Obama, Frankly
A president’s influences

Paul Kengor, author of The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, the Untold Story


LOPEZ: Why is the questioning of Frank Marshall Davis before the Senate Judiciary Committee notable? Is it of any relevance to understanding the current president?

KENGOR: Davis did so much pro-Soviet agitation that he was noticed in Washington. In fact, it was the Democrat-run House Committee on Un-American Activities that first flagged his Communist-related work in the early 1940s, when Davis had worked with the likes of Robert Taylor and Vernon Jarrett, the grandfather and future father-in-law respectively of Valerie Jarrett. (For the record, Davis also worked in Communist causes with Harry Canter and David Canter, who would go on to mentor a young David Axelrod in the 1970s. I know, it’s incredible, but I assure you it’s true. I document it very carefully in the book.)

Frank Marshall Davis’s pro-Soviet work got so bad that in December 1956 the Democrat-run Senate Judiciary Committee called him to Washington to testify. He pleaded the Fifth Amendment. No matter, the next year, the Democratic Senate produced an official report titled “Scope of Soviet Activity in the United States,” which publicly listed Davis as “an identified member of the Communist Party.”

I should also add that Davis was considered such a potential threat that the FBI placed him on the federal government’s Security Index, which meant that he could be immediately detained or arrested in the event of a national emergency, such as a war breaking out between the United States and USSR.

How relevant is this to Obama today? Well, with this kind of an influence in his background, I can tell you as a matter of undeniable fact that Obama would have trouble getting a security clearance for an entry-level federal job. Think about that.

And the Washington Post wants to tell us about Mitt Romney’s supposed bullying in high school? Well, how about Obama in high school having a mentor who was considered so radical that the federal government called him to Washington to testify on his Soviet activities and even placed him on the Security Index?

LOPEZ: Why did the Catholic Church “deserve a good scourging,” as you put it, in the mind of Frank Marshall Davis?

KENGOR: Davis broke from religion at a young age, becoming an agnostic or atheist, probably an atheist. He always viewed religion, however, as a kind of useful crutch — or “social centers,” as he put it — for many Americans, specifically black Americans.

He did, however, see the Catholic Church as a major obstacle to his vision for the state. Frank Marshall Davis’s worldview was a Communist one. He pushed the federal government to adopt socialist policies, with more and more power concentrated in Washington. He wanted the United States to go the way of the Soviet Union. And Davis understood that the one institution standing in the way most strongly was the Roman Catholic Church. “The Catholic hierarchy,” he sneered, had launched a “holy war against Communism.” Indeed it had — and deservedly so. But Frank Marshall Davis, President Obama’s mentor, fully disagreed, and he would target the Church as an obstacle to his plans to fundamentally change America.

He described anti-Communists like Francis Cardinal Spellman as “hate evangelists” and modern-day “Pontius Pilates” because of their alleged sins of opposing Communism and Stalin’s Soviet Union. He wrote: “We’ve got to make the plain people realize that those hate evangelists preaching war against Russia are their enemies, and that peace, freedom, and democracy can come only from forcing official America to work in harmony with the Soviet Union.”

Frank Marshall Davis portrayed Communism and the Soviet Union as friendly to Christianity. In a September 29, 1949, column for the Honolulu Record, the Communist Party publication for Hawaii, Davis imagined Judgment Day, where anti-Communist Christians would be called to account for their transgressions. And the Catholic Church especially deserved a good scourging. “The Christian churches, and the Catholic church in particular,” preached Barack Obama’s mentor, “are making a grievous error in their shortsighted belief that the major enemy of Christianity is Communism.” Not only was Soviet Russia not anti-religious, said Davis, but it had saved the world from Hitler’s “anti-Christian paganism.” Really, Christians worldwide should pay homage to Stalin. Instead, they were blinded by their anti-Communist bigotry.

Davis argued that genuine Christians should be Communists or socialists.

Here, as in so many of these cases, Davis, not unlike Barack Obama, was a man of the far left making a bid for the support of the “social justice” religious left — support he usually got. And when the Catholic Church did not accommodate his plans and policies for the state, Frank Marshall Davis, like Barack Obama, simply told the Church that it was wrong and didn’t bend. Imagine that.