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Herbert Aptheker: Doubts expressed about his daughter's story of incest

I have been thinking, with some agitation, about Bettina Aptheker's astonishing revelation of incest, as reported by Chris Phelps' review in the _Chronicle of Higher Education_ ever since it was posted yesterday. I find it even more astonishing that the review accepts this and her other claims against her father (low pay for black help, criticism of Jewish passivity in the Holocaust) at face value. Moreover, as some other commentators have noted, it is passing strange that she waited until her parents' death to tell the world. But what I find most shocking is the review's credulity. Nor did the review see the revelation as vindictive, or possibly antisemitic. (The anti-Semitic stereotype includes Jews as excessively carnal, cheap, and cowardly.) Where is scholarly skepticism? Where is common sense?

The putative child abuse was not the only trial the heroic Bettina Aptheker has endured. Here is how Professor of Women's Studies Aptheker described her educational background for Out In The Redwoods (easily located through Google):

[Aptheker:] I arrived in Santa Cruz in the fall of 1979 to begin my graduate studies in the History of Consciousness Program. I had two young children, and I was finalizing a divorce from my husband of thirteen years. I was also struggling to claim my lesbian identity. Brutalized by the police and FBI because of my Communist affiliation and radical activism in the 1960s and 1970s, ?coming out? for me was at once traumatic and exhilarating.

Recall that the review describes her sudden recollection, previously repressed, as having come to her while writing her memoir. Does this seem plausible to anyone here? Let us assume that father committed incest with young Bettina for years, yet she had no memory of what had to be traumatic. The cynic in me wonders if she is not beefing up her history to demonstrate that she has overcome yet another assault by authority, undeserved and extreme, of course. Why would she do that? Nothing like a famous and controversial father to expose as a way of getting attention from reviewers for her book, published by Seal Press, described on the internet as a small feminist press. The historian in me recalls that the feminist theory informing women's studies requires that patriarchy be viewed as the primary social contradiction, and indeed there was a job posting for teaching Women's Studies at UC San Diego while I was in graduate school, stating that adherence to feminist theory was a prerequisite for hiring. What could be more dramatic proof that the male desire to control women trumps class and other forms of illegitimate domination?

Read entire article at Clare Spark, in an email sent to H-HOAC: A Forum for scholars, serious students, and all who want to participate in a scholarly discussion of the History of American Communism (HOAC)