Editor’s Note: The "V&V Q&A" is an e-publication from The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. This is the second in a series of weekly interviews with Dr. Paul Kengor, professor of political science and executive director of the Center, on his latest book, "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century." This series focuses on a dominant theme of the book: the Religious Left.
V&V: Dr. Kengor, picking up from the previous Q&A, you note that many liberal / progressive Christians were duped by communists, whereas many others, fortunately, were not duped. Let’s break it down.
Dr. Paul Kengor: On the plus side, some were never duped in large part because of their faith-based understanding of the godlessness of Marxism-Leninism. These included liberal Democrats like President Woodrow Wilson—big surprise to modern ears—Wilson’s attorney general, Alexander Mitchell Palmer, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and more. Wilson called the Bolsheviks “barbarians,” “tyrants,” and “terrorists.” JFK alerted America to its “atheistic foe” and the “godless” “communist conspiracy.”
V&V: And then, you say, there were duped liberals / progressives who eventually “came to see the light,” and switched and repented in part because they saw the evil of the Soviet war on religion.
Kengor: Yes, this included William Bullitt, our first ambassador to the USSR, who once literally planted a kiss on Stalin’s cheek. Another was Paul Douglas, a later U.S. senator, who had been wined and dined by Stalin. Another was a Hollywood liberal named Ronald Reagan, whose pastor alerted him to the menace of atheistic communism. All three, Reagan, Douglas, Bullitt, saw the light and made reparation.
V&V: You also describe lifelong liberals who, either agnostic or not notably religious, were appalled by the faith-like structure of Soviet communism.
Kengor: Yes, these liberals were repulsed by the Soviet promise of an earthly utopia. The Bolsheviks created their own gods in their own image, repeating that first sin: Ye shall be as gods.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."