• Text smaller
  • Text bigger

This year’s Academy Awards ceremony might actually be worth watching.
It may help illustrate a point I have been making for more than a decade
– that the real blacklisters in Hollywood have always been leftists and
Communists, not right-wingers and anti-communists.

Amid the pageantry set for March 21 is the awarding of a
controversial honorary Oscar to director Elia Kazan, whose screen
credits include “On the Waterfront” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Why would it be controversial to present the 90-year-old filmmaking
legend with an honorary Oscar? Because Kazan was a cooperative witness
before the House Committee on Un-American Activities that sought to root
out Communist Party subversion of the entertainment industry in the late
1940s.

Knowing what we all know about Communism today — particularly the
brand of 1940s-style Stalinism supported by the Hollywood Communists of
that era — you would think Kazan would be given a medal of valor, an
award as a freedom-fighter, some sort of patriotic honor. But no, he’s
simply being acknowledged for his considerable lifetime achievement as a
filmmaker. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of opposition to the plan in
Hollywood, where the heroes now often wear black hats and the villains
white.

In only 50 years, the leftists have managed to rewrite history so
effectively that the Hollywood Stalinists of the 1940s have emerged as
the heroes and those who stood up for freedom are portrayed as the
villains.

For instance, a March 8 report by Robert Koehler in Variety, the
daily bible of the entertainment industry, had this to say: “Kazan’s
1952 testimony to members of the Sen. Joseph McCarthy-led House
Un-American Activities Committee, identifying for the committee several
former colleagues in the radical-left Group Theatre (including Clifford
Odets) as communist ‘sympathizers,’ proved to be a watermark in an era
of anti-communist investigations.”

Utter nonsense. Sen. Joseph McCarthy had nothing to do with any
hearings on Communism in Hollywood. His was a completely separate Senate
investigation into Communist subversion of the State Department and the
Army in the 1950s. The earlier Hollywood hearings were conducted in the
House of Representatives.

The most memorable of the House hearings involved the Hollywood 10 –
a group of writers and directors who were all, at one time,
card-carrying members of the Communist Party, sworn to allegiance to
perhaps the world’s greatest mass murderer of all time, Josef Stalin.
The Communist Party USA was then and remained long afterwards no more or
less than a puppet of the Soviet Communist Party in Moscow.

It’s worth remembering that during the Hitler-Stalin pact,
Hollywood’s Communists followed the party line to the letter, marching
against U.S. involvement in World War II. Overnight, once Hitler
betrayed Stalin, the Hollywood Communists became the leading hawks in
the industry, urging immediate intervention in the war.

Unlike McCarthy, the House committee leadership didn’t recklessly
make allegations about those not under Communist Party discipline. They
sought to divide the hard-core party loyalists from those caught up in a
cause they didn’t fully understand.

The initiative for the investigation came from actors and studio
execs in Hollywood who wanted to clean up their own industry. Why? For
one thing, the heavy-handed Communists in Hollywood had already
instituted their own form of blacklisting — shutting out those who were
unsympathetic to Uncle Joe’s cause in the industry.

Once Communists were identified, they were given a chance to
rehabilitate themselves by the industry. Essentially, all they had to do
was renounce Communism. That’s where the Hollywood 10 got themselves
into trouble. You see, the FBI had hard proof of their Communist
activities. They even had copies of their party ID cards. The 10 knew
that they would be asked if they were members of the Communist Party. If
they told the truth, they would be ostracized by their industry and
their country. If they lied, they would be charged with perjury. If they
pleaded the Fifth Amendment, everyone would understand that was
tantamount to an admission.

What they did instead was disrupt the committee’s hearing — claim it
had no business asking questions.

Of the 10, the one who arguably suffered most was director Edward
Dmytryk, ironically, the only one of the Hollywood 10 who left the party
before the committee hearings. After serving his prison term for
contempt of Congress, he renounced Communism. His career sputtered to a
conclusion and lives today in infamy in an industry that celebrates his
nine loyal Communist colleagues.

Hollywood today still has a soft spot in its heart for Communism.
Imagine, for instance, if the Hollywood 10 had been members of the Nazi
Party. Do you think any self-respecting member of the entertainment
industry community would stand up to defend their rights to free
expression and association? Not a chance. Yet, there is no moral
distinction between Communism and Nazism. The Communist death toll is
considerably higher, but they had more time to wreak their murderous
havoc on the world than the Nazis.

All this to say, it’s about time Hollywood began recognizing those
who, like Elia Kazan, courageously defied the Communists of the 1940s
and 1950s — if not for their courage and defiance, at least for their
artistic achievement.

  • Text smaller
  • Text bigger
Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.