Why My Time With the Radical Left Makes Me Wonder About Obama

Although some of President Obama’s advisers like former green jobs czar Van Jones and climate czar Carol Browning are self-admitted socialists, and the president has openly associated with former Weather Underground radical leaders like William Ayers, it is still politically incorrect to imply that he holds a thinly veiled contempt for what America really stands for.

However, anyone who associates with radical leftists cannot possibly respect America because their hatred of capitalism and individualism is so intense that their fundamental view of the world would offend even the most extreme liberal. I should know because when I was in college some of them tried to recruit me.

In 1991, shortly after starting college, I explored the radical left and encountered many people who shared the same belief system as many of the people now working for or associated with the Obama administration.

As a young student of political science I was fascinated by ideological movements and wanted to find a cause of my own.

My experience began when I reached out to Jeff Patterson in San Francisco, the first Marine to defy orders to deploy to Iraq during the Gulf War. I told Patterson that I was pro-choice and cared very much about equality for women and minorities and he suggested that I contact a woman in New York City who led a movement called “Refuse and Resist,” a self-styled civil rights and liberties organization that had been featured on MTV News.

“We've got flag burners and flag washers, but we all love America,” the woman assured me. “We need young people like you.”

After I was put in touch with a contact in Atlanta, I was brought to a “safe-house,” there and introduced to other activists. I suddenly felt like I was a part of something, and as a young idealist, I wanted very much to believe that I could make a difference for the better of America.

After leaving the Atlanta safe-house, I joined up with a small band of activists traveling to Washington, D.C. to protest the U.S. Supreme Court. To my surprise, many of the so called “civil rights activists” I had met were also either members or sympathizers of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (RCYB) the youth movement of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), a subversive Maoist organization dedicated to the violent overthrow of the United States government. The RCP also illegally raised money for the Peruvian “Shining Path” terrorist army.
During that trip and on another to NYC, many leftist activists tried to “educate me about the truth” – that individual freedom really meant freedom to oppress, that America’s leaders were racist imperialists, and that people had no right to own private property because “ownership is theft.”

They frequently told me stories about how America would change “once we have the guns,” and “when the revolution comes.” Although the active RCP members frightened me, they did not concern me as much as those activists who denied to me they were communists at all. They fashioned themselves as “civil rights activists” fighting for “social justice,” but in the same breath talked about the oppression of capitalism, often referring to our economy as a “slave system,” and said the Gulf War was a front for the “fascist New World Order.”

When I frequently challenged their patriotism, they became angry and told me they loved America just as much as I did – in fact, they loved it more because at least they cared enough to try and change it.

“But you want to change it so severely, what you want isn't even American,” I told them. “It’s communist. That’s not American.”

Contrary to what they repeatedly professed, these people did not love America. They hated it. Perhaps what I find difficult to understand is how I as an 18-year-old teenager was able to see this, but the president of the United States cannot. After all, President Obama has not only associated with many of these kinds of people, he’s hired some of them as his personal advisers.
Maybe that’s because President Obama isn't sickened by the radical left’s virulent hatred for capitalism and individualism like I was. Maybe he actually believes what the Weather Underground believed and that’s why he associates with their former members. After all, a person wouldn't tolerate the company of self-admitted racists unless he was a racist himself. So, why would a politician associate with and even hire self-admitted communists unless that politician shared their belief system?

In the early 1970's the Weather Underground tried to bomb the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and NYPD headquarters. Obama's association with Ayers, as well as radical green organizations like the Apollo Alliance -- which have hired former Weather Underground leader Jeff Jones as a consultant is at the very least, suspect.

People change however, and it is entirely possible that as time goes on President Obama will move closer to the center and associate with more moderate people.

My short journey into the radical left underground didn’t last very long because I love America, and although I was young, I knew the difference between right and wrong. It was obvious to me then that what was being preached to me then in communist "safe-houses" was anti-American just as it is obvious now when that same rhetoric comes from the White House.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a Washington, D.C. based investigative reporter and lawyer who interned for U.S. Senator John Kerry’s legal team during the presidential election of 2004. He can be reached at jshapiro@ufl.edu.