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Shades of red

"Shades of red" Continued...

Issue: "Salting Hollywood," Sept. 3, 2005

WORLD: Historians often lump the activities of HUAC, 1947-1950, with those of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, 1950-1954. What were the differences in approach?

RADOSH: McCarthy was chairman of the Senate subcommittee on Government Operations; HUAC was a committee of Congress that investigated what it perceived as "un-American activities." McCarthy was loose with his charges, a major demagogue, and his hearings only gave anti-Communism a bad name. HUAC's major triumph was the exposure of Alger Hiss as a Communist spy. Some of its members were unsavory and demagogic; Parnell Thomas, its chairman during the Hollywood hearings, was himself sent to jail for payroll padding, and like the Communists, he took the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify about his corrupt activities. Others on the Committee were racists and anti-Semites, a fact that hurt its credibility. In reality, HUAC was careful and all it called to testify were actually Communist Party members or fellow travelers.

WORLD: How did Elia Kazan, now remembered as the director of fine films like On the Waterfront, act heroically, and how did many of Hollywood's leading lights treat him at the time and at the Oscar ceremonies in 1999?

RADOSH: Kazan and writer Budd Schulberg realized that the real victims of Red politics were those facing death in the gulag. As Schulberg said time and time again, he didn't worry about what happened to Ring Lardner Jr.; he worried about the Soviet writers he once supported who were all put to death by Stalin. Both Kazan and Schulberg testified before HUAC on the nature of Communist activity, and how the Party was a threat to democracy and the freedom of artists. Since today's Hollywood left only wants to glamorize the old Reds, many of them refused to stand and applaud when Kazan finally received honors from the Academy, and others picketed him outside.

WORLD: You write that once Hollywood Communists lost their battle against the HUAC in 1947, "the romance was over and would never be the same again." The Communist Party itself certainly doesn't play the role in Hollywood it once did, but does the love affair with leftist ideas remain? If so, are there organizational expressions of it?

RADOSH: The left today carries on the agenda in new ways. There is no more Stalin or Soviet Union to love, but so many of Hollywood's elite swoon over Fidel Castro and Communist Cuba. The list includes the likes of Steven Spielberg, Robert Redford, singer Bonnie Raitt, and others. The left now has scores of Hollywood activist groups that concentrate on single issues. Many of them are led by the children of old Hollywood Reds.

WORLD: Does Mel Gibson's breakthrough indicate any change in Hollywood, or do you think that was merely a blip in the charts?

RADOSH: Clearly change is underway. Tom Hanks stated a short time ago that it's about time a good anti-Communist film be made, and announced his intention to do so. Team America made fools of the Hollywood left; in that film they were all blown up while attending a peace conference convened by Kim Jong Il. Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, and Co. didn't know what hit them, and Sean Penn openly attacked the movie. As the bard once said, "the times they are a-changin'."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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