Editor’s Note: the following is the final installment in an exclusive 4-Part series based on Dr. Paul Kengor’s new book, The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor
In my previous commentaries, I’ve discussed Frank Marshall Davis, Hawaii mentor to a young Barack Obama, and the subject of my new book. I detailed how and where he saw the Catholic Church as a hindrance to his views for the state—and how he refused to accommodate the Church, not unlike Obama. I’d like to conclude with two final examples, including, ironically, one where Davis actually agreed with the Church, albeit for curious reasons.
Another Catholic target of Davis was Archbishop Stepinac of Yugloslavia. Stepinac was persecuted in a classic communist show trail, a terrible miscarriage of justice. Frank Marshall Davis, however, portrayed it the other way around, as did the Kremlin and the international communist movement. In a September 1949 article titled, “Cold War in Church,” written for the Honolulu Record, the Communist Party publication in Hawaii, Davis dismissed Stepinac’s persecution as a “lie” and “propaganda.” That is, lies and propaganda from Rome, from America, from the West. As always, Frank Marshall Davis took the side of the Soviet Union against the Roman Catholic Church.
There was, however, one instance where Davis surprisingly agreed with the Church. It came in his June 11, 1953 column, where Davis curiously found himself allied with Pope Pius XII, one of the most stalwart anti-communists of the 20th century. The reason? Pius XII opposed the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who had been correctly charged with giving atomic secrets to the Soviets.
Of course, Pius XII opposed the Rosenbergs’ execution because he was loyal to his Church’s teachings against capital punishment. Frank Marshall Davis, however, opposed the Rosenbergs’ execution because he was loyal to the Kremlin. That’s what it finally took for Frank Marshall Davis to agree with the Catholic Church.
In sum, mentors matter. We all know that. We can’t say for certain that Barack Obama got his views—and intransigence—on the Catholic Church from Frank Marshall Davis. But it’s certainly notable, and perhaps not coincidental, that both men saw the Church as an obstacle to their vision for the state.
For Catholic Exchange dot com and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”