Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Cold War we lost

David Horowitz has a long review of Bettina Aptheker's memoirs. (Aptheker is the daughter of Herbert Aptheker, a historian and long-time leader in the Communist Party USA).

The daughter followed iun her father's footsteps and was deeply involved in the radical causes of the 60s and 70s.

The striking thing about her history is the ease with which Communists moved into the academy and advanced each other's careers.

In 1974, after the publication of her book, Aptheker had joined a major migration of radical activists from the streets of protest to the faculties of American universities. She signed up for a masters program at San Jose State in “speech-communication,” one of the fields leftists were busily re-defining to accommodate their political agendas. Because other leftists had preceded her, the department offered her a job as well, “a position as a ‘graduate teaching associate,’ a title they invented for me since there were no provisions for teaching assistantships at the universities.” While some university officials viewed her arrest record and non-scholarly career skeptically and opposed her appointment, others were “enthusiastic about my arrival,” and with the help of the Communist Party’s civil liberties lawyer they prevailed. She received her masters in June 1976 and began teaching a course on the “History of Black Women,” which was jointly offered by two of the politicized departments radicals had recently created, Women’s Studies and Afro-American Studies.
To pursue a university career she would need a Ph.D. credential, so she enrolled in the “History of Consciousness” graduate program, which had been created by the historian Page Smith, as he told an interviewer, in order “to prove the Ph.D. was a fraud.”[76] Aptheker’s political alter ego, Angela Davis, was already a professor on the faculty and, as if, to validate Smith’s hypothesis, the department awarded the cocaine-addicted felon and Black Panther leader, Huey Newton, a doctorate for a self-serving political tract titled, “War Against the Panthers: Repression in America.” In Aptheker’s own description, the “History of Consciousness” major was “an interdisciplinary program with an emphasis in twentieth century radical and Marxist philosophies.”

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