Kim Ode’s favorite Communist [updated with Ode’s response]

Yesterday’s Star Tribune featured Kim Ode’s profile of former Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Erwin Marquit. Marquit is dying and Ode is fawning. The source of Ode’s attraction to Marquit is Marquit’s run for governor in 1974 as a Communist. The romance of Communism hasn’t worn off for Ode or her editors at the Star Tribune. Ode’s profile is “Erwin Marquit, state’s best-known Communist, reflects on his life.”

I’m sure Ode is a loyal supporter of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor (i.e., Democratic) Party. Hubert Humphrey and his allies including Orville Freeman, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale and Don Fraser famously built the DFL on the thrashing of Communists in the party in the late 1940’s. Unlike Ode and her editors, they were no fools. (Historian John Earl Haynes tells the story in Dubious Alliance: The Making of Minnesota’s DFL Party.) Were it not for the efforts of Humphrey and his formidable young allies, Marquit would likely have been one of Ode’s favorite DFLers instead of her favorite Communist.

Yesterday I emailed Ode with an idea for a follow-up feature:

Now that you’ve taken a fawning walk down memory lane with “Minnesota’s best-known Communist,” maybe you can follow up with a warm look back at the National Socialist Movement in Minnesota. Why don’t you give it a shot? It might help your readers in the Variety section put today’s piece “in context,” as they say.

I followed up on Twitter without eliciting any response from Ode.

UPDATE: This morning Kim Ode responded by email:

Thanks for taking the time to read, and then to write. And Tweet! I hadn’t thought of that assignment as clickbait, but you never know.

I know you know how newspapering works, so I was a little concerned about your allegations of Mr. Marquit somehow being my “favorite Minnesota Communist.” But then, Twitter is all about attitude.

For the record, it was an assignment. The man, whom, I’d never heard of, is dying. I hoped to provide a glimpse into Minnesota history, fairly told.

Kim Ode

With the exception of this expression of appreciation for her message, I am giving Ms. Ode the last word.


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