Busily chasing Molotov’s 96, Pete Seeger is about to turn 90.
Reason celebrates with a not entirely flattering Festschrift dedicated to this undeniably talented musician, a man who has both shilled for Stalin and sung for Obama (yes, yes, low blow).
Inside Higher Ed meanwhile takes a rather different tack with this encomium written by a professor at Fordham:
As the energetic teacher to a nation, Seeger has let his songs do the instruction…Like Benjamin Franklin before him, Pete Seeger has long sought to lead an exemplary life…These days I like getting my daughter, KC, into the same room with Pete Seeger whenever possible. My theory is that hanging around with incorruptible people is a character builder. KC’s first Pete Seeger concert was a 2007 benefit. Pete walked on stage that night after being introduced, and hundreds of people popped up to give him a standing ovation before he sang a note. I’ve been talking to KC (who was then 8) about that ovation in the months since, about how the audience was saying “Thank you for living your life the way that you have, and for making the choices that you did.” I’ve suggested to her that getting an ovation like that is better than being rich, since you can’t buy it. What better reward is there for a teacher?
As just one example of the some of the more questionable ”choices” that this “teacher to the nation” has made over the years, here’s Reason’s Nick Gillespie with Seeger’s reaction to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the 1939 treaty that divided up much of Eastern Europe between the Third Reich and the USSR and, in effect, gave Hitler the green light to start World War II:
As part of the Stalinist singing group, the Almanac Singers, Seeger recorded an album lobbying against U.S. involvement in the war while the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had a peace treaty. Once Hitler invaded Russia, the band pulled their album from the market and issued a pro-war one.
So that was okay then.