File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-01-29.113, message 69


Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 21:34:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject: M-I: Martin Duberman on Paul Robeson



May I enter a minor dissent from Lou (P)'s otherwise fine mini-bibliography
on the cultural activities of the CP?    I would at least approach Mr
Duberman's biography of Robeson with great caution,  if not outright
disbelief.    Robeson becomes,  after about page 100,  less a passionate and
innovative Black revolutionary artist,  and more a phlegmatic,  "politically
correct" handkerchief--head black academic "Big House" liberal.    In real
life, Duberman would not have been caught dead at the same
town--and--gown--wine--and--cheese party with Paul Robeson,  in this world
or the next.     This shameless parasite has always fed vicariously off of
radicals like Robeson as long as they were safely dead and therefore
suitable as untroublesome surrogates for his own non-threatening,
non-conformist fantasies.    When Duberman had the opportunity to stand up
for Robeson's friend Herbert Aptheker in 1976 (the Yale History Department
was trying to have Aptheker literally run off campus),  he kept shut,  his
"radical" credentials savingly pristine for the next chic cause' celebre.

In any event,  Duberman gets matters large and small completely wrong in the
life of Paul Robeson.    Robeson's own autobiographical effort,  *Here I
Stand* (New York,  1957: Othello Associates and reprints) remains the best
chronicle of his life and work to date.

There,   I feel better.

Louis Godena



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