by Paul Kengor
Three summers ago here at The American Spectator I published a piece titled, “Ho Chi Minh, Obama’s Freedom Fighter.” It got a lot of play, reprinted by (among others) Real Clear Politics.
Part of communist discipline was mastering the art of propaganda and how to tap naïve Western “progressives” for political purposes. They learned the tactic of finding the right buttons to push to prey on liberals’ left-wing sympathies.
The focus was yet another stunning statement uttered on behalf of a communist by our President of Fundamental Transformation. This one came during a July 25, 2013 meeting between Barack Obama and the leader of communist Vietnam. Obama stated: “We discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson.”
As I noted at the time, this was sheer nonsense. Ho Chi Minh was a committed Marxist-Leninist revolutionary, indoctrinated early on at Moscow’s Lenin School, which he left to become one of the Comintern’s most successful agents. German Marxist revolutionary Ruth Fischer, who knew Ho in Moscow in the 1920s, referred to him as an impressively “disciplined Communist,” one who “proved time and again his profound loyalty.”
Part of communist discipline was mastering the art of propaganda and how to tap naïve Western “progressives” for political purposes. They learned the tactic of finding the right buttons to push to prey on liberals’ left-wing sympathies. Thus, Ho Chi Minh’s invoking of the Declaration of Independence in September 1945 was and always should be viewed as just that, and certainly not as an expression of sincere interest in or desire to adopt a Jeffersonian republic based on God-given unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Indeed, what Ho wrought, and what Vietnam has been ever since, is a complete rejection of the principles of the American founding. This should be patently obvious to anyone, particularly an American president.
Just because Ho Chi Minh mentioned the Declaration does not mean that we should — back then and especially still today — take it as a meaningful affirmation (nor certainly imitation) of our own nation’s founding principles.
If I may, I’ve written two recent books that devote considerable time to this specific form of propaganda by communists. One was called, Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, published in 2010, and the other was a 2012 book, The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor. In both of those, I laid out at length how American communists, especially those who were members of Communist Party USA (CPUSA), cynically cobbled together propaganda that parroted the phraseology of the American Founding. They did this to appeal to liberals as useful idiots.
In Dupes, I noted precisely the line that Obama would echo to the president of Vietnam in July 2013. CPUSA and its mouthpieces regularly compared Ho Chi Minh to the American Founding Fathers, as if he were fighting not for the ideas of the Bolshevik Revolution but the American Revolution. I gave several examples, including Dr. Benjamin Spock, a leftist dupe extraordinaire. In 1968, Spock published a bestselling screed against the Vietnam War, titled, Dr. Spock on Vietnam, which repeatedly referred to the Vietcong as “communist patriots,” akin to the American revolutionaries. “The Vietnamese people declared their independence from France, much as we declared our independence from England in 1776,” wrote Spock. “Their war of independence was fought by a united front of various political groups and was led by the communist patriot Ho Chi Minh…. Ho is sometimes called the George Washington of Vietnam.” Spock insisted: “The motivation for revolution is the same today as it was in 1776: the desire for justice and a better life.”
In 2012, in The Communist, I wrote an entire chapter titled, “Our Communist Founding Fathers,” where I noted how members of CPUSA, including Obama’s mentor, Frank Marshall Davis (CPUSA card number 47544), orchestrated this tactic. Davis portrayed various global communist revolutionaries as reincarnates of the American Founders. Davis did this incessantly. And he wasn’t the only one.
One of them was a pal of Davis, Howard Fast, whose columns Davis ran regularly (usually directly above Davis’s own) on the editorial page of Davis’s Chicago Star, the Party-line publication of which Davis was the founding editor-in-chief in the latter 1940s. Fast, a “Stalin Prize” winner (no kidding), wrote a book in 1943 called Citizen Tom Paine, where he portrayed Paine and Dr. Benjamin Rush and other American revolutionaries as akin to Fast and his fellow current-day revolutionaries.
Citizen Tom Paine was so egregious that the U.S. Congress singled it out in a report and the New York City board of school superintendents sought to ban its use in schools. Naturally, the communists in New York City (a March 1948 government report stated that half of all CPUSA members in America lived in New York City alone) went bonkers. They protested vehemently, as did the Daily Worker and as did Fast’s colleague at the Chicago Star, Frank Marshall Davis. In at least two issues in early 1947, Davis editorialized against this vile “censorship” of Fast’s book.
Not to digress, but I’m here illustrating the fact that Barack Obama pointing to Ho’s invoking of the Declaration of Independence makes him yet another sucker of successful propaganda efforts by Ho and a long line of other communists.
And so, why mention this now? It occurred three years ago, July 2013, after all.
Well, the reason is that Obama did it again last week, and this time in Vietnam itself, where 58,000 American boys died. He did it the week before Memorial Day in the United States. On two separate occasions, Obama again referred to Ho’s invocation of the Declaration of Independence.
Speaking on May 24 at Hanoi’s National Convention Center, Obama declared: “And on the day that Vietnam declared its independence, crowds took to the streets of this city, and Ho Chi Minh evoked the American Declaration of Independence. He said, ‘All people are created equal. The Creator has endowed them with inviolable rights. Among these rights are the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to the pursuit of happiness.”
For the record, yes, Ho did just that. But dictators can and do say anything. Hitler signed a formal pact with Stalin promising not to invade the USSR. Stalin promised free and fair elections throughout Eastern Europe to FDR and Churchill at Yalta. He did not honor that promise. And Ho Chi Minh did not establish a Jeffersonian representative republic in Vietnam.
The next day, May 25, in Ho Chi Minh City (fittingly), in unscripted remarks at a “townhall” gathering, Obama was even sloppier, apparently almost suggesting that Ho had “adapted” the Declaration:
You think about the United States of America. We have a really good story called the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that we’re endowed with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That’s a wonderful story. There’s no — when the Declaration was made, there really was not United States. It was just a good story that they were telling about what could be. And then people were attracted to that story. And it led to independence, and it led to immigrants from around the world who wanted that vision for themselves — it led Ho Chi Minh to adapt it when Vietnam was trying to declare independence.That is the official text provided by the White House, and it’s quite egregious.
This is all especially bad because in 2013, after his initial statement, Obama was hammered by conservatives in the American media for praising Ho’s alleged admiration of America’s sacred founding document. Ron Radosh wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal calling out Obama. Communist-watcher Trevor Loudon wrote a piece. Articles were posted at Breitbart, Fox News website, the Drudge Report, Real Clear Politics, PJ Media, the Media Research Center, World Net Daily, and more.
Radosh’s piece for the Wall Street Journal was notably compelling. He wrote at the time:
During World War II, Vietnam — a French colony — was taken over by Japan, and toward the end of the conflict, with Japan in retreat, a power vacuum developed. Ho Chi Minh, leading the Viet Minh communist guerrilla group, saw a chance to seize power before the French could restore colonial rule. He needed allies and knew that the American president, Franklin Roosevelt, had a reputation for being anti-French and anti-colonial. Thus began Ho’s courtship of the U.S. by citing the Declaration of Independence and appealing to the American ideal of liberty.Radosh quoted Ho’s biographer, William Duiker, who said that Ho’s aim had been to “induce the United States to support the legitimacy of his government, rather than a return of the French.”
Again, Radosh wrote this for the Wall Street Journal, a serious and reputable journal of opinion with major outreach. Did no one in the White House press office catch the piece? Are there not press people in the Obama administration on alert for such things so their president will not embarrass himself in the future by repeating the same mistakes?
Apparently not. Conservatives were fuming at Obama, and yet he learned nothing at all. Barack Obama, our president, continues to be Ho Chi Minh’s dupe.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.