Communists and Red Hand Clappers: A Report from the Progressive Rally

October 4, 2010 17:26

Van Jones, whose communist background proved to be too embarrassing and was ousted from his White House job, was introduced by Ed Schultz of MSNBC as a “great patriot.”

Communists and Red Hand Clappers: A Report from the Progressive Rally

By Cliff Kincaid

Various communist and socialist groups were photographed and filmed during the October 2 “One Nation Working Together” rally in Washington, D.C. But groups can show up at any event they want to and there is not much that organizers can do about it. The real controversy lies in whether they were officially invited to participate. In this context, the involvement of the Communist Party USA, a group that served as a subversive pawn of Moscow for decades, is relevant and newsworthy.

Since the Obama organization known as “Organizing for America” urged its supporters to attend the rally, this should prompt questions to the White House. But it’s doubtful the media will utter a peep.

Here are the facts: the CPUSA was an official “endorsing organization” and was given space to set up a literature table by the rally organizers. Indeed, a two-page official list of “One Nation March” organizations shows that it was given a highly coveted “reserved space.”

These officially-sanctioned groups also included the AFL-CIO and several left-wing labor unions; United for Peace and Justice, founded by veteran Marxist activist Leslie Cagan; Code Pink; the ANSWER Coalition, a front of the Party for Socialism and Liberation; the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism; Green for All, the group once associated with former White House official Van Jones; Democratic Socialists of America, which helped give Barack Obama his start in Illinois state politics; and the NAACP.

The special recognition accorded the CPUSA would be comparable to organizers of a Tea Party event or Glenn Beck’s August 28 “Restoring Honor” rally honoring the efforts of an extremist organization that almost everyone would view as beyond the pale. Nothing like that occurred, but this hasn’t stopped the liberal media from picking a few extremists out of various Tea Party events, as if they were somehow representative of the entire grass-roots movement. It is a dishonest tactic that the media and their progressive allies frequently use.

Ironically, it turns out that some of the “Tea Party extremists” selected by the press in the past have actually been representatives of Lyndon LaRouche, a perennial candidate for president and convicted felon who usually runs as a Democrat and actually started his political career in an offshoot of the radical left Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). His people are usually the ones holding posters depicting Obama with a Hitler mustache. LaRouche operatives were present at the October 2 rally, urging progressives to “dump Obama.”

But while the Tea Party would be endlessly demonized for giving official recognition or credence to an extremist group, the progressives in the AFL-CIO and other unions which sponsored the October 2 rally in the nation’s capital are excused by the major media for giving special status to a political party that has always elevated the interests of world revolution ahead of the United States. The CPUSA, when it was directly funded by Moscow, was viewed by the FBI and the CIA as a subversive force representing a foreign ideology and America’s destruction. The CPUSA announced objective was a “Soviet America.” That is why the CPUSA and its agents, many of them secret members such as “historian” Howard Zinn, Obama mentor Frank Marshall Davis, singer Paul Robeson and labor leader Harry Bridges, were under FBI surveillance and the subject of extensive files about their activities and associates.

Obama’s grandfather, Stanley Dunham, who picked Davis as his grandson’s mentor, also had an FBI file. But that has turned up missing.

The CPUSA was so extreme during its heyday that it not only defended the mass murderer Stalin but the Hitler-Stalin Pact. The group also supplied Soviet espionage agents in the U.S. Government. Nobody can claim ignorance about the CPUSA at this late date in its history. But there they were at the “One Nation Working Together” rally. There can be no doubt that they were an official part of the progressive big tent.

Their literature table proclaimed, “Communist Party,” and literature was freely available (for a donation). Red hand clappers were even passed out, courtesy of the Young Communist League.

A reporter would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind—or dishonest—to ignore it.

I found the CPUSA members at their literature table near the reflecting pool down from the Lincoln Memorial, where people like Van Jones and Al Sharpton gave their speeches. Jones, whose communist background proved to be too embarrassing and was ousted from his White House job, was introduced by Ed Schultz of MSNBC as a “great patriot.”

The top CPUSA officials included executive vice chair Jarvis Tyner, who told me in a brief recorded interview that progressives had better “stick” with Obama and his “dream” for America.

Interestingly, an on-line publication that noted the involvement of Tyner and his colleagues was The Root, which is published by The Washington Post. Cord Jefferson, a staff writer for The Root, quoted Tyner as saying, “This is the real deal here. We don’t agree with Obama on everything, but the future of our country is associated with moving the country away from the last 30 years, and he’s part of that. He said the people ought to get involved and make the change that they want, and I think that’s a good thing for the country.”

In terms of the size of the rally, Jefferson acknowledged, “Composed of labor union members, teachers, gay activists and others, the excited crowd was noticeably smaller than the one that overtook the National Mall during Restoring Honor.”

The CPUSA literature table featured a poster-size capitulation of everything that has supposedly been accomplished for the progressives and why they should “defend our victories” and vote on November 2 against the Republicans. For example, the document hailed Obama and Congress for voting for the stimulus bill, unemployment compensation extensions, “sweeping health care improvements,” new Wall Street regulations, and forcing BP to agree to a $20 billion compensation fund.

The evidence, in other words, shows that the CPUSA, once the faithful parrot of the old Soviet Union, is firmly in Obama’s camp. This is news, but it wasn’t to the liberal media purportedly “covering” the October 2 event. Like Al Jazeera, which was interviewing many of the key speakers, the media tended to remain near the Lincoln Memorial, where there was free food and a VIP tent away from the sun. Rank-and-file participants were kept away from this area.

The CPUSA spin-off, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), took a different tack on Obama. Former Obama associate Carl Davidson, once a top official in the SDS, was helping run the CCDS literature table, explaining why he thinks Obama is not a socialist. “Obama is a Keynesian liberal,” he told me, “and not a very good one.” By that he meant that Obama prefers to use federal government monetary resources to influence but not control outright the economy. He refused to be interviewed on camera, saying conservatives misquote him.

When I commented to Davidson that there must have been a dozen different socialist groups at the event, he laughed and said I had underestimated the number.

Some of these are clearly more important than others. Two of the most important these days are the Workers World Party (WWP) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Some members of the former left to form the latter. They operate front organizations such as ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and the International Action Center.

These groups supplied some of their representatives to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Warwick Hotel in New York City on September 21, while he was in town speaking to the United Nations.

Left-wing press reports say that among the individuals and organizations in attendance at this event were Cynthia McKinney, a former Democratic member of Congress from Georgia and the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2008; poet and activist Amiri Baraka; Brian Becker of ANSWER; MOVE Minister of Information Ramona Africa; International Action Center co-director Sara Flounders; Ardeshir and Eleanor Ommani, co-founders of the American-Iranian Friendship Committee; former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark; Million Worker March Movement organizer Brenda Stokely; Shafeah M’balia of Black Workers for Justice; Phil Wilayto of Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality; Larry Holmes of Bail Out the People Movement; Don DeBar of; Ryme Katkhouda of the People’s Media Center; Michael McPhearson of United for Peace and Justice; and Reverend Graylan Hagler.

Michael McPhearson was the “peace organizer” of the “One Nation Working Together” October 2 march and his “peace contingent” assembled near 14th Street and Constitution Ave., where Larry Holmes riled up the crowd at a mini-rally by denouncing recent FBI raids on so-called “peace” and “anti-war” groups.

While Holmes remains with the WWP, Brian Becker left to join the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a favorite of the Kremlin’s propaganda arm, Russia Today television.

The Workers World Party had been investigated by the House Internal Security Committee for its support of the North Korean regime and Arab terrorist groups. But the House Committee was disbanded by liberals in Congress.

In total, there were reportedly “100 leaders and representatives of anti-war, labor, alternative media and Iranian and Palestinian solidarity organizations” at the event with Ahmadinejad. Anti-Israel activists were clearly visible at the October 2 rally, with McPhearson expressing the predominant view that U.S. military aid to Israel should be immediately ended.

There is clearly some disagreement among the far-left over whether to work inside or outside of the Democratic Party. A representative of the Workers International League, which publishes Socialist Appeal, told me that organized labor should establish its own independent party rather than fund the Democrats. He said the reception at the October 2 event to his message was “very positive.”

Cliff Kincaid is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at

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