This is the latest in a series of exclusive interviews with Dr. Paul Kengor, professor at Grove City College, on his latest work, Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, which is based on a remarkable volume of declassified materials. Dinesh D’Souza calls Dupes “a significant addition to our historical understanding of the past hundred years.” Big Peace’s Peter Schweizer calls it the “21st century equivalent” to Whittaker Chambers’ classic Witness.
Big Peace: Professor Kengor, we initially planned to do our next “Big Dupes” on President Obama’s Prairie Fire friends from the Weather Underground, but you’re taking a slight detour.
Kengor: As a faithful reader of the Breitbart website, and as someone on the cutting edge of dupery, I was inspired by a feature at Big Journalism, highlighted in the “Big AM Report” on Tuesday, titled, “Who REALLY Throws Around the Terms ‘Nazi’ ‘Fascist?’” The answer, as author Jeff Dunetz stated, was “progressives, of course.”
Big Peace: That article focused on how progressives toss around words like “anti-Semite,” “fascist,” “Nazi,” branding everyone from Tea Party people to Glenn Beck.
Kengor: It’s sick and indecent, but a well-honed craft. I want to address it here, placing it in historical context. The left has done this for a long time. What I’m about to say will cause liberals to spin in their seats, foam at the mouth, and denounce me as a McCarthyite, but, hey, truth is truth. And the truth is that smearing political opponents with such nasty language is a tactic that was mastered by American communists. And—brace yourself, liberals—I found this tactic first used way back in 1933 not against Hitler, who just came to power, but against no less than Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Big Peace: You show in Dupes how American communists labeled FDR a “fascist” mere weeks after his inauguration.
Kengor: They seized May Day 1933 as an opportunity to denounce FDR as a fascist, to accuse him of pursuing “forced labor,” and even of desiring a “world war.” Basically, they accused him of things their beloved leader, Joe Stalin, was seeking. The comrades circulated ads and fliers stating precisely this. I found them in the Comintern Archives. Knowing they must be seen to be believed, they’re published in chapter seven of Dupes.
Big Peace: So Glenn Beck may not be a big FDR fan, but he’s in good company.
Kengor: Indeed. Glenn should remind these extreme leftists that they once maligned FDR with these vicious names.
This tactic was so prevalent that we indexed the word “fascism,” which, in the context of Dupes, is not really about fascism but about the left’s shameless abuse of the term. It rarely applies to actual fascism.
Big Peace: You’ve given a plug to Big Journalism. Related to this point, you also have something for our colleagues at Big Hollywood. Tell us how Hollywood liberals and communists alike abused these terms.
Kengor: This, too, goes way back. When the Hollywood screenwriters—accused of being communists loyal to the USSR—were called to testify before Congress in October 1947, they lied to their celebrity friends. The PR campaign of the communists, led by the Daily Worker, was to smack the congressmen on the investigating committee as (you guessed it) “fascists,” “Nazis,” “racists.”
An excellent case in point, where all this came together, was the October 29, 1947 cover of the Daily Worker, which trumpeted the words of the screenwriters who had just testified: John Howard Lawson, Dalton Trumbo, Albert Maltz, and Alvah Bessie. All four, unbeknownst to their liberal friends, were hardened communists. They didn’t dare admit this to their Hollywood pals—Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Danny Kaye, Gene Kelly, and a bunch of other duped liberals—who flew to Washington to publicly defend them.
Lawson was an angry man, known as “Hollywood’s commissar.” He informed Congress that it was behaving like “Hitler’s Germany,” “trying to introduce fascism in this country.”
Dalton Trumbo lectured the committee: “You have produced a capital city on the eve of its Reichstag fire. For those who remember German history in the autumn of 1932 there is the smell of smoke in this very room.”
Albert Maltz accused the congressmen of “carry[ing] out activities in America like those carried out in Germany by Goebbels and Himmler.”
By the way, as Maltz was saying this, the Soviets, led by devils like Lavrenti Beria, who Stalin boastfully called “our Himmler,” were taking over Nazi concentration camps like Buchenwald, which they renamed Soviet Special Camp No. 2.
Big Peace: As you note in the book, these analogies were ludicrous and deeply offensive. This was just two years after we liberated the concentration camps. So, Americans knew what “Nazis” were really like.
Kengor: Yes. And these guys were comparing our congressmen, who wanted to know if these screenwriters were working for Stalin, to Nazis who turned Jews into lampshades. What could be more heinous?
Did the liberals demand an end to this outrageous name-calling? Nope. They joined the chorus. They swallowed the bait, and parroted this same line to the press. As they did, the secretly and illegally Soviet-funded Daily Worker ran their words in banner headlines.
Big Peace: Duped liberal Hollywood stars repeated this line?
Kengor: Here’s Judy Garland: “I ask you when they put words in concentration camps, how long will it be before they put men there, too?” Her assessment was eagerly beamed atop the Daily Worker. “Dorothy” looked somewhere over the rainbow and saw nothing but barbed wire and gas chambers—an American Auschwitz, courtesy of Congress’ anti-communists.
Big Peace: You say that when Congress presented piles of irrefutable evidence of the communist loyalties of these screenwriters, the screenwriters responded not by trying to refute the evidence but by calling the congressmen fascists and Nazis.
Kengor: “Hitler Germany!” yelped John Howard Lawson, when faced with irrefutable evidence, “Hitler tactics!”
Dalton Trumbo screamed as he was escorted from the hearing room: “This is the beginning of an American concentration camp!”
Big Peace: For any doubters, in Dupes you document the actual Communist Party numbers of these supposed “innocent” screenwriters.
Kengor: Here you go: Albert Maltz, Communist Party no. 47196. Alvah Bessie, Communist Party no. 46836. John Howard Lawson, Communist Party no. 47275. Dalton Trumbo, Communist Party code name “Dalt T.”
You won’t learn those inconvenient facts from your liberal history professor. At our universities, the anti-communists are the demons; the truth must be repressed.
Big Peace: Who else used this smear language?
Kengor: I’ll give one more example: Barack Obama’s mentor, Frank Marshall Davis. We did two earlier “Big Dupes” (click here and here) on Davis. I have the actual page from Davis’s FBI file that lists his Communist Party number, which was 47544. If you have the book, go to page 507.
Big Peace: Who did Davis label as a fascist?
Kengor: Anyone who opposed Joe Stalin. Once Stalin was at war with Hitler by late 1941, Davis called Hitler a fascist—which, of course, he was. Once Stalin was at war with Harry Truman by the late 1940s, Davis called Truman a fascist—which, of course, he was not. Davis said Truman was seeking to “rule Russia,” start a “third world war,” and was pursuing “fascism, American style.”
I know this is unbelievable, which is why in Dupes we feature not only long quotes from Davis’s columns but photos of the columns as they appeared in print.
Big Peace: Obama’s mentor called people he disagreed with “fascists?”
Kengor: Yes, especially anti-communists.
Big Peace: So, you’re saying that when liberals/progressives today attack conservatives like Glenn Beck, Rush, Hannity, Michael Savage, using these vile epithets, they’re basically employing an old communist smear tactic, whether they realize it or not?
Kengor: Exactly. Obviously, it doesn’t mean the liberals/progressives are communists—although, as noted in our recent “Big Dupes” interviews (click here and here and here), some are communists, or ex-communists. But it shows how liberals/progressives continue to serve as dupes for the communist line. The communists first used these epithets against the political icons of liberals/progressives, and now, today, liberals/progressives hurl them at conservatives. In neither case, then or now, were the accusations accurate.
Big Peace: Professor Kengor, thanks for digging into this history. Readers can click here to go to the Dupes website to view some of these documents.
Kengor: Our failure to teach these things in our wretched public schools and scandalous universities is killing us. No wonder the left hates people like Glenn Beck, who is striving to recover this history. If the likes of Beck succeed, then the radical left is exposed, which is why it’s hell-bent on undermining him.