist, foreign tyrant, based on nothing but their own nightmare visions.

Such moves are drawing condemnation, from other senators, from some editorial pages, from the New Yorker blog, and many others. This is a welcome development, when mainstream politicians, including some Republicans, publicly reject such attacks.

Most liberal condemnation of Cruz, West, and their ilk, however, points out the ridiculousness of these false claims. However they often also implicitly accept the premise-that Communists are to be condemned, just for being Communists.

Several decades ago in Seattle, there was a horrific murder of the Goldmark family. The father was a prominent liberal Democrat. A demented individual, goaded on by the propaganda of a fringe right-wing group then known as the "Duck Club," murdered him, his wife, and their two children on Christmas Eve.

The entire community was properly outraged; the perpetrator was arrested and convicted. The Duck Club had to disband. In the process, the editorial page of the Seattle Times opined that this crime was particularly vicious and idiotic because the delusion that Goldmark was a Communist was so egregiously phony.

However, the way they discussed this, it seemed as if, had the accusation been true, the crime would have been less horrific. This liberal acceptance of the terms of anti-communism betrays a second form of anti-communist smear.

Yes, the right-wingers sling around stupidity and ignorance when they accuse liberals of being Communists. Yes, they are vicious and malicious, creating false issues to bash their liberal opponents, now even bashing staunchly conservative former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel during the hearings on his nomination to be Secretary of Defense, because he eventually rejected the Bush invasion of Iraq.

But too many take for granted that if the accusation were true, then the tactics of these right-wing foaming-at-the-mouth reactionaries would be more acceptable.

No, these attacks are wrong, no matter who they are aimed at. In part, the problem with McCarthyism was that he (and his allies) falsely and publicly attacked people for being Communists who were not, even by the loose standards of congressional rhetoric. But these accusations were also wrong when they attacked actual Communists.

After many years of legal and political struggle, many of the anti-communist laws of the period, or portions of them, were rejected as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The Smith Act, the McCarran Act (which authorized the government to set up concentration camps for radicals, among other things), and the congressional witch-hunt House Un-American Activities Committee and the Senate Subversive Control Committee, all eventually had to retreat, though the anti-communism they promoted never went away.

The Communist Party USA is a legal party (in spite of efforts to criminalize membership) and a valid participant in the political life of our country. We have just as much right as any other citizen to hold and state our views on issues of the day, on the nature of our political and economic systems, and anything else we actually want to say (not what reactionaries use their fevered imaginations to dream up what they claim we advocate).

The right wing is wrong. Wrong when it falsely accuses mainstream liberals of being Communists. Also wrong when they falsely accuse Communists of conspiracy, of trying to "overthrow" democracy, of advocating violence. None of those accusations are true.

They lie because they want to avoid engaging with our actual ideas and policies. They lie because they want a convenient cudgel to beat their opponents with. They lie because they want to divide liberals, progressives, and radicals from each other, much as McCarthy and others wanted to do in the late 1940s and 1950s. They lie because it draws attention away from the hollow and anti-human policies they are trying to impose on the country.

Allen West and Ted Cruz are wrong. They have proven themselves to be capable of public idiocy, of propagating lies and false implications, of ignoring common decency. But they are also wrong when they accuse the Communist Party USA, either explicitly or implicitly, of not being a legitimate part of U.S. political life. They are wrong when they claim, without proof, without logic, without sense, that we advocate anything other than what we feel is the best path for the majority of people. They lie about what we advocate, and then use those lies to swing wildly at everyone who disagrees with them.

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  • The only solution to the mess we have fallen into---the mess of corporate rule by the almighty dollar-- is to implement true Communism.

    I do not mean to insult any one, but the practice of Communism in the Soviet Union was no where near the ideal.

    From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs. Those needs do not include a billion dollars. Those needs do not include mansions, multiple cars, jets and yachts.

    It is obscene that people are hungry in this country when there are people who have and control millions and billions of dollars.

    It is obscene that there are homeless people when there are people who live in "gold plated" mansions.

    I could go into more examples, but the point I am making is clear.

    Profit driven capitalism which disregards and tramples on the rights of people must be dismantled, starting with the dismantling of Wall Street. There should not be any such thing as ownership of shares in a private company.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 03/08/2013 9:49am (3 years ago)

  • Well, we should be proud that the likes of these clowns still think of us Communists as a threat. Just the fact that these radical conservatives consider the CP a danger should be a recruiting tool for the Party.

    Anyone who would swallow this anti-communist BS deserve exactly what they are getting - a corporate facist state. Too bad the rest of us will be dragged down into these flames of infamy. The problem in the US is, and always has been, the timidity and anti-communist Social Democrats.

    It's just too bad there arn't any real Communists in Congress!

    Posted by lz smith, 03/05/2013 8:24pm (3 years ago)

  • The McCarthy anti-communist witch hunts were not the end of the persecution of the CP. In 1961 Robert F. Kennedy, in his capacity as Attorney General, indicted the CP for not registering under the "Internal Security Act" as a "foreign agent." There were 12 indictments in all, one of which was failing to file a list of members and a financial statement.

    It should come as no surprise that in this time of capitalist crisis, the specter of communism as a "great evil" is raising its ugly head again. There is a tremendous fear among the ruling class that there could be a real class-conscious rebellion against the attacks against working and poor people. Getting Americans to accept the vilification of socialism/communism is only a side issue. The real issue is setting up the framework to persecute a potential vanguard Marxist-Leninist party and prevent it from leading what is sure to come.

    The likes of Ted Cruz, Allen West, the Religious Right, and others need to be challenged aggressively. "No more witch hunts, no more lies! The 99% are on the rise!"

    Posted by John Lombardo, 03/05/2013 7:31pm (3 years ago)

  • The word "communist" is not terrifying to a majority of Americans as it was in, say 1950. The only people terrified by it are the nut jobs of the far-right. Unfortunately, like the "Duck Club", many of these psychos are heavily armed.

    Posted by John Whiskey, 03/05/2013 6:15pm (3 years ago)

  • Both parties occupy a middle ground in everything except the way they talk about social issues if you actually look at what the two parties are doing. Let's emphasize TWO parties. There was a great deal of effort put in over the years to ensure that there is always only two options with a chance at winning and that the Nation is split fairly evenly between them. There are no more righteous people in power because the righteous do not seek power. The scope of the American people's perception has been narrowed to that of a child growing up in a cave. The only choice you have is which corrupt individual you'd like to vote for. Once in office you can't hold them accountable, most people don't even take the time of day to look at what they're doing they just blindly support a side like it's a sports team and the American people just allow the Nation to fall farther and farther from any kind of solution to any one of an array of major economic, social and environmental issues facing the country. Instead of blindly defending or bashing a side why not start questioning what both sides are doing or even helping to propose solutions for the issues that may very well bring The United States of America to its knees in the coming years.

    Posted by LightBringer, 03/05/2013 4:25pm (3 years ago)

  • A very good piece by Marc Brodine.

    The likes of a Ted Cruz and an Allen West are oblivious to the fact that this is the 21st century, not last century's 1950s. Only those who are politically-stupid would allow themselves to be mentality stuck in the McCarthy era. It's obvious these clowns haven't evolved. Anti-communism, the major contributor, is the "fall-back" excuse for those supporting empire.

    But again, those like Cruz and West have it wrong, using the word communism as a label only for its "association" with "evil," but having no content...or accuracy.

    I thought anti-communism died out with the dinosaurs.

    Posted by revolution123, 03/05/2013 4:08pm (3 years ago)

  • I think the CP should try to find out who these Harvard professors are and sign them up! And thank Cruz for heping the totally legal Communist Party gain some new members.

    Posted by bill meyer, 03/05/2013 3:44pm (3 years ago)

  • Anticommunism by the quote-unquote "Republicans" is a matter of indifference to communists. During the recent round of chief executive campaigning, the Communist Party of China published a Chinese scholar's opinion that a Mitt Romney presidency would be more congenial to China's interests (and, by extension, to the planning goals of the CPC). US "Republicans" are the world's most important sponsors of socialist development under the world's most sophisticated Communist Party!

    And as for republicanism... Show me a US "conservative" who knows what a the word "republic" means, and I will show you someone radically alienated from the GOP. In my experence, a few words of Roman republicanism is usually enough to make a neocon blush.

    Finally, I wonder if there are only a couple of coffin nails needed now to finally fix the lid on this "what's good for Texas is good for the country" ideology.

    Posted by Joseph, 03/05/2013 2:54pm (3 years ago)

  • Thank you brother Marc Brodine.
    Anti-communism is an affront to informed religion(non-dogmatic), modern civilization, science and human decency.
    This, to say nothing to of 5,000 years of civil rights, education, art and athletics in human history.
    Blot out Eastern and Western civilizations, up to modern times, and you achieve the aim of anti-communism.
    It is no accident the communists like Frederick Engels, noted the communist-like endurance of early Christians(as also, the great M L K did)starting with Jesus himself, M L K calling Jesus The Master.
    As the great Communist, W. E. B. Du Bois insisted, we have the human right to know the history of thought, including communist thought, to solve the riddles of history, to learn, earn and live, life for and as informed human civilization, to know communism and civilization, for posterity.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 03/05/2013 12:02pm (3 years ago)

  • Thanks for this! They lie to undermine anyone who believes in justice and equality, and tries to do something about it. as the song say, "you ain't been doin' nothin if you ain't been called a Red."

    Posted by Elena Mora, 03/04/2013 6:53am (3 years ago)

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