“The problem for the world today is how to deal with the unparalleled and unprecedented power of the United States.” Professor Edward Said
Last week’s HistoryHalf post described Columbia University’s historic role as a meeting place and recruitment center for Soviet sympathizers and agents during the Cold war. From 1917 through the late 1980’s, Soviet Communism was a great unifying cause for leftist radicals, and Columbia was the most Moscow-friendly of all the universities in the United States. The Columbia scholars profiled last week all communicated with the Soviet government through one channel or another, and most of them actually worked as spies.
This week’s column is about left wing extremists at Columbia who were never known to have worked directly with the Soviets. The world is full of anti-American, anti-democratic, anti-capitalist movements, some of which were never closely connected to the Communist International or the Soviet Union; and Columbia professors and grads have been among the leaders of most of them.
In 2009 the University of Alabama won its seventh AP-recognized national championship in football. Crimson Tide fans could probably be forgiven for thinking that their school is the nation’s all-time number one in football, but in reality there are several other universities with comparable records of excellence on the gridiron.
When it comes to left wing politics, however, one university stands alone as the all-time champion. Columbia University has been a training ground for America-hating radicals since at least the start of the twentieth century. The left has had to take new directions since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but before that, leftist scholars from Columbia often expressed their loathing of the American way by supporting Soviet-centered Communism, as the following examples will show.
“The campaign against subversion redrew the boundaries of acceptable Democratic liberalism to exclude both Communists and those willing to cooperate with them.” Professor Eric Foner
Political beliefs in this country run the whole gamut from the far right to the far left, but most Americans hold views that are fairly close to the center. The political mainstream includes people who differ with each other on important political issues, but continue to see themselves as loyal Americans, and endorse and support our current constitutional form of government.
People on the radical fringes make up a very small minority of the America population, but they tend to put themselves in positions of influence in government, in the media, and especially in academia. College faculties attract left wing extremists the way a picnic attracts ants, and history faculties, for whatever reason, appear to have an especially strong appeal for radicals.