The Corner

Elections

Remembering Joe Biden’s Newest Fan, Angela Davis

Professor Angela Davis speaks at a rally calling on Congress to censure President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 30, 2019. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Last night, 76-year-old radical Angela Davis was trending on Twitter due to her endorsement of 77-year-old presidential hopeful Joe Biden. Bravely we go into the future, I guess. While no politician can control who supports them, apparently numerous pundits believe that the Davis endorsement is worthy of celebration (though most also carefully avoided noting her blessing was made on Russian propaganda television).

“Why isn’t Angela Davis asked for commentary on major news channels?” wonders the Washington Post’s Wajahat Ali. Well, I’ve can think of a few reasons.

1) Davis is an unrepentant champion of domestic terrorists and murderers. In the early 1970s, Davis famously bought two of the guns used in a 1970 Marin County courtroom kidnapping-shootout perpetrated by Black Panthers, in which a superior court judge and three hostages were murdered. After being charged with “aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder,” Davis went into hiding. Even after the FBI caught up to her, and even after evidence showed that she had been in correspondence with the planners and well aware of their violent disposition, she was acquitted in 1972.

Davis never stopped defending convicted Black Panther murderers, including those who had tortured a teenager to death, and yet she is still treated as celebrity.

2) Davis collaborated with some of the world’s most nefarious regimes. The CIA estimated that at least 5 percent of the entire Soviet Russian propaganda budget in 1971 had been spent on propping up and defending Davis (as opposed to four going to the war in Vietnam). And she reciprocated eagerly and often. Davis first visited the Soviet Union 1972, a year of renewed political repression and forced labor. “Miss Davis Hails Soviet’s policies,” read a New York Times headline from August of that year. “Soviet ideologists raised Miss Davis to the status of virtual folk heroine during her California trial on murder‐conspiracy charges before she was found not guilty earlier this year,” the report noted. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn singled out Davis out tool of Soviet propagandists in his 1975 “Communism: A Legacy of Terror” speech.

In 1979, Davis would return to Moscow to collect her Lenin Peace Prize, praising “the glorious name” of the mass-murdering founder of the Soviet Union and his “great October Revolution.” On neither trip did she utter a single word of criticism or concern about the largest prison system that mankind had ever created. Only high praise.

Then again, by 1979 Davis had already met and been feted by Cuba’s dictator, Fidel Castro, and East Germany’s vile Erich Honecker, even while she was certainly aware that Stasi secret police were torturing political prisoners and soldiers were summarily executing Germans caught trying to cross the border to freedom. When Jiri Pelikan, one of champions of the Prague Spring, wrote an open letter to Davis in The New York Review of Books in 1972, asking her to put in word for the hundreds of Czechoslovakian political prisoners while on one of her escapades to the Eastern Bloc, she refused.

It shouldn’t be forgotten either that Davis was also a fan of the cult leader Jim Jones, himself a champion of the Communist cause, a fact that is often conveniently skipped over in the retelling of his story. Only two months before the Jonestown mass suicide, Davis personally assured the cult members — through booming loudspeakers — that Jones’ cause was worthwhile one. It was just another massacre Davis cheered on.

3) Davis still supports the cause of terrorists. In recent years Davis took up the cause of Marwan Barghouti, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade terrorist who was sentenced to five life sentences for coordinating suicide bombings that killed men, women and children in Israel — including American citizens. Davis also advocated for the terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted of helping murder two Jewish students in a 1969 Jerusalem bombing.

If some third-tier academic was shilling for fascist regimes and extremists around the world her entire career, she would be rightfully relegated to obscurity. If she’s on the radical left, however, pundits will wonder why she’s not getting more attention.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

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