For starters, it’s fascinating that The Nation leads with Eugene Debs at number 1. Debs was a socialist. It was 100 years ago this year, in 1912, that Debs ran for president on the Socialist Party ticket.
Today’s progressives get annoyed if you call them socialists. Well, why is a pure socialist the no. 1 “progressive” on The Nation 's list?
Of course, progressives really get annoyed if you suggest they bear any sympathies to communism. That being the case, two other “progressives” on The Nation ’s list are quite intriguing: Paul Robeson and I. F. Stone.
Paul Robeson was a proud recipient of the “Stalin Prize.” Even the New York Times concedes Robeson was “an outspoken admirer of the Soviet Union.” When Robeson in 1934 returned from his initial pilgrimage to the Motherland, the Daily Worker thrust a microphone in his face. The Daily Worker rushed its interview into print, running it in the January 15, 1935 issue under the headline, “‘I Am at Home,’ Says Robeson At Reception in Soviet Union.”
The Bolsheviks, explained Robeson, were new men. He was bowled over by the “feeling of safety and abundance and freedom” he found “wherever I turn.” He discovered sheer equality under Joseph Stalin.
When asked about Stalin’s purges, Robeson retorted: “From what I have already seen of the workings of the Soviet Government, I can only say that anybody who lifts his hand against it ought to be shot!”
Yes, Robeson was deadly serious.
Robeson told the Daily Worker that he felt a “kinship” with the USSR. So much so that he moved his family there.
He also joined Communist Party USA. In May 1998, the centennial of Robeson’s birth, longtime CPUSA head Gus Hall hailed Robeson as a man of communist “conviction,” who “never forgot he was a communist.”
None of this is mentioned in The Nation ’s profile, which blasts anyone who dared consider Robeson a communist. Instead, The Nation insists that Comrade Paul was a “progressive.”
And that brings me to I. F. Stone.
Stone is listed at number 26 on The Nation’s list. Stone has been hailed by liberals for decades as the literal “conscience” of journalism—a hero of impeccable honesty. In fact, we now know that Stone, at one time, was a paid Soviet agent.
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."