Kengor Writes . . .
Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).
Today’s Progressives Have Completed the Takeover and Destruction Communists First Started Calling for More Than a Century Ago.
The title of this article will raise eyebrows even among conservatives, but read on. The title is accurate and undeniable.
The left has succeeded in driving a final nail in the coffin of the Boy Scouts as it once was. The organization is now a shell of itself. It capitulated first on “gay” scout leaders, then on “transgender” scouts, and now on girls joining the Boy Scouts.
Progressives bask in their triumph, dancing on the grave of an organization they never wanted to build up; it was an organization they wanted to take down. For the left, this is less about giving something to girls than taking something from boys. It’s another scalp on the cultural-ideological wall.
Lest anyone think this isn’t a take-down, or a fundamental transformation, well, consider that the Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, will now be called simply “Scouts BSA” for those ages 11 to 18 (a change openly celebrated with puffy propaganda pieces by PC-stylists at the BSA website). This is a coerced inclusion of gender-neutral “Cub Scouts.”
The Boy Scouts have been emasculated, neutered. The organization that prided itself on courage stands impotent, fearful in the face of feminists and LGBTQ militants. They’ve cowered to the forces of “diversity” and “tolerance.”
And for cultural revolutionaries, the defeat of the Boy Scouts is the end of a long march through yet another institution. This march began literally a century ago, not with the New York Times or Democrats, but with Socialists and Communists.
Surely that’s an exaggeration — a right-wing red herring? Grab the nearest liberal to howl accusations of Red-under-every-bed McCarthyism?
No doubt, the notion of a long Communist assault against the Boy Scouts will surprise even many conservatives. The ugly truth, however, is that American Communists have been after the Boy Scouts for over a century. Marxists were hell-bent on taking down the Boy Scouts prior to even the Bolsheviks taking down czarist Russia. Once again, here as well, it just took the wider liberal left a little longer to eventually align with the Marxist left.
I will not here lay out the full litany or extended paper trail of evidence, which can be found in the (less accessible) Comintern Archives on Communist Party USA at the Library of Congress or (easily accessible) simple searches of archives at the remarkable Marxist clearinghouse, www.marxists.org. What follows are several unmistakable examples beginning in 1911, with links to the original sources:
Exhibit 1 takes us way back to June 1911, only a year after the Boy Scouts of America was established. It’s an article by a Celia Rosatstein titled “Why Boys Should Not Join the ‘Boy Scouts,’” published in The Young Socialists’ Magazine. The article portrayed the Boy Scouts as gun-hungry, pro-war, bloodthirsty capitalist fanatics. The young socialists instead urged youth to sign up for the Socialist-Communist faith. The Young Socialists’ Magazine promoted “Socialist Sunday Schools,” not unlike the “Commie Camps“ to which New York City-based Marxist parents sent their children in the summers — a political-ideological substitute to what Christian parents commonly know as “VBS,” or Vacation Bible School. (Ex-Communist Ron Radosh writes of his commie-camp experiences in his fascinating memoir, Commies.)
This was the faith for the new school, for the new revolution.
“Especially you boys of the Socialist Sunday Schools, do not join the ‘Boy Scouts,’” urged Ms. Rosatstein. “Persuade your friends not to do so, but instead to join the Socialist Schools.”
Exhibit 2 is the March 1924 issue of The Young Comrade, an article titled, “Why We Are Against the Boy Scouts,” by Thelma Kahn. There, “capitalism” was fingered as the nefarious tool for training Boy Scouts not only to shoot guns, but to shoot their fathers and brothers (yes, seriously):
“Capitalism does not only train the Boy Scout to shoot and use a rifle for its own interest but to shoot down his own father and brothers when there is a strike.”
This penchant for violence ultimately marches the Boy Scout off to war: According to Ms. Kahn, “grown-up Boy Scouts” infested by the vagaries of capitalism become soldiers who go off to “fight England.” (Hmm, England?) “The Boy Scouts,” added Ms. Kahn with an added twist of the knife, “also learn how to stick people on the end of their rifles and other ignorant things.”
The delightful Ms. Kahn wrapped up with a pitch to youngsters to instead join the Junior Section of the Young Workers League.
Exhibit 3 is a full issue of Young Pioneer from July-August 1929, published by the Young Workers League of America in New York City. The lead piece focused on a shameful demonstration against 1,500 innocent boys from across America as they excitedly prepared to cross the Atlantic for an international Jamboree in England. The Young Pioneers came to rain on the parade.
The young commies denounced these boys as children exploited by their parents’ greedy factory “bosses.” As the Boy Scouts readied to board their ship for the trip of a lifetime, the Young Pioneers descended, unfurling banners that read “Down with the Boy Scout Jamboree,” “The Boy Scouts are supported by the bosses,” “Smash the Boy Scouts,” “Join the Young Pioneers of America,” and “Defend the Soviet Union.”
At the demonstration a young Red named Harry Eisman was arrested for what even the Communist publication described as “militant” behavior.
As for that Boy Scouts’ pledge to God and country, the Young Pioneer urged the youth to “Follow in Lenin’s Way.” And as an added kick in the rump of the boys, it accused the Boy Scouts of racism, publishing an alleged letter to the editor from a “Negro” boy named Leslie Boyd swearing his allegiance to the glorious Young Pioneers rather than the disgraceful Boy Scouts.
The bilious smears that I’m recounting here were standard fare from these Communist organizations, and I could give example after example, from campaigns against the Boy Scouts by New York Communists in the 1920s to Chicago Communists in the 1930s onward to the 1970s and on and on. Communists in the 1970s assailed the Boy Scouts for “being indoctrinated to emulate the Green Berets.”
This runs all the way to modern times, especially as American Communists vigorously embraced cultural issues. By the start of the new century — as seen, for instance, in a May 2001 issue of Party Builder — Communist Party USA was joining forces with the ACLU to openly condemn the Boy Scouts as “anti-gay.”
And alas, it was here that the far left found its formula. This tactic would work masterfully in redefining the Boy Scouts in the left’s own image. As cultural Marxists have taught in their universities, the trick to deconstructing America, especially its Judeo-Christian roots, is to go cultural, not economic, particularly through the perverting of sexuality and gender. The key was a cultural Marxist revolution rather than an economic Marxist revolution. That’s the ticket.
And yet, while the prime instrument against the Boy Scouts has been sexuality and gender, Communists have remained capable of wild cheap shots at the Boy Scouts that smack of the 1930s all over again. An egregious example is a piece published last summer in People’s World, the successor to the Soviet-backed Daily Worker. The author was John Bachtell, head of Communist Party USA. This piece was headlined, “Trump’s Scout speech likened by some to Hitler Youth rally.”
The piece lit up the “reprehensible” Donald Trump for a “hate-filled speech” that violated “every norm of decency and morality” before 40,000 Boy Scouts at their national Jamboree in West Virginia. In a moment of confession, Bachtell conceded to his comrades that he had once been a Boy Scout. But he saw the light through the darkness of the Boy Scouts’ militaristic, jingoistic, homophobic, and racist ways. Bachtell testifies to his moment of grace, when he left the Boy Scouts for good:
“This was during the height of the Vietnam War and all the militarism and the patriotic display was meant to whip up war fever and loyalty to country. Again, as someone coming from a progressive family opposed to the war, the entire show was a big turnoff.
“After that Jamboree I quit the Scouts and never regretted it. I felt like I was being indoctrinated to be a cog in the war machine.
“Later, I realized just how reactionary the Scouts were, including the whole ugly history of racial exclusion, segregation, and homophobia. It wasn’t until 2015, after a long struggle that the BSA adopted a resolution dropping restrictions against gay youth joining.”
There, in one piece, in 2017, is a summary list of Communist attacks in a protracted ideological war against the Boy Scouts. It took a century, but the Marxists and Socialists finally got them. They needed the help of the wider left, especially the thorough re-education in the universities. It took the wider liberal left some time to warm to the cause, but eventually liberals/progressives got there. As they typically do.
Fifty Years Ago: An Assassination That Shook America
It was 50 years ago that a shocking moment of violence rocked America: the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
The tragedy erupted shortly after midnight June 5, 1968, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. It should have been a great night for RFK. He had just achieved a grand victory, having won California in the Democratic primary. He was on his way to the party’s presidential nomination.
But not everyone in that building had similar plans.
After giving a jubilant speech, Kennedy was led from the podium toward the hotel exit via a carefully preselected back route through the kitchen. But someone was lurking along that path.
A 24-year-old Palestinian-Jordanian immigrant named Sirhan Sirhan jumped out from behind a cart stacked with trays and began firing a .22 revolver. He lodged three bullets in his intended victim, one directly in the head, entering behind the right ear and piercing Kennedy’s brain. Kennedy went down. He would never stand again.
Why did Sirhan pull the trigger? The answer was simple: The young Palestinian was seeking vengeance for the New York senator’s support of Israel in the Six-Day War the previous June.
Sirhan was vehemently anti-Israel when the Jewish state had defeated the Arab states. He vowed revenge, with Bobby Kennedy the chosen outlet for his anger.
His rage at RFK went ballistic. He scribbled maniacally in his diary on May 18, 1968:
“My determination to eliminate RFK is becoming more the more (sic) of an unshakable obsession. R.F.K. must die. R.F.K. must be killed. R.F.K. must be assassinated. . . . Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated before 5 June 68.”
Looking back, this was maybe the first major manifestation of Middle East terrorism in the United States, long before September 11, 2001.
And yet, it is crucial to understand that this was a deadly act prompted not only by the evil of Middle East terrorism but also — albeit quite forgotten — by the evil of Soviet Communism.
What did the Soviets have to do with this dirty deed? The answer: The Six-Day War had been shamelessly provoked by the Kremlin.
Looking to exploit divisions in the Middle East and further exacerbate America’s foreign-policy problems at the time (especially in Vietnam), Soviet officials in May 1968 had cooked up false intelligence reports claiming that Israeli troops had been moved into the Golan Heights and were readying to invade Syria. Moscow peddled the malicious disinformation to Egypt and other Arab states hostile to Israel. The Kremlin wanted to provoke a military confrontation with Israel. And it worked. On this, there is no debate. It is a historical certainty.
Moscow had precipitated the Six-Day War in June 1967, which, in turn, had prompted RFK’s assassin in June 1968. And the rest is history.
At the time of his death, Robert F. Kennedy was only 42 years old. Had he lived to win the presidency, he would have been 43 at his inauguration, the same age as his late brother at his swearing in. His shooter was 24 years old, the same age as Kennedy’s late brother’s shooter.
Today, 50 years later, the shooter is still with us. Bobby Kennedy is long gone. Who knows what might have been?
A Victory for Freedom and the Pro-Life Movement
The pro-life movement celebrates this Independence Day 2018 with a big victory at the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s a victory for freedom.
In yet another narrow decision, this one titled National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, the high court last week struck down a 2015 California law that forces pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to advertise abortions. These are centers established for the very purpose of not doing abortions and for providing an alternative to abortion. The California law compelled the centers — many of them religious, with conscientious objections to abortion — to hand out materials to their clients advertising state-subsidized abortion clinics.
As noted by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the centers before the Supreme Court, the California law requires these approved and licensed pro-life medical centers, which offer free help to pregnant women, to provide phone numbers for local county offices that refer women to Planned Parenthood and nearby abortionists for free or low-cost “abortion services.”
What happens if the pro-life centers do not follow the abortion dictates of the state? The California law allows for a cumulative fine of $1,000 penalized against each pregnancy center for each instance in which the center fails to communicate the abortion option to a client.
Policing and enforcing the financial penalties alone would be a bureaucratic mess. And that’s aside from the obvious moral affront.
The pregnancy centers viewed the law as an unconstitutional infringement upon their rights of speech, not to mention their freedom of religion and conscience. As LifeNews.com described it:
“This law sabotages freedom of speech by forcing organizations to encourage actions that are in direct opposition to their religious beliefs and counter the mission and purpose of their organizations.”
It is indeed a direction contravention of the religious beliefs and missions of so many of these centers. It begs the question: What’s next? Requiring a synagogue to hand out materials promoting Islam? Requiring Baptist and Catholic churches to post or hand out materials to same-sex couples instructing them where to go for a same-sex marriage ceremony? And with state-leveled fines for non-compliance?
This is a clear intrusion upon the freedoms of these non-abortion centers.
The high court agreed, but barely. The slim 5-4 majority opinion was written by Justice Clarence Thomas, who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Anthony Kennedy, the court swing-vote who in June 1992 preserved Roe v. Wade by writing the majority opinion in the infamous Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling. The Supreme Court’s four liberals walked in usual lock-step, with Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor insisting that non-abortion centers provide information on abortion as an option.
The 5-4 ruling was a victory for the pro-life cause, but the reality is that this unjust California law should have never gotten this far. The very notion that it did is another sad reminder of how militant the “pro-choice” side is.
To that end, the reactions to the court decision by the pro-choice movement are telling:
The Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Abortion Rights Action League insist that pregnancy centers “manipulate and deceive” pregnant women by not advertising the abortion option to them (as if these women had never heard of abortion prior to stepping into the center).
Planned Parenthood Action called these centers “deceptive” and “harmful” to women. It charged centers — the vast majority of which are run and staffed by women — with “lying to women, withholding medical information, and cutting off access to care.”
Abortion activist Heidi Hess protests that the high court has “voted to control women,” and has now “set the stage for even more attacks on our reproductive rights.” This was done by the court’s “anti-woman majority,” Hess fumes, and by “five male Supreme Court justices.”
That complaint seems the height of hypocrisy. Again, one of the five male justices, the court’s “moderate” Anthony Kennedy, is seen as a hero to the abortion cause. He wrote the dreadful June 1992 opinion that preserved Roe v. Wade. And, lest we forget, it was an all-male Supreme Court that gave America Roe v. Wade in January 1973.
No complaints about the seven male Supreme Court justices who gave us Roe?
Such reactions reveal not only the stridency of the “pro-choice” movement; they also reveal how far too many “pro-choice” activists merit the very label they detest: pro-abortion. Consider:
For decades, these same activists have adamantly refused to advertise or counsel non-abortion options in abortion clinics. There has long been a legislative and grassroots push by pro-lifers to have ultrasound machines installed in abortion clinics and to require that each woman evaluated for an abortion receive an ultrasound first. (That’s wise, if not essential, from a medical standpoint alone.) Pro-lifers are not deceptive about why they want ultrasound images: 80-90 percent of women considering abortions change their minds when they see a picture of their unborn baby in their womb. I know women who run crisis pregnancy centers and have told me story after story of women instantly changing their minds the moment they glimpse of a photo of their child.
In fact, one friend who runs a center told me that pregnancy help centers are proliferating at a rapid rate, and in direct proportion to the shrinking number of abortion clinics. That’s the real story that’s going on here. Follow the money. Abortion centers are losing business, big-time, to pregnancy help centers that give women alternatives to killing their unborn baby. Thus, pregnancy help centers are a mortal threat to abortion clinics. Abortionists and their defenders want to stop these centers in any way they can.
If an abortion clinic — take the Gosnell clinic in Philadelphia, for example — suddenly lost 80-90 percent of would-be abortions from clients changing their minds because of ultrasounds, the abortion clinic would go bankrupt. The entire abortion industry would be in jeopardy if ultrasound technology was required.
“Pro-choice” activists know this, which is why they refuse legislation requiring ultrasounds. And how does that refusal help a woman’s “choice”? Do pro-choicers want women to have maximum information for their best “choice” or not? The tragic truth is that far too many pro-choice activists want only information that leads to a choice in favor of abortion, not a choice against abortion.
That’s not a pro-choice position; it’s a pro-abortion position.
I’ve met women in tears who have told me about walking into Planned Parenthood clinics and receiving no option but abortion. One woman told me through sobs about her experience two decades ago. She was a college freshman terrified of her parents learning she was pregnant. She hoped that someone, somewhere, on her way to the clinic or inside, would provide her with options other than abortion. At the clinic, she was given no such option, nor a flicker of compassion. She said the nurses and “doctors” alike treated her with such cold routine. She was stunned to discover that the physical pain was immense (she said she felt “everything”), and the emotional pain has never gone away. Her baby was destroyed. She has never gotten over the trauma.
I frequently attend and speak at pro-life gatherings, and I meet these women constantly. Today, they are the backbone of crisis pregnancy centers. They staff the centers and they also give money to the centers to provide abortion alternatives, not to promote abortion. The California law sought to undermine that very purpose. Shame on the “pro-choice” movement and Supreme Court justices who refuse to understand that.
And for the pro-life movement, this is a July 4th to be thankful for a major court victory on behalf of liberty.
With God and Richard Pipes
The most respected academic authority on the Russian Revolution, 20th century Communism, and the Cold War has died. He was Richard Pipes, longtime professor of Russian history at Harvard, and a remarkable man.
Where to start with an adequate tribute to Professor Pipes? I’ll start with some biographical observations and then finish with personal reflections.
Richard Pipes was born in Poland on July 11, 1923. As a 16-year-old Jew at the time of Hitler’s invasion, Pipes mercifully escaped, thanks to a clever and shrewd father. He credited not only his father but also Providential intervention. That experience, and those that followed, taught Pipes several life lessons. In his memoir, Vixi: Memoirs of a Non-Belonger, he wrote, “The main effect of the Holocaust on my psyche was to make me delight in every day of life that has been granted to me, for I was saved from certain death.” Pipes observed:
“I felt and feel to this day that I have been spared not to waste my life on self-indulgence or self-aggrandizement but to spread a moral message by showing, using examples from history, how evil ideas lead to evil consequences. Since scholars have written enough on the Holocaust, I thought it my mission to demonstrate this truth using the example of Communism.”
Pipes would do exactly that.
Pipes earned a doctorate in history at Harvard in 1950. He spent the next 50-plus years there, as professor of Russian history, director of the Russian Research Center, and principal investigator of the Harvard Project on Cold War Studies. He was well-received at Harvard, with full classrooms, even as one of its few outspoken conservatives. In 1996, he retired, though his association with Harvard continued under emeritus status. Among his most important publications were Russia Under the Old Regime (1974), The Russian Revolution (1990), Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime (1994), The Unknown Lenin: From the Secret Archive (1996), and Communism: A History (2001). The latter is a concise go-to book for understanding Communism in theory, practice, and history.
But among Pipes’ greatest contributions were outside the classroom, as he helped win the Cold War at a practical-policy level. To that end, he joined President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council in 1981, where he was the NSC’s senior Kremlinologist.
He did great work for Reagan, which means he was loathed by the Kremlin.
In January 1982, Pipes was described in Pravda as “one of the ideological mentors of the U.S. administration.” The Moscow Domestic Service excoriated this “odious figure” who “plowed the furrow of ardent anti-Sovietism and anti-Communism.” He was a “dyed-in-the-wool reactionary, hysterically fighting for nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union.” Pipes was a favorite bogeyman of the likes of the disgraceful disinformation artist Georgi Arbatov. He would confess satisfaction over arousing the contempt of such “vile people.”
Pipes certainly had Ronald Reagan’s respect, and vice versa. He was impressed at how Reagan had “grasped that the Soviet Union was in the throes of terminal illness” at a time when “nearly all the licensed physicians” — academic Sovietologists, the State Department, the CIA, journalists, ambassadors — “certified its robustness.” Pipes said that Reagan “instinctively understood, as all great statesmen do, what matters and what does not.” This quality, said Pipes, cannot be taught: “like perfect pitch, one is born with it.”
Pipes’ most lasting contribution to the Reagan team was his hand in writing one of the most critical documents in the take-down strategy against the USSR: NSDD-75. Released on January 17, 1983, it became probably the most important document in Cold War strategy under Reagan’s and Bill Clark’s NSC. As Pipes put it, the nine-page directive “said our goal was no longer to coexist with the Soviet Union but to change the Soviet system.” Norman Bailey would call NSDD-75 “The Strategic Plan That Won the Cold War.” Bailey’s NSC colleague, Tom Reed, called it “the blueprint for the endgame.”
The Soviets certainly saw it that way, as evidenced by an article in one Soviet publication in March 1983 which carried the telling title, “Pipes Threatens History.” It alleged (correctly) that NSDD-75 “speaks of changing the Soviet Union’s domestic policy. In other words, the powers that be in Washington are threatening the course of world history, neither more nor less.”
They were indeed.
Warnings About Putin — It was two decades after NSDD-75 that I met Pipes in person. It was September 27, 2005, and he came to Grove City College to give our annual J. Howard Pew Lecture. A few things from that day have stuck with me.
I’ve never forgotten Pipes’ assessment of Vladimir Putin, which has stood the test of time. I asked his opinion of Russia’s prospects for a democratic future. Pipes described what he called a “very discouraging picture”:
“I had high hopes that after the dissolution of the Communist regime, Russia would take the path of democracy — imperfect, but a democratic path nonetheless. Instead, they went right back to autocracy. I have no hopes now. . . . Russia 10 to 20 years from now will be a kind of a mild dictatorship. If Russians elect their leaders, they will likely do so in skewed elections. . . .
“Of course, Russia today is certainly better than it was under the Communist regime. . . . But it is not a democracy. It’s not what we hoped for. It’s an autocracy. Not a tyranny. Not a totalitarian regime. An autocracy. . . .”
According to the Russian constitution, the president can only serve two terms, but there is already talk in the Duma that he should be begged to run for a third term, that it is undemocratic to deny the people the right to vote for a man they want just because he has served two terms. Putin repeatedly says that he will not run for a third term, but I would not bet on that.
I argued with Pipes about that. At the time, I had a much more positive view on Putin and Russia, and I was surprised by Pipes’ pessimism. As usual, he was right.
Pipes and Ted Kennedy — Beyond that, two other things really struck me about that Pipes visit in September 2005.
I handed him two things that really piqued his interest: One was that March 1983 article from the Soviet press, “Pipes Threatens History,” which Pipes hadn’t seen. (I found it in Soviet press archives.) He loved it. It made him proud to so rattle the Kremlin.
The other document was unworthy of pride: it concerned Ted Kennedy’s private overture to the Kremlin.
I had been with Pipes all day, from the airport to dinner to the lecture and then getting him back to his room at Grove City College’s Cunningham House. Late that evening I showed Pipes the now-infamous May 1983 Ted Kennedy-KGB document of which I had recently come into possession. I was considering publishing it in my coming (2006) book on Ronald Reagan, but only if I could verify its authenticity. Given his expertise in Soviet archival work, Pipes was a perfect person to examine the document.
I handed Pipes the five-page memo in Russian, followed by an English translation. He sat in a chair in the corner, legs crossed, and began with the Russian version. I waited on the sofa, thumbing through a coffee-table book of Norman Rockwell illustrations. I impatiently headed to the entryway and then the kitchen in search of a piece of paper to jot down his conclusions.
Pipes calmly stared at the document and then muttered a curse word in reference to Kennedy. I immediately wrote down every word that followed. I’ve debated back and forth in writing this tribute whether I should quote Pipes verbatim. His reaction was visceral, and I implore readers to consider it in full:
After studying the document in silence, Pipes looked up at me and shared his immediate emotional reaction, “This is treason.” When I cautioned that it might indeed be close to treason, but not necessarily, Pipes nodded, retreated, and reevaluated, speaking more carefully, “Yes, at least very close to treason.” He then provided a rough summation of what he read: “He [Kennedy] was operating behind the back of the president of the United States, reaching out directly to a major head of state, to work against the president.” He paused and added simply, in his typical style: “Terrible.”
I implore people to interpret this in the proper spirit: Pipes’ initial reaction was to curse Kennedy and utter the “T” word. It’s a natural first-reaction I’ve seen many times. But after his initial anger cooled, he stepped back, thought more deeply, and assessed that, yes, at the very least, what Kennedy did was bad. Treason? Maybe, maybe not. Pipes knew that treason was a significant legal, technical, Constitutional matter. He knew that far more information would be needed to level such a formal charge. But it was bad.
I told Pipes my understanding of the provenance of the document. Before I could ask my main question, he affirmed, in his distinctive voice: “I’m sure it’s authentic.” I pressed him (and many others, incidentally) on that, inquiring whether the memo might be a forgery. “Oh, no,” he said. “I have no doubt that this is authentic.”
I told him that I felt history needed to know about the document and what it describes. He completely agreed: “Yes, yes. . . . I hope you can publish it.”
I shared with him my concern that Kennedy and his liberal admirers in the media would tear into me for questioning their vaunted “Lion of the Senate.” Pipes advised me on that and wished me luck. It turned out I had nothing to worry about it. Kennedy and his press sycophants simply ignored the document, and still do to this day.
“Fools and Useful Idiots” — I would remain in touch with Richard Pipes over the years. He was an invaluable expert and eyewitness. I could give example after example.
As I searched my email box today, the most recent Pipes’ email that I hadn’t deleted is dated April 7, 2014. I had asked him his thoughts on the role of the Soviets in the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. He wrote:
“Thank you for your letter of April 3 which arrived while I was in Moscow. I certainly was not skeptical about Moscow’s role in the attempt on the life of John Paul II while working in the White House in 1981: I believed then and believe now that the assassination attempt was initiated and organized by the USSR. . . .
“I trust you are well. All the best, RP”
Like Ronald Reagan, like Bill Clark, like Bill Casey at the CIA, Richard Pipes never had any hesitation in thinking Moscow capable of all sorts of malice and mischief.
Another of my favorites was an email thanking me for exposing what Pipes called “the fools and useful idiots” among the American left who said stunningly ignorant things glowing about Lenin’s and Stalin’s USSR. It reminds me of when I saw Pipes at a Philadelphia Society conference in April 2012. I was speaking on dupes from the 1920s and 1930s, quoting the likes of George Bernard Shaw, and H. G. Wells, and Margaret Sanger, and their outlandish encomiums for Stalin’s Russia, as well as Malcolm Muggeridge’s bewildered amazement at the spectacle of Western progressives raving about Bolshevism. I lifted my eyes from my text and caught Pipes with an impish grin, loving every minute of the roast.
And then there was a correspondence we carried on over the prospect and possibility that Moscow considered a full-scale invasion of Poland in 1980-81, with President Reagan contemplating a military counter-response, which, as Pipes said dramatically, would have erupted into “World War III.”
Well, those discussions are gone now. In fact, each time I received an email from Dr. Pipes I wondered how much longer they would continue, because his email address included the year of his birth: 1923. Each year that date grew older.
It ended last week, at age 94.
In God’s Image — I’d like to finish with a favorite Pipes’ reflection, which I’ve shared every year with my Modern Civilization course at Grove City College. It deals with what matters most to Pipes now, at this very moment. It concerned keeping rather than losing the faith. Pipes wrote:
“Many Jews — my father among them — lost their religious beliefs because of the Holocaust. Mine, if anything, were strengthened. The mass murder (including those that occurred simultaneously in the Soviet Union) demonstrated what happens when people renounce faith in God, deny that human beings were created in His image, and reduce them to soulless and therefore expendable material objects.”
As noted, surviving the Holocaust made Pipes delight in every day that God had given him. There would be many such days. He felt a “duty” to defy Hitler by living a joyful and contented life. To be sad and morose and to complain would thereafter strike him as “forms of blasphemy” in light of his Providential gift of survival.
Above all, he would spend the remainder of his long and scholarly life exposing godless ideologies and the totalitarian tyrants who deny that human beings are made in God’s image. Few human beings in the academy did that as nobly and expertly as Richard Pipes. *