Larry Grathwohl, my friend and hero, has passed on to join the pantheon of other truth-tellers about communism. His death last week merited mentions in blogs and sites like PJ Media, Canada Free Press, and the People’s Cube. Tina Trent, who republished his book, Bringing Down America, was the first in our circle of friends and admirers to learn about his death and to publish the remembrance on her site and a notice on the book page blog. As the People’s Cube points out, in a just world Larry’s death would have made front-page news in the New York Times. Instead we have had the relentless attention on Trayvon Martin and the “pioneer” reporter Helen Thomas.
But it’s part of the plan to deny any truth about communist dangers facing us and to use the old Soviet strategy going back to the 1920s to divide us over race until we collapse in a civil war. Larry, who never held an academic, government, or editorial board position, saw the strategy clearly and from first-hand experience from infiltrating the domestic terrorist group Weather Underground, led by today’s darlings of academia, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. A Midwesterner (from the flyover country of Ohio) and from a blue-collar family, he did this after serving a tour of duty in Vietnam, described here by James Simpson. The continued manipulation of race for revolutionary purposes was described in a paper Larry presented at an America’s Survival conference.
Larry shunned the hero label, saying that what he did was what anyone would do. That is true and not true. A certain kind of person understands the difference between right and wrong, and takes the stand against evil without regard to personal reputation or safety. This is the unpretentious person, who operates from moral conviction, without calculation. That is the kind of person Larry was.
I feel lucky that I got to meet Larry at an America’s Survival conference and to spend a week this spring with him as he, Tina Trent, and I went on a speaking tour in Florida. As we talked over a beer at Tina’s dining room table late at night, I was struck by his matter-of-fact way of considering what he had done as he lived with a group of highly educated and mostly privileged young adults intent on bringing down this great country. How he woke up to see boxes of dynamite in his room, hid the acid he was told to take during Weathermen’s “criticism/self-criticism sessions,” and “proved” by his words, actions, and even facial expressions his devotion to their cause were described matter-of-factly. His methods of survival were related in the same way that those in Vietnam were, at my prompting, with no self-glorification. This is what you needed to do, was his attitude.
Larry, however, had a different demeanor when he talked about the moral depravity of Weatherman, a group that with cold calculation discussed re-education camps in the Southwest for the 100 million Americans they estimated would be resistant to the new regime after their revolution. The estimated 25 million who could not be “re-educated” would have to be executed, they speculated.
“How can a group of college-educated, rich young people talk that way?” Larry would say incredulously. The other moral depravity that amazed Larry was the forced separation of a mother from her young daughter. These sociopaths thought family ties would interfere with revolutionary goals.
Larry loved his three daughters intensely, and spoke to them frequently from Florida. He had a father’s tender concern for them and worried about their illnesses and troubles.
I was looking forward to resuming our lecture tour here in Georgia in the fall. The tea party people, especially the military vets, loved hearing Larry. I was hoping to continue to spread the word about a leader of the Weathermen, Bill Ayers, who had gone from discussing plans to execute Americans on a mass scale to specializing in training teachers on how to indoctrinate school children for the revolution that would bring about their destruction.
I was hoping to be able to share a beer with Larry again and recount the day’s event. I wanted to hear more stories. I wanted to hear his silly jokes told with the distinctly Midwestern inflections. Larry was like the guys from blue-collar families I knew--with decency, courage, and a sense of duty. They went to Vietnam, raised families, and worked hard--and with no fanfare.
But Larry was also like the other forgotten or besmirched figures in history who tried to tell the world the truth about the communists: Victor Kravchenko, Gareth Jones, George H. Earle, William Bullit, John C. Wiley, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Whittaker Chambers, Elia Kazan, Major George Racey Jordan, John Van Vliet, and Ivan Krivosertsov, the last a Russian peasant who witnessed and told about the execution of Polish officers in the Katyn forest by the Soviets, but was found dead, mysteriously, some years later in England. These people all did the right thing. A just world would have rewarded them. Instead, it still denies the great evil they were fighting.
They are in the same mold as Larry Grathwohl. Larry did the dangerous work and then went on to tell his story and continue an unassuming life. He was as unpretentious as they come. In fact, he was visibly touched when I addressed my book on Bill Ayers to him as an “American hero,” flattered that I thought so.
As much as we might be dismissed by the elites in academia, government, and the media, we need to tell Larry’s story. He would want us to. He was genuinely alarmed by recent developments, that someone mentored by Bill Ayers would become president, that Bill Ayers would be feted at academic conferences.
Like Larry, we must continue to be amazed by such developments, but fight them with the serenity, pragmatism, purposefulness, and confidence that he displayed.
His obituary in the Cincinnati Enquirer is here. Donations to the Wounded Warriors Project are requested in lieu of flowers.