By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has picked up the endorsement and fundraising support of entertainer Harry Belafonte, whose reputation as a calypso singer has been superseded by his service to international Marxism. During the Cold War, Belafonte sang at a “Concert for Peace” in communist East Germany, where he attacked President Reagan’s anti-communist foreign policy.
A long-time supporter of the Castro dictatorship, he has more recently been singing the praises of Venezuelan Marxist ruler Hugo Chavez.
The April 19 Warren fundraiser, which included Belafonte’s name on the letterhead, was held at the Manhattan penthouse of HBO executive Michael Fuchs, another indication of how Warren has the support of the media in her critical race. HBO recently ran the Sarah Palin-bashing film “Game Change.”
A radical in her own right, Warren proudly claims to be the intellectual author of the Occupy Wall Street movement and is running as a “consumer advocate.” But she had previously benefited from a fundraiser hosted by George Soros, the billionaire hedge-fund operator linked to the 2008 housing-market collapse.
Belafonte’s pro-Marxist views rarely make national news, but last October he garnered headlines when he dozed off before a TV interview, leaving anchor Leyla Santiago to say on camera, “Harry, wake up! Harry?”
Belafonte’s endorsement of Warren, who is trying to unseat Republican Senator Scott Brown, should prompt the media to ask whether Warren, a Harvard professor, has been awake or asleep as more than one hundred million people have died at the hands of communist regimes. Her operatives did not disavow Belafonte’s support for her candidacy.
Belafonte’s 2011 book, My Song: A Memoir, attacked Cuban-Americans opposed to the Castro regime as “angry partisans” who had been “cogs in the corrupt Batista machine” and had “lost their plunder” when Batista was overthrown by Castro.
Typical of how the media cover the legendary singer, a Boston Globe review of the book by Sarah Rodman completely ignores his activism on behalf of communist causes, saying only that his “political activities” drew the attention of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, a convenient villain for the media.
Belafonte claims he never joined the Communist Party USA but acknowledges in his book My Song: A Memoir that he used to attend lectures in 1947 at the Jefferson School in New York City, “which openly billed itself as an institute of Marxist thought affiliated with the American Communist party.” He says he heard such speakers as I.F. Stone, the so-called “independent journalist” later unmasked as a Soviet intelligence agent.
Indeed, the Jefferson School was a “Marxist adult education institute” in New York City that was associated with the Communist Party USA. Equally significant, it was closed down in the mid-1950s after the Subversive Activities Control Board ordered it to register as an agency of the Soviet Union.
At the time he attended lectures at the Jefferson School, Russia “seemed to be leading the way” internationally in achieving a “classless society,” Belafonte writes in his book.
This view carried forward at least to the 1980s, when Belafonte performed at a “concert for peace” in Communist East Germany, a Soviet client state, at a time when the Soviet Union was trying to prevent President Reagan and our NATO allies from deploying nuclear missiles in Western Europe as a counter to a Soviet military advantage.
The 1983 Belafonte appearance was covered by World Magazine, a supplement to the Daily World, the newspaper of the Communist Party, and occurred not too long after President Reagan had ordered U.S. military forces to liberate the island nation of Grenada from a gang of communist thugs known as the New Jewell Movement.
On cue, Belafonte attacked the U.S. action in Grenada, criticized the deployment of U.S. missiles in Europe, and “objected to the attempts by certain U.S. circles to slander the Soviets as the ‘basic evil in the world,’” the communist publication said. Reagan had referred to the Soviet Union as “the focus of evil in the modern world.”
In his book, Belafonte claims that the concert was part of his “human rights” work.
Seemingly oblivious to the facts and the Belafonte record, the Boston Herald noted that the Warren campaign responded to the Belafonte controversy with a statement about her Republican opponent, Senator Scott Brown, getting contributions from Wall Street. The story also quoted Democratic consultant Steve McMahon as saying, “Bette Midler and Harry Belafonte are endorsing Elizabeth Warren and her views, not the other way around.”
Warren, however, is still accepting his support. Just like Castro did.
As noted by anti-communist author Humberto Fontova, Belafonte has said, “If you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, if you believe in people’s rights, if you believe in the harmony of all humankind—then you have no choice but to back Fidel Castro as long as it takes!”
Fontova, author of Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant, added, “Shortly after Belafonte’s Cuba visit in Dec. 2009 the Black human-rights activist Orlando Zapata-Tamayo was beaten comatose by his Castroite jailers and left with a life-threatening fractured skull and Subdural Hematoma. A year later Zapata-Tamayo was dead after a lengthy hunger-strike. Samizdats smuggled out of Cuba by eye-witnesses report that while gleefully kicking and bludgeoning Tamayo, his Castroite jailers yelled: ‘Worthless N*gger!—Worthless Peasant!’”
In 1974, Belafonte said in his book, that he had his first meeting with Castro on a trip to the communist island, “the start of a long friendship.” He admitted that he and his wife were “guests of the Cuban government,” meaning their expenses were picked up by the regime.
The Boston Globe responded to the controversy over Belafonte raising money for Warren by running a blog by Carol Rose criticizing the Massachusetts Republican Party for highlighting Belafonte’s anti-American record. Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, plugged an upcoming Massachusetts ACLU May 20 “Bill of Rights Dinner” honoring Belafonte.
Ironically, the name of her blog is “On Liberty,” while Belafonte was close to the Soviet Communists and their lackeys and client regimes during the Cold War.
The Massachusetts GOP recently released a video about Warren’s “fundraising partner,” noting that “in addition to praising Castro’s Cuba, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and comparing the Department of Homeland Security to the Nazi Gestapo, Professor Warren’s latest backer even blamed the U.S. for the terrorist attacks of 9/11.”
Some of the film footage in the ad is from a Wolf Blitzer CNN interview with Belafonte, in which he didn’t back down from the charges.
In 2006, after Belafonte called President George W. Bush “the greatest terrorist in the world” and said millions of Americans support Marxist Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the New York Daily News commented, “At this point, Harry really shouldn’t be permitted even to wander the grounds of a nursing home without close caregiver supervision so he does not amble away or fall down and hurt himself.”
This would be funny, were it not for the fact that Belafonte’s praise for communists like Castro goes back several decades, and that a major Democratic Senate candidate and Belafonte’s backers in the ACLU are willing to overlook his record of apologizing for communist tyranny.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].