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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Today's kolumn is a pretty interesting history lesson about the existence of the Communist Party in the U.S.A., including it's involvement in Minnesota's DFL party back in the day.

Wingnuttia level: 0 (Safe for the reality-based community)

If I have any quibble with the story at all, it's the headline: Haynes may have "started" with the Minnesota DFL party, but he certainly did not spend all of his time there, nor is the story about how the DFL was secretly controlled by the Communists. However, as a former employee of a newspaper, I know that headlines are out of the hands of the writer of the story, so Kersten's not at fault here.

To be honest, I'm not really surprised by what is in the story. Like Haynes, I was taught in my Political Science classes that Communists never had real power in the political realm in this country, but that certainly doesn't mean that they didn't exist. I had presumed that most DFLers are well aware of Hubert Humphrey's fight against Communists when he was merging the Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties and as mayor of Minneapolis, but apparently that might not be as widely known as I thought. In any case, it's important to remember that Humphrey and the non-Communist liberals won.

Yes, there were Communists in government during the 50s and 60s, but that doesn't mean that the McCarthy pogrom wasn't extreme and un-American. It should also be noted that while there were probably thousands or tens of thousands of Communists back in the day (and probably still around today, for that matter), there are much less than a hundred terrorists in this country today by all counts. There were some unpleasantries due to the "Red Scare" in terms of civil liberties, but nothing like the wholesale trashing of our Constitution that is happening today. Thinking about the relative threats is probably a good idea.

All in all, this Haynes person and his research sound pretty interesting. I'm certainly not laughing at him.


At 9:23 AM, June 02, 2006, Anonymous Big Daddy, Esq. said...

It certainly is an interesting little piece of Minnesota history. But what I couldn't figure out while reading Kerten's column was simply this: why the hell was it written?

As I say, it's an interesting little lesson, but since when is Kersten given to providing her readers with historical education? I kept waiting for a point to be made, some insight she might provide beyond simply the history, a present-day parallel perhaps. But there was nothing.

And then it occurred to me. Her point (since I have difficulty believing that it just an altruistic desire to educate) is simple; it's a veiled hit piece. She just wants people to know that, yes, there were Communists, but more importantly, they were DFLers. Communists...DFL. Communists...DFL. She just wanted those two words to be linked together, and she used a historical anecdote to do it.

So, personally, I'd have the Wingnuttia level a bit higher, given the "Red Scare" implications.


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