Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
 
This Godless Communism.

For a strong hit of our pop-culture past, check out an archived 1961 comic book at The Authentic History Center: This Godless Communism, 10 issues of the Catholic Guild publication Treasure Chest. Anything that starts with a letter to school children from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover is worth taking a look at.

The series opens up with an implausible and weirdly calm scenario for the Communist takeover of America, and the results for a Catholic family. It then focuses on the history of Communism, starting with a young Marx and Engels (who has white hair despite being described as "another young man"--did they lift the art from somewhere eles?) before moving on to its focus in Russia.

After narrating the Russian Revolution, the Communist goal of world domination is established, symbolized by a somewhat anemic red octopus straddling the globe. As World War II begins, the scene of Nazis being greeted by happy Russians is a bit disturbing in its almost-implications, as is the enusing lack of discussion about how and why even we preferred to deal with Communists rather than Nazis.

After the war the focus returns to Communist world domination, and the existence of communist Party cells in the United States. The comic book is pretty clear about whom it wants young Catholic children to be suspicious of: the random sample of the Communist plotters from "all walks of life" are a public librarian, university professor, and labor-union member. After panels and panels of grumbling Russians looking ove their shoulder for secret police, the artist blissfully puts in a very ominous-looking FBI agent watching two men on a street corner.

As it exhorts the readers to hate Communism but not Russians, it reminds them them that the Russians are "our brothers in Christ," yet another eerie omission of mentioning Jews. Also missing: any mention of the Chinese Communist Revolution, already 12 years old at the time this series came out.

It's true that the series almost certainly does not exaggerate the horrors of Communism in Russia--they weren't even fully understood by the West at the time. It's a pretty awful set of ideas and practices, and it's hard to explain complicated things to children. Nevertheless the simplistic arguments are disturbing, and one can see their ilk in much of our current discourse. Read it to be amused, but also to be concerned.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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