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Ossie and the Soviets

Actor Ossie Davis is hosting PBS's Memorial Day Concert on the Mall. He's an anti-American Communist.

12:00 AM, May 23, 2002 • By LEE BOCKHORN
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SINCE HIS APPEARANCE at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, everyone inside the Beltway has been in a tizzy over Ozzy Osbourne. But today, I'd like to change the subject from Ozzy to Ossie. Ossie Davis, that is.

Why? For a little good old-fashioned commie-bashing, that's why. Davis, a longtime marginal star of stage and screen, is emceeing (as he has many times before) this Sunday's annual Memorial Day Concert on the Mall. The concert will be broadcast, as always, by PBS. Normally I'm all for PBS devoting its precious taxpayer-subsidized air time to patriotic fare like the Memorial Day and Fourth of July concerts on the Mall. But I can't get excited this time, because Ossie Davis is about as sleazy an apologist for communism as you'll find in showbiz--which is saying quite a lot.

To wit: Davis penned a contribution to a "Symposium on the USSR: The First Fifty Years," which ran in the Fall 1967 issue of the New World Review, a Communist journal. Here are some choice excerpts from "A Black Man's Salute," Davis's paean to the workers' paradise that was Communist Russia, and denunciation of American capitalism and imperialism:

"If all the great and bragged-about benefits of the capitalist system were true beyond cavil, it would, from the viewpoint of us who are its historic victims, still stand condemned. It is a system to which we, the black people of the United States, have never belonged save as the degraded means to somebody else's end. First as slaves, then as a source of cheap labor. Now as a seemingly endless supply of cannon-fodder for the needs of that system in its attempt to swallow up the world as it is now trying to do in Vietnam. . . .

"The black man's mightiest expectations have always been in the alternative which, though nowhere present, he dreamed about as a part of the future. A future he frequently places beyond the bounds of this world, where he would surely receive his reward, not down here on earth--but up there in heaven. . . . [But] since our religion counciled [sic] us always to look both ways--'Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.'--we searched each passing day for signs and portents.

"Thus fifty years ago when the good news came out of Russia that men there had decided to abandon capitalism and attempt to construct, here, 'on earth,' a system in which no man would be the hereditary victim of other men because of the color of his skin, a system of true equality ultimately to be formulated as 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,' it was only natural that black men should associate their own hopes and their own expectations with the promises of socialism.

"And so it is natural that today black men should salute that country and that people who fifty years ago turned their backs on the past and struck out boldly to build a wholly different kind of society. Just as it is natural for us to find in the example of the Russian people enduring solace for all our struggles ahead, and a constant reminder that 'what men have done, men can do.'" [Emphasis in the original Ossie.]

I'm not even sure where to begin dissecting this tripe; really, it speaks for itself. I will merely note that this was written not in the 1920s, but in 1967, by which time it was clear, to all but the most unrepentant leftist ideologues, that the "wholly different kind of society" that Lenin and his friends "struck out so boldly to build" had slaughtered tens of millions of innocent victims. What's astonishing is that Davis keeps getting asked to host these concerts despite his well-known and oft-expressed Communist sympathies, which, to the best of my knowledge, he has never recanted. And so it is only natural today that I declare Ossie Davis an ass, and PBS and the organizers of the Concert on the Mall fellow asses, for choosing such a disgusting defender of tyranny to host a concert that celebrates the sacrifices of those men--including the black patriots whom Davis dismisses as "cannon-fodder"--who died to defend our freedom, and the freedom of ingrates like Ossie Davis.

Lee Bockhorn is associate editor at The Weekly Standard.