Placing Hollywood's "Martyrs" in Context
The recent beatification of the "Hollywood Ten" on the
50th anniversary of the HUAC hearings confirms once again how people
of good intentions end up on the wrong side if they fail to consider
the proper historic context.
The anniversary could have been a great opportunity to reexamine
that context, rather than to perpetuate the myth of "victims
of a witch hunt."
What was the context?
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Anglo-American philosophy
of looking at the world as it is, and trying to make the best of
it, was challenged by a passionate new school of thought. Instead
of accepting the world as it is, this new school began to define
how the world ought to be. It called itself "Socialism"
and, soon, it became determined to tell everyone, everywhere how
the world ought to be.
Right around 1920, Socialism split. For the most part, Russian
Socialists called themselves "Communist;" German Socialists
called themselves "National Socialist" ("Nazi"
for short). Both formations were lead by one of Lenin's two prize
disciples, Stalin and Hitler respectively. Initially, these two
collaborated, knowing perfectly well that the eventual showdown
between such deadly rivals could not be avoided.
(Mussolini in Italy staged a sideshow he called "Fascism"
- not of global significance, except for the appellation which is
widely misunderstood and erroneously applied today.)
From the American point of view, there was little difference between
the branches. Both looked upon the United States - the English-speaking
world in general - as their mortal enemy.
But first things first. Stalin and Hitler staged a dress rehearsal
for their eventual showdown. The occasion was the Spanish civil
war of 1936 and, for the first time, Americans were duped into believing
that in a confrontation between two versions of Socialism there
could be a "good side." Hollywood fell for it big-time,
so did Ernest Hemingway and others.
Yet the case could be made that, in 1936, the more immediate internal
threat to America came from National Socialists because they represented
not just an ideology, but a military power with ambitions to dominate
the world. National Socialists everywhere received their orders
from Nazi Germany. Thus, especially between 1939 and 1945, Nazis
in America were not "citizens exercising their first-amendment
rights." They were agents of a hostile foreign power, and as
such traitors to the country.
With Germany annihilated in 1945, the communist branch won the
battle of supremacy among Socialists. It was now Communists who
posed an internal threat because they represented not just an ideology,
but a military power with ambitions to dominate the world. Communists
everywhere received their orders from the Soviet Union. Thus, especially
after the Berlin blockade of 1948, Communists in America were not
"citizens exercising their first-amendment rights." They
were agents of a hostile foreign power, and as such traitors to
Foreign agents are hardly martyrs or heroes. Mounting evidence
from books and news items confirms that America's Communists were
directed from Moscow, and that they made conscious decisions to
place greater trust for their (and our!) future in the Soviet Union
than in the United States. Why many have done so, given that often
they or their parents had to flee Russia or Germany while America
offered safety and a new home, no one will ever know. Why they presumed
to have a mission to alter the nature of the country that was the
savior and "the last best hope of mankind," no one will
Some might excuse the adolescent enthusiasm that Socialism has
always been able to evoke by promising what it calls "social
justice." But there comes a time when adults have to accept
the dismal reality they actually see, as opposed to the paradise
agitators promise. If they do not, there is a price to pay. Blacklisting
seems rather mild compared with their support of a cause which at
that very moment was imprisoning half the world in a black cloud
of starvation, torture, and wholesale murder.
It is neither here nor there that some of those accused 50 years
ago are said to have been gentle fathers or gifted artists. Nor
does the eventual downfall of the Soviet Union absolve them of the
service they rendered to Socialism. The consequences of their actions
live on. Here is why.
"Socialism-The Idea" is far too powerful to be seriously
affected by temporary setbacks such as the defeat of the Third Reich
or the collapse of the Russian Empire. For the time being, it lives
on in many governments of the Western world, albeit without an official
domain. America is the home it has sought for the longest time.
By anointing the Socialists of yesteryear, yet another generation
in Hollywood is offering to carry its torch.
This particular torch carries flames of destruction. Claims of
good intentions have a long history of stoking those very flames.