This most recent installment of exclusive interviews with Dr. Paul Kengor, author of Dupes, is a special Thanksgiving offering. Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania, continues to share snippets from his new book revealing how communists, from Moscow to New York to Chicago, have long manipulated America’s liberals/progressives. Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century is a veritable buffet of never-before-published morsels on the American left.
“Face it,” says Michael Novak. “You are going to have to read this book.” Fred Barnes calls Dupes “an enormously important book.”
Big Peace: Professor Kengor, this week millions of Americans thank God for their blessings in this bountiful nation. Tragically, millions elsewhere—over 100 million—were killed by communism in the last century, with many still suffering in places like North Korea, Cuba, China. And yet, there were Americans that actually gave thanks for communism.
Kengor: Indeed. We should we start? How about Hollywood, a target-rich environment?
“Thank God for communism!” proclaimed Charlie Chaplin, the silent-film star. “They say communism may spread all over the world. I say, so what?”
So what? Well, it did. And over 100 million died. Actually, the figure is probably closer to 140 million. Either way, that’s more than double the combined death toll of World War I and II.
Big Peace: Charlie Chaplin was a comedian. Was he joking?
Kengor: No, he wasn’t. In retrospect, this was another argument for Chaplin sticking to silent films—the better to shut his mouth.
One source not silent about Chaplin’s invocation of the Almighty on behalf of Bolshevism were the appreciative atheists at the Daily Worker, which didn’t hesitate to publish such proclamations, as it often did when Hollywood liberals—Judy Garland, Danny Kaye, Katharine Hepburn, Gene Kelly, Humphrey Bogart—made ludicrous statements benefiting the communist cause, like calling anti-communists “fascists.”
Big Peace: On the plus side, Hollywood had strong anti-communists.
Kengor: Many of them. John Wayne, Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper, Olivia de Havilland, Jimmy Stewart, Clare Boothe Luce, Edward Arnold, George Murphy, Barbara Stanwyck, Bing Crosby, Robert Montgomery, Adolphe Menjou, Ginger Rogers, Bob Hope, William Holden, to name a few.
Of course, there was Ronald Reagan, who, truth be told, was once duped himself, but learned and emerged as arguably the greatest anti-communist. That’s a very interesting conversion I detail in the book.
Hollywood was once a sane place. Today, its moral depravity is rivaled only by its political depravity.
Big Peace: You highlight certain movie moguls as solid anti-communists.
Kengor: Jack and Harry Warner of Warner Brothers. Louis B. Mayer of MGM. On Mayer, one of my favorite stories concerns Lester Cole, another communist screenwriter that liberals insist was an innocent lamb pursued by Red-baiters. Mayer was so frustrated with Cole’s love of Bolshevism that he threw him out of his office, screaming at Cole: “You’re nuts! Goddamn crazy commie! Get out! Goddamn it, Get Out!”
Big Peace: Sticking with Hollywood, you noted last week that most of the communist screenwriters called before Congress were guilty. You have their Communist Party numbers.
Kengor: Albert Maltz, Communist Party no. 47196. Alvah Bessie, no. 46836. John Howard Lawson, a.k.a., “Hollywood’s Commissar,” no. 47275. Dalton Trumbo, Communist Party code no., “Dalt T.”
Big Peace: Getting back to our theme of “giving thanks,” you underscore the Daily Worker’s appreciation of certain statements by liberals/progressives.
Kengor: Yes, here’s another: Claude “Red” Pepper, senator from Florida. Along with other liberal senators, like Elbert Thomas (Utah) and Glen Taylor (Idaho), Pepper advised accused communist screenwriters to not answer questions. Thomas dubbed the congressional committee’s methods “unholy,” vowing “to battle this Un-American Committee.” Taylor attacked committee members as “fascist-minded.”
The Daily Worker gratefully ran these assessments on page one of its October 22, 1947 issue, plus other editions under headlines like “Liberals Question Committee’s Legality.”
The Daily Worker was especially pleased with Senator Pepper’s words, which it thrust onto the cover in a gigantic headline that screamed, “SEN. PEPPER URGES FILM STARS DEFY HOUSE PROBE: Says Committee Helps Fascism.”
The Daily Worker just loved that. We publish that cover in Dupes. It’s a delicious example of a progressive/liberal parroting the Communist Party’s propaganda line. Talk about giving thanks—the Daily Worker was most grateful to yet another leading progressive.
Big Peace: One of your central characters is Frank Marshall Davis, mentor to Barack Obama. As you lay out in great detail, and discussed in two previous “Big Dupes” (click here and here), Davis was an actual Communist Party member, who did pro-Stalin propaganda work, especially in his columns. In one column, Davis said, in effect, that Christians should be thankful for Stalin.
Kengor: Imagine that as an uplifting Thanksgiving prayer around the dinner table: “And thank you, dear Lord, for Comrade Stalin….”
In Davis’s September 29, 1949 column (on page 268 of Dupes), Davis framed communism as friendly to Christianity, and anti-communism as un-Christian. He imagined Judgment Day, where anti-communist Christians would be judged for opposing Christ-loving communists—who, in truth, of course, were pursuing an unparalleled, brutal war on religion. “The Christian churches,” asserted Davis, “are making a grievous error in their shortsighted belief that the major enemy of Christianity is communism.” Not only was Soviet Russia not anti-religious, maintained Davis, but Stalin had spared the planet of Hitler’s “anti-Christian paganism.” Christians ought to thank Stalin.
Big Peace: Giving thanks for Stalin!
Kengor: Speaking of thanks, Barack Obama, in Dreams From My Father, thanked Frank Marshall Davis for helping him find his identity.
Big Peace: Continuing along that line, in Dupes, you quote Alan Maki, a CPUSA member who blogged on the official “Obama ‘08” website. Maki thanked Obama for bringing Frank Marshall Davis to his attention.
Kengor: Ah, yes. The circle of love. Maki, who maintains a blog called “Communist Manifesto,” announced a “Frank Marshall Davis roundtable for change” on no less than the Obama website. There, Maki explained his enthusiasm: “Reading Barack Obama’s book I learned about his mentor, Frank Marshall Davis. Of course, as we all know, Frank Marshall Davis was a communist and … understood through his thorough studies of the situation that socialism provided the only workable alternative to capitalism.” Maki thanked Obama: “now I can say that Frank Marshall Davis is in many ways my mentor, too.”
Big Peace: Amazing. This brings us to your proposal of a special Thanksgiving “Big Turkey” award for the biggest dupe.
Kengor: With apologies to my friend, Michael Medved, who made famous the “Golden Turkey” awards. I suppose the Big Turkey winner should get a red turkey rather than a gold turkey.
Big Peace: So, who gets the first ever Big Turkey at “Big Dupes?”
Kengor: The competition is steep. I don’t think I could pick just one. So, I’m naming an entire group, one with major political relevance.
I choose those self-described moderates and independents that made the decisive difference in electing Barack Obama president in November 2008. They did so thinking they were getting another Harry Truman or John Kennedy, or maybe not thinking much at all, projecting upon Obama whatever they wanted in this magical “change” agent. They elected arguably the most far-left presidential candidate in American history, somehow perceiving him as a moderate.
They voted for the same guy Maki supported, and the same guy those ‘60s communists we talked about earlier, from Tom Hayden to Mark Rudd to Jane Fonda—who frame themselves as “Progressives for Obama”—voted for. They elected the guy that Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, and Michael Klonsky, who we also discussed earlier, voted for. Their ability at self-delusion was jaw-dropping. I suggest they open wide and swallow our Big Turkey.
Big Peace: Professor Kengor, happy Thanksgiving.
Kengor: Same to all the good folks at Breitbart. In all seriousness, give thanks that your nation was spared the horror of communism, which destroyed countless millions of precious lives. It’s no laughing matter. We give thanks to God this week; in many communist countries, that was a criminal offense. The purpose of interviews like these is to understand that—and to remember and learn. Our wretched public schools and universities have failed us miserably.