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Useful Idiots And Usual Suspects

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Historian Paul Kengor clearly loves the research aspect of writing. His latest book bears witness to how digging for detail can yield not only clues to the past, but insights for the present. His recently released 600-page tome, Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives For A Century, complete with more than 1,500 detailed supporting notes, is a case in point.

Dr. Kengor is a professor of political science at Grove City (Pennsylvania) College and the executive director its excellent Center for Vision and Values. His prolific pen has produced past bestsellers such as, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. Now, with Dupes, he has written the most exhaustive and definitive account of Communism’s 20th century assault on America to date. It is a story that flows with virtual seamlessness into the defining conflict of the new century and millennium—the threat of Islamism. Though the ideologies are vastly different and even the methodologies used in propagation don’t always resemble each other, the Communist threat of the Cold War and before, as well as the current conflict with Islamism, have one clear and sad thing in common.

Our enemies have been aided and abetted by liberal dupes.

That’s right, the names and faces change over time, but the gullibility and culpability of the ever-present usual suspects of American liberalism continue to provide cover for our enemies, as was the case—now completely documented—from 1917 to 1989. In fact, Kengor makes it clear that our real enemy for nearly a century now has been the “anti-anti” mindset. First, it was “anti-anti-communism,” which is alive and well in college history departments across the country, now it is “anti-anti-Islamism,” which ignores an obviously concrete threat in favor of the nebulous mirage of “anti-Islamophobia.”

Over the years, Dr. Kengor has spent a lot of time going through archived material dealing with Communism and the Cold War for various projects. In recent years, more and more material has become available via declassification—particularly material dealing with the Communist Party U.S.A. (CPUSA)—both here and in Russia.

And Paul has been digging around pretty much all by himself.

For example, Kengor discovered hundreds of reels of microfiche hiding in plain sight at the Library of Congress—material dealing with the Soviet Communist International’s (COMINTERN) relationship with the CPUSA. As he began to review it, sometimes taking a whole day to absorb a single reel, Kengor noticed that his find had been left largely untouched. That’s right, this mountain of previously secret materials was being panned by historians—why?

Because the reels reveal a very inconvenient truth.

The Communists were, despite the loud liberal cries of “red-baiting,” quite aggressive and effective at infiltrating the strata of American life, culturally and politically. There were indeed spies—now all clearly documented. In fact, within months of Bolshevik success in Russia, Lenin and his comrades went global. They were bold, brash, cunning, stealthy, and highly effective. And along the way they were helped by an ever-present stream of dumber-than-a-box-of-rocks American citizens—dupes. Lenin said: “The so-called cultural element of Western Europe and America are incapable of comprehending the present state of affairs and the actual balance of forces; these elements must be regarded as deaf-mutes [idiots] and treated accordingly.” This is the origin of the idea of American liberals as “useful idiots.”

Dr. Kengor thoroughly documents the CPUSA’s relationship with the COMINTERN, with no other conclusion possible than that the American Communist Party was always under the control, funding, and discipline of Moscow. This may seem quite obvious now, but back in the day, most liberals (with some notable exceptions and defections) in the U.S. were convinced that the real enemy of freedom was anyone who was decidedly anti-communist. So, these liberals conducted a prolonged “anti-anti-communist” campaign, the remnants of which survive today.

I mentioned some notable exceptions. Dupes is no partisan publication. In fact, Kengor takes great pains to highlight the courage of Americans often dismissed by conservatives—such as Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, even Woodrow Wilson. They were decidedly anti-dupes. These men were also the focus of scurrilous attacks on the part of the CPUSA.

One notable critic of Harry Truman was a man named Frank Marshall Davis, a writer who lived in Honolulu (by way of Chicago). He accused the man from Missouri of actions, “aimed to deceive the American people into supporting a new world war, if need be, to bail Big Business out of a depression.” Davis also railed against the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe—the greatest humanitarian aid effort in history—as akin to racism and slavery.

In a piece entitled “How Our Democracy Looks To Oppressed Peoples” written in May of 1949, Davis wrote: “For a nation that calls itself the champion of democracy, our stupendous stupidity is equaled only by our mountainous ego. Our actions at home and abroad are making American democracy synonymous with oppression instead of freedom.”

Why the emphasis on Frank Marshall Davis? Well, first he was affiliated with the CPUSA and an unabashed admirer of the USSR. He believed that it was “only the Soviet Union which has abolished racism and color prejudice.” Of course, this would all barely warrant an asterisk in history, but for the fact that Frank became a mentor of the man who would become President of the United States—Barack Obama. And as Kengor correctly opines, “he almost certainly would have instructed Obama in the glory of the Bolshevik experiment.”

It puts much of President Obama’s tendency to apologize for America in context.

Some will certainly dismiss all of this as “guilt by association” and “red herring” stuff—but as Dr. Kengor thoroughly documents in his book this is exactly what the Communists desired and designed. How better to manipulate dupes?

Probably the biggest dupe of them all appears on the cover of Kengor’s book—though it make take you a second or two to figure out who it is. Soviet strongman Leonid Brezhnev is kissing President Jimmy Carter—the shot taken in 1979, a bad year for the peanut farmer.

Carter’s lament about America’s “inordinate fear of Communism,” made him a member of the club of dupes, ipso facto. But his tortured response to Soviet aggression in Afghanistan at the end of 1979, revealed a level of naivete´ unparalleled by an American president (up till then). Addressing the nation, Carter used language indicating that he was shocked and that the actions of the Soviets had forced a “dramatic change” in his view of what the Soviets were like. Really? Just figuring that out? He soon though defaulted to his comfort zone of moral equivalence, bemoaning our own problems in America (the “we’re not perfect either” mantra of dupism), adding that even Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin had told him, “At least in the Soviet Union our women have equal rights.”

Ouch. Take that you imperialist capitalist—not to mention, chauvinist—dog.

Carter was also at the helm when America got its first taste of Islamism a month or so earlier. In fact, it was during the single Carter term that the beginning of the end of the Cold War began—no thanks to him, but due to the fact that he was repudiated by the American electorate in favor of Ronald Reagan, someone who knew the difference between good guys and bad guys. And Jimmy was also running things when the defining struggle of our day began—the war with Islamism. Carter did nothing to help the collapse of communism (other than losing the 1980 election, thank you very much), and did less against the emerging new threat. As Kengor says, “Carter would serve as a twisted bridge between America’s two chief foes of the past hundred years.”

Toward the end of Dupes, Dr. Kengor suggests, “If liberals take just one message from this book, I hope it will be this: the Communists were never your friends. Until that lesson is learned, many well-intentioned liberals will continue to be used. And the long under-appreciated role of the dupe will remain much more than a mere sideshow in history.”

Personally, I doubt that liberals will get the message. And, at any rate, they are far too busy now being duped by Islamism. At least they’re predictable—got to give liberals that.

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