Tonight on many PBS stations at 9:00 Eastern, American Masters will feature a documentary about the two opposite ends of the pole concerning the communist witch hunt in Hollywood in the late 40s and 50s. The recent film Good Night and Good Luck also covered this sad chapter in American History.
For those who aren’t aware, the House of Representatives effectively criminalized holding the political opinion that communism just might have some good ideas to it. Many Hollywood writers and directors and actors – including some names you would even recognize – either went to jail or were denied the ability to work when they refused to name the names of others who attended meetings at which communist ideals were discussed. This was despite the fact that being a member of the Communist Party was never and has never been a crime.
When Academy Award-winning filmmaker Elia (Rat Bastard) Kazan was called to testify, he did somethng uniquely different. He named names, and in so doing caused not only many of his friends to lose their livelihood but also to go jail and even to commit suicide. Did Elia (Rat Bastard) Kazan feel guilt over this action? Apparently not. Instead, he made a movie called On The Waterfront which was basically nothing more than a two hour long justification for ratting out on your friends to save your own sorry ass. The only problem is that in the movie the Kazan character is ratting out gangster, hoodlums and criminals. In real life, Elia (Rat Bastard) Kazan ratted out writers and directors and actors.
In contrast, the playwright Arthur Miller refused to go along with the hysteria. He kept his soul by not ratting out. He also wrote a play that was allusive to the experiece, a play called The Crucible. Some like to say that Miller wrote something that was just as unrealistic a portrayal as On the Waterfront. After all, they point out, while there were no real witches in Salem, there definitely were Communists in Hollywood. When I hear this argument, I like to point out that though there may have been Communists in Hollywood, they had no more power to tear down the capitalist structure of that industry than those fake witches had to change a man into a frog.
Watch tonight’s American Masters. It’s important. Why? Because there is a witchhunt taking place today. If you disagree with the President of the United States you are at the very least attacked as un-American and at the worst your phone, bank, library, video store, and credit card records have been seized and in the office of Dick Cheney as we speak.
Oh, and by the way, if you needed one more reason to distrust of the nuclear rot that springs from the Rectal Noun (Ann Coulter) then consider that she wrote an entire book to try convince the world that Joseph McCarthy – the leading figure of the attempt to destroy lives during the communist witch hunt – was the real victim here.