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

Ilya Somin isomin at gmu.edu
Tue Sep 12 11:49:10 PDT 2006

I agree with most of what David says here. I do not deny that Lindbergh, 
Coughlin, Robertson, and quite a few other American rightists took wrong 
and reprehensible positions on a wide range of issues. However, this 
thread started from the proposition that those rightists who supported 
tactical alliances with Third World dictators are essentially the same, 
from a free speech perspective as committed longterm members of the 
CPUSA. I don't think my point that the former did not hold up foreign 
dictators as a model for the US has been rebutted. To the extent that a 
small number of rightists did take such a view, then they really would 
be equivalent to CPUSA members in this respect, as David notes. However, 
that is only a small subset of the much larger number of conservatives, 
moderates, and even liberals who supported tactical alliances with Third 
World dictators during the Cold War.

I would note, by the way, that many prominent liberal politicians and 
organizations, also supported such tactical alliances. It was FDR, not 
some right-winger, who famously said that we should support the 
Dominican right-wing dictator Trujillo because he was "our son of a 
bitch." Liberal presidents such as Truman, JFK, and LBJ followed in 
FDR's footsteps, at least to a large extent. Whatever the merits of 
their policies here, it certainly doesn't prove that they were enemies 
of free speech in the US in the way that committed CPUSA members were.

DavidEBernstein at aol.com wrote:

> 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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Ilya Somin
Assistant Professor of Law
George Mason University School of Law
3301 N. Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22201
ph: 703-993-8069
fax: 703-993-8202
e-mail: isomin at gmu.edu
Website: http://mason.gmu.edu/~isomin/

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