Meet the hard-core Communist who mentored the future 44th President of the United States.
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If that’s not eerie enough, there is another connection between Valerie Jarrett’s and Obama’s political ancestors. His name was Robert R. Taylor, and Davis worked with him at a CPUSA/ Comintern “antiwar” rally in Chicago in November 1940. The group behind the rally was the hideous American Peace Mobilization, later described by Congress as “one of the most seditious organizations which ever operated in the United States.” This “instrument of the Communist Party line” was “one of the most notorious and blatantly Communist fronts ever organized in this country.” The goal of the American Peace Mobilization was to keep the U.S. out of World War II, because, at the time, Hitler was allied with Stalin via the Hitler-Stalin pact. And so, the good comrades at CPUSA saluted the red flag. Davis and Taylor worked together on an event billed as “Negroes and National Defense.”
Robert Taylor was the first African American head of the Chicago Housing Authority. He also appears in the major 1944 congressional report “Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States.”
Taylor was the maternal grandfather of Valerie Jarrett.
COLLABORATING WITH Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is David Axelrod, who, in another bizarre twist of political fate, likewise has roots in this same Chicago crowd and period. (See my profile, “David Axelrod, Lefty Lumberjack,” TAS, March 2012.)
Architect of Obama’s “hope and change” message and presidential campaigns, Axelrod is a native New Yorker who, like Obama and Frank Marshall Davis, found his political and professional calling in Chicago. In the 1970s, while Obama was being mentored in Hawaii by Davis, Axelrod was being mentored in Chicago by people with connections back to that same Chicago crew.
Axelrod had enrolled at the University of Chicago in the fall of 1972, majoring in political science and writing for the student newspaper. He soon secured a nice job as a very young political columnist for the Hyde Park Herald. Through his work at the Herald, Axelrod met David Canter and Don Rose. Canter and Rose mentored Axelrod and helped set him on a path that led to Barack Obama and the White House.
David Canter was the son of Harry Jacob Canter. Harry had been secretary of the Boston Communist Party. In 1930, he ran for governor of Massachusetts on the Communish Party ticket. Harry was so progressive that in 1932 he received a special invitation to Stalin’s USSR, which he eagerly accepted, bringing along his entire family. Fluet in Russian, he taught printing techniques to the Bolsheviks, translating major volumes of Lenin’s writings.
In 1937, Harry and family suddenly left Moscow and landed in Chicago. Close to Harry not just biologically but ideologically was his son, David Simon Canter, born in Boston in 1923, and nurtured in the USSR under Stalin’s collectivization, mass wealth redistribution, and five-year plans.
Like Axelrod, whom he would mentor, David Canter attended the University of Chicago, writing for the college newspaper and other publications. He eventually edited the Packinghouse Workers Union newsletter.
David’s surviving son, Marc, recalls “all sorts of wild memories of being the son of one of the organizers of the meatpackers union. Don’t get me started!” David Canter’s politics, like his father’s, became especially bold—and pro-Soviet. He was eventually subpoenaed to testify before the Democrat-run House Committee on Un-American Activities, where he refused to answer any questions about past or present membership in the Communist Party.
The committee was especially interested in an operation called Translation World Publishers. The committee had evidence that “the Soviet Government advanced to Translation World Publishers…the sum of $2,400” for a specific set of books to be produced.
The committee concluded that Translation World Publishers was “an outlet for the distribution of Soviet propaganda,” was “subsidized by Soviet funds and was created by known Communists to serve the propaganda interests of the USSR.” Canter, according to the committee, had thereby failed to comply with the provisions of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. To clarify: This is the same Canter who directly mentored David Axelrod.
Frank Marshall Davis would have met the Canters in any number of functions. At the Abraham Lincoln School, Harry taught the Monday evening class, 8:45–10:15 p.m., titled “Wartime Trade Union Problems.” Further, the Canter family was very Much acquainted with and appeared in Davis’ Chicago Star.
To cite a couple of examples, Harry Canter is listed in the April 28, 1947, edition, wishing “May Day Greetings” along with other “Friends” of the Star. The May 15, 1948, “Inside Labor” column spotlighted Canter, who was a candidate for delegate to the International Typographical Union’s 90th convention, as a “leader in the fight against the Taft-Hartley Act” who “calls himself a ‘non-partisan Independent-Progressive.’” That would be a progressive who happened to have run CPUSA in Boston and worked in Moscow as a Soviet translator and editor.