Barack Obama and Frank Marshall Davis

Accuracy in Media ( a right-wing front group) has this bombastic article up on Barack Obama, Obama’s Communist Mentor, AIM Column, By Cliff Kincaid, February 18, 2008

However, through Frank Marshall Davis, Obama had an admitted relationship with someone who was publicly identified as a member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). The record shows that Obama was in Hawaii from 1971-1979, where, at some point in time, he developed a close relationship, almost like a son, with Davis, listening to his “poetry” and getting advice on his career path. But Obama, in his book, Dreams From My Father, refers to him repeatedly as just “Frank.”

The reason is apparent: Davis was a known communist who belonged to a party subservient to the Soviet Union. In fact, the 1951 report of the Commission on Subversive Activities to the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii identified him as a CPUSA member. What’s more, anti-communist congressional committees, including the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), accused Davis of involvement in several communist-front organizations.

It didn’t take much to get on some kind of list in the 1950s. A Google search shows that some variation of this meme – Davis was a supposedly a communist and Obama’s acknowledgment of Davis as an influence of course equals that Obama is a secret commie has been floating around for a while. One of the things that should make people take pause is the newsgroup’s promulgation of an article that describes Davis as a “socialist realist”. The clever addition of three little letters makes all the difference. Davis biographers and historians refer to Davis as a “social realist”. I can find no paper by Davis or any expert on Davis that describes him as a “socialist realist”. Davis was a newspaper writer and editor in addition to being a poet. He certainly had the time and opportunity in a long carreer to spell out his thoughts. As of this writing I can’t find any writings by him that states his allegiance to communism. On the contrary he warned the civil rights movement not to move in that direction. There is also the meme that Davis didn’t join the Communist Party until the fifties and even then he kept it a secret – as of this writing I cannot find any verification of that. Even if true the implication that Obama became a secret communist simply because he knew Davis is absurd guilt by association. From The Voice of the World: The Early Career of Frank Marshall Davis 1931- 1934 by Leonard Ray Teel, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Georgia State University

The mood of protest in the early 1930s was such that some editors welcomed even the editors of the Communists Party. At the end of 1931, Carl Murphy’s influential Baltimore Afro- American applauded the “Communist program of racial equality” as a hopeful balance to the year’s deplorable events — “fifteen lynchings” and the death sentences given to eight black youths in the Scottsboro, Ala rape trial. The editors welcomed the communists as neo-abolitionists: Reds as courageous as the Minute Mne or the volunteer firemen seem everywhere ready for a demonstration against race prejudice, whether it be at hand or a thousand miles away.

Alliance with the Communist Party, even from a distance, was too radical for some black editors, among them Frank Marshall Davis. While he was as ardent as any editor against injustices — in jobs, housing, education, the laww — Davis warned against reliance upon a non-American system for solving American problems.In 1932, a year after becoming managing editor of the Atlanta World, Davis was invited to a national symposium of prominent black editors, including Murphy of the Afro-American and Robert S. Vann of the Courier. There, he warned aginst reliance on the Communist system to achieve racial justice. To Davis, the black protest movement was not compatible with the communists “crude and noisy militancy.” He saw “no fear of the rainbow brotherhood going red in wholesale numbers — at least not until white America takes long steps in that direction.”

[ ]…Davis articulated the newspaper’s conscience. In four years, he articulated an agenda of “social realism” that included appeals for racial justice in politics and economics, as well as justice before the law. He championed Negro activism, especially to compensate for social ills not remedied by white society. But he warned blacks against accepting the Depression era remedies advertised by communists.

[ ]…His own personal horror had occured in Kansas when he was 5 years old, he once told an interviewer. Some white third-graders who had heard about lynching had practiced on him and nearly hanged him.

Some other blogs that have posted on this and associated story by Lisa Schiffren writing for the Republican National Review making the utterly irrational argument that since Obama was the product of a mixed African-American-Jewish marriage he must be a communists, Is Barack Obama the Product of a Secret Communist-Jewish Breeding Program?, For Conservatives, “Race-Mixing” Still A Communist Plot, Obammunists, and Wow, are the racists Very Serious, Thoughtful people over at The Corner on a roll today.

Davis certainly showed an incredible entrepreneurial spirit for some one that was supposed to be a communist,

Davis said that he was drawn to life in Hawaii because of the islands’ multiethnic culture. He wrote some poetry in Hawaii and worked on his autobiography beginning in the early 1960s. He penned a column for a Honolulu labor newspaper. But mostly he dropped off the literary radar, starting a paper-supplies company, Oahu Papers, which mysteriously burned to the ground in March of 1951. In 1959 he started another similar firm, the Paradise Paper Company. Several times he was questioned about his leftist affiliations by congressional investigators, but by the late 1950s the anticommunist hysteria had died down.