Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Peter Seeger: Stalinist

Peter Bolt at Australia's Herald Sun reports:
Seeger was a member of the Communist Party from the 1930s through the 1950s. He left the party but never gave up the faith. He told the Washington Post in 1995 “I am still a communist.” Like his comrades and fellow travelers Seeger twisted and turned with every pronouncement from Moscow. Seeger supported the Nazi-Soviet Pact, a curious position for a noted “anti-fascist.” In 1941 Seeger along with Guthrie was a member of the Almanac Singers, a communist folk group. The group put out the anti-war album Songs from John Doe, containing songs that labeled Franklin Roosevelt a war monger. One of the songs had the following lyrics: 

Franklin D, listen to me, 
You ain’t a-gonna send me ‘cross the sea. 
You may say it’s for defense 
That kinda talk ain’t got no sense.
Of course when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Seeger and the Almanac Singer’s literally changed their tune to get in lockstep with Stalin’s new foreign policy. They pulled Songs from John Doe from the market and quickly replaced it with the pro-war, pro-Roosevelt album Dear Mr. President: 
Now, Mr. President 
You’re commander-in-chief of our armed forces 
The ships and the planes and the tanks and the horses 
I guess you know best just where I can fight ... 
So what I want is you to give me a gun 
So we can hurry up and get the job done!
Remember there is no ideology so murderous that your association with it will make you unacceptable as long as you are of use to the left[...]

Scott Johnson is right. President Barack Obama’s statement on Seeger’s death is “beyond pathetic” and needs translation. Let me help: Obama claims Seeger believed “community” when he means “communism”. and wielded a “hammer” when he means “hammer and sickle”: 
Once called “America’s tuning fork,” Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community – to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be. Over the years, Pete used his voice – and his hammer – to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Pete’s family and all those who loved him.

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