Crush Clinton Communism!
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October 21, 1959, Vol. IV, No. 52
I Was a Teen-Age Fascist
By Adam Margoshes
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When I was 16 I had to be what everyone else was not. It was a negative law of my nature which, given the surroundings, may not have been without a certain positive value. Everyone I knew in high school was a Communist - it was 1933 - so I became a fascist.
An honest to God fascist - not a Republican or a Socialist or a Democrat. Usually when the Communists called someone a fascist, they meant he was one of those. But I myself called myself a fascist, wore a black shirt, and even organized the ROTC into a political opposition to the otherwise unopposed (and mostly unnoticed) Communist movement at DeWitt Clinton. It was a scandal.
The Communists tried to get the students out to their parade on May Day, and we countered by putting up huge homemade posters - drawn in lipstick and eyebrow pencil - reading "Crush Clinton Communism." They were a great success - the Daily Worker wrote them up, claiming they were distributed by the school authorities, who hadn't noticed the posters and who certainly didn't read the Worker.
I remember once delivering a speech outside the school grounds to a bunch of cheering ROTC boys and jeering Communists. "Marx stood Hegel on his head," I shouted, "but what was wrong with Hegel? He was in the right position to start with!"
"Hooray for Hegel!" yelled my followers, mostly recruited from the reform-school element.
"Who the hell is Hegel?" demanded the Communists.
One night the Communist Party candidate for Congressman in the Bronx addressed a public meeting at the Clinton auditorium. I rounded up a gang of "fascist" hoods in a slum neighborhood conveniently located a few blocks away, and led them to the school, but a solitary cop refused to let us in. After my suitably indignant protest, he let me in by myself.
But I didn't know what I was letting myself in for. As soon a I sat down, five or six YCLers sat down next to me - all former friends, but now "class enemies." I was apprehensive, but there was nothing I could do. At the end of the talk they dragged me behind the auditorium.
Most of them were no more serious political sadists than I was. "What'll we do with him?" they asked one another. One of them started hitting me and bloodied my nose. "Don't, don't," said the others, "you'll only make a martyr out of him." They were ashamed of their more obvious, more human motives. I was ashamed, too. Ashamed of my "martyrdom" and ashamed of my fear. I dirtied my pants, and I remember thinking: "So people really do that when they're afraid."
The next day, walking in the park, I met the guy who had hit me. "Hello," I said, and extended my hand - not on principle, but without thinking. He looked away. I didn't feel hurt, but I did feel a kind of numbed surprise.
A few years later he volunteered for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and I heard he was killed in Spain. I had never known him well, and somehow I couldn't feel sorry - for me he had ceased to exist when he turned away from me in the park. Now, when I think of my time as a fascist, it doesn't seem funny: it's always that scene I remember - my hand stretched out and his face turned away - and I still feel that numbed surprise.
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]
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