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April 5: “Marxism and Hard Work” in Texas

April 5, 2014
35140_rapoport_bernard_375_319Bernard Rapoport, founder of the American Income Life Insurance Company and a major donor to progressive Democratic candidates and liberal causes, especially in his home state of Texas, died in Waco at 94 on this date in 2012. Of his immigrant parents, Rapoport said: “My father,” who was a peddler on the streets of San Antonio, “taught me Marxism and hard work. My mother taught me to love learning.” His insurance company marketed to labor unions, and with the fortune he built he “endowed chairs and professorships that focused on human rights and ethics . . . gave to causes in Israel that sought accommodation with the Palestinians,” and “also supported liberal publications like The Nation and The Texas Observer,” according to New York Times obituary writer John Schwartz. “I can’t tell you how many times [Rapoport] started a conversation with, ‘What are we going to do about [the] bigness’” of corporations and their influence, said Ralph Nader, describing him as one of the most progressive corporate executives in the country. “He has hired so many demoralized Democrats who were forced to leave office one way or another, it’s amazing he could keep the insurance company running.” -Mollie Ivins