a stealth narrative, encased in reactive armor

While I don't have the time to check out the details behind every article I see in the local newspapers, something I saw the other day aroused my suspicions, and sure enough, it turned out to be a classic illustration of the persistence of a very ugly, self-enforcing narrative mechanism.  

The front page of Sunday's Detroit Free Press featured a picture of an elderly Detroit woman who has braved the trip to Madison, Wisconsin. It was a lead-in to a story obviously meant to move hearts and minds about her tireless crusade fior justice, headlined "A Detroiter in Wisconsin -- Every worker has sacrificed more than enough."

MADISON, Wis. -- Cheryl LaBash traded the comforts of her two-bedroom bungalow in northwest Detroit last week for a cubby along the wooden stair railing on the second floor of the Wisconsin state Capitol.

She sleeps on a marble floor surrounded by hundreds of other protesters, most of them decades younger. LaBash brushes her teeth and washes her face in a public restroom and grabs the occasional shower when she runs into a friend who has rented a hotel room during the protests.

She's been living on bratwursts, pizza and pastries donated by union sympathizers and longs for cups of coffee that she took for granted until her adventure began last week.

The lights never dim, and the beating of protesters' drums begins at 8 a.m. every morning and stops at 11 each night.

But LaBash, a 62-year-old retired construction inspector for the City of Detroit, can't imagine being anywhere else.

"I'm a retired public employee, and if there is an attack on a public employee, I'm going there," she said after a long day of rallies and marches. "It's important to let these people here know that someone from Detroit cared enough to get in their car, drive here and sleep on the floor with them every night."

Kind of makes you feel ashamed not to be driving through winter blizzards in solidarity with union workers, no?

The Freep saw fit to mention that this sweet little retiree has been arrested, and that she has "history with union activism":

LaBash has history with union activism. She was arrested in 1980 during a protest at a Detroit City Council meeting over the sale of Detroit General Hospital and again in 1990 during the Greyhound Bus strike.

"There's a long tradition of people going to jail for their convictions," LaBash said.

She's ready to be jailed again, when police try to remove protesters from the Capitol at 4 p.m. today. If she's evicted, she brought along a tent just in case.

"Who knows, maybe it will be Madison this spring and summer."

Perhaps it was the look of steely-eyed determination in her picture, and perhaps I'd seen the name "Cheryl LaBash" before, but it occurred to me to Google her, and I saw immediately that she is a lot more than a retired union activist. She is a national organizer for the Workers World Party, and she writes for the Workers World paper, co-authored the book Gaza: Symbol of Resistance, (described as "the story of the most heroic resistance since 1948 to unrelenting Israeli oppression and violence designed to drive Palestinians from their homeland"), travels the country to speak at various rallies like these, and has written countless anti-U.S. articles. 

A devoted Communist.

As to her organization, the Workers World Party is an unapologetically Stalinist revolutionary communist party:

Workers World Party (WWP) is a revolutionary communist political party in the United States, founded in 1959 by a group led by Sam Marcy.[1] Marcy and his followers split from the Socialist Workers Party in 1958 over a series of long-standing differences, among them Marcy's group's support for Henry A. Wallace's Progressive Party in 1948, the positive view they held of the Chinese Revolution led by Mao Zedong, and their defense of the 1956 Soviet intervention in Hungary, all of which the SWP opposed.

Great. So her group consists of Maoists who supported Khruschchev's Stalinist invasion of Hungary!

Naturally, the Free Press would never point out that this woman is a hard core Communist, so the task is left to bloggers like me to attempt to make that pertinent fact public. 

Does her Communism matter? Here is why I think it does matter. Communists are not ordinary people. Unlike liberals or conservatives, if they had power, they would kill people. A lot of people. Right of center bloggers like yours truly, Tea Party activists, people with money or who belong to the productive classes would all be targeted. And of course, they make no apologies for the crimes of Communism, because they believe it is right.

As detailed here, the WWP supported the Tienanmen massacre, North Korea, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, etc. A small but truly malevolent outfit.

But neither the WWP nor Cheryl LaBash is the point here, for she is merely an illustration of a particularly nasty narrative mechanism, which has been in place for far too long.

The fact that she is a Communist means that if that were known, she would not fit the narrative, which is that the devoted hordes of tireless activists who brave the cold and travel all about in solidarity with union workers are really just ordinary folks like you or I, and that we should join them. That revolutionary Communists do not fit this narrative means that their Communist status must never be mentioned -- even if they are open and notorious Communists like Ms. Labash. They are thus enshrouded and protected by a deliberate and mandatory media silence which enables them to operate with impunity.

I think it would be fair to call this a stealth narrative.

What makes the stealth narrative unlike other narratives is that it carries its own reactive armor which protects it against invasion by means of a built in personal attack against all invaders.

Anyone who says, points out, reports, or so much as mentions that someone is a Communist -- especially if that is factually correct -- is immediately liable for this line of attack. The attack is built in, and is no accident, but an integral feature.

By my act of writing this post, I am chargeable with "red baiting."

And to tell the truth, it isn't especially pleasant to have to publicly cop to being a red baiter. But I did so in the hope of shedding a little light on why Communists are almost never identified as Communists in your local newspaper. 

posted by Eric on 03.01.11 at 01:34 PM


They'll avoid mentioning someone's actually a communist at all costs. Note when Obama's advisor who was an admirer of Mao, etc. was unearthed by Beck, the Post ran stories of how the advisore was suddenly resigning without mentioning why.

The incriminating statements were even on video.

Too bad the Birchers were such utter flakes as to discredit both anti-communism and the many, many true facts they dug up. My grandad was a member but I'm willing to forgive a Lithuanian expat who'd lived under soviet rule and got out of Lithuania one step ahead o the Soviet Army after WW2 much when it comes to zealous anti-communism.

Darius   ·  March 1, 2011 4:01 PM

the lies about the tea party ok. the truth about the left verboten.

newrouter   ·  March 1, 2011 8:11 PM

I agree with her that the workers have sacrificed enough. Lower the cost of government.

M. Simon   ·  March 1, 2011 11:31 PM

By my act of writing this post, I am chargeable with "red baiting."

And she is going to Wisconsin?

I charge her with Bear baiting.

M. Simon   ·  March 1, 2011 11:34 PM

I may be a bit naive, but -- seriously -- WTF is wrong with red baiting? Are you saying they don't deserve it? That it's somehow unfair?


Mark Alger   ·  March 2, 2011 4:29 PM

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, but they are!

Red baiting (saying anyone is a Communist) constitutes "McCarthyism" -- a malevolent sin akin to racism.

Communists have been granted a unique right to be immune from criticism by the liberal media.

Eric Scheie   ·  March 2, 2011 5:32 PM
By my act of writing this post, I am chargeable with "red baiting."

I'm torn between "and you say that like it is a bad thing" and...like Tom Selleck's character in "Mr. Baseball"...saying [approximately] "there's enough there to cover this time....and the next time".


Dann   ·  March 4, 2011 1:28 PM

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