Opinion

Why Obama's mentor hated the Marshall Plan

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Opinion,Op-Eds

It was 65 years ago this summer that Washington -- and the world -- was abuzz over an extraordinary act of generosity: the Marshall Plan. Everyone saw the program as a literal lifesaver. The only opposition was the Kremlin, where Stalin and Molotov and the boys viciously attacked the program. As they did, they ordered that communists worldwide do likewise.

To a man, they obeyed. And one of those obedient men was Barack Obama's boyhood mentor, Frank Marshall Davis.

Davis -- known as "Frank" in "Dreams from My Father" -- was not just communist by sympathy, but literally a card-carrying member of the Communist Party (number 47544). He edited and wrote for Party-line, pro-Soviet publications such as the Chicago Star and Honolulu Record. His editorial position was always predictable: It was the Soviet position. He favored Yalta and Red Army takeovers of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Eastern Europe as a whole.

When Winston Churchill in March 1946 came to the United States and warned of an "Iron Curtain" descending across the European continent, Davis and his comrades scoffed, claiming the real "Iron Curtain" was being erected by General Motors. When President Harry Truman in March 1947 announced his Truman Doctrine to stop communism from taking Greece and Turkey, Frank Marshall Davis went ballistic. And when Truman's secretary of state, George Marshall, followed up in June 1947 with his Marshall Plan, Davis lost it.

Frank Marshall Davis took aim at the Marshall Plan with a line of attack identical to the Kremlin's. He pointed the finger of aggression in one direction only: the United States.

Davis denounced the Marshall Plan as "white imperialism," as "oppression of non-white peoples everywhere," a slavery purchased by "billions of U.S. dollars ... to bolster the tottering empires of England, France, Belgium, Holland and the other western exploiters of teeming millions of humans."

By Davis' narrative, the West as a whole was reinstituting slavery. Those chains were being forged by Harry Truman and the Democrats.

Davis was an unrelenting critic of the Marshall Plan throughout this period. It was, in sum, an evil program to "help maintain European empires at the expense of exploited dark colonial peoples."

Notably, by the time Davis met with a young Barack Obama in the 1970s, he was still a political radical -- and still remonstrating against the Marshall Plan. So abiding was his opposition that one of the few foreign-policy assessments in his memoirs is his open acknowledgment that he adamantly rejected the Marshall Plan, which he characterized as a weapon that Truman "aimed directly at the Soviets." Yes, decades after all the hell that Stalin unleashed after World War II, Davis was still convinced that Truman, not Stalin, had spoiled a postwar peace.

Did Frank Marshall Davis lecture a young Obama on the horrors of the Marshall Plan? That's impossible to say.

Nonetheless, it is a fair question how much of this far-left philosophy was imparted to a young Barry Obama, who today is a president known for railing against big oil, "fat cat bankers on Wall Street," "excess profits," "millionaires and billionaires," the "wealthy" who don't pay their "fair" share; and on and on -- all rhetoric used frequently by Frank Marshall Davis decades earlier.

In short, our mentors matter, at least on some level. Davis was not merely a mentor but another of those extremist influences in President Obama's past that the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge.

Dr. Paul Kengor is a professor of political science at Grove City College and author of the new book, "The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mentor."

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