U.S. Jamaican Embassy Honors Stalin Propagandist

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Could the anti-Western worldview propagated by Jamaica’s leftist elites be serving as an incubator for Islamic-inspired terrorism? That possibility was discussed in my personal blog in 2007 and, low and behold, the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica on February 25, 2010 issued a secret diplomatic cable: “Jamaica: Fertile Soil for Terrorism?” that was released by anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks.

Written by Deputy Chief of Mission Isiah Parnell, the cable attributed Jamaica’s potential for Islamic-inspired terrorism to the island’s large number of disaffected youths and unstable families with absent fathers. There was no mention of my main points; that Jamaica’s grievance-mongering elites may be providing a worldview from which Islamic-inspired terrorists could emerge in an overwhelming Christian culture. The cable was sent to the CIA, FBI, State Department, and Department of Homeland Security among others. Why it was classified as “secret” is perplexing. Perhaps it was to avoid embarrassing Jamaica’s government.

In 1950, the State Department declined to renew Robeson’s passport unless he signed an affidavit stating that he wasn’t a Communist Party member and was loyal citizen. Robeson refused. Rightly or wrongly, the State Department’s actions reflected the realities of the era – a dangerous cold war pitting Stalinist Russia against America and the West; a conflict in which Robeson sided with the enemy with considerable gusto. U.S. authorities decided they’d had enough of Robeson’s antics on the international stage during a perilous period of nuclear brinkmanship between America and the U.S.S.R..

Robeson sued to regain his passport and in 1956, in connection with that lawsuit, he appeared before the by-partisan House Committee of Un-American Activities. The confrontation featured some memorable exchanges between Robeson and committee members, including Robeson’s incredible assertion that the Soviet Union was a color-blind society (which was undoubtedly the case for high-profile useful idiots visiting there). Here are some excerpts from the hearing:

Mr. ROBESON: In Russia I felt for the first time like a full human being. No color prejudice like in Mississippi, no color prejudice like in Washington. It was the first time I felt like a human being. Where I did not feel the pressure of color as I feel [it] in this Committee today.

Rep. GORDON H. SCHERER : Why do you not stay in Russia?

Mr. ROBESON: Because my father was a slave, and my people died to build this country, and I am going to stay here, and have a part of it just like you. And no fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear? I am for peace with the Soviet Union, and I am for peace with China, and I am not for peace or friendship with the Fascist Franco, and I am not for peace with Fascist Nazi Germans. I am for peace with decent people.

Rep. SCHERER: You are here because you are promoting the Communist cause.

Mr. ROBESON: I am here because I am opposing the neo-Fascist cause which I see arising in these committees. You are like the Alien [and] Sedition Act, and Jefferson could be sitting here, and Frederick Douglass could be sitting here, and Eugene Debs could be here.

. . . .

Rep. FRANCIS E. WALTER: Now, what prejudice are you talking about? You were graduated from Rutgers and you were graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. I remember seeing you play football at Lehigh.

Mr. ROBESON: We beat Lehigh.

Rep. WALTER: And we had a lot of trouble with you.

Mr. ROBESON: That is right. DeWysocki was playing in my team.

Rep. WALTER: There was no prejudice against you. Why did you not send your son to Rutgers?

Mr. ROBESON: Just a moment. This is something that I challenge very deeply, and very sincerely: that the success of a few Negroes, including myself or Jackie Robinson can make up — and here is a study from Columbia University — for seven hundred dollars a year for thousands of Negro families in the South. My father was a slave, and I have cousins who are sharecroppers, and I do not see my success in terms of myself. That is the reason my own success has not meant what it should mean: I have sacrificed literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for what I believe in.

STAFF DIRECTOR RICHARD ARENS: While you were in Moscow, did you make a speech lauding Stalin?

Mr. ROBESON: I do not know.

Mr. ARENS: Did you say, in effect, that Stalin was a great man, and Stalin had done much for the Russian people, for all of the nations of the world, for all working people of the earth? Did you say something to that effect about Stalin when you were in Moscow?

Mr. ROBESON: I cannot remember.

Mr. ARENS: Do you have a recollection of praising Stalin?

Mr. ROBESON: I said a lot about Soviet people, fighting for the peoples of the earth.

Mr. ARENS: Did you praise Stalin?

Mr. ROBESON: I do not remember.

Mr. ARENS: Have you recently changed your mind about Stalin?

Mr. ROBESON: Whatever has happened to Stalin, gentlemen, is a question for the Soviet Union, and I would not argue with a representative of the people who, in building America, wasted sixty to a hundred million lives of my people, black people drawn from Africa on the plantations. You are responsible, and your forebears, for sixty million to one hundred million black people dying in the slave ships and on the plantations, and don’t ask me about anybody, please.

Mr. ARENS: I am glad you called our attention to that slave problem. While you were in Soviet Russia, did you ask them there to show you the slave labor camps?

Rep. WALTER: You have been so greatly interested in slaves, I should think that you would want to see that.

Mr. ROBESON: The slaves I see are still in a kind of semi-serfdom. I am interested in the place I am, and in the country that can do something about it. As far as I know, about the slave camps, they were fascist prisoners who had murdered millions of the Jewish people, and who would have wiped out millions of the Negro people, could they have gotten a hold of them. That is all I know about that.

Mr. ARENS: Tell us whether or not you have changed your opinion in the recent past about Stalin.

Mr. ROBESON: I have told you, mister, that I would not discuss anything with the people who have murdered sixty million of my people, and I will not discuss Stalin with you.

Mr. ARENS: You would not, of course, discuss with us the slave labor camps in Soviet Russia.

Mr. ROBESON: I will discuss Stalin when I may be among the Russian people some day, singing for them, I will discuss it there. It is their problem.

At one point, Robeson attacked the patriotism of the committee members, saying that “you are the un-Americans, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.”

Nearly 20 years later, James Baldwin, the great African-American novelist and essayist, criticized Robeson’s moral blindness in a widely-cited essay, writing: “It is personally painful to me to realize that so gifted a man as Robeson should have been tricked by his own bitterness and by a total inability to understand the nature of political power in general, or Communist aims in particular, into missing the point of his own critique, which is worth a great deal of thought: that there are a great many ways of being un-American, some of them nearly as old as the country itself…”

This isn’t the first time Robeson’s fans succeeded in their efforts to rehabilitate him. Eight years ago, the United States Postal Service issued a Paul Robeson commemorative postage stamp that was part of its Black Heritage Series of stamps. Interestingly, Robeson was first honored with a postage stamp issued in 1982 by the German Democratic Republic (i.e. communist East Germany).

Undeniably, Robeson was a remarkable talent and intellect – yet he was ultimately a tragic figure because of the political views he chose to promote. In the end, his achievements must then be considered against the morally flawed universe that he inhabited.

Robeson’s name obviously has no place on the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica, a place that is supposed to represent America’s values and interests. Ambassador Bridgewater and whoever in Washington gave her a green-light ought to be ashamed of themselves. But don’t count on President Obama or Hillary Clinton ordering any inquiries into this matter. Undoubtedly, they can be included among the ship of fools at the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica and at embassies around the world that are putting forth an Obamaesque view of America’s place in the world.

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  • Schlomotion

    There can be no doubt that Paul Robeson was a Communist. He was also a man of great voice and great personal fortitude whose parents were slaves but who became an international political figure who chose his own path and had the unshakeable fortitude to tell off the HUAC right to their faces without being wound through the mind-games. He was truly a predecessor to Muhammad Ali, backing the stark enemies of the US fascists and a small handful of high profile Zionists who hijacked Congress and the media in the 1950s. The United States formed a tribunal to punish celebrity Americans for thought-crime, all of this created for media consumption. Very few people could actually shame this tribunal. Those who did had their passports revoked in a de facto American Iron Curtain. Robeson was one of the first people to beat them over the head with the hypocrisy and un-Americanness of their own behavior and it devolved into a war over who is the biggest hypocrite.

    Today, the unofficial HUAC operates as bloggers and fringe journalists looking for Communists in the Obama administration and making a blacklist of Obama, Robeson, Bridgewater, and Smith. Robeson is of course, too dead to answer. The author requires 45 words of invective before even being able to say the name Paul Robeson. What strikes me the most is that he tries to transfer this venomous rehash of history into the witch-hunt for Al Qaeda operatives that he claims are being harbored by Jamaica because Jamaica is "providing a worldview from which Islamic-inspired terrorists could emerge."

    Let loose the precrime thought police!

    • Poppakap

      Such a silly comment from a co-traveler of Robeson. I expected as much from frequent troll slomo. If any group practices thought policing today, it is the left. The elitists in the media and hollywood have conspired to create defacto speech codes and groupthink that limit honest dialogue and the results are so widespread and common that I find it humorous for the troll above to blather on as he did.

      The unofficial HUAC? Give me a break. Such ridiculous old-school nonsense we've been hearing from Stalinists for almost 100 years now. We've got a hard-left, America-hating POTUS and slomo mentions HUAC. I suppose it's the bitterness that provides the irony.

      Thanks for the laugh just the same.

      • Schlomotion

        Thanks, Ray.

    • ajnn

      huh ? the mark of a nonsense maker and hater. he manages to attck Israel in an article about paul robeson; a very interesting and controversial figure.

      being angry about american racism is suggested as a reasonable segue into supporting joseph stalin and his mass-murders and many crimes against humanity. the anger is real and very human. support for, my gosh, joseph stalin is just plain iommoral.

      how do you judge such a man ? with difficulty and humility.

    • Ghostwriter

      To reply to Scholmotion's foolish screed,I think that Paul Robeson was a talented but foolish man. He was too bitter and angry to see how evil the Soviet Union truly was. He may have been a talented actor but he never spoke out against the crimes of Joesph Stalin because he didn't want to see them. Although many others did,including other black Americans,Robeson didn't want to listen. And people like you Schlomotion,continue that ugly tradition. Why don't read what I wrote about Robeson below and give me your opinion of it? That is,if you're interested.

  • mlcblog

    Schlo, to my mind, is lacking some info but perhaps would rather cling to his view.

    In the 1950's Paul Robeson was a force for the left. He was promoted as part of their relentless takeover of all that is civilized. I had to endure his bitter racist attitude with the songs my mother played as part of our childhood music. Remember, there was no TV, just radio and phonograph records.

    Robeson was always a nut. The left loved him. Apparently still does.

    He was so extremely anti-American and bitter. We could pick that up even as children., Songs like "Let My People Go"

    • Schlomotion

      Ha! His "bitter racist attitude" is not in his music! His music is sweet and sad and powerful. That's good stuff. I used to have an autographed copy of the record you mention. It's just music. It's just singing. I agree that the Comintern wanted to take advantage of Kulturkampf and sovietize it. Of course. And certainly I agree that Robeson refused to come to grips with the barbarity of the Soviet Union. Still, if my parents were slaves, and fascist crossdressers from B'nai B'rith forced me to come testify in kangaroo court because of the content of my song lyrics, I am sure I would denounce them savagely too.

      • ajnn

        "facist crossdressers from b'nai b'rith" ?

        what have jews to do with Robeson, HUAC, and the communist party much less Robeson's support for the mass murdering joseph stalin ?

        jew-hatred seems to be a common thread among extreme leftists.

  • Tony Kondaks

    Robeson is from Princeton, New Jersey. On Witherspoon Street, there is the Paul Robeson Center. Last time I walked by there (a year ago) there was, spray-painted on the sidewalk in front, a stenciled Hammer and Sickle.

    This, in Princeton, the home of America's Academic elite。But, of course, Princeton sees fit to have Paul Krugman on its staff…so what do you expect?

  • Tony Kondaks

    Funny…a few days ago an article appeared here on Frontpage criticizing the Daily Kos for censoring conservative thought. Now we have a link in this article to the Daily Kos article refuting Stalin.

    The Daily Kos allows practically anyone to post anything they want, regardless of the political slant. Yes, participants and readers can "vote" through online polling if they want a post to disappear…but that is the function of the reading community, not the site itself.

    I believe frontpagemag owes the Daily Kos an apology for its previous article insinuating censorship there。

  • Visitor

    Three points:
    1. Robeson was an extraordinary and complex individual and reducing him to a caricature is silly. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Robeson#cite_no….

    2. One can deplore Robeson's naive and gullible romance with Stalinist Russia while still respecting his outspoken defense of Negro rights and his recognizing his considerale artistic talents.

    3. No American citizen should be denied his fundamental rights, including the right to travel on a US passport and the right to perform in public concerts or to be employed, on the basis of his political opinions, however much they may not be shared by the majority. If these rights can be denied a Robeson, who is to say they cannot be denied to you? We differ from totalitarian countries like the USSR by respecting human rights, not by denying them.

    • ajnn

      good points all. i am still uncopmfortable with robeson's support for the soviet union while we, the united states, were at war with that country. the lack of a 'declaration of war' is actually a sufficientlegal fig-leaf to establish this as a civil rights and not a national security issue.

  • MrZZ

    Looking from the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain, the damage to Western freedom and democracy, done by clowns like late Paul Robeson and still alive Angela Davis from UC Santa Cruz, may be compared only with activities of Hanoi Jane. On a positive side, since people in USSR used to read anything, coming from the communist government through the mirror, many of them understood real value of carboard figures, who pretended to represent America.

  • Ghostwriter

    Sadly,Paul Robeson can be described as a useful idiot for the Soviet Union of that time. While most black Americans could see that the Soviet Union was a horrible place that should not be imitated,Paul Robeson never did. He didn't listen to those who fled Eastern Europe for America,even as the crimes that Joseph Stalin committed became too obvious to overlook. Paul Robeson squandered any goodwill he might have garnered in this country by not recognizing the true evil of Stalin and of the Soviet system itself,a thing his fellow countrymen COULD see.
    In Hollywood today,there are many Paul Robesons of all races,people like Oliver Stone,Sean Penn,and others like them who don't see the true evil of our adversaries and only see evil in their own country. There are Jamaicans who live in America. Hopefully,they won't be fooled like Paul Robeson was,a man too blinded by bitterness to see true evil where it existed,even when there were black Americans who could see that the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin was evil and would destroy any gains by them in American society.

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