NPR's 'Arts' Coverage Includes Celebrating Castro-Loving Communist Folk Singers

Conservatives agree that public broadcasting no longer needs federal funding. But McCain Republicans are hunting for strange compromises. Former McCain 2000/2008 adviser Kevin Hassett wrote for Bloomberg that NPR and PBS news is wrong-headed, but not its arts and education initiatives (like Big Bird): "Public radio and television, then, are defensible to the extent that they serve the public good by enriching the arts. NPR and PBS, however, wandered far from this mission, providing news content that is mostly indistinguishable from that provided by left-leaning for-profit enterprises."

Let's not assume that taxpayer-supported arts and culture aren't often twisted to support the statist agenda. NPR's "arts" reporting on Monday night's All Things Considered celebrated folk singer Barbara Dane, "a versatile voice with a political purpose."  (Have you heard her songs, such as "I Hate the Capitalist System"?) Anchor Robert Siegel announced Dane passed "significant signposts," such as "She was the first white woman profiled by Ebony magazine. And she was the first U.S. performer to break the U.S. travel ban to Cuba." 

In addition to toasts from singer Bonnie Raitt, reporter Steven Short of San Francisco NPR affiliate KALW mostly underlined how she told a Las Vegas promoter "F--- you" when he didn't want her to perform with any blacks in her band. Her support of Castro (who's enslaved a lot of blacks) might not seem so hip now:

SHORT: Dane's reputation led to invitations to perform at rallies.

Unidentified Announcer: It's our great pleasure now to introduce to you Barbara Dane, Reverend Kirkpatrick and Pete Seeger.

SHORT: Including this rally on the mall in Washington, D.C., in 1971.

Ms. DANE: Now you've got to repeat this part here: (Singing) I don't want nobody over me...

Unidentified Group: (Singing) I don't want nobody over me.

SHORT: In Europe at the time, she was called the voice of the other America.  

In other words, the America-hating America. Dane's own website tells the story differently. She ardently supported communist revolutionary "liberation movements" all over the globe. So much for "nobody over me."

In l966, Barbara Dane became the first U.S. musician to tour post-revolutionary Cuba.  The impact on the Cuban public was indelible, and she soon returned to take part in an international festival where she met other like-minded singers from all over the world. Through some of these singers, she was invited to tour in both Western and Eastern Europe, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the Far East, even to North Vietnam and the liberated areas of the South as the war still raged.  To all these audiences she brought a range of American genres in order to communicate some of the complexities of American life, and with each encounter she incorporated new songs sung in their original languages or employing English lyrics she had begun to create.  

In 1970 Dane founded Paredon Records, with a deep commitment to making the music of the musicians and singers identified with the liberation movements then rocking the globe, many of whom she met during her travels, available to the U.S. listener. She produced 45 albums, including three of her own, over a 12 year period.  The label was recently incorporated into Smithsonian-Folkways, a label of the Smithsonian Institution, and is available through their catalog.

There's government support for the arts again: the taxpayer-subsidized Smithsonian cataloging "liberation movement" records to keep the communist flame burning.

PS: KALW is owned by the San Francisco Unified School District, and their studios are located the Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School. The Burtons were liberal Democrats who served in the House. Sala Burton was succeeded in office by Nancy Pelosi. 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis