Communist diehard's visit here
For those who may not know it, this speaker and I studied under the same professor.
On Jan. 22, Elizabethtown College sponsored, as a keynote speaker for Martin Luther King Week, longtime Communist Party member and black revolutionary activist Angela Davis. The college advertised this event quite widely, and politically engaged faculty pushed students to attend.
The speaker was touted as someone who fully embodies the ideal of peace to which the institution is committed in its Mission Statement. Moreover, Davis was celebrated as someone who favors "prison reform."
The committee that chose Davis has been careful to promote speakers who represent its understanding of "peace" and who incarnate the college ideal of social justice. But on Oct. 15, when local Republican groups sponsored an appearance by Ann Romney, wife of the centrist Republican candidate for president, there was a huge outcry extending even to college alumni that this right-wing person was allowed to speak on college property.
Apparently, a middle-aged housewife praising Mitt's domestic virtues was thought to be spreading reactionary ideas that clash with the college's peace mission.
Apparently, Ms. Davis is different. Reading the PR about her, one would have to assume she exudes peace and justice, and that's why she was invited to come for a very hefty sum -- or so I've been led to believe.
For those who may not know it, this speaker and I studied under the same professor, Herbert Marcuse, but came away from our Marxist mentor with diametrically opposed perspectives. Although both of us may have admired this polymath, we went in separate directions. I became a scholar of German philosophy; Ms. Davis. a very disruptive communist revolutionary.
The idea that this lady has ever advanced peace is so laughable as to be ridiculous. She has spent the last 40 years inciting violent revolution or apologizing for communist mass-murderers like Stalin and Mao.
In California in the late 1960s, she became deeply involved with the Black Panthers. In August 1970, she was also implicated in the murder of a judge who had been assigned to try associates of the Panthers, the so-called Soledad brothers, who had killed a prison guard in the Soledad penitentiary. A gun that landed in the hands of the defendant was used to kill the judge, and at the time Ms. Davis was thought, with considerable justification, to be the one who smuggled the gun into the court.
Although the judgment against her as an accomplice in murder was overturned after she spent 18 months in jail, this may have resulted from having a well-disposed judge who was willing to overlook what looked like compelling circumstantial evidence. There is no question that the gun used to abduct and kill the judge was purchased by Ms. Davis.
This speaker for women's rights and prison reform (since communism is no longer a practical option) has never held back from urging violence in Western capitalist societies. But in the Soviet Union, where she went as an honored communist guest in the 1970s, she refused to speak out for political prisoners. This prompted the heroic Russian author and champion of freedom, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, to comment in a speech before the AFL-CIO in July 1975 that Davis was a hideous hypocrite who complained about imprisoned murderers in the U.S. but who had no problem with Soviet gulags.
When asked to criticize the Soviet imprisonment of Czech dissidents, Davis expressed her views succinctly: "They deserve what they get. Let them remain in prison. That is the face of communism. That is the heart of communism."
Let me not withhold my praise from such an honest defender of totalitarianism. Would that the Western leftists who slobber over her had a bit of Davis' cunning and could understand as well as she where the totally controlled society they're working for must lead. And no, I've never credited noble intentions to such intellectuals.
People who still pamper communist diehards after communist rule has cost more lives than Nazism are either total fools or morally twisted. If only we expended a bit of the energy on real totalitarians that we devote to going after racists, sexists and homophobes, we and the rest of the Western world would be better off. It is the obsession with social justice and equality that makes us blind to the destruction of liberty and to the horrors caused by communist dictatorships.
By the way, I doubt that those who invited and cheered on Ms. Davis were totally ignorant of her vile past, which can be easily learned by going online. They may have felt morally superior by being able to rub shoulders with a "prison reformer."
Those of my generation can still remember when what Tom Wolfe described as "radical chic" was all the rage. Then New York and Hollywood celebrities lavishly entertained Black Panther thugs in their sumptuous homes. Better Angela than a housewife speaking on behalf of a Republican husband!
·Paul E. Gottfried is a retired professor of humanities at Elizabethtown College. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.