“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.
Cloward and Piven
Richard Cloward got his PhD in sociology from Columbia in 1958, and taught there until his death in 2001. Frances Piven, Cloward’s wife, taught there from 1966 to 1972. In 1966, inspired by a series of violent riots in Watts. Cloward and Piven wrote an article called The Weight of the Poor: a Strategy to End Poverty, which was published to great acclaim in the ultra-left-wing magazine The Nation. The article introduced the so-called “Cloward-Piven Strategy” for bringing American society to its knees. The crux of it was that leftists should encourage as many people as possible to sign up for welfare programs, to put an untenable burden on government resources and cause the welfare system to collapse, thus enraging the poor and making them want to support radical causes.
Over the next few years left wingers around the country, and particularly in New York, put the Cloward-Piven strategy into effect, often via confrontational and even violent methods. New York City was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1975. Eventually the Cloward-Piven Strategy caused a backlash from the right.
It’s worth mentioning that Cloward and Piven were not the only Columbia professors to write articles for The Nation. Rashid Khalidi is a regular contributor. So were Edward Said and Howard Zinn while they were alive. Victor Navasky was the magazine’s editor from 1978 to 1995, and its publisher from 1995 to 2005, all the while working as a part time Journalism professor at Columbia. Eric Foner, whose freshman history textbook comes under scrutiny in many different HistoryHalf pages, currently sits on The Nation’s board of directors.
Columbia awarded Howard Zinn a PhD in history in 1958. Zinn is best known for his million-selling history textbook, aptly named A People’s History of the United States. The book is even more biased than Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty, and in the same direction. In describing Mao Zedong’s violent takeover of China, Zinn states exultantly that Mao’s government was “the closest thing, in the long history of that ancient country, to a people’s government, independent of outside control.” Zinn’s book does not mention that this “people’s government” would murder some fifty to seventy million of its people during under Mao’s enlightened leadership.
A People’s History of the United States also accuses the United States of dropping an atom bomb on Nagasaki as an act of pure murder, simply to intimidate the “people’s government” of the Soviet Union. The Soviets, of course, are portrayed in a positive light, as are Communist leaders everywhere. Fidel Castro is praised as a liberator: “In power, Castro moved to set up a nationwide system of education, of housing, of land distribution to landless peasants.”
Zinn’s book, predictably, describes Vietnamese dictator Hoh Chi Minh as a humanitarian freedom fighter, who bravely led his small and isolated country to victory over the powerful and evil United States: “From 1964 to 1972, the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of the world made a maximum military effort, with everything short of atomic bombs, to defeat a nationalist revolutionary movement in a tiny, peasant country – and failed. When the United States fought in Vietnam, it was organized modern technology versus organized human beings, and the human beings won.”
In 1963 Columbia hired anti-Israel crusader Edward Said. The administration at Columbia must have liked Said’s politics. They hired him as a professor of English despite some deficiencies in that area. Samples of his English skills are available, and he’s no Ernest Hemingway.
The administration has also been willing to overlook Said’s tendency to tell bald-faced lies. For many years he claimed that his resentment of the existence of Israel came from his own personal experience as a boy growing up in Jerusalem. His family had finally fled Jerusalem when he was twelve years old, he maintained. He finally had to re-invent his life story when an Israeli journalist investigated his childhood, and documented indisputably that Said had never lived in Palestine at all. His father was a wealthy businessman, and Said spent his childhood living in upper class neighborhoods in Cairo.
Said, like many other wealthy leftists, somehow came to view capitalism and freedom as immoral. Israel, which until recent years was the only nation in the Middle East that could boast a democratic government, or freedom of the press, or freedom of religion; was somehow the biggest villain in the Middle East in Said’s eyes. In 2000 Said was photographed throwing rocks over the wall that marked the Israeli border.
Columbia hired Professor Manning Marable in 1991. Marable is a self-described Marxist who writes magazine articles about how Fidel Castro’s Communism has cured all the ills that the evil United States imposed on Cuba back in the bad old days. He is a member of the Communist splinter group “Committees of Correspondence,” with other radicals like Angela Davis.
Nicholas de Genova
Nicholas de Genova was a professor at Columbia from 2000 to 2009. He has been a self-described Communist since his days as an undergrad at the University of Chicago. He caused a scandal of sorts in 2003 when he announced at a “teach in” organized by fellow Columbia professor Eric Foner that wanted to see America suffer “a million Mogadishus” (a reference to the killing of eighteen American GI’s in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.) “The only true heroes,” De Genova went on to say, “are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military.” When the student newspaper at Columbia ran an editorial critical of his speech, De Genova fired back with an unapologetic letter to the editor. He taught a Columbia for six more years after making these pronouncements, then resigned to write a book about his experiences as a martyr for free speech.
William Ayers got his Masters of Education at Columbia in 1987, several years after he planted bombs in the Pentagon and at least one police station as a member of the terrorist group the Weather Underground. He escaped prison time when the case against him was thrown out on a technicality. After receiving his masters at Columbia he went on to earn a PhD at another university. Currently he works as a professor of Education at the University of Chicago, teaching the next generation of schoolteachers how to indoctrinate school kids with leftist ideas. Ayers remains unrepentant about his terrorist activities. When asked by a New York Times reporter in 2001 if he had any regrets about planting bombs in buildings, he replied “I wish I’d done more.”
Eric Foner received his PhD in history at Columbia in 1969. His faculty adviser at Columbia was a Communist named Richard Hofstadter. Foner came back to Columbia as a professor of history in 1982. Dr. Foner has served as president of the Organization of American Historians, American Historical Association, and Society of American Historians. He is the sole author of the history textbook Give Me Liberty, a very biased look at American history, albeit less radical than Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.
In 2003 Columbia hired Rashid Khalidi as a professor of Modern Middle Eastern Studies. His qualifications for this position included a stint of several years working as a spokesman for the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization, under the leadership of Yasser Arafat.
President Barack Obama, like President Franklin Roosevelt before him, studied at Columbia. He received his BA in Political Science in 1983. It would appear that he imbibed Columbia’s radical atmosphere pretty deeply. He took a class taught by Edward Said, and maintained a relationship with him until Said’s death. He later served with William Ayers on the board of a foundation that gave money to radical causes, including a group headed by Rashid Khalidi. He launched his political career at a fund raiser at Ayers’ home. In 2008 Manning Marable supported then-Senator Obama in his run for the White House, saying that Obama would make a good president because “a lot of people working with him are, indeed, socialists with backgrounds in the Communist Party.”
True words, apparently.
Americans with traditional values, and those who value moderation, would be well advised to think twice before voting for another Columbia grad in a presidential election.