Jewish Champions of First Amendment
MatthewHPolSci at aol.com
MatthewHPolSci at aol.com
Mon Sep 11 10:57:35 PDT 2006
Lest silence give consent, I respectfully offer the suggestion that this
discussion has gone far from the original question, and ventures onto territory
where further debate could be required.
The original question was about Jewish champions of the First Amendment.
It appears then to have broadened into a discussion of whether people who
took tactical advantage of free speech protections could be considered
champions. That seems to have broadened into a discussion of Communists, opposed in
principle, as I believe they were, who surely needed free speech protections
in order to work in the United States.
Here are points where I would differ with the most recent post.
1. There was an attempt at enforcing uniformity of belief within the CPUSA
greater than was normal in the patronage-oriented major parties.
2. ". . . plenty of Americans joined the Communist Party because no one
else seemed to be doing anything about serious problems or paying any attention
at all to the African American community." For mere illustration, I would
mention (a) the large-scale labor-management struggle (as evinced in the mine
workers' union and in others) and (b) experience in the African American world
in the 1920s one output of which is the Arkansas sharecropper case.
I think the idea that nothing of consequence was happening vis-a-vis African
Americans until the CP came on the scene is wrong.
3. The post omits what I believe to have been the absolute dependence of
the CPUSA on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the USSR, and the
Comintern. It also omits the Nazi-Soviet Pact and the profound stress that
generated for the Communists and their allies in the US.
4. I do not think there was ever a point when there was a possibility of
being "a liberal and a communist at the same time" and I believe that was
manifest in the struggles in the 1930s. The Walter Reuther, Eleanor Roosevelt,
Reinhold Niebuhr records were always affected by the liberal struggle to avoid
organizations being taken over by CP discipline. The struggle was manifest
in, among other things, the unions that went into the Congress of Industrial
5. "There was a large exodus from the CPUSA after 1956 . . . after the
ugliness of the Soviet system became increasingly well-documented." Be that as
it may, the ugliness of the Soviet system was known from the later 1920s.
Finally, back to free speech, there may have individual Communists who
favored free speech in principle, but I am not personally aware of Communists
advocating free speech for their adversaries on any basis.
I offer these points with some embarrassment, as they may also contribute to
the digression. But the issues raised are so big that I would be
embarrassed if I did not say something. Obviously, I may be wrong.
Matthew Holden, Jr.
Henry L. and Grace M. Doherty Professor Emeritus of Politics,
University of Virginia
160 Rollingwood Drive
Jackson, MS 39211 USA
mh3q at virginia.edu,
matthewhpolsci at aol.com,
matthewholden at bellsouth.net
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