By: Trevor Loudon
“Judy Chu, is a communist????”
In April 2012, then Florida Congressman Allen West got himself into hot water with the media, after claiming that 70 to 80 members of Congress were “communists.” While his terminology was too loose, in spirit, Mr. West was essentially correct.
In a mocking interview with the Congressman, CNN presenter Soledad O’Brien confronted West with a list of Congress members, asking him to confirm if they were “communists.”
If West knew as much about communism as he does about radical Islam, he could have made a case for the affirmative for all those named. When Soledad O’Brien asked, “Judy Chu, is a communist????” West could, and should have said, “she’s probably one of the worst!!!”
That would have knocked O’Brien off her chair and it would probably come as a surprise to many – especially Judy Chu’s colleagues on the Congressional Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
Everyone knows the Est Los Angeles Democrat is a “progressive” – but aren’t they all down there? And Judy Chu has been a vice-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which means she has to be pretty far to the left.
But she’s nice and photogenic, speaks beautifully, is always immaculately dressed – and she likes small business. She’s very politically correct, but hey aren’t they all in SoCal? And she’s a huge supporter of President Barack Obama, so she must be okay.
Unfortunately, there is much more to Judy Chu than meets the eye.
Judy Chu spent much of her younger years in the orbit of the Communist Workers Party, one of the most extreme and violent leftist groups ever active in the United States. More importantly, though the party is long defunct, Chu is still involved with a network of former comrades and seems intent on pursuing their agenda through her Congressional work.
More concerning again, the old CWP was loyal to Red China – America’s number one rival. Elements of Chu’s network remain pro-China to this day – raising serious questions about Chu’s suitability for any Congressional Committees involving national security, trade policy, science and technology, and… well just about anything really.
Over a series of posts, I will examine Judy Chu’s ties to this network. But first, I’d like to examine the Communist Workers Party. Who were they? Why should we worry about a Maoist sect that went out of business many years ago?
Chinese born activist Jerry Tung founded a tiny Maoist organization called the Asian Study Group in New York in 1973. The ASG later merged with other radical groups to form a new organization, also headed by Tung: Workers Viewpoint Organization, which in turn became the Communist Workers Party in 1979.
The CWP emphasized unionization and self-determination for African-Americans and enjoyed some success in the textile cities of North Carolina. The party established branches in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Greensboro, West Virginia and Colorado.
Mainly Asian to begin with, after absorbing several Maoist sects, the CWP gained a high proportion of a Black, White and Latino cadre. The CWP followed the policies of Mao Tse Tung, Joseph Stalin and Cambodian mass murderer, Pol Pot. They also originally gave some support to the Islamists of the Iranian Revolution.
Violent confrontation was a key part of the CWP modus operandi. In 1979, the CWP “was consciously trying to upgrade its level of militancy, to become more adept at combining legal and illegal tactics,” according to CWP activist Signe Waller. In New York’s Chinatown, CWP members and supporters violently attacked the offices of a critical newspaper and members of a rival, radical organization opposing the political direction of a CWP front group. In Greensboro, North Carolina, CWP activists had violent confrontations with a rival Maoist group, the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Greensboro, NC was also the site of the WCP’s darkest hour.
Around Greensboro, the CWP waged an aggressive campaign against the local Ku Klux Klan, going so far as to try to shut down a Klan showing of the movie “Birth of a Nation” at the public library in the town of China Grove.
Planning a “Death to the Klan” rally near the Morningside Heights housing project in Greensboro on November 3, 1979, the CWP publicly challenged the Klan. The CWP claimed that cowardly Klan members would not make an appearance and face the “wrath of the people.” The local Klan, however, sought the assistance of some neo-Nazis and responded to CWP’s challenge.
After CWP activists taunted Klansman and hit their cars, the Klansmen opened fire. Many CWPers were armed too and fire was returned, but city bred academic communists were no match for country raised Klansmen. When the gunfire ended, 5 CWP members lay dead and many more were wounded.
The infamous “Greensboro Massacre” made the CWP world famous, in the worst possible way.
Despite being filmed by journalists, all the Klansmen were acquitted after several trials, on the grounds of self defense.
Enraged by the acquittals, the CWP attempted to storm the 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York.
During the convention, 150 CWPers stormed a Democratic fundraiser at the Plaza Hotel, injuring six policemen. The next evening, a contingent of 200, armed with pick handles and Mace, tried to fight their way into Madison Square Garden, the convention site; 15 were arrested.
A proud account of the violence was published in the CWP’s Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 5, No. 31, August 25-31, 1980:
Thursday, August 14, 9 p.m.: Among the crowds on the streets all over mid-town Manhattan we walked, breaking off in twos or threes to converge quickly at one point. In a few short minutes hundreds formed a tight brigade, running in formation. Rounding the corner off 34th Street, we moved onto 8th Avenue, stopping traffic and sending the pigs scrambling. The Secret Service jammed their walkie-talkies: “The CWP is coming, with helmets and clubs.” But it was too late, we had taken them by surprise.
Brilliant in the glare of Madison Square Garden, the site of the 1980 Democratic Convention, lit up brighter than Yankee Stadium, the demonstrators stood for three long minutes, raising fists, banners, and ringed by helmeted defense teams with sticks. Passersby stood riveted and the air snapped as the chant grew: “Greensboro, Miami, Payback Time!” “WHAT IS THIS?” people were stunned. “This is something. They are ready. Their people got killed before and they are ORGANIZED.”
The pigs swarmed to lock the Garden doors, clambering for their own helmets. Convention television coverage was interrupted to show this demonstration, a march like no other mere protest. Our troops about-faced and stepped out to depart. Some pigs went mad, broke ranks and charged, clubbing demonstrators including women and children. They drew .45 caliber revolvers, chasing people for blocks.
But the pigs were outmaneuvered as the demonstrators organized to fight back. “Some of the demonstrators struck policemen so hard that their riot helmets cracked,” described a New York Times article. One cop from the 114 Precinct was quoted by the New York Post as saying, “They were very well organized. Every time we tried to grab them they splintered and reformed somewhere else. It was a very dangerous situation.” “I didn’t make a single arrest. Every time I tried to collar someone, 3 or 4 came up behind to hit me over the head,” complained a cop at the hospital later.
After several minutes 26 pigs were downed, injured. Seventeen demonstrators were arrested, the rest dispersed into the night, prepared for another battle…The whipped cops, the capitalists’ first-line enforcers, one who was seen to be bawling as he stood face-to-face with the militant demonstration, tried to get even. They arrested comrades, all who were seen to be standing and almost unmarked as they entered paddy wagons. After several hours inside Midtown South precinct, the comrades were sent to hospitals with head injuries and. some broken bones.
What the sick pigs couldn’t do on the streets, they had tried to do behind closed doors, beating comrades with blackjacks and clubs, putting guns to their heads trying to get them to sing “God Bless America.” But even inside their own fortress they were defeated.
In 1981, Mark Loo, a Chinese-American CWP member, his party comrade Rodney Johnson and unionist David Boyd, were charged with the attempted bombing of the National Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, California, during a labor dispute. The trio were represented by radical lawyer Leonard Weinglass.
Defending the NASSCO 3, soon became a major cause for the CWP.
By the mid-1980’s, the People’s Republic of China had largely abandoned attempts to incite world revolution through Maoist sloganeering and street rioting.
China instead chose to expand its influence through business, international trade and buying its way into power through bribery and corruption.
All around the world, including in my country New Zealand, Maoist parties abandoned their old confrontational Marxist-Leninist tactics, for a more subtle approach based on the teachings of Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci.
No more marching in the streets. Now was the time for a “Long March” through the institutions. In the US, the CWP explicitly abandoned Marxism-Lenism for Gramsci.
Instead of university graduates going into factories to win converts to Maoism, these same comrades were to use their degrees to infiltrate the highest levels of US society. Academia, the labor movement, business, non-profits and particularly the Democratic Party were targeted. In line with this policy, the CWP changed its name and began a deliberate attempt to bring America to communism from within.
At a convention in mid-1985, the CWP formally dissolved itself, in its place arose a new organization, the New Democratic Movement, devoted to establishing “local power bases.” Jerry Tung, general secretary of the former CWP, explained the idea to the assembled faithful:
“[O]nce you get people elected or appointed to office, you can award contracts to friends…. When you can raise money for political purposes, when you do it in the right place in the right atmosphere, and look right, and the [mainstream] party bosses are there, then that money makes them take you seriously.”
Ben Connors, a lawyer, joined the CWP circa 1984.
He wrote an article for the Party’s internal bulletin, The Expert Red, February 1985, explaining the advantages of the new approach.
Organizing other leftists like ourselves seemed sufficiently important at the time. We came to learn however that it was indeed important, but hardly sufficient. It was time to assume leadership over the whole society…Rather than storm City Hall, we are donning tuxedoes, and preparing to enter through special invitation. We are learning to use our skills in ways that are proving far more dangerous to the ruling class, and far more beneficial to the masses to whom we have dedicated lives of service.
These days we not only organize but will also begin to deliver. We will not be content to petition the state legislature, we want to be the state legislature. It is truly an exciting time to be an American revolutionary.
You want me to be a Congressman? Fine, its what my mother always wanted for me anyway. It’s all very legitimate. For other new comrades as well, the road is wide open – we can follow any career path we choose, so long as it helps the Party lead and serve the American people.
And that’s exactly what they did.
After a few short years, the New Democratic Movement faded from view.
However, there is clear evidence that remnants of the CWP/NDM networks are very much still alive. In Manhattan, former CWPers have a big power base in the Democratic Party and help support New York City Councillor and onetime CWP member Margaret Chin.
There is a smaller network around Oakland, California with Mayor Jean Quan, another former CWP member.
Several former CWP types are also working closely with Congresswoman Judy Chu, in the Los Angeles area.
Part 2 – coming soon.
Trevor Loudon is author of Barack Obama and the Enemies Within and is nearing completion of a new title: “The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the US Congress.”