Talk:Roger Nash Baldwin

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The Quotes[edit]

I debated removing the quotes section of this article, but I decided to hold off on it for now, since it might be slightly controversal, and since expanding the main article takes precedence for now. While the quotes this article started with are genuine, I don't think they actually say much about Baldwin's character or his lifelong politics; they are akin to judging someone from a scrap out of their college yearbook and a single personal letter. While he was involved with Communists for many decades of his life, Baldwin's lifelong activism was devoted towards social libratarianism and pacifism; the implications that his life's activities were aimed at advancing a secret 'Communist agenda' or that the ACLU was founded as a covertly Communist organization are false.

Perhaps, if the article becomes large enough to warrent it, a section could be created for 'criticism of Roger Baldwin', with the relevent quotes moved there and the implict accusitions detailed? Aquillion 23:50, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Noting that he was communist is not a criticism of Baldwin. Perhaps you believe it to be, but that's a quite distinctly POV position. The fact of the matter is that Baldwin was a prominent communist. I see no conflict between communism and civil liberties, and most communists in the United States were activists on that front as well. If you wish to disabuse readers of an ACLU-Secret Commie Agenda in the article text I think that would be more than appropriate. But don't "whitewash" Baldwin because his political views aren't popular enough, or aren't flattering enough. thames 18:01, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It is true that he was a Communist sympathizer and had strong ties to Communists for many years of his life, but he had equally (in fact, stronger) ties to the Anarchist movement of the time; you would certinally have to call him both if you wanted to refer to either. But both are equally wrong; although he had ties to both Anarchists and Communists, his social work was devoted to pacifism and social libertarianism, and 'pacifist' remained, throughout this life, the only label he would accept. Calling him an American Communist in the introduction as though he was as much a Communist as he was pacifist or a social libertarian is therefore plainly incorrect; he defended the social liberties of Communists (and, indeed, Fascists) when his other views prompted him to do so, but (college quotes aside) he never joined any Communist organization or fought to advance a Communist agenda himself. If Baldwin is to be defined as a Communist on such loose grounds, then you would be hard-pressed to find a social activist in that era who wasn't a Communist. Aquillion 18:49, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You really seem to have an agenda here! "Communist sympathizer"? Come on, you sound like the House Committee on Un-American Activities. There is a sourced quote in the article already indicating his communist roots. You assert that he only would accept pacifist throughout his life, but have yet to cite your sources. Why would you want to remove sourced information, and replace it with unsources assertions? And you are in a sense right when you say that the definition is loose: at the time, communism was not nearly as rigidly defined as it is today. Remember, he was born in 1884, and founded the ACLU in 1920. The Red Scares were in 1917 and 1920. Social activism, leftism, progressivism, and communism were all intricately tied together during this period. Nor was there a practical distinction between socialism and communism, in the manner that there is today. It is historically inaccurate to remove the fact that he was a communist, just because it doesn't fit with the fashionable, "politically correct", whitewashed terms of parties today.thames 20:38, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The quote is from a tribute written after his death; but that is neither here nor there. The beginning of the article currently reads that he "...was a noted civil libertarian, American Communist and left-wing social activist." None of your quotes suggest that he was ever noted for Communism; one second-hand quote recalled by an unnamed college contemporary and private advice written to a Socialist friend certainly does not make anyone a noted Communist in any era. Even if 'noted' was removed, the issue would remain. Baldwin's lifelong work was devoted towards social libertarianism and pacifism, and it is his achievements in those areas that made him a notable enough person to be listed in the Wikipedia; unless you feel that his supposed Communism is directly relevent to these defining achievements, it deserves a note later on in the body, at best. Aquillion 22:53, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)
"Social libertarianism" is simply a modern catchphrase, certainly not something that was used around the turn of the century. If communist is an incorrect label, then social libertarian is even more so. The compromise statement you've put it is misleading. Baldwin dropped his support for the USSR, not for the values of Communism (I suppose some might call it Left Communism). You make it sound like he abandoned communism as a youthful infatuation, whereas his values and the values of communism are quite clearly linked throughout his life. Above you said: "he was a Communist sympathizer and had strong ties to Communists for many years of his life". Even that quote, which uses POV phrasing, is better than the one currently in the article. thames 23:41, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I notice that you have toned down your language. Now, apparently, he has gone from being an American Communist to holding values that are merely 'linked' to Communism. Yes, plainly you can link virtually the entire American ideological Left to Communism in one form or another, especially in that era; this does not mean that every one of them is an American Communist.
Certainly the background against which his political ideas developed deserves bibliographical mention later on; but if you want to cite Communism in the intro as one of the guiding principals throughout his life, then you will need more evidence for that than one second-hand quote recalled by an unnamed college contemporary thirty years later. It should not be difficult, if true; any notable American Communist would clearly leave behind realms of Communist writings. Even a simple list of the Communist organizations that he was a member of would suffice. Aquillion 19:41, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The blatant anti-Communist POV with which you approach this issue is simply stunning. I don't understand how we could accept an intro that so bowlderize and euphemize the values this man fought for. The version as it stands now uses historically inaccurate and incorrect terminology that is fundamentally misleading. Trying to claim him as some sort of anarcho-pacifist is beyond ludicrous--the terminology and the concepts which you ascribe to him in this manner did not even exist until decades after his achievements. This kind of POV re-writing of history is exactly what wikipedia tries to discourage with its NPOV policy. Now, Baldwin was certainly not a Bolshevik, but he was most definitely a communist. The distinction is between party/politics and values. These ways in which you want to describe him make no sense. I agree that a longer, fuller discussion of the nuances of Baldwin's civic thought ought to be in the article text, distinguishing his communist values from those of the Bolsheviks or the American Communist Party proper. But it is certainly an injustice to him to paper-over this aspect of his life with modern and dubious euphemisms. thames 20:38, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Your personal crusades aren't relevant. Whether you are a flaming Communist trying to name Baldwin as one of your own or a valiant warrior trying to stop the whitewashing of history, you still haven't provided any of the evidence I requested. Either come up with some more compelling sources to back up your claims, or admit that you are factually incorrect. Aquillion 04:20, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I have added the following to the external links:
I would like to point out that Alan Sears's allegations, true or otherwise, can only be called fundamental to the criticism the ACLU and its founder are subject to and the double standards he mentions regarding these alleged activists and pacifists do not seem to be addressed anywhere on this page at all… ("More than a quarter-century after his death, the “legacy” of American Civil Liberties Union founder Roger Baldwin – a self-professed fan of Soviet communism and of Joseph Stalin – is still going strong. With the collapse of the Soviet empire, current ACLU leaders have thrown more of their support to one of the last remaining bastions of the Soviet ideal: Cuba. … The school board’s beef isn’t with what is on the pages [of the book entitled Vamos a Cuba (Let’s Visit Cuba)], but with what isn’t. Parents filed complaints after finding the book to be devoid of any mention of the oppressive regime instituted by Fidel Castro nearly 50 years ago. Instead, its pages are filled with breezy commentaries on how Cubans enjoy chicken with rice … and boating as a leisure activity … The book’s cover, available in both English and Spanish versions, is adorned with beaming children dressed in the uniform of the Pioneers, the Communist youth organization that Cuban children are required to join. … Absent from the pages of Vamos a Cuba is any mention of the ruthless 20-year prison sentences levied on Cuban poets and journalists and priests who failed to fawn over their fearless leader. Instead, the book depicts Cubans as living as freely as they please. … Of course, this same “right to access” doesn’t apply to information that the ACLU’s intolerant agenda deems misleading. They’re not nearly as interested in allowing both evolution and intelligent design to be discussed in science classes, or in letting a student who disagrees with homosexual behavior present his views openly and peacefully to a fellow student.") Asteriks 15:21, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

On second thought...[edit]

I moved all the quotes, including the disputed one, to Wikiquote, which is where they belong in any case. I have no idea if I created the page there correctly; also, many of the quotes should probably be listed under 'sourced', but I didn't have information like the edition of books, etc for sourcing. Feel free to correct that. Aquillion 23:55, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

I wikified it and moved some to sourced. Otherwise, the transfer went fine. thames 00:34, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

Weasel words[edit]

According to one source, he once wrote "I am for socialism, disarmament, and ultimately for abolishing the state itself as an instrument of violence and compulsion. I seek social ownership of property, the abolition of propertied class, and sole control by those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal." (Peggy Lamson, Roger Baldwin: Founder of the American Civil Liberties Union: A Portrait; Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1976, p. 192.)

Either he wrote the quote or he didn't. Scribner 04:08, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
The problem is that the latest version of the article made the mistake of attributing it to a book, Liberty Under the Soviets. Unlike the more vague assertions that it was 'somewhere' or as a side-note in a vanished college yearbook, Liberty Under the Soviets is real and searchable, and the quote is not in it. I could not find, incidentally, even the assertion that he wrote it in the source that was linked. There are other issues with using one quote out of context, as noted above... the appropriate place for quotes is normally Wikiquote. --Aquillion 05:21, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Pov tag[edit]

There is too much unsourced info on this page and alot of it looks derogatory. I will clean this article up in the next couple of days but a good start would be to add citations to the fact tags. This article looks to be a bit of a political hit piece (or maybe it's all true?). It just needs proper citations throughout. Turtlescrubber 04:25, 17 June 2007 (UTC)


Baldwin a Communist?[edit]

ACLU's FAQ page says

"Was co-founder Roger Baldwin a Communist?

No, Roger Baldwin was not a communist. Like many of his contemporaries, he observed and wrote about the social and political issues in the early years of the Soviet Union, but later he wrote,'The Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939, a traumatic shock to me, ended any ambivalence I had about the Soviet Union, and all cooperation with Communists in united fronts.'"

http://www.aclu.org/about/faqs/index.html#3_6 , accessed 4 Feb 2008 -- Writtenonsand (talk) 14:11, 4 February 2008 (UTC)