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The Best American Essays 2007

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Arts and Culture

Remembering the Hollywood 10

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Posted on Oct 8, 2007
Bacall and Bogey
terramedia.co.uk

Stars on the march:  Silver-screen luminaries Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart lead the way during a protest against HUAC during the height of the Hollywood Blacklist controversy.

Ed Rampell

(Page 3)

Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been?

The hearings in the Caucus Room of the Old House Office Building was a congressional media circus worthy of a Hollywood production. Rep. J. Parnell Thomas chaired the committee that included Congressman Richard Nixon. Preparing the scene for the drama to unfold, beginning Oct. 20, 1947, the cooperative witnesses were the first to take the stand. The “friendly witnesses” were allowed to read prepared statements, starting with three producers: Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer (ex-chairman of the Republican Party’s California State Committee) and Sam Wood.

Warner told HUAC: “Ideological termites have burrowed into many American industries, organizations and societies. Wherever they may be, I say let us dig them out and get rid of them. My brothers and I will be happy to subscribe generously to a pest-removal fund. We are willing to establish such a fund to ship to Russia the people who don’t like our American system of government and prefer the Communistic system to ours.”

Russian émigré Ayn Rand attacked “Song of Russia,” complaining that the Soviet peasants smiled too much. Red-baiter Adolphe Menjou testified on Oct. 21 that he believed the Communist Party should be “outlawed.” Friendly witnesses Walt Disney, Robert Taylor, Robert Montgomery, George Murphy, Gary Cooper and Ronald Reagan also testified. While HUAC asked unfriendly witnesses about left-wing affiliations, the committee didn’t ask “Coop” about his membership in the 1930s right-wing paramilitary group Hollywood Hussars.

In 1947, Reagan was not only Screen Actors Guild president, but according to Victor Navasky, “FBI informant ‘T-10,’ ” who “enforced the blacklist.” In “Naming Names,” Navasky writes that under special agent Reagan’s SAG presidency, the guild “banned Communists and noncooperative witnesses from membership.”

The Unfriendly or Hollywood 19 were: Richard Collins, Howard Koch, Gordon Kahn, Robert Rossen, Waldo Salt, Lewis Milestone, Irving Pichel, Larry Parks, Bertolt Brecht, John Howard Lawson, Dalton Trumbo, Albert Maltz, Alvah Bessie, Samuel Ornitz, Herbert Biberman, Edward Dmytryk, Adrian Scott, Ring Lardner and Lester Cole. Despite their subpoenas, the first eight weren’t called to testify during the 1947 hearings. Brecht, a German immigrant who’d written plays such as “Galileo” (about inquisitions and recanting),  appeared Oct. 30 and denied Communist Party membership. Although Thomas praised Brecht as a “good example” for other witnesses, the playwright made monkeys out of HUAC.  Immediately after the hearings, Brecht fled America, eventually relocating to East Germany.

The remaining “unfriendlies”—Lawson, Trumbo, Maltz, Bessie, Ornitz, Biberman, Dmytryk, Scott, Lardner and Cole—became the Hollywood 10. They insisted that, as Philip Dunne put it, “any official inquiry into political beliefs and affiliations was unconstitutional.” After collaborators had poisoned the atmosphere and tainted their reputations, the 10 were called to testify. 

On Oct. 27, Lawson— the “Grand Pooh-Bah of the Communist movement,” according to screenwriter Martin Berkeley—was the first to testify. Lawson protested the fact that he, unlike the cooperative testifiers, was not permitted to read a prepared statement, and in a combative interchange, he tried to do so.

While Lawson attempted to speak, HUAC Chairman Thomas banged his gavel 16 times, reportedly breaking it. The Hollywood 10’s legal strategy was to stand on First Amendment rights in refusing to answer questions regarding political affiliation, which might not only incriminate them but could lead to being questioned about others. Lawson was asked, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” He responded, “It is unfortunate and tragic that I have to teach this committee the basic principles of American—” but the gavel-pounding chairman drowned out the witness, declaring, “That is not the question,” and ordered officers to drag Lawson away.

The animosity of that initial exchange colored the remainder of the hearings and its aftermath. When Thomas asked Lardner about party membership, he quipped: “I could answer ... but if I did, I would hate myself in the morning.”  Thomas ordered the feisty Lardner to “leave the witness chair” and had an attendant officer “take the witness away.”

Albert Maltz dubbed investigator Stripling “Mr. Quisling,” referring to Norwegian leader Vidkun Quisling, who had collaborated with the Nazis. While police held him, Trumbo shouted, “This is the beginning of the American concentration camp!”

Part two of the “Hollywood Fights Back!” radio program was nationally broadcast Nov. 2, with Danny Kaye, Dorothy McGuire, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Peter Lorre, Richard Conte, Richard Rodgers, Rita Hayworth, Jane Wyatt and John Huston. But their effort was in vain.

The Hollywood 10 were cited for contempt of Congress Nov. 24, 1947. Meanwhile, the MPAA held a secretive financiers’ and producers’ pow-wow in Manhattan called the “Waldorf Conference.” On Nov. 25, 1947, MPAA President Johnston announced:

“Members of the Association of Motion Picture Producers deplore the action of the 10 Hollywood men who have been cited for contempt. We do not desire to prejudge their legal rights, but their actions have been a disservice to their employers and have impaired their usefulness to the industry. We will forthwith discharge or suspend without compensation those in our employ and we will not re-employ any of the 10 until such time as he is acquitted or has purged himself of contempt and declares under oath that he is not a Communist. On the broader issues of alleged subversive and disloyal elements in Hollywood, our members are likewise prepared to take positive action.  We will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party ... which advocates the overthrow of the government. ...”

The opposition back in Tinseltown began crumbling. Many were dismayed by the militancy of Lawson and others, as well as by their legal strategy. Bogart publicly recanted. Leftists were voted out of leadership positions in the talent guilds. The Hollywood Blacklist was in full swing.

Fade to Blacklist

In early 1948, the Hollywood 10 were tried for contempt of Congress. Fate intervened; two liberal Supreme Court justices had died since 1947 and were replaced by conservatives. The defendants were found guilty, fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to one year behind bars. By 1950, the 10 lost their appeals—in April the Supreme Court decided not to hear their case. 

In 1951, HUAC launched new witch-hunting hearings; more witnesses were called, and the uncooperative ones were blacklisted by the movie industry. Among the 300-plus talents denied employment in Hollywood was “Oz” lyricist Yip Harburg, who had won an Oscar for co-writing “Over the Rainbow,” the song that put Judy Garland on the movie map.

Collaborators such as Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg, who named names, were generally allowed to continue making movies. Since the First Amendment defense had failed to keep the 10 out of jail, dissidents changed their legal strategy. As screenwriter Robert Lees—blacklisted in 1951 for refusing to name names—recounted: “After the 10 were imprisoned, and the anti-Communist McCarran and Smith Acts were passed, the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination became the defense.  The government couldn’t jail and fine you for contempt of Congress, but the punishment came from the studios, who fired you.” Pleading the Fifth also protected witnesses from naming others.

Actor Larry Parks testified March 21,1951: “I don’t think this is American justice to make me ... crawl through the mud. ... This is what I beg you not to do.” Pressured to inform, Parks insisted: “I am no longer fighting for myself, because I tell you frankly that I am probably the most completely ruined man that you have ever seen. I am fighting for a principle. ... I don’t think that it is in the spirit of real Americanism.” Despite his confessions and informing, Parks was blacklisted.

Not everybody informed or crawled. During her May 21, 1952 HUAC session, Lillian Hellman’s letter stated: “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions. ... ” 

Actor Lionel Stander often played tough guys. During his May 6, 1953 HUAC hearing, Stander pretended that he was going to cooperate, but mocked the witch-hunters instead: “I know of some subversive activities in the entertainment industry and elsewhere in the country,” he said. “I know of a group of fanatics who are desperately trying to undermine the Constitution of the United States by depriving artists and others of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness without due process of law.”

Paul Robeson appeared before HUAC June 12, 1956. When asked the $64 question, the actor and singer responded: “What do you mean by the Communist Party? ... Do you mean a party of people who have sacrificed for my people, and for all Americans and workers, that they can live in dignity? Do you mean that party?”

“Red Channels”

How did the Hollywood blacklist work in practice? “Commies” were denounced as Stalinist agents helping Moscow spread world domination and subverting movies. Those subpoenaed or otherwise named had to denounce not only their left-wing ties but name others who’d had progressive links. Those who recanted purged themselves and were considered generally “rehabilitated” and could return to work.

Besides HUAC, there was another way to smear members of the entertainment industry. “Red Channels, the Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television,” was a paperback brochure published in 1950 by former FBI agents.  “Red Channels” listed the names of suspected Communist Party members and the organizations they allegedly supported.  “It was one way of vetting people,” explained Nat Segaloff, who co-wrote “The Waldorf Conference.”

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By Keni, May 4, 2012 at 11:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Leefeller your weird

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By cann4ing, October 23, 2007 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment

So tell me, John Borowski, do you think the mindless contend of deceptive advertising is something that 75% of the public actively seeks, or do you think that may the ad men operating in a dishonest culture and on behalf of the corporations who pay them just might have something to do with that?

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By Bert, October 23, 2007 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment
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Especially interesting, in the light of Glen Beck’s
recent comment about the california ‘wildfires’. Google that’n yourself, there…curiouser, and curiouser…

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By John Borowski, October 23, 2007 at 6:57 am Link to this comment
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Mr. Earnest Canning we will see who is right and who is wrong. It will be resolved in only a few short months. Seventy five percent of the people in this world are morons and that is the reason why the evils exploit society. I know that is a fact by looking at the TV commercials. The commercials are composed for a 6 year old mind not a twenty and over year old mind. One thing I have to admit is Madison Avenue knows what they are doing. The seventy five percent of morons dictate what kind of society we will live in not the twenty five percent of intelligent, mature, people of good character. That is the way it will always be right to the bitter end.

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By Leefeller, October 22, 2007 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

Success of Fascism comes with support of people who feel left out, people who need the warm fuzzy comfort zone, coupled with people who like to see suffering of others,  enhances the warm fuzzy comfort zone.  Until they finally realize it is to late.  We occasionally see those people here on TD.

We are living in a revised version of Woody Allen’s move “ Sleeper”, (really like that one) and our great leaders nose has already been cloned.

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By Shenonymous, October 22, 2007 at 3:43 am Link to this comment

Mr. Canning, you are right in what you say, you seem to have great insight into the nature of the vast majority, and I appreciate your articulate candor.  However if the American public hasn’t awakened yet, after six and a half years of suffering from this modern autocratic government, what do you think will wake them up?  I’m afraid that as a nation they are apathetically somnambulistic.  And actually unwittingly are aiding and abetting their own perdition.  At every turn, at every opportunity they possibly could have had, the Republicans eroded and disintegrated as many constitutional rights we Americans have?  And they do it pugnaciously in public, right in our faces!  They are so cunningly clever as to tell Americans they are being ‘rightfully’ cared for while at the same time, exquisitely stabbing us in the back?

I think we need to brace ourselves for another disaster on the horizon that will nourish the politics of fear that is the signature of this corrupt regime.  Is Bush’s goading Putin and Ahmadinejad a preamble?  He is about as malevolent a politician as we could have produced, his ratings were at 24% the other day, and yet we seem to be helpless before the beast. 

The public needs to be reminded constantly that Bush did not create this national ailment (as Borowski calls it) on his own, for like Napoleon, he had and continues to have a cast of thousands of little fascists to help him.

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By cann4ing, October 21, 2007 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment

John Borowski, history is replete with instances in which even long-established totalitarian regimes have fallen.  While there is much that has transpired for which we should all be concerned, if not alarmed, with each new injustice, with each infringement on our constitutional liberties, with each raw assertion of unchecked executive powers, there has also been a growing awareness—a new progressive movement is emerging in this country.

I believe that you have underestimated the true power that could be employed if the vast majority of Americans finally awoke from their political slumber.  I am certain the fascists who occupy the White House are well aware of it—why else would they go to such length to erect a veil of secrecy?

While I am by no means downplaying the threat to the very survival of our constitutional democracy that arises from having men in positions of power who are devoted to overthrowing that system and replacing it with a dictatorial and lawless “Unitary Executive” and a totalitarian police state capable of unlimited surveillance of its own citizens, I do think that if the vast majority of Americans were to be awakened to what they are doing, their illegal schemes would collapse like a wet taco.

Pessimism can be as much an obstacle to defending our constitutional republic from the fascist onslought that arises from within as the actions of the fascists themselves.

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By John Borowski, October 20, 2007 at 7:22 am Link to this comment
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In reference to a sick body, one has the chance of curing the ailment if it is caught in time. At the onset a man will try to ignore the symptoms that are telling him something is wrong. He hopes that in time it will go away and confirm to him that it was only a passing shower. Instead it gets progressively worst. At this point he realizes that he must go see a doctor. The doctor tells him the disease has progressed to such a stage that he really can’t do anything about it. This situation is identical in a political system. The people will see the assassinations of the Kennedys and King and will ignore it. They will see McCarthy try to intimidate and instill fear in the hearts of people that are not to the right of Hitler and they ignore it. They will see Nixon’s attempt to violate the basic laws of our country and they ignore it. They will see protesting students shot down in Kent State and Jackson State and they ignore it. They will see the right-wingers kick out all the decent Republicans out of the Republican Party and become Independents and they will ignore it. They will see the rigged elections in 2000 and 2004 and they ignore it. They will see right wing goon squads (Similar to Blackwater) strong arm the folks recounting the rigged elections in Florida and they will ignore it. They see one Republican (Aka Conservative right-wingers) after another forced out of office because some kind of criminality or perversion and they ignore it. They witness Bush and his right-wing cabal violating some of our basic freedoms that were given to us by our founding fathers and they ignore it. They will see the farce of the World Trade Center blamed on the killems for god and they ignore it. As a result, these evils have permeated our societies to such an extent that like the doctor’s diagnosis it is too late to do anything about it.

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By Leefeller, October 19, 2007 at 6:48 am Link to this comment

Yes they went back under their slime covered rocks, but the learning curve needs to be jostled and supported by the direct threat,  they enabled people to understand and see first hand the reality of mindless sets,  It was good that they showed up here,  a dose of reality is much more real then a forgotten 50 year old threat. 

We have many hidden threats, under slime covered rocks, and well hidden they are, for the hidden success is apparent, by the number of people who ignore or will not believe them.

Slime covered rock is an analogy or is it a metaphor, maybe we should ask Walter?

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By cann4ing, October 18, 2007 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

Having been thoroughly chastised for their idiocy, it looks like our fascist-loving posters, Walter and Hunter Thompson, have crawled back under the slime covered rocks from which they emerged.

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By Shenonymous, October 18, 2007 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

It’s funny how a narrow-mind (like Walter) calls everyone else narrow-minded, isn’t it true that one can only see out of one eye if one only has one eye? It’s currently a common political ruse by the Neo-cons and Bushites in particular.  The articulate and clever resides on both sides of the fence.  Walter attempts to be articulate and clever.

Then we have the shrieking H S Thompson types come out of the woodwork…

In the final analysis exposed as obsessive and dishonest, McCarthy was censured by the Senate and his career ended (pun intended) rightly with a thud.  The Supreme Court of Warren, Brennan, and Black emasculated HUAC. 

There is no argument that members of Islam, Russia, and no doubt several other political entities in the world harbor a hatred toward the United States and have more than a desire to harm and cause its downfall.  The American government must protect its citizens.  But demagoguery and decimation of the Constitution is not the way to preserve America

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By Shenonymous, October 18, 2007 at 10:13 am Link to this comment

Which local radio station Verne?  Seeger grew up with parents who encouraged and revered freethinking and backbone.  To give Joe McCarthy a posthumous middle finger, we should buy all the Seeger albums we can afford.  Except it might make Seeger a millionaire, hmmmm, now would that be something to rub one’s chin for?????  Gonna do it anyway. 

Leefeller, don’t you know that the right is where the friggen, lying, hypocritical rats live, where reason, logic and rights of others don’t exist?  And McCarthyism is taught at least at the college level in various history and social studies classes.  It just seems to go in one ear and out the other.  How do you suggest we go about addressing these kinds of persecutions?

Isn’t truth relative, samuel burke? 

msgmi - history repeats itself, is it human to do something and “learn” from history or just to notice it?  But how shall we preserve our humanity as we do something?

What Nazi didn’t want to use and/or do violence in Nazi Germany who tortured and incarcerated Jews and Jew sympathizers?  I think Wallace wasn’t telling the whole story.  In America, the Nazi went under the other name of KKK and White Suprematist and still does and still commits violence on at least African Americans and the Gays/Lesbians.  Ask how many American Jews had Stars of David and swastikas painted on their houses? 

Yes, david gamble, art is one way to triumph over social malignancy.

Fagan’s prism shines only one color, partisan bias.

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By cann4ing, October 18, 2007 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

Hammo, so long as a tiny slither of the populace—the wealthy elites who own the media conglomerates—maintain monopoly controls over the public airwaves, public input such as the poll of HBO viewers you cite will have little impact on what Americans see, hear and read.  What is required is a return of the Fairness Doctrine, a roll back of the media consolidation brought on by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and a host of regulations passed by a Bush administration-controlled FCC; increased public financing for PBS, the elimination of politicized interference with PBS programing, an increase of public access and control over local public stations, and the creation of a central, prime time slot nationally for this nation’s most informative one hour news program that is currently provided by Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! that is currently available on Dish Network, a growing number of public access channels, Pacifica radio and at Democracy Now.org.

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By Hammo, October 18, 2007 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

It seems like a good idea for media of all kinds (Hollywood, news media, book publishing, etc.) to be responsive to people at the grass roots and not be dominated from the top ... whether by government, New York City media bosses or corporate interests.

An interesting current example is the demand by viewers for media outlets such as HBO to be responsive to the people (HBO viewers) as described in the article referenced below:

“Grassroots coalition of TV viewers wants HBO’s ‘John from Cincinnati’ to get second season” (September 27, 2007)

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=38701

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By VillageElder, October 17, 2007 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment

Reading this post reminded me of earlier times in my life.  The ambiance of the 40’s & 50’s with the prevailing belief of American goodness and victory.  The mission to save the world from those godless communists and other threats.

I remember skipping school to watch the McCarthy Hearings.  The Korean war and fighting the ChiCom (chinese communists) to keep democracy safe.

I remember being asked “You don’t want to be a non-conformist do you?”  Didn’t strike me as being a bad thing.  Grey flannel suits and corporate empires expressing the american way if you conformed.  HUAC with fire hoses washing students down granite steps.  Ginsberg recited Howl as Ferlinghetti took us to the Conney Island of the Mind.  Degenerate beatniks.

Racism, antisemitism, covenants on titles, religious prejudices - protestants only need apply.  That is the legacy that you were given as a birthright.  Thankfully a rejected birthright. 

No attacks can change or deny my experience.  I was there.

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By Hemi*, October 17, 2007 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The scariest part of the McCarthy Era was that citizens of this country felt the need to hide their political affiliations. It would have taken a considerably larger percentage of the population to share their beliefs before a “communist movement” could have significantly influenced the course of the nation. There were infinitely better methods of addressing alternative ideologies than hounding them into hiding. With those hearings the members of the HUAC displayed their own fears of the fragility of our democratic republic. Perhaps better stated they feared our republic was truly democratic.

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By cann4ing, October 17, 2007 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

Walter, judging from your posts, you wouldn’t know the truth if it jumped up and bit you.  Your statements reveal that you are in dire need of an education—so badly in need, that I could not begin to provide in given space limitations on this blog.

I would suggest that if you do not believe what I said, you take the time to find an earlier Truthdig article linking “your” beloved president’s grandfather to a fascist plot to overthrow Pres. Roosevelt.  Prescott had financial ties to Nazi Germany even while son Geo. H. W. Bush was off fighting in the Pacific.  After the war both men became entwined with Allen Dulles and the CIA.  Dulles not only had prior ties to Nazi Germany but actively recruited former Nazis into the U.S. intellegence services after the war—actions that severely compromised the status of post-war U.S. intelligence, especially in West Germany.  (I say “your president” because I am certain that he was not “elected” in 2000 and was not “re-elected” in 2004; that his current office is the product of massive, computer voting fraud—see, e.g., Steve Friedman, PhD & Joel Bleifuss, “Was the 2004 election stolen?”).  Now that the fascists are in power, they have undertaken to adopt the reign of terror that was cut short when McCarthy’s level of slime and dishonor was publicly exposed—to wit, the erection of a doctrine of a lawless “Unitary Executive” who is not merely above the law but claims to ‘be’ the law; the assault on checks and balances and rights guaranteed under the constitution, the elimination of the right of habeas corpus which dates back to the Magna Carta, and heaping shame on this nation through extraordinary rendition and torture—though with the Dulles/Bush CIA, torture has long been the goal—as reflected by the once secret 1963 Kubark manual.

You should take the time to read Joseph Trento’s “Prelude to Terror,” Mark Lane’s “Plausible Denial, then move forward in time into John Perkins’ “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,”  David Brock’s “Blinded by the Right,” Jeff Faux’s “Global Class War” and Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine.”  I would recommend Noam Chomsky to you but judging from your writing, I suspect his work would be beyond your intellectual capacity to digest.  (I don’t suggest that to sound mean—just trying to be accurate in my assessment.)

If, after reading all that, you want to have an intellectual discussion that does not include name-calling, I would welcome it.  Until then, there is little you could say that would even approach intellectual stimulation.

If you chose not to read, well—I guess for some who go through life within the disinformation bubble, ignorance is bliss.  If that is the case, keep searching for those Commie subversives.  I am sure they’re under every rock.

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By Leefeller, October 17, 2007 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

Walter,

Since you have taken upon yourself to promote twisted lack of reason on me, I will follow with these comment.

Your posts have shown and promoted a view that is really quite the reason why more people should be made aware of McCarthyism,  your support of the trampling of peoples lives under your odious tendency to believe yourself being a patriot or at least wanting us to believe it is the problem. 

Using a word so easily as it rolls from the tongue like the “N” word for other bigots,  in you case the word Commie, is projective and smacks quite clearly of bigotry, your intense bigotry could be construed as a fetish,  for instance your use of “Red Tinged View” for instance, is very telling.   

Peoples rights were trampled you seem to promote and support that mentality with glee, I do not support it at all. 

Using the term of “outing” with joy, also shows a deep seated misanthropic tendencies your sickness is quite sad.  Very sad indeed.

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By Leefeller, October 17, 2007 at 6:48 am Link to this comment

Frank,
Thanks for the wisdom,  I know now that Douglas Chambers sent his post to me by accident it should have been addressed to you instead. 
“When we focus on something, and especially from fear or hatred, we tend to become like the thing we focus on. We absorb all of its values and concepts as they align their negativity with the negativity of the hatred or fears in our own minds.”

“Thus, in continually focusing on our hatreds and fears, we become like those we hate or fear. In the end, we have defeated ourselves. No-one else has to. So, there is nothing to guard against except our own wrong thoughts and actions…...”

Thank you Douglas Chambers, not sure you will agree, but your comment seems very appropriate now,

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By Walter, October 16, 2007 at 9:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Leefeller, my “Commie” fetish?  Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?  At all?

The discussion here was on the “Hollywood Ten,” the HUAC hearings, and…

Da-da-dum….

COMMUNISM!

The “outing” of ACTUAL, REAL COMMUNISTS (otherwise known as “Commies” in much the same way that you might refer to the current administration as “NEOCONS”) is what is being discussed here.

How is it a fetish to mention the term for what we’re discussing here?

Fetish is when, say, in a discussion about HUAC hearings FIFTY YEARS AGO someone blithers on about “Neocons” and the like.  That, sir, is a fetishist adherence to an emotionally disturbed mythos that prescribes all events in the universe to a limited set of predefined ideas and ideals.

In fact, the universe and the political world are much more varied than these simple fetishistic adherences to Neocon boogeyman in every closet.

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By Walter, October 16, 2007 at 9:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ernest Canning, *I* have no sense of shame?  You make ridiculous claims like “the hard right was plotting to betray everything this country fought against in WW II” and *I* have no shame?  Well, pot, kettle.

Thank God we have such amazing clear thinkers and truth seers like you to see through the “cowing” of the populace against the “phantom menace.”  You, sir, are not “cowed.”  Your sad, silly little paranoias and your ridiculous conspiracy theories make you so obviously superior to those “cowed” by “the Man.”

Unfortunately, however, you lack the ability to either read or comprehend beyond your asinine theories.

I NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER said “that no one was hurt by the HUAC and McCarthy witch hunts.”  You, sir, are a sadly misinformed biased little idiot.  I went to great lengths to explain the difference between an actual witch hunt/inquisition and the air-clearing, truth revealing, political party unveiling that ACTUALLY occurred with HUAC and McCarthy.

You may not like that, but THAT’S the TRUTH.  Dig?  See, you can disagree with me, the committee, and everyone else with your narrow little Red-tinged view of the world, but I challenge you to show me the racking (actual), iron maidening (actual), and burning at the stake (actual).

See, like most of the brainwashed, you cannot understand the difference between your hyper-fantasy analogies and REALITY.

There were no “fascists” on the HUAC or McCarthy committees.  You might want to spend a little bit of time researching your definitions before presuming to lecture.  Unless, of course, by “fascist” you mean anybody who’s not a Leftist like you.  Then, of course, we’re all “fascists.”

If the truth is “enough to destroy a career” (and, yes, just in Hollywood, because we are discussing the BLACK LIST IN HOLLYWOOD, genius!), then that’s too freaking bad.

Your loathsomely pathetic bias is sad.  What the hell do Karl Rove and Cheney have to do with the subject at hand—BLACK LIST IN HOLLYWOOD.  Nothing, of course.  Nowhere, of course, but in your neurotic fantasies where EVERYTHING is linked back to your little boogeymen, eeeeeeeeeevil Republicans!

Such are the ramblings of your sick phobia.  This discussion had nothing to do with your deranged dreams of Rove and Cheney and, once again, the black list was the fault of your cowardly allies in the Hollywood studio system.

What kind of sick person blames the revealers of secrets for the weaknesses of their own allies in the media in standing up for them?

Oh, that’s right.  The deranged.

You really should try to see the world in something OTHER than your bleak little mythology.

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By cann4ing, October 16, 2007 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment

Walter, like Senator McCarthy, you seem to have no sense of shame.  HUAC and McCarthy conducted an anti-Communist witch hunt, a reign of terror that was designed to assault anyone who stood for the interests of the common man at a time when America’s hard right was plotting to betray everything this country fought against in WW II.  The “Red Scare” hysteria in the early 50’s served the same purpose that the Orwellian “war on terror” serves today, cowing the populace about a phantom menace so as to avert military demobilization; ensuring that monies from our national treasury would pour into the coffers of the military-industrial complex as the U.S. moved toward post-war imperialism.  The Red Scare permitted American fascists, like Prescott Bush, who before and during the war supported the Nazis, to move into positions of prominence.

Your claim that no one was hurt by the HUAC and McCarthy witch hunts is either thoroughly misinformed or thoroughly disingenuous.  The mere invocation of one’s first and fifth amendment rights not to answer to these fascist run committees was enough to destroy a career—and not just in Hollywood.  But America’s fascist/Republicans be they McCarthy, Karl Rove or Dick Cheney, have no qualms about how many people they trample on.  Their goals have always been the acquisition of power and the use of that power to secure riches.  Such is the dishonest filth that you aparently admire.

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By Leefeller, October 16, 2007 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment

Walter

Your Commie fetish is amusing, it goes with the bigot you so emulate.

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By Walter, October 16, 2007 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Leefeller:

“Disagree” all you want, the truth is the truth.  Simply because Miller compared HUAC’s hearing with Salem “witch trials” doesn’t mean that they’re “the same.”

See, it’s called an analogy.  You should try one sometime using words like “like” and “similar to.”  Even the word “is” can be an analogy creating verb as long as the listener is bright enough to understand that “Madeline is the Evening Star” doesn’t actually meaning that Madeline is the planet Venus or that the planet Venus is called “Madeline.”

Miller was creating an analogy with his comparison.

For the HUAC hearing to have been *THE SAME* as the Salem witch trials:

1) None of the Communists would have been Communists since none of the “witches” were actual witches, and

2) The Communists would have had to have been burned at the stake.  Last I checked, a black list created by Hollywood is not a death sentence by burning at the stake.  As a matter of fact, many of those “outed” in the hearings went on to long and productive lives in other fields and some of them even continued to work in the film industry under pseudonyms.

So, just to be clear, no one DIED or was BURNED AT THE STAKE because of the HUAC hearings.  In fact, the only “punishment” that arose (other than the “black listing” by HOLLYWOOD, NOT HUAC) was because of failure to testify before the committee.  This is called “contempt of Congress” and is punishable by law.

One wonders, if the Communist Party was such an incredibly great thing, why those who were cited for contempt of Congress wouldn’t be shouting their party affiliations from the rooftops?

Strange, huh?  But then, them’s Commies!

And, no, “black listing” is NOT the same as the Inquisition either.  You seem to not read too much history.

The Inquisition used coercive torture, including the rack and the iron maiden, and death sentences (NOT film industry “black listing”) against its victims for supposed heresy, failure to convert, and political whim.

So, “disagree” all you want, Leefeller, but I put it to you:

Which would YOU rather be?  Black listed from the film industry in America or racked, tortured, and burned at the stake?

Have a nice day!

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By Leefeller, October 16, 2007 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment

Douglas Chalmers,

Your assumption of hatreds and fears are unfounded and out of place,  for your gratification we can change the word guard to awareness, or does that still produce the same effect in you mind.  This is the second time you have made comment on my writing. Since you have assigned yourself the monitor, I relinquish to your impressive number of posts.

McCarthyism was a most ugly sanctioned and accepted practice in the journals of history and should never have happened.  It would be more prudent on your part to comment on McCarthyism than on my writing.

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By xyzaffair, October 16, 2007 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Walter,
You make simplistic and faulty analogies, as do many conservatives.  A sponsor dropping a particluar guest because his or her views may be controversial to the viewers or sponsors is not the same as bringing the force of government against an entire group because of their views.  Barry Manilow may have chosen not to appear on The View because of Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s politics, but I don’t recall Hasselbeck or any other conservative being black listed or subpoenaed to name others of his or her ilk.  In the 40’s and 50’s, actors were forbidden from working simply because they espoused ideas such as world cooperation or civil rights. Jane Wyatt, Margaret Anderson from Father Knows Best, was labeled a “Premature Anti-Fascist” because she was anti-Nazi before the United States went to war with Germany.  She didn’t love Stalin; she saw the dangers of fascism and wanted to stop it.

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By Douglas Chalmers, October 16, 2007 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment

#107444 by Leefeller on 10/16 at 7:43 am: “...our government can be abusive to it’s people, at this time our nations history esd emulating what they had just fought against in Germany in WWII. Bigotry surfaces and takes over when it can.  We see the same thing happening today with a different spin on it.  Opportunism is always and will infest your home anytime you let down your guard….”

When we focus on something, and especially from fear or hatred, we tend to become like the thing we focus on. We absorb all of its values and concepts as they align their negativity with the negativity of the hatred or fears in our own minds.

Thus, in continually focussing on ouir hatreds and fears, we become like those we hate or fear. In the end, we have defeated ourselves. No-one else has to. So, there is nothing to guard against except our own wrong thoughts and actions…...

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By cann4ing, October 16, 2007 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

Obviously not the same Hunter S. Thompson, the radical writer who passed away.  Tell me Hunter—Who are “they” whom you identify as “communists”?  And, so what if “they are all communists?”  Right now we have an administration filled with fascists!

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By Leefeller, October 16, 2007 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

Walter,

Disagree with your ‘black list” compared to only someone disagreeing with someone else’s politics, that is like saying the “inquisition” was only the Pope disagreeing with the Protestants,  forget the rest of the story.  Witch hunts are not benign, no matter how you look at them.

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By Hunter S Thompson, October 16, 2007 at 11:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

But they all ARE freakin’ communists!

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By Walter, October 16, 2007 at 9:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

#106172 by Verne Arnold on 10/10 at 11:06 pm
(301 comments total)

“[L]ast I checked, being a communist isn’t against the law; neither I might add is speaking ones opinion.”

Absolutely right.  Being a Communist ISN’T against the law.  And neither is “outing” Communists, last *I* checked.  HUAC “outed” Communists.  It’s that simple.  Don’t like it?  Too bad.  The “black list” wasn’t created by HUAC; it was created by Hollywood studios who didn’t want the “black eye” of allowing known Communists and Commie sympathizers to continue working for them following their HUAC “outing.”

The “black list” was quite akin to, say, Barry Manilow refusing to go on The View because he doesn’t like Hasselbeck’s politics.  The studio executives and financiers refused to work with these Commie albatrosses around their necks.  It’s that simple.

“The only danger [you] see these days are a bunch of very dangerous, fascist oriented, Necons presently in the White-House” because you are blind.

Terrorists who destroyed the Twin Towers and who are sworn to the destruction of both Israel and America abound.  Former Communist Putin is today visting with Iran’s Ahmadinejad and “warning” the U.S. against confrontation with the Muslim theocracy.

And you see only “dangerous” Neocons?!?!?!?

How very narrow-minded and sad for you!

*NOBODY* outlawed Communism, including HUAC and the “black list,” but in the interest of full-disclosure and a knowledgeable public HUAC successfully “outed” several Communists and Commie sympathizers.

Following the fall of the U.S.S.R. and the opening of KGB files, we in the U.S. discovered that the KGB did, indeed, seek to infiltrate the film industry and load popular cinema with Communist ideas and ideals in preparation for a Communist revolution in the U.S.

And that, my friend, is TRUTH!  Dig?

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By Leefeller, October 16, 2007 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

Atrocities such as “McCarthism”  should remind us that our government can be abusive to it’s people, at this time our nations history esd emulating what they had just fought against in Germany in WWII. Bigotry surfaces and takes over when it can.  We see the same thing happening today with a different spin on it.  Opportunism is always and will infest your home anytime you let down your guard.

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By Daniel Fagan, October 16, 2007 at 5:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Your writer failed to note that John F. Kennedy was also on HUAC with McCarthy and Nixon. Of course the Veronia Transcrips were also omited. The sad fact is several of these “heros” of the left were active and willing agents of a hostile and agressive empire whose crimes include the murder of aprox. 30,000,000 of their own subjects and whose stated goal was to destroy this country. It seems all one has to do to make a mint on the left is hate your own country, lie like a rug, and scream foul if called on it.

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By david gamble, October 14, 2007 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In my 41st year teaching English in Canada, I find particularly relevant the teaching in Grade 12 of The Crucible, by Arthure Miller along with writings of Howard Zinn, documentaries of the Hollywood 10 and Bill Moyer’s journalism on the Bush et al. antics.  1692 seems so relevant, disturbingly.  Do pick up Cedric Belfrage’s “The Americn Inquisition” even just for the preface.  It’s all a hit with my students, however disturbing. I recommend that parents push for that play going on high school courses. By the way, now, up here, we have Stephen Harper as prime minister.  More grist for the mill.

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By Leefeller, October 14, 2007 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Witch hunts, such as McCarthyism, should be in all our history books and taught in all schools, informing citizens of this any many other well hidden atrocities, preformed in the name of our great nation. They need to be addressed instead of pushed aside and buried. 

Great deception mass media makes it a point not to call attention or discuss such issues.

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By carol white, October 13, 2007 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment

At the time of the HUAC attack on Hollywood, my grandfather Joseph Kronberger was an electrician and lighting technician working in the studios. He was also a member or supporter of the Communist Party. (I know that he was a member but at some point quit, although always remaining a supporter,)

When I went to college, I joined with other students to oppose the war in Korea. I was called in by the Dean of Students who threatened me for inviting a black male student to attend a college Sunday afternoon tea held at my dormitory. I refused and shortly thereafter my parents withdrew me from the university with the threat that I would be otherwise expelled.

I knew that a student whom I dated was a member of the Communist Party. When HUAC was coming to the University campus in one of its sweeps against student radicals, I knew that I would be called to testify, despite the fact that I no longer attended the college or dated him.

My former boyfriend had declared his CP membership publicly and I asked him whether I could testify and admit to knowing about him etc. He said sure, I wouldn’t be hurting him; however I also would not be supporting his act of defiance against the witch hunt.


With his example before me, and the example of my grandfather and the example of public figures such as Humphrey Bogart, I made my decision. I would not cooperate with HUAC either. Fortunately for me, the hearings were called off.

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By Douglas Chalmers, October 13, 2007 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

#106019 by Leefeller on 10/10 at 9:49 am: “...McCarthyism should be taught in our schools as the disease it was then, for the syphilis of politics continues today with the destruction of peoples rights, as neoconservatism expanding their boundaries even further now, then McCarthy did then….”

Now there’s a term - “the syphilis of politics”. From Wiki: “Syphilus, or Sipylus, is presented as the first man to contract the disease, sent by the god Apollo as punishment for the defiance that Syphilus and his followers had showed him….”

Last century, we were introduced to “the Baccillus” but now Leefeller has presented us with the ultimate progenitor, the Spirochete!!!

“......had been called the “French disease” in Italy and Germany, and the “Italian disease” in France. In addition, the Dutch called it the “Spanish disease”, the Russians called it the “Polish disease”, the Turks called it the “Christian disease” or “Frank disease” and the Tahitians called it the “British disease”...”!?!?

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By Douglas Chalmers, October 13, 2007 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment

#106224 by Leefeller on 10/11 at 7:21 am: “...Aside from the opportunist elite, the religious right cannot tolerate Communism, simply because it competes for the minds of their flock, sort of like blind faith against blind unfaith…?”

If you watch some of the 1950’s B+W movies on the early Communist era in China (the ones made by the Chinese), they certainly had some strong faith and enthusiasm for what they believed in as a new way and freedom and justice for the ordinary people. Sadly, just like the churches, though, they were being ‘white-anted’ (eaten by termites) from within!

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By carol white, October 13, 2007 at 6:10 am Link to this comment

At the time of the HUAC hearings, my grandfather Joseph Kronberger was an electrician and lighting technician working in the studios. He was also a member or supporter of the Communist Party. (I know that he was a member but at some point quit, although always remaining a supporter,)

When I went to college, I joined with other students to oppose the war in Korea. I was called in by the Dean of Students who threatened me for inviting a black male student to attend a college Sunday afternoon tea held at my dormitory. I refused and shortly thereafter my parents withdrew me from the university with the threat that I would be otherwise expelled.

I knew that a student whom I dated was a member of the Communist Party. When HUAC was coming to the University campus in one of its sweeps against student radicals, I knew that I would be called to testify, despite the fact that I no longer attended the college or dated him.

My former boyfriend had declared his CP membership publicly and I asked him whether I could testify and admit to knowing about him etc. He said sure, I wouldn’t be hurting him; however I also would not be supporting his act of defiance against the witch hunt.


With his example before me, and the example of my grandfather and the example of public figures such as Humphrey Bogart, I made my decision. I would not cooperate with HUAC either. Fortunately for me, the hearings were called off.

Thanks for reminding me and informing those radar scope who may not have that period in their radar scope.

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By Leefeller, October 12, 2007 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

Ernest Canning,

As usual another enlightening post. Why is that real warnings, those that should be of concern are not?  Mass media I suppose.  Warnings in 1944 by Henry Wallace are more real now,  than than in 1944. We can see what the Bush administration has conjured up.  My take simple opinion on what Wallace stated. 

We are in a sad state, because truth is channeled and well hidden from our eyes
The superpartriots like McCarthy back then and now with the Neoconservatives, super star Bush and company,  working very hard to destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.  We see crocodile tear’s,  for free enterprise, and a rapid consolidation of business monopolies. Vested interest draped throughout the White House and Congress.  Why else would lobbies be permitted?  As stated by Wallace in 1944, we see political power manipulated to be side by side with money the market,  to keep the common man in their place. 

Common man to be used as cannon fodder for agenda wars, and to be consumers of the company store, all part of the grand plan, towards enhancing the accumulation of wealth for the self proclaimed elite. 

Since 1944 Wallace may not have seen WTO and NAFTA so we must add a few new wrinkles.  (sure I am missing many more)  The shoving through of WTO and NAFTA,  the new world order or as one poster (Tao Walker)  coined the world wide Pyramid scheme.

Sorry to say, MaCarthy was only the tip of the ice burg,

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By cann4ing, October 11, 2007 at 9:37 pm Link to this comment

I found this piece, while lengthy, to be one of the better written, and certainly historically accurate accounts at Truthdig.  The one intriguing fact was the mention that in 1947 Henry Wallace stepped up to defend artistic freedom in a speech as the Progressive Party candidate.

On April 9, 1944, while this nation was locked in a life and death struggle with fascism in Europe (and while our current president’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, still had ties to the Nazi regime) the New York Times published a description of “the American Fascist” authored by Henry Wallace, who was then the Vice President of these United States.

“The American fascist would prefer not to use violence.  His method is to poison the channels of public information.  With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the publilc but how best to use the news to deceive the public….

“They claim to be superpatriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constution.  They demand free enterprise but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest.  Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjugation.”

Looking back, one has to wonder how different our history would have been if Roosevelt had kept Wallace as his Vice President in the ‘44 election.  Would the atomic bomb have been dropped on Hiroshima?  Would we have won a war against fascism in Europe only to see the rise of the CIA, HUAC, Joe McCarthy and the assault on civil liberties?

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By Leefeller, October 11, 2007 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

Aside from the opportunist elite, the religious right cannot tolerate Communism, simply because it competes for the minds of their flock, sort of like blind faith against blind unfaith?

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By Verne Arnold, October 11, 2007 at 12:06 am Link to this comment

#105803 by samuel burke on 10/09 at 9:50 am
(Unregistered commenter)

what i find ridiculous in all of these arguments is that there were communist and that there were trials and convictions .....chambers and hiss and all the support that communism had around the world in that era was very real…...the british intelligence services had several famous defections and the trotsky community predecessors of todays neocons were alive and well back then.

Mr. Burke, last I checked, being a communist isn’t against the law; neither I might add is speaking ones opinion.  There has been a communist party in America for many many years (legally).  The only danger I see these days are a bunch of very dangerous, fascist oriented, Necons presently in the White-House.

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By Leefeller, October 10, 2007 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

McCarthyism should be taught in our schools as the disease it was then, for the syphilis of politics continues today with the destruction of peoples rights, as neoconservatism expanding their boundaries even further now,  then McCarthy did then.

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By Verne Arnold, October 10, 2007 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

#105761 by Leefeller on 10/09 at 7:19 am
(391 comments total)

Nice to see your post Vern,

Likewise yourself, thanks.

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By msgmi, October 9, 2007 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

McCarthyism was a testing period of our constitutional rights. Now the neo-CONS and their ideological planners are testng the constitutional red-lines of power, morality, judis prudence, and a plethora of building blocks which support a democratic government once described to be by the people for the people.

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By Douglas Chalmers, October 9, 2007 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

Good on ya, Judy! Once a country uses nuclear weapons on another country (never mind the lame excuses), it forever has to go to ever greater lengths to justify itself both in the eyes of the world and to its own citizens. It is then effectively living the great lie.

“...the House Committee on Un-American Activities” was thus a typically Washington means of controlling what was deemed justifiable. Doing so through negating or criminalizing some citizens’ behaviours according to a narrow “You’re either with us or against us!” compulsively reactive but dishonest ideology is now sadly not new, either.

In 1950, the Korean War began by the unnecessary invasion of the Korean peninsula by the USA (again, forget the excuses, please). It was also the era of the H-bomb and the insane Hungarian-American Jew, Edward Teller, its inventor (“Dr. Strangelove”) and the equally insane demented cold war warrior USAF general Curtis Le May who wanted to use it on every city in China!

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By samuel burke, October 9, 2007 at 10:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

what i find ridiculous in all of these arguments is that there were communist and that there were trials and convictions .....chambers and hiss and all the support that communism had around the world in that era was very real…...the british intelligence services had several famous defections and the trotsky community predecessors of todays neocons were alive and well back then.

hollywood was in love with uncle joe stalin back then and there was plenty of support for this movement inside the state dept as well….there was the famous air force member who kept records of all the receipts of equipment that was transfered to russia under lend lease.

the joke is that the truth is being made to look ridiculous.

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By felicity, October 9, 2007 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

The peculiar irony is that HUAC used the same tactics of repression/oppression, and for the same reasons, that were used by Hitler in Germany and Stalin in Russia.  Hitler destroyed a great deal of the ‘art’ created in the 20th century, labelling it subversive.  Stalin sent ‘subversive’ writers, artists and even musicians to the Gulag, often never to be seen again.

Communists in the 20th century:  Islamofascists in the 21st:  Dissent becomes subversion:  Dissenters become subversives:  Subversives are Communists or Islamofascists - depending on the century.

It all boils down to a police state, regardless of the flag it flies.

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By Leefeller, October 9, 2007 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

Nice to see your post Vern,

So this is how we ended up with great movies like “Bed Time For Bonzo.”  RR, attacking his fellow workers, according to his simpleton personal agenda, is quite sick. Guess it makes sense to eliminate the competition anyway you can.
Fitting that he later became an icon of Republican greatness. 

How is that people who create these inquisition’s seem always to come from the right?  This ongoing sickness requires demonizing, creating scares to gain control and power.  Reason, logic absent and rights of others be damned.

Great article, I know this was another black mark in U.S. history, how many more must we endure? Opportunist’s love this kind of history, so they can make sure it repeats itself.

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By Verne Arnold, October 9, 2007 at 6:34 am Link to this comment

Addendum;

At that time 6,000 people were about 10% of the 60,000 people living in Boise at that time.  That’s a lot of commies for such a conservative place.  I wish this article had included Seeger…he was very brave and spoke out proudly and vehemently against the McCarthy Inquisition.

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By thomas billis, October 9, 2007 at 6:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am convinced and I will come back later to hear different opinions that the the attack on Hollywood was a concerted effort to put Americas problems under the rug.From memory many of the movies of the late 40s and the early 50’s were socially relevant and highlighted problems in America that the powers that be did not not want to address.Racism anti semitism and the like.Again from memory the early 50s to the early 60s the movies seemed to all be some derivation of Rock Hudson and Doris Day everything is great in America and everybody is happy.I may be giving the powers that be too much credit but I do believe it.

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By Verne Arnold, October 9, 2007 at 5:28 am Link to this comment

Very timely article;

“According to Costa-Gavras, the Hollywood Blacklist is “a period we should visit, and try to see what happened, and why that happened to understand it, so it won’t be repeated.” The upcoming 60th anniversary of the Hollywood Ten “needs to be marked,” insists Lawson biographer Gerald Horne.”


1967 (20 years later), Boise, Idaho…Pete Seeger was scheduled to appear in a public park by the Boise River.  Among many slanders and threats, a local radio station stated, “If you want to see all the communists living in Boise, go to the concert in the park.”

The concert was wonderful and there were 6,000 communists in Boise at that time.  I didn’t hear one word of protest.  Lord almighty, who’d have thunk?

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