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Communists and Islamic Extremists - Then and Now By: Stephen Schwartz
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, July 08, 2002

Numerous parallels are visible between the totalitarianism of Soviet Communism and that of Wahhabism, the Saudi-funded movement to seize control of world Islam. Aside from their ideological similarities and the common elements in the struggle of each for power, there is the striking matter of their identical tactics in penetration of the United States.

The Communist Party, USA, claimed to lead and, in effect, represent the entire labor and left movement, when its constituency was restricted to a narrow band of fanatics and agents of a foreign regime.

The Wahhabi lobby - the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Muslim Council (AMC) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) - claim to lead, and, in effect, represent the entire community of American Muslims, when its constituency is restricted to a narrow band of fanatics and agents of a foreign regime, the Saudi kingdom.

The Communist Party, USA, claimed it was engaged in protected speech, and, even more, argued that investigation of its conspirative activities in the interest of treason, terrorism, and espionage involved "denial of free thought." Right; it involved investigation of people who spent a lot of time thinking about their loyalty to the Soviet Union rather than the U.S., their support for actions like the assassination of Trotsky, entirely organized from U.S. soil by American Communists, and the need to assist spies like the Rosenbergs, Morton Sobell, and Rudolf Abel. But since their thoughts could not be investigated, rendering a discussion of the morality of such ridiculous, they were investigated for their pursuit of these thoughts, in real, direct actions.

The Wahhabi lobby claims it is engaged in the protected exercise of religion, and, even more, argues that investigation of its conspirative activities in the interest of treason and terrorism involve "denial of religious freedom." But religion per se does not enter into this investigation, which is based entirely on voluntary criminal acts, like September 11.

The Communist Party, USA, used labor unions as cover; the Wahhabi lobby uses charities. The means and the ends are the same: each represents the place where the ideological network encounters and seeks to control the masses. Each is used as a recruitment center and cover for terrorists.

Finally, when national and international developments act irresistibly to strip the benign mask away from each - the seizure of Czechoslovakia and break with Tito in 1948, in the Communist case, September 11 in the Wahhabi example - the alien operatives in charge of the terror network have taken refuge behind popular American sympathy for the underdog. Like the Communists before them, the Wahhabis have presented arrestees, detainees, and indicted suspects as people persecuted because they are "foreign born," or victims of "ethnic profiling."

The classic example of Communist manipulation of this issue was embodied in an organization known as the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born (ACPFB). This was a legal front set up to protect aliens caught in the U.S. while employed as representatives of the Communist International and in other top positions in the clandestine networks. Their ethnicity was varied. Overall, the Kremlin did not feel it could depend, for the real guidance of the American Communists, on lily-livered American ex-Socialists, who might be timid about the really rough stuff, or on former members of the anarchosyndicalist Industrial Workers of the World, who suffered attacks of conscience. While these types dominated the Communist leadership, the clandestine networks were more often run by Slavs, especially Croats, Hungarians, Finns and, in California, Japanese.

The Slavs were tough men, steelworkers and miners, brought up in a tradition of rural social protest that typically led to the Habsburg gallows. The Hungarians and Finns usually had lost brothers or other close relatives in the failed Communist revolutions in those countries. The Japanese were the loneliest: in the 1930s, they were routinely beheaded in Japan, and had no base in China; the Japanese Communist Party was therefore run out of California and Hawaii.

Once in a while a member of one of these bands would fall into the hands of U.S. immigration and naturalization inspectors, military intelligence, or local law enforcement. Nobody in the FBI paid serious attention to the Communists until 1939. Since all these individuals were aliens traveling with multiple false U.S. passports and other forms of fraudulent identity, they were deportable if nothing else. The INS of that time played a heroic role in tracking Communists when nobody else cared; indeed, it was the main engine of pursuit in the long-running attempt to deport Harry Bridges to Australia. Bridges, who had captured control of the West Coast longshoremen’s union, did not disguise his Communist sympathies, and would generally not deny being a Communist. Rather, he challenged the government to prove he was a Communist, knowing as he did that the party apparatus was virtually airtight in California. Proving his membership would be an impossible task, and the government failed in its attempt. At the end of his life, Bridges commented, "of course I was in the party; they just couldn’t prove it." With the opening of the Russian archives of the American Communist organization, all doubt was dispelled forever; internal party documents showed that Bridges was a member of the Central Committee.

The high standard of proof required in such cases, and other legal barriers, provided enough pretexts for ACPFB to conduct decades of work assisting Communist alien operatives. Of course, the organization placed itself under a liberal mantle: its honorary cochairman in 1950 was Thomas Mann, the German novelist who fled to the U.S. and skated back and forth between the Stalinists and anti-Stalinists (this was particularly common among German leftist émigrés). Other signatories of its propaganda that year included Dr. Philip Morrison, nuclear physicist, Hon. Robert W. Kenny, a California attorney general and rank fellow-traveller, the long-serving Soviet tool Dr. Linus Pauling, and Dr. W.E.B. DuBois.

In the mid-50s, with support for the Stalinist network way down among dupes, the New York Committee’s troika of cochairs included Hugo Gellert, a Hungarian social-realist painter and leader of the open Hungarian Communists in America, and Hugh Mulzac, a Caribbean-born shipmaster and functionary in the Communist maritime network - the all-important conspiracy of seagoing couriers. Other faces familiar at Stalinist gatherings rallied to the NYCPFB, including Dr. Edward K. Barsky, head medic for Stalin’s American mercenaries in the Spanish civil war, banjoist Pete Seeger, social realist painter Rockwell Kent, and "folk composer" Earl Robinson.

A 1953 advertisement in the Daily Worker listed, as speakers at an ACPFB rally, an illustrious "foreign born" Communist: the Caribbean Ewart Guinier, father of none other than Lani, "quota queen" supreme and advocate of crank voting schemes. Papa Ewart was a leader of the American Communist organization in Hawaii, and he was accompanied at the 1953 event by Carl Marzani, alias Tony Wales, a Soviet spy inside the U.S. State Department. The 1955 letterhead of the national organization sported the name of Dashiell Hammett, former union-busting Pinkerton goon turned Stalinist, and number one "squeezed lemon" among Communist literati.

In the long term, the Communist juridical operation aimed at protecting their terrorist, treasonous, and spying activities was successful. It should therefore surprise nobody that when the Wahhabi lobby came under American investigative scrutiny in the 1990s, their response and that of their defenders (including a considerable number of ultrasecularist and leftist Jews) almost exactly reproduced the effort mounted earlier in American history by Stalinist Communists and their protectors. Aside from the claim that they were victims because they were "foreign born," or were "ethnically profiled," the Wahhabis have recycled a full range of Stalinist techniques for evading the law.

Like the Communists of the 1940s, the Wahhabis claim to be victims of slander while practicing it against their critics. Detailed, factual charges against them are denounced by them as mere allegations, when they are, without exception, based on publicly recorded, voluntary statements made before thousands of witnesses. When the Wahhabis are shown, by their own declarations, to be terror advocates, they insist that their activities are benign and innocuous, involving only fundraising for the relief of children and refugees.

The Communists had used the same methods with extraordinary success. They claimed to be "progressives," not Stalinists; they denounced their critics, including anti-Stalinist socialists and liberals, as "fascists" and "witch-hunters," and when it was demonstrated that they did belong to Communist organizations, argued that they had only been engaged in programs of social uplift, defense of labor rights, and fighting against racism. In reality, their main tasks had not been in the field of trade unionism or civil rights, but rather involved the propagandistic defense of Stalin’s purges, pact with Hitler, and other atrocities.

Furthermore, years of wrongheaded decisions were handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which seemed to want to overlook Communist espionage and terrorism in America (the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940 - the most famous terrorist act of the 20th century - was almost entirely organized in the United States by members of the domestic Communist Party). The Court held to the philosophy that suppression of Stalinism was only appropriate if it could be shown that the republic was in danger of immediate overthrow. That the American Communist party was an arm of the Soviet secret police, controlled in its entirety by Moscow, had not been "proven," even though it was self-evident, because the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were unwilling to produce testimony that would reveal to the Russians the extent of American success in decrypting secret KGB and related communications. So the courts, the lawyerly establishment, civil liberties lobbies, and assorted other sectors of the public adopted a hardline attitude: if treason, espionage, and terrorism could not be proven in open court, with full right of cross examination by attorneys hired with Soviet money and intent on assisting the Soviet government, it did not exist. It was for this reason that so many potential codefendants in the infamous case of the Rosenberg couple were never even indicted, and some made their escape from the U.S. altogether.

Until September 11, the Wahhabis in America enjoyed similar success in convincing American investigative agencies, judges, lawyers, civil liberties advocates, journalists, academics, and others that they were, in effect, prosecution-proof. Ludicrous mistakes were made because Americans were concerned to protect the freedom of the enemies of freedom. Sayyid Nosair, assassin in 1990 of Jewish extremist Meir Kahane, was only found guilty on a firearms charge. The FBI impeded the investigation of Zacharias Moussaoui, who was arrested before September 11 and later charged as a member of the conspiracy, because it lacked "sufficient" probable cause. The list of such errors could be greatly lengthened. But the traps of moral equivalence were deeper and more dangerous. America’s capacity to defend itself spiritually and intellectually had been deeply harmed by "anti-anti-Communism."

The legacy of this deviation in American political life is audible whenever the claim is made that firm measures against terrorists - the use before September 11 of "secret evidence," or, after that date, denying terror troopers status as prisoners of war, investigating extremist activities that sheltered under the cover of religion, more efficient standards for wiretapping, detention of aliens, higher levels of transportation and communications security, or the failure to provide "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh with a "dream team" of lawyers in the Afghan hinterland - threatened to put America on the terrorists’ level. America was told repeatedly it must fight for protection of the rights of its enemies if it was not to become indistinguishable from them. Similarly, apologists for Bin Laden and his accomplices insisted that evidence of his terrorist activities, satisfying absurdly high standards, must be produced before action could be taken against him.

The time has come to end the period in American history when protection of the enemies of freedom was considered more important than protecting freedom. Arab and Muslim residents of the United States whose assistance to terrorists is suspected, based on the doctrine of probable cause, must be thoroughly investigated and, when necessary, punished. The Wahhabi lobby must be barred from continuing its charade as the "representatives" of "the Muslims," as if all Muslims in America were their enthusiastic supporters, which they are not. Groups outside the Wahhabi lobby that have issued aggravated and exaggerated claims about repression of Arabs and Muslims - particularly the Arab American Institute (AAI) and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) - should cease emulating entities from the dustbin of history, like the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born. Arab and Muslim advocacy groups must cease equivocating; cease providing excuses for terrorists; examine their own pasts, and admit their previous involvement in extremist incitement. To survive, they must take sides, and be seen to be effectively taking sides, against the terrorists. There is no other path.


Stephen Schwartz, an author and journalist, is author of The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror. A vociferous critic of Wahhabism, Schwartz is a frequent contributor to National Review, The Weekly Standard, and other publications.

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