WHY APPEASE PROTESTERS?
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
(Across the street from Milwaukee’s City Hall – one of the tallest buildings in the USA when it was constructed around 1895 – lies Red Arrow Park. The park is not large and probably contains more cement than grass, but a Starbucks attracts visitors, in summer to sit in the air conditioned interior or outside in the sunny outdoors. In winter, there is ice-skating in part that converts into a rink. The park is named after a military division that fought in WWI.
In April 2014, Dontre Hamilton, a man with a history of mental problems lay on the grass, and on the sidewalk. The details follow. To summarize, this has become Milwaukee’s Ferguson incident with many protests over the year, stopping traffic, marches, and considerable media play for the brother and family of the troubled man. On 24 November 2015 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the large newspaper for the city, published my letter on series of incidents. HM)
WHY APPEASE PROTESTERS?
WHY APPEASE PROTESTERS?
On Thursday 19 November protestors disrupted the tree-lighting ceremony at Red Arrow Park. Middle-schoolers’ songs for the occasion were drowned out by the shouts and megaphones of the disruptors. The protestors claim they seek justice, but even Pres. Obama’s Dept. of Justice could find no reason to reopen the case.
If a church wanted to present a nativity scene in the park, it would be denied because of the religious nature of the scene. However, for months there has been a memorial in Red Arrow Park to Dontre Hamilton which includes a cross. If a church asked to place a cross in the park, it would be denied, but the Hamilton crowd can have a cross and a memorial.
Dontre Hamilton was killed in the park in April 2014 after several calls to police about the man on the ground. One policeman approached Hamilton and wanted to pat him down – the park is across the street from City Hall and no one wants threats to city leaders. Hamilton resisted, grabbed the officer’s baton, and was shot numerous times by the policeman. Hamilton may have been unarmed (the policeman did not know that till the pat down), but a 300-pound man who is mentally unstable can be and proved to be dangerous. Unarmed AND dangerous. The policeman did his duty to protect the general public. For that, he was fired.
Suppose some want a memorial in Red Arrow Park to the fired policeman. Will they be allowed? Will a church be allowed to display a cross in the park? Or a nativity scene?
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
GENERAL WALKER AND THE MURDER OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY:
The Extensive New Evidence of a Radical Right Conspiracy (Moreland Press, 2015)
By JEFFREY CAUFIELD
Rev. by Hugh Murray
I begin with some of my background related to this 1,000-page book: 1) I attended P T G Beauregard Jr. High in New Orleans, 1952-53, a year when Lee Oswald was also a student there. As there were a thousand students, and we were in different grades, I never knew him. 2) From 1953-1956 I attended Warren Easton Sr. High, also in NO. Some report that Oswald attended Easton for about a month in 1954 before he enlisted on his 17th birthday in the Marines. Again, I did not know him. 3) In the mid-1950s I began to attend the First Unitarian Church in NO, and my conservative views were challenged, especially on the race issue. About May 1955, a year after the US Supreme Court’s notorious decision overturning segregation in schools, students at Easton chose to demonstrate their disapproval of the “Black Monday” decision. Almost all students left the school to march in protest, stopping street cars, and demanding continued good schools through segregation. This was one demo in which I did not partake, and was one of the few who remained inside the school.
4) In the summer of 1955 I attended Pelican Boys’ State, organized by the American Legion (an organization that features prominently in Caufield’s book). (A few years later student Bill Clinton would meet John Kennedy at the Arkansas Boys’ State, and be inspired to enter politics) (In Louisiana, Bayou Boys’ State was conducted for incoming Black high-school seniors; of course, all our schools were still segregated.) I was elected to the Pel. Senate, and on the final day of the conclave, we would take over the La. State Senate Chamber and debate a law that we thought should be enacted. One Pel. Senator proposed that all public high schools include a ROTC program for basic military training. One suspects the Legion was delighted with this suggestion. Instead, I proposed the integration of public schools in Louisiana as the legislation we debate on the night of big publicity in the Capitol Senate. I suspect the Legionnaires were less pleased with my idea. Another Pel. Senator thought my proposal a poor choice, for I was the only Senator who favored it. Suddenly many other Pel. Senator rose to disagree with him and support my proposal. We were high school jun/seniors in Louisiana in 1955. Indeed, we did debate my proposal for integrated schools on the big night, but, probably because there was a close division of opinion, no vote was taken because the officials informed us, “we ran out of time.”
5) Because I had moved so far to the Left and favored integration, some high school friends showed concern. Probably in the spring of 1956, a very sweet student, Mary Jane, urged me to speak with her father whom she thought could put some sense into my head. I was not enthusiastic about such a meeting, and, turns out, neither he. So, we went through the motions to satisfy a kind young woman. I went to her home and met her father, Guy Banister, while he was sorting mail. He said little to me other than some grunts. He did not convert me from my turn to the Left. Mary Jane and I remained friends.
6) From 1956-60 I attended Tulane U. in NO on scholarship, eventually deciding to major in American history. Also, at the Unitarian Church I met one of my professors, Georg Iggers and his wife Wilma, both refugees from Nazi Europe, and both teaching at Black colleges in NO. Georg also taught a few courses at Tulane, in one of which I had enrolled. One day, I asked him if I might sit-in one of his classes at Dillard, and proceeded to attend his class on the Black campus about twice a week. In that class I met Shirley Dede, who told me they were organizing a Youth Chapter of the NAACP. I joined. Shirley also subscribed to Workers World, a Trotskyist newspaper. The youth chapter did little, for soon the NAACP was outlawed in Louisiana, using a 1924 anti-KKK law.(p. 723. Caufield states the injunction against the NAACP was issued in 1956, but I do not think the organization closed down in Louisiana until about 1958 or 59.) The adult NAACP was then reincarnated as the New Orleans Improvement Assn.
7) In Feb. 1960 the modern sit-in movement started in North Carolina and spread in much of the South. Today, one forgets that New Orleans was still the largest city in the South in 1960 as it had been since 1840. The 60 census figures had not yet been published so. NO was still viewed larger than Miami, Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta. Meanwhile, the civil rights movement seemed unable to crack the South’s largest city. Tulanian Lanny Goldfinch informed me in the spring of 1960 that there would be a meeting at Dillard to organize a sit-in in NO. I went. There was an awareness that such action would likely bring arrests, and many in the large hall were hoping to avoid such drastic consequences. The Dillard Dean was able to persuade the students not to be imitative of others, not to simply sit-in as had been done elsewhere, but to do something unique to Dillard. There would be a march for civil rights on the sidewalk in front of Dillard campus. I felt that was an operation for Dillard students and did not participate. There were no arrests.
8) Later that spring Lanny Goldfinch told me the Consumers’ League (a Black group) would be picketing shops in the Dryades Street area that refused to hire Blacks. Both Lanny and I picketed for short periods with the League on different days. 9) Late spring, summer 1960, national Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sought to form a group in NO. With some from the Consumers League and students from various universities, CORE began to meet at the Negro YMCA on Dryades St. There would be a 3-week training program in Miami that August, and CORE sought participants from NO. Seven of us went and an 8th was a driver. I had trouble convincing my parents to allow me on this excursion, but I could point to another white who was also going. He was a staunch Roman Catholic, a junior at Loyola U. in NO. He was a year or 2 older than I. As a youth he had had troubles, dropping out of school, and on the road to becoming a “juvenile delinquent.” But Oliver St. Pe was saved when he joined the Civil Air Patrol and was guided in the right direction by its leader, David Ferrie. I did not know it at the time, but Oliver was legally blind. In Miami there were only about 45 official participants from all over the country with 7 from NO indicating how important CORE assessed New Orleans for the future of the organization. One day we had a lecture by baseball great Jackie Robinson, who was also a firm supporter of the Republicans led by Richard Nixon that election year. Another day we had a lecture by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who, then off the record, was for Democrat Jack Kennedy. We had training in non-violence and how to conduct demonstrations. In one sit-in, Oliver and 16 others of our CORE conclave were arrested.
10) Shortly after we returned to NO, we organized for the sit-in. Tulane seemed to know about our plans, and read us the rules that, if arrested, we would be suspended until proven innocent (which, if lucky would have to await a US Supreme Court decision, which would take years). (Suddenly many more people were coming to the CORE meetings, and one stood out because he was fatter and looked older than most white college students. In today’s p.c. world, we should not notice things like that but we do. I remember George Higginbotham because he looked unusual for a white student. I had no idea at the time he was employed by Guy Banister to spy on the Left.)(41) I was entering TU as a grad student in history. Happily, there was another white Tulanian, so with 5 Blacks we had 7 in the first sit-in. (Our defiance led eventually to a change of Tulane’s rules and neither Bill Harrell nor I was kicked out.) I moved from my parents, but that did not stop the threatening phone calls (all our names had been in the local papers, and we had been on national TV, though we did not see that as we were still in jail for the nightly news shows. My father had to borrow a pistol and bullets from a co-worker to defend the house. In November 1960, when the NO integrated school crisis erupted, the hate-crowd moved on to that issue, and my dad felt safe enough to return the items to his co-worker. The worker asked him, “Why did you borrow so many bullets? Only one would have done the job.” I was not too popular with some union members. 11) To restore honor to the family, my father’s brother, my uncle, sent $20 to George Lincoln Rockwell’s Nazi Party. His wife, my aunt Vera, would have trouble on her side of the family in a few years. Her relative, a pastor of a Methodist Church on Esplanade Ave., formed the Quorum Club beside his church and across the street from the French Quarter. It was probably in 1963 when the police raided the club and arrested about 33 in attendance and the papers printed their names and addresses on page 1. The police said it was a hangout for homosexuals, drug users, and race mixers. Vera had been razzing my Uncle Jim about me, but suddenly she had a black sheep on her side of the family too. I don’t know if Jim sent more money to Rockwell about the Quorum Club.
12) Also during these years, my mother’s Avon lady lived a few doors down the street. She was attractive, rather young, and the wife of an American Legionnaire activist who in 1960, was elected as a Democratic member of the State legislature, James Pfister. Pfister would lead the raid on SCEF in October 1963, an important key to Caufield’s understanding of the Kennedy assassination. I point this out to show that in NO people on the Left had connections, sometimes relations, to those on the Right.
13) In 1962-63 I returned to Tulane as a grad student, but I changed the topic of my thesis. I had heard the reason no legitimate Black organization could work with Communists was because of what they had done during the Scottsboro campaign. So my topic was the Scottsboro rape cases that began in 1931 Alabama. I tried to be objective: my title “The NAACP vs. the Communist Party” was neutral enough, but my conclusion was that the CP and its front group the International Labor Defense had saved the 9 young Blacks accused of rape, while the approach of the NAACP would have led to their conviction and likely executions. Although several chapters have since been published in academic journals, the Tulane history dept, then headed by “the Confederates” was determined that I not remain at Tulane for a doctorate. I worked hard on the thesis, some 270 pages. But I was slow and could not finish in time to receive my degree in May. So I had to work harder to finish in the summer of 1963 with little time for political protest. I received my MA in August 1963.
14) In Nov. 1962 I published an article in The Reed, the left-wing alternative to the Tulane Hullabaloo. I titled it, “The Munich of the 60s,” in which I analyzed the recent missile crisis with an analogy. I compared Kennedy’s demands for removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba, a sovereign nation, to German demands upon Czechoslovakia concerning the Sudetenland; and I compared Khrushchev’s yielding to Kennedy’s demands to Chamberlain’s concessions to Hitler at Munich. I entered a class room and saw copies of The Reed, not torn in half, not in quarters, but into fingernail-size fragments. My article was not popular.
15) Summer 1963 when Oswald was most active in NO, I was busy finishing up my MA thesis. Friends, a history student and his wife told me they had heard an unusual discussion on WDSU radio with a Marxist who had lived in Russia and was involved in a pro-Castro group in NO. I may have seen an Oswald leafleting incident on local TV news. 16) One afternoon I walked into the Tulane U. Library (now Joseph Jones Hall) and on a small table in front of the glass to the staircase was a stack of leaflets – Hands Off Cuba! I took one, and went upstairs to the carrels (desks) behind the book stacks to find a grad student friend who had been involved in Fair Play in another city. “What are you putting out?” “Let me see that.” Harold Alderman knew nothing about it. Who might be organizing then? There was only a post office box address on the flyer. Should we respond? I joked, it might be the FBI. Neither of us made contact with the address. Harold did tack the leaflet to his dorm-room door - until Nov. 22.
17) Even with my MA, the best job I could get was teaching 5th grade at a brand new private school in NO. It payed higher than public schools, and better, there were fewer pupils per class. There were 3 of us teaching 5th, Mrs. Flagg who was much older and had taught in the public schools; and Richard Humphries, a new grad who was born in British Guyana. He and I became friends, and one autumn afternoon after school, we played tennis. Consequently, I arrived home late (I was back at my parents). When I arrived, my mother greeted me with, “Huh, I thought they had rounded you up too.” I did not know what she was referring to, but rushed to the TV as it was news time. Oct. 4, 1963, the Louisiana UnAmerican Activities Committee (led by neighbor Jim Pfister) and over 100 police and troopers raided the SCEF offices and the homes of James Dombrowski, Ben Smith, and Bruce Walzer. A good friend was a junior law partner in Smith’s firm, and Jack Peebles wondered if he too was to be arrested. The SCEF raid is a pivotal event in Caufield’s book and analysis.
18) Life went on. Work went on. I was teaching around midday, when Mrs. Flagg, whose class was directly across the hall, came to me and requested that I come to her class. I told my class I would return shortly, and went with the older woman. Her class was then having a combo lunch and recess, and as we had no cafeteria, they were eating in class and playing about, shouting, but not out of hand. One boy had brought with him a new invention, a transistor radio, and he was listening. Mrs. Flagg and I then hovered over the boy trying to hear the radio above the din of the kids playing. I heard and then had to return to my class. I entered and announced, “I just heard on the radio, Pres. Kennedy was shot in Dallas.” The kids immediately cheered and applauded. I was taken aback. One girl, the exception, put her head on the table and cried. The others expressed glee. These were 10 and 11-year-olds, and a few older ones. I normally liked them very much, but suddenly I was angry. “You think that this means the end of integration. You think that this means segregation will be the law of the land. After the Civil War, some thought that the South could rise again, if only Lincoln were dead. They killed him. Instead of making it easier for the defeated South, it made the North more determined to destroy slavery, to destroy the plantations, to destroy most things connected to the South. The result was Radical Reconstruction, and for many white southerners it was a difficult time. Killing Lincoln made things more difficult. Killing Kennedy will make things more difficult.” Those were not my exact words but it was the message of my unscheduled history lecture.
19) The school let us out early that Friday afternoon. I went home and soon thereafter received a phone call from Shelly, the wife of Carlos Zervigon. Carlos was of Mexican-Cuban heritage, a friend and fellow Tulanian 1956-60, and a former member of CORE during the year I was active 1960-61. Shelly was less politically active, but went along with her husband. On the phone she asked if I had heard the news. “About Kennedy? Of course.” “You know they found the assassin.” “No.” “He’s a communist from New Orleans.” “What?!” I could hardly believe her words. A communist from NO? My mind is blank on the rest of our conversation. I suddenly began to fear. If they are rounding up “communists” in NO in October over nothing, what will happen now? Many assumed I was a communist. I knew that in 1938 a young Jew entered the German Embassy in Paris and shot an official. A few days later, the Nazi government hammered its revenge, the first major pogrom in Nazi Germany with burnings of numerous synagogues, massive arrests of Jews, some killings, and so many shop windows shattered it was called Kristallnacht. And that was for the assassination of a minor official. What would happen here with a NO communist killing the President?
20) That Friday night I went out to get drunk, thinking it might be my last chance before the roundup. I met a few friends, and had the same question – “Who the hell is Lee Oswald?” No one I spoke with that night ever knew him. Later that year, I began to feel lucky that I never knew him, and that no one on the Left seemed to have known him. That was my basic feeling until the Garrison probe, when I learned that Oswald had right-wing associates in NO. Caufield’s book provides even more evidence that Oswald was associated with the far right wing in New Orleans and Texas. Caufield has amassed far more research on this aspect of Oswald, and his book should be kept as a reference work.
This book is 1.000 pages with footnotes at the back, so you must refer back and forth many times. A cheaply manufactured book would fall apart. This book is well-made and can endure the activities of researchers as they peruse both text and notes. Many of the chapters are written as if they are independent articles; consequently there is much repetition. But the hefty volume is worth wading through. Caufield has performed considerable research. He bested me in searching for members of the New Orleans Council for Peaceful Alternatives, some of whom did encounter Oswald. He found at least 11 people who linked Oswald with Guy Banister. Unlike some who portray Jim Garrison as more liberal to make him more acceptable to the Northern Left, Caufield reveals that in Garrison’s first run for the DA post in New Orleans, he spoke before a White Citizens Council gathering, and won the backing of segregationist Judge Leander Perez. (Despite such, Garrison remains a hero to me.) Caufield spoke with many people in New Orleans and in Texas. His description of the FBI informer William Somersett and his most important exposes of proposed assassinations, of Pres. Kennedy, of Rev. M L King, of many on the Left, is fascinating. Caufield’s description of the riot at Ole Miss is to the point, with 2 dead and many injured, and led by Gen. Edwin Walker.
Caufield interviewed a Right-winger who claimed that Gen. Walker wanted to stage his own kidnapping in a phony publicity stunt. Caufield suggests there was a link between Walker and Oswald, and the shooting at Walker’s home was a publicity stunt that occurred just before Walker was to begin a speaking tour. Caufield also posits that that shooting was as staged as the fight in New Orleans between anti-Castro Cuban Carlos Bringuier and the leafleting, “pro-Castro” Oswald.
Caufield’s thesis is that Oswald was in reality a man of the Right. Even as a boy, when skipping school in NYC, one reason for his truancy was there were Negroes in his class. His favorite TV show was “I Led 3 Lives,” about a man who pretended to be a Communist for the FBI. Back in NO in the 1950s, Oswald joined the Civil Air Patrol led by the charismatic David Ferrie. Ferrie, himself, was extreme right-wing. On Oswald’s 17th birthday, he joins the Marines. Caufield discovered a letter in which an official involved in anti-communist activities wrote that he had found someone, no longer in NO, who would be good at infiltrating university left-wing groups. Caufield contends that Hubert Badeaux was referring to Oswald.(274, 727-29)
Meanwhile, the threat of communism in the South grew, for to right-wingers, integration was communism. The 1954 Supreme Court decision overturning over 50 years of precedent that segregation was Constitutional, the integration of Central High in Little Rock with the use of Federal troops (under Gen Walker’s command), the bus boycott in Montgomery, the sit-ins throughout the South, the Freedom Rides, the integration of Ole Miss (in which Gen. Walker now led an impromptu army to oppose integration), and Pres. Kennedy’s proposing a civil rights bill in 1963 – along with his failure to support the anti-Castro invasion at the Bay of Pigs, his refusal to invade Cuba during the missile crisis, his talk of peace, all showed how communism was advancing in the US.
Louisiana was inventing a method to halt the flow of communism and integration. In 1962 Louisiana passed a Communist Control Act, led by Rep. Jim Pfister, but originating with Judge Perez, according to Caufield. The point was to impose heavy fines and decades in jail for those who associated with Communists or Communist-front organizations. When Oswald returned to NO in 1963, he sought to infiltrate CORE, the NOCPA, he organized his own FPCC, and all of these organizations had connections with the Southern Conference Educational Fund. Prove it is communist; show the “communist” Oswald in CORE, NOCPA, and FPCC, and all of those organizations become tainted, and any member can be arrested and face up to 30 years in prison. In this scenario, Oswald is a fake communist who will be used to destroy the Left, and particularly the integrationist movement in the South. The man who had lived in the USSR and had a Russian wife, who admitted to being a Marxist, who subscribed to the Worker and the Militant (CP and Trot newspapers) would be used to destroy integration.
But, another conspiracy was afoot. Caufield thinks Oswald would continue to pretend to be a communist, but was assured either the shooter would miss, or would not use his rifle, so he need not worry. Caufield’s chapter on Dallas 22 November is not overly convincing, but should be read for an alternative view. Much of Caufield’s material prior to 22 Nov. is powerful in a cumulative way. Not one thing, not one speech, not one action, but together, he makes a strong argument. Caulfield thinks Oswald was a patsy, he got in over his head, and the President lost his.
One good thing, Caufield is not politically correct in his use of language. The racism of speeches given to large audiences is presented without pc euphemisms. Sometimes it is surprising, as when Gen. Walker tells someone how to add an ingredient to the motor oil that will destroy a car’s motor so the Black owner will be stranded after so many miles. Or when he describes the office of the voter registrar in Clinton, La., where the official has a black doll with a string to look like a noose – a visual lesson to discourage Black voter applications.
Caufield has amassed much material to demonstrate how much Pres. Kennedy was hated – not just by 10-year-olds. Some spoke, on tape, of conspiracy. After the assassination, Walker was worried that Jack Ruby might leave a Texas hospital alive, and Walker kept his eye (or other surveillance) on Oswald’s mother. Caufield makes much of Ruby’s request to Chief Justice Earl Warren to be taken out of Texas, but the testimony, in which Ruby does mention Walker, seems rambling, confused, and Warren seems justified to me in denying Ruby’s request. Even Badeaux’s report that he had found a young man who might infiltrate college left-wing groups might not be referring to Oswald. Oswald had just quit high school to join the Marines. Interesting but not always convincing. But neither the Warren Commission nor various Congressional inquiries have satisfied the American public either. Caufield gives the public much to ponder.
Caufield’s research also discovered that many files have been destroyed. Files of the LUAC, of Guy Banister, of some submitted to the Warren Commission with photos, but some of the photos deleted. Yet, there may be various reasons for the destruction. I recall a PBS documentary on the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, and their records revealed that a Black minister who went to Ohio during Freedom Summer, supplied information on the integrationists preparing to go to Mississippi. He provided information to Mississippi segregationist officials about Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman (they were killed in Philadelphia, Miss. during Freedom Summer along with Mississippi native James Chaney.). The minister was not happy about being exposed as an informer decades after the murders.
There are some minor errors in this lengthy volume. Plaquemines Parish (county) is not adjacent to New Orleans (St. Bernard is the neighboring parish to the south)(p. 68) Caufield writes that Gentilly Parish was outside of New Orleans.(356) But Gentilly is not a parish at all, it is a section of New Orleans. SCEF was not the Southern Christian Educational Fund (546) but the Southern Conference…, and it was the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, not the ECL Union.(547) Mary Jane Banister was a friend, but we never dated (619, 854); I dated Karol Kloepfer of the NO Quaker family, some of whom were involved with the NOCPA, and Ruth (the mother, Karol, and Ruth Ann (daughter) visited the Oswalds on Magazine St. just prior to their departure for Texas. When in 1963 Oswald distributed FPCC flyers in front of the old Trade Mart Building, it was not located on Canal St.(746) US Supreme Court Justice William Brennan was on the high court in the 1960s; there was no Justice Brenner.(766, 946) One of the Black attorneys who represented CORE in New Orleans was Lolis Elie, not Lelis Ely.(688)
Coufield writes: “The FBI sent Somersett to New Orleans…Nov. 15-28, 1960 to monitor the Catholic school crisis…”(195) The crisis that November was the first integration of two elementary public grade schools, in which almost all whites withdrew, angry parents protested the arrival of a few Blacks each day, and the family of a white pupil who defied the boycott was threatened and rocks thrown through their home’s window. Eventually they had to flee to the North. The daily protests in favor of segregation made international news. The Catholic schools at that time remained segregated, and quiet.
In several places Caufield calls Pres. Kennedy’s proposed civil rights bill of 1963 sweeping and “it would end segregation in the South.”(289, 311) But Kennedy’s proposals were less sweeping than the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which was passed in 1964 after his assassination, in part out of sympathy evoked by Kennedy’s martyrdom.
For what comes next, I should add a warning. I am not here to record my political drift from Left to Right. Simply put – in Louisiana in the 1950s and 60s by demanding that “we treat people without regard to race, color, or creed,” I was considered a communist by many. Indeed, that phrase was one of the traditional slogans for civil rights. Today, when I still demand that we treat people without regard to race, color, or creed, I am deemed a racist, Nazi, etc. Today, I am a staunch opponent of affirmative action, diversity, and other tools for treating people differently.
` One of the heroes of Caufield’s book is William Somersett. In his home in Miami Somersett tape recorded a conversation with extreme right-winger Joseph Milteer on 9 Nov. 1963. Caufield deemed the tape so significant he devotes pages to its transcription. (98-105) On tape Milteer discusses the upcoming visit of Pres. Kennedy to Miami set for 18 Nov. 63. Somersett interjects, “...he will have a thousand body guards.” Milteer responds: “The more body guards…,the easier it is to get him…From an office building with a high-powered rifle…Oh, yeah, it’s in the working…disassemble a gun…you don’t have to take a gun up there, you can take it in pieces.”(85-104) Then there will be a patsy arrested, “just to throw the public off.”(105) Somersett recorded that for the Miami Police and the FBI. As a result, Kennedy’s visit of 18 November was altered and his motorcade through the city cancelled. That tape also included references to the recent bombing of the church in Birmingham and a possible plot to kill Martin Luther King, Jr. Later Milteer informed Somersett that Louisiana segregationist Judge Leander Perez helped finance the assassination of Pres. Kennedy.(260) Indeed, several years later Somersett recorded something about the King murder, that would occur soon thereafter. Clearly, Somersett was a most courageous man to record the words of some very dangerous people. Somersett is a hero, in the book and out. He was an FBI informant, amazingly courageous in collecting facts, whether they were used fully by an agency or not.
There is a contradiction in Caufield’s thought. When it comes to FBI agents informing on right-winger, KKKers, Nazis, he cheers. When it comes to those who informed on Communists, Caufield smears.
Diana West, in her American Betrayal reported that in April 1943, the FBI bugged the home of California Communist leader Steve Nelson when he was visited by a Soviet Embassy official. The Soviet presented money for the American party, but also wanted Nelson, through power in labor unions, to assign Communists to posts in various new defense facilities – facilities connected to the development of the atomic bomb. According to West, this was the first that the FBI learned of America’s Manhattan Project – and learned it from a Soviet agent!
In many places Caufield criticizes Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his investigations of subversives. Caufield is critical of the ex-communists who identified old comrades to the FBI, etc. He is especially critical of the paid witnesses, those who made a living exposing those whom they knew to be or have been members of the CP.
Finally, on the more difficult issue of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the exposing of Communists and treason, it is clear that Caufield holds the liberal-left position – “The 1950 Joseph McCarthy Communist witch hunts were front-page news…”(210) Here Caufield describes former Communist, “paid witness,” Paul Crouch: “Crouch testified before McCarthy’s committee in 1955, that Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project, was a Communist. Oppenheimer denied…Crouch alleged that he had been at Oppenheimer’s home at a meeting of top drawer Communists.”(708) Caufield judges that “a blatant lie” on Crouch’s part. Oppenheimer had conclusive proof that he was in another state on the date of that alleged communist meeting. Blatant liar! However, Crouch may have simply had the date wrong. Oppenheimer’s wife was a member of the CP. So was his mistress. So was his brother. And his sister-in-law. More recent allegations about Oppenheimer came from a Soviet secret agent. He maintained Oppenheimer was himself a CP member, though a secret one to avoid problems while he headed the sensitive atomic project. If you google Oppenheimer on these issues, he apparently was responsible for assigning communists to places like Oak Ridge. Might he have passed secrets? Or may he have simply set it up so others could do it? In January 2012 Russian leader Vladimir Putin thanked Western scientists who provided secret documents on atomic research to hasten Stalin’s acquisition of the bomb. Putin bragged, “They provided suitcases full; suitcases full!” Oppenheimer was a secret member of the Communist Party. Why try to discredit Crouch? Sen. McCarthy was on the right track. Caufield and I disagree on this issue.
Caufield writes that despite the allegations of treason, Alger Hiss was merely convicted of perjury. But the Venona files, only released to the public in the 1990s, show that Hiss was indeed a Soviet agent. Indeed, only a small percentage of the Venona files have been deciphered, so there may well have been many more Soviet agents handing over America’s secrets to the Soviets.
The problem, especially in the South, was that those investigating subversion equated integration with communism. And communists were indeed some of the most determined to destroy segregation and discrimination. The communists were determined, showed bravery, knowledge of tactics, and organizing abilities. Was it a coincidence, or a plot, that Rev. M L King sat beside Communist Abner Berry at the Highlander Folk School? Remember, when the FBI first wire tapped King on the phone, they were not listening for him, but for Stanley Levison. The FBI believed Levison, a former communist, was still a secret member, and a leading financial figure in the Party. They were taping his calls when suddenly they heard him advising Rev. King.
And it was not only King who had connections to the left and possible members of the CPUSA. Rosa Parks, so the story goes, the tired seamstress, simply wanted to remain in her seat on the Montgomery bus. This may well be true. But before she was arrested for that crime, she had gone to Highlander Folk School for training. Highlander was a popular-front operation, and anti-racists, including Communists were welcome.
The main question in the South was not one of espionage and atomic secrets; the question was of a political group set upon destroying segregation. To some, this translated, destroying the Southern way of life – subversion. And that is what the integrationists were indeed trying to do. But did they deserve 30 years in jail for doing so? Even if they were Communists?
The NAACP went out of business in Louisiana for a year when it refused to hand over to the state its membership list. If the Attorney General of Louisiana had that list, he would have gone after any school teachers or public employees and fired them. That is why the NAACP refused to reveal its membership list. That is why LUAC and the Eastland Committee wanted the membership list of the SCEF – to punish anyone pressing for integration.
I would argue that the civil rights movement was a popular front movement, including the religious, radicals, communists, (most liberals in the South preferred not to get involved). I doubt if many atomic secrets were passed along. Phones were tapped and mail was opened. Realistically, compared to what happened to dissidents in other nations, most of us lived to talk about the era. Unfortunately, President Kennedy did not. Caufield makes a case that the assassins shot from the right.
Monday, October 5, 2015
AMERICAN BETRAYAL: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character
(New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, @ 2013) by DIANA WEST
Rev. by Hugh Murray
The US, Britain, China, and the Soviets all won WWII, but the USSR won the peace that followed. The reason, according to Diana West, is that Communist infiltration of the American (and British and Chinese governments) led to major decisions that culminated in a longer war than necessary, the Soviet occupation of Eastern and Central Europe, and Soviet dominance in North Korea, Manchuria, and ultimately in a Communist regime victorious on the mainland of China.
Her book has encountered fierce criticism, especially from former Left-wingers David Horowitz and Ronald Radosh, who became Reagan Republicans in the 1980s. I learned much from this West volume, and yet I disagree with some of her major points.
West contends that had it not been for Communist influence in the Roosevelt Administration, the Western allies could have made a deal with anti-Nazi generals in Germany who would have ousted Hitler, ceased the war in the West, closed the concentration camps, and joined with the West to protect Eastern Europe from Soviet advance. Because this alternative would have prevented Stalinization of much of Europe, Communist agents in FDR’s government sought to prevent any consideration of this alternative. Furthermore, this alternative policy would have ended the war in 1943 and saved the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians and victims in camps. If only?!
Nowhere in her book does West mention the “Dolchstoss” theory that grew to prominence in Germany at the conclusion of WWI. She should have. When “the Great War” ended in November 1918, there was not a single Allied soldier on German soil. To many Germans, the armistice came as a shock. Germany could have and should have won. German troops were still in Belgium and France, and after Russia had been knocked out of the war, the Kaiser’s troops were also in many new states chipped from the old, huge Russian Empire. How could Germany have lost? The reason was the troops were stabbed in the back – by traitorous elements on the home front. Socialists, Spartacists (soon to be Communists), strikers, the selfish, the plutocrats, and most especially, the Jews were the cause of Germany’s betrayal, Germany’s defeat. The peace terms by the victors at Versailles brought greater grief to Germany. Germany was condemned as guilty for starting the war, so it had to pay the cost of the war to the victors through enormous reparations. By 1923 the German economy collapsed under the weight of massive inflation. Poverty. Humiliation. Defeat. And in 1929 Depression. Germany could have won except for the stab in the back. It should have won. A new political leader promised to erase and reverse that defeat and to make the Left and the Jews pay for their treason of 1918. Germany did not lose the First War. If proper precautions were taken to curtail the traitorous factions, Germany would not lose a Second.
So, in the early 1940s West suggests that American policy should have been to work with the German Army to overthrow Hitler. Would this have ended the war in 1943? Assuming there could be a truce on the eastern front with Stalin (a major assumption), assuming a free Poland was restored, assuming the other nations of Eastern Europe granted some democratic rights, how long might this peace last? Surely some Germans would have felt their chance at victory under Hitler had again been thwarted, betrayed, this time by the elite nobility among the army officer corps. In Germany there might rise a new Dolchstoss myth. Might not a new Nazi movement develop and take hold of Germany once again? Once again they could proclaim Germany was just about to win, when it was betrayed, this time by nobles among the politicians and general staff. Their betrayal overthrew Hitler on the verge of victory! Think again: Must the Western nations have to war with Germany every generation, 1914, 1939, 1964? Or would it not be best to make the Germans realize that they did lose WWI, and make certain that they learn the lesson that they have fully lost it in WWII? When Churchill and Roosevelt demanded “unconditional surrender” by the Axis, they were aware that many Germans had falsely assumed that they had not lost in 1918. No more playing around; Germany will know without question that it has lost by the end of WWII. Unconditional surrender!
And who might be some of those involved in the anti-Nazi, anti-Hitler German Government that was to work with the Western allies? Along with many generals, Ms. West notes the German Ambassador to Turkey was involved in these intrigues, Franz von Papen.(284, 304) During the Weimar Republic von Papen was a member of the Catholic Center Party, and was even appointed Kanzler for a very short time in 1932 before being replaced by a general. Von Papen then helped overcome Pres. Hindenburg’s aversion to Hitler, so that Hitler, leader of by far the largest party in the Reichstag, was named Kanzler in January 1933. But the conservatives were confident they had tricked Hitler, for the majority of his Cabinet would not be Nazis. Conservatives would be the vast majority of Hitler’s cabinet and von Papen would be Vice Chancellor. Hitler would be a figure head. The conservative Cabinet was going to tame and restrain the fanatical Hitler. That was the plan. One knows how well that worked. Indeed, on the Night of Long Knives in 1934, von Papen himself was nearly among those killed when Hitler “cleansed” his regime. So, in the midst of war in the 1940s against Germany, Churchill and Roosevelt are to place their hopes on the likes of von Papen to tame and restrain and overthrow Hitler and establish a more democratic Germany and, and…And for this the Western allies were to jeopardize their alliance with Stalin? One need not be a Communist agent in the Roosevelt Administration to detect some problems with the approach advocated by Ms. West.
Diana West also believes it was Communist influence in the Western alliance that pressed for a 2nd front landing against the Nazis in northern France. She argues a better strategy would have been through the Balkans and the Adriatic, using the Allied armies in Italy as the base. By invading the Balkans the Western Allies would have liberated much of Eastern Europe before the arrival of Soviet troops. Indeed, there would have been no need for Soviet troops in the area. So the Balkans would not have fallen under Communist rule lost behind Stalin’s Iron Curtain.
Ms. West contends that this strategy was therefore preferable to the one which consolidated much of the Allied forces into the invasion of northern and southern France – D Day in Normandy, and the smaller invasion of southern France from the Mediterranean. Again she blames Communist influence for selecting these targets, which left Eastern Europe prey to advancing Soviet armies.
Let me use some of the information West provides to refute one of her arguments. Communists in the British MI5 and the American OSS were feeding misinformation to their higher ups concerning partisan activities in Yugoslavia.(293, and also in Evans/Romerstein’s Stalin’s Secret Agents(161-62) When the Nazis first invaded that nation in 1941 Draga Mihailovic organized an anti-fascist resistance movement. It was not until after the Germans attacked the Soviets in the summer of 1941 that a Communist resistance movement was organized, under the leadership of Tito. Because of Communist influence in MI5 and OSS, massive disinformation spread. The intelligence reports of efforts to subvert the various Axis authorities established in what had been Yugoslavia were manipulated so that successful attacks by Mihailovic’s group were attributed to Tito’s instead, while the anti-Communist Mihailovic was described as ineffective, corrupt, and an Axis collaborator. Based upon such Communist lies (emanating from the Britain’s own MI5, even Churchill turned against Mihailovic, cut off his supplies and threw Britain’s support to the Communist Tito. Consequently, even had the preferred strategy of Ms. West been adopted, had the Western allies invaded the Balkans, they might well have established pro-Communist governments in the Balkans like one led by Tito. The Balkans might then have gone Communist even without the Soviet Army!
But what about Western victories in the Balkans? In Hitler’s Neuropa, Croatia became an independent nation for the first time in the 20th century. Would the Croatians not have fought fiercely to defend their new nation?(Recall the ethnic wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s?) And the Muslims? (Some of whom joined the Wehrmacht but wearing a fez as part of their uniform.) Would the Western allies have had a cake walk through the Balkans? And through Greece? Ever hear of the nearby Gallipoli? The raid that failed dismally. The Balkan-Adrilatic proposal of Ms. West may have left Western forces stalled in mountainous terrain and amid hostile ethnic groups resulting in bloody battles, high casualties, and very slow progress. The Soviets may have ended up with most of the Balkans anyway. And by our delaying D-Day, the Soviets may have driven further into Western Europe, seizing Denmark and perhaps even part of France. And by placing more of Western material into the Balkan assaults, there would have been less for Normandy. Could the Balkan alternative have rendered D-Day a failure?
Enough speculation. Despite my criticism and skepticism of some of West’s theses, I learned much from her book. In January 2012 Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a public address thanked the Western scientists who provided atomic secrets to the Soviets so that the Communist regime could develop its own nuclear bombs. Putin emphasized that the Soviets were provided “suitcases” filled with material; “suitcases full” he stressed.
In West’s book one can ponder if those suitcases were shipped to the USSR from Great Falls, MT. West discusses the sworn testimony of George Jordan before Congressional hearings in 1949-50 about his experiences shipping Lend Lease plane-loads of material in 1943. Some were atomic materials, and some black suitcases contained materials with unusual words like uranium.(138-39, etc.) The American in charge of Lend Lease was Harry Hopkins, whom some deemed so powerful in the FDR Administration, that called him a co-President.
Ms. West also reveals an incident damning Hopkins on another occasion. In April 1943 the FBI had bugged the Oakland home of Steve Nelson, a National Committeeman of the Communist Party, USA. The FBI overheard a representative from the Soviet Embassy give money to Nelson for the purpose of him placing Communist agents “in industries engaged in secret war production…so the information could be obtained for transmittal to the Soviet Union.”(188) West declares that this is how the Bureau first learned about the Manhattan Project to produce the A-bomb. Because of this important information, on 7 May 1943 FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote a confidential letter to one of our highest government officials, Harry Hopkins, alerting him to the problem of Soviet espionage and its connection to the CPUSA.
West writes: “Hopkins’ reaction to Hoover’s revelation may be the most damaging…When he read what Hoover told [him] in his confidential letter…Hopkins [would] immediately turn around and tell the Soviet Embassy, where the same ‘diplomat’ was posted, that the FBI was on to them.”(188) Hopkins, who then lived in the White House and was perhaps FDR’s chief advisor, was warning the Soviets to be careful when planning espionage against the United States.
A few other examples of Hopkins’ influence are disclosed by West. In April 1944 a Soviet official, Victor Kravchenko, defected in the US. The New York Times headlined the story: “Soviet Official Here Resigns; Assails ‘Double-Faced’ Policies.”(110) The point was that while Stalin spoke of democracy, he was practicing tyranny.(128) Kravchenko was an ‘economic attache’ in the Soviet headquarters of Lend Lease in Washington; he knew a lot. How could this anti-Soviet expose be contained? The Soviets requested the return of this ‘deserter’ to the USSR, and continued to press the Administration for his return. At one point, the FBI warned him that the US State Department might apprehend him to give him to the Soviets. Hopkins referred to him as a deserter.(132) Meanwhile, the Soviets had a good idea of what Kravchenko was revealing. He was talking to the FBI, but the OSS had supplied him with a typist and translator, a woman who was also a secret agent of the KGB.(118, 132) Though Pres. Roosevelt toyed with the idea of returning Kravchenko, when the Soviets would not guarantee that he would not be shot, then FDR rejected the Soviet request for the man’s return. On the other hand, at Yalta Roosevelt agreed to the forced return of some 2 million Soviets who had fled, escaped, deserted, (some of whom even joined fascist forces). If they were not killed immediately, they were undoubtedly shipped to slave labor in the Gulag.
Eventually Kravchenko would write two books exposing the Soviet tyranny and he would testify before Congress that for the Soviets, the Lend Lease (the agency he defected from) – “the Soviet Purchasing Commission…-was in reality the Soviet Spying Commission, the Soviet Thieving Commission…with its thousand-plus employees under order to filch as many industrial and military secrets as possible for the upcoming struggle between the USSR and the USA.”(114) The American chief of Lend Lease was Harry Hopkins. He was arguably the most important figure in the Roosevelt Administration, and yet he invariably sided with the Soviet position. Gen. George Marshall summed things up, “Hopkins job with the president was to represent Russian interests. My job was to represent American interests.”(181) Perhaps Hopkins performed his job too well. But since when is there a job description in the American bureaucracy, even at the highest level, to represent Russian (or any foreign) interests?
I cannot here discuss all the many actions of the Roosevelt Administration that seemed to promote the interests of the Soviets above those of the US. West reviews many of the Soviet agents in the American government. She is excellent at exposing how the Roosevelt and Truman and Eisenhower Administrations preferred to hide and conceal information about treason from Congress and the public. She contends Truman was more interested in pressing perjury charges against the anti-communist whistle-blower Whittaker Chambers than purging foreign agents like Alger Hiss from the State Dept. West, like M. Stanton Evans, concludes that Sen. Joseph McCarthy was a hero; the witch-hunters were right because there were many real witches infesting our government. West attacks the play by Arthur Miller which in academia summarizes the Left view of McCarthy and the hearings on Communism.(173) While our military knew of the secret messages transmitted from the Soviet Embassy in Washington to Moscow as early as 1943, these documents were not made public until 1993, and the vast majority are still not decrypted.(74) She maintains, had they been made public earlier, McCarthy would have been shown right, and most liberals wrong on the issue of subversion. She denounced the Hollywood Left that still makes films praising the courage of the Hollywood 10, the Communists who were blacklisted in the McCarthy era. Yet, she quotes one of those ten, Dalton Trumbo, in the Daily Worker praising their efforts of blocking any films critical of Communism. The CP in Hollywood was blacklisting conservatives before THE blacklist of Communists.(88) The Hollywood 10 were not defenders of freedom; they were defenders of Stalin.
Ms. West generally avoids most political campaign history, but she does mention that Republican Gov. John Bricker, running mate of Thomas Dewey in 1944, did raise the issue of Communist influence in the Roosevelt White House. Bricker accused White House staffer Lauglin Currie of being a radical if not a Communist.(169-72) But West concedes that in 1944 most voters did not want to change horses mid-stream in a major war, and Democrat Roosevelt won his 4th term. But the Communist issue had been raised long before. Before the 1936 election, the Hearst national chain of newspapers printed this short poem; “The Red New Deal with a Soviet seal/ Endorsed by a Moscow hand/ The strange result of an alien cult/ in a liberty-loving land.” Despite the anti-FDR theme of that widely circulated poem, Roosevelt was re-elected in 1936 carrying 46 of 48 states and garnering about 60% of the popular vote. Americans that year were more interested in jobs and welfare than talk about isms. Of course, by printing such a poem and Republican columnists, Hearst became a target. In 1941 Hollywood would get its revenge. In that year the unauthorized bio-pic of William Randolph Hearst, “Citizen Kane,” burst onto the silver screen. The Hearst newspaper and radio chain was the Fox News of its day, and highly critical of FDR. So Hollywood did not portray Hearst as it did the god-like Roosevelt in films. Instead, the media magnate moves from a man of social conscience to a power mad, greedy, unstable tyrant. Well, he was against Roosevelt! West notes the Stalinist legacy lingered in Hollywood even in 1999 when Elia Kazan, the creator of “Streetcar Named Desire,” “On the Waterfront,” and other magnificent films, was given a lifetime award from the Academy Awards. He had to enter from a side door to avoid the protestors, and when presented, many celebrities in the audience turned their backs on him. Kazan named the Communists, the Stalinists at mid-century. And for that he was vilified even at the century’s end!
Though her style is rambling, roving, and often non-linear (translate: disorganized), there are gems to be found in Diana West’s book. Unfortunately, the book should not be the place to introduce comparisons between Communist and Islamic infiltrations in the US Government, or American appeasement of both threats.
West complains that among leading academic historians, FDR is invariably listed among America’s best Presidents. And certainly, on one level, the American people concur; Franklin Roosevelt is the only President elected to a 3rd term, and then to a 4th. FDR was first elected during the depth of the Great Depression, led the nation out of it through his New Deal, then piloted the ship of state through the perilous storms brewing in Europe and Asia. He outmaneuvered the very popular (probably vast majority at times) isolationists, reassuring the nation “again and again and again” as he did in his October 1940 speech (just before the election) that “their boys would not be sent to any foreign wars.” However, when France fell to the German blitzkrieg in spring 1940, FDR violated traditional notions of neutrality, revised the American Neutrality Law, provided supplies to Britain in return for bases in the Western Hemisphere, occupied French islands off Canada, and Greenland, and later Iceland (Danish colonies). Roosevelt had American ships shadow German u-boats and then radio their positions to British destroyers. American ships were even escorting convoys to Britain. It was an undeclared naval war 1940-41 between the US and Germany. All in the name of peace; these were acts of war. America was no longer really neutral, but the arsenal of democracy. Meanwhile we were skirting closer to full-scale war.
This is not the place to debate whether Roosevelt knew when and where the Japs were preparing to attack in December 1941, or even the role of Communists agents in causing the final rupture between the US and Japan. The point here, with Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt succeeded in uniting the American nation and getting us into war. Hitler helped a few days later by declaring war on the US (though we had engaged him in near-war for a year). Following Pearl, the isolationists shut up; America First shut its doors, and Americans rallied round the flag.
And here is the point misunderstood by many: to the liberals, so what if Roosevelt lied to the American people (of as Hillary Clinton told Congress about Benghazi, “What difference does it make?)? We needed to get into the war against Germany, and we got it. The majority of Americans were still probably isolationists into late 1941, and Col. Lindbergh and the America First had a mass following.
And there was very good reason for American isolationism. Most Americans knew by the 1920s and 30s how the Eastern Establishment had lied to us to get us into WWI. The propaganda stories demonizing the Germans as savage Huns, the Kaiser as a monster, cartoons of German soldiers bayoneting nuns and babies, and the whole Versailles lie that Germany was solely responsible for WWI.
Naturally, many Americans were skeptical when the same anti-German propaganda was repeated in the late 1930s and early 40s. When Germany attacked Poland in Sept. 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany. But when the USSR attacked Poland from the other side 2 weeks later, still in Sept. 1939, Britain and France did nothing. And the Soviets would occupy a larger slice of Poland than the Germans. When Hitler broke his pact with Stalin and attacked the USSR in summer 1941, many Americans agreed with Democratic Missouri Senator Harry Truman who thought it would be good if both dictators fought it out and destroyed each other. On the other hand, Roosevelt, pushing Lend Lease for the UK, had the wording of the legislation altered so it could also aid the USSR. Roosevelt made Hopkins the chief of the Lend Lease program, and his notion, undoubtedly received from FDR, was to give top priority in supplies, munitions, etc., to the Soviets, above those of Britain, above those even for American troops engaged in fighting with the enemy.
In the end, this is why the academedia complex still loves FDR. He lied. He defeated the wishes of the American people. He got us into war. He helped save the Soviets so it did not crumble under the Nazi onslaught. Hopkins and his Lend Lease sent to Russia tons of butter (even when rationed here), Dodge trucks, tanks, planes, whatever, to the Soviets. And the Soviets would fight with their blood and thereby save the lives of millions of Americans who would come on later in the war and save Western Europe.
Their liberal view of history can be presented another way – what if the American people had defeated Roosevelt? What if a Lindbergh had become President? How would America have survived in a world with Asia under the Japanese Empire, Europe dominated by Hitler, and Eurasia under Stalin? And if Hitler and Stalin warred against each other, the victor would control a massive super continent, eventually immeasurably stronger. Could the American republic survive in such a world? And if we had to fight, could we win then? It might be too late. So the liberals are delighted that FDR lied to the American people, manipulated them, and defeated their isolationist heroes. The liberal Establishment’s hostility to populism did not begin in 2008 with Obama publicly sneering at those who cling to guns and religion. Nor did it begin in 1940 with Roosevelt’s campaign for a 3rd term. But the elite disdain for the populist solutions was certainly reinforced by FDR’s decisions from above. And even now liberal historians are reluctant to question his pro-Stalinist policies and Communist appeasement.
Diana West is naïve to write that the Big Lie began in 1933 when the US first recognized the USSR. Big lies are a part of all governments. True, the scale of spying by the Soviets on Americans, the financial support given to the CPUSA, this was unique and beyond what one might expect from friendly countries. And the penetration grew in the 1930s and expanded greatly during WWII – so much so that West refers to ours as an “occupied government.” The consequences of this occupation resulted in Soviet overt occupation of Eastern Europe, and Communist dictatorships established in North Korea and China. She notes that the charters of all the major international institutions created at the end of WWII were composed by individuals who were clearly Soviet agents or who may have been such. Yet, in this paper I have responded that some of the decisions made by FDR and his appointees were rational choices (unconditional surrender, invasion of northern France, etc.) even if the Communists were also promoting the same policies. If a Communist (or a Nazi) says 1 + 1 = 2, that is not a ground for us to say it is 3. Even if there had not been a single Communist or a single Soviet agent in the Roosevelt Administration, there were reasonable grounds for the policies of unconditional surrender and the invasion of northern France. Yes, and even a good reason to supply the Soviets with material so they could continue to fight against the Germans in WWII. Of course, I see NO reason for supplying the Soviets with suitcases of Atomic secrets! No reason for the betrayal of Mihailovic in Yugoslavia. No reason for the betrayal of Chiang, the Poles, etc. There was no good reason at the end of WWII to return all of those who had escaped the tyranny of Stalin to the Soviet dictatorship. And there was no good reason – other than appeasement of Stalin – to forget about up to 20,000 American POWs, “liberated” by the Soviets and never returned to the West. These policies do reflect Communist influence in the American government. These decisions indicate that some in the American government were more interested in promoting Stalin’s way over the American way.
Author West quotes various sources along the way who argued that the US should have bargained more with the Soviets, that we could have gotten a much better deal, especially when Stalin was hard-pressed. But FDR did not seem interested in that for he believed he could handle Stalin. And some in his Administration pushed for the best deal for the Soviets. This important aspect of FDRs Presidency is what the liberal historians seek to ignore and suppress.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
STALIN’S SECRET AGENTS: THE SUBVERSION OF
ROOSEVELT’S GOVERNMENT (New York, etc.: Threshold Editions, 2014)
By M. STANTON EVANS AND HERBERT ROMERSTEIN
Rev. by Hugh Murray
The book is readable and provocative. When considering the results of WWII, the authors found the real victor among the Allies was not the US, Britain, France, or China, but the Soviet Union. And the reason for this Communist victory was not merely their performance in battle on the ground, but the influence of their secret agents in Western governments promoting the interests of the Soviets, especially during war-time summits at Quebec, Teheran, and Yalta. Moreover, Communist infiltration of the British spy organization and the US Office of Strategic Services (predecessor to the CIA) resulted in the betrayal of anti-Nazi (but non- and anti-Communist) leaders in Poland and Yugoslavia.
The authors note that during the war the pro-Communists demanded that US and Britain open a 2nd front in Europe to relieve some of the burden faced by Stalin in the war against the Axis. However, until 1945 the Left never urged a 2nd front against Japan from Soviet Siberia (not until war’s near end). Indeed, the authors maintain that some of the American Lend Lease material sent by the US to the Soviets was traded during the war to Japan, America’s lethal foe in the Pacific.(59-60) The authors explore how some policies, pressed by the Left, like the demand for unconditional surrender of the Axis powers, may have made the Germans fight more determinedly rather than surrender to the Western allies after their landings at Normandy. By intensifying the fighting in Western Europe, the Soviets could then conquer more in Eastern Europe. And when unconditional surrender was asked of Japan, again these terms played into Stalin’s hands. Stalin knew the Japanese wanted to surrender because in summer 1945 they asked for his help in negotiating terms with the US. Despite the view of various American military leaders that the US could defeat the Japanese without Soviet help, a deal was made at Yalta, so that if Stalin would enter the Pacific war withinin 3 months after the conclusion of the war in Europe, 8 May 1945, then he would be rewarded with prizes of victory. To encourage Stalin, massive material was sent to him so he could mount a major offensive against Nippon. Many Americans assumed that invasion of the Japanese home islands would be extremely costly in the lives of both natives and Americans. The American A-bomb had not yet been fully tested. So there were reasonable arguments to promise Stalin something if he would enter the war against Japan. In August 1945 the American bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviets entered the war against Japan. Japan quickly surrendered.
As a consequence of entering the war against Japan for a total of 5 days, the Soviets received south Sakhalin and the Kurile island chain. They were also allowed to occupy the northern half of the Korean peninsula, occupy rail and other facilities in Manchukuo, and confiscate Japanese weapons and industries in those areas. Evans and Romerstein write: “It was an amazing coup that put not only China but other nations of Asia at risk of Communist domination – among the most stunning diplomatic triumphs ever recorded by one major power against another.”(201) Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin made the decision at Yalta. The leader of the Chinese government, Chiang Kai-shek was not even present as the other powers moved Manchukuo from the Japanese to the Soviet sphere. Worse, a conservative American intelligence agent who opposed Soviet intervention, Col. Ivan Yeeaton, had predicted what might happen if the Soviets entered the Pacific War. His report warned that giving so much to the Soviets in Asia would make Chiang Kai-shek’s position so vulnerable that China might become the Poland of Asia to be overrun by Communists.(205) The Yeaton Report, if read, had no effect on American policy. Indeed, American OSS operatives attempted to assassinate Chiang Kai-shek to make way for the “democratic,” peasant leader Mao Tse Tung.(152-54)
Evans and Romerstein (hearafter, E & R) show how the pro-Soviet crowd in the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations went along with lies propounded by the Communists: 1) that the thousands of Polish officers and intellectuals murdered at Katyn Forest had been slain by the Nazis (although many familiar with the massacre knew that it had been executed by the Soviets); 2) in forcing all Soviets who had fled Stalin’s rule back to the USSR, the US pretended this was no violation of human rights; and 3) in requiring use of forced German labor as reparations to the USSR, the US again pretended such slave labor was no violation of human rights. (Unmentioned in this book but related is the failure to get back American POWs captured by the Axis and then “liberated” by the Soviets. Diana West makes the point that the US did not push for return of such Americans from the Soviet sphere.) Bottom line – E and R have made a powerful case for the extensive Communist penetration of the US Administration of Franklin Roosevelt – a penetration that not merely fed secret documents to Stalin’s regime, but equally if not more important, by diverting American policy from action to promote American interests into those which would instead aid and expand world-wide Communism.
Pres. Harry Truman famously had in his office a desk plaque inscribed, “The buck stops here.” There seems an ambivalence by E & R as to where the buck stopped under Roosevelt. For example, before the all important Yalta Conference of 1945, Pres. Roosevelt asked specifically that one of the attendees be Alger Hiss. At Yalta, when Averill Harriman objected to some protocols written by the Soviets which declared that “Moscow’s claims ‘shall unquestionably be fulfilled’”, Roosevelt dismissed Harriman’s concern for we should not “haggle over words.”(208) When earlier Secretary of War Henry Stimson complained to Roosevelt about his approval of the harsh Morgenthau Plan for post-war Germany agreed to at the conference in Quebec, Stimson found “the President ‘was frankly staggered by this and said he had no idea how he could have initialed this.’”(183) And there are other examples where after Yalta Sec. of State Stettinius reported, “FDR was definite that we didn’t want to approve German labor for reparations.”(191) But, it was in the Yalta agreement. There are several possibilities: 1) Roosevelt was very ill and allowed Communist agents to make the decisions and was unaware of what they were doing in his name; or 2) Roosevelt knew well what he was doing and chose his advisors because they would do his bidding. Furthermore, FDR was a politician – the only one elected by the American people 4 times to the Presidency.
Look at this from the other side for a moment. In his 3 volume history of the 1948 Progressive Party, C. D. MacDougall necessarily spent some pages on earlier campaigns. MacDougall was an activist for the Wallace Progressive Party, and his bias is clear in his work. (Gideon’s Army, 1965, New York) Henry Wallace had been a mid-western Republican but was made Sec. of Agriculture in Roosevelt’s Cabinet in 1933. Roosevelt had been elected with John N. Garner of Texas, a conservative Texan, as his vice president. In 1937 Garner openly broke with FDR when the Texan opposed FDR’s proposal to “pack” the US Supreme Court by appointing additional members. Garner had little influence on the Administration and gave a job description of his post that the vice presidency was not worth a bucket of piss. In 1940, when Roosevelt decided to run for an unprecedented 3rd term as President, Garner ran against him for the nomination but lost badly. Roosevelt replaced Garner on the ticket with Henry Wallace of Iowa. Though some party regulars were unhappy with Wallace on the ticket, Roosevelt asserted he would not run without him. The Democrats easily defeated the GOP ticket of Wilkie and McNary. Even in 1940 Wallace was deemed too far left by many traditional Democrats, but their suspicions of him increased once he held higher office. “Vice President Henry Wallace [became] arguably the most prominent pro-Soviet political figure of the time,.”(113) even visiting a Soviet gulag camp during the war and praising it as a reeducation center.
By 1944 some believed Roosevelt’s health was in decline, and Democratic Party leaders were determined to dump Wallace from the ticket and replace him with a more reliable, regular politician. But much depended on Roosevelt, who would be running for a 4th term. I do not recall the details, but it was clear that while the President was reassuring Wallace of his support, Roosevelt was also encouraging the opponents of Wallace to get in the race. Roosevelt lied. He was duplicitous. He did not demand the convention renominate Wallace (or others he urged to run). Simply put, Roosevelt was a politician, telling different people different things. Wallace was dumped and replace by Missouri Senator Harry Truman.
Reading this volume, I find a tendency to excuse Roosevelt for much of what was done at Quebec, Teheran, and Yalta in explaining the expansion of the Soviet sphere throughout the world. Some imply FDR was too sick, and their proof includes some jokes. When Stalin proposed killing 50,000 Germans, Churchill objected, but FDR urged compromise, shooting only 49,500. FDR also suggested giving the king of Saudi Arabia all of America’s Jews (aware of the Saudi’s attitudes toward them). Clearly, such comments do not reveal sickness, but a sense of humor prevalent before the puritan era of political correctness, when people were allowed to laugh at a much wider range of humor. Similarly, the authors write that when conservatives objected to major leftwing policies, like the US acceptance of the Morgenthau Plan – Roosevelt tells Stimson he does not see how he could have initialed it for approval.(183) But he did, and according to the authors, though there was verbal backtracking by the Administration, in reality the Morgenthau was the basis for American post-war policy in Germany into 1947.(147) When pressed, Roosevelt, without haggling over words, was continually endorsing pro-Soviet policies, nor did he require Soviet agents to conclude his pro-Soviet deals.
There is little doubt that E & R prove again that there was large-scale Soviet penetration of the US Government under Roosevelt. But was FDR a conservative surrounded by traitors who distorted his instructions for the benefit of Stalin? Or might these policies have been implemented EVEN IF there was not a single Soviet agent in the US Government? Were these not Roosevelt’s policies?
How could the US cede so much to the Soviets? “The most obvious and most powerful influence of this [pro-Soviet] nature was the President himself,”(112) write E & R. They add that Mrs. Roosevelt was a progressive involved in left-wing cases.(112) Moreover, beginning in the late 1930s, in the State Dept. those who were known as anti-Soviet began to lose influence, sometimes demoted, sometimes exiled to posts in South America or other distant, and less important assignments. Some blamed these purges on Mrs. Roosevelt and Presidential advisor Harry Hopkins. Just before Yalta when Roosevelt asked specifically for Alger Hiss to attend the important conference, rather than his more experienced but conservative superior at State, this request may not indicate “conspiracy,” but simply Roosevelt selecting people who agree with him to go with him – though in this case Hiss happened to be a Soviet agent. But if Hiss had not been available, perhaps another, non-agent, would have been drafted by the President to devise the same pro-Soviet policies. I agree with E & R that Soviet penetration of the US Govt. was probably much greater then already revealed. The authors note that only 3,000 Venona decrypts have been decoded out of hundreds of thousands, so the possibility of their having been many more Soviet spies and agents then we know is most likely.(252-53)
Although the authors devoted little space to the Communist Party, USA, it is worth considering their opinion. “As the record clearly shows, communists and fellow travelers on official rosters in case after case were agents of the Soviet Union,…striving to promote the casue of dictator Stalin. This is of course contrary to the notion that American Reds were simply idealistic do-gooders, perhaps a bit misguided but devoted to peace and social justice, and thus shouldn’t have been ousted from government jobs because of their opinions.”(4) The authors summarize their view: “The CPs more important Cold War role [was] as 5th columnist agent of a hostile foreign power.”(89) In their assessment, the CPUSA created various front groups to reach a larger section of Americans. With those front organizations a conveyer belt was established so that from the fronts, some will join the CP, and from the CP, some (if not all) will pledge primary allegiance to the working class leadership emanating from Moscow, and some of these will become spies or 5th column agents of influence. Admittedly, from Moscow’s perspective, this may have been the primary function of the front groups and of the CPUSA itself. And Moscow subsidized the American party for decades, as we now know. The USSR created and financed the CPUSA and some of its front groups for the good of the USSR.
But does the child always serve the interest of the parent? In 1931 several young Blacks were accused of raping 2 white women aboard a freight train in Alabama. They were quickly found guilty, and 8 of the 9 sentenced to death. Enter the International Labor Defense, a Communist front. Using a combination of hiring top-notch attorneys for inside the court, plus mass agitation outside the courtroom, the ILD made the Scottsboro case into the most famous rape case of the 20th century. ILD attorneys appealed the case to the US Supreme Court twice, and won significant rulings concerning the right to adequate defense lawyers and exposing the exclusion of Blacks from jury rolls. A CP-front group changed American Constitutional history in the 1930s. And for the better!
Decades later, the FBI was taping the phone calls of a man deemed a secret member of the CP and a major financial officer of that organization. Listening in, the FBI overheard Stanley Levison talking with and advising a Black minister in the South regarding civil rights tactics. And so the FBI wanted to also have a tap on the phone of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., which Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy then approved. The point is that King was receiving some advice from Levison and other Communists, and it is probable that some of King’s writings were ghosted by Levison. Once again, one may argue that the American CP had influence on the larger American society, and for the better.
In 1948 Henry Wallace ran for President on the Progressive Party ticket, against Democrat Truman, Republican Dewey, and States’ Rights (Dixiecrat) Thurmond. Truman and many others accused the PP of being dominated by the CP, and Lillian Hellman in one of her memoirs recalls being asked by investigators if she was or had ever been a member of the CP or the PP. The Progressive Party was considered by many to be a CP front group. Yet, the Henry Wallace, PP campaign tour of the South in 1948, with the support of the National Negro Congress, the Civil Rights Congress, the Southern Conference on Human Welfare and the Southern Negro Youth Congress WAS the civil rights movement of that era. Not only did Wallace refuse to speak to segregated audiences, but he roused enthusiasm for integration. He also roused the hatred of the segregationists and had dozens of rotten tomatoes and eggs hurled at him. His VP candidate, Sen. Glen Taylor of Idaho, was arrested in Birmingham for entering the Negro entrance of a building for a rally of the SNYC, which was pronounced snick. The arresting officer in charge was Bull Connor. If you look at the PP campaign in the South of 1948, you will suddenly be aware that many of the names will resurface with the later civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. Rosa Parks attended radical Highlander Folk School in Tennessee for training in how to oppose segregation before she was arrested on the bus in Montgomery. Highlander sometimes had Communists participants, and one sat beside Rev. King when he attended. Bottom line, the Communists and Progressives were some of the most dedicated to civil rights in the South. They get no credit for it, because when the movement reawoke, it was judged necessary to hide the connections between the old left and the new. But sometimes, one could note the connection. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee that was so involved in the Southern sit-ins of the early was also known as “snick,” the same as the front-group, the Southern Negro Youth Congress. In promoting civil rights, once again I would contend the CP and its fronts helped America.
I do not contend that all the tactics of the CPUSA and its front groups and its attempts to penetrate various organizations were always successful, or that they were always good for those groups or America. Indeed, years ago wrote an article critical of the CP tactics in the American Irish movement. Communists provided crucial organizers in organizing the Congress of Industrial Organizations (the CIO once had millions of members), struggled for equal rights for various ethnic groups, and probably changed America more than mose of us know or would like to admit.
What the Communists brought to a movement was knowledge of how to organize. They had members trained in how to write and set up a movement flyer or newspaper, and they had contacts with the wider media. They knew how to run meetings, etc. And most importantly, many of them were brave. Some of the bravest people I have known have been Communists. But bravery and experience was subsidized by and entangle with and ultimately subordinate to the demands of a foreign government. I certainly am not saying that every member of a front group was a Stalinist agent. I am not saying that about every member of the CP. But I recall the memoir of North Carolina CP leader Junius Scales, who acknowledged that he had never been asked to spy by the party, but he was unsure how he would have answered if asked.(See my review of Cause at Heart, in Labor History, Winter 1989).
So to the E & R linear formula: from front group into the CP and into an agent, I respond that it was more complex; moreover, some of the accomplishments of the fronts and even of the CP were good for America overall. Of course, in the end there are virtues beyond bravery and knowing how to organize. Communist parties world-wide were responsible for the deaths of about 100 million, and even in the US, according to E & R, one comrade lost influence when he failed to kill Elizabeth Bentley, who would go on to expose many of the agents discussed in this book. When handsome actor Ronald Reagan came in conflict with the Communists in his union, one threatened to ruin his career by tossing acid on his face. And Whittaker Chambers decided to expose Communist agents in part because he believed the Party responsible for murdering an American comrade during the Soviet purges of the 1930s.
Finally, a most important point re history – what is kept in government files? E & R observe how in the early stages some reports are classified top secret, and thus unavailable to the public (and often to Congress as well). Over time, some elements are then redacted. Then, the report may disappear altogether. Sometimes, files were ordered to be destroyed, as in WWII when the Roosevelt Administration defied the laws excluding Communists from government positions. Communists were hired, sometimes when other agencies were absorbed into larger ones, as when the OSS was merged with the State Dept. and no security checks were made. Thus, members of the OSS, heavily penetrated by Communists, were suddenly working for the American State Dept. The Roosevelt Administration also ordered the destruction of security files on Communists and alleged spies – so many security files which would show the depth of Communist infiltration disappeared on government orders. The justification, the aims of the US and the Communists were identical in the midst of WWII. In a previous work Evans notes how occasionally those suspected of treason were allowed into classified areas, and they apparently removed damaging material from their own files. Also, in Evans’, Blacklisted by History (New York, 2007), he demonstrates that Presidents Truman and Eisenhower used the notion of Executive Privilege to block Congressional investigators from acquiring files which might prove their cases against alleged Soviet agents. (Evans also contrasted the media reaction which praised Ike for protecting the power of the Executive (thereby shielding accused foreign agents), with how the media denounced Nixon for invoking Executive Privilege to cover the crimes of Watergate.
In this book, E & R show that the Truman Justice Dept engaged in a “fix” in the Grand Jury that resulted in John S. Service walking away free despite stealing State Dept. papers. Service had also used his position in China to boost the “democratic” Mao insurgents against the “corrupt” forces of Chiang Kai-shek. In the end, American aid to Chiang was curtailed. The Truman Justice Dept. also sabotaged another Grand Jury case involving the accusations of a spy network by Elizabeth Bentley. Worse, Truman’s Justice Dept. preferred to ignore Soviet agent Alger Hiss, while attempting to indict his accuser, the whistleblower Whittaker Chambers, for perjury. And the authors give an example of what can happen to files that the Soviets found offensive. An American POW was in Poland when the Germans discovered the Katyn grave site, in which thousands of Polish officers had been killed by the Soviets. “…on his return to the US [he] filed a report to this effect with his superiors in the Army. This report…would be concealed from view, labeled ‘top secret,’ then disappear entirely.”(172)
Disappearing files and files that may still be classified so neither public nor Congress may examine them – interesting. Earlier this year WGN Chicago/America televised a series, “Manhattan,” about the project to build the Atomic bomb in the American Southwest. One of the heroes of the series is J. Robert Oppenheimer. His wife was a member of the CP. So was his brother. Now we know he himself was a secret member of the CP. Might this membership have urged him to share secrets with our Soviet ally?(253-54) Is there more on Oppenheimer in secret files? Remember, in 2012 Russian leader Putin praised all the Western atomic scientists who shared their secrets with the Soviets. He bragged that they had received suitcases full of atomic secrets. Were Fuchs and Hall and the Rosenbergs the only culprits?
Back to secret files that are closed and may eventually disappear. I have mentioned the contact of Martin Luther King with various American Communists, some of whom advised him. Why are 900 pages of FBI files on King closed until 2027? Is it merely because of his sexual escapades? Or because of his relations with Communists? When the files are finally opened, will they be empty? Or watered down?
Missing from the files? What about the brain of Pres. John Kennedy? Those who support the official version that Oswald did it alone, assert that Atty. Gen Robert Kennedy wanted the brain buried with his brother’s body. Perhaps. Or, the brain may have provided evidence that contradicted the official theory of the Warren Commission. One researcher for a later Congressional probe of the assassination alleged that he had seen a film showing a training camp north of New Orleans in summer 1963. The men were anti-Castro militants preparing for a renewed military assault on Cuba. Among these anti-Castroites was Lee Oswald. Then, Congress shook up the leadership of the investigating committee followed by firings of some investigators. Before he quit, he noted that that film had disappeared from the files.
And under Pres. Obama, the “most transparent Administration in American history,” we are not allowed to inspect the grades or read the papers he wrote for classes at the universities he attended. Governments cover up, especially when they fear releasing the information will harm them.
What E & R ferret out is that Communist penetration of the Roosevelt Administration was extensive. Though spying was part of it, perhaps more important was the advice by government officials that somehow always coincided with the Soviet line; and to the benefit of the Soviets and not necessarily to the benefit of the US or it other allies. To make my point:
1) From the American policy view, by 1941 there may well have been a good argument that Japan was totally imperialistic – Korea, Manchukuo, much of coastal China, and then Vietnam. That it was finally time to take a stand, to cut off oil, and prepare for war (Roosevelt was already engaged in acts of war against Germany in the Atlantic, but it was undeclared).
2) There were sound arguments for Lend Lease priorities to the Soviet Union, which was then baring the brunt of the Axis invasion.
3) Our demand for an unconditional surrender by the Axis powers demonstrated to our Soviet ally that we would not make a separate deal that might mean peace in the West, but continued war against Stalin.
4) Based on intelligence (from secret Communist agents), Gen. Mihailovich in Yugoslavia and later Chiang Kai-shek in China were condemned as collaborators with the Axis enemies. This misinformation urged Western countries to support Tito in Yugoslavia and Mao in China instead.
5) Germany was responsible for the war and therefore its industrial might must be destroyed after war’s end.
6) Germany was responsible for the war and therefore its young men may be drafted to serve in other nations (chiefly the USSR) as a form of reparations. (in effect, this would be slave labor.)
7) Those who fled the USSR must be returned, no matter their personal wishes. They chose to live in fascist countries, abandoning the wonders of the Soviet homeland.
There were reasonable arguments for all these pro-Soviet policies. However, when the US Govt. adopted the pro-Soviet line on all of these issues, and many more, one must ask, what was going on?
The contention of E & R that the Communists, with their great influence, used it to turn American policy into pro-Soviet agreements.
FDR was not a Communist. Had he been one, he would have stood by Henry Wallace and demanded that Wallace remain on the Democratic ticket as VP at the 1944 party convention as he had done in 1940. But FDR did not make such a demand in 1944. Had he done so, in all likelihood, Wallace would then have won the nomination (he almost won it anyway), and become President Wallace in April 1945 upon the death of FDR.
Roosevelt may not have been a Communist, but clearly HE supported the Soviet foreign policy positions in case after case. One can blame Harry Hopkins, Alger Hiss, John Sergeant, and the numerous Soviet agents and Communist sympathizers in government. One can even blame Mrs. Roosevelt for purging and exiling conservative voices in the State Dept. But in the end, the buck stopped at the desk of FDR. He appointed the leaders of his Administration. He is responsible for agreements at Quebec, Tehran, and Yalta. He is (with Stalin and others) responsible for Communist rule in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Albania, Yugoslavia, and East Germany. And though the question was asked later, “Who lost China?” it seems Roosevelt’s policies explain much of the change in Asia after WWII. In 1950 Republicans asked the question, “Who lost China?” In 2020 will Republicans be asking, “Who lost America?”