Count Fox News commentator Glenn Beck among the latest in a long line of name-callers to label Woody Guthrie a Communist.
Beck called the Okemah native the C-word on March 10 during a wide-ranging rant titled "Land Grab by the Federal Government?"
Beck referenced a map showing how 30 percent of America's land mass is owned by the federal government. He noted the Obama administration is pursuing 13 million acres in 11 Western states in the name of "national monuments." Then he claimed the current administration, which will "no longer listen to the public," would prohibit American citizens from fishing in certain areas.
Following so far? Then you're ready for his diatribe against one of America's most famous folk songs, "This Land Is Your Land," which was performed by Bruce Springsteen, Kennedy Center honoree Pete Seeger (wonder what Beck would call him?) and his grandson, Tao Rodríguez- Seeger, at the 2009 Obama inauguration.
Beck then recited some of the final verses from Guthrie's 1940 song: "As I went walking I saw a sign there / And on the sign it said 'No Trespassing' / But on the other side it didn't say nothing / That side was made for you and me.
"In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people / By the relief office I seen my people / As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking / Is this land made for you and me?"
Beck was just getting started.
"It's a song about a progressive utopia land with no ownership of property," Beck wrote. "Because some have it and some don't. And we all think of this as an American song.
"The song goes to indoctrination, but that's another story " land grabs are where we are at. It's grab all the rights you can. Health care " the Soviets used to call it 'maintenance.' It sounds so tender, so loving that way, doesn't it? I can almost picture the caring hospitals in the Soviet Union, where they perform 'maintenance' on the human body. It's like a Jiffy Lube for people."
Woody has been called names before, including a Communist Party member in letters written to this publication. In the 1950s, a report of the California Senate's Fact-finding Committee on Un-American Activities dubbed the populist folksinger "Joe Stalin's mouthpiece."
Was Guthrie really a member of the Communist Party? Guthrie biographer Ed Cray has maintained that Woody never joined. Meanwhile, Guthrie's first wife, Mary Jennings, insisted he didn't join the Communist Party because the members wouldn't want him. And Woody's brother, George, who briefly lived with Woody and Mary, concurred.
"They said he was a Communist," Cray told the Gazette in 2004. "Well, technically, he wasn't a Communist. Technically, he was a fellow traveler; he was sometimes in line with party doctrine and sometimes he wasn't."
And what did Woody call himself? "Left wing, right wing, chicken wing " it's all the same to me," Guthrie reportedly said. "I sing my songs wherever I can sing 'em."