We at Irregular Times are not at all opposed to criticism of President Barack Obama. We not only support criticism of Obama, we engage in it ourselves. We believe that the more power people exercise, the more scrutiny they deserve.
However we also believe that people ought to be discriminating in the criticism they pursue. We support intelligent, principled criticism of Barack Obama, just as we did with George W. Bush. On the other hand, as was our practice with Bush, we oppose ignorant criticism of Obama that is motivated by personal political opposition rather than high ideals.
Many of President Obama’s opponents on the Right have become fond of characterizing him as a Communist. In a literal sense, it’s quite clear that Obama is no Communist. There has never been any evidence that Obama ever was enrolled in any version of the Communist Party. Obama never has even registered as a Socialist of any kind. He’s a Democrat.
Of course, Obama’s right wing critics usually don’t mean to imply that Obama is literally a member of the Communist Party, although they would probably love to find such information. What they accuse Obama of is being a Communist in deed, if not a Communist in name. They say that Obama’s policies would bring about a Communist state, if they were not opposed by the Republican Party.
What are these supposed Communist policies, though? An economic stimulus package in the middle of a big recession? Opposition to a permanent repeal of all taxes on inheritance from millionaires and billionaires? Health care reform?
There are many people now involved in politics who did not come of age during the Cold War. For them especially, it is important to put statements about Barack Obama’s purported Communism into historical context.
I suggest to people who are tempted by these arguments that they read the book Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It’s a well-written account of the life of Stalin before the Bolshevik Revolution that created the Soviet Union. Read this book, and then read Obama’s early autobiography, Dreams From My Father. Compare the two.
Criticize Barack Obama’s policies, if you feel called to do so, but understand the terms that you use when you do. Obama is no Josef Stalin, and he’s no Communist.