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CPUSA replies to slander in NY Times

By Gus Hall & Jarvis Tyner, 18 December 1996

The following is the full text of a letter which appeared, abridged, in the Wednesday, Dec. 18 New York Times. It is a response to a vicious, FBI-like anti-Communist op-ed on Dec. 10 which slandered the Communist Party's 77-year history of fighting for civil rights.

J. Edgar Hoover must be smiling from his grave. W.E.B. Du Bois must be turning in his.

Hoover, because the stench of the McCarthyism he helped create continues to foul the op-ed page of the New York Times. Du Bois, because opportunists continue to abuse the name and legacy of the organization he helped found.

Denton L. Watson's article on Thurgood Marshall is straight out of Hoover's McCarthyite Cold War propaganda machine - straight out of the gutter. The Communist Party "embarrassed" the NAACP during the Scottsboro case; organized African Americans as a "fifth column;" "used women" to seduce unsuspecting Blacks; Communists, not racists, were the "greatest threat" to the NAACP?

Echoes of McCarthy? This is demagogy that rivals, if not exceeds, the Big Lie of McCarthyism during the 1950s. That it appears in the New York Times in 1996 gives reason for pause.

One need not respond to the garbage, but to set the record straight: Socialism and Communism are not foreign imports but are home-grown American products. The lives and political legacies of figures like W.E.B. Du Bois and Mary Wright Ovington - both life-long advocates of socialism and founders of the NAACP - amply testify to this.

During the 77 years of the CPUSA, Communists worked side by side with many organizations in trade unions and civil rights organizations and, yes, with the NAACP for jobs, peace, against racism and for social equality.

That white people and African Americans - including Du Bois - joined the Communist Party was no crime. Nor was it the result of some hidden plot. Rather, people joined the Party because of their admiration of its work against racism and for the rights of workers, Black, Brown and white. Du Bois himself dismissed the conspiracy charge. "I reject the charge that Communism is a conspiracy," he said when joining the Communist Party.

It was the rabid anti-Communist hysteria of McCarthyism, falsely charging the Communist movement with conspiracies and plots, that led to the Smith Act trials for conspiring to "think" and "teach" - charges that many of us went to jail for.

We wonder at the publication of such patently false allegations today. We remember that Big Lie anti-Communism has always been the foundation of fascist-like thinking. Let all democratic-minded people be warned: this demagogy, if left unanswered, threatens democracy itself - it is the stuff of fascism.

We close with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spoken when memorializing Dr. Du Bois in 1968 just weeks before King's assassination. Observing that Du Bois was a genius who chose to be a Communist, he said, "Irrational, obsessive anti-Communism has led us into too many quagmires to be retained as if it were a mode of scientific thinking."

Gus Hall, National Chairman, CPUSA
Jarvis Tyner, Vice-Chairman

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