Mr. Abuznaid’s trio of pinup activists is revealing. Malcolm X was not only a member of the Nation of Islam, a black nationalist group that thrived on hatred of whites in the same way that Islamist organizations today thrive on Jew-hatred. He also was a vocal supporter of Mao Zedong, chairman of the Chinese Communist Party during the Cold War. Ms. Davis was a Black Panther in the 1960s and a longtime member of the Communist Party USA. Carmichael, another 1960s black militant and unabashed racial separatist, called Zionism a “diabolical movement.”
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Authoritarians have long sought to undermine capitalism and democracy by exploiting racial strife in the U.S. In the 1930s, black luminaries such as the poet Langston Hughes and the scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, were lured to the Soviet Union, luxuriously feted by Joseph Stalin and sent back home to sing the glories of life under communism.
Paul Robeson, the accomplished black actor and singer, first traveled to Russia in 1934, shortly after Stalin had engineered a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians. During his visit, Robeson gave an interview to the American Communist Party newspaper, the Daily Worker. “I was not prepared for the happiness I see on every face in Moscow,” Robeson said. “I was aware there was no starvation here, but I was not prepared for the bounding life; the feeling of abundance and freedom that I find here, wherever I turn.” In 1952, the Soviet Union awarded Robeson the Stalin Peace Prize.
Most mainstream civil-rights leaders in the U.S. spurned these overtures. Martin Luther King Jr. was a staunch anticommunist, as were such organizations as the NAACP and the National Urban League. As head of the NAACP’s legal team, Thurgood Marshall rejected the notion that the Soviet system offered a better life for blacks, and he even worked with the FBI to expose communist infiltrators. Communists “are all sweetness and light these days, trying to persuade us to join their front organizations,” Marshall once told an audience. “We must continue to make it clear that there is no place in this organization for communists or those who follow the communist line.”
Stalin is dead and the Cold War is over, but totalitarian regimes still see propaganda opportunities in America’s racial unrest. After Michael Brown’s death in 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin told “60 Minutes” that the U.S. had no right to criticize how he handled dissidents, given “the problem in Ferguson.” State-run media outlets in China ran countless stories on the George Floyd protests, and Chinese newspapers criticized the U.S. government for failing to address racial inequality.
Nor is there any shortage today of black leftists willing to play the role of stooge.
Last week, the mullahs even got an assist from the celebrated author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who gave an interview to the left-wing news program “Democracy Now!” Mr. Coates said that he visited the Palestinian territories with some other writers earlier this year and was “given a tour by our Palestinian guide.” He went on to compare the Israelis to white supremacists and the Palestinians to black Americans living under segregation. “I understood the anger. I understood the sense of humiliation that comes when people subject you to just manifold oppression, to genocide.” he added. “I come from the descendants of 250 years of enslavement.” And like a good propagandist he left out any mention of Hamas or the attacks of Oct. 7.