FP: You credit Frontpage with helping to get you started.
Kengor: Yes. This is all began with an article I published in Frontpage about five years ago. It was an article on Ronald Reagan and the end of the Cold War. One of Frontpage’s loyal readers read it and emailed me about a document he had from the Soviet Central Committee archives. It was a May 1983 letter from the head of the KGB, Victor Chebrikov, to the head of the USSR, the odious Yuri Andropov. It concerned a “confidential offer” by Senator Ted Kennedy against President Ronald Reagan, intended, clearly, to undermine Reagan’s re-election bid and his defense policies. I was stunned. That document began my digging into a host of archives and primary sources, where I found all sorts of genuinely shocking material, including on Ted Kennedy, which I know you’ll want to address.
I should also add that this brought me into contact with the great Herb Romerstein, the veteran investigator of the communist movement, who I dedicated the book to. Herb introduced me to these archives and showed me how to navigate them. God bless him. He’s a good man.
FP: Tell us some of the characters involved.
Kengor: That’s a very long list. But here are a few: Ted Kennedy, Humphrey Bogart, John Dewey, Roger Baldwin, Harry Ward, Corliss Lamont, Lillian Hellman, Dashiell Hammett, Jimmy Carter, John Kerry, Jane Fonda, Dick Durbin, “Baghdad Jim” McDermott, Arthur Miller, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Upton Sinclair, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Lincoln Steffens, Henry Wallace, Ambassador Joseph Davies, Howard Zinn, Walter Cronkite, Helen Thomas, John Murtha, Maxine Waters, Pete Stark, Barbara Lee, Claude “Red” Pepper, Judy Garland, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Will Geer, Clarence Darrow, Katharine Hepburn, Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye, Artie Shaw, Mary McGrory, Carl Sagan, Leonard Bernstein, Charlie Chaplin, Eric Foner. I could go on and on.
This could be a multi-volume set. I’m not kidding. Again, this is a sad story. Liberals and progressives were outstanding dupes for the communists; they really were. They believed nothing that the anti-communists told them, but swallowed the most gigantic whoppers fed to them by their communist “friends.”
FP: What do you hope this book will help achieve?
Kengor: I say repeatedly in the book that I want liberals to realize that the communists were not their friends. If they would read this book, which they won’t, they would see this. Liberals are incredibly close-minded. It never ceases to amaze me. Can you believe I still haven’t had a single call, after all these years, from one mainstream journalist asking me about the Ted Kennedy document? Not even one phone call from a liberal reporter arguing with me? They’re afraid it’s true, so they won’t dare touch it. Our media is scandalously biased.
And see, Jamie, because they won’t read it, and, more than that, because they’ll lump me and my work into their loathsome category of irredeemable, Neanderthal anti-communists, they’ll continue to be duped by their “friends” on the far left. In effect, they’ll continue to provide cover for their communist pals, who, ironically, hated and demonized all the liberals’ icons—Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, JFK.
So, I hope the book will affect some liberals, but I doubt very many at all.
Beyond that, I want to reach young people in particular who want a reliable, authoritative history of this great ideological battle of the 20th century, and who need to know how and why communism was so bad. When they actually hold the book, and see all the pages and endnotes (over 1,500 endnotes), and see that I defend anti-communist Democrats and liberals who weren’t duped, and even list among my dupes political mentors of mine like Ronald Reagan (who was duped for a period after World War II), then they’ll take the book seriously and consider it with an open mind. This is history they need to know.
I don’t care about making money from this, Jamie. I really don’t. If the publisher gave away 100,000 copies and I didn’t make a dime, I’d be thrilled as long as people were learning truth. This is too important. Communism was too deadly. We need to know this stuff.
FP: Paul Kengor, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview and thank you for your fight for the truth.
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