United States singer Pete Seeger spied upon by FBI for anti-concentration camp letter

This folk music video from the USA is called I Don’t Want Your Millions, Mister (Almanac Singers). The lyrics are here.

From Associated Press today:

FBI files: Military questioned Pete Seeger‘s wartime loyalty


Dec. 19, 2015 2:06 AM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — As Army Pvt. Pete Seeger eagerly waited for a chance to fight for his country during World War II, military investigators quietly built a case that the young folk singer was “potentially subversive.”

In a security investigation triggered by a wartime letter he wrote denouncing a proposal to deport all Japanese Americans, the Army intercepted Seeger’s mail to his fiancée, scoured his school records, talked to his father, interviewed an ex-landlord and questioned his pal Woody Guthrie, according to FBI files obtained by The Associated Press.

Investigators concluded that Seeger‘s association with known communists and his Japanese-American fiancée pointed to a risk of divided loyalty. …

The investigation, forwarded to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, is detailed in more than 1,700 pages from Seeger’s FBI file, released by the National Archives under the Freedom of Information Act.

The musician and left-wing activist known for such songs as “If I Had a Hammer,” ”Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Turn, Turn, Turn” died in January 2014 at age 94. …

But the newly released files show the lengths to which the government went to keep tabs on the singer’s travels, performances and rally appearances at least into the 1970s. The archives plan to release additional Seeger files in the future. …

Based on these records, Seeger underwent what appears to be his first major investigation after writing a letter to the California American Legion in 1942 criticizing the organization’s resolution “advocating deportation of all Japanese, citizens or not, and barring all Japanese descendants from citizenship.” This was during a time Japanese Americans, many of them from California, were being forced to live in government internment camps.

“We’re fighting precisely to free the world of such Hitlerism, such narrow jingoism,” Seeger wrote.

What followed was a wide-ranging probe by the military into Seeger’s background. Investigators found that Seeger — referred to as the “Subject” — was “intensely loyal at this time” and eager to be transferred overseas from Mississippi to fight fascism.

But they didn’t like the company he kept.

Investigators found Seeger was a “close friend and associate” of Lead Belly, or Huddie William Ledbetter, the folk legend they described as a “negro murderer.” The Almanac singers were described in the files as “spreading Communist and anti-Fascist propaganda through songs and recordings.”

10 thoughts on “United States singer Pete Seeger spied upon by FBI for anti-concentration camp letter

  1. Pingback: United States singer Pete Seeger spied upon by FBI for anti-concentration camp letter | Dear Kitty. Some blog | sdbast

  2. If we look at the song Where have all the flowers gone? the lyrics are to me confusing, I note on recent Australian TV many who having participated in active service like the comradeship of male company, the program suggested the men who went over the top had no fear although it was apparent they were to be machined gunned down? this curious state of affairs seems to me they actually had a death wish and needed to die? without being personally responsible for their death? the program brought up many problems for me such as man needing to have a meaning to live? if they as suggested they went to war to prove they are a man? my Father did say to me the army would make a man of me? I was conscripted and could not say what made me a man or not? as far as I know if you kill someone in war I could not see that would make you a man? what is more it is difficult to know how or why any one should become a man as a ritual?
    Returning to the disappearing flowers? now those who are killed then become all part of the flowering and then you give flowers to your beloved and so on.
    Camus musing on death as the absurd is he states we look forward to tomorrow bringing us closer to death? it is obvious death is attractive in a perverse way to many as it is feared and yet seemingly desired? to get it over with perhaps? if so this is not my existential problem but mine is what makes so many men corrupt? my investigation into this is I do not know? my frustration is I think I may well die before I can get to get it? although I have air purifiers filtering the air in room on 24 hours a day is a sign I do not desire to die? whats more I avoid all aspects of tempting fate to avoid death? I have been offered by my house cleaner that she can get me special rates for gliding? needless to say I am not interested for the reason stated.
    My thought of death is when I cross the road will I get to the other side? and the thankfulness of being alive to get to the pavement without incident before I get to the next bit which is within every moment? is this making sense? No but its all I can do.


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