The New York Times reports on the thrilling, spectacular, amazing, happy happy news that the Communist Party USA has donated its complete archives to New York University. What a treasure trove of glorious history here!
The cache contains decades of party history including founding documents, secret code words, stacks of personal letters, smuggled directives from Moscow, Lenin buttons, photographs and stern commands about how good party members should behave (no charity work, for instance, to distract them from their revolutionary duties).
By offering such an inside view, the archives have the potential to revise assumptions on both the left and the right about one of the most contentious subjects in American history, in addition to filling out the story of progressive politics, the labor movement and the civil rights struggles.
And so on. But if you are looking for even a hint of doubt about the glories of communism, you won’t find it here. No, not one word is here about the gulags, the millions dead, the civilizations destroyed, about the many decades of dictatorship and slavery, the bloodshed, war, suffering, and on and on. The NYT story reports on the communists as if it was a dance troupe or a charming, an intelligent civic organization, or a peaceful club of idealistic star gazers.
There is no reason to even conjure up what a similar story about the Nazis would read like. Let’s try a harder case: say, new archives from the files of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. Would a story about them be written without dark mutterings about their personal failings and about the revisionist history showing that they were oppressors who only wore the guise of liberators? I doubt it.
Not so for the communists. We are just supposed to join in the party to celebrate the fabulous acquisition by New York University, and only be aghast that the moderate (i.e. sellout) “progressives” tried to kick these wonderful people out of the left-wing movement. Can you imagine? And yet how charming, we read at the end, that an aging communist showed up to view some of the pictures. Ah, a link to the thrilling of days of yore!