Date: Mon, 30 Mar 98 23:25:19 CST
From: David Silver <email@example.com>
Subject: Paul Robeson-Internationalist
Paul Robeson; Artist of Genius and Internationalist
By Dave Silver, March 1998
Liberals have now been joined by more mainstream circles such as a lengthy article by his biographer in the New York Times that perhaps it's time to honor this American legend of African ancestry. There is even talk in some bourgeois circles to have a Robeson postage stamp. This is all to the good with a caveat; the conscious neglect of his internationalism whether it is lending his voice to the Spanish Loyalists, the Welsh Miner strikers or beating back the racists at Peekskill or Major League Baseball, is leaving out an essential part of his genius and humanity. Paul always related his "style" and "form" of his performance to an historical context and a fundamental content as when he sings "you show a little spunk, and ya lands in jail."
However the most fundamental reason for the hounding and persecution by the government and that which also earned the enmity of many liberal and even progressive minded people, was as an implacable foe of anti-communism and his staunch support for the Soviet Union and existing socialism. He was villified for reminding us that German fascism was a product of German capital, and that its use of anti-Bolshevism and racism led directly to the genocide of the Third Reich. The last straw for "progressives" was Paul's acceptance of the Stalin Peace Prize in 1952 as well as some of the militancy expressed in his 1958 book Where I Stand.
Robeson was that rare genius that enriched world culture while using his thoughts and art as a weapon against oppression and exploitation. We should name one of our highest mountains after him just as they did in the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics. Paul Robeson, Presénte.