The Right Planet
Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin is shown in his Park Avenue South office in New York City, in April 1969. (AP Photo/A. Camerano)
By Brent Allen Parrish
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s establishment of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The White House released this statement:
Today [August 8, 2013], President Barack Obama named sixteen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards will be presented at the White House later this year.
Recipients of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom Award include some well-known public figures, such as Oprah Winfrey, Richard Lugar, Gloria Steinem, Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynn.
Three of the recipients will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously; they include astronaut Sally Ride, Sen. Daniel Inouye and Bayard Rustin.
So who is Bayard Rustin?
Well, a Google Search on “Baryard Rustin” brings up the following:
According to the search results, Bayard Rustin was a “leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, pacifism and non-violence, and gay rights.”
A number of glowing reviews on the life and work of Bayard Rustin appeared this past week, primarily from left-leaning individuals and progressive media like PBS, Bill Moyers, USA Today, Huffington Post, Democratic Underground, AFL-CIO, etc.
Additionally, a number of socialist and communist websites wax eloquent about the life of Bayard Rustin–for example, SocialistWorld.net and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA):
After reading a number of articles about Bayard Rustin, it became apparent, at least to me, why Barack Obama would be so enamored with Rustin that he felt him worthy of this country’s highest civilian award.
Peter Dreier, who teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College, wrote in an article appearing at the Huffington Post (emphasis mine):
After Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Rustin wrote a controversial article, “From Protest to Politics,” in the then-liberal magazine Commentary. In that piece he argued that the coalition that had come together for the March on Washington needed to place less emphasis on protest and focus on electing liberal Democrats who could enact a progressive policy agenda centered on employment, housing, and civil rights. Rustin drafted a “Freedom Budget,” released in 1967, that advocated “redistribution of wealth.” His ideas influenced King, who increasingly began to talk about the importance of jobs, unions, and wealth redistribution.
I find it very interesting that many on the left get bent out of shape when they are labeled “socialists” or “communists,” yet heap great praise upon self-avowed socialists and communists. But I would suspect this sort of schizophrenic reaction is due to the fact that many on the left realize it would not be politically expedient to come out as de facto Marxists, despite the fact that many are.
Peter Dreir continues in his article at the Huffington Post (emphasis mine):
He [Bayard Rustin] found two mentors who shaped his philosophy and employed him as an organizer. One was A. Philip Randolph, a socialist who founded of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first African-American labor union. Randolph was the nation’s most militant civil rights leader. The other mentor, A. J. Muste, was a radical minister and former union organizer. Time magazine called him the “No. 1 U.S. pacifist.” He introduced Rustin to the teachings of Gandhi. Rustin’s commitment to Gandhi’s principles, along with his Quaker beliefs (he officially joined the church in 1935), shaped his activism for the rest of his life.
So just like Barack Obama, who sought out the Marxist professors, Bayard Rustin also sought out Marxists and like-minded individuals.
“To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully: the more politically active black students, the foreign students, the Chicanos, the Marxist Professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.”
Surprisingly, not only do many of the radicals of the left applaud the work of Baryard Rustin, but even some conservatives do as well. I would suspect the reason for this is Rustin’s close relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s:
One of the challenges of any political/social movement is the infiltration of what might be called subversive elements who wish to co-opt the movement for their own nefarious purposes. In my opinion, this was one of the predicaments Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was faced with during his struggle against segregation and racial strife.
In regard to racial harmony, no truer words have ever been spoken than those of Dr. King:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Unfortunately, there are those who see political benefit in continuing racial divisions–specifically, socialists and communists.
Well, it has to do with the fact that Marxian socialism believes conflict brings about progress. Without perpetual conflict (typically referred to by Marxists as revolution), there can be no progress. So, in this context, fomenting continuous racial strife is of paramount importance to the dyed-in-the-wool Marxist. There can be no racial harmony, for it would spell the demise of the revolution; it must go on and on and on. If one does not accept this premise, then they will have to provide an explanation why Josef Stalin took such an active interest in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. But before we explore that piece of history, let’s just examine a bit of Baryard Rustin’s history.
It is well-known that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was keeping close tabs on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his associations; this monitoring extended to Bayard Rustin as well.
Most of the biographies about Bayard Rustin are of a laudatory tone. So I decided to head on over to the FBI.gov website and see if there was any unclassifed documents or archival information on Bayard Rustin. Interestingly, I did find a number of documents concerning Rustin, but I was first confronted with the following disclaimer:
(click to zoom)
It appears, at least to me, the FBI is asking the reader to take any of the archival information with a grain of salt. I’m not sure if this disclaimer is a standard warning, or if it only applies to certain individuals.
There were a number of FBI memorandums and documents concerning Bayard Rustin. One memo, prepared per instructions by then Assistant FBI Director N.P. Callahan, reveals a fascinating chronology of Rustin’s activities:
Bayard Rustin Part 02 of 07
In 1936, Bayard Rustin joined the Young Communist League (YCL). Following directions from the Soviet Union, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and its members were active in the Civil Rights Movement for black Americans.
In 1941, after Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Josef Stalin ordered the CPUSA to abandon civil rights work and focus supporting U.S. entry into World War II. This did not sit well with Rustin, considering he was a pacifist, and he left the YCL. His exit from the YCL was not due to ideological differences, but rather his desire to focus his efforts on the Civil Rights Movement, not on the war against Nazi Germany. Disillusioned, Rustin began working with members of the Socialist Party.
In December 1972, when the Socialist Party changed its name to the Social Democrats USA (SDUSA), Rustin continued to serve as national co-chairman. In later years, Rustin served as the national chairman of Social Democrats USA.
An article that appeared in the November 19, 1990, edition of the New American entitled “Mocking the Cause of Peace” reveals the close relationship Bayard Rustin enjoyed with Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“Following the death in 1896 of internationalist Alfred Nobel, prizes for literature and peace have regularly been awarded to socialists and communists. For every deserving Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer, numerous arch-leftists have been given the cash prize and international notoriety.
“In 1931, the Peace award went to socialist Jane Addams, despite her 20 years as chairman of the communist-front Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Emily Green Balch, the 1946 co-winner, was dismissed from the Wellesley College faculty for radical leftist activity. The 1950 winner was Alger Hiss protégé Ralph Bunche. Marxists Leon Jouhaux of France (1951), Lester Pearson of Canada (1957), and Philip Noel-Baker of England (1959) were also winners. When Martin Luther King went to Oslo to collect his award in 1964, he took former Communist Party organizer Bayard Rustin along for companionship….”
The above flyer was discovered linked to the National Action Network from the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) website–which begs the question, why?
It’s worth noting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican; and his assassin was a Democrat. So often times the Civil Rights Movement is held up as a triumph for the Democratic Party and the progressive cause–which completely ignores the fact that staunch Democrats like Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd were openly hostile to desegregation.
Perhaps a quick lesson on the true history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States is in order.
Recently, I had a rather civil debate (rare, I know) with a Democratic congressional hopeful on Twitter. Right out of the gate he accused the Tea Party Movement of being racist and uneducated. Naturally, I took great exception to his accusation and asked him to provide solid examples. The only example he could provide was that of his own family. That’s right, he claimed his own family, excluding his immediate family, was racist and uneducated, and that they were all Tea Party folks.
This didn’t fly with me. First, it’s anecdotal evidence that I can neither prove or disprove. Second, I don’t have much respect for throwing one’s own family under the proverbial bus in an effort to try and score political points.
Conversely, it didn’t take me any time to provide concrete examples of the blatant racism that has always existed within the Democrat Party–specifically, the words of Lyndon B. Johnson:
“I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” —Lyndon B. Johnson to two governors on Air Force One
“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”—LBJ
It’s amazing how those on the left will falsely accuse folks like me of bigotry, yet when I provide solid examples of their own side’s unabashed racism they’re able to rationalize and justify all of their inconsistencies. Of course, that’s after they fail to pin the racist label on me–and only then. Besides, LBJ got things done, right? Unbelievable.
My purpose in writing this article is not to trash Bayard Rustin. I’m simply letting the historical facts speak for themselves. But I do believe it is disingenuous, at best, to heap such glowing praise on an individual whose connections with communists and socialists are well-known, then attempt to rationalize those relationships as youthful indiscretions. I don’t see any solid evidence that Rustin ever gave up his devotion to Marxian socialism, quite the contrary.
The real purpose in writing this article is to expose Barack Obama’s own devotion to Marxian socialism. He can try and hide it all he wants. But the proof is in the medal.