Claude Cartaginese

The Forgotten Side of Helen Keller

Posted on October 10 2009 1:25 am
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Helen Keller

Helen Keller

Last Wednesday, to great applause and accolades from the politicians and dignitaries in attendance, a bronze statue of Helen Keller was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol. “The story of Helen Keller inspires us all,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added that: “Helen Keller ignited a century marked by progress for people with disabilities.”

Most of us think we know her story:

Born in 1880, Helen Keller lost her eyesight and hearing before the age of two after contracting an illness. Shut off from the world because of her disabilities and unable to communicate even with her parents, she was doomed to lead a lonely, institutionalized existence.

Everything changed, however, when she met Annie Sullivan. Sullivan became her teacher, eventually showing her how to spell words by tapping them into her hand. She became an accomplished author and speaker, and travelled the world inspiring others everywhere she went. She lived to be 87, and Patty Duke played her in a movie.

This is, more or less, the bowdlerized version of her life that we all learned as children in school, and it is a truly remarkable story.

If you’re a socialist or a Marxist, however, you know that there’s more to the story—much more—and the Marxist reporters at Democracy Now! have taken the time to remind us of Helen Keller’s true legacy: she was, first and foremost, a radical socialist.

And they’re quite right in saying so.

In fact, she was a relentless zealot in her embrace of left-wing causes. Consider the following facts about Helen Keller:

•She was a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

•She was a pacifist and a proponent of universal disarmament.

•She was the author of the essay “Why I am a Socialist.”

•She was a member of the Socialist Party and a communist sympathizer, who actively campaigned for Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene V. Debbs.

•She was an admirer of Vladimir Lenin.

•She was a personal friend and strong admirer of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the country.

•She was a strong advocate of birth control and sterilization.

•She was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a group founded in Chicago (where else?) by socialists, anarchists and radical trade unionists whose goal was “to promote worker solidarity in the revolutionary struggle to overthrow the employing class.”

•She was a supporter of the eugenics movement, once declaring, in an ironic twist, that: “Our puny sentimentalism has caused us to forget that a human life is sacred only when it may be of some use to itself and to the world.”

Bet you didn’t know.

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