July 14, 2012

Woody Guthrie at 100

Today would have been Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday, and FOX 23 reports that the George Kaiser Family Foundation has announced the name of its new park in the Brady Arts District -- "Guthrie Green." Meanwhile, we learn in the Tulsa World that Tulsa is becoming a Woody Guthrie research destination.

"Despite a lack of consensus on whether Woody ever officially joined the CP [Communist Party], he remained largely supportive and uncritical of the U.S. CP during the many twists and turns of the 'party line' before and after the Second World War," Nicole Colson wrote this week at SocialistWorker.org. "Woody also repeatedly expressed a fondness for Stalin -- something he never renounced." As he said in a letter to his aunt, "The Communists have always been the hardest fighters for the trade unions, good wages, short hours, nursery schools, cleaner work shops, and the equal rights of every person of every color. ... So you can call me a Communist from here on." Indeed, Guthrie wrote a weekly column for the The Daily Worker.

All of which brings to mind something Kevin D. Williamson wrote in the current issue of National Review:
It is unlikely that we ever will have a proper reckoning of the American Left's culpability in the worldwide Communist enterprise -- the gulags and laogai, the Stasi, the Holodomor, the 100 million corpses. It is a testament to the perversity of human nature that in the two main political efforts to uproot Soviet agents from U.S. institutions, the villains in the popular mind are not those who enabled the enslavement of entire nations but the imperfect men who tried to stop them. We never had a Nuremberg trial for Communists -- we would have had to hang too many veterans of the Roosevelt administration.
UPDATE: Lee Habeeb adds that "Guthrie didn’t like Irving Berlin's 'God Bless America' and wrote 'This Land Is Your Land' as a rebuttal. What most Americans also don't know is that Guthrie didn't like his own country and wanted to fundamentally transform it along the lines of his heroes, Marx and Lenin." Guthrie "dedicated his life to the overthrow of capitalism and private-property rights."

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