"Communists" Versus "Loyal Members of the Communist Party"

DavidEBernstein at aol.com DavidEBernstein at aol.com
Tue Sep 12 09:51:24 PDT 2006


No, I believe the argument is that with regard to someone who was a member of 
the CPUSA for more than a fleeting period of time, the strong presumption 
should be that during the period of that membership, the individual was not a 
champion of civil liberties.  Surely it's possible that a member of the German 
Bund in the 1930s was surreptitiously a big fan of the First Amendment, but I 
doubt the presumption would be in his favor, even thought the Bund was far less 
directly tied to Nazi Germany than the CPUSA was to the USSR.

I don't want to fill every posts with caveats relating back to previous 
posts, but my original post on this issue referenced "members of the Communist 
Party or other adherents of totalitarian ideologies," who should be excluded from 
being considered champions of the Firfst Amendment, which I think would cover 
most of the folkss mentioned below, from Coughlin (a far-leftist, actually),  
to the Aryan Nation.  Since the previous threads were referring to 
conservative support for dictatorships during the Cold War, I'm not sure why Coughlin is 
relevant anyway, nor am I aware that, e.g., Charles Lindbergh or Pat Robertson 
has ever held up a foreign totalitarian dictatorship as the model for U.S. 
government, though I'm far from an admirer of either man's views.  But if they 
did, that would indeed exclude them from consideration as champions of the 
First Amendment (not that I'm saying either of them are/were), and I don't see 
that anyone, including me, has argued otherwise.  Finally, I certainly didn't say 
that no one on the "American Right" believes or believed anything in 
particular,  I said that "there was no body of American conservatives who thought that 
(e.g.) Somoza's Nicaragua or Batista's Cuba was an ideal form of government". 
 Unless one can come up with a counter-example, or show that a reasonable 
interpretation of "body of American conservatives" includes the Aryan Nation or 
the American Nazi Party, my point stills stands.

Funny how folks who would likely turn blue in the face if one used the phrase 
"American liberals" to include Stalinists have no hesitation about turning 
"American conservatives" into the "American Right" including Nazis.

In a message dated 9/12/2006 12:26:32 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
schweber at polisci.wisc.edu writes:
I agree with the first proposition, subject to Mark Graber's cautions about 
the use of "champion" (I think we are using the term somewhat loosely, 
frankly.)  The problem, of course, is that the middle statement is false, 
and all of Prof. Bernstein's evidence goes to a  different proposition, 
which is "the CPUSA as an organization was committed to supporting Soviet 
tyranny."  The very fact that the leaders of the CPUSA never acknowledged 
their ties to the Soviet Union is prima facie a reason *not* to accept the 
assumption that every member of the organization was aware of those ties!

For the 1,000th time.  No one is defending the CPUSA, what is being 
contested is the proposition that we do not need to engage in any kind of 
case-by-case review before deciding that the fact of membership in the 
CPUSA, at all points in history, translates into the rejection of a 
candidate for "champion" status.  The absolute refusal of the 
counter-arguments to adress the actual point being made verges on the 
disingenuous.

I note that now Prof. Bernstein has added a new, even more preposterous 
claim:  that no one on the American Right ever advocated tyranny or the 
adoption of foreign models of anti-communism.  From Father Coughlin and 
Charles Lindbergh to the KKK, Aryan Nation, and home-grown Christian 
ayatollahs like Pat Robertson, the American Right is loaded with people who 
have asserted the benefits of tyranny, often based on models imported from 
elsewhere (as in "we should do what they do in ___ with these 
commies/gays/Jews, line 'em up and shoot 'em").   Prof. Bernstein is not 
unaware of these and many other similar characters, so he cannot mean what 
he says literally.  What Prof. Bernstein means, I presume, is that 
"respectable members of the American Right with whom I would choose to be 
associated" made only tactical alliances with tyrants.  Which I am sure is 
true, but is a very different claim.

Howard Schweber
Dept. of Political Science
UW-Madison 
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