Here’s a very personal story that illustrates just how radically America’s attitude toward Marxism and communism has changed during our lifetime.
It’s about one of our nation’s top rocket scientists – my dad, Vahey S. Kupelian, who if he were still alive would be 100 years old June 23.
As a little boy, my dad survived the horrific Turkish genocide of the Armenians that took the life of his physician father, infant sister and dozens of other family members. Yet he and his mother, Mary, were blessed to escape to the Promised Land, America, where they thrived. It was hard – my father worked as a janitor at age 13 while he was learning English – but a few years later he graduated from MIT and ultimately became one of this nation’s key aerospace pioneers.
As the Army’s chief scientist for ballistic missile defense, and later, as deputy undersecretary of defense for strategic and theater nuclear forces under Ronald Reagan, my dad contributed greatly to his adopted nation’s security, heading up the development of many cutting-edge ballistic missile defense projects including the Army’s HIT program – the original “spaced-based” missile interceptor in Reagan’s visionary Strategic Defense Initiative.
In fact, as I write this, I’m holding the original of a personal letter to my dad from President Reagan, which says, in part:
“You have been responsible for major steps forward in our ability to deter aggression and to meet the threats posed by our adversaries. I am particularly grateful to you for the outstanding leadership you have contributed to our strategic defense program. Because of your ideas and your labor, we are much closer to reaching the dream of a world free of the possibility of nuclear holocaust. Your work on ballistic missile defenses will have a profound and continuing effect on U.S. policies and strategic thinking for generations to come. God bless you. Sincerely, Ronald Reagan.”
Yet there was a time during the 1970s that my father’s four-decade career was in danger of grinding to a halt, when the government considered withdrawing his top secret security clearance.
Well, it seems that decades earlier, during his teen years, his mother had driven to an Armenian church picnic (Armenia was then, however unwillingly, part of the Soviet Union) where apparently a pro-Soviet speaker gave a talk, and she had picked up a copy of the communist newspaper Workers World. The FBI was surveilling the event as possibly subversive, took down my grandmother’s license plate, and somehow – years later – made the cross-connection with my dad’s top secret clearance and determined to find out whether he had any communist or Soviet loyalties.
This, we must remember, occurred during an era when, due to proven Soviet infiltration of the United States government, the FBI was very concerned about the loyalty of federal employees, especially those with security clearances and access to sensitive national security information.
Today, those on the left contemptuously scoff at the “McCarthy era,” “red scare” and “Hollywood blacklist” as though they constituted the modern equivalent of the Salem witch trials, hysterically demonizing and destroying the lives of countless innocents.
Innocent? It’s true that some Americans faddishly joined the Communist Party USA because it was the “cool” (if stupid and deluded) thing to do at that time (when Reagan headed the Screen Actors Guild there were more than 400 Communist Party members in Hollywood alone, including well-known actors and directors, some of whom later disavowed their previous communist infatuation). However, overshadowing this is the reality that the U.S. government was host to many real-life Soviet agents, as proven conclusively by the post-Cold War release of the decrypted “Venona cables” in 1995, transcripts of actual communications between the Kremlin and Soviet agents in the U.S.
Let’s be very clear: We’re talking about people in the United States government, some in very senior positions, who were secretly loyal to our No.1 enemy – an “evil empire” dedicated to America’s destruction – a threat ultimately manifesting in thousands of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles aimed at American population centers. It was not “cool” to have such people occupy trusted positions in our government.
Therefore, due to this official fervor to root out communists at that time, my father was in danger of losing his security clearance. Years later, my mother would tell me of my dad sitting on the side of their bed, tearfully breaking the news to her that he might lose his career and livelihood over this long-forgotten Workers World incident from decades earlier.
Crazy as this scenario may sound – high-level government concern over reported possession of a communist newspaper his mother picked up at a church picnic – my dad submitted a detailed written defense of his picnic activities to the FBI.
In the aftermath of my mother’s recent death, I have had occasion to go through many of my father’s papers and came across a partial copy of his defense.
As my dad explained to the government, his mother Mary was a trained social worker who dealt routinely with people of foreign nationalities and differing political ideologies, and she had an obvious special interest in helping Armenians. Therefore, explained my father, she was “bound to come into contact with … persons who were pro-Soviet Armenia.”
“Since my mother was a social and Americanization worker with many ethnic groups, she would have had access to some of their nationality journals and papers,” my dad continued, explaining:
At one time or other I recollect seeing papers in Armenian, Turkish, Greek, and probably even the Daily Worker, which I presumed contained news of Soviet Armenia. However, I don’t recall actually reading the Daily Worker, and I know that it has never had any bearing on my political thinking. …
I cannot recall ever having attended, specifically, any meetings, picnic, or rally where any kind of political speeches were given. It is inevitable that I may have gone to an occasional Armenian picnic where Armenians of all political beliefs were present, but I cannot recall any such picnics or other meetings where political propaganda was distributed or the Daily Worker was distributed. I have never been a subscriber to the Daily Worker or the Sunday edition of that newspaper and I have never subscribed to any periodicals or papers that promoted Communism.
I am not now nor have I ever been a member of or in any way affiliated with the Communist Party or any other Communist controlled or Soviet organization. To the best of my knowledge, I have never belonged to any organization designated by the Attorney General of the United …
That’s all I’ve got – “United” being the last word typed on Page 4, the only page I have of my dad’s defense of his and his mom’s youthful picnicking activities. Had the government not believed him, our nation would have lost one of its most important, creative and loyal defense scientists.
Now let’s contrast the government’s level of concern over communism a generation ago with that of today.
The president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama – whose level of security clearance is far higher than was my dad’s, who indeed has access to all intelligence and all secrets, not to mention having his “finger on the nuclear button” – was during his college years a committed Marxist, advocating the revolutionary overthrow of America’s capitalist system. His father was a communist. His main mentor as a young teenager, Frank Marshall Davis, was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA.
Obama admits in “Dreams From My Father” that, during college, he was attracted to the “Marxist professors.” Indeed, the Marxist student leader at Occidental College at the time, John Drew, says Obama was far more radical than even Drew was, actually believing that Marx’s prophesied proletariat revolution to overthrow capitalism was imminent in the United States. Today Drew, who has long since repudiated his former radicalism, says that even in his Marxist days he attempted to rein in Obama by trying to persuade him to work within America’s political system to bring about the Marxist transformation they all desired.
After college, Obama followed in the footsteps of Chicago Marxist Saul Alinsky and went on to practice and teach Alinsky’s revolutionary street-organizing methods. Obama launched his political career in the living room of Bill Ayers, a self-described “small-c communist” and unrepentant Pentagon-bombing terrorist. Moreover, the evidence is indisputable that Ayers played a major role in writing Obama’s highly acclaimed autobiography, “Dreams From My Father.”
Obama’s pastor for two decades, whom he described as his “spiritual mentor,” was Jeremiah Wright, a perennially enraged, America-hating purveyor of “Black Liberation Theology” (Marxism disguised as Christianity). As president, Obama appointed as White House communications director Anita Dunn, who in a speech to students claimed mass-murdering Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong was one of her “favorite political philosophers,” and “green jobs czar” Van Jones, who in his earlier years admitted to being a communist and, in fact, founded the communist group Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM.
I could go on and on. These oft-cited facts merely scratch the surface of Obama’s long-term radicalism. But the point in juxtaposing my father’s story and Obama’s is as inescapable as it is troubling:
My dad, a true American who was immeasurably grateful and loyal to his adopted country, could have lost everything because his mother went to a church picnic and picked up a Marxist rag.
That was then. But now, sitting in the White House is a man who has spent most of his entire life immersed in Marxist ideology, influences, mentors and benefactors. He has proven, as president, that he is still fully committed to dragging America – kicking and screaming if necessary (recall the outrageous and illegal way Obamacare was passed) – into a new era of unprecedented, government-coerced redistribution of wealth and power. To be precise: Marxism.
It would be folly, of course, to imagine that Obama just magically appeared out of thin air to lead a nation of liberty-loving, responsible, moral, right-thinking grownups leftward. America has been moving in this sad direction for decades. No, not under the “Marxist” label, or any of those other nasty words of yesteryear, like “socialism” or “communism” or “collectivism.” They’ve all been carefully replaced by warm-and-cuddly terms like “fairness,” “economic justice,” “redistribution,” “progressivism” and – as an off-script Obama famously told Joe the Plumber – “spread[ing] the wealth around.”
The spirit of socialism has taken root and flowered spectacularly in America, especially in all of our elite, idea-generating institutions like education, the news and entertainment media, and, of course, government. The original American spirit – stout, risk-taking, God-fearing, responsible, adult – has progressively been displaced by the spirit of dependency and helplessness, of perpetual grievance and victimization, and most of all, of envy and resentment. All of which cries out for ever bigger government.
So the question is: Will we Americans re-embrace the values that made ours the greatest nation in history, or will we continue on our current path toward the godless mirage of “redistributive change” – and the poverty and loss of liberty that always follow?
In any event, for the present I can at least derive some solace from remembering that I was raised by parents and grandparents who appreciated their adopted country and all the blessings the Creator freely bestowed upon it – and weren’t angrily obsessed with “transforming” it into a socialist paradise. For that I am truly grateful.
May those blessings continue. May this nation repent of its sins. And may we come to our senses before it’s too late.