Marc Lamont Hill, Paul Robeson and ‘the Zionist Sifter’

The firing of Marc Lamont Hill by CNN is a travesty of justice.  Earlier this month I lectured at the West Philadelphia Paul Robeson House about the work of Dr. Sterling Stuckey who was the first tenured Professor to publish and publicly speak about the historical significance of Paul Robeson.

In this lecture I mentioned how Dr. Stuckey wrote and spoke about the 1949 censorship of Paul Robeson in St. Clair Bourne’s 1999 film “Here I Stand.” Robeson was censored for telling African Americans (“Negroes” then) not to fight in a war overseas while they are being abused and discriminated against at home.

In this film, Dr. Stuckey said that Robeson was punished by U.S. oligarchy for making this speech: “there was distortion and it seems no great effort was made on the part of civil rights leadership to find out what the man said. It was arranged for an article to appear in The Crisis magazine, the official organ of the N.A.A.C.P. claiming that Paul Robeson was naive…No more concerts after that. Eighty five, eighty six concerts cancelled in a matter or five or six months. The highest paid concert artist in the world, up until the time of his Black listing.”

This 1999 film includes Herbert Hill who was the former labor director of the N.A.A.C.P. Hill is a white Jewish man. In the film, he critiqued Paul Robeson for not speaking publicly against the brutality of the Stalin regime. However Hill did not try to explain why Robeson would speak publicly against the Jim Crow discrimination. The independent research of Freedom of Information Act releases in 2012 by Dr. Christopher Phelps reveals that Herbert Hill was an undercover F.B.I. informer who used his role in the N.A.A.C.P. to police Black thought, punish Paul Robeson for denouncing Jim Crow and make an example of him to other Black people in the United States.

This example warned African Americans not to communicate with African people outside of the United States for the “cause of liberation.”

“The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey” published by Dr. Tony Martin of The Majority Press warns against the destructive role of the N.A.A.C.P. on page 70: “they teach the Negroes to look to the whites in a false direction.” Garvey wrote this in 1923 and was prophesying the danger of individuals who behave like Herbert Hill in the 1950s.  Betty Medsger wrote (according to my review of her book The Burglary on pdf page 43 of this link) that the Socialist Workers Party “had been a target of one of the major COINTELPRO programs” (366).  Dr. Phelps’s research shows that Herbert Hill was one of those who pretended to care about the Socialist Workers Party as a member, but was actually an undercover F.B.I. informer.

Last year I blogged a review about a biography of Kwame Ture that was written in a way that was “in line” with the goals of the F.B.I. program called COINTELPRO, which were to “neutralize Black nationalist hate type organizations.”  Because of his 1949 speech, Paul Robeson was a target of COINTELPRO, and because the same forces run COINTELPRO then as now, they continue to police Black thought.  Cynthia McKinney wrote in her memoir Ain’t Nothing Like Freedom: “I’ve read the COINTELPRO script, and its still being followed…from Marcus Garvey to Fred Hampton and beyond, the same script has been followed.”

Yesterday CNN fired Dr. Marc Lamont Hill for his comments at the U.N. on Wednesday in defense of the Palestinian people.  Specifically for saying “river to the sea.”  As he tweeted yesterday, his reference was “not a call to destroy anything or anyone.  It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza.”

However, Marc Lamont Hill was fired because his comments were perceived as “anti-Semitic.”  His firing was pushed by the pressure from a group called the National Council of Young Israel, a group composed mainly of white Jewish men from New York, like Herbert Hill.  The National Council of Young Israel morphed Marc Lamont Hill’s comments into an exaggerated stereotype.  This perception of a stereotype is part of what Cynthia McKinney has called “the Zionist sifter,” which is a “litmus test of loyalty to Israel” (134).

CNN Executive Randall L. Stephenson said that he’s “committed to continuing the editorial independence of CNN.”  He said “independence is what makes CNN so popular and so valuable.  We will not do anything to change that.”  Stephenson’s sanction of the firing of Dr. Marc Lamont Hill proves that he will censor the “editorial independence” of Marc Lamont Hill.  Firing Marc Lamont Hill pleases the capitalist demands of the National Council of Young Israel.  CNN’s firing of Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is a complete betrayal of their principles of “editorial independence.”  By firing Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, CNN has proven that they will cave in to the demands of their wealthy funders and betray “editorial independence.”

This censorship happened after the U.N. voted on Thursday November 1st to end the economic embargo against the nation of Cuba.  Only the United States and Israel voted no, to keep the embargo.  Hill’s speech to the U.N. on Wednesday supports the vote to end the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

There are many similarities between the 1950 censorship of Paul Robeson and the 2018 firing of Dr. Marc Lamont Hill.  One, is that both did not pass what McKinney in her memoir called “the Zionist sifter.” The second is that, like the book “Stokely: A Life,” both forms of censorship are “in line” with COINTELPRO goals.  Herbert Hill used his “Zionist sifter” influence to infiltrate the Socialist Workers Party and to issue editorials from the N.A.A.C.P. magazine to denounce then censor Paul Robeson.  Like Herbert Hill, the National Council of Young Israel used their “Zionist sifter” influence to get CNN to fire Dr. Marc Lamont Hill and try to damage his livelihood like Herbert Hill helped damage Robeson’s.  Both forms of censorship are in line with COINTELPRO goals.

As those who care about ending once and for all the dangerous influence of COINTELPRO, we must support Dr. Marc Lamont Hill and demand that CNN reinstate his job.

We must let the Zionist “thought police,” as Kwame Ture called them, know that the people united will never be defeated.

We must be aware of the Herbert Hills and the infiltrators who ultimately work to pursue the goals of COINTELPRO.

I believe the universe is generous and always gives us clear signs about who the real infiltrators are.  Sign CODEPINK’s petition in support of Dr. Hill.

Thanks to Chris Rogers for video of this lecture.

Author: Dr. Rhone Fraser

Dr. Rhone Fraser is an independent writer and journalist born of Jamaican immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, on October 12, 1979. He moved to Florida in 1989 and graduated from Zephyrhills (FL) High School in 1997. He graduated from Yale University in 2001, after which time he taught in the public school systems in New Haven (CT) and the Bronx for three years. He then began writing independently and finished a documentary play on the life of Fannie Lou Hamer entitled, "Living Sacrifice," for which he still seeks publication. He earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple as of August 31, 2012. His dissertation was a literary and historical analysis of Pauline Hopkins, A. Philip Randolph and Paul Robeson. He also is a freelance editor and radio producer, and is currently producer of WPEB's Freedom Readers on 88.1 FM in Philadelphia.