To the Editor:
Gary Carden, in his book review in the April 6 issue (www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/17428), claims that the McCarthy hearings had something to do with the “UnAmerican Activities Committee (sic)” and took place in 1950.
HUAC was a House of Representative committee. McCarthy was a senator and had nothing to do with HUAC. HUAC was created in 1938 and opened an investigation into Communist infiltration of the movie industry in 1947. McCarthy began service in the Senate in 1947 but did not come into prominence until 1950 with his Wheeling, West Virginia, speech in which he claimed to have the names of 205 Communist Party members who were working in the State Department, not 200 and not the military, as Mr. Carden erroneously claims.
Nor did McCarthy “eventually widen his search to include Hollywood” — probably because the Hollywood 10 had been blacklisted by the movie studios (not the government, as many believe) via the Waldorf Statement years earlier and had already served their prison sentences.
Mr. Carden’s description of the 1954 televised hearings is off-target as the recent movie, “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Mr. Carden claims, “McCarthy gave a list of accused; a list in which hundreds of Hollywood’s actors and writers had been branded ‘communists’.”
It would have been impossible for McCarthy to have done that. First of all, he served in the Senate, not in the House, which investigated Hollywood. Secondly, the Hollywood investigations took place in 1947, not 1954. Thirdly, the 1954 televised hearings were not chaired by McCarthy, nor did he sit on the committee because it was not an investigation into Communist sympathizers, Hollywood or otherwise.
It was, in fact, an investigation into whether McCarthy and his legal counsel had pressured the Army into giving favorable treatment to Gerard David Schine. I find it difficult to understand how Mr. Carden could possibly believe these hearings had anything to do with Hollywood when they are so well known as the “Army-McCarthy” hearings. It is difficult to imagine that anyone would confuse actors with soldiers, especially when he states that he was in college doing a play which was written a year before the hearings he claims the play was based on occurred.
Mr. Carden expresses sympathy for the “hundreds of Hollywood actors and writers” that were branded ‘communists, and for the “Many [who] were imprisoned and/or lost their jobs.” They were imprisoned for contempt of Congress (not so low a bar as it would be today) and perhaps it is well they lost their jobs. They were not “branded” as Communists; they were Communists.
On April 25, 1951, Edward Dmytryk, one of the original Hollywood 10, reappeared before the House of Un-American Activities Committee. This time he answered all their questions including the naming of 26 former members of left-wing groups.
Dmytryk testified that fellow Hollywood 10 members John Howard Lawson, Adrian Scott and Albert Maltz had pressured him to make sure his films expressed the views of the Communist Party to which they belonged.
Producer-director Sam Wood also named many writers and other creative people as Communists saying, “If I have a doubt, then I haven’t any mind. These Communists beat their chests and call themselves liberals. But if you drop their rompers you’ll find a hammer and sickle on their rear ends.”
Screenwriter Lester Cole stated that all of the Hollywood 10 had in fact been Communist Party USA members. Walt Disney testified that the threat of Communists in the film industry was a serious one. Actor Adolphe Menjou might have had a different take on Miller’s play, “The Crucible:” “I am a witch hunter if the witches are Communists. I am a Red-baiter. I would like to see them all back in Russia.”
Whittaker Chambers states in his autobiographical book Witness that there was a calculated move by Communist agents in the 1920s and 1930s to infiltrate three key areas of the United States: education, media and non-elected government positions. You can’t say we weren’t forewarned.
Blacklisted By History by M. Stanton Evans describes how many of the communist sympathizers of this period infiltrated the U.S government through the State Department and the OSS during WWII.
The Venona Papers have given conclusive proof that many of those accused by McCarthy were guilty despite Mr. Carden’s sympathy for them.
The Mitrokhin Archive shows some of the extent of the harm they caused, including that more than half of all Soviet weapons systems were based on designs that had been stolen from the United States, often by spies who had infiltrated America’s leading defense contractors. The papers further revealed that the KGB had tapped the telephones of high-ranking American officials, infiltrated the government and planned large-scale sabotage operations against the United States and Canada. Had McCarthy not been smeared and the investigations been allowed to go forward, perhaps some of these espionage activities might have been averted.
This head-in-the-sand type of thinking explains the elevation of politicians like Bernie Sanders and the misplaced sympathies of bleeding heart liberals. This type of politically correct reasoning has led to recent and not so recent terrorist acts. Self-preservative measures such as “See Something, Say Something,” data mining and other observational tools make us less vulnerable. They are not going to lead into Panopticism.
Mr. Carden states that the Hollywood 10 resorted to “accusing each other in a desperate attempt to save themselves ... in much the same manner as the people of Salem did in 1692.” Not even close. Equating the witch trials with the very real threats that McCarthy addressed does a disservice to Mr. Carden’s readers.
If anyone should know the difference between fact and fiction, Mr. Carden should. The accusations of witchcraft were fictitious. Those against the Hollywood 10 were fact.
Timothy Van Eck