I grew up in the 1950’s when people actually did call one another communists. And in the 1930’s and 1940’s we actually had communists in intellectual circles. It was an interesting idea to be explored back then, before the communist experiments around the world showed where that particular philosophy led. But, by jingo, there’s communists in the wood pile again. Here’s a quote from one of the more vociferous anti-Obama web sites, TheObamaFile.com:
Barack Obama was born of Communist activists, mentored by a communist writer and activist, spent his college days hanging around radical activists, worked as a radical community organizer learning the radical tactics of Alinsky, kept contact with radicals through the years, attends a radical church, and today lends his political skill to the international goals of radical activists, and has radicals working on his campaign.
So let’s plow through this. First, the quote talks about “communists” and “radicals”, which aren’t the same thing. So I’ll just talk about the Communist part. [This article is incomplete at this point.]
Obama’s Mother was a Communist
I’m not sure how relevant this would be if it were true, given how little time Obama spent with his mother.
Obama’s Father was a Communist
I’m not sure how relevant this would be if it were true, given that Obama hardly knew his father.
Obama was mentored by a Communist
The alleged communist mentor is Frank Marshall Davis. If memory serves me right Internet Powerhouse Andy Martin believes that Davis is more than Obama’s mentor; he is his father. [Sorry, a scene from Star War forced itself into my mind.]
So was Frank Marshall Davis a Communist?
That rather depends on who you believe. Davis was certainly accused of being a communist (along quite a long list of other people) by the now infamous House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) back in 1950 (11 years before Obama was born). The accusation was based on articles he wrote for the Hawaii Record newspaper, accused of being a Communist “front organization,” something which the newspaper did not admit.
It’s fair to call Davis a “radical” but then lots of people were “radicals” back in the 1960’s (you had to be there). It was time when African Americans were building a new identity flush with the freedoms granted by the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. There was a lot of anger about the Vietnam War. This was the time into which Obama was born.
The Weekly Telegraph reports on the relationship between Davis and the Dunham family in a somewhat lurid article entitled Frank Marshall Davis, alleged Communist, was early influence on Barack Obama. The article says that the poet (Marshall) met Barack Obama when the boy was 10 years old and living with his grandparents in Hawaii (Marshall and Obama’s grandfather were friends and played Scrabble and got drunk together). Obama mentions Marshall (as “Frank”) in his memoir, Dreams From My Father, including one big page full on page 97 about Obama’s leaving for college.
Obama discusses his relationship in the pamphlet Unfit For Publication, which may be downloaded from his web site and on page 9, quotes from Dreams:
It was into my father’s image, the black man, son of Africa, that I’d packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela. And if later I saw that the black men I knew- Frank or Ray or Will or Rafiq- fell short of such lofty standards; if I had learned to respect these men for the struggles they went through, recognizing them as my own-my father’s voice had nevertheless remained untainted, inspiring, rebuking, granting or withholding approval. You do not work hard enough, Barry. You must help in your people’s struggle. Wake up, black man!”
Conclusion: Frank Marshall Davis and Barack Obama were friends, but Obama did not always agree with Davis. There is some suggestive evidence that Davis could have joined the Communist Party of the USA during World War II, but not that he had a continuing or active membership. In any case, that doesn’t make Barack Obama a Communist nor Frank Marshall David his “mentor”.
For a very detailed discussion on the relationship between Davis and Obama as well as claims of Davis’ communist connections, see Redbaiting Barack Obama by Mark Davis, Frank Marshall Davis’ son.