by Mike Pyatt
Who was Gus Hall? Born Arvo Kustaa Halberg, in 1910, Gus Hall was Chairman of the Communist Party USA for decades. Born in Minnesota’s Mesabi Range, to Finnish parents. He grew up in a radical, political home, where communism was extolled. At age 15, Hall was recruited by the Young Communist League. In 1931, under an apprenticeship, he qualified to travel to Moscow to study for two years at the Lenin International School. After his training, he returned to Minneapolis, to further his activism under the YCL. After being jailed for his part in the1934 Minneapolis Teamster’s Strike, marked by clashes between police and mobs with iron pipes, he changed his name after being unable to work under his birth name. He changed it in1935 to Gus Hall.
That was the beginning of his leadership of U.S.Communism. In 1939, he ran for Governor of Ohio. In 1940, he was convicted of fraud and forgery in the election and spent 90 days in jail. He joined the Navy in 1941, and was honorably discharged in 1946. When Hitler broke the Molotov-Ribbintrop treaty, and invaded Russia, Hall and his supporters backed the U.S. efforts in WWII. Not for patriotic reasons.
By 1948, Hall was the major spokesman for the Communist Party, and attracted the attention of U.S. officials and the FBI. He and eleven other party members were indicted under the Alien Sedition Act. His initial sentence was for five years. While out on bail, he absconded and went underground. He was later arrested in 1951, in Mexico City, while attempting to flee to Moscow. He was sentenced, and spent another five years at Leavenworth.
While incarcerated, a notable gangster in the next cell, reported that Hall distributed communist literature. He didn’t waver in his commitment to the cause. In the 1960’s, he was threatened with another indictment by the State of New York, under the McCarren Act. The Supreme Court found parts of the Act unconstitutional, and the charges were dropped.
The McCarthy era wrought temporary havoc on Hall and his advocates. The 1956, Warsaw Pact Invasion of Czechoslovakia, widened the rift between leftists and the CPUSA. Hall ran for President four times-1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984. His running mate in 84’ was California, Black Panther activist, Angela Davis. In 1976 he received 0.07 % of the national votes. For years he spoke on college campuses, spreading the message. He served as General Secretary of the CPUSA shortly before his death in 2000, and a staunch advocate for “an American version of Communism.Socialism.” A diluted dose of poison.
Ask any school student about Communism. Their answers are disturbing. A 1958 book, The Naked Communist, listed 45 goals by the Communist Party. One was to get control of public schools and textbooks, making sure that the “party line” is included. Coincidental? Are we there?
In 2012, Roosevelt High School, Des Moines, Iowa, came under criticism by some parents for student assignments in a study on The Cold War. Students received handouts including two editorial cartoons. One depicts two capitalist factory workers dressed shabbily, with ball and chain on their ankles, next to a well dressed businessman, smoking a cigar, reaping benefits of capitalism. The other cartoon depicts communist, with nicely dressed factory workers reaping the profits from their work returning to them. Concerned parents were outraged at the slant favoring Communism. The school claimed parents selectively edited the material to generate publicity. In 2015, a New Mexico prep school class decided to choose “Communism” as the theme for their prom. The school’s executive director promised to “discuss the negative consequences of their choice.” Why would they honor Communism? Where do students get such perverted notions?
According to the Center for Vision and Values, Grove City College, Paul Kangor, commented on a article that first appeared on Fox News, regarding a marching high school band in Gettysburg, 2012. The band’s theme was “St. Petersburg 1917.” A musical commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution, replete with sickles, hammers, and red flags. The school superintendent said she was sorry that parents misunderstood. “If anything,” she continued, “is being celebrated is the music…I’m just very sorry it wasn’t looked at as a history lesson.” If that’s a history lesson, it deserves a big, fat, red F. The superintendent failed to understand what’s so bad about the incident. A non sequitur.
How can students understand if the educators didn’t. They failed to teach the horrors of the Bolshevik Revolution, and the 100 million slain corpses since 1917. One high school social studies textbook, contrasted communism and capitalism, stating, “It is about competing systems. Not a matter of which is right or wrong, but rather a choice and the consequences of each.” In 1956, Communist Russia invaded Hungary. Student Ilond Troth was hanged in July,1957. She protested the oppression.
Generations are ignorant of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Gulag prisoner, Russian novelist and valiant dissident from the past, exiled in 1974, survived communism’s intolerance for opposition. He estimated the prison camps held up to 15 million inmates until 1959. A naive view of communism has rendered generations of Americans ignorant of the continued threat of Marxist ideology. One conservative writer speaking at a college campus in Minnesota, warning of the sustained threat of communism, was commended by a faculty member for his erudite analysis. He added, “You’re exactly right. And we will defeat America!” There’s a generation born after the fall of the Berlin Wall that are intellectually hamstrung by the orchestrated omission of communism’s past and present authoritarian, violent oppression.
Too many hail Fidel Castro a liberator of the oppressed. In many circles, communism’s haute couture, and little shame’s attached to embracing Marxism. Contrast North and South Korea. While Lenin and Mao remain in their sarcophagus, students are merrily marching to the “Bolshevik two-step.” How’d that happen? Beyond capitalism, it’s communism’s absolute hatred of our Biblical underpinnings.What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org