The 1970s anti-war group that included John Kerry was “heavily infiltrate[d]” by individuals dedicated to the teachings of Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-Tung and to the use of violence, if necessary to achieve their goals, according to a historian friendly to Kerry.
“The RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) was already beginning to heavily infiltrate the [Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1971]. They eventually took it over around ’73 and basically pushed out all the real veterans and brought in all the RCP functionaries and destroyed the organization,” Gerald Nicosia, author of Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans’ Movement and a Kerry supporter, told CNSNews.com.
“Even in 1971, there was an RCP presence … [RCP is] a crackpot organization, very violent, extremely violent, far left Maoist organization,” led by a man named Bob Avakian, Nicosia said.
“[In 1971] they were trying to take over and eventually did take over VVAW,” he added.
Nicosia said Kerry was aware of communism’s increasing presence in the VVAW operations and it was one of the factors that led to his resignation as one of the leaders of the group in November 1971.
But even though Kerry resigned from the group’s leadership in November 1971, several published news accounts cite Kerry as a representative of VVAW into 1972.
The RCP’s efforts to control VVAW came to a head in 1978, when the communist factions split off to form their own group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War – Anti-Imperialist (VVAW-AI.) This group still exists today and refers to the U.S. as “AmeriKKKa” on its website.
Other radical factions influenced VVAW, according to Nicosia.
“There were guys that were not Maoist, but guys who were like Scott Camil,” Nicosia said, referring to the man who allegedly advocated the possible assassination of U.S. senators still supportive of the U.S. war effort in Vietnam. “They were veterans and still believed in the U.S and still saluted the flag, but believed this government was all wet and wanted to get rid of it,” Nicosia said.
“There was Al Hubbard, who was a Black Panther who was also pushing the organization toward violent confrontation,” Nicosia added. Hubbard, who had appeared at Kerry’s side in April of 1971 on NBC’s √?¬Ę√Ę‚??¬¨ ¬ĚMeet the Press,” was later shown to have lied about his military record.
Current VVAW member David Cline dismissed the communist presence in VVAW during the time Kerry served as the group’s spokesman.
“Some people had philosophies of varying types. There [were] people who were driven by religious views … there was one guy who was involved in Veterans for [the George] McGovern campaign. So there [were] people coming from different areas,” Cline told CNSNews.com . “Anytime you are going to get a big organization, you are going to get a lot of different views.”
Cline, who joined VVAW in 1970 and today serves as a national coordinator for the group, said the veterans were not concerned with the political views of their fellow members.
“We were coming from having been in war, so we were coming from, in a lot of ways, gut level knowledge and feelings, and high blown political philosophies weren’t really the main thing people were concerned about,” Cline explained.
VVAW reached out to radical individuals and groups in part to achieve racial harmony, he said.
“VVAW — it was interracial, but it was more white soldiers in general. A lot of Vietnam Veterans joined the Black Panthers and the American Indian movement and groups of that nature and we were trying to build bonds with our fellow veterans of different nationalities and races,” Cline said.
“In [those] days there [were] a lot of radical ideas in the air — a lot of s*** was going down back then,” he added.
Cline said he recalls avowed communists being a part of the VVAW in the early 1970s, but dismissed their importance. “Mainly I thought they were just people just trying to sell their papers,” he said.
John Zutz, a current VVAW national coordinator, confirmed the Maoist communist influence in his group.
“That in fact did happen. The RCP was attempting to take over [VVAW],” Zutz told CNSNews.com. And the group’s influence grew even larger in 1973, he said.
“The war was basically over, so the membership in VVAW started dropping, which gave the RCP a chance to try to take it over,” Zutz said.
The RCP communists were hard workers and eventually obtained leadership roles in VVAW, he added. “They were veterans and they were active and they became leaders. Because they were active and they were willing to do the work, they started working themselves up the leadership ladder,” he said.
Cline believes that much of the recent scrutiny of Kerry’s anti-war activism has originated from a “far right segment” of veterans trying to influence the election.
“I think that there is a segment of the veteran’s community, a far right segment. They are working to try and whip this up,” Cline said.