This is the most recent installment of exclusive interviews with Dr. Paul Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania, as he continues to share snippets from his latest 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. Fred Barnes calls Dupes “an enormously important book.” Big Peace’s own Peter Schweizer calls it the “21st century equivalent” to Whittaker Chambers’ classic Witness.
Big Peace: Professor Kengor, on the heels of America’s celebration of its 235 birthday, you wanted to join us to again share more jaw-dropping absurdities from the political left. This time, you want to tell us about how communists in this country wrapped themselves in the American flag, praising the founders, our Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, etc. You say they did this for the purpose of duping liberals/progressives in particular.
Kengor: They sure did. As we’ve noted here many times, communists excelled at lies and propaganda. There was nothing too ludicrous for them to push, nor, sadly, for liberals/progressives to soak up. The communists themselves were shocked at how easily they misled these folks. Communists would organize a rally, concealing their identity in the process, enlist plenty of liberals/progressives, and would then boldly and proudly invoke the American Founding. They’d have liberals/progressives standing with them arm-in-arm singing “God Bless America.” It happened constantly.
Big Peace: Communists trumpeting the American Revolution? And these were American communists, we should clarify. How early on did they do this?
Kengor: From the very outset. In Dupes, I present a document declassified from the Soviet Comintern Archives on CPUSA (Communist Party USA). It’s a seven-page letter dated, “Chicago, Illinois, November 24th, 1919.” It was addressed, “To the Bureau of the Communist International”–that’s the Soviet Comintern–and signed by, “International Secretary, Louis C. Fraina.” The letter began, “Comrades: As International Secretary, I make application for admission of the Communist Party of America to the Bureau of the Communist International.” Noting that the Communist Party of America had been officially organized there in Chicago on September 1, 1919, Fraina and his comrades were filing their official application.
And as they did, they simultaneously made their loyalties frighteningly clear. Here is their close on page seven: “The Communist Party realizes the immensity of its task; it realizes that the final struggle of the Communist Proletariat will be waged in the United States, our conquest of power alone assuring the world Soviet Republic.”
It’s signed, “Fraternally yours, International Secretary, Louis C. Fraina.”
In absorbing this letter, consider that a long line of liberal dupes would later defend the American Communist Party against charges that it was battling for the USSR, the Soviet Comintern, and global revolution. These liberals were fools.
Big Peace: That’s remarkable enough. Now tell us who Fraina was, and how this relates to American communists and the American Founding.
Kengor: Fraina was one of the core founders of the American Communist Party, credited as the first communist editor in the United States. He happily used the language of the American Revolution, as if he and his comrades were modern incarnations of the revolutionaries of 1776. They were trying to claim the banner of Jefferson and Madison and Washington and Hamilton.
Big Peace: You say that Fraina literally lifted that revolutionary language as the title of his communist publication.
Kengor: His publication was called Revolutionary Age. In fact, even before the American Communist Party was founded in Chicago in September 1919, Fraina had already launched Revolutionary Age. The title sought to capture the spirit of the revolution, as did its place and date. His Revolutionary Age was launched in Boston on July 5, 1919, the day after America’s birthday. It was another Tea Party, by golly.
Of course, the words inside the publication were not exactly what the American Founders had in mind. Fraina’s publication devoted itself to “the annihilation of the fraudulent democracy” the Founders had created. The next issue, in August, called for a “dissolution and collapse of the whole capitalist world system” and “world culture,” to be “replaced by communism.” It advocated “an international alliance of the Communist Party of the United States only with the communist groups of other countries, such as the Bolsheviki of Russia.”
Ah, yes. Sounds like Thomas Jefferson to me.
Big Peace: That’s laughable, but you note that some liberals/progressives took the bait?
Kengor: That’s why this matter of the dupe is so crucial, and why I felt the overwhelming need to do a whole book on the subject. Another of my favorite examples is Clarence Darrow.
Big Peace: Clarence Darrow was the Scopes Monkey Trials lawyer.
Kengor: Correct. He was the wise-cracking, aggressive lawyer who tore into William Jennings Bryan in 1925. Those trials became the seminal early battle over evolution vs. creationism. Today’s secular liberals adore Darrow. He opened the door to their undermining of things like prayer in public school.
That’s well-established. What surprised me, however, as I dug into communist archives, was the discovery that American communists likewise adored Darrow. Of course, they delighted in his work against religion, but there’s more to it. Darrow defended them, and particularly communist leader Ben Gitlow, beginning with a series of dramatic cases shortly after the founding of the American Communist Party in 1919 and continuing through the 1920s. He defended them while they were being (properly) pursued by the U.S. government for advocating armed revolution and the overthrow of the American system.
By the way, Darrow did this as an early, faithful member of the ACLU, which had just been founded in 1920 by Roger Baldwin, who, at that point, was a pro-Soviet communist.
Big Peace: Here again, this would be remarkable enough, but tell us about the American Founding component here with Darrow as well.
Kengor: Clarence Darrow’s courtroom antics defending Ben Gitlow and American communists were right out of the communist playbook. Darrow tried to argue that not only were American communists not loyal to the USSR but, quite the contrary, were the embodiment of the American Revolution. “For a man to be afraid of revolution in America,” snapped Darrow to the court, “would be to be ashamed of his own mother!” He scoffed, “Revolution?”
Gee, what was more quintessentially American than revolution? These American Bolsheviks, who wanted to replace the American Constitution with the Soviet “Constitution,” were modern incarnations of Madison and Hamilton and Jay–a straight line from the Federalist Papers to the Communist Manifesto, a direct line of progression.
As if that were not offensive enough, Darrow, atheist champion, invoked the Hand of Providence on behalf of this exalted revolution: “There is not a drop of honest blood in a single man that does not look back to some revolution for which he would thank his God that those who revolted won.”
Yes, yes. God was there at the Constitutional Convention and there again with Lenin and Trotsky and Stalin in Moscow.
Big Peace: As you chronicle throughout Dupes, atheistic communists constantly talked about God to dupe Religious Left “social justice” liberals in particular.
Kengor: Precisely, and they did so with beautiful success. Even they were surprised.
Big Peace: Was Clarence Darrow a dupe for the communists or was he a communist doing the duping?
Kengor: I believe he was the communists’ dupe.
By the way, it’s fascinating to read these words from Darrow in the 1940 autobiography of Ben Gitlow. By then, Gitlow had bolted the party. He did a total 180. This is a man who twice ran as the Communist Party’s candidate for vice president of the United States. He was ashamed at both his past and the inanity of Darrow’s embarrassing defense.
This is a side of Darrow you won’t learn in your civics class. Our wonderful liberal historians and textbook writers have deep-sixed this one. The fact is that Clarence Darrow was dutifully defending communists before he was defending monkeys.
Big Peace: And he did so under the banner of the American Revolution.
Kengor: Sure did.
Big Peace: Professor Kengor, as you say, you have a bunch of examples of this kind of thing. You will be enlightening us with a second round.
Kengor: I’ll come back next week and share examples from Hollywood, where closet card-carrying communists duped a star-studded cast of liberals from Bogart and Bacall to Danny Kaye and Judy Garland–and under the banner of the First Amendment. I’ll also give the example of Obama’s mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, another closet card-carrying communist who wrapped himself in the American flag, publicly saluting Jefferson while privately saluting Stalin’s Russia.