Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ol' Man Reiver

The BBC's Vincent Dowd promotes the myth of Paul Robeson, Humanitarian;
One of the most popular singers of his era, Robeson had been placed on a list of Americans suspected of allegiance to Moscow and for years was barred from performing. Susan Robeson remembers him both as a grandfather and as a resolute campaigner for civil rights in America
As a teenager Susan Robeson spent a lot of time with her grandfather Paul. Her memories are keen and affectionate.
He certainly was a great actor/singer, as anyone who has seen his performance in Showboat knows. He was also a dedicated Communist. An admirer of Stalin who contributed to covering up his crimes. Even when Stalin was murdering personal friends of Robeson;
During a 1948 visit to the Soviet Union, Robeson asked to see his friend, Solomon Mikhoels, director of the Moscow Jewish Theater. Mikhoels had recently been brutally murdered on Stalin's personal orders[21] in one of the dictator's periodic anti-Semitic pogroms, this one against "rootless cosmopolitanism" and Zionism.[22] Told that Mikhoels was traveling, Robeson asked to see another friend, Yiddish poet Itzik Pfeffer, who had disappeared three years previously and not been seen since. A meeting was arranged.
The KGB took Pfeffer from the Lubyanka, cleaned him up and sent him to Robeson's hotel. Warning him to be careful what he said; 
[Alone in Robeson's hotel room] “Feffer [sic] indicated with gestures that the hotel suite was bugged,” he made small talk while “using sign language and notes on scrap paper,” to tell Robeson about “Stalin's 1948 purge of the leading Jewish intellectuals.” Feffer “peered through the spread fingers of his hands to indicate he was in prison.” Robeson “handed Feffer a one-word note: 'Mikhoels?' Feffer wrote, 'Murdered on Stalin's order.'”[28] According to Robeson's son, “dad asked him, well what's going to happen to you and some of his friends who had also disappeared, others. So Pfeffer told a funny joke as he drew his finger cross his throat, meaning that they're going to shoot us.”[29] Pfeffer begged Robeson to tell the world the truth, pleading, "They're going to kill us. When you return to America, you must speak out and save us."[30] (Italics in original.)
After leaving the meeting, said his son, Robeson “tore up the little notes and burned 'em in an ash tray, flushed them down the toilet...”[31]
Pfeffer was executed, along with other Jewish friends of Robeson, in 1952.
Back in the U.S., instead of denouncing Pfeffer's murder, Robeson lied, denouncing reports of the pogrom as anti-Soviet propaganda. In the Soviet Union he had "met Jewish people all over the place," he told a reporter, and "heard no word about it."[34] Robeson eventually confessed the truth to his son, making him vow not to make the story public until well after Robeson's death, "because he had promised himself that he would never publicly criticize the USSR."
When Stalin himself finally died in 1953, Robeson eulogized him;
"Forever will his name be honored and beloved in all lands. In all spheres of modern life, the influence of Stalin reaches wide and deep. … his contributions to the science of our world society remains invaluable. One reverently speaks of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin -- the shapers of humanity's richest present and future. … Yes, through his [Stalin's] deep humanity, by his wise understanding, he leaves us a rich and monumental heritage. ... How consistently, how patiently, he labored for peace and ever increasing abundance, with what deep kindliness and wisdom." 
 But the BBC ignores all that unpleasantness. In the name of art?

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