Sunday, April 17, 2011

Breaking News: Did Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum Crib Campaign Slogan from Communist Poet Langston Hughes?

The former Republican and famously anti-gay Senator from Pennsyl- vania says he "had nothing to do with" the choice of his own campaign's slogan, "Fighting to Make America America Again," which was intended (see the pic above) to help launch his exploratory committee for a 2012 Presidential run.

Apparently, though—or so folks are saying—Santorum's aides must've studied Langston Hughes in college and realized the veracity, but not the ironic re-use, of Hughes's poem "Let America Be America Again" which first appeared in the July 1936 issue of Esquire magazine. The poem begins:

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

For more on this news—including the irony of Republican anti-gay crusader Santorum cribbing from the pro-gay, pro-union, once- communist civil rights activist Hughes (pictured here)—see the great Think Progress video interview which broke the story, the LA Times, and Or see the Wiki page for the Hughes poem, which has already included this detail along with the curious note that Democrat John Kerry also used the poem's title in his 2004 Presidential campaign.

In response to Think Progress's question about his poetic tastes, Santorum said, "I’m not a big poetry guy so I can’t say I have a favorite poet, sorry." Sorry indeed. John McCain 'fessed up to liking William Ernest Henley's "Invictus." Joe Biden reads Seamus Heaney. Barack Obama was friends with Frank Marshall Davis. If Santorum can't even muster a half-hearted "Shel Silverstein," there's no way he's coming close to an endorsement by P&PC.