DUPES: HOW AMERICA'S ADVERSARIES HAVE MANIPULATED PROGRESSIVES FOR A CENTURY
By Paul Kengor
ISI Books, $29.95, 497 pages
"I think we're going to hell in a handbasket." That comment was uttered at a recent public gathering here in Washington by Paul Kengor, political science professor at Grove City College and a best-selling author. In "Dupes: How America's Adversaries Manipulated Progressives for a Century," he presents mountains of research lending some credence to his above-quoted verdict on the country's direction.
The author has viewed the composite of the damage inflicted by America's enemies for decades. What he shows, as most Americans would agree, is nothing short of horrifying.
First the title itself: Webster's defines a dupe as "a person easily deceived or fooled." Mr. Kengor designates dupes as "useful idiots" and offers a multitude of examples. Among the highlights of the book is how the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a dupe of the late 20th century, approached the Soviet Union leadership to undermine not just one, but two American presidents (Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan) as revealed in a KGB memo.
At one time, offering advice to America's enemies as to how to win in their battle against the elected head of the U.S. government would have elicited the T-word from a shocked public. Alas, most of the public never knew about it because, as Mr. Kengor explains, "American journalists flatly refused to cover the story in the two decades since the London Times first mentioned the document in February 1992" or when that same KGB file subsequently was published in full by the author in his 2006 work on Mr. Reagan titled "The Crusader."
Kennedy never denied the authenticity of the memo - responding to a Philadelphia TV station (possibly the only outlet that even asked) that it was a matter of "interpretation." Reading the full document does not leave such wiggle room. If this silent treatment doesn't illustrate a corruption scandal within the mainstream media, it is hard to imagine what does.
Copious evidence is presented that Frank Marshall Davis (the male role model for a young Barack Obama) was a longtime member of the Communist Party, including such "smoking guns" as his party card number and a signed statement by Mr. Davis acknowledging his membership.
Mr. Davis himself was no dupe. He was a hard-core communist who did the Kremlin's bidding at every turn. To what extent his influence made a dupe of the man who is now president of the United States or led him to a negative view of the country he leads is a matter for conjecture.
There is no evidence that either Kennedy or Mr. Obama ever joined the Communist Party, but their attitudes were influenced by communists (in Kennedy's case, partly because during his visits to Moscow, he was "taken for a ride," in the words of a KGB defector) by such enticements as a fake wedding in the Russian Palace of Marriages.
Other examples explored by Mr. Kengor include:
c Jimmy Carter's fatal miscalculations in dealings with communism and Islamism.
c Purported foreign intelligence funding of overseas propaganda trips by U.S. congressmen.
c Radicals from the 1960s (dupes, communists and terrorists) re-emerging as "progressives for Obama."
c Franklin D. Roosevelt being duped by "Uncle Joe" Stalin following World War II.
c Soviet disinformation's role in Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's "war crimes" accusations against American soldiers.
c Hollywood stars who were duped - including actor Ronald Reagan before he woke up and ultimately became the chief anti-communist who brought down the Soviet empire.
c As the Soviets aimed for world domination, they targeted American liberals, especially academics and the religious left.
Liberals still defend the communists who trashed Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and the anti-communists who tried to alert them. A partial list of dupes (and dupers) exposed in this book includes Arthur Miller, the playwright best known for "The Crucible," the anti-McCarthy drama; Benjamin Spock, baby-doctor hero of the '60s counterculture; Upton Sinclair, muckraker; H.G. Wells, English author; John Dewey, father of modern education; George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and co-founder of the London School of Economics; Lillian Hellman, hard-boiled (and hateful) Stalinist playwright; Howard Zinn, Communist Party member and "historian" whose distortions are used in schools all across America; Walter Cronkite, "most trusted man in America"; and Helen Thomas, disgraced former "dean" of the White House press corps.
Mr. Kengor sheds fascinating new light on the extent to which the Kremlin was horrified by Reagan's missile-defense program and how Moscow exerted influence on liberals worldwide to stick the plan with the frivolous moniker "Star Wars"- as well as the hope this move by the Gipper gave to victims in communist prisons.
The radical left has exerted tremendous influence on the course of events over the past 100 years, first in advancing the Soviet cause, today working hand in hand with Islamist terrorists. Call them what you will. They just want to bring America to its knees.
But, as Mr. Kengor points out, "the extreme left can never succeed in America, even incrementally, without non-extremists helping to spread and implement its far left goals."
For example, the author shows that Roosevelt realized in his final days (when it was too late) that he had been ill-used by Josef Stalin at Tehran and Yalta. But Stalin could not have succeeded if FDR had not trusted people around him who were communists - not just Alger Hiss, but also the president's most trusted aide, Harry Hopkins - defined by top Soviet officials in private communications as an agent of "major significance" and "the most important of all Soviet wartime agents in the United States."
In terms of putting the last 100 years in perspective, "Dupes" may be one of the most significant literary offerings of our time. In a mere 497 pages, the author has compressed information that would have been exposed through the decades in volumes of testimony if only Congress had done its job of investigating internal subversion. Americans who read this book might urge the incoming (more conservative) Congress to revive the House Committee on Internal Security. If we are going to hell in a handbasket, we can change course.
Wes Vernon is a Washington-based writer and veteran broadcast journalist.
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