A few weeks ago, we started a new series here at NewsRealblog, the subject of which is David Horowitz’s autobiography Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey. I started reading this book and will continue to share my thoughts with you as I read it.
One of the most remarkable characteristics of leftists is that they often talk about freedom, human rights and humane policies, but that they cover up for tyrants at every opportunity they get. As Horowitz recalls in his memoirs (on page 73):
Now the poet was fighting for his life. The cause of his danger was Stalin’s latest purge. Since the 1930s, when Stalin first instituted the Terror, wave upon wave of internal “enemies” had been disposed of in the chambers of the secret police. War had interrupted the slaughter, but when it was over the killing resumed. Lifting a page out of Hitler’s book, Stalin decided to launch his last liquidation campaign against the Jews. It began without warning in the winter of 1948 with the killing of a friend and colleague of [Itzhak] Feffer, the actor Solomon Mikhoels. An alleged plot to murder the Soviet leader was used as the pretext for a full-scale pogrom. As the new persecutions got under way, Jews began to vanish into the vast concentration-camp system that Stalin had built along with the other construction feats of the socialist state. Among those arrested was Feffer.
In America, the question “What happened to Itzhak Feffer?” entered the currency of political debate. There was talk in intellectual circles that Jews were bing killed in a new Soviet purge and that Feffer was one of them. It was to quell such rumors that Robeson asked to see his old friend, but he was told by Soviet officials that he would have to wait. Eventually he was informed that the poet was vacationing in the Crimea and would see him as soon as he returned. The reality was that Feffer had already been in prison for three years, and his Soviet captors did not want to bring him to Robeson immediately because he had become emaciated from lack of food. While Robeson waited in Moscow, Stalin’s police brought Feffer out of prison, put him in the care of doctors, and began fattening him up for the interview. When he looked sufficiently healthy, he was brought to Moscow. The two men met in a room that was under secret surveillance. Feffer knew he could not speak freely. When Robeson asked him how he was, he drew his finger nervously across his throat and motioned with his eyes and lips to his American comrade. “They’re going to kill us,” he said. “When you return to America, you must speak out and save us.
After this meeting with the poet, Robeson returned home. When he was asked about Feffer and the other Jews, he assured his questioners that reports of their imprisonment were malicious slanders spread by individuals who only wanted to exacerbate Cold War tensions. Shortly afterward, Feffer, along with so many others, vanished into Stalin’s gulag.
It was not that Robeson had not understood Feffer’s message. He had understood it all too well. Because it was Robeson, near the end of his own life and guilty with remorse, who told the story long after Itzhak Feffer was dead.
Earlier in the book (on page 41), the author writes:
In the West, progressives rallied to the defense of the Soviet cause. Fellow travelers of the Communist Party, like Daily Compass columnist I.F. Stone, justified Stalin’s conquests by explaining that Eastern Europe was ruled by fascists and class oppressors. New books appeared on my parents’ shelves, like Democracy With a Tommy Gun, which defended the takeovers as a liberation. Our progressive community supported the new dictatorships and believed that the forces of justice were triumphing over reaction in Eastern Europe, even as they believed that good had triumphed over evil in Russia itself.
He adds on page 63:
Now that the war was over, the new conflict was with Russia, and they had become the targets of the patriotic crowd. Once again they had reversed themselves in a way that left them looking hypocritical and foolish: Having staunchly supported democracy during the war, they had become apologists for the new dictatorships that Stalin was creating in Eastern Europe.
It doesn’t really matter to radical progressives how evil these tyrants are. Former leader of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin may have been one of the most terrifying mass murderers to walk on the face of this planet but hey, he was a communist and therefore not that bad. The same goes, of course, for Mao Zedong; the monster who killed approximately 70 million civilians in peace time.
They talk about Adolf Hitler very often – and rightly so, of course – because he’s labeled “extreme right.” The many crimes committed by most other famous totalitarians are all covered up, however, because they are seen as leftists.
Who was worse, Hitler or Mao? Well, that’s a difficult question. What’s not difficult to say, however, is that both were dictators who committed horrific crimes against humanity. Yet, the one is talked about frequently, while the other’s crimes are virtually ignored.
Make no mistake about it, the Left’s support for “progressive” tyrants continues to this day. As Horowitz points out on page 160:
Hundreds – maybe even thousands – of similar contacts and arrangements were made with the Communist enemy both during the Sixties and after. Yet only a handful of New Leftists have ever written or talked about them. Few had the high-level contacts of Hayden, and only one, Carl Oglesby was able to tell his story and remain a leftist in good standing. Others, like Phillip Abbot Luce and Larry Grathewold, made their revelations as “renegades,” and were attacked as “government agents,” a stigma that warned anyone else not to follow their example. Even after the collapse of Communism made its evils difficult to ignore, the cover-up by veterans of the New Left continued. Memoirs and historical monographs by New Left historians painted a virginal portrait of radical protesters, rewriting the history of the period on a scale that would have seemed impossible outside the Communist bloc.
I hope you’ll enjoy this series with me. In case you haven’t read Radical Son yet, you can order it here. Go get it and join me in the coming weeks.