re: In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day . . .

I would add to Charles Burris’s Reading list a few things by Civil War historian and Lincoln cultist Eric Foner, a longtime professor at Columbia University, past president of the American Historical Association, and self-described Marxist.  He was an apologist for Soviet communism for decades.  In 1989 a Moscow display of the Soviet gulag system drew a bitter denunciation by Foner who complained of “the obsessive need to fill in the blank pages in the history of the Soviet era” (In John Haynes and Harvey Klehr, In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage, Encounter Books, 2003, p. 40). Here you have a “historian” arguing to not study history because it made communism look bad.

In his 1988 book The Story of American Freedom Foner lavishly praised the Communist Party U.S.A. as a “cultural front that helped to redraw the boundaries of American freedom.”  He also argued that opposition to communism was tyranny.  In a February 11, 1991 article in The Nation magazine entitled “Lincoln’s Lesson” Foner railed against the peaceful secession movements in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Georgia and urged Mikhail Gorbachev to deal with them in the same brutal, waging-war-on-civilians/war-criminal manner that Lincoln did in relation to Southern secessionists in 1861-1865.

He called the impending break-up of the Soviet Union a “crisis” that could destroy the “laudable goal” of Soviet communism.  Such a government, he said was desirable and demanded “overreaching loyalty to the Soviet Union” by Latvians, Lithuanians, etc. just as Lincoln “demanded” overreaching loyalty to himself and his regime.  “No leader of a powerful nation,” wrote Comrade Foner, should allow such a thing as “the dismemberment of the Soviet Union.”  Lincoln created the “consolidation of national authority in the United States,” said Foner, creating a union that was “a permanent government.”  He hoped that “Gorbachev would surely agree” and follow in Lincoln’s footsteps.  (Those footsteps included murdering one-fourth of the adult male population of the Southern states in four years).

I recall reading one of Foner’s speeches in which he regretted that his earlier research was not Marxist enough.


11:23 am on January 17, 2022