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Every time I read a story about the “Hollywood blacklist” I get
enraged — by the misinformation, the faulty premises and the historical
revisionism they all seem to employ.
The latest offender is Denise Hamilton of the Los Angeles Times. In
“Keeper of the Flame: A Blacklist
Survivor,” she tells the story of Norma Barzman, a former Communist screenwriter who headed to London rather than face a possible subpoena to testify in 1949.
Now, let me say that this whole subject of Communist Party activity in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s is something I know a little about. I’ve spent years researching it. I’ve interviewed many of the central characters. Much later, I covered Hollywood — with an emphasis on the politics. I even know Norma Barzman.
But let’s take a look at Hamilton’s take on this: “The blacklist era, during which Americans suspected of Communist affiliations were hounded, fired and even imprisoned, was to last for decades,” she writes.
That’s the kind of paragraph you will see written in news account after news account regarding this period. There’s just one problem. It’s simply not true.
Before I tell you the real story, imagine if I was secretly a member of a clandestine party of neo-Nazis sworn to overthrow the United States government and funded by a foreign power. Now suppose Matt Drudge found out about this and broke the story. What do you suppose would happen next? I suggest to you that I would be forced to step down as editor and chief executive officer of WorldNetDaily — and rightfully so. Essentially, that is what happened during the so-called blacklist era.
For starters, understand that, in the 1940s, the Communist Party USA was an active and secret organization funded directly by Moscow with the express intent to undermine the United States of America and to further empower the brutal mass murderer Josef Stalin. Stalin was every bit the monster Hitler was — in sheer numbers of victims, far worse.
Yet, there were lots of privileged artists in Hollywood who adored Stalin and his party and swore allegiance to them. That angered many Americans — justifiably so.
Some of those Communists — not sympathizers, mind you, but hard-core party members — were “outed,” so to speak, in the press. When they tried to take over labor union after labor union in Hollywood, the grass-roots union membership rebelled. Ronald Reagan, then a liberal Democrat and president of the Screen Actors Guild, led the fight against the Communists at SAG. Roy Brewer, one of my mentors on this subject, led the fight against them in the technical unions. Then, and only then, did the government investigations of Communism begin.
The only Communists jailed were those who refused to answer straightforward questions about their secret membership in the party. The Hollywood 10 — all Communist Party members with one exception, a former member — served time for contempt of Congress, not for their party membership or their ideology.
You see, the Hollywood Communists wanted to have their cake and eat it, too. They wanted the privilege of working in the glamorous and capitalist entertainment industry, but they weren’t willing to face the music of the American people for their subversive beliefs. American boys were dying by the hundreds and thousands in Korea; Stalin’s death camps were working overtime; and the Hollywood Communists were paying homage and dues to a party pledged to support those atrocities.
I’m sorry, but knowing what I know about this era, I don’t feel a bit of pity or remorse about the way the Hollywood Communists were treated. In fact, if I had time to tell you more, I would mention the ways in which the Hollywood Communists actually started the blacklist — how they victimized anti-communists, non-party members and even apolitical writers, actors and technical people in hiring decisions long before Washington ever stuck its nose in the industry’s business.
Barzman, by the way, has convinced the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to mount a multimedia exhibition about the Hollywood blacklist that is to open next year. I don’t think I’ll go to the grand opening. It would probably make me mad. But I will challenge Barzman (or any other person who thinks the Hollywood Communists were victims) to a debate on the subject — any time, any place.
Or better yet, I’ll let them make their case right here in WorldNetDaily, where, unlike the Los Angeles Times, we have an opportunity to set the record straight.