Blogs > Cliopatria > Fractions and Post-McCarthyism ...

Sep 13, 2004 8:03 am

Fractions and Post-McCarthyism ...

Some years ago, I was asked to comment on a paper about the history of anti-Semitism at West Point. It was a fairly solid paper, so there wasn't much to criticize. Somehow I learned that 1/2 of West Point's first graduating class was Jewish. That sounds impressive enough until you think about how you present evidence. The fact that West Point's first graduating class had only two members somehow diminishes the apparent weight of the fraction.

I thought about that example when I was reading Clayton Cramer's blog again last week. He observed that the CP, USA, isn't fielding a candidate for president this year and says that its chief priority is defeating George Bush for re-election. In the absence of the CP's endorsement of John Kerry, Clayton reads between the lines and points out that, if you vote for Kerry, you'll be furthering the chief priority of the CP, USA. Yeh, well, this Republican will just have to get over the charge that I'm aiding and abetting the Communists this time around. In the name of reasonable conservative values, I intend incidentally to do just that. It's not my aim. I don't control their priorities.

What caught my eye was another Claytonism in Cramer's post. Of the CP, USA, he says:"What amazes me is that anyone associates themselves with such an organization with the 20th century's horrifying history. It would be like calling yourself a Nazi. Yet I'm sure that the Communist Party, USA still has a significant fraction of college professors as members." I don't know what Clayton means by"a significant fraction" and I don't know the politics of all American college professors. I do know a lot of history professors and I can only think of one who is probably a member of the CP, USA. There was one Jew in West Point's first graduating class. There may be more than one history professor who is a member of the CP, USA. It certainly has more than two members. It claims to have"around 2,500 members." All 2,500 of them are, no doubt, a serious threat to American democracy. But how many professors would it take to be"a significant fraction" of 2,500? Would that number be"a significant fraction" of the American professorate? Within the same week, Clayton Cramer denies that"the vast majority" of American historians adhere to"professional standards" and claims that the American professorate makes up"a significant fraction" of the CP, USA. This is pitiful, Clayton, shameful!

By the time that Joseph McCarthy got around to making his accusations about Communist infiltration of the United States government, the CP, USA, had largely collapsed as an effective political entity. It was so infiltrated by agents of the United States government that it could be called"the FBI at revolution." But fifty years later and fifteen years after Ronald Reagan rejoiced at the collapse of the"evil empire," the methods of Joe McCarthy live on. McCarthy had no names of known Communists, much less substantiating evidence, in hand when he made the charges. Charges without substantiating evidence. Sound familiar, Clayton?

And, btw, if you do happen to know any Communists, dust off their walkers. This Republican will be happy to drive them to the polls in November.

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Stephen Thomas - 10/29/2004

Mr. Cramer's blog is very good. That's why he gets the traffic. The constant mischaracterization of his blog on this site should be obvious. His main interest is the 2nd Amendment, although he also speaks some truth the the phony "oppression" theory bandied by the gay activist movement. (And before you go nuts, I actually live and work in the gay community of NYC.)

I've lived for a very long time in New York City and Woodstock. Communism is, indeed alive and well in these communities and in the academic communities close to them. In New York City, you will even find bars named "KGB" and "CCCR" and you will constantly notice young people wearing t-shirts featuring communist luminaries.

I will post at some point in the future a number of journals and newspapers where you will find open advocacy of communism and broken hearted pining for the good old Soviet Union. I am currently dealing with a major illness in my family and cannot do so. But, start with the Woodstock Times, a newspaper written and read by the vacationing academic community of NYC.

I do not agree with everything Mr. Cramer writes, but the attempts in this blog to write him off as a loony are, indeed, kind of loony. He is a very level-headed writer.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/18/2004

Evidence, Mr. Thomas, evidence. Name calling won't do. Since you find Mr. Cramer's blog so enlightening and this one so in need of constant correction, I do find it a wonder that you feel compelled to keep returning to us.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/13/2004

Jonathan, Maybe not worth the trouble or maybe it's necessary to make the effort. Cramer's blog gets four times the traffic that Cliopatria does.

Jonathan Rees - 9/13/2004


I think it was Derek Catsam who somewhere on HNN a few weeks ago basically pointed out that a commentator throwing around the term "Communist" wouldn't know one if they got whacked by one on the side of the head. [The same thing goes for socialist by the way.] I think that's the case here too.

I'm still not sure whether this is willful ignorance or the McCarthyism you're suggesting. Either way, just writing about this makes me want to cry as I'm expending way too much energy on people who aren't worth the trouble.


Jonathan Dresner - 9/13/2004

If we're going to hold the parties accountable for those who lend their support without being asked, which party is going to have the widest variety of truly offensive supporters? I wonder what the Republican/Democrat voting ratio is among readers and devotees of The Turner Diaries?

There is a serious lack of proportionality to Cramer's argument: voting for Kerry may indeed make American Communists happier than voting for Bush, but to make a decision based on that is to turn over control of the political process not just to the minority wings of the major parties, not to minor annoyances like Ralph Nader, but to the least viable and most extreme groups on the American political spectrum.

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