Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Communist Folk Singer Pete Seeger Dies at 94

A long obituary at the New York Times, "Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94." This passage is telling:
In 1955 he was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he testified, “I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature.” He also stated: “I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”

Mr. Seeger offered to sing the songs mentioned by the congressmen who questioned him. The committee declined.
Althouse likes that as well, "'I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs'." (Via Memeorandum.)

Here's Seeger's entry at Discover the Networks:
In 1945 Seeger became the national director of People's Songs, Inc, an organization designed to “create, promote and distribute songs of labor and the American People.” Within a few years, the California Senate Fact-finding Committee reported that:
"People's Songs is a vital Communist front … one which has spawned a horde of lesser fronts in the fields of music, stage entertainment, choral singing, folk dancing, recording, radio transcriptions and similar fields. It especially is important to Communist proselytizing and propaganda work because of its emphasis on appeal to youth, and because of its organization and technique to provide entertainment for organizations and groups as a smooth opening wedge for Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist propaganda."
Seeger parted ways with the Communist Party in 1950 and eventually renounced strict Stalinism, in favor of socialism and pro-labor activism. "I realized," says Seeger, "I could sing the same songs I sang whether I belonged to the Communist Party or not, and I never liked the idea anyway of belonging to a secret organization."

In 1955 Seeger was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, whose questions about his past Communist ties he answered evasively or not at all. The following year Seeger was indicted for contempt of Congress. In 1961 he was found guilty of that charge and was sentenced to ten years in prison, though in 1962 his conviction was overturned on a technicality.

In the 1960s Seeger was deeply involved in the civil rights movement and its hallmark demonstrations. His musical interpretation of an old spiritual, which he called We Shall Overcome, became a signature song of the movement. The song was played at the founding meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. In subsequent years, Seeger would perform benefit concerts on SNCC's behalf.

Historian Ronald Radosh writes: "Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, Seeger called for peace, peaceful co-existence between the United States and the Soviet Union, singing songs like Put My Name Down, Brother, Where Do I Sign? -- a ballad in favor of the Soviet Union’s phony international peace petition that favored unilateral disarmament by the West while leaving the Soviet atomic stockpile intact. He would sing and give his support to peace rallies and marches covertly sponsored by the Soviet Union and its Western front groups and dupes -- while leaving his political criticism only for the United States and its defensive actions during the Cold War."

Seeger was an opponent of America's involvement in the Vietnam War. He similarly opposed the U.S. military campaigns and weapons buildup during the Reagan years of the Cold War. He supported the Nuclear Freeze Movement of the 1980s -- a Soviet-sponsored initiative that would have frozen Soviet nuclear and military superiority in place and would have rendered Reagan unable to close that gap to any appreciable degree. Seeger has used his status as a folk icon to lend support to a number of leftwing causes and initiatives.
I don't see it yet, but I expect far-left historian Erik Loomis to post a glowing obituary at some point, at Lawyers, Gays and Marxists. (See Robert Stacy McCain for Loomis' background, "He’s a Lumberjack, and He’s OK: The Wobbly Scholarship of Erik Loomis, Ph.D.")

Expect updates. It's going to be interesting to see the leftist bloggers salivate over Seeger's anti-American legacy.