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David Zimicki: Pete Seeger should have condemned Soviet repression

To the editor:

No doubt, in the catacombs beneath the Kremlin, there are files on Pete Seeger, with five bold red stars and the thankful descriptor “Extremely Useful Idiot.” He was an affable, pleasant-voiced, lifelong “fifth column” for Soviet propaganda and the Soviet critique of America, who only very belatedly and very tepidly adjusted his Communist devotion from, “Communism with a capital C to a lower case c.”

Oh, thanks, but I infinitely prefer actual courageous and penetrating apostates like George Orwell, Arthur Koestler, Whittaker Chambers or David Horowitz. I can’t think of an American more connected with anti-business views and a failure to resist the Communist horror. The western democracies were aghast after World War II at witnessing the Soviet boot heels descending and vigorously grinding upon Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, East Germany, Albania and Hungary. Not one of them was even remotely willing.

Hoping to not allow more totalitarian police states, there was Korea — which was a totally amazing American save — and then the same noble American intention in Vietnam. This war had been won and then bizarrely walked away from, according to North Vietnamese generals. I contend that the avuncular Pete Seeger bears an awful responsibility for his effective championing of this abandonment.

Ideas are important and have strong effects. Seeger should answer for ideas he promulgated. It is very nice to be anti-war, but hardly difficult. Consider the unfortunates slaughtered after we left. Then, shortly after in Cambodia, came the unfettered savagery of the Pol Pot regime, whose ideas led to the slaughter of 2 million. He knew America would not lift a finger.

There are dozens of histories and memoirs of Soviet-era repression, mass murder and economic failure. There is no excuse for a public intellectual who had so much influence to be so willfully disconnected from what he should have known and what he should have condemned.

David Zimicki



Readers reflect on legacy of Pete Seeger

Saturday, February 1, 2014

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Gazette has received several letters from readers touched by the music and example of Pete Seeger, who died Monday at age 94. The letters are collected here. Bill Newman: Words that inspired generations of activists Seeger’s principled stand before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955 gave courage to other political activists of his generation and to …

Rutherford Platt: What Pete Seeger might say to one critic

Thursday, February 13, 2014

To the editor: If Pete Seeger reads a certain Haydenville man’s Feb. 7 letter to the editor rant in the Gazette, he will smile and say, “Poke him in the ribs and get him to join in singing ‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore.’” Which would you like, Mr. Letter-Writer, tenor or bass, ? Rutherford Platt Florence …

Legacy Comments2

This is the best letter I have read in the Gazette in some time. Around here, Seeger is worshiped. It's good to see some balance and honesty out there. I'm grateful to see someone note that Seeger supported a political ideology that resulted in totalitarian regimes that killed millions of people.

Well written response to all the "Pete Seeger was a hero" material that has been written since his passing. Pete paid a price for his communist leanings, but he never fully backed away from the dark side of totalinarianism...

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