Carol Andreas, Maoist

Yesterday we looked at a recent New York Times piece in which a Brown University professor named Peter Andreas paid tribute to his mother. In the article, entitled “Thanks to Mom, the Marxist Revolutionary,” Andreas celebrated his mother’s “commitment to transformative social change” and “devotion to creating a more just world.”

The cover of Peter Andreas’s memoir, featuring a picture of himself and his mother, Carol

One thing that stood out in the piece was the omission of Andreas’s mother’s first name. As it turns out, her name was Carol Andreas. There were a few other things Peter Andreas left out of his essay. For example, his mother, whom he strove to depict as a sort of Auntie Mame with a radical but ultimately benign and even charming political orientation, wasn’t just a Communist (as if that weren’t bad enough) – she was a fanatical disciple of Mao, a zealous supporter of his Cultural Revolutionary, and an intimate collaborator with (if not outright member of) the Peruvian terrorist group Shining Path.

In any event, her son’s Times memoir isn’t the first time she’s been enthusiastically eulogized. When she died, the website of the Maoist Internationalist Party – Amerika (MIPA) ran an obituary headlined “Amerikan revolutionary Carol Andreas passes away.”

Praising Carol Andreas for her “international significance to Maoism,” the MIPA noted that “In 1976, when most of the world’s communists fell for Hua Guofeng and Deng Xiaoping after the death of Mao, Carol Andreas held firm. Her study group immediately published a book upon the death of Mao upholding the Cultural Revolution and denouncing the capitalist restoration.”

Mao Zedong

Get it? Even Deng Xiaoping, who took control of Communist China after the death of Mao, wasn’t Communist enough for Carol Andreas. When the Cultural Revolution was over – that bizarrely named period during which millions of persons dubbed insufficiently radical by China’s governing regime were deprived of their homes, families, careers, and lives – many of them being subjected along the way to extensive torture and efforts at brainwashing – Carol Andreas mourned its passing. In the admiring words of the MIPA, she “proved to have great foresight and firmness on this question while most of the world’s communists temporarily fell off course.”

Peruvian soldiers carrying rescued children, formerly held as hostages by Shining Path guerrillas

That wasn’t her only praiseworthy conduct on behalf of the cause. She also “gave her energy to the revolution in Peru” – in other words, to Shining Path, the Maoist group which is so extreme that back when there was still a Soviet bloc, the Shining Path considered it insufficiently Communist. To quote Wikipedia: “Widely condemned for its brutality, including violence deployed against peasants, trade union organizers, popularly elected officials and the general civilian population, the Shining Path is classified by the Peruvian government, the U.S., the European Union, and Canada as a terrorist organization.”

Anyway, that’s old Mom for you. And that’s the New York Times, yet again whitewashing and celebrating murderous, hard-core totalitarianism in the best Walter Duranty tradition. 

A great mom – and a great Commie

On May 13, only two weeks after the New York Times ran a sentimental op-ed by Vivian Gornick about the good old days of American Stalinism (which we looked at yesterday), the editors of the Newspaper of Record – which has spent the last few months comparing Donald Trump to Hitler, Mussolini, and every other fascist it can think of – decided it was time for another piece eulogizing Communism.

Peter Andreas

Under the headline “Thanks to Mom, the Marxist Revolutionary,” Peter Andreas, a professor of political science at Brown, served up a cozy Mother’s Day tribute to his mom, “a 1950s Mennonite housewife from Kansas who became a 1960s radical promoting the overthrow of patriarchy and capitalism.” (The contributor’s note identifies him as the author of Rebel Mother: My Childhood Chasing the Revolution, and presumably this piece is an excerpt from the book.)

Cover of Andreas’s book, including a photo of him with his mother

Andreas informs us that during the years when he was of elementary-school age (it isn’t clear exactly much time he actually spent in school), his mother took him to Detroit, to “a Berkeley commune,” to “a socialist collective farm in Chile,” to “the coastal shantytowns of Peru,” and to the slums of Ecuador. She let him “play with a loaded gun” because it was “good training for the revolution.”

And, for her, that’s what it was all about: “the revolution.”

At some point, she divorced his dad, and after “a bitter court battle”– the particulars of which Andreas doesn’t go into – the dad won sole custody of him, which at the time was so extremely unusual that she must’ve really been one hell of a lousy mother. Andreas also mentions in passing her dodging of “arrest warrants,” but doesn’t go into detail about them, either. What crimes did she commit? One offense he does tell us about is that after losing custody of him, she defied the judge’s order and took her son out of the country.

She “joined street protests and picket lines, and wrote passionately about the oppression of the poor and powerless. With me by her side, we battled the bad ‘isms’ (imperialism, fascism, sexism and consumerism) and we fought for the good ones (communism, feminism and egalitarianism). When we secretly returned to the United States, we lived in hiding in Denver, where my mother changed her name so that my father could not find us.”

He admits that all this running around and living in hiding took its toll on him. Though he “enjoyed feeling like I was part of a cause, even if I had only a vague sense of what that meant,” he “hungered for stability.” When he didn’t grow up into a radical, she grieved over his “betrayal of class struggle.” As for her parenting skills, she thought she was a terrific mother – she was bringing her son up to be a servant of the revolution, and if she had let him grow up with his father in a more stable environment she’d have been, in her mind, exhibiting disloyalty to the revolution. As Andreas puts it, his mother “saw her rejection of traditional ‘good mothering’ – constrained by the nuclear family and the creature comforts of capitalism – as proof itself that she was a good mother.”

Andreas admits that he is raising his own daughters “very differently” from the way he was raised. “And yet,” he concludes, “I would not trade my life with her for a thousand ‘normal’ childhoods. My mother’s approach to parenting was deeply rooted in her commitment to transformative social change.” She exposed him to “the world’s enormous inequalities” and gave him “a passion for politics” and a “devotion to creating a more just world.” A commitment to transformative social change; a devotion to creating a just world: such is the twisted language that so many Times contributors and academics routinely use to describe a fanatical dedication to a totalitarian system that killed more people than Nazism.

Who exactly was Peter Andreas’s mother? Curiously enough, he doesn’t mention her name in the article. But her name was Carol Andreas, and we’ll learn more about her tomorrow, from sources other than her son.  

The Gray Lady – or the Lady in Red?

The headline could hardly have been more repulsive: “When Communism Inspired Americans.” It appeared in the New York Times on April 29. The article, by Vivian Gornick, was an unashamed exercise in nostalgia for the good old days of American Stalinism.

Vivian Gornick

The piece was reprehensible, but it should not have been surprising. After all, the Times, which is often referred to as the Gray Lady, has often, over the decades, seemed to deserve, rather, the nickname “The Lady in Red.” Recall, for example, that it was the home base of none other than Stalin-era Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty, this website’s own mascot, who, as we wrote in our mission statement, “did more than any of his contemporaries to spread Soviet propaganda under the guise of news – and to discredit colleagues who dared to tell the truth about the brutality of Stalin’s regime.”

Walter Duranty

Duranty, as we pointed out, “defended the Gulag (in which millions died), the forced collectivization of peasants (ditto), and the 1938 show trials (used by Stalin to wipe out potential opponents). He also vigorously denied the reality of the Holmodor, the 1932-33 Ukrainian famine, which was deliberately engineered by Stalin and which also resulted in millions of deaths.” Malcolm Muggeridge, who had been a Moscow correspondent at the same time, later maintained that the Times had published Duranty’s pro-Stalin propaganda even though it was “so evidently nonsensically untrue” not “because the Times was deceived” but because “it wanted to be so deceived.”

And Duranty was just the beginning. As Frances Martel noted at Breitbart, Duranty’s “style of fabrication” about Communism “continued well into the 1960s when writer Herbert Matthews leveraged his newspaper’s influence to promote the Cuban Revolution.” Throughout Castro’s reign, Martel observed, the Times “regaled Castro – who sent thousands, including Christians, LGBT Cubans, writers, and dissidents generally, to labor camps and killed thousands of others using firing squads – as a ‘victorious guerrilla commander in 1959’ and lauded the alleged ‘medical advances’ and ‘racial equality’ of communist Cuba in November when the Cuban government claimed Castro had finally died.”

Josef Stalin

The Times‘s publication of Gornick’s April 29 piece reminds us that the paper hasn’t changed its stripes. Nor has Gornick. The author of a 1978 book called The Romance of Communism, what she offered in her Times piece, all these decades later, was basically a thumbnail version of that book. She didn’t exactly defend or deny any of Stalin’s atrocities – she just swept them under the rug. Or, rather, she acted as if she and her family and their intimate circle of Communist Party members in New York had been totally unaware of all these well-publicized crimes against humanity until Khrushchev gave his so-called “secret speech” in February 1956. Yet despite those crimes, she sought, just as in her 1978 book, to depict mid-century American Communists not as totalitarians or world-class dupes but as moral exemplars – indeed, as the very noblest of souls.

Communism is every bit as vile an ideology as Nazism. Stalin took more even lives than Hitler. But while no self-respecting American newspaper would publish an old Nazi’s affectionate memoir of the Third Reich, the Times has always treated Communism differently. If Gornick’s piece wasn’t a good enough reminder of the Times‘s double standards on the Berlin and Moscow versions of totalitarianism, the newspaper actually published yet another such piece only a couple of weeks later. We’ll look at it tomorrow.

Dan Rather: a shameless rehabilitation

Robert Redford

One of our top ten stooges for 2015 was Robert Redford, whom we celebrated for his movie Truth, which turned Dan Rather’s career-ending violation of basic journalistic principles into a virtue. For those readers too young to remember this episode, Rather, while serving as anchorman of the CBS Evening News – at the time, probably the most powerful position in American journalism – had, yes, in the weeks preceding the 2004 presidential election, presented his audience with forged documents, purportedly dating back to the typewriter era, meant to smear the military career of George W. Bush, who was then running for re-election as president of the United States.

Dan Rather

For those who lived through the scandal, it was sad – or almost sad, depending on how you felt about Rather in the first place – to watch him doing himself in in such a seemingly self-destructive manner. The documents in question were patently forged. Anybody old enough to remember what typed documents looked like before the age of computers could see immediately that these things were fakes. Not only were they fakes, they were terrible fakes, obviously produced on a modern computer and not an old-fashioned typewriter. And somebody as old as old Dan should have immediately recognized them as such. But either he was consciously determined to lie to destroy George W. Bush’s chances of re-election, or he was just so eager to bring Bush down that he sincerely bought into the fakes, out of sheer self-deception.

Lanford Beard

It came to be known as Rathergate. He and CBS parted company in 2005. He was 73. But because he’d sacrificed his career to destroy George W. Bush’s career, a lot of people on the left were determined to resurrect his reputation. As noted, Redford devoted a whole movie to the proposition that Rather had presented his viewers not with a lie but with the truth. And the rehabilitation effort continues. In its May 1 issue, Lanford Beard, a young TV writer for People Magazine, trumpeted “Dan Rather’s Unexpected Comeback”:

As a veteran journalist of 67 years, Dan Rather has had ample opportunity to master the art of keeping things in perspective even during the most unsettled eras — he was on the scene for JFK’s assassination, reported on Civil Rights and Watergate, and literally dodged bullets in Vietnam, for starters. Now, as America finds itself in what many consider another defining political and cultural moment, the legendary former CBS Evening News anchor has found more reason than ever to offer his steady, thoughtful point of view on the events of the day.

Beard actually tried to sell the line that during the 2016 presidential campaign, when almost everyone else was covering silly day-to-day details, Rather, writing on his own website as well as on Facebook, had been able to “offer a larger picture” thanks to his “historical perspective.” (That “larger picture,” unsurprisingly, consisted of familiar anti-Trump rhetoric.) As for Rathergate, Beard whitewashed it to a breathtaking degree – perhaps because she (born in the 1980s) is too young to remember it firsthand and has relied for details on older people who share her and Rather’s politics.

Ann Marie Cox

But the New York Times Magazine had beat Beard to its Rather coverup. In an interview published in that rag’s April 13 issue, the Times‘s Ana Marie Cox defended Rather as an “early target of internet fact-finding” – then quickly proceeded, as Tim Graham of Newsbusters put it, to treat him “like a Wise Man on the future of journalism.” What next? Presumably Rather, now 85, won’t be with us very much longer, but before he’s gone the usual suspects may well have succeeded in transforming him from an exposed and disgraced liar to an icon – so that by the time he shuffles off this mortal coil, he’s get obituaries in all the right places painting him as a hero and victim.

Is America going Commie?

Is it true or not? We don’t know. But we thought it might be worth passing on, as a glimpse into the American Communist mindset, with the proviso that there is no way of knowing whether there’s even a grain of truth in it.

Emile Schepers

Here it is: the American Communist Party publication People’s World claimed on April 19 that “Communist Party membership numbers [are] climbing in the Trump era.” In fact, the article reporting this development was not original with People’s World – it was copied out of the international edition of the Cuban daily Granma, which of course, like all media on that island prison (other than a handful of surreptitious Samizdat blogs), is under the thumb of the Castro regime. But the article was an interview with a People’s World hack, Emile Schepers, who aside from writing regularly for that publication is also International Secretary of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA).

Here’s the gist of Granma‘s interview with Schepers: the CPUSA “has been receiving membership requests ever since Donald Trump was elected President.” At the moment, to be sure, its numbers are, um, modest: 5,000 members nationwide out of a total U.S. population of over 300 million, or about 0.0017%. But hey, as Granma helpfully explained, this sad showing is a result of “Cold War repression,” or, as Schepers put it, “the phantom of the McCarthy era.”

Senator Joseph McCarthy

Yes, the McCarthy era – the firing of a few State Department Communists, the brief imprisonment of American citizens who were serving a foreign enemy, and the execution of two people who did nothing less than help provide the USSR with the secrets of the atomic bomb. As opposed, of course, to the Castro era, during which countless people were shot by firing squads for being gay, for being dissident writers or artists, or for having connections (of whatever kind) to the Batista government. Because of McCarthy’s Senate hearings and/or the House Un-American Activities Committee, a few rich Hollywood screenwriters flew to Paris or London to work there until the whole thing blew over; because of Castro, over a million Cubans took their lives in their hands to make their way to Florida – and freedom – on small boats or rafts.

Fidel Castro

Schepers, a South Africa-born anthropologist who grew up in various places around the U.S. and now lives in Virginia (just like the Soviet spy family in the Netflix series The Americans), acknowledged to Granma that “the United States is in no way experiencing a pre-revolutionary situation in the communist sense.” But, on the upside, “capitalism is showing terminal signs worldwide.” Schepers believes Bernie Sanders, if nominated by the Democrats, would have defeated Donald Trump. But a big problem remains: that of “organizing workers and trade union structures” in America “around defending the rights of the most vulnerable workers.” The article then mentioned that the CPUSA has been a strong supporter of the chavista movement in Venezuela. The irony that even the “most vulnerable workers” in the U.S. are far better off than their counterparts in today’s Venezuela – not to mention Cuba – seemed lost on the editors at both Granma and People’s World.

Halberstam: Ho’s happy hagiographer

David Halberstam

One last foray into the career of writer and journalist David Halberstam (1934-2007), who on his death, as we’ve noted, was the subject of breathtaking paeans throughout America’s mainstream media. The thrust of most of these glowing obits was that he’d been that rara avis, a brilliant investigative reporter who was, at the same time, one of the most incisive analysts of the events of the day.

On the contrary. Halberstam was celebrated in the usual places for one reason and one reason alone: because he provided a certain demographic (i.e. the kind of people who read the New York Times religiously and believe every statement they encounter there) with texts designed to confirm their lockstep prejudices and received opinions. Originally a cheerleader for the Vietnam War, for instance, Halberstam changed his mind about the subject exactly when all the right people in the U.S. changed their minds, and in The Best and the Brightest he told them exactly what they wanted to hear about the not-so-wise men who had led America into what he now professed to view as a quagmire.

The Best and the Brightest, published in 1972, was a huge hit and made Halberstam famous, as we’ve discussed. Another book of his, issued the year before, is less well known and deserves some attention here. It’s entitled, quite simply, Ho. Michael Lind, in his own 1999 book about Vietnam, described Ho as “perhaps the most sympathetic portrait of a Stalinist dictator ever penned by a reputable American journalist identified with the liberal rather than the radical left.” Bingo. For instance, the book “omits any mention of the repression or atrocities of Ho Chi Minh’s regime.” Lind reminded us that in 1945-46 Ho oversaw “a reign of terror in which thousands of the leading noncommunist nationalists in territory controlled by Ho’s regime were assassinated, executed, imprisoned, or exiled.” While Halberstam, in Ho, condemned South Vietnamese President Diem’s “massive arrests [of] all his political opponents,” he breathes “not a word” about “the far more severe repression in North Vietnam.” Some examples:

Ho Chi Minh

The Maoist-inspired terror of collectivization in the mid-fifties, in which at least ten-thousand North Vietnamese were summarily executed because they belonged to the wrong “class,” is not mentioned. Nor is the anticommunist peasant rebellion that followed; nor the deployment of the North Vietnamese military to crush the peasants; nor the succeeding purge of North Vietnamese intellectuals; nor the fact that almost ten times as many Vietnamese, during the brief period of resettlement, fled from communist rule as left South Vietnam for the North. The equivalent of Halberstam’s book would be a flattering biography of Stalin that praised his leadership during World War II while omitting any mention of the gulag, the purges, and the Ukrainian famine, or an admiring biography of Mao that failed to mention the Cultural Revolution or the starvation of tens of millions during the Great Leap Forward.

Michael Lind

As if all that weren’t bad enough, Halberstam omitted “mention of Soviet or Chinese support for North Vietnam after 1949”; failed to note that “Ho’s dictatorship modeled its structure and policies on Mao’s China and Stalin’s Soviet Union”; was silent about the fact that members of the Chinese and Soviet military actually “took part in the Vietnam War”; and so on. Lind examined the sources cited in Ho and noticed something very interesting: Halberstam systematically avoided citing “everything critical written about Ho Chi Minh” by those sources. In short, this writer who after his death was eulogized throughout the American media for “speaking truth to power” was, in fact, a happy hagiographer of a totalitarian tyrant.

Halberstam: misrepresenting the Fifties

David Halberstam

This week we’re according long-overdue attention to the handful of sane voices that rose in dissent against the almost universal (and thoroughly nauseating and reality-challenged) reverence, in American establishment circles, for the supposed lifetime of accomplishments by journalist and historian David Halberstam, that manifested itself upon his death in 2007.

Yesterday we cited Mark Moyar, who in a well-informed necrology in National Review mad a convincing argument that outright lies by Halberstam and a couple of other influential Vietnam reporters had helped destabilize the South Vietnamese government, cripple its war effort, cause the ultimate failure of the U.S. endeavor to repel Communists from the South, and lead to the disgraceful mistreatment of GIs when they returned home from that tragically failed conflict. As we noted yesterday, while Vietnam vets were shunned and despised after the war, Halberstam, who had played as significant a role as any in causing them to be despised, himself became the postwar toast of the American cultural elite.  

Hilton Kramer

But it wasn’t all about Vietnam. Both before and after the war, Halberstam seemed determined to poison Americans’ minds, on every front, about their own country and culture. In 1993 Halberstam published a book called The Fifties. Reviewing it, the respected critic Hilton Kramer said that it “in many respects reads like an overloaded 1960s political cartoon-strip about the history of the 1950s.”

Josef Stalin

Although Stalin had still ruled the USSR during much of the 1950s, and although the Soviet invasion of Hungary – to crush an attempt at democratic reform – occurred in the middle of the decade, noted Kramer, Communism was mostly “kept safely offstage” in Halberstam’s account. No, instead of focusing on “the real presence of Communist power in the world of the 1950s,” Halberstam paid attention to what he apparently viewed as “misguided American responses to Communism.” Kramer noticed that the entry for Communism in the book’s “very detailed index” consisted entirely of the words: “see McCarthyism, McCarthy era; specific countries and conflicts.” In short, Halberstam, in a book about the 1950s, was less concerned with the massive and evil reality of Communism than with a small-scale and arguably misguided reaction to it in Washington, D.C. (Stalin himself, observed Kramer, got much less attention in the book than Marlon Brando.)

And what of Halberstam’s treatment of America in The Fifties? During that decade, the U.S. had by far the world’s strongest economy and its best schools and universities. As Kramer reminds us, America was “the unrivaled center of the international art scene,” was producing literature and works of modern dance that no other country could compete with, and enjoyed an intellectual life so rich that virtually no one in the Iron Curtain countries could even imagine it enough to envy it. (One might also mention American film, television, and popular music, which during that decade became, more than ever, the common, cherished possession of the entire world.)

But did Halberstam dwell on any of this in The Fifties? No. Instead, complained Kramer with absolute justification, he served up a “Left-liberal mythology,” a portrait of

an entire society in the grip of politically inspired paranoid fear, abject social conformism, empty-headed consumerism, and spiritual sterility….His is a mind so completely saturated with the cultural clichés of the 1960s…that no other ideas have ever been allowed to violate its shallow certainties. The sheer spaciousness that came into American life in the 1950s after the ordeals of the Depression era an the fearful trauma of the war years is a closed book to him.

Kramer is right on the money. The Fifties was an appalling book when it came out, and to page through it now is to be even more appalled than one was at the time by its lethal combination of naivete, dishonesty, and simplification, not to mention its fierce determination to embrace every last left-wing stereotype about the 1950s, however absurd. This readiness to blow with the wind and to give elite readers what they wanted was precisely what made David Halberstam a hero to so many of them.

More tomorrow.