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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Olbermann: Lester Rodney Has Died

Lester Rodney, the onetime sportswriter who in the 1930’s and 1940’s was one of the fiercest and most insistent white advocates of the integration of major league baseball, died on Sunday, his family has announced. He was 98 years old.

Rodney’s advocacy found its forum in the pages of The Daily Worker, the house organ of the American Communist Party, from which he resigned in 1958. In 1936, he talked the paper into changing its paucity of sports coverage into a full-fledged section, of which he was hired as editor, even though he was not yet a member of the party. His writings consistently underscored a parallel few were willing to recognize, especially in sports: that the growing marginalization of the Jews and other religious and social groups by the Nazis in Germany and later Europe, had a too-close-for-comfort parallel in this country’s marginalization of African-Americans.

...Moving to California about the same time the Dodgers did, Rodney became, of all things, the religion editor of The Long Beach Press-Telegram. Ever the athlete, he was still playing competitive tennis at the age of 87. His children report that he passed away on the morning of the 20th, at home, and in what may be no surprise to anyone who knew him or knew of him, “he was with it until just before the end and thanks to hospice he had a pain free week.”

Robinson’s role in the integration of the game is obvious and Rickey’s has been lauded. Pressure from the great black sportswriters of the ‘30s and ‘40s, like Sam Lacy of The Baltimore Afro-American, is even acknowledged. Lester Rodney - writing in the most unlikely setting and advocating what was then the most unlikely of societal changes - was as important as any of them to the eventual righting of this extraordinary wrong.

Davi Zirin has more.

Repoz Posted: December 24, 2009 at 12:09 PM | 78 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, media, negro leagues, obituaries

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   1. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 02:45 PM (#3421529)
Leo Durocher (supposedly) once said to him "'You know, Rodney, for a fucking Communist, you sure know your baseball.'"

I am amazed that he was still alive.
   2. depletion Posted: December 24, 2009 at 03:17 PM (#3421539)
It's great Mr. Rodney was a stong advocate for integration. Please note that as a communist in the 1930's he was, in all likelihood, an apologist for the murder by starvation and shooting of millions of Ukrainians, Kazakhs and other people of the Soviet Union.
   3. Gamingboy Posted: December 24, 2009 at 03:21 PM (#3421542)
"'You know, Rodney, for a ####### Communist, you sure know your baseball.'"


I have to imagine Rodney's comeback involved the words "capitalist", "Laraine Day" and "bourgeois".
   4. Van Lingle Mungo Jerry Posted: December 24, 2009 at 03:59 PM (#3421565)
Please note that as a communist in the 1930's he was, in all likelihood, an apologist for the murder by starvation and shooting of millions of Ukrainians, Kazakhs and other people of the Soviet Union.


I know I shouldn't but ... by calling him an apologist, you imply that he was aware that millions of people were being starved and shot and consciously excused such crimes against humanity. Do you have any basis to think that's the case?
   5. LargeBill Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:01 PM (#3421568)
This thread should go real well. A nut widely perceived to be a communist that rants at a little noticed "news" station and used to cover sports writes eulogy for another communist who used to cover sports for a little noticed newspaper. Should be good for a hundred post argument between those who understand economics and human nature and those who think the only problem with Communism is the right people haven't been in charge yet.
   6. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3421572)
Please note that as a communist in the 1930's he was, in all likelihood, an apologist for the murder by starvation and shooting of millions of Ukrainians, Kazakhs and other people of the Soviet Union.

"Rodney quit the American Communist Party over a freedom of speech issue. When details of Joseph Stalin's crimes emerged in 1958, Rodney and several editors wanted the issue reported and debated in the paper.

When the party refused, Rodney quit.

'I left when Nikita Khrushchev blew the whistle on Stalin,' he said. 'We had been duped.'" -Long Beach Press-Telegram


Seems like a pretty stand-up guy to me...
   7. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:08 PM (#3421574)
A nut widely perceived to be a communist that rants at a little noticed "news" station and used to cover sports...

I have absolutely no idea who or what you're talking about here.
   8. Chicago Joe Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:11 PM (#3421576)
This thread should go real well. A nut widely perceived to be a communist that rants at a little noticed "news" station and used to cover sports writes eulogy for another communist who used to cover sports for a little noticed newspaper. Should be good for a hundred post argument between those who understand economics and human nature and those who think the only problem with Communism is the right people haven't been in charge yet.

And then, LargeBill decides to dump gasoline all over the thread! Wheeeeeeee!!!!!!
   9. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:15 PM (#3421580)
This thread should go real well. A nut widely perceived to be a communist that rants at a little noticed "news" station and used to cover sports writes eulogy for another communist who used to cover sports for a little noticed newspaper. Should be good for a hundred post argument between those who understand economics and human nature and those who think the only problem with Communism is the right people haven't been in charge yet.

Socialist and Communist parties have won electoral success and the reins of power in Western Europe, and not engaged in mass murder and starvation.

Do we define homelessness and starvation deaths and violent crimes amongst the marginalized in the United States as victims of capitalism?
   10. depletion Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:18 PM (#3421585)
Vlad, thanks for posting that quote. I now think much higher of Mr. Rodney.
   11. Chicago Joe Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:19 PM (#3421586)
Socialist and Communist parties have won electoral success and the reins of power in Western Europe, and not engaged in mass murder and starvation.


Well, LargeBill doesn't care about that. It's Christmas Eve and he's got an axe to grind.
   12. depletion Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:20 PM (#3421588)
There were papers reporting the truth about Stalinism in the 1930's. NYT was not one of them. Mr. Rodney probably did what many Americans do; believe what is written in the NYT.
   13. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:22 PM (#3421590)
I had an Uncle Lester that was a Red back then, too. Just thought you needed to know that. :-)

Whatever his politics, Rodney was absolutely right about his stance regarding segregation in baseball and elsewhere. Got to give him kudos for that.
   14. Shibal Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:23 PM (#3421595)
He quit the party after the Stalin crimes started to come out so I'll cut him some slack about being a communist. How did he die? His wiki page says his 2nd wife died the same day.

Here's a far more detailed interview with the guy discussing segregation. http://www.counterpunch.org/zirin04032004.html
   15. Swedish Chef Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:43 PM (#3421610)
Socialist and Communist parties have won electoral success and the reins of power in Western Europe, and not engaged in mass murder and starvation.


What unreformed communist party has had the reins of power in a Western country?

Also, if some leftist think the social democratic parties of Western Europe is swell, great and all, but that doesn't excuse them if they're lauding brutal dictatorships espousing the same general ideology (if you want to paint with a really broad brush, at the time the socialists and communists were mortal ideological enemies).

He quit the party after the Stalin crimes started to come out so I'll cut him some slack about being a communist.

Note that the truth was available long before. He changed his tune when the ####### general secretary told him about them.
   16. aleskel Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:46 PM (#3421614)
Please note that as a communist in the 1930's he was, in all likelihood, an apologist for the murder by starvation and shooting of millions of Ukrainians, Kazakhs and other people of the Soviet Union.

Man, just think of all the Ukranians and Kazakhs who could have been saved if Mr. Rodney and those other American lefties hadn't been such apologists! Stalin would have been so embarrassed!
   17. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:50 PM (#3421620)
Note that the truth was available long before. He changed his tune when the ####### general secretary told him about them.


Well, he might have gotten around to it earlier if he hadn't been so busy fighting the Nazis in WWII...

Yeesh. Tough crowd.
   18. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:53 PM (#3421622)
George Michael died, too, according to the Lounge.
   19. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:55 PM (#3421626)
George Michael died, too, according to the Lounge.


The Wham guy or the Sports Machine dude?
   20. Shibal Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:55 PM (#3421627)
Do we define homelessness and starvation deaths and violent crimes amongst the marginalized in the United States as victims of capitalism?


My lord what a stupid argument.
   21. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:57 PM (#3421630)
Sports Machine Dude. That was something, when he was your only link to seeing highlights from games 3 time zones away.
   22. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 24, 2009 at 04:57 PM (#3421631)
What unreformed communist party has had the reins of power in a Western country?

What does the "unreformed" modifier mean? The French Communist Party has been part of the French government at least three times -- during and just after WWII, in the early 80s, and during the late 90s/early 00s.

The British Labour Party was unabashedly socialist until very recently. Neil Kinnock, in the speech Biden famously plagiarized, called himself and his party "socialist" several times. Clement Attlee, who the British electorate chose over Churchill before WWII was over, was a socialist and presided over nationalization of many of Britain's major industries, and a major expansion of state activity, including the NHS.
   23. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:03 PM (#3421635)
Singer George Michael or Sports Machine George Michael?
   24. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:05 PM (#3421637)
My lord what a stupid argument.

Well, that settles it then.

Many of the deaths Stalin is "credited" for were secondary and tertiary effects of communism, not caused by his hand or even desired. If you want to get all Rotarian and read into that an apologia for the barbarian POS, feel free.

He collectivized the farms in pursuit of an economic ideology, and people starved. How is that, really, any different than the inevitable and accepted poor social outputs, including deaths, of unfettered capitalism?
   25. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:06 PM (#3421638)
Singer George Michael or Sports Machine George Michael?


The latter. He died of cancer today.

Loved his contributions for SABR's Baseball Research Journal.
   26. Swedish Chef Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:11 PM (#3421646)
The French Communist Party has been part of the French government at least three times -- during and just after WWII, in the early 80s, and during the late 90s/early 00s.


reformed=renounced communism as an ideology, which most have done by now.

Ah, yes, and the french communists were very stalinist during the first two periods. Thankfully they were not allowed any real power.

The British Labour Party was unabashedly socialist until very recently.

And people could sympathize with Labour and still see that the Sovietunion was hell. I don't see your point, does the existence of Labour in any way excuse the blind faith in a totalitarian regime?
   27. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:20 PM (#3421654)
George Michael, LargeBill, and the other George Michael participated in a white supremacist separatist movement that advocated the use of steroids, the HOF enshrinement of Jack Morris, the removal of Pavement's music from all recording formats, and a long-term contract extension for Jeff Francoeur with the Mets.
   28. Bernal Diaz has an angel on his shoulder Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:24 PM (#3421657)

This thread should go real well. A nut widely perceived to be a communist that rants at a little noticed "news" station and used to cover sports writes eulogy for another communist who used to cover sports for a little noticed newspaper. Should be good for a hundred post argument between those who understand economics and human nature and those who think the only problem with Communism is the right people haven't been in charge yet.


Oh great, who let the Freeper in? Yawn.
   29. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:29 PM (#3421667)
Singer George Michael or Sports Machine George Michael?


The latter. He died of cancer today.

Loved his contributions for SABR's Baseball Research Journal.


Wow, that's real shock. George Michael used to be a disk jockey in Philly before he was a sportscaster in DC, and about 10 years ago he sold me thousands of his old LPs. Of all the public figures I ever had dealings with in my book shop, George Michael may have been the sweetest and most down to Earth of them all. Even though he got shoved out of the public eye when his local weekly talk show was canceled, this is still a big, big loss to the sports world.
   30. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:30 PM (#3421669)
Oh great, who let the Freeper in? Yawn.


Oh like you developed your own school of political philosophy like an Alexander Hamilton or Thomas Jefferson.
   31. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:39 PM (#3421685)
Oh like you developed your own school of political philosophy like an Alexander Hamilton or Thomas Jefferson.


Nihilism is not a political philosophy.
   32. Bernal Diaz has an angel on his shoulder Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:45 PM (#3421692)

Oh like you developed your own school of political philosophy like an Alexander Hamilton or Thomas Jefferson.


I developed my political philosophy in the Sierra Maestra mountains.
   33. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:45 PM (#3421693)
It's also sad to hear of Lester Rodney's passing, though to make it to 98 in good health is about as much as anyone could ask for. If anyone ever wanted to read a terrific memoir of baseball and sportswriting in the 30's and 40's, he should pick up a copy of Irwin Silber's Press Box Red. It's well written and there's lots of stuff in there that even Tygiel and Rampersad don't get into.

You have to understand about Rodney and American Communism that when he joined the paper in the 30's, it was during a period when the Party was trying to reach out to as many people as possible, not just Party members. Just to show you how broad its reach was, during the 1937 World Series, and for several months beyond that, they had the Yankees' third baseman, Red Rolfe (nicknamed for his hair color, not his politics) writing a column, with the full acquiescence of Jake Ruppert and Ed Barrow. The American Communist Party was always a mixed bag of misguided idealists, dupes and outright traitors, but from everything I've read about Rodney he was far more in the first category than either of the other two. IMO he deserves a spot in Cooperstown every bit as much as some of the MSM hacks who are often granted entry.
   34. Swedish Chef Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:51 PM (#3421698)
Nihilism is not a political philosophy.

Too bad, I wouldn't mind being prime minister on a nihilistic platform. No need to push through tough reforms if it's all meaningless anyway.
   35. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:55 PM (#3421699)
He collectivized the farms in pursuit of an economic ideology, and people starved. How is that, really, any different than the inevitable and accepted poor social outputs, including deaths, of unfettered capitalism?

I love the smell of Chomsky in the morning!

Many of the deaths Stalin is "credited" for were secondary and tertiary effects of communism, not caused by his hand or even desired. If you want to get all Rotarian and read into that an apologia for the barbarian POS, feel free.

Suggesting that those deaths were not "caused" by Stalin is probably a reach as it was his dictate that lead directly to their fate. Likewise, the notion that he wasn't deliberately starving huge swaths of people is also pretty controversial because of spiffy programs like dekulakization. More importantly, even if you grant both of those points, you've still got Uncle Joe rockin an 8 figure body count- that's just not sexy.

And I loved me some George Michael back in the no-cable era.
   36. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:57 PM (#3421703)
Nihilism is not a political philosophy.

Too bad, I wouldn't mind being prime minister on a nihilistic platform. No need to push through tough reforms if it's all meaningless anyway.


Nihilists! #### me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.
   37. esseff Posted: December 24, 2009 at 05:57 PM (#3421704)
A lengthy feature on Rodney written by Jack Epstein and published in the San Francisco Chronicle on the occasion of Rodney's induction into the Shrine of the Eternals at the Baseball Reliquary.

A couple of excerpts:


Not surprisingly, neither Rickey nor Robinson ever credited Rodney for helping to end segregation in baseball. Both were strident anti-communists who rejected the idea that the Daily Worker had played a role, according to both Tygiel and Rampersad.

"Rickey had said that the identification with communism was getting in the way and that baseball wouldn't support a communist-inspired plot," Tygiel said.

"Robinson was a Republican, a big supporter of (New York Gov. Nelson) Rockefeller," Rampersad said. "He didn't give credit due to communists who worked for social change."


And . . .


As was the case with many blacklisted Hollywood screenwriters, Rodney was forced to use pseudonyms to publish two popular books on baseball for children. "The First Book of Baseball" (1950) was written under the name Benjamin Brewster, and "The Real Book About Baseball" (1951) listed Lyman Hopkins as its author.
   38. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2009 at 06:19 PM (#3421719)
Suggesting that those deaths were not "caused" by Stalin is probably a reach as it was his dictate that lead directly to their fate. Likewise, the notion that he wasn't deliberately starving huge swaths of people is also pretty controversial because of spiffy programs like dekulakization.

All that's true, but on a 1 to 100 scale of evil, Lester Rodney couldn't carry the jock strap of the countless number of Dixiecrats of his era who were proactively promoting human suffering in their own back yards, not just ignoring it half a world away. That doesn't excuse Rodney's willful blindness to the horrors of Stalinism, but it does bring a bit of perspective to his legacy.
   39. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: December 24, 2009 at 06:21 PM (#3421724)
It always amuses me that those who are most rabid about "denouncing" communisms and Stalinism are the same ones who gleefully duplicate the very worst aspects of Stalin's philosophy--marking good, loving people who fight for justice out for destruction simply because they have different values.

It doesn't matter if there was some boogeyman across the world killing millions of people--you don't destroy American values and lives to push your political platform. If the rabid anti-communists emulated people like Rodney more and fought for good values, we would have a lot less problems.

This type of bullshit is exactly what's wrong with our country. Republican, libertarian, democrat, socialist, green, who gives a ####? Instead of picking a team, why not vote for and support decent human beings rather than rooting interests?
   40. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 06:39 PM (#3421733)
'I left when Nikita Khrushchev blew the whistle on Stalin,' he said. 'We had been duped.'" -Long Beach Press-Telegram

Seems like a pretty stand-up guy to me...
Yeah, except that they weren't actually "duped." Stalin's crimes were widely known; it's just that communists (and of course the New York Times) refused to admit it, until Khrushchev denounced Stalin, and that made it acceptable in their circles to acknowledge those crimes.
   41. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 24, 2009 at 06:41 PM (#3421737)
Instead of picking a team, why not vote for and support decent human beings rather than rooting interests?


Which means picking a team, since the liberals think the conservatives are evil and nuts, while the conservatives think the liberals are nuts and evil (and enough people on both sides of the aisle despise the libertarians). ;-)
   42. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 06:42 PM (#3421738)
He collectivized the farms in pursuit of an economic ideology, and people starved. How is that, really, any different than the inevitable and accepted poor social outputs, including deaths, of unfettered capitalism?
Well, the latter, of course, are imaginary, which is one big difference. The other is that Stalin's murders were not unintended consequences of adopting a particular "economic ideology," but were a deliberate part of his plan.
   43. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 06:45 PM (#3421744)
It always amuses me that those who are most rabid about "denouncing" communisms and Stalinism are the same ones who gleefully duplicate the very worst aspects of Stalin's philosophy--marking good, loving people who fight for justice out for destruction simply because they have different values.
Yes, and I'm sure many people thought the same way about segregationists; Bull Connor and George Wallace were "good, loving people" who just happened to "have different values."

This type of ######## is exactly what's wrong with our country. Republican, libertarian, democrat, socialist, green, who gives a ####? Instead of picking a team, why not vote for and support decent human beings rather than rooting interests?
I think values are a little more than mere "rooting interests," and I think people who have bad values are probably not wise people to vote for regardless of how nice and polite they are and how many little old ladies they help cross the street.
   44. Spahn Insane Posted: December 24, 2009 at 06:50 PM (#3421749)
Please note that as a communist in the 1930's he was, in all likelihood, an apologist for the murder by starvation and shooting of millions of Ukrainians, Kazakhs and other people of the Soviet Union.

Does it follow that one who subscribes to communism as an ideology necessarily supports every regime that tries to implement it?
   45. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 24, 2009 at 06:55 PM (#3421751)
Yes, and I'm sure many people thought the same way about segregationists; Bull Connor and George Wallace were "good, loving people" who just happened to "have different values."


You're right, David. At first, I thought people who wanted the government to steal a trillion dollars from taxpayers like me to finance a pointless war in the desert halfway around the world just had different values from me. But now I see that they're just plain evil.
   46. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: December 24, 2009 at 06:59 PM (#3421757)
I vomit on this thread.
   47. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 24, 2009 at 07:00 PM (#3421759)
Well, the latter, of course, are imaginary, which is one big difference.

If you make the decision not to notice, sure, they're imaginary. OTOH, capitalism as actually practiced leads directly to deleterious social impacts, including deaths, beyond any real doubt. All flow from the fundamental fact that if the owners of capital choose not to pay a person for work, that person is idled.

The other is that Stalin's murders were not unintended consequences of adopting a particular "economic ideology," but were a deliberate part of his plan.

Many were. My dog in the fight is the historical truth that many weren't. Well, that and the point that socialists and communists have gained power in Western European governments without mass murder and starvation ensuing -- belying the tendentious claims upthread that "the people in charge" have nothing to do with how events unfold.
   48. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 24, 2009 at 07:01 PM (#3421760)
I vomit on this thread.


You had to know there was going to be a food fight in progress before you entered, Larry. :-)
   49. Swedish Chef Posted: December 24, 2009 at 07:09 PM (#3421768)
Does it follow that one who subscribes to communism as an ideology necessarily supports every regime that tries to implement it?

Well no, but that person would then be a Trotskyist, and he could look forward to a sudden date with a pickaxe.
   50. RJ in TO Posted: December 24, 2009 at 07:14 PM (#3421771)
I vomit on this thread.


Didn't you look at the title? This thread was just destined to be a #### storm.

And just in time for the hollidays!
   51. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2009 at 07:24 PM (#3421783)
I left when Nikita Khrushchev blew the whistle on Stalin,' he said. 'We had been duped.'" -Long Beach Press-Telegram

Seems like a pretty stand-up guy to me...


Yeah, except that they weren't actually "duped." Stalin's crimes were widely known; it's just that communists (and of course the New York Times) refused to admit it, until Khrushchev denounced Stalin, and that made it acceptable in their circles to acknowledge those crimes.

All of which is true, and it's certainly a black mark on Rodney's career.

But I'm curious: At what point did segregationists and their fellow travelers (Buckley & Co.) get a lifelong sentence of societal ostracism for their part in actively promoting, ignoring, aiding and abetting the caste system in our own country, one that they---unlike Rodney---were in a direct position to influence?

Mind you, I'm not saying or implying that we should tear down the statue of Richard Russell, or rename the Russell Building on the Senate side of the Capitol, or spit on the graves of every person who promoted and defended segregation. That kind of revisionist history should be left to ideologues. But at what point do we extend that same sort of grace to people like Rodney, and recognize that they, too, were often little more than a product of their own "time and place"? And that overall, the world was much better off for their presence.
   52. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 07:26 PM (#3421785)
Yeah, except that they weren't actually "duped." Stalin's crimes were widely known; it's just that communists (and of course the New York Times) refused to admit it, until Khrushchev denounced Stalin, and that made it acceptable in their circles to acknowledge those crimes.


So acceptable, apparently, that they purged the members of the newspaper staff who wanted to write about it.
   53. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2009 at 07:36 PM (#3421798)
So acceptable, apparently, that they purged the members of the newspaper staff who wanted to write about it.

Including the editor (John Gates) who for a brief and glorious period allowed the letters pages of the DW to open itself up to a full debate on both the legacy of Stalin and the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution. In fact it was only the criticism of the latter event that really brought down the axe on the paper---after all, Khrushchev himself was denouncing Stalin right and left and wouldn't have punished the editors for agreeing with him on that limited subject.
   54. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 07:59 PM (#3421818)
But at what point do we extend that same sort of grace to people like Rodney, and recognize that they, too, were often little more than a product of their own "time and place"?
It's one thing to argue for mitigation on that basis; it's another to declare him a "pretty stand up guy" for it, which was the actual comment I was responding to.

He's not a "stand up guy" for it any more than George Wallace was (*) for apologizing for his segregationist past decades too late.




(*) Yes, I know.
   55. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2009 at 08:08 PM (#3421825)
But at what point do we extend that same sort of grace to people like Rodney, and recognize that they, too, were often little more than a product of their own "time and place"?

It's one thing to argue for mitigation on that basis; it's another to declare him a "pretty stand up guy" for it, which was the actual comment I was responding to.


Fair enough. In the context of that original comment you were responding to, "stand up guy" wouldn't exactly have been the words I would have used to describe a Party member whose defection only took place in 1956. Mitigation of that way too late defection within the context of the rest of his life's work was much more the point I was trying to address.
   56. depletion Posted: December 24, 2009 at 08:37 PM (#3421838)
Does it follow that one who subscribes to communism as an ideology necessarily supports every regime that tries to implement it?


The US Communist Party was controlled by Stalin (revealed after the USSR fell and its books were opened up), and was pro-Stalin during his life. I don't know that there were no members who were anti-Stalin, but they should have voted with their feet if they know what was going on and saw they were having no effect on the party position.
This is not the same as saying that Rodney was an evil person. I think David was accurate above in saying that many of the CPUSA chose to ignore evidence of the crimes going on the USSR because the concept of communism was too dear to them.
   57. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2009 at 09:09 PM (#3421856)
To make a rough analogy, imagine an American CP member in 1936 as a newly hatched Orioles fan of 1983, and then picture each new development as slowly but surely peeling away the illusions of grandeur that had been promised when he joined the Party / Dugout Club.

After each successive showcase trial and each zig and zag in the Party line, the casual Party member's faith began to shake, just as the fans in Section 34 started to wonder what was going on when the likes of Ken Dixon and Floyd Rayford started being promoted as the keys to the O's revival. The return of Earl Weaver was kind of like the German invasion, since it brought many of these waverers temporarily back into the fold, but by the time of the invasion of Hungary and that 21 game losing streak, there was little left of the respective fan bases other than the 50% true hard core, and the 50% paid informers. It was sometimes not that easy to tell these two groups apart.
   58. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 24, 2009 at 09:18 PM (#3421864)
After each successive showcase trial and each zig and zag in the Party line, the casual Party member's faith began to shake, just as the fans in Section 34 started to wonder what was going on when the likes of Ken Dixon and Floyd Rayford started being promoted as the keys to the O's revival. The return of Earl Weaver was kind of like the German invasion, since it brought many of these waverers temporarily back into the fold, but by the time of the invasion of Hungary and that 21 game losing streak, there was little left of the respective fan bases other than the 50% true hard core, and the 50% paid informers. It was sometimes not that easy to tell them apart.

Or from the faction made cynical by the pickaxing of Wild Bill Hagy in the mid-80s, who continue to yearn for what was and what might have been.
   59. Gamingboy Posted: December 24, 2009 at 09:33 PM (#3421872)
I propose to create a Centrist party. It's mascot: The Pushme-Pullyou.
   60. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2009 at 09:57 PM (#3421887)
Or from the faction made cynical by the pickaxing of Wild Bill Hagy in the mid-80s, who continue to yearn for what was and what might have been.

The two biggest things that drove me away from the Orioles as even a backup team were this pickaxing of Wild Bill and the forcing out of Jon Miller. That last one was what sealed it for me.
   61. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: December 24, 2009 at 10:35 PM (#3421910)
The two biggest things that drove me away from the Orioles as even a backup team were this pickaxing of Wild Bill and the forcing out of Jon Miller. That last one was what sealed it for me.

What about the collectivization of Ripkens?
   62. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 10:40 PM (#3421915)
The Angelos Purge Trials pissed me off no end
   63. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 24, 2009 at 10:53 PM (#3421922)
I'm amazed at some of the garbage in this thread. People believe what they want to believe about events that are taking place thousands of miles away and about which they only know what they see in the newspapers they read. Their beliefs about those events are driven by their underlying ideology, which is what makes them admirable or not admirable. Papers report all kinds of things, and if I think this, I'll think that paper is propaganda from the other side, while if I think that, I'll think this paper is propaganda from the other side. It's always been that way, and it always will be that way. (One of the reasons why moving in ideological packs is such a dangerous idea.)

It's also insane to deny that in capitalist countries some people die who wouldn't have died if they had been living in socialist countries--everyone who froze to death last night in our nation's capital, for starters. It's not murder, of course; the government didn't care one way or the other whether those people survived. But just because it isn't a direct analogue doesn't mean that it's perfectly fine.
   64. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2009 at 11:13 PM (#3421926)
I'm amazed at some of the garbage in this thread. People believe what they want to believe about events that are taking place thousands of miles away and about which they only know what they see in the newspapers they read.

Just out of curiosity, what makes you think that our sources of information are necessarily that limited and parochial? Why would you assume that we're not trying to sift through many conflicting reports to sort out the underlying truth(s) as best we can? We're not all Limbaughites or Commies here, in spite of what you seem to be implying.

And who's in denial about not only homeless deaths, but the tens of thousands of deaths we have here each year that are due to lack of affordable health care? I certainly don't think of those deaths as "perfectly fine," and I'd like nothing better than to address that with a single payer health care system a la France, but I don't see the connection between those deaths and what went on in the Soviet Union under Communism. Why can't we just acknowledge whatever evils and shortcomings there are in all systems?
   65. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 24, 2009 at 11:24 PM (#3421929)
My post wasn't aimed at you, Andy.

The first paragraph is a defense of people who were members of the American Communist Party in the '30s, not well-read people of today who are able to take a nuanced view in light of the information that's filtered out since then. When I was young, I assumed that reports of Soviet mass murder were right-wing propaganda, regardless of the source. It was only later, when I began to encounter that sort of report from sources I already trusted and intellectually respected, that I understood differently.

The second paragraph is directed at the staunch defenders of all things capitalistic who showed up to attack SugarBear for his admittedly flawed analogy.
   66. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: December 24, 2009 at 11:26 PM (#3421931)
All that's true, but on a 1 to 100 scale of evil, Lester Rodney couldn't carry the jock strap of the countless number of Dixiecrats of his era who were proactively promoting human suffering in their own back yards, not just ignoring it half a world away.

Without diving into the jockstrap transport debate, I'll just say that I don't have an opinion on Rodney as I wasn't even aware he existed until he did not. My comment was on the efforts of Uncle Joe. As someone who will be sharing dinner with a 94 year-old Ukrainian lady tomorrow evening, suffice to say I'm not a huge fan.

Merry Christmas everybody!
   67. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 24, 2009 at 11:39 PM (#3421938)
It's also insane to deny that in capitalist countries some people die who wouldn't have died if they had been living in socialist countries--everyone who froze to death last night in our nation's capital, for starters.
WTF? Are you arguing that nobody freezes to death in socialist countries? Are you arguing that people who freeze to death in the U.S. do so because of "capitalism," and not because they feel like it?
   68. Swedish Chef Posted: December 24, 2009 at 11:59 PM (#3421943)
It's also insane to deny that in capitalist countries some people die who wouldn't have died if they had been living in socialist countries--everyone who froze to death last night in our nation's capital, for starters.

Funny thing I just read a book about Romania in the 80's. It has a bit about people freezing to death in the Ceascescus final economic madness.

But what you mean by socialist country is probably some very well off western capitalist country.
   69. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 25, 2009 at 12:25 AM (#3421948)
WTF? Are you arguing that nobody freezes to death in socialist countries? Are you arguing that people who freeze to death in the U.S. do so because of "capitalism," and not because they feel like it?

"James Unknown," unless mentally ill, would have had a job under socialism and not been on the streets waiting for (and, unfortunately denying) a handout. If the economies of any of the EU, Switzerland, or the US were socialized tomorrow, people wouldn't freeze to death -- other than from getting too drunk in a blizzard or something.

Under capitalism, people without capital are subject to the whims of people with capital, or people that administrate bureaucratically-held capital. There's nothing gained from denying that fundamental fact. People who are capable, but idled, and wind up freezing to death because they're idled did so, yes, because of capitalism.
   70. Famous Original Joe C Posted: December 25, 2009 at 12:43 AM (#3421951)
Merry Christmas, everyone!
   71. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 25, 2009 at 12:57 AM (#3421954)
I propose to create a Centrist party. It's mascot: The Pushme-Pullyou.


The Centrist Party: We've studied both sides of every issue, and on some issues we feel very strongly both ways.

And on other issues, we really couldn't care less.

DB
   72. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 25, 2009 at 01:01 AM (#3421955)
I propose to create a Centrist party. It's mascot: The Pushme-Pullyou.


The Centrist Party: It tastes great and it's less filling.

DB
   73. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: December 25, 2009 at 01:07 AM (#3421958)
I am a clear-eyed, reasonable centrist. It's the rest of you that are wild-eyed lefty/righty whackjobs.
   74. frannyzoo Posted: December 25, 2009 at 01:32 AM (#3421966)
Do you have a linky for the Lancet study in toto? I found a very short summary pre-$ that I think refers to the same work and can only cherry pick this little U.S. factoid:

Cancer survival in black men and women was systematically and substantially lower than in white men and women in all 16 states and six metropolitan areas included.


before being instructed that it will cost $31.50 to read the whole damn study. Friggin' fee-for-service medical system...

P.S.: Not to be a butt head, but could we have more links to our "facts" overall? Can you tell I'm a teacher on Winter Break?
   75. HCO Posted: December 25, 2009 at 01:38 AM (#3421968)
The mascot of the centrist party should be a baby cut in half.

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