Saturday, March 25, 2006

Plagiarize THIS! (pt. III)

Don Surber does a takedown on Domenech:
He does not appreciate a thing, otherwise he would have been graceful and apologetic. Instead he gives long, turgid excuses like the child he is. …
Domenech cried like a baby that they were picking on him. He called a civil rights icon a "communist" on the day of her funeral. The rule I learned before I even went to school was "Don't dish it out if you can't take it!"
Indeed. The point he makes about the Coretta Scott King funeral is important. A funeral is not the place for politics. When Democrats used the occasion of Mrs. King’s death to try to score political points, Americans were disgusted.

And neither was Mrs. King’s death an appropriate occasion to raise the problematic history of Communist efforts to infiltrate and influence the civil rights movement. But while Domenech may be both impolite and a plagiarist, the links between the civil rights movement and the Communist Party were real -- and were very troubling even to those sympathetic to the movement, at a time when the United States was locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball standoff with the Soviet Union.*

As I reported last year:

[Jack O‘Dell] was dismissed from the staff of [Martin Luther] King's SCLC after a June 1963 White House meeting during which President Kennedy urged the civil rights leader to purge communists from his organization. According to King biographer Taylor Branch, President Kennedy put his hand on King's shoulder and urged him to "get rid of" [Jack] O'Dell and another SCLC aide, Stanley Levinson.
Both men, the president said, had been identified as communist officials by the FBI, which named Mr. O'Dell as the fifth-ranking member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA).

"O'Dell has always been identified with the far pro-communist left of the '50s," historian Ronald Radosh said yesterday.

That the CPUSA sought to influence the civil rights movement -- just as it sought to influence the labor movement before the AFL-CIO purged Communists from its ranks -- is a historical fact. And the lingering taint of that Marxist influence may to some degree explain the anti-American ideology espoused by some black activists today. Mr. O’Dell is a prime example. Now “an international affairs consultant” to the National Rainbow Coalition, he was chosen last year to speak at an MLK Day event at the Smithsonian:

Mr. O'Dell remained a staunch defender of communism for decades. At a 1985 event in Berkeley, Calif., on the 68th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Mr. O'Dell called U.S. opposition to the Soviet Union "an integral part of the belief system of racism and Western national chauvinism."
Last night, Mr. O'Dell condemned the United States for its "aggressive militarism," and called for a "new Reconstruction" to eliminate economic inequality. A Detroit native who now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Mr. O'Dell said Canada is ahead of the United States in creating the kind of society King advocated.

"Canada has a socially conscious democracy — not as advanced as Europe, but way ahead of the United States," he said.

Like most things in American history -- including the Democratic Party -- the civil rights movement was far more complex than the dumbed-down children’s story that’s now taught in our schools. I’ve interviewed a pioneering black journalist who views Abraham Lincoln as a white supremacist. I’ve also interviewed a white liberal historian who thinks it unfair when conservatives cite MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech to support their opposition to affirmative action -- since, in fact, MLK later strongly advocated affirmative action.

At some point, if I ever get time, I would like to write something about this business of building up historical figures as stainless heroes, or demonizing them as unspeakable villains, in the interest of gaining some contemporary political advantage. Back when I lived in Georgia, my job occasionally involved going to the library and looking through primary documents such as old newspapers from the Civil War era. If you’ve never done that kind of research -- if all you know about the past is what you were taught in school or read in some textbook written 100 years after the fact -- you have no idea what you don’t know about history. (This is, I think, one reason why early readers of DONKEY CONS keep using words like “stunning” -- a lot of this stuff is just left out of most history books.)

Think about today’s controversies. Fifty years from now, American kids will be taught the history of the Bush administration, about 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, et cetera. What will they be taught about those things? Will they view President Bush as a hero or villain? Will they consider the U.S. troops who’ve been killed in Iraq as heroes of a noble cause to liberate a nation from a brutal dictatorship -- or victims of a corrupt administration that “lied” the country into a “War for Oil”? Think about that, next time you pick up a history book.

(One author who has thought about history from an alternative perspective is Thomas Woods, whose POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO AMERICAN HISTORY debunks some of the silly oversimplifications that make up the dumbed-down version of our nation’s past.)

Ultimately, however, facts are what matters. Facts are stubborn things, as John Adams said. And as Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own facts.


DONKEY CONS: About the book

* By the way, have I ever mentioned how much I hate communism? I hated communism even when I was a Democrat -- there used to be a lot of Democrats like that, back before the Clinton presidency. Nowadays, Zell Miller is about the only anti-communist Democrat I can think of. Here’s some more of my anti-communist writing (100% plagiarism-free):

Commies Go Home!

Commie Coeds vs. Corporate Capitalism

"Commies" Author Ron Radosh

The Only GOOD Communist Is a ....

"Black Book" of Communist Crimes

Was Joe McCarthy Right?