You can tell a lot about people by looking at their heroes.
When the Women’s March honored the Stalinist cheerleader Angela Davis in 2017, there was almost no pushback from Jewish or liberal groups. You can forgive members of the Resistance, concerned with the impending Trumpian dystopia, for not yet comprehending the bigoted and extremist positions of those leading the Women’s March.
Go read it all, but consider this
When human rights activist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who knew a thing or two about the “prison industrial complex,” gave his Voice of Freedom speech in 1975, he relayed a story about manufactured heroism and hypocrisy that surrounded Davis.
There’s a certain woman here named Angela Davis. I don’t know if you are familiar with her in this country, but in our country, literally for one whole year, we heard of nothing at all except about Angela Davis. There was only Angela Davis in the whole world and she was suffering. We had our ears stuffed with Angela Davis. Little children in school were told to sign petitions in defense of Angela Davis. Little boys and girls, 8 and 9 years old in schools, were asked to do this. Well, they set her free. Although she didn’t have a rough time in this country, she came to recuperate in Soviet resorts. Some Soviet dissidents — but more important, a group of Czech dissidents— addressed an appeal to her: ”Comrade Davis, you were in prison. You know how unpleasant it is to sit in prison, especially when you consider yourself innocent. You now have such authority. Could you help our Czech prisoners? Could you stand up for those persons in Czechoslovakia who are being persecuted by the state?” Angela Davis answered: ‘They deserve what they get. Let them remain in prison.’ That is the face of communism.
Solzhenitsyn was referring to Jiri Pelikan, one of the supporters of the Prague Spring, who had asked Davis, as she was vacationing in Russian resorts and collecting honorary degrees, if she would advocate for political prisoners. She would not.
Alan Dershowitz, in his 1992 “Chutzpah” book, relays a similar incident in which Davis, a woman who went on to be a professor in the “History of Consciousness” at the University of California, not only refused to stand up for prisoners of conscience in the Soviet Union but argued that their imprisonment was justified.
I also worked as an unpaid consultant on an aspect of the Angela Davis case in California. Davis, who was one of the leaders of the American Communist party, was charged with murder in connection with a 1970 shoot-out at a Marin County courthouse. She claimed that as a black, a woman, and a Communist, she could not receive a fair trial in any American court. She was acquitted, so maybe she was right! After her acquittal, she announced that she would be devoting the remainder of her life to defending political prisoners like herself. A short time later, I read that she was going to Moscow to receive some human rights prize from the Soviet Union. I called her office and gave them a list of Jewish prisoners of conscience in the Soviet Union – Jews who had been imprisoned because they wanted to emigrate to Israel or to learn about their heritage. I asked if she would be willing to speak up on behalf of these political prisoners. Several days later, I received a call back from Ms. Davis’s secretary informing me that Davis had looking into the people on my list and none of them were political prisoners ‘They are all Zionist fascists and opponents of Socialism.’ Davis would urge that they be kept in prison where they belonged.
Yes, I called her evil, because she is