The mainstream press steadfastly refuses to delve into Barack Obama’s radicalism, his Leftist revolutionary collaboration with self-identified communists from Frank Marshall Davis to Bill Ayers. The McCain campaign, moreover, has contributed mightily to the whitewash by ineptly seizing on the issue’s least important aspect: Obama’s abject dishonesty about the depth of his relationships with committed Leftists — e.g., the portrayal of Ayers as just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood.”
(Petrified of being smeared as a racist, McCain has never mentioned Davis, whom Obama identifies only as “Frank” in his memoir. And, of course, utterance of Jeremiah Wright’s name is verboten in McCain circles, notwithstanding that his Trinity Church, where Obama was a 20-year member, is a font of Marxist Black Liberation Theology and thus critical to our understanding of Obama’s invocations of “change” and “spreading the wealth.”)
With what little media oxygen there has been sucked out by the largely uninformative discussion of Ayers (and his wife and Weather Underground ally, Bernadine Dohrn) — in which the mantra “unrepentant terrorist” has been a pale substitute for the critical matter of the Ayers’s ideology that Obama plainly shares — much has been missed. Significantly, that includes another key Obama contact, Mike Klonsky.
Here’s what you need to know. Klonsky is an unabashed communist whose current mission is to spread Marxist ideology in the American classroom. Obama funded him to the tune of nearly $2 million. Obama, moreover, gave Klonsky a broad platform to broadcast his ideas: a “social justice” blog on the official Obama campaign website.
To be clear, as it seems always necessary to repeat when Obamaniacs, in their best Saul Alinsky tradition, shout down the opposition: This is not about guilt by association. The issue is not that Obama knows Klonsky … or Ayers … or Dohrn … or Wright … or Rashid Khalidi …
The issue is that Obama promoted and collaborated with these anti-American radicals. The issue is that he shared their ideology.
Klonsky’s communist pedigree could not be clearer. His father, Robert Klonsky, was an American communist who was convicted in the mid-Fifties for advocating the forcible overthrow of the United States government — a violation of the Smith Act, anti-communist legislation ultimately gutted by the Supreme Court. In the Sixties, Klonsky the younger teamed with Ayers, Dohrn, and other young radicals to form the Students for a Democratic Society. It was out of the SDS that Ayers and Dohrn helped found the Weatherman terrorist group.
Klonsky took a different path, albeit one that led inexorably to a new partnership with Ayers, which Obama mightily helped underwrite. Upon splitting off from the SDS, Klonsky formed a Maoist organization, first known as the “October League,” which ultimately became the “Communist Party (Marxist Leninist).”
Klonsky was CP(ML)’s chairman. He was so highly thought of by Mao’s regime that he was among the first Americans invited to visit Communist China. When he was feted there in 1977, a year after Mao’s death, the communist leadership hailed Klonsky’s party as “reflecting the aspirations of the proletariat and working people.”
Klonsky was a regular guest of the Chicoms until 1981, when the relationship soured over the post-Mao leadership’s free-market reforms. (Yes, Klonsky is apparently more committed to communism than China’s own Communist Party.) So what was a Leftist radical without platform to do? Why, what else? He became an American college professor specializing in education.
After getting his doctorate, Klonsky eventually made his way to Chicago and hooked up with his old SDS comrade (and self-professed “small ‘c’ communist”) Bill Ayers. Together, they co-founded the Small Schools Workshop in 1991. The goal — as Ayers has repeatedly made clear, most prominently in a 2006 speech before Hugo Chavez at an education forum in Caracas — is to bring the same Leftist revolution that has always galvanized them into the classroom.
The concept may be called small schools, but Klonsky and Ayers uniquely grasp the force-multiplier effect. In a small class, the teacher preaching the “social justice” gospel that American capitalism is a racist, materialist, imperialist cauldron of injustice can have greater impact on the students he seeks to mold into his conception of the “good citizen” — and on the teachers he is teaching to be preachers. Writing trenchantly about how this system of “critical pedagogy” short-changes the basic education needs of disadvantaged children, the City Journal’s Sol Stern observes that theorists like Klonsky and Ayers:
nurse a rancorous view of an America in which it is always two minutes to midnight and a knock on the door by the thought police is imminent. The education professors feel themselves anointed to use the nation’s K-12 classrooms to resist this oppressive system. Thus … teachers [are urged] not to mince words with children about the evils of the existing social order. They should portray “homelessness as a consequence of the private dealings of landlords, an arms buildup as a consequence of corporate decisions, racial exclusion as a consequence of a private property-holder’s choice.” In other words, they should turn the little ones into young socialists and critical theorists.
Klonsky himself confirms that this is precisely the goal (italics mine):
[S]uccessful social justice education ensures that teachers strike a balance between debating sociopolitical problems that affect children’s lives and teaching them academic basics on which they will be tested. A science teacher can plant an urban garden, allowing students to learn about plant biology, the imbalance in how fresh produce is distributed and how that affects the health of community residents. An English teacher can explore misogyny or materialism in American culture through the lens of hip-hop lyrics. Or as Rico Gutstein, a professor of mathematics education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, suggests, a math teacher can run probability simulations using real data to understand the dynamics behind income inequality or racial profiling. These are “examples of lessons where you can really learn the math basics,” he says, “but the purpose of learning the math actually becomes an entree into, and a deeper understanding of, the political ramifications of the issue.”
When Obama and Ayers collaborated together on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) education-reform project, with Obama chairing the board that oversaw funding decisions, CAC underwrote the Klonsky/Ayers Small Schools Workshop with a whopping $1,056,162. And that’s not all. Nearly another million dollars was steered to the Small Schools Workshop by the Joyce and Woods Funds when Obama sat on their boards. The grand total comes to $1,968,718.
Furthermore, as education remains one of Obama’s core areas of concern — a fact that should frighten you — he gave Klonsky a microphone during the campaign. On the Obama campaign’s official website, Klonsky ran a blog for the candidate, as Klonsky put it, on “education politics and teaching for social justice.” He ran it, that is, until blogger Steve Diamond called attention to it back in June. A that point, the campaign scrubbed the site of all Klonsky traces — a fitting Stalinesque purge, described by Diamond here (and reminiscent of similar efforts to erase the campaign’s false claims about Obama’s relationship with ACORN).
Of course, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” John Stuart Mill called conservatives “the stupid party.” For countless American intellectuals, including many eventual giants of the Right, disdain for bourgeois values led to a ruinous infatuation with the Soviet Union — the audacity of their hope for perfecting mankind blinding them to the unremitting misery wrought by communist ideology.
In 1951, the legendary liberal Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas insisted that, though communism might be a threat abroad, the movement in this country was a mere “bogeyman” that had been “thoroughly exposed” and “crippled as a political force.” We now know that even as he wrote those words, communists had covertly infiltrated the U.S. government at high levels and that, as a political force, the movement was just getting started. The Klonskys and Ayers were still on the horizon.
Now today’s elites, including some prominent conservative intellectuals, thumb their noses once again at the stupid party. They look longingly at the putatively cerebral Obama, a fit more to their liking even if his politics are, they hope, just a tad wayward. But the Leftist revolutionaries are under no such illusions. In Obama, they see the fulfillment of their dreams to remake America. As Klonsky has explained, “My own support for Obama is … a recognition that the Obama campaign has become a rallying point for young activists and offers hope for rebuilding the civil rights and antiwar coalitions that have potential to become a real critical force in society.”
So get ready for Klonsky’s “social justice.” It’s what Barack Obama calls “change.”
— National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy chairs the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’s Center for Law & Counterterrorism and is the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books 2008).