In his memoir, Barack Obama omits the full name of his mentor, simply calling him "Frank." Now, the truth is out: Never has a figure as deeply troubling and controversial as Frank Marshall Davis had such an impact on the development of an American president.
Although other radical influences on Obama - from Jeremiah Wright to Bill Ayers-have been scrutinized, the public knows little about Davis, a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA, cited by the Associated Press as an "important influence" on Obama, one whom he "looked to" not merely for "advice on living" but as a "father" figure.
While the Left has willingly dismissed Davis (with good reason), here are the indisputable, eye-opening facts: Frank Marshall Davis was a pro-Soviet, pro–Red China communist. His Communist Party USA card number, revealed in FBI files, was CP number 47544. He was a prototype of the loyal Soviet patriot, so radical that the FBI placed him on the federal government's Security Index. In the early 1950s, Davis opposed U.S. attempts to slow Stalin and Mao. He favored Red Army takeovers of Central and Eastern Europe, and communist control in Korea and Vietnam. Dutifully serving the cause, he edited and wrote for communist newspapers in both Chicago and Honolulu, courting contributors who were Soviet agents. In the 1970s, amid this dangerous political theater, Frank Marshall Davis came into Barack Obama's life.Aided by access to explosive declassified FBI files, Soviet archives, and Davis's original newspaper columns, Paul Kengor explores how Obama sought out Davis and how Davis found in Obama an impressionable young man, one susceptible to Davis's worldview that opposed American policy and traditional values while praising communist regimes. Kengor sees remnants of this worldview in Obama's early life and even, ultimately, his presidency.
Kengor charts with definitive accuracy the progression of Davis's communist ideas from Chicago to Hawaii. He explores how certain elements of the Obama administration's agenda reflect Davis's columns advocating wealth redistribution, government stimulus for "public works projects," taxpayer-funding of universal health care, and nationalizing General Motors. Davis's writings excoriated the "tentacles of big business," blasted Wall Street and "greedy" millionaires, lambasted GOP tax cuts that "spare the rich," attacked "excess profits" and oil companies, and perceived the Catholic Church as an obstacle to his vision for the state-all the while echoing Davis's often repeated mantra for transformational and fundamental "change."And yet, The Communist is not unsympathetic to Davis, revealing him as something of a victim, an African American who suffered devastating racial persecution in the Jim Crow era, steering this justly angered young man on a misguided political track. That Davis supported violent and heartless communist regimes over his own country is impossible to defend. That he was a source of inspiration to President Barack Obama is impossible to ignore.
Is Obama working to fulfill the dreams of Frank Marshall Davis? That question has been impossible to answer, since Davis's writings and relationship with Obama have either been deliberately obscured or dismissed as irrelevant. With Kengor's The Communist, Americans can finally weigh the evidence and decide for themselves.
©2012 Paul Kengor (P)2012 Tantor
I was surprised to see the Chicago/Hawaii connection in the relationship between Frank Davis and Barack Obama. The book also explains why Obama tries to keep his academic career secret.
I'm a regular guy who got tired of listening to the radio when I drive. Now I listen to anything that might intrigue or entertain me.
Who Frank Marshal Davis was is a matter of record. Nobody would give a rats butt about this guy if it wasn't for the fact that he was a role model and mentor to Obama. It's quite clear to any thinking person that Obama is and was a Marxist, and that he was heavily influenced by Frank.
What does all this mean? Let me answer my own question with another question: What would it mean if Vladimir Lennon or Joseph Stalin were POTUS? Obama isn't those men, but he believes the same things they believed, as did Frank Marshal Davis.
First of all you need a really big crisis. Then you get "temporary" powers to deal with the crisis. But then you don't give those powers back, and who can make you give them back? Nobody. Will this work in United States? I'm afraid that's not going to be a theoretical question much longer.
But back to the book, It's engaging, readable, insightful and chocked full of information. It does at times get difficult to keep the cast of Communist characters straight. The book is so based in facts that at times it's difficult to draw the lines as to what it all means for yourself, but the author eventually gets around to telling us. Like why the move to Hawaii? He eventually gets around to telling us that was a Moscow initiative, but not for a while. So I'm here wondering for a long time, "Ok, tell me why the sudden move to Hawaii!!" It's sort of like someone telling you a trivia question and then not getting around to telling you the answer for a long time. Just tell me. I don't freaking know the answer if you don't tell me.
The author stops short of drawing conclusions about certain things, but you can figure these out for yourself, usually. We don't all have the towering intellect to immediately draw the necessary conclusions without someone pointing them out. Like the David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrot connection. All have commi parents that knew each other and such, so what is the connection? Obviously the Commi's are a small community that sticks together, but is there a deeper plot? It's this sort of failure to draw the lines that I find frustrating. But factual journalism doesn't seem to allow for a conclusion to be drawn. Only a question can be asked. Well, Mr. Professor - draw the damn conclusion please because the rest of us are left wondering what the heck it is you are getting at.
Although the book focuses on Frank the Communist, and mentions that he wrote a book called Sex Rebel, it fails to give more than a single dimension of Frank. Frank was an angry black man, but unlike the vast majority of black people, this man was a Communist. It would have been nice to include more of the personal side of Frank. I don't feel like I have a complete picture of the man. Maybe there isn't much more that that though. He's a poet, a writer, a Communist loyal to mother Russia. Perhaps it's not possible to get an accurate picture of a man like Frank for a lot of reasons: He's dead and anyone who knew him is either old, dead or motivated to lie about who he was.
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