Editor's note: this is the fourth of five installments 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, in our last Q&A, you noted disturbing examples of communists manipulating liberal / progressive Christians through phony peace campaigns, including the case of the communist front-group, the American Peace Mobilization, which accommodated Hitler because Hitler signed a pact with Stalin. Who were other manipulators of the Religious Left?
Dr. Paul Kengor: One was Stalin himself. I give a bunch of examples in the book. Most troubling is how Stalin hoodwinked President Roosevelt. For the record, I probably defend FDR in Dupes more than I criticize him. FDR was targeted by communists, who tried not only to dupe him and his administration, but penetrated his administration with spies and Soviet sympathizers. Worse, communists demonized FDR in their literature and campaigns.
That said, FDR was terribly naïve toward Stalin, whom he called “Uncle Joe” as a term of endearment. FDR openly mused that Stalin had taught him, Churchill, and all various officials something about “the way in which a Christian gentleman should behave.” Where did Stalin gain this alleged virtue that FDR somehow saw radiating from this man who slaughtered millions? The Episcopalian elder from Hyde Park, looked upward for an answer: Perhaps, pondered FDR, it had been Stalin’s youthful training for the “priesthood.”
V&V: You say that FDR really felt this way, and wasn’t simply saying such things to “get along” with a difficult ally during wartime?
Kengor: That’s correct. Most observations like this were made in private by FDR. I footnote them carefully. I know their seriousness.
V&V: From roughly this same era, what about Frank Marshall Davis?
Kengor: Another manipulator of liberal / progressive Christians was Frank Marshall Davis, mentor to a young man in Hawaii named Barack Obama. I have photo exhibits of Davis’s weekly columns for the CPUSA organ in Hawaii, the Honolulu Record, plus pages from his declassified 600-page FBI file listing his actual Communist Party membership number, which was 47544. V&V: Share some examples from Davis’s weekly columns.
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."