Concord Should Just Change its Name to Stalingrad

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Historical Marker Concord NH

Yahoo! News carries the New Hampshire Union Leader story: GOP councilors speak out against historical marker for Communist activist.

With state officials objecting to a historical marker on public property honoring the life of a Communist activist and Concord native, Gov. Chris Sununu has asked for a review of the approval process.

Executive Councilors David Wheeler, R-Milford, and Joseph Kenney, R-Wakefield, said the decision to place a marker about the life of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn in Concord was an insult to all veterans, and state officials should have blocked it in the first instance.

"Every man and woman who served in uniform as a Cold War warrior and our sisters and brothers, we do not support at all that this particular person gets a historic marker," said Kenney, a Gulf War veteran.

"This was a devout Communist. We are the Live Free or Die state. How can we possibly be popularizing this propaganda and spreading it in downtown Concord?"

Good question. At NHJournal, Damien Fisher is as gobsmacked as Joseph Kenney, wondering Why Did NH Approve A Historic Marker Honoring A Concord Communist?.

The Sununu administration approved a new Historical Highway Marker honoring a committed Communist from Concord who received a state funeral in Moscow’s Red Square. Now state officials are asking how it happened.

On Monday, May 1 — May Day for the international Socialist movement — the New Hampshire Department of Natural & Cultural Resources unveiled the marker honoring Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who once led the Communist Party USA.

Flynn was born in 1890 in Concord and became a socialist activist in her teens. She was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and, in 1936, joined the Community Party, becoming the U.S. Party Chair in 1961.

Her decision to join the Communist Party during the period of Josef Stalin’s deadly purge and high-profile show trials is particularly disturbing. In fact, her membership in the party got her expelled from the ACLU in 1940. A decade later, she was found guilty under the Smith Act of advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government by force and violence.

Underline: she joined the Communist Party in 1936, in her mid-forties. "Youthful idealism" is not avaiable as an excuse. This was only a few years after the Holodomor killed millions of Ukrainians. Stalin's Great Purge was ramping up, with a body count of at least 700,000. Flynn had no problem with that.

About the only amusement to be had is watching various state officials (Governor, Executive Councilors, the head of the agency in charge of the historical marker program), and city officials finger-pointing and buck-passing. There's more of that in a followup NHJournal article: State Puts Blame For Marker Honoring Concord Communist On City.

Fallout from the state’s historic marker honoring a notorious Communist continues as the Sununu administration invites Concord to remove the monument, and the city insists it never requested the placard in the first place.

“If the City Council objected to the placement of the marker on city property, the application would have been denied,” New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Commissioner Sarah Stewart wrote to Concord’s mayor Thursday.

“It’s their sign, not ours,” Ward 3 Concord City Councilor Jennifer Kretovic told NHJournal. “And if they want to say differently, they can go pound sand.”

Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway: anyone who had cozied up to Nazi Germany like Flynn had with the Commies would not have been lionized like this.

Briefly noted:

  • But it's not just New Hampshire. David Mikics notes a different example of the same damned thing: Commie Chic Invades American Grade Schools.

    Every day, my son, who is in seventh grade, sees a quotation from Angela Davis painted on his school’s wall: “Radical simply means grasping things at the root.” (The line actually comes from Karl Marx.) Four years ago, during Black History Month, a poster of Davis beamed down from the wall of his public elementary school in Brooklyn.

    I eagerly praise my son’s charter school to other parents. It’s full of dedicated teachers who urge their students to debate politics and history with an open mind. So I wrote to the administration, proposing that they should balance the school’s homage to Davis with a quotation from Andrei Sakharov or Natan Sharansky, who fought to free the millions of Soviet bloc citizens that Davis wanted to keep locked up. After all, I reasoned, some of the school’s families are themselves refugees from communist tyrannies. My suggestion was met with silence.

    Davis, who is now euphemistically celebrated as an “activist,” was in fact a loyal apparatchik who served working-class betrayers, some of whom were murderous bureaucrats, and others outright maniacs who defy any normative political description. Among the objects of her adoration were dullards like the East German leader Erich Honecker and the stupefied (and stupefying) Soviet Communist Party Chairman Leonid Brezhnev, as well as the Reverend Jim Jones. Before the grotesque mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, Davis broadcast a worshipful speech about Jones to the imprisoned Black women who were murdered by his cult.

    Yah, Angela Davis. A continuing mystery is why she gets idolized by "respectable" institutions. Like (for example) the University Near Here.

  • It's a weird WIRED world. For some reason, WIRED hosts authors Jehan Azad and Uri Bram who have joined the Henry George fanclub: Land Ownership Makes No Sense.

    In our times, owning land seems as natural as owning cars or houses. And this makes sense: The general presumption is that you can privately own anything, with rare exceptions for items such as dangerous weapons or archaeological artifacts. The idea of controlling territory, specifically, has a long tenure. Animals, warlords, and governments all do it, and the modern conception of “fee simple”—that is, unrestricted, perpetual, and private—land ownership has existed in English common law since the 13th century.

    Yet by 1797, US founding father Thomas Paine was arguing that “the earth, in its natural uncultivated state” would always be “the common property of the human race," and so landowners owed non-landowners compensation “for the loss of his or her natural inheritance.”

    A century later, economist Henry George saw that poverty was rising despite increasing wealth and blamed this on our system of owning land. He proposed that land should be taxed at up to 100 percent of its “unimproved” value—we’ll get to that in a moment—allowing other forms of taxes (certainly including property taxes, but also potentially income taxes) to be reduced or abolished. George became a sensation. His book Progress and Poverty sold 2 million copies, and he got 31 percent of the vote in the 1886 New York mayoral race (finishing second, narrowly ahead of a 31-year-old Teddy Roosevelt).

    Sticklers for historical accuracy will probably point out that George detected "rising" poverty in the midst of what Deirdre McCloskey has dubbed the Great Encrichment: a vast increase of the wealth of everyone in countries that adopted (what McCloskey doesn't call) free-market capitalism.

    It is true enough that the moral foundations of land ownership are dubious.

    But you might know another area where the moral foundations are dubious: political authority. I read Michael Huemer on this a few years ago, and agreed with his conclusion: Not only does the emperor have no clothes, his power over his subjects lacks any rational justification. And that argument applies to any form of government: you have the rulers and ruled, and the method for putting people in one class or the other isn't particularly relevant.

    And yet, efforts to construct a no-government polity have all failed. It's a mystery as to why, but I assume it's got something to do with that pesky human nature.

    And so also with Georgist policies. Have they been successfully implemented anywhere? Well, OK, wake me when that happens.