There was a serious clash of ideologies on the front page of the newspapers on January 29. The Obama media were delighted that in his State of the Union address, Obama honored Army Ranger Cory Remsburg, the personification of military heroism.
But newspapers also honored the late radical folk singer Pete Seeger, whose songs mocked the American military as idiots. Take “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and its lyric “Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards every one / When will they ever learn?”
"[I]t’s important to remember that [Pete] Seeger, once an avowed Stalinist, was a political singer devoted to a sinister political system--a position he held long after the Soviet experiment drenched itself in blood and collapsed in ignominy."
With lines like that, the Daily Beast's Michael Moynihan might find himself crossed off a few Christmas card lists and curiously uninvited to some cocktail parties. And yet, things like that must be said. Kudos to Moynihan for recounting these inconvenient truths in "The Death of 'Stalin's Songbird'":
To those who make public fools of themselves saying that one-sided left-wing programming on PBS is an illusion, we suggest they open the Sunday Washington Post to the TV Week magazine. There on the cover is a picture of Pete Seeger, the radical-left folk singer-songwriter. "Raising His Voice: PBS Pays Tribute to Singer-Activist Pete Seeger," the cover says. Inside, readers learn PBS is offering a 90-minute documentary openly described as a "tribute." The headline is "Pete Seeger, a Force of Nature." Even Seeger seems embarrassed that PBS is offering America this whitewash of his life and career:
Regrets? Seeger says he has "millions of them -- stupid things I've done here and there." His criticism of the PBS tribute is that it "didn't show any of the stupid things I've done." Director Jim Brown has known Seeger for a long time, said Susan Lacy, executive producer of the "American Masters" series, and Brown wasn't trying to make a totally balanced film. "That's not meant in a negative way," she said. "It's just that Pete Seeger is such a principled idealist, such a good man."
The New York Times has now corrected a "smear" about Pete Seeger being 50 years too late in denouncing Stalin. Thanks to the intrepid research of Times reporter Daniel J. Wakin, the record has now been set straight. Pete Seeger was only about 40 years too late in criticizing Stalin.
What inspired Wakin to make this "major" correction was a report by historian Ron Radosh in the August 31 New York Sun that Pete Seeger sent him a letter recently expressing his regret that he didn't see what anybody with a pair of even slightly discerning eyes could have spotted: that Joseph Stalin was evil. In reponse to Radosh's criticism of the former Communist Party member for slavishly following the Stalinist party line, Pete Seeger sent him a letter which was excerpted in Seeger Speaks — and Sings — Against Stalin: