NPR Positively Giddy Over Communist Party Archives
Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot…while prisons filled and bodies piled up in Communist-ruled paradises around the globe, members of the America Communist Party partied on.
The Tamiment Library at New York University recently received the complete records of the American Communist Party, including 20,000 books and every pamphlet the party ever published -- and National Public Radio is positively giddy.
The online introduction of Margot Adler’s piece begins: “Imagine inheriting the entire archive of an infamous political party.” But that – which is never heard on the air -- is the only suggestion that the American Communist Party members were "infamous" comrades of the most oppressive, bloodiest tyrants of the 20th century.
Words don’t do justice to Adler’s performance. It’s as if she’s reporting on a collection of lost “Honeymooners” episodes. She literally breaks into song at one point.
There’s a passing reference to, you know, all of those people dieing in far-away prisons: “It won’t reveal much about any secret relationship between the party and the Soviet communists,” Alder states, adding that the library director admits he hasn’t seen everything. (A little CYA in case someone more historically curious digs into the reams of rhetoric.)
The paper trail is so exciting, Adler concludes, because “you can’t depend on oral history.” No, Margot, you can’t.