Thursday, May 26, 2011

Author Interview: Grove City Political Scientist Paul Kengor on His Latest Book, 'DUPES'

Research in the archives of the Soviet Comintern led Grove City College political scientist Paul Kengor to write his most recent book, DUPES: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.

At the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Kengor autographed copies of DUPES and his previous book, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. (See "Author Interview: Professor Paul Kengor on ‘The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism,'" published March 3.)  He also took a few minutes to talk to me about his research.

Looking at the Communist International’s files on the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), Kengor said, “I got to the very first reel of microfiche and it was obvious” that “there was a very close collusion between the American Communist Party and the Soviet Communist Party,” corroborating the views held by anti-Communists throughout the twentieth century.

“In fact,” Kengor pointed out, “the very first document you get in the microfiche are the comrades in Chicago in September 1919 sending a letter to the comrades in Moscow at the Comintern, saying, basically, ‘We did it, we did it!’”

The document he cites is included in his book, and it celebrates the founding of the Soviet Union by the Communist Party and predicts that “America will be communist soon.” Those who wrote that letter, Kengor said, were “thrilled about this.”

As he continued in his research, he explained, he discovered “an eye opener.”

Cynical, shrewd, conniving
It showed that the Communist Party USA “very carefully, cynically, shrewdly, in a very conniving way, targeted American liberals and progressives for manipulation.”

Kengor was careful to note that “the liberals and progressives weren’t communists.”

They were, however, “also on the Left” and were therefore targeted in “a very deliberate campaign that went on for a long, long time and, I would argue, even to some extent takes place today, where the communists would lie to the liberals and progressives.”

The communists “wouldn’t tell them that they were communists. They very intentionally tried to mislead and manipulate them and with tremendous success, especially among academics (Columbia University, in particular), and also sadly among the religious left, the social-justice religious left,” Kengor said.

‘Biggest suckers of them all’
God and Ronald Reagan : A Spiritual LifeHe added that, “as one veteran investigator of the American communist movement told me for this book, the religious left were the biggest suckers of them all, especially the mainline Protestant denominations.”

Groups like the National Council of Churches, he said, “fell over and over and over again for the wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Kengor plans to do more research on the churches during the Cold War, and his next project will “probably be a follow up to DUPES -- but I need to people need to buy DUPES for me to have the incentive to follow it up.”

‘Sad state’ of reading
The author then took an opportunity to lament the current state of publishing and reading.

“It’s a very frustrating thing right now,” he said. “People are not buying books, so you’ll spend years researching all this information” but even enormous publicity for the book “doesn’t always translate into sales.”

The problem is, Kengor said, “if people aren’t going to read these things, you wonder if you should even bother writing them.”

Consequently, he is evaluating his next project based on how well DUPES does.

“I’m finding that to get the word out there,” he said, “to spread the word on what’s in the book, you have to do countless op-ed pieces, countless media interviews, countless radio interviews, [and] do Q&As because people aren’t buying books.”

Instead of buying books, he said, people are “watching TV and reading things off the internet.”

That, he concluded, is “a very sad state.”

(This article appeared in a slightly different form on on February 27, 2011.)

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