Lewiston Maine’s preeminent educational institution tells the world that MLK Day at Bates is an intense, community-wide opportunity to discuss, teach, and reflect on Martin Luther King’s legacy. It is a time to examine contemporary human issues through the lens of King’s work and ideas, broadly defined. It is a day of thought, reflection, and aspiration for the entire community.

Bates is a highly selective private liberal arts college which accepts just 12.1% of its applicants. It was founded in 1855 by Maine abolitionists. It does not deserve our special attention because it is commonly included among the 25 top rated liberal arts colleges in America or because it’s a Maine institution. It interests us because its current political values conform so flawlessly to the academic model prevailing almost everywhere in our declining republic. This zombie-conformity is conclusively displayed by the selection of Angela Davis as keynote speaker.

A DVD entitled “Our Friend Angela” can be ordered from International Historic Films for $19.95. I’ve made no effort to discover the fee Angela charged her friends at Bates, but I’d guess it was a lot more than twenty bucks.

If Bates takes its educational mission seriously this historical glance at its keynoter’s history will be in its library. Let’s leave a student to check on that. If they watched they would see the future keynoter exiting from the plane excited and happy, surrounded by adoring white people. Smile, hugs, kissed, a good time for everybody.

The narrator introduces her as a prominent American Communist who survived legal persecution. Angela stimulates the festive atmosphere by expressing her inexpressibly wonderful feeling at meeting here where the world-wide communist transformation began. And she thanked the Soviet people for their support of the CPUSA.

The high point, to my way of thinking, came when Friend Angela addressed the factory floor and clerical workers in Leningrad’s Kirov Works, contrasting their work for the common good and American workers forced to work for capitalist profits. Her little lecture produced the usual “stormy applause” after which the thousands of workers present voted on a motion to include her in their collective. Every hand went right up, every one. Then another outburst of the customary stormy applause.

Another item which should be found in the Bates library would be “The Black Book of Communism. Crimes, Terror, Repression,” Harvard 1999. This covers a lot of ground, from Lenin to Peru’s Sendero Luminoso. It added up a butcher’s bill amounting to tens of millions.

A review in The New York Times by Tony Judt, a habitual and incurable liberal, allows no ambiguity about the conclusions of the book. “No one will any longer be able to claim ignorance or uncertainly about the criminal nature of Communism,” he wrote, “and and those who had begun to forget will be forced to remember anew.”

This is not true and Judt should have known better. Read the enthusiastic burbling from the Bates community and see how little this history affects their thinking. No one denies that Angela ran as the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) vice presidential candidate in 1980 and 1984. This doesn’t matter at all.

Changing fashion dictates that anti-communist is a much harsher epithet than communist. It doesn’t matter that she received the Lenin Peace Prize from East Germany in 1079. When Soviet tanks crushed Czechoslovakia’s “Prague Spring,” Davis, joined the CPUSA in supporting this military action, explaining her belief that “the only path of liberation for black people is that which leads toward complete and radical overthrow of the capitalist class.”

Outraged, the UCLA faculty forgot about the First Amendment guarantees in the Bill of Rights and fired her in September 1969. The battle in defense of her rights forced UCLA to reinstate her. This case helped made Davis the CPUSA candidate for Vice President of the United States in 1980 and 1984. So what? Nothing illegal about that.

The VP aspirant remained a devoted supporter of the USSR during the Cold War, finding no inconsistence with campaigning for peace and supporting Soviet military activities. Best of all, her big new enthusiasm these days is for decriminalization crime and liberating America’s prison population.

This stands out because the USSR’s Gulag Archipelago was in full operation during her visit. She has been quoted as saying that the millions of prisoner penned up in that archipelago of prison camps were getting what they deserved and should be left to rot.

A lot more could be said about this perennial pest, but it won’t make much difference. The best we can hope for is that some of the brighter Bates students will grow weary of the dull conformity prevailing around them and grow skeptical.

John Frary of Farmington, the GOP candidate for U.S. Congress in 2008, is a retired history professor, an emeritus Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United, a Maine Citizen’s Coalition Board member, and publisher of FraryHomeCompanion.com. He can be reached at [email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: