“Editor Joseph Farah responds to latest ‘Touched By An Angel”
Dear Ms. Williamson:
You don’t know me and I don’t know you. But, until last Sunday night, I was one of your greatest admirers. Without reservation, I recommended your CBS Sunday night television show, “Touched By An Angel,” to dozens of people — maybe hundreds.
“Touched By An Angel” was the one TV program we watched in our home as a family ritual — every Sunday night at 8 p.m. It was the only TV program I would allow my four daughters to watch with no concerns about foul language, inappropriate sexual situations and excessive or senseless violence.
I know our family was hardly alone. The show’s appeal to the mainstream American culture propelled it to the top of the ratings — deservedly so. The show, which deals in miracles, was something of a miracle itself to many of us. Here was Hollywood treating faith as something not only real, but essential to a happy and fulfilled life.
Then came last Sunday’s show. What a disappointment. The backdrop of this particular episode is a familiar one for Hollywood — the so-called Blacklist Era. A writer, it seems, was unjustly accused of being a Communist Party member and committed suicide as a result. The angels in the show tell us about the horrors of the 1950s when anti-communism in America took root — giving the distinct impression that this was a conflict in which God took sides, if not with the Communists, certainly against those opposed to its influence in Hollywood — people like Ronald Reagan, Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper and other patriotic Americans in Hollywood.
In the closing minutes of the show this point is driven home. One of the central characters — again an angel with special insight into the will and mind of God — warns a human character not to give up hope in the future.
“That would mean Joe McCarthy won and God lost,” she says.
I just about lost it at that moment. I would dare say I know more about the Hollywood blacklist than just about anyone in the entertainment industry today. I have studied it, read the books, interviewed many of the central figures. And I can tell you that the “conventional wisdom” about what happened is all wrong.
Perhaps you’ve never heard the other side of the story. That’s entirely possible. Many of my otherwise most informed friends in the industry have not.
First of all, Sen. Joseph McCarthy had nothing — repeat, nothing — to do with the fight between Communists and anti-Communists in Hollywood. The House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings into the influence of Communists in Hollywood took place years before McCarthy’s Senate hearings into Communist infiltration of the Army and State Department. If McCarthy’s tactics were occasionally, and I would underline “occasionally,” excessive, that was not the case with the House hearings, which nailed the Hollywood 10 precisely because they had all been members of the Communist Party.
Surely, no one in this day and age needs to be reminded of the inhumanity of Communism. In the late 1940s and 1950s, even fewer people in America needed to be reminded. We were on the brink of war with the Soviet Union. Josef Stalin was murdering millions. The United States was bogged down in a devastating war with Communism in Korea. And, as we are now certain with the release of documents in the KGB archives, the Soviet Union called all the shots for and funded the Communist Party USA.
Following the House hearings, the Hollywood studios, quite appropriately, set out to cleanse themselves of Communist Party members among their writers and actors. After all, these people were giving aid and comfort not only to the sworn enemy of America, Martha, but the sworn enemy of God Himself. Communism, by definition, is atheistic. Every Communist strategist — from Marx and Lenin to Gramscii and Mao — preached that the very first step toward a Communist society is to turn people away from faith in God.
Make no mistake about this, Martha: What took place in the industry in that era was a fight between Communists and anti-Communists. The industry took every precaution to ensure that innocent people — meaning those not actually members of the Communist Party — were not hurt. There was even a procedure by which party members could be rehabilitated and put back to work. Many were — including stars like Lloyd Bridges.
There is not a doubt in my mind whose side God would be on in such a fight — and it would not be the Communists.
Imagine, for a minute, if an organized group of fascists or Nazis had conspired together in Hollywood — receiving money and direction from Berlin during the war. Would it not be right and just to root out such traitors? The choice was just as clear for those trying to earn an honest living in Hollywood back in the 1940s and 1950s. Maybe you think that is an unfair analogy. But Martha, I defy you to make any moral distinction between Communism and Nazism. The only difference is the body count — and there the Communists were clearly more efficient.
I couldn’t help but notice in your interview with “60 Minutes” the week before that you did everything in your power to place distance between yourself as a Christian believer and “conservative” or “religious right” Christians. You described yourself as a liberal.
I would hate to think that this show was another way for you to batter us with that same point — to misuse, as many others in Hollywood have done, your platform as the creator of a hit show to score political points and/or to win adulation and acceptance from your overwhelmingly liberal colleagues in the industry.
It’s not liberal to tolerate Communism any more than it is liberal to tolerate evil.
Martha, as a fellow believer, I look forward to hearing your response to my concerns.