Might as well put this up too…
Been watching a PBS documentary about the Scottsboro Boys. The narration does everything it can to infantilise the Communists who got involved, to downplay their contribution, to chalk it up to cynical opportunism, to suggest their involvement did more harm than good, etc.
The basically accurate account of events makes it clear, however, that it was the involvement of communists (and other people who got involved because communists made the case an issue) which ultimately led to the Scottsboro defendants getting even the meagre amount of justice and freedom they did.
Towards the end, the narration says “not protests or marches or newspaper articles but simply time itself” brought Alabama to free most of the defendants… which, if you stop to think about it, is an absolutely out-fucking-rageous thing to say. As if just waiting for a while would’ve freed the defendants by itself. As if the Alabama ‘justice system’ would’ve seen the light eventually even if nobody had ever kicked up a ruckus about it. As if the Alabama racists didn’t need to be opposed and fought and exhausted and embarassed into submission.
The message is clear: don’t fight injustice, or protest about it, or write about it, or do anything that could be considered political agitation. That’ll just make you a cynical opportunist doing more harm than good – like the Communists. Just shut up and wait. Time and the system will heal all problems. Then we can look back on it all nostalgically, with a sense of our own modern-day superiority, and call what happened a ‘tragedy’ (the title of the documentary is ‘Scottsboro – An American Tragedy’).
Also been looking at another PBS documentary about what a humanitarian Herbert Hoover was. This is the guy who basically tricked loads of people into contributing to a charity scam. People donated to his fund to relieve starvation in wartime Belgium. But he charged the Belgians for the food and denied relief to areas that couldn’t pay.
He pulled a similar trick with the Russian famine after the Civil War. The documentary refers to this as a natural disaster exacerbated by the policies of the Bolsheviks. Of course. But the famine was the big deal it was, and the Bolsheviks were forced to take some of the measures they did (some of which were disastrous) because the famine came after (and partly as a result of) the Russian Civil War, which was basically a West-sponsored attempt to unseat the new Bolshevik government. The Americans and the British (largely owing to the agitation of Winston Churchill… who was rather fond of using famines as political tools) not only invaded Russia themselves, but also sponsored the invasion of Russia by a bunch of counter-revolutionaries who were essentially proto-fascists. They rampaged through Russia using tactics that put the much-more-talked-about ‘Red Terror’ (which was defensive) in the shade.
Hoover took advantage of the famine to attack Bolshevik Russia. He hated the new regime because it had cancelled deals he had planned in Tsarist Russia (along with a British capitalist partner) which would have made him one of the richest men on Earth. His relief went largely to areas under the control of the White armies. Even as they massacred Bolshevik-sympathisers, Jews (or just anyone who happened to, in their opinion, need to be made an example of) in horrific pogroms, Hoover’s ‘humanitarian’ aid kept them going. Hoover’s aid sustained the Polish invasion of Russia.
Later, during the Depression, Hoover refused aid to starving Americans, and ordered MacArthur to send in troops against marchers, with deadly results. Hoover, the great humanitarian, was motivated not only by his private business interests but also by a hatred of socialism (he equated any government aid with creeping socialism) and a fanatical devotion to capitalism. He once said that the purpose of government was to create conditions favourable to free enterprise.
Fuck you, PBS.