Many years ago, I decided to start a collection of American communist paraphenalia. The catch was that items had to be pro-communist. Sure, there’s all kinds of stuff out there talking about the red menace, but it’s not easy to find things that say “vote communist” as if it were a valid choice. I’ve found two.
Truth be told, I’m not a collector by nature so perhaps I haven’t searched as hard as I might have for pro-communist collectibles. But I think it’s sad that so much effort is required. I think it’s sad that an alcoholic gambler like Joseph McCarthy could ruin careers just by calling someone a communist without any evidence to support his accusations. But then, the right-wing has had more than its share of reactionary nut jobs who grab power by appealing to people’s fears.
Take, for example, the Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act of 1956. Here was an innocuous bill to fund mental health services in the territory of Alaska. Prior to this act, Alaska had no mental health services, and state residents had to travel to Portland, Oregon for treatment. The act proposed to fund services locally by means of a land grant. The selling of mineral and forestry rights would provide a revenue stream. The bill had wide bi-partisan support, but then controversy erupted.
The American Public Relations Forum, an anti-communist women’s group from Southern California made an observation and jumped to an incredibly stupid conclusion:
“We could not help remembering that Siberia is very near Alaska and since it is obvious no one needs such a large land grant, we were wondering if it could be an American Siberia.”
They claimed that the act would allow the government to grab people off the street and send them to “concentration camps” in Alaska on the flimsiest of excuses. That would be a gross violation of civil rights, but, of course, the act said no such thing. On the other hand, I guess they felt that what McCarthy was doing was okay. As a bunch of housewives and anti-communists in pre-feminist America, it wasn’t their careers that were in danger.
Well, I decided I wanted a t-shirt that said “vote communist”. Ever since George Bush stole the presidency in the “election” of 2000, I’ve had no faith in the American electoral process. And, of course, there is no valid communist candidate for which one might choose to vote. But that doesn’t mean I can’t wear the t-shirt. So, once again, using my trial copy of Xara Xtreme, I drew a fist. It took me hours, but I was quite pleased with final result.
Unfortunately, my trial copy has now expired so I won’t be drawing any more t-shirt designs unless I pony up $90 to buy the Xara program. It’s something I’m considering. Click on the fist if you’d like to buy a shirt and help fund this purchase. If not, that’s okay. I do have a job.