People’s World is the flagship publication of Communist Party USA, and the successor publication to the Daily Worker. It recently carried back-to-back articles that were very revealing of a dubious but old tradition among the American left. To wit: America’s communists have always found allies—useful idiots, dupes—among the liberal/progressive left, the mainstream Democratic Party, and (especially) the religious left. As to the latter, I’m ever reminded of the words of the late Herb Romerstein, who told me: “The religious left; they were the biggest suckers of them all.”
The list of suckers from the 1920s through the end of the Cold War was deep. I know this well, having devoted a lengthy book to the subject, which, incidentally, could be volume one in a multi-volume set. Unfortunately, the duping didn’t end with the Cold War, which brings me back to those two articles in People’s World.
One of them, dated June 12, heralded a hopeful new moment in uniting the American left. Emboldened by the election and reelection of Barack Obama, plus major victories on everything from Obamacare to the defeat of DOMA, the left is flying high, confident that everyday Americans—including millions of traditional/moderate Democrats—will continue to blindly give them the green light to fundamentally transform America.
And so, People’s World touted a June 5 event at which CPUSA, the Democratic Socialists of America, Freedom Road Socialists, and the so-called Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism came together to discuss “how to better unite the left.” Playing host, fittingly, was the worst union in America, the one gleefully marching America toward Greece: the SEIU. The fellow travelers packed the New York City union hall of SEIU 1199 United Healthcare Workers East.
People’s World reported that the four organizations have been working together over the past several years in the “peace, labor, youth, racial equality and other movements” and had more recently initiated plans to “enhance left unity between the groups and more broadly.”
Among the comrades, Libero Della Piana, the CPUSA rep, stated that, “Left unity should always be the outcome of the struggle.… It should go without saying that left unity cannot distract us from the current democratic and class struggles... A bigger, broader movement more engaged in the struggles will create the conditions for a vibrant left of greater size and scope.”
What does that mean? How does it translate? Who or what will be part of that “bigger, broader movement” of “greater size and scope?”
Or, to quote Maria Svart, national director of the Democratic Socialists of America: “How do we expand? We need to build a movement that is democratic; it needs to be rooted in American realities; it needs to learn from American movements, e.g., civil rights, the feminist movement. We need to take power seriously and not be satisfied being a thoroughly marginalized movement.” She likewise insisted on building a larger “movement for a longer term,” seeking out “social forces within capitalism to change the system.”
People’s World concluded its report on the “unity” event with words of wisdom from one attendee, the founder of Jacobin Magazine (yes, no kidding), who urged: “We should take some of the spirit of Occupy Wall Street, where there was a fierce sense of urgency.”
Overall, the lesson and general thrust of the sentiments from these literal socialists and communists was that new allies must be carefully sought out, identified, upheld, tapped—in a word, used. That brings me to the other article of interest in People’s World.
On June 11, the day before this piece on “Left unity,” People’s World ran a glowing puff piece on a group of Christians that it plainly adores: Sister Simone Campbell and her band of nuns. They call themselves “the Network,” a self-described “national Catholic social justice lobby.” Campbell and friends have formed the so-called “Nuns on the Bus,” storming across the nation on behalf of “healthcare reform,” Barack Obama, the president's policies, the agenda of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, and, of course, “social justice.”
The nuns’ antics aren’t new news. I profiled them in May 2011 for Catholic World Report. You might remember the issue I dissected at the time: the nuns’ unrelenting crusade for Obamacare.
Recall that the Obamacare vote was scheduled for a Sunday—God’s day. The sisters were filled with the spirit. They gathered over 50 signatures in a letter to Congress urging “a life-affirming ‘yes’ vote when the Senate healthcare bill comes to the floor of the House for a vote.”
How could the nuns advocate a “life-affirming” vote for a bill that championed abortion funding, and would become a cruise missile at the heart of the religious liberty of the Roman Catholic Church and other pro-life denominations? No worries. “From our reading of the bill,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, “there isn’t any federal funding of abortion.” Quite the contrary, Campbell and her sisters judged the bill not anti-life but pro-life. “For us,” explained Campbell, “tens of thousands of people are dying each year because they don’t have access to healthcare, so that is a life issue.”
Worse, the Network claimed that the nuns who signed the letter represented a vast group of 59,000 sisters nationwide, which was nowhere near accurate. Like Jesus with the loaves, the sisters had demonstrated miraculous powers of multiplication—as did the liberal media, which dutifully reported the nuns’ vast exaggeration. Not so pleased was the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which stated that Obamacare should be explicitly rejected because of its pro-abortion measures.
But while faithful Catholics were aghast at the sisters’ actions, not everyone was against them. Among those thrilled with the Network is a group of strange bedfellows, one that spent the last century persecuting the Catholic Church and even killing its officials and members: communists. When it comes to Sister Simone Campbell and her social-justice crusaders, communists have suddenly gotten religion.
One such testimony was the June 11 piece on the Network in CPUSA’s flagship publication. “Promptly at 3 p.m., the big bus rolled into the parking lot at Catholic Charities here,” excitedly reported a breathless People’s World. “One hundred people were there to greet them. These women, ‘Nuns on the Bus,’ travel the continent on behalf of justice. It is hard to choose a word to describe the breathtaking interaction between the crowd and the travelers. One could say ‘enthusiastic,’ or ‘excited,’ or even ‘deeply moved.’ But none of those words really captures the mood. The only word that fits is love.”
It was love alright. Not since 1940, when CPUSA lovingly enlisted the mainline Protestant denominations into its hideous American Peace Mobilization front group, have America’s communists been so giddy over Christians they’d normally despise—or jail or shoot. Ironically, in the past the Christian suckers used to be non-Catholic. Not this time, sister.
Speaking of whom, People’s World highlighted the Network’s commissar, featuring a cheerful photo of her leading the group of beaming ladies: “Sister Simone Campbell, leader of the expedition, greeted everyone together and many people individually. Sister Campbell’s speech to the crowd and the four television cameras was a practical one. She said, ‘This is a nation that fixes problems.’”
Among the “fixes” underscored by People’s World, communists are ecstatic with their Network not merely for the sisters’ usual work denouncing Republicans, fighting for hard-left Democrats, or stumping for “healthcare reform,” but also battling for “immigration reform”—or, more generally, what Sister Campbell simply called “progress.”
In what was less a news article than an ad for the Network, the People’s World correspondent urged: “In her short address, Sister Campbell encouraged everyone to text the word ‘nuns’ to 877 877 to get a message to their senators. Her talk ended when she was joined by the rest of her group in leading a chant. With their hands in the air, the crowd repeated three times, ‘Raise your hands! Raise your voice, for comprehensive immigration reform! Now!”
Arms in the air, fists raised, People’s World concluded with this plug for the Network and exhortation to its communist readers: “Nuns on the Bus is a campaign of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby which was founded by 47 Catholic nuns more than 40 years ago. More Information on NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus is here.”
The CPUSA publication was confident that the Nuns on the Bus would and should “make thousands of friends” along its journey.
Well, your friends say a lot about you. I don’t know about you, but if I ran a Catholic organization that won the accolades of CPUSA and Barack Obama but found myself in direct opposition to my bishops and Church on core Catholic teachings, including on matters of literal life and death, I’d be concerned. But Simone Campbell and her Network don't seem worried.
To the contrary, they’re attracting support from some unusual circles. In Campbell and her sisters, American communists have finally found some Catholics they can support. Back in the Soviet days, when CPUSA publicly pushed for a “Soviet America,” the Bolsheviks imprisoned nuns in special sections of the gulag with prostitutes, deeming them whores to Christ. The commies despised the nuns. Not anymore, or at least not these sisters. Go, nuns, go!
Whether the sisters in the Network know it or not, they are being embraced by the far left’s (communists included) wider network—that “bigger, broader movement” of “greater size and scope.” They are part of the “Left unity” that CPUSA and its comrades seek in their endeavor to unite the left and move America “forward.” It’s all part of America’s fundamental transformation, and the far left has rolled out a red carpet for this Network as part of its network.
Carry on, sisters. Bravely forward.