by William Blum
12 May, 2010
Terminally-dumb people have always been with us of course. It can’t be that we’ve suddenly gone stupid.
If you shake your head and roll your eyes at the nonsense coming out of the Teabagger followers of Sarah “Africa is a country” Palin and other intellectual giants like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh … If you have thoughts of moving abroad after the latest silly lies and fantasies like “Obama the Marxist” and “Obama the antichrist” … If you share Noam Chomsky’s feeling: “I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime” … keep in mind that the right wing has long been at least as stupid and as mean-spirited. Consider some of the behavior of the same types for half a century during the Cold War with its beloved — albeit imaginary — “International Communist Conspiracy”.
* 1948: The Pittsburgh Press published the names, addresses, and places of employment of about 1,000 citizens who had signed presidential-nominating petitions for former Vice President Henry Wallace, running under the Progressive Party. This, and a number of other lists of “communists”, published in the mainstream media, resulted in people losing their jobs, being expelled from unions, having their children abused, being denied state welfare benefits, and suffering various other punishments.
* Around 1950: The House Committee on Un-American Activities published a pamphlet, “100 Things You Should Know About Communism in the U.S.A.” This included information about what a communist takeover of the United States would mean:
Q: What would happen to my insurance?
A: It would go to the Communists.
Q: Would communism give me something better than I have now?
A: Not unless you are in a penitentiary serving a life sentence at hard labor.
* 1950s: Mrs. Ada White, member of the Indiana State Textbook Commission, believed that Robin Hood was a Communist and urged that books that told the Robin Hood story be banned from Indiana schools.
* As evidence that anti-communist mania was not limited to the lunatic fringe or conservative newspaper publishers, here is Clark Kerr, president of the University of California at Berkeley in a 1959 speech: “Perhaps 2 or even 20 million people have been killed in China by the new [communist] regime.” One person wrote to Kerr: “I am wondering how you would judge a person who estimates the age of a passerby on the street as being ‘perhaps 2 or even 20 years old.’ Or what would you think of a physician who tells you to take ‘perhaps 2 or even twenty teaspoonsful of a remedy’?”
* Throughout the cold war, traffic in phoney Lenin quotes was brisk, each one passed around from one publication or speaker to another for years. Here’s U.S. News and World Report in 1958 demonstrating communist duplicity by quoting Lenin: “Promises are like pie crusts, made to be broken.” Secretary of State John Foster Dulles used it in a speech shortly afterward, one of many to do so during the cold war. Lenin actually did use a very similar line, but he explicitly stated that he was quoting an English proverb (it comes from Jonathan Swift) and his purpose was to show the unreliability of the bourgeoisie, not of communists.
“First we will take Eastern Europe, then the masses of Asia, then we will encircle the United States, which will be the last bastion of capitalism. We will not have to attack. It will fall like an overripe fruit into our hands.” This Lenin “quotation” had the usual wide circulation, even winding up in the Congressional Record in 1962. This was not simply a careless attribution; this was an out-and-out fabrication; an extensive search, including by the Library of Congress and the United States Information Agency failed to find its origin.
* A favorite theme of the anti-communists was that a principal force behind drug trafficking was a communist plot to demoralize the United States. Here’s a small sample:
Don Keller, District Attorney for San Diego County, California in 1953: “We know that more heroin is being produced south of the border than ever before and we are beginning to hear stories of financial backing by big shot Communists operating out of Mexico City.”
Henry Giordano, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1964, interviewed in the American Legion Magazine: Interviewer: “I’ve been told that the communists are trying to flood our country with narcotics to weaken our moral and physical stamina. Is that true?”
Giordano: “As far as the drugs are concerned, it’s true. There’s a terrific flow of drugs coming out of Yunnan Province of China. … There’s no question that in that particular area this is the aim of the Red Chinese. It should be apparent that if you could addict a population you would degrade a nation’s moral fiber.”
Fulton Lewis, Jr., prominent conservative radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist, 1965: “Narcotics of Cuban origin — marijuana, cocaine, opium, and heroin — are now peddled in big cities and tiny hamlets throughout this country. Several Cubans arrested by the Los Angeles police have boasted they are communists.”
We were also told that along with drugs another tool of the commies to undermine America’s spirit was fluoridation of the water.
* Mickey Spillane was one of the most successful writers of the 1950s, selling millions of his anticommunist thriller mysteries. Here is his hero, Mike Hammer, in “One Lonely Night”, boasting of his delight in the grisly murders he commits, all in the name of destroying a communist plot to steal atomic secrets. After a night of carnage, the triumphant Hammer gloats, “I shot them in cold blood and enjoyed every minute of it. I pumped slugs into the nastiest bunch of bastards you ever saw. … They were Commies. … Pretty soon what’s left of Russia and the slime that breeds there won’t be worth mentioning and I’m glad because I had a part in the killing. God, but it was fun!”
* 1952: A campaign against the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization because it was tainted with “atheism and communism”, and was “subversive” because it preached internationalism. Any attempt to introduce an international point of view in the schools was seen as undermining patriotism and loyalty to the United States. A bill in the US Senate, clearly aimed at UNESCO, called for a ban on the funding of “any international agency that directly or indirectly promoted one-world government or world citizenship.” There was also opposition to UNESCO’s association with the UN Declaration of Human Rights on the grounds that it was trying to replace the American Bill of Rights with a less liberty-giving covenant of human rights.
* 1955: A US Army 6-page pamphlet, “How to Spot a Communist”, informed us that a communist could be spotted by his predisposition to discuss civil rights, racial and religious discrimination, the immigration laws, anti-subversive legislation, curbs on unions, and peace. Good Americans were advised to keep their ears stretched for such give-away terms as “chauvinism”, “book-burning”, “colonialism”, “demagogy”, “witch hunt”, “reactionary”, “progressive”, and “exploitation”. Another “distinguishing mark” of “Communist language” was a “preference for long sentences.” After some ridicule, the Army rescinded the pamphlet.
* 1958: The noted sportscaster Bill Stern (one of the heroes of my youth) observed on the radio that the lack of interest in “big time” football at New York University, City College of New York, Chicago, and Harvard “is due to the widespread acceptance of Communism at the universities.”
* 1960: US General Thomas Power speaking about nuclear war or a first strike by the US: “The whole idea is to kill the bastards! At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win!” The response from one of those present was: “Well, you’d better make sure that they’re a man and a woman.”
* 1966: The Boys Club of America is of course wholesome and patriotic. Imagine their horror when they were confused with the Dubois Clubs. (W.E.B. Du Bois had been a very prominent civil rights activist.) When the Justice Department required the DuBois Clubs to register as a Communist front group, good loyal Americans knew what to do. They called up the Boys Club to announce that they would no longer contribute any money, or to threaten violence against them; and sure enough an explosion damaged the national headquarters of the youth group in San Francisco. Then former Vice President Richard Nixon, who was national board chairman of the Boys Club, declared: “This is an almost classic example of Communist deception and duplicity. The ‘DuBois Clubs’ are not unaware of the confusion they are causing among our supporters and among many other good citizens.”
* 1966: “Rhythm, Riots and Revolution: An Analysis of the Communist Use of Music, The Communist Master Music Plan”, by David A. Noebel, published by Christian Crusade Publications, (expanded version of 1965 pamphlet: “Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles”). Some chapters: Communist Use of Mind Warfare … Nature of Red Record Companies … Destructive Nature of Beatle Music … Communist Subversion of Folk Music … Folk Music and the Negro Revolution … Folk Music and the College Revolution
* 1968: William Calley, US Army Lieutenant, charged with overseeing the massacre of more than 100 Vietnamese civilians in My Lai in 1968, said some years later: “In all my years in the Army I was never taught that communists were human beings. We were there to kill ideology carried by — I don’t know — pawns, blobs, pieces of flesh. I was there to destroy communism. We never conceived of old people, men, women, children, babies.”
* 1977: Scientists theorized that the earth’s protective ozone layer was being damaged by synthetic chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons. The manufacturers and users of CFCs were not happy. They made life difficult for the lead scientist. The president of one aerosol manufacturing firm suggested that criticism of CFCs was “orchestrated by the Ministry of Disinformation of the KGB.”
* 1978: Life inside a California youth camp of the ultra anti-communist John Birch Society: Five hours each day of lectures on communism, Americanism and “The Conspiracy”; campers learned that the Soviet government had created a famine and spread a virus to kill a large number of citizens and make the rest of them more manageable; the famine led starving adults to eat their children; communist guerrillas in Southeast Asia jammed chopsticks into children’s ears, piercing their eardrums; American movies are all under the control of the Communists; the theme is always that capitalism is no better than communism; you can’t find a dictionary now that isn’t under communist influence; the communists are also taking over the Bibles.
* The Reagan administration declared that the Russians were spraying toxic chemicals over Laos, Cambodia and Afghanistan — the so-called “yellow rain” — and had caused more than ten thousand deaths by 1982 alone, (including, in Afghanistan, 3,042 deaths attributed to 47 separate incidents between the summer of 1979 and the summer of 1981, so precise was the information). Secretary of State Alexander Haig was a prime dispenser of such stories, and President Reagan himself denounced the Soviet Union thusly more than 15 times in documents and speeches. The “yellow rain”, it turned out, was pollen-laden feces dropped by huge swarms of honeybees flying far overhead.
* 1982: In commenting about sexual harassment in the Army, General John Crosby stated that the Army doesn’t care about soldiers’ social lives — “The basic purpose of the United States Army is to kill Russians,” he said.
* 1983: The US invasion of Grenada, the home of the Cuban ambassador is damaged and looted by American soldiers; on one wall is written “AA”, symbol of the 82nd Airborne Division; beside it the message: “Eat shit, commie faggot.” … “I want to fuck communism out of this little island,” says a marine, “and fuck it right back to Moscow.”
* 1984: During a sound check just before his weekly broadcast, President Reagan spoke these words into the microphone: “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I have signed legislation to outlaw Russia, forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” His words were picked up by at least two radio networks.
* 1985: October 29 BBC interview with Ronald Reagan: asked about the differences he saw between the US and Russia, the president replied: “I’m no linguist, but I’ve been told that in the Russian language there isn’t even a word for freedom.” (The word is “svoboda”.)
* 1986: Soviet artists and cultural officials criticized Rambo-like American films as an expression of “anti-Russian phobia even more pathological than in the days of McCarthyism”. Russian film-maker Stanislav Rostofsky claimed that on one visit to an American school “a young girl had trembled with fury when she heard I was from the Soviet Union, and said she hated Russians.”
* 1986: Roy Cohn, who achieved considerable fame and notoriety in the 1950s as an assistant to the communist-witch-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy, died, reportedly of AIDS. Cohn, though homosexual, had denied that he was and had denounced such rumors as communist smears.
* 1986: After American journalist Nicholas Daniloff was arrested in Moscow for “spying” and held in custody for two weeks, New York Mayor Edward Koch sent a group of 10 visiting Soviet students storming out of City Hall in fury. “The Soviet government is the pits,” said Koch, visibly shocking the students, ranging in age from 10 to 18 years. One 14-year-old student was so outraged he declared: “I don’t want to stay in this house. I want to go to the bus and go far away from this place. The mayor is very rude. We never had a worse welcome anywhere.” As matters turned out, it appeared that Daniloff had not been completely pure when it came to his news gathering.
* 1989: After the infamous Chinese crackdown on dissenters in Tiananmen Square in June, the US news media was replete with reports that the governments of Nicaragua, Vietnam and Cuba had expressed their support of the Chinese leadership. Said the Wall Street Journal: “Nicaragua, with Cuba and Vietnam, constituted the only countries in the world to approve the Chinese Communists’ slaughter of the students in Tiananmen Square.” But it was all someone’s fabrication; no such support had been expressed by any of the three governments. At that time, as now, there were few, if any, organizations other than the CIA which could manipulate major Western media in such a manner.
NOTE: It should be remembered that the worst consequences of anti-communism were not those discussed above. The worst consequences, the ultra-criminal consequences, were the abominable death, destruction, and violation of human rights that we know under various names: Vietnam, Chile, Korea, Guatemala, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brazil, Greece, Afghanistan, El Salvador, and many others.
Anti-Communism, alive and well
Anti-communism continues to have a detrimental effect upon the intelligence and honesty of Americans. In April, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the Castro brothers “do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States because they would then lose all the excuses for what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years.”
She doesn’t believe that herself. But she thinks the rest or us are stupid enough to swallow it. If she did believe it, she’d advocate normalization of US-Cuban relations just to stick it to the Castros and show them up for the frauds she says they are. In effect the American Secretary of State declared that the central element of US Cuba policy for 50 years has done exactly the opposite of what it was intended to accomplish. Washington, for all practical purposes, has been a loyal — if unwitting — ally of the Havana regime.
As to “what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years” –to add to the mountain of other evidence of the benevolence of Cuban society we now have Save the Children’s “State of the World’s Mothers Report 2010”. Save the Children, an internationally acclaimed children’s advocate organization, annually ranks the best and worst places to be a mother. Amongst the 81 “Less Developed Countries” analyzed, Cuba is ranked number one; i.e., the best place to be a mother. (Amongst the 43 “More Developed Countries” analyzed, the United States is ranked number 28.)
Cuban National Assembly president Ricardo Alarcon responded to Clinton’s statement by saying: “If she really thinks that the blockade benefits the Cuban government — which she wants to undermine — the solution is very simple: that they lift it even for a year to see whether it is in our interest or theirs.”
Israel, US foreign policy and my video
Last month I sent out the video that I wrote the script for, “Be nice to America. Or we’ll bring democracy to your country.” I of course received the usual right-wing frothing at the mouth, but I also heard from five or six people on the left who expressed political criticism of it, two of them asking to be removed from my mailing list. All of them were upset for the same reason –- The video makes no mention of Israel. More to the point, it makes no mention of how Israel is the driving force behind [most? almost all? all?] US foreign interventions. I sent each of my critics the following letter:
So, let me see if I have this right. It’s because of Israel that the US:
** invaded Grenada in 1983
** tried to overthrow the government of Suriname in 1982-4
** overthrew the government of Fiji in 1987
** invaded Panama in 1989
** overthrew the government of Afghanistan in the 1980s-90s
** suppressed the left in El Salvador 1980-92
** overthrew the government of Nicaragua in 1990
** supported the overthrow of Aristide in Haiti in 1991
** overthrew the government of Bulgaria in 1991
** overthrew the government of Albania in 1992
** invaded Somalia in 1993
** has supported the right-wing government of Colombia for the past 20 years
** bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days in 1999
** suppressed a leftist coup in Ecuador in 2000
** invaded Afghanistan in 2001
** has tried to destabilize the Chavez government in Venezuela for the past 10 years
** overthrew the government of Haiti in 2004
I received no reply from any of the comrades.
 Sources for almost all of the first section can be found in William Blum, “Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire” (2005), chapter 12; or the author can be queried at email@example.com
 Agence France Presse, April 25, 2010
 Agence France Presse, April 25, 2010
William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2; Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower; West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir; and Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org. Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website at “essays”.
I wonder why people are still talking about Joseph Stalin’s “millions of innocent victims” which has already been proven a complete farce? I wonder why the dude who said that the world isnt black and white didnt go up and research himself the alternate versions or viewpoints of the “Facist Soviet Evil”, his own words made his comment worthless, get it? Moronic to talk about “bringing balance to our viewpoints” when he himself agrees with the baseless claims of hoboduke’s “millions who got Stalin’s death spa treatment”. Completely nonsensical to think of the Red Army as a “Brutal Facist Tyranny” ready to “conquer everything” considering how they saved cuba from mass US invasion plans, with no real mention of what the US has done since 1945, talk about “balance”. Wow the moment I heard “read up on the Gulag Archipelago” I decided that after this im not going to bother, Alexander Solzhenitzyn made friends in the Gulag, after he went through a fair trial and was proven guilty, he made friends with a Nazi collaborator, and a rapist, and in the latter years supported Franco’s Facist government, claiming that “110 million Russians” were killed by Communism, such an absurd claim! even when a number such as 5 million has no base in evidence except some shady “testimonies” from former Nazi collaborators! You see, you need balance, GET IT?
hoboduke also talks of how terrible communist cities were shamelessly polluted? did i read right? “The communist pollution that we capitalists don’t do?” Are you for real? and on top of that Tony tells us to provide “balance” by listening to that garbage, the naked truth is obvious, these people need a little more education before we listen to them, so far by history we should know anything stemming from American propaganda must be taken as false until irrefutably proven true, something that isnt too common.
Now that I have provided you with balance I wont be needing to bother with you anymore and therefore will be no longer heard of. such materials to mature yourself is readily available seeing you have an internet to come here in the first place, although for now I agree with you on some of the Soviet atrocities, no country is blameless.
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I know that’s not what you intended as a response, but my response illuminates the blinders of statistics to support suppositions. Consider, how many died in the worker’s paradise of Russia after the glorious revolution. Was that dying for capitalism, communism, or just working to death for nothing? How about China choking their cities with pollution that we capitalists don’t do, but China says we can kill a few for the greater cause of beating capitalism by any means. Anyway, it was fun chatting but let me know when you join the commune and share your salary with the dopers and slackers who don’t care to work. Hoboes share around the hobo jungle, but don’t blame capitalism.
It’s not necessary to get rude. I will at every moment that I can blame capitalism.
Just check how many people got killed trying to get by the Berlin wall. They were seeking the bounty of capitalism and the freedom to attempt to have a better life. That’s how many people I know got killed because of capitalism, or trying to get to it.
That’s not what I meant. How many coal miners have died due to black lung disease? How many US citizens have died because they don’t have health insurance? Something like 45,000 every year! And it’s worldwide, people are dying due to capitalism.
Someone please explain to me how every time a reasonable researcher presents the facts of American atrocities, the rebuttal ALWAYS, never fails, to be ‘well the opposition is also bad’.
People, being as bad as ‘them’ is hardly a selling point to the future Jihadi in training that we will make by bombing wedding parties, the rape of children in Abu Ghraib, the slaughter of soldiers at Bagram.
Given the choice between a foreign occupying mass murdering army, and their own, home grown, brown skinned mass murdering army, they will always choose the evil that they KNOW over the one they do not know.
Michael, it happens all the time. Thanks for your comment.
One day I’d like to do some research on how many people have died due to capitalism.
William I enjoy your work very much, I agree with a lot of it and understand your sincerity, but I feel compelled to chime in, along with hoboduke, to bring some balance into this mix. I hope you and others respond…
It’s easy to find absolute ,and sometimes dangerous ,stupidity in the anti-communist mayhem of the cold war. Just like this dangerous populist right-wing nonsene today, you bet.
We all know about McCarthy, we all like to rent Dr Strangelove once a year just for a laugh.
I myself had an uncle who underwent severe difficulties in his youth–blacklisted etc–simply because he was a socialist and labor-organizer. I get it.
The issue is that you are falling into that trap of America is always Bad thinking that in fact marginalizes the Left and makes our efforts MORE difficult, not less. We are dismissed too easily.
So in support of what hoboduke is trying to tell you, here’s what you need to do, go to the library and:
-read a book called The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzenitsyn
-go read up on what the Soviets did in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968-70. Rent a movie called The Unbearable Lightness of Being, great flick
-read up on Spetnaz. Read up on infiltration by KGB into labor unions, it DID happen buddy no kidding!
-Read up on how both sides’ intelligence agencies–CIA and KGB–financed themselves thru illegal drug trafficking. They did it, we did it
-Read up on JFK and the Berlin Airlift
-the KGB really DID assasinate people with poison-tipped umbrellas, no s#$t!! They really did! Do your reading
-read up on Mao and the Cultural REvolution and how many innocent people were brutally imprisoned and killed, and yeah good old Stalin too, read up on him
I respect Che Guevera (and Chavez , today) deeply just like you, I get the Cuban thoughts you write on, but do people get in boats in Miami to go THERE? Think about it.
The world’s not all in black and white like you think it is, too many think like that on the Left, it’s not good.
It’s easy to get stupid when a half-million tanks and millions of troops are lined up ready to steal everything they can steal the minute you let them…the Soviets were a brutal fascist tyranny that would do just that, get it?
It’s also easy to get stupid when, today, you see your democracy stolen and endemic corruption as a way of life in Washington, as your country gets turned into a fascist plutocracy ruled by the wealthy and the powerful corporations…
People get angry at the massive transfer of wealth to the bankers, the outsourcing of jobs, these endless wars for oil and war profiteering, we all know that ,who read this blog, we know these things….,
hence the Palins and Limbaughs and other godawful people are actually taken seriously, just as cold-war nutjobs were ,too…stupid? Yup! We get that!
I hear you William. Couldn’t agree with you more that we often support brutal dictatorships like, today, and we fight true heroes like Chavez, it’s a bad thing, I’m with you…
We made horrible, brutal mistakes in Vietnam, supported a dicator, destabilized the people, didn’t support the Buddhists who were trying to bring democracy, supported a dictator instead, yes, should never have been there, murderous, ugly and horrible, you bet…but Williiam, go read up on how life was for the people of Vietnam in the later 70’s after we left, check out life in Cambodia at that time, go visit today’s N Korea too while you’re at it, let us know how it turns out….
Oh, and go be a pretty 14-yr-old girl in a village ruled by the Taliban, go read up on the Iranian lady who got whipped 40 times for wearing a mini-skirt, go count the thousands of Afghan girls and young women in school today who wouldn’t be if we weren’t there, BTW they have blankets, jackets , and medical care too if we’re around…even as we shouldn’t be there at all, get it? Even as we guard the oil, get it? Even as it should be the UN, not us, get it?
You see? The world is not in black and white, there are better ways to do things, but that doesn’t mean bashing and a constant default that makes us the bad guy all the time helps! It doesn’t help.
Listen to hoboduke, really listen… you need to bring an intelligent balance into the discussion, and real solutions for us today need to acknowledge that balance too. Build what’s better, don’t just bash to make yourself feel good, it doesn’t help.
This kind of bashing doesn’t really help without that balance and some solutions offered, ok?
Think about it.
Thanks for your commentary, Tony. Bill doesn’t read the comment section here that I’m aware of, so please feel free to write to him directly: BBlum6[at]aol[dot]com
Awesome list of examples of all-american idiocy in action
As for Israel they have their own unique gallery of horrors Israel’s oppressive influence on US foreign policy is relatively recent, while US agression & lies go back 2 centuries.
Somewhere along the line several million people got the Uncle Joe Stalin death camp spa treatment. Of course the cultural revolution of chairman Mao was not too shabby in reducing the population. In any event, the brilliant let’s make a deal approach or leave them alone strategy so popular to those lacking a spine will not work since the threat has not diminished over the decades. Of course no mention of these communist mass murders merit a mention in the study of world events or history. It is the blundering, dumb, Republican clutching his flag that is the cause of all our problems. Jawohl, naturlich! Auf wiedersehen.