January 12, 2010
Hey Obama, Who's Freddy?By Andrew Walden
Is it possible? Did we miss one? With all the Marxists dug out from the very public -- yet very opaque -- story of President Barack Obama's life, could there be room for one more, hiding in plain sight on page 24 of Dreams from My Father?
I nominate the late Wilfred Mitsuji Oka, former proprietor of the Corner Liquor Store in Honolulu's Chinatown.
Friends may protest that the late Mr. Oka went by "Mits," not Freddy -- but Obama disguised the names of many of the people depicted in his book. For instance, the "Frank" in Dreams from My Father is card-carrying Communist Party member Frank Marshall Davis, who mentored the young Obama in Honolulu for several years after Obama's return from Indonesia and until Obama left Hawaii to attend Occidental College in Los Angeles.
In addition to being "a Japanese-American man [who] ran a small market near [Obama's] house," Oka was sports editor of the Honolulu Record -- a weekly newspaper published by the ILWU (Longshoremen's Union) from 1948 to 1958. Frank Marshall Davis authored a column called "Frank-ly Speaking." The Record's editor was Communist ex-spy Koji Ariyoshi.
Ariyoshi, ILWU President Jack Hall, and five other Communists charged with Smith Act violations became known as the "Honolulu Seven"-- convicted in 1953 of advocating the overthrow of the United States government by force and violence. Mits Oka was identified, along with Davis, as a Communist, and he was among the "reluctant 39" -- individuals who refused to testify before April, 1950 House Un-American Activities Committee hearings on Communist influence in the ILWU in Hawaii.
Charged with contempt of Congress, Mits Oka and the other reluctant witnesses were acquitted in January, 1951 -- but not before Oka's stance got him booted out of his position as Hawaii Democratic Party Central Committee Secretary and replaced by some guy named Dan Inouye.
The Honolulu Seven convictions were overturned in January 1958 after the U.S. Supreme Court's 1957 Yates decision recognized the legality of "advocacy and teaching of forcible overthrow as an abstract principle" and held that the Smith Act could prohibit only "advocacy and teaching of concrete action for the forcible overthrow of the Government." With its editor and his comrades safe, the Honolulu Record folded just six months later.
Because the U.S. and Soviet Union were allies during WWII, Ariyoshi had been able to join U.S. military intelligence from Manzanar War Relocation Camp in 1942 as an open Communist. As an intelligence officer, Ariyoshi was assigned as U.S. liaison to Mao Zedong's forces in Yenan, China during 1944 and 1945. He worked personally with Mao, Chou En-lai, and other top Chinese Communists -- a story he recounts in his memoir, From Kona to Yenan.
Immediately after the war, Ariyoshi worked in China and then New York City with accused "Amerasia" spy John S. Service and Ed Rohrbough -- who would become business manager of the Honolulu Record -- in an effort to steer U.S. policy towards the Reds and against the Nationalists. Rohrbough had edited a U.S. Office of War Information newspaper in Fukien, China during the war.
As advertised in the Record, the Corner Liquor Store was located at 1042 Bethel Street, at the corner of Hotel Street. Oka's store stayed at that address until plans arose to redevelop his block into the Chinatown Gateway Plaza apartment tower. But he didn't move far. In 1970, the Corner Liquor Store relocated to 1024 Nuuanu -- one block away from the Bethel location. In 1977 -- two years before Obama left Honolulu -- Oka would move around the corner to 15 N. King St. In addition to the business listing for the Corner Liquor Store, the Oahu telephone books each year carried personal telephone listings for Oka at his store's address.
All of these locations are about one and a half miles from the Punahou Circle apartment Obama shared with his grandparents Stanley and Madelyn Dunham at 1617 S Beretania St.
Now it gets interesting.
Still "too young to know that I needed a race," as he describes himself in Dreams, Obama was sent back from Indonesia in 1969 or '70. Gramps Stanley Dunham began a bizarre project which involved introducing Obama to Frank Marshall Davis and making secret visits to Chinatown's disreputable Smith Street bars -- located one block away from Oka's Corner Liquor Store. Obama describes the "excitement" of these visits in Dreams, page 77-78:
Frank Marshall Davis too, described adventures on Smith Street at "The Green Goose," a bar "operated by one of my friends." Group sex and voyeurism at the Green Goose fill two pages in his pseudonymous porno book, Sex Rebel: Black (Memoirs of a Gash Gourmet), published just before Obama returned from Indonesia.
Returning from Hawaii in 1948, Communist Party leader Paul Robeson encouraged Frank and his then-wife Helen Davis to relocate from Chicago. Historian John Tidwell writes in Davis's memoir, Livin' the Blues:
In his Honolulu Record columns, Davis worked to convince anybody who would listen that hapa Hawaii really was a segregated society. He derided Hawaii's black "racial exiles" who escaped the mainland and were able to forget about race while achieving personal success.
The Communist ex-spy Ariyoshi died of cancer in 1976 after helping found the U.H. Manoa Ethnic Studies Department -- the source of the Akaka Bill and lesser efforts to divide Hawaii into dependent "communities" to be "organized" in order to utilize artificially created divisions as an excuse for Hawaiian political operators to grab power, land, and money.
Oka, who passed away in July, 2009 at the age of 97, also remained politically active nearly to the end. Oka in 2003 backed "Downwind Productions," a Honolulu website and media enterprise based on the historical relativist model, teaching that "[o]ur thousand stories replace their history." Just as Obama decided that he "needed a race," Downwind requires visitors to choose a race in order to enter its "Historic Waikiki" website through portals labeled "kanaka maoli," "kamaaina," or "haole".
Below the portals is a quote from Italian Communist Party co-founder Antonio Gramsci. While Obama's associates seem to have written their memoirs at the end of their lives, Gramsci sums up Obama's likely motivation in writing two memoirs before living his life (emphasis added):
Andrew Walden edits hawaiifreepress.com.