Ron Radosh responds sharply to the NY Times very slanted obituary on Irwin Silber. Read it all, but here’s how it begins:
Every time an American Communist or leftist dies, you can count on one thing: the New York Times will run a major obituary, and it will be misleading, incomplete, or very favorable to their life and record. The latest example of the paper’s favoritism to deceased men of the far Left is Saturday’s obituary of Irwin Silber, the first editor of the folk music magazine Sing Out! and a secret rather than open member of the Communist Party, U.S.A. I happen to know a great deal about Silber. My very first published article appeared in that magazine in 1955, and through the years, I had many run-ins with him and could have shed a great light on what he thought and believed.
The current editor of the magazine, who did not really know him, calls Silber “one of the architects of the folk revival.” That is, in my judgment, more than inaccurate. Rather, Silber’s role was to direct a growing interest in the music into very narrow Stalinist channels. As the well known folk-singer and guitar picker Happy Traum told me at the time Silber took over as editor, “It’s a coup.” Traum too was a leftist, but a rather moderate one and non-political, far more interested in the music and its art than narrow politics.