STRANGE BIRDS: RED-BAITING AND RELATED THINGS [ROBESON, SEEGER, AND HUNTER GRAY] [WITH MY FOLLOW-UP COMMENT OF 3/29/02 -- "FIGHTING AND PRIORITIES" -- AND A BRIEF UP-DATE COMMENT OF MAY 19, 2002. ]
LEO CASEY ON PAUL ROBESON AND HUNTERBEAR ON LEO CASEY [5/19/02]
From the standpoint of the utterly nefarious House
Committee and all its poisonous kin, Leo Casey could not have said it any
better than he just has -- convoluted and garbled as it is. And, to
compare Paul Robeson [who, BTW, never ran for elective office anywhere] with Trent Lott and the Citizens Councils, is a whole new dimension in the
never-ending odyssey into the Nadir called the " Descent of Leo Casey."
Hunter Gray [ Hunterbear ]
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
----- Original Message -----
From: "Leo Casey"
Sent: Sunday, May 19, 2002 7:08 AM
Subject: RE: [ASDnet] Paul Robeson/Peace Arch: Then -- and Now
> Donald Todd wrote:
> > Bogdan, Robeson consistently refused to say whether he was a party
> > member
> > or not on the groumd that a man's party affiliation was nobody else's
> > business.
> An unacceptable position for an individual who was, of his own volition,
> a public political figure. People who want to remain private in their
> political views have a right to do so, and should be free of any
> intrusion into that realm, and any questions as to their actual
> political beliefs and affiliations. But people who makes themselves into
> public political figures, offering themselves as political leaders, have
> a moral obligation to be open and honest about their political views, so
> that those who choose to follow them know who they are following. This
> is a moral obligation, and the government never has any business
> inquiring into anyone's political views, under any circumstance, but we
> should be absolutely clear, I believe, that it is morally unacceptable
> for a person to present himself as a public figure, ready to lead others
> in political contexts, without an honest accounting of his/her own
> views. And this moral injunction applies to Lionel Jospin (who hid his
> role as an entrist from a loony French Trot sect into the Socialist
> Party) and Trent Lott (who hid his role in Mississippi White Citizens
> Council) as much as it applies to Paul Robeson (who refused to account
> for what his affiliation with a Stalinist Communist Party).
> Leo Casey
FIGHTING AND PRIORITIES [HUNTER GRAY 3/29/02]
I do very much appreciate the friendly ASDnet words of
Jeffrey L. Cox -- in
part relating to me and to the incessant and noisy Red-baiting and
associated attack comments directed against me by Leo Casey and Bogdan
Denitch and others which have gone on, in one form or another, for months.
Jeffrey's statement ". . .but you have to be a much closer reader of
Hunterbear's posts than I am to find anyone resembling a Stalinoid behind
them" is both accurate and refreshing. I do have a couple of clarifying
comments -- even as I note that, "when you fish for trout, you have to
expect to be bitten by mosquitoes."
I am indeed [ as Jeffrey alludes] primarily interested in the social justice
situation in the United States -- as it affects all people of the fewest
alternatives. And Mongolia [the former Peoples Republic] is definitely a
land to which I'm formally committed to visiting at length -- with a
particular and compelling interest in the maintenance of tribalism and
tribal cultures within a developing and [still] essentially communalistic
industrial context. But I am also very much interested -- and occasionally
involved -- in some other settings as well: Canada [where I have as many
relatives on both sides of my family as I do in the 'States] and Mexico
where our family's connections are of long standing [and in some other parts
of this Hemisphere as well.]
I've often suggested that critics take the time to look over our large Lair
of Hunterbear website
the detailed personal narrative http://www.hunterbear.org/narrative.htm
,they would have seen much on me and also this section on my father and
"My father, (1898-1978), who, having left the Salter family at 15, never
had any appreciable high school work, was a gifted Native (Micmac/St.
Francis Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk) artist who eventually received three
earned academic degrees: B.A. from the Art Institute of Chicago and M.A. and
M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. Dad, at 15 years of age, was part of
an altruistic gun-running operation serving Mexican Indian revolutionaries
(soon after the murder of revolutionary President Francisco Madero by the
right wing military manipulated by the U.S. oil and mining interests) and
spent, at that point, a good deal of dramatic time in Mexico in the service
of the Revolution. He formed a very close association with Mexico which
lasted throughout his life and, in time, developed close relationships with
a number of Mexico's leading artists. His last year of teaching --
following his retirement from Northern Arizona University -- was a twelve
month stint at the University of Guanajuato. His last completed oil
painting just before his death -- a large and wonderfully colorful
semi-abstract -- is Los Locos: eleven costumed Mexican Indian dancers. It
hangs today in our living room in Idaho and a photo of it is at the
conclusion of this Narrative.
My father was always very much a Native man indeed. But no one ever pushed him into any stereotyped box."
And no one, I should add, has ever pushed me -- or ever will push me -- into
any kind of stereotyped box.
Anyway, my basic commitments are, at one level, to family and clan and tribe
and tribal culture -- and, at another, to a genuinely democratic socialism
which involves public ownership and operation of the means of production and
distribution: real socialism. My priorities do not involve spending my time
battling other Left organizations and "tendencies" -- but do involve such
critical dimensions as the development of effective labor unionism, the
fight against racism and other anti-people "isms," the struggle for full
civil liberty, and securing peace with justice / justice with peace. In
short, I'm far more interested in doing what I can to fight the sanguinary
and repressive Bush/Ashcroft policies and the forces which created and
maintained them -- e.g., "the copper bosses" et al. -- than I am in dueling
with Workers World or savouring the intricacies of some internecine
factional war that went on when I was fighting grade school and high school
Ten months ago, on my good friend, John Lacny's excellent Marxist List, a
very interesting discussion developed among a number of us. Here is a
section from one of my posts from that free-wheeling interchange where
virtually all of us essentially agreed. These are views stemming from values
that I've always held and that, in the formal context, were permanently
crystallizing on my personal Left by the time I got out of the United States
Army at a quite young age indeed --a rapidly emergent radical -- at the very
beginning of 1955. Noting that I also posted this on ASDnet early last Fall
and that it obviously was either not read or quickly brushed aside by my
critics, I close with it herewith:
"Civil Liberties and Many Choices [Posted by Hunter Gray on John Lacny's
We'll just have to cordially disagree on that one. . . The kind of
socialism that I envision -- and that I've fought for as best as I could
ever since I was a Teen and for which I'll go on fighting forever -- is
socialist democracy. And to me that means a "full measure of bread and
butter" and it also means a "full measure of liberty." I want to see
something that gives humanity a maximum number of choices -- a
democratically socialist system [with powerful decisional and other
involvement by unions and other grassroots organizations.]
Iron-block systems, to me, stagnate and eventually break down. Anytime
someone's civil liberty is curtailed, it directly threatens mine. Free
speech, freedom of assembly, the right to strike -- all of these and all of
the other basic human rights -- are critical if a system is going to grow,
feather out, continue to grow. Pluralism, to me, ensures vitality and life.
If the people are with us, we'll always be pointed toward the Sun."
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
STRANGE SITUATIONS -- AND STRANGE BIRDS IN THE TREES [HUNTER GRAY 3/9/02]
"Such peculiar birds . . .are found only in the trees of revolution."
Ivanov to Rubashov in Arthur Koestler's, Darkness at Noon
Opening note by Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]: This material that follows are a few things -- and a few things only -- from an ASDnet "discussion" yesterday whose strangeness and surrealism exceeded even the extremes so frequently displayed by a few in that setting. ASDnet, I should add, is an unofficial but predominately DSA [Democratic Socialists of America] discussion list. Red-baiting and related attacks in that setting against me and others have been common. Although the ASDnet list includes many good people, most -- like the "Silent" South of the old days -- are reluctant to challenge these things.
The most recent "round" began when I posted on Paul Robeson and the forthcoming [this May] and very welcome commemoration of the 1952 Paul Robeson / Mine-Mill concert/demonstration at Peace Arch [Vancouver, B.C.] Several weeks ago I had also posted on this forthcoming event -- and that had touched off some hostile buzzing. In this most recent episode, a good friend in Ontario then posted very good and supportive material involving Pete Seeger's perceptions of Robeson's important and life and work.
Much flowed out of that innocuous little announcement of mine -- and I quote here excerpts from only a small portion:
Note by Hunterbear:
Although I've mentioned this earlier, this signal event is well worth
reiterating broadly and generally -- and especially for people in the
Although not indicated in this release, the May 18 1952 Peace Arch Concert
was followed by another successful Robeson Peace Arch
concert/demonstration -- August 16 1953.
Paul Robeson's very fine songs and words from each of those Peace Arch
concerts -- as well as solid comment from Harvey Murphy, a major Canadian
Mine-Mill leader -- are all readily available on a recent CD: "Paul
Robeson: The Peace Arch Concerts." It's quickly secured via conventional
commercial sources and from its producer, Folk Era Records. Their website
giving some away to friends. Our experience with the CD -- and all feedback
from friends -- has been extremely positive. [Among the many songs are two
classic renditions of "Joe Hill." ]
-------------------------------------------------Paul Robeson Centennial
Robeson Peace Arch Concert Anniversary
On May 18, 1952 Paul Robeson stood on the back of a flat bed truck and sang
songs of defiance and solidarity to 40,000 people on the US-Canadian border.
Fifty years later, on May 18, 2002, that event will be commemorated with
another concert on the border.
The 1952 Concert
The venue was an odd one for one of the great artists of the 20th century,
and the sponsor, the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers
equally curious, or maybe not. "Mine Mill", as it was known, had been
founded in a jail cell in Idaho in 1893. It was a union that represented
some of the most militant North American workers, the hard rock miners,
whose battles with the mine owners were legendary. . .
Excerpted from the Peoples Voice news release.
From Stuart Elliott, "Robeson's Flawed Legacy" [quoting New Politics]:
Since Hunter Gray has reposted the Robeson event, I am
reposting an an
expanded excerpt from Barry Finger's excellent article in NEW POLITICS,
which is, as Hunter surely, a socialist journal.
Hunter earlier described Finger's article "the same basic, tired
red-baiting fare." This is pure non-sense. Finger criticizes Robeson not
for being a Marxist and socialist, but betraying Marxist and socialist
The victim as hero, the archetypal theme of so many fervid Popular Front
fantasies, is now replayed as the celebratory theme of Paul Robeson's
life -- the triumph in death of the maligned champion of the oppressed.
How ironic that in reducing Robeson's actual and very real artistic
triumphs to the level of proletcult kitsch, his champions not only
fundamentally falsify the quality of his political allegiances, but
debase as well the very elements of his career truly worthy of
preservation. For what spared Robeson the fate of innumerable "artists
in uniform" was that he, for lack of a more felicitous distinction, was
an interpretive rather than a creative artist. As such he was largely
freed from the artistic clash of values otherwise demanded by the
"purveyors of bureaucratic heroism," to borrow Trotsky's phrase, who
guided the Stalinist movement. Freed, that is, to pursue projects that
permitted him to venture beyond the confines of Stalinist "aesthetics,"
beyond the "Ballad for Americans" and everything that that represented . . ."
Michael Pugliese, who frequently uses a hodge-podge spate of websites:
I responded, of course, with this post: "Shabby and Predictable Things:"
The scurrilous and trashing ASDnet attacks by Stuart
Elliott [on Paul
Robeson] and by Michael Pugliese [on Robeson and Pete Seeger] are both
predictable and pathetic. Robeson was a giant who sought great things --
and, indeed, accomplished many of them. I have always regretted that I did
not know him personally -- but I certainly know him very well through his
fine music and his other splendid endeavours: works great and courageous.
I have known Pete Seeger only casually in the direct and personal sense. But
I certainly know him, too, and deeply and well through his great music for
he, also, is a giant in every sense who has shot high and successfully
toward the Better World Over The Mountains Yonder -- and continues,
resolutely, to do so.
Shabby attacks on giants are, sadly, as predictable as the Idaho snow which
fell early this morning. And both snow and smear are gone when the Sun
reaches into the shadowy darkness. The giants keep on going -- ever
forward, ever up.
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
Hunter Gray [ Hunterbear ]
Bogdan Denitch, an older "social democrat" -- who coordinates the annual Socialist Scholars Conference [of which I really know little] -- has repeatedly sniped at me: in addition to his increasingly explicit assumptions of my political past and present, he obviously resents my posting material on the current [and historical] challenges faced by our Native American people. Here you have our exchanges:
That's pretty bizarre, Bogdan. In fact, that's
about as bizarre as anything
I've seen or heard for decades. To you, if you really mean that -- several
denigrating things in an emotional package -- there is simply nothing more
to say. Hunterbear
Hunter Gray [ Hunterbear ]
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bogdan Denitch"
Cc: "RedBadBear" <Redbadbear; "socunity"
<socunity; "DSA Anti-Racism" <antiracismdsa
Sent: Friday, March 08, 2002 3:23 PM
Subject: Re: [ASDnet] Shabby and predictable things
> By not a single word did Hunterbear address the conent of Stuart Eliot's
> on flawded giants like Paul Robertson. That is to be expected. He has
> least in the emails I have read, solidarized with stalinism in its
> organized form-- that of the CP-USA when it was a substantial
> organization--without any reservations whatsoever. The only other passion
> seems to move him is racial or rather ethnic identity essentialism of the
> crudest sort whihc we would have trouble finding obnoxious if it came from
> someone identifying themselves as jewish or for that matter Anglo. Now I
> asopen to debating the curious duality of CPmilitants, on one hand samong
> best of union and civil rights militants, on the other defenders and
> unconditional appologists of the system and state which has murdered more
> Communists and communist militants than Nazi Germany itself.
> Hunter only rrsponce to those raising the problem which did a great deal
> weakren the left in the US and around thre world---not the red-baiting but
> truth about stalinism--is to resport to the crudest personal slander.
> Why does Hunter stay on a list which at least in theory is for democratic
> socialism, or socialism and democracy. Whatever stalinism was it was not
> And believing that does not prevent one from appreciating wonderful music,
> Paul or for that matter the Red Army chorus.
At about the same time Bogdan Denitch was posting his extraordinarily poisonous thing, Jim Chapin made a considerably less emotional post. This is that exchange:
Jim Chapin says:
So, if I understand Hunter's position correctly, any attack on Communists
for anything they did in all of history is divisive and out of bounds, but any
attack by Communists on anyone else is/was just peachy keen. Or else we
shouldn't mention it. Bad form, and all that.
By the way, Pete Seeger is a long-standing friend of my family. Doesn't mean
he was right about everything he ever did. I don't think he would say that
Hunterbear to Jim Chapin:
Sorry, Jim, but once a trapper, one forever -- and I'm good at spotting
traps as well as setting them.
Don't, please, put words in my mouth.
Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger are giants great and good. Their fine work on
many fronts endures and, in Seeger's case, of course, continues with very
effective contemporary life and vigor.
I really don't think these ASDnet attacks have anything at all
to do with "Communism." The same people who are presently hurling those
charges -- you are not, as far as I can see -- have also, over these past
few days, been leveling scurrilous attacks against Alcoholics Anonymous.
And AA, of course, is something which I [in a public discussion, just these past few days] and many others, including several right in and around ASDnet, happen to very strongly support. Again, I don't think AA, of
which these detractors obviously know nothing, is really the issue at all
as far as they are concerned.
"Motives," Bill Kunstler once remarked to me as we left a torrid Mississippi
courtroom, "are very interesting." I wouldn't presume to speculate on the
motives of these detractors [who so frequently use a hodge-podge of websites
and other people's articles.] But Robeson and Seeger stand as examples of
courageous and committed human beings -- among countless other great
souls -- who've consistently placed Humanity far above their own
self-interest and have done so at considerable risk. This is 2002 -- and we
face economic crises, burgeoning authoritarianism, expanding war -- to say
nothing of continuing racism and every other kind of anti-people "ism." And
many more mountains of challenge as well. The examples set by Robeson and
Seeger [and, in its own way in a related context, AA] have enormously positive
relevancy for long suffering humanity today.
Given that -- and the fact that the darts these detractors toss and the
stones they hurl stem from 50 years and much more ago -- this whole exercise
in pejorative grave-digging is as surreal as anything I've seen in decades.
[And I was, after all, seven years old when we heard, on the school radio,
FDR declare war on the Japanese Empire.]
If I say so myself, I've been a reasonably successful social justice
organizer for about 47 years. I didn't do it "solo" [as a Native, I could
hardly use the term "Lone Ranger"] -- I did and do it in association with
all sorts of people: people "of the fewest alternatives," people who held
and hold a wide variety of Left beliefs, some who weren't and aren't really
Left at all -- simply decent people of great good will. If I had played the
divisive and diversionary game so many did, and given every person I
encountered some sort of litmus test on where they stood on such-and-such an
issue at such-and-such a time, I'm not at all sure I could have accomplished
anything. And who -- in numbers at least -- would ever agree completely
with me -- a Southwestern mix of Native tribalism, anarcho-syndicalism, and
If the young people who emerged as the driving force in the Southern
Movement had listened to hair-splitting ideologues [whether old ones or
young ones], we would not have had the great Movement that we did. What we asked was, simply, tangible and enduring commitment to the Vision. And, if they were on our side, then great. And we all went forward together.
I'm delighted, for example, that people in the Pacific Northwest and
elsewhere are now preparing to celebrate -- this May -- the courageous stand
Paul Robeson and Mine-Mill and all of the others made at the Peace Arch
concerts/demonstrations in the hideously reactionary years of 1952 and 1953.
I'm always very pleased and encouraged to see -- and hear -- the pleasant
evidence of Pete Seeger's vigorously effective and decent activities on so
many critical fronts. And there are, as I say, countless other persons as
well -- historically, and now.
And now we do indeed have very heavy challenges. I hope we can stand
together in some reasonable measure of solidarity and effectively confront
them -- and then carry our basic Vision on and on and far beyond.
Yours, Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
Hunter Gray [ Hunterbear ]
And then, Michael Pugliese once again -- rather frenetically. I saw little point in responding further.
Oh my, about 585 scurrilous and shabby "hits" on Uncle Joe
and Seeger. "Stalin's songbird, " that's good.
Michael Pugliese, Twenty Years Of Treason
(Jim Chapin will get the allusion.)
Searched the web for Seeger Stalin .
Results 1 - 10 of about 585. Search took 0.06 seconds.
The Conservative Shadow
... If what I'm saying is true, why is Seeger, once considered
a fool or traitor and
called 'Stalin's songbird', now receiving awards - a Harvard
honor, a Grammy ...
McGuinn: The Solo Years 1991-1997
... a time for red-baiting, but not for research -- Seeger has
in fact expressed regret
for not breaking with Stalin. The salute followed closely on
the heels of ...
FrontPage Magazine | Ronald Radosh -- On Being Attacked by the
... current Communist Party line; that in fact, Seeger was antiwar
during the period
of the ... good form to acknowledge that perhaps "Stalin was
a bad guy," and then ...
- 51k - Cached - Similar pages
Folker! 2/99 - Pete Seeger - [ Translate this page ]
... the sea«. Heute entschuldigt sich Seeger dafür, Stalin lediglich
angesehen und seine Grausamkeiten ignoriert zu haben. Allerdings
würde er ...
... who never bothered putting up a fight." --Pete Seeger. ...
and hung on through jolts
such as the Hitler-Stalin pact, stubbornly defending their vision
in the face ...
whttp://www.newday.com/reviews/SeeingRedREV.html - 14k - Cached
- Similar pages
STALIN'S SECRET POGROM... COMMIES WHO BECAME POLITICALLY ...
... classic example of the pro-Communist attitude during the
Hitler-Stalin Pact period
was folksinger Pete Seeger?s anti war record "Songs for John
Doe" released ...
- 11k - Cached - Similar pages
Red Records - News Updates
... The Institution (Tucker) NERVOUS BREAKDOWN 2 Stalin Wasn't
Stallin' (Unknown) THE
Mig ... 8 The Peekskill Story (Casetta/Hayes/Seeger) THE WEAVERS
with HOWARD FAST ...
- Cached - Similar pages
Interviews: Pete Seeger
... in trouble," Seeger said. Seeger finally realized that Stalin
in Russia, and Mao
in China, weren't representative of his Communist beliefs. He
"drifted out" of ...
- Similar pages
Profiles in Connecticut Black History
... might as well have been,'' said Seeger, who, like Robeson,
testified before the ... the
same Moscow elementary school as Stalin's daughter and he counted
Roger McGuinn: Treasures from the Folk Den - PopMatters Music
... after a brief visit there, but when Khrushchev spilled the
beans about Stalin's
atrocities, Seeger kept grinning in an "aw shucks, folks, guess
I was wrong ...
- 18k - Cached - Similar pages
I also posted all of this stuff, not only on ASDnet, but on two other DSA-related lists: Socialist Unity -- of which I'm co-moderator and the very good and always supportive DSA Anti-Racism Commission. I sent copies, as well, to our own RedBadBear discussion group. There, two experienced activists of very long standing had many supportive things to say about the situation. This is my note of thanks to them:
I personally very much appreciate the good words and
thinking from Bill Mandel and Reber Boult that I saw early this morning.
Yesterday for me was full of various challenges -- ranging from inclement
weather in Idaho and the need to "Jeep" [4WD] various family members back
and forth -- to the spate of poisonous Red-baiting and collateral attacks
carried by a few ASDnet people. While there are those on the ASDnet list who
are certainly not at all in accord with smear and vilification, there seem
to be very few who are at all willing to challenge it openly on any front.
Reminds me a little of the "Silent" South situation in the old and old, old
days. [ With minimal false modesty, I think I handled all of the little
yesterday matters in OK fashion.] But it was certainly really very good to
get up at 4 am and see not only personally supportive words -- but very much
thoughtful and sensible and forward-thrusting comment on complex and
Fraternally, Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
Hunter Gray [ Hunterbear ]
Of course, these very strange situations continue to bubble and perk. Nevertheless, I continue to face the future with optimism, convinced -- as I always have been -- that "success will be ours in the long run."