Andrew Sullivan's Taboo Topics

Apparently Andrew Sullivan wants to stigmatize scrutiny of part of Barack Obama's life story. In his Atlantic.com "Daily Dish" column "That Black Man's A Commie", Sullivan equates questions about Barack Obama's Communist Party ties with old segregationist claims that Martin Luther King was a communist.

He does in an article posted perhaps coincidentally (Sullivan does not link or mention my article) one day after my July 8 article, "What Barack Obama learned from the Communist Party".

But the deep and profound connections between the Communist Party, USA and Barack Obama are serious parts of his life story. How many of us have connections with communists that trace over parts of six decades, and stretch from a future mother and grandparents in Seattle, to Honolulu, and to Chicago? Barack Obama was unknown to the national public until very recently, and we still know very little about a man who might bear awesome responsibilities and wield huge power.

The comparison between King and Obama is invalid in so many ways that it is difficult to know where to begin.  Sullivan tried the same rhetorical tricks in defending Ron Paul.

For much of 2007 and into 2008, Sullivan ran interference for long shot anti-war candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). Sullivan wrote, "The Smearing of Ron Paul".  (Coincidentally, this appeared one day before my November 14, 2007 American Thinker article "The Ron Paul Campaign and its neo-Nazi Supporters".) Sullivan's entire post was from, "an active, online Ron Paul supporter" who whines,

"I can't tell you how many times I and others like me have encountered the "He's a closet Nazi/Racist/Fascist" nonsense. I have literally lost track of how many times I've sighed at yet another blatant attempt at character assassination...."

It was not character assassination to point out that Ron Paul's campaign had deep organizational and financial connections with numerous white Supremacist groups such as the KKK and Stormfront.org. Just as with Obama, finding the truth about Ron Paul's decades-long record of extremist ties was not easy.  And getting the truth out past hordes of braying apologists is no easier.  But on January 8, 2008
Jamie Kirchick of The New Republic finally published what he had dug out of Ron Paul's old newsletters:

Martin Luther King Jr. earned special ire from Paul's newsletters, which attacked the civil rights leader frequently, often to justify opposition to the federal holiday named after him. ("What an infamy Ronald Reagan approved it!" one newsletter complained in 1990. "We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.") In the early 1990s, newsletters attacked the "X-Rated Martin Luther King" as a "world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours," "seduced underage girls and boys," and "made a pass at" fellow civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy. One newsletter ridiculed black activists who wanted to rename New York City after King, suggesting that "Welfaria," "Zooville," "Rapetown," "Dirtburg," and "Lazyopolis" were better alternatives. The same year, King was described as "a comsymp, if not an actual party member, and the man who replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration."

While bashing King, the newsletters had kind words for the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. In a passage titled "The Duke's Victory," a newsletter celebrated Duke's 44 percent showing in the 1990 Louisiana Senate primary. "Duke lost the election," it said, "but he scared the blazes out of the Establishment." In 1991, a newsletter asked, "Is David Duke's new prominence, despite his losing the gubernatorial election, good for anti-big government forces?" The conclusion was that "our priority should be to take the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-welfare loafers, anti-race privilege, anti-foreign meddling message of Duke, and enclose it in a more consistent package of freedom." Duke is now returning the favor, telling me that, while he will not formally endorse any candidate, he has made information about Ron Paul available on his website.

After carrying Paul's water for nearly nine months, Sullivan finally had to eat crow admitting:

"I think less of Ron Paul after reading this article than I did before.  Much less...."  

Sullivan also wrote:

"I've supported Paul for what I believe are honorable reasons: his brave resistance to the enforced uniformity of opinion on the Iraq war, his defense of limited constitutional government, his libertarianism, his sincerity. If there is some other agenda lurking beneath all this, we deserve to know." [emphases added]

Gee, does anybody think there might have been "an agenda lurking behind" Ron Paul's newsletter calling Martin Luther King "a comsymp, if not an actual party member"?  Perhaps a desire to pander to a white supremacist agenda?

Six months later Sullivan is again defending an anti-American-war Presidential candidate from accusations of extremist ties.  This time it is Obama and the Communist Party. 

It is much easier to defeat a claim about somebody's inner thoughts than it is to defeat a presentation of facts about extremist ties.  So in defending Paul, Sullivan would morph facts about Ron Paul's ties to the Nazis into conclusions about whatever hatreds may or may not lie in Ron Paul's heart and then argue that "Ron Paul is not a racist."  Apparently Sullivan hoped that readers would not notice that the main question had been ignored.

Recycling the same old straw-man, Sullivan ignores the extensive documentation of ties between Barack Obama and the Communist Party, USA.   He instead focuses on the unknowable: "Is Obama a Marxist?"  Sullivan does not even bother to defeat the straw man claim he raises, instead waving it off as just a recycled segregationist smear.  He apparently thinks his readers are so simple-minded that they will fall for the sleight-of hand. 

But it didn't save Ron Paul and it won't work for Barack Obama either.

In spite of the segregationist lies which Sullivan hopes to distract us with, the truth is there is a huge difference between the Communist Party, USA and the leadership of the Civil Rights movement.  That difference is well-explained in a 1949 letter to a Communist Party representative from NAACP national secretary Roy Wilkins.  (Thanks to Herbert Romerstein who dug out this material):

"We remember the Scottsboro case, and our experience there with the (Communist Front) International Labor Defense, one of the predecessors of the (Communist Front) Civil Rights Congress....  We remember that in the Scottsboro case, the NAACP was subjected to the most unprincipled vilification.  We remember the campaign of slander in the (Communist newspaper) Daily Worker.  We remember the leaflets and the speakers and the whole unspeakable machinery that was turned lose upon all those who did not embrace the ‘unity' policy as announced by the Communists.

"We want none of that unity today.

"We of the NAACP remember that during the war when Negro Americans were fighting for jobs on the home front and fighting for decent treatment in the armed services, we could get no help from the organizations on the extreme Left.  They abandoned the fight for Negro rights on the ground that such a fight would ‘interfere with the war effort.'  As soon as Russia was attacked by Germany, they dropped the Negro question and concentrated all effort in support of the war in order to help the Soviet Union.  During the war years, the disciples of the extreme Left sounded very much like the worst of the Negro-hating Southerners."

Andrew Sullivan defends first the extreme right then the extreme left, united only by what Sullivan termed: "brave resistance to the enforced uniformity of opinion on the Iraq war." 

The characteristic signs of an outside agenda at work, driving political excuse-makings are the same today as in the 1930s and 40s.  Flipping and flopping first right then left.  First the Stalin-Hitler pact, then the war effort. 

Some things never change.
Apparently Andrew Sullivan wants to stigmatize scrutiny of part of Barack Obama's life story. In his Atlantic.com "Daily Dish" column "That Black Man's A Commie", Sullivan equates questions about Barack Obama's Communist Party ties with old segregationist claims that Martin Luther King was a communist.

He does in an article posted perhaps coincidentally (Sullivan does not link or mention my article) one day after my July 8 article, "What Barack Obama learned from the Communist Party".

But the deep and profound connections between the Communist Party, USA and Barack Obama are serious parts of his life story. How many of us have connections with communists that trace over parts of six decades, and stretch from a future mother and grandparents in Seattle, to Honolulu, and to Chicago? Barack Obama was unknown to the national public until very recently, and we still know very little about a man who might bear awesome responsibilities and wield huge power.

The comparison between King and Obama is invalid in so many ways that it is difficult to know where to begin.  Sullivan tried the same rhetorical tricks in defending Ron Paul.

For much of 2007 and into 2008, Sullivan ran interference for long shot anti-war candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). Sullivan wrote, "The Smearing of Ron Paul".  (Coincidentally, this appeared one day before my November 14, 2007 American Thinker article "The Ron Paul Campaign and its neo-Nazi Supporters".) Sullivan's entire post was from, "an active, online Ron Paul supporter" who whines,

"I can't tell you how many times I and others like me have encountered the "He's a closet Nazi/Racist/Fascist" nonsense. I have literally lost track of how many times I've sighed at yet another blatant attempt at character assassination...."

It was not character assassination to point out that Ron Paul's campaign had deep organizational and financial connections with numerous white Supremacist groups such as the KKK and Stormfront.org. Just as with Obama, finding the truth about Ron Paul's decades-long record of extremist ties was not easy.  And getting the truth out past hordes of braying apologists is no easier.  But on January 8, 2008
Jamie Kirchick of The New Republic finally published what he had dug out of Ron Paul's old newsletters:

Martin Luther King Jr. earned special ire from Paul's newsletters, which attacked the civil rights leader frequently, often to justify opposition to the federal holiday named after him. ("What an infamy Ronald Reagan approved it!" one newsletter complained in 1990. "We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.") In the early 1990s, newsletters attacked the "X-Rated Martin Luther King" as a "world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours," "seduced underage girls and boys," and "made a pass at" fellow civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy. One newsletter ridiculed black activists who wanted to rename New York City after King, suggesting that "Welfaria," "Zooville," "Rapetown," "Dirtburg," and "Lazyopolis" were better alternatives. The same year, King was described as "a comsymp, if not an actual party member, and the man who replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration."

While bashing King, the newsletters had kind words for the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. In a passage titled "The Duke's Victory," a newsletter celebrated Duke's 44 percent showing in the 1990 Louisiana Senate primary. "Duke lost the election," it said, "but he scared the blazes out of the Establishment." In 1991, a newsletter asked, "Is David Duke's new prominence, despite his losing the gubernatorial election, good for anti-big government forces?" The conclusion was that "our priority should be to take the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-welfare loafers, anti-race privilege, anti-foreign meddling message of Duke, and enclose it in a more consistent package of freedom." Duke is now returning the favor, telling me that, while he will not formally endorse any candidate, he has made information about Ron Paul available on his website.

After carrying Paul's water for nearly nine months, Sullivan finally had to eat crow admitting:

"I think less of Ron Paul after reading this article than I did before.  Much less...."  

Sullivan also wrote:

"I've supported Paul for what I believe are honorable reasons: his brave resistance to the enforced uniformity of opinion on the Iraq war, his defense of limited constitutional government, his libertarianism, his sincerity. If there is some other agenda lurking beneath all this, we deserve to know." [emphases added]

Gee, does anybody think there might have been "an agenda lurking behind" Ron Paul's newsletter calling Martin Luther King "a comsymp, if not an actual party member"?  Perhaps a desire to pander to a white supremacist agenda?

Six months later Sullivan is again defending an anti-American-war Presidential candidate from accusations of extremist ties.  This time it is Obama and the Communist Party. 

It is much easier to defeat a claim about somebody's inner thoughts than it is to defeat a presentation of facts about extremist ties.  So in defending Paul, Sullivan would morph facts about Ron Paul's ties to the Nazis into conclusions about whatever hatreds may or may not lie in Ron Paul's heart and then argue that "Ron Paul is not a racist."  Apparently Sullivan hoped that readers would not notice that the main question had been ignored.

Recycling the same old straw-man, Sullivan ignores the extensive documentation of ties between Barack Obama and the Communist Party, USA.   He instead focuses on the unknowable: "Is Obama a Marxist?"  Sullivan does not even bother to defeat the straw man claim he raises, instead waving it off as just a recycled segregationist smear.  He apparently thinks his readers are so simple-minded that they will fall for the sleight-of hand. 

But it didn't save Ron Paul and it won't work for Barack Obama either.

In spite of the segregationist lies which Sullivan hopes to distract us with, the truth is there is a huge difference between the Communist Party, USA and the leadership of the Civil Rights movement.  That difference is well-explained in a 1949 letter to a Communist Party representative from NAACP national secretary Roy Wilkins.  (Thanks to Herbert Romerstein who dug out this material):

"We remember the Scottsboro case, and our experience there with the (Communist Front) International Labor Defense, one of the predecessors of the (Communist Front) Civil Rights Congress....  We remember that in the Scottsboro case, the NAACP was subjected to the most unprincipled vilification.  We remember the campaign of slander in the (Communist newspaper) Daily Worker.  We remember the leaflets and the speakers and the whole unspeakable machinery that was turned lose upon all those who did not embrace the ‘unity' policy as announced by the Communists.

"We want none of that unity today.

"We of the NAACP remember that during the war when Negro Americans were fighting for jobs on the home front and fighting for decent treatment in the armed services, we could get no help from the organizations on the extreme Left.  They abandoned the fight for Negro rights on the ground that such a fight would ‘interfere with the war effort.'  As soon as Russia was attacked by Germany, they dropped the Negro question and concentrated all effort in support of the war in order to help the Soviet Union.  During the war years, the disciples of the extreme Left sounded very much like the worst of the Negro-hating Southerners."

Andrew Sullivan defends first the extreme right then the extreme left, united only by what Sullivan termed: "brave resistance to the enforced uniformity of opinion on the Iraq war." 

The characteristic signs of an outside agenda at work, driving political excuse-makings are the same today as in the 1930s and 40s.  Flipping and flopping first right then left.  First the Stalin-Hitler pact, then the war effort. 

Some things never change.