By Jim Simpson
In light of President Bush’s recent Russia trip to celebrate victory over Germany in World War II, or the “Great Patriotic War” as the Soviets called it, it is useful to ask: Why do historians, pundits, journalists, politicians the world over, and even Hollywood, celebrate World War II as the last “Good War” in American history?
How does that conflict distinguish itself from Korea and Vietnam, wherein we faced anti-war opposition both at home and abroad? Why do we today face such vicious resistance to the Global War on Terror from many of these same sources?
At first the disunity of our war effort today seems inexplicable given the unity that existed during World War II. The similarities between the two are striking.
In both wars, we joined with global allies to fight fascistic fanatics who committed mass genocide. In both cases we were attacked by surprise, completely without warning, in a strike that killed thousands. In fact, 9-11 can be seen as the more barbaric, since the attackers chose defenseless civilian targets. In both cases, Western civilization itself was targeted.
The stock answer is that during WW II we were all united in a common cause: to counter an imminent threat from a barbaric enemy and defeat the only genuine “Axis of Evil” that ever existed.
The truth is, as always, a little messier. For most of the period prior to our entry into World War II, there was a strongly expressed public sentiment against the war. We had declared ourselves a “neutral” country and a policy of “isolationism” found voices among both the right and Left.
One of the loudest came from the America First Committee (AFC), and its prominent spokesman, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh. Despite accusations to the contrary, the AFC was a genuinely patriotic organization at its inception and was guided by the following principles:
- The United States must build an impregnable defense for America;
- No foreign powers, nor group of powers, can successfully attack a prepared America;
- American democracy can be preserved only by keeping out of the European war;
- "Aid short of war" weakens national defense at home and threatens to involve America in war abroad.
A Yale University student named R. Douglas Stewart, who feared the consequences of another catastrophic war like World War I, first organized the AFC in 1940 with the assistance of other students, including Gerald R. Ford (yes, later to become President Ford) and Potter Stewart (later to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court). It quickly gained supporters on Capitol Hill and the financial backing of Sears & Roebuck Chairman, General Robert E. Wood. Before it was dissolved little more than one year later, the AFC had 450 local chapters and over 800,000 members.
However, despite its charter specifically excluding “…Nazis, Fascists, Communists, or members of other groups that place the interests of any other nation above those of our own”, AFC was unable to completely prevent such groups from infiltrating. Charles Lindberg’s inflammatory speeches didn’t help, nor did certain other endorsements, such as a 1941 German Radio broadcast, which called AFC “truly American and truly patriotic.” However the “Nazi sympathizer” brand was given the lie when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The group disbanded four days later, claiming in its final statement: “The time for military action is here.”
Meanwhile, the Left couldn’t make up its mind. Consider the following passage from the Encyclopedia of the American Left:
Under the leadership of Communist and Socialist undergraduates, the campus activists of the 1930s built the first mass student protest movement in American history. During its peak years, from spring 1936 to spring 1939, the movement mobilized at least 500,000 collegians (about half of the American student body, emphasis mine) in annual one-hour strikes against war. The movement also organized students on behalf of an extensive reform agenda, which included federal aid to education, government job programs for youth, abolition of the compulsory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), academic freedom, racial equality, and collective bargaining rights.
Sound familiar? During this period, the communist Left was also finding its way into the news media, Hollywood and government in what is sometimes considered its most influential period in U.S. history. Out of a need to hide their overt links to the Soviet Comintern, communist movements around the world stopped publicly identifying themselves, instead adopting “Popular Front” labels. Communists began referring to themselves simply as “liberals in a hurry.”
However, the Left was forced to rethink its anti-war stance. Communist student organizations were horrified, for example, when the Neutrality laws they had supported in the early 1930s prevented U.S. aid from going to Spanish Republicans (primarily Stalin-supported communists) fighting Franco’s fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War.
In fact about 2,800 American communists and fellow travelers abandoned the pacifist role altogether to fight alongside Spanish communists as the “Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” Their contribution to the Republican cause was even lionized by the famous American novelist and fellow traveler, Ernest Hemingway who said of them: “No man ever entered the earth more honorably than those who died in Spain.”
Then came the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which pushed the American communists firmly back on the anti-war track and squarely behind the America Firsters. Their renewed commitment to pacifism didn’t last long however. They flipped again on June 22, 1941—the day Hitler invaded the Soviet Union.
With each new flip-flop, the American Communist Party lost more of its naïve, idealistic members and sympathizers, for it became painfully obvious that the Party had no principled attachment to any concepts, philosophies or ideals, only loyalty to the Soviet Union.
After Pearl Harbor, the entire country got behind the war effort and the time is heralded as one of the most unifying periods in our history. But for the Left, support for the war had nothing to do whatever with support for the United States. The American Left got behind the war effort solely because they correctly saw Hitler’s Germany as a clear and present danger to the Soviet Union specifically and the world communist movement in general. Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union was a “call to arms” for communists everywhere.
In short, the celebrated “unity” of the war years was actually the result a marriage of convenience between the virulently anti-American, American communist party and its unwitting partner, the rest of America. Following the war, Leftists quickly donned the anti-war mantle again.
The Left felt no threat to its survival from North Korea or North Vietnam. In those cases it was America that posed the threat to their fellow communists, so they remained “anti-war.” In the early 1950s, under scrutiny by the FBI and investigation by Congressional committees, communists kept a relatively low profile. After the McCarthy fiasco however, they got a breather. The FBI backed off and politicians of all stripes shied away from looking too closely at the activities of American communists lest they be branded “McCarthyites,”— a term coined by the communists themselves.
Nonetheless the situation warranted a change in tactics. The offspring of first-generation American communists came of age in the 1960s. They dropped the stigmatizing label and resurrected themselves as the New Left. Therefore, during the Vietnam War, instead of unity we got rioting in the streets, protesters “levitating” the Pentagon, the Students for a Democratic Society preaching revolution and the Weather Underground conducting terrorist bombings.
Today we have the Global War on Terror. And while it seems counterintuitive that the American Left would support “religious” fanatics diametrically opposed to their atheist agenda, the two groups in fact have more in common than they have differences. Both believe in totalitarian, one-party rule, both are rabidly anti-capitalist and above all else, both see the United States of America as the chief obstacle to their goals.
Lynne Stewart was, until her arrest for aiding and abetting terrorists, the attorney for Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheik who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. She described Muslim terrorists as follows:
They are basically forces of national liberation. And I think that we, as persons who are committed to the liberation of oppressed people, should fasten on the need for self-determination…My own sense is that, were the Islamists to be empowered, there would be movements within their own countries…to liberate.
So it’s okay to support terrorism, Lynn?
I don’t believe in anarchistic violence, but in directed violence. That would be violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism and sexism, and the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions, and accompanied by popular support.
Of course, the “racist” and “sexist” epithets are always hurled at the United States. I guess racism, sexism and oppression, the prominent features of all Muslim states, just doesn’t apply here. So in other words terrorist violence against America, its leaders and people (yes, we the people are the “popular support” she is talking about), is just hunky dory.
Stewart is a member of both the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). The NLG was identified as a KGB front in the 1940s and the Center for Constitutional Rights is an offshoot founded by the late radical Leftist William Kunstler, a longtime NLG lawyer. The CCR may be a familiar name. Spokesmen for the Center are regularly quoted on television news as strident opponents of border control and the USA Patriot Act.
These organizations and others have also supported and defended U.S. based Islamic organizations cited as either fronts for terrorists or terrorist fundraising operations. The FBI arrested University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian in 2003 after a seven-year investigation. He had been North America’s head of the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Al-Arian created two think tanks, World Islamic Studies Enterprise and the Islamic Committee for Palestine. Using these as cover, he traveled the country raising money, recruiting militants and making speeches preaching Jihad against America. At the same time he was actively crusading against legislation which would make “material support” for terrorists illegal. The NLG, the CCR, the ACLU, the American Muslim Council and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) assisted him in this crusade. CAIR was created by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and has been linked to al Qaeda.
These are but a few examples.
At this point you have probably been asking yourself if I am calling all liberals and anti-war types “communists.” Of course not. There are many well-meaning individuals who oppose war on principle; there are many more who identify themselves as “liberal.” There are too, quite a few who rather mindlessly identify themselves as favoring some amorphous “World Peace.” Whatever the case, the vast majority are not communists. But Lenin had a word for these people: “useful idiots.” Whether they know it or not, they advance the agenda of America’s enemies.
For example, the NLG, CCR and CAIR all receive significant funding from the Tides Foundation, which in turn has received multimillion dollar donations from Theresa Heinz-Kerry, wife of 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry. While I can’t imagine Ms. Kerry has a clue what she is doing, it is a demonstration of how effective these groups have been at insinuating themselves into the “mainstream” that they should receive such support.
And while it is easy to understand how some may oppose the manner in which this administration has conducted the Global War on Terror, the strident, obstructionist opposition to any action by the United States reveals the true agenda of the anti-war Left. They merely criticize; they offer no solutions. They simply do not want us to win and have been working overtime to prevent it.
American communists remain to this day the driving force behind the anti-war movement. They are the driving force behind news media efforts to discredit the administration and smear the troops. This is not news to many of us, but if you want the gory details, former radical David Horowitz has written a seminal book, Unholy Alliance, Radical Islam and the American Left, which meticulously documents their widespread penetration of government, academia, the news media and other organizations, their close cooperation with Islamic terrorist groups and the overall malevolent nature of their agenda. Horowitz should know; he was once one of them.
They plot against our institutions while hiding behind the ample protections our Constitution and legal system provide. They sabotage our military efforts while basking in the safety provided by our military’s blood sacrifices. They agitate against our economic system while living large on the benefits of its affluence. They sneer at the achievements of our great democracy while demanding “Democracy Now!” They are a class of willful, nihilistic parasites.
Despite the “fall” of the Soviet Union, communists and their filthy spawn are more prevalent in our government, newsrooms, college campuses, and Hollywood than at any time in U.S. history.
Individuals and groups, which used to be shunned by our media, are seen daily among the talking heads on network and cable television and quoted regularly in newspapers and books. They have water carriers on Capitol Hill bought and paid for. Their influence over what we see, hear and read every day is palpable.
The virulent, almost suicidal desire of today’s radical Left to see the United States of America defeated by someone, anyone, trumps all other considerations. Therein lies the straightforward reason we have not enjoyed support from the Left for the Global War on Terror or for that matter any conflict since the “Great Patriotic War.”
The Left wants the terrorists to win.
 Sheldon Richman, “The America First Committee”, The Future of Freedom Foundation, April 1995.
 Richman, op cit.
 Encyclopedia of the American Left (New York : Oxford University Press, 1998), edited by Mari Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Georgakas, p. 799-802.
 Eric M. Breindel, a review of The Heyday of American Communism, by Harvey Klehr, in Commentary magazine, June 1984, p. 78.
 Ibid. p. 79.
 Encyclopedia of the American Left.
 As quoted in William Katz and Marc Crawford, The Lincoln Brigade, New York: Atheneum, 1989, p. 79.
 Monthly Review, November 25, 2002, as quoted in Horowitz, David, Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, Regnery, 2004, p. 187.
 David Horowitz, Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, Regnery, 2004, p. 188.
 Ibid. p. 189,199.
 Ibid. p. 241.
 Op. cit.