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Free Minds & Free Markets

The Life and Death of a Hollywood Blacklist

Sometimes censorship is a public-private partnership.

Ayn Rand was a blacklist truther. The novelist and screenwriter had been a friendly witness during the House Committee on Un-American Activities' 1947 hearings on Hollywood subversion—the probe that prompted the studios to announce that they would not hire Communists. But when she was asked about her testimony two decades later, she claimed that the blacklist was a myth.

"I do not know of any red blacklisted in Hollywood," Rand told a Boston audience in 1967. "I do know, if the newspaper stories can be trusted, that many of those 'blacklisted' people…were working in Hollywood thereafter under assumed names." The real victims, she insisted, were the hearings' friendly witnesses. "You talk about the blacklisting of reds. I don't know of one leftist who has suffered for his views, and conversely, I don't know of one pro-capitalist who in one form or another did not have to suffer for his views."

This was misleading, to put it mildly. The blacklist really did exist. It was an organized effort to remove people from the movie industry for their political opinions, and the federal government played a major role in launching it. Anyone who cares about free expression should object to that sort of censorship by proxy, both as it manifested itself in the early days of the Cold War and as it threatens to re-emerge in social media today.

Yes, some of the more talented blacklisted writers continued to find work under assumed names or behind fronts. Dalton Trumbo knew how to write a movie that audiences would pay to see, and so Trumbo's screenplays remained in demand. But others didn't do studio work for a long time or left the industry altogether. (Blacklistee Alvah Bessie wound up taking a job as stage manager in a San Francisco nightclub and writing novels on the side.) And even folks like Trumbo found themselves getting paid a lot less. The blacklist eventually dissolved, but that took years. It is simply untrue that no Communists, real or alleged, lost work because of it.

On the other hand, it is true that some of the friendly witnesses of '47 fared pretty badly. Rand mentioned a few examples at that Boston speech, among them Morrie Ryskind, who worked for those other Marxes when he scripted three Marx Brothers movies. "In Hollywood, he was getting $3,000 a week, which at the time was top money for writers," she said. But "he has not worked as a writer one day since appearing as a friendly witness." In Show Trial (Columbia University Press), his engrossing new book about those hearings, the Brandeis historian Thomas Doherty lists several examples of his own, from Jack Moffitt, who stopped getting hired to write motion pictures and fell back on reviewing movies for The Hollywood Reporter, to Fred Niblo Jr., who wound up leaving Hollywood to write religious films for television and documentaries for the State Department. In risk-averse Hollywood, anyone who stuck his head out might lose work for his trouble, especially if he came from the low end of the industry's totem pole.

But this should not be equated, Doherty writes, "with the state-coerced, institutionally enforced blacklist of Communists, fellow travelers, and stubborn liberals." That was a more fearsome and intrusive beast.

Metro-Goldwyn-MayerMetro-Goldwyn-MayerThe world suffers no shortage of books about the blacklist, but Show Trial stands out for telling its story without grinding any axes. Doherty has a healthy level of wry contempt both for the Stalinists who populated the Communist Party and for the grandstanding censors who held the hearings. He feels no need to downplay anyone's foolish or malevolent behavior, whatever side they were on.

He also does a good job of explaining the House probe's historical context. Red scares often intersect with a war within or against a union, and Doherty ably details the labyrinthine labor conflicts of 1930s and '40s Hollywood, which culminated in a fierce and violent struggle between the left-wing Conference of Studio Unions and the mobbed-up International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Doherty also describes three World War II–era movies whose shadows loomed large over the hearings: Mission to Moscow (1943), The North Star (1943), and Song of Russia (1944). These wartime valentines to the Russians were made in response to the Office of War Information's call for films that "emphasize the might and heroism of our Allies." In Doherty's words, "All were ardently pro-Soviet, all were shamelessly dishonest in their depiction of the Communist system, and all seemed like a good idea at the time." Mission to Moscow was an especially egregious piece of propaganda, going so far as to defend Stalin's purge trials.

Having set the stage, Doherty gives us a day-by-day account of the hearings, deftly juggling a large cast of characters. In the process, he covers a rather wide range of perspectives beyond the Leninist loyalists in the spotlight and the proto-McCarthyists leading the charge against them. There are, for example, the Hollywood liberals of the Committee for the First Amendment, who tried to distance themselves from Communism as they denounced the federal investigation. (At the group's first meeting, at songwriter Ira Gershwin's house, spies from Warner Bros. wrote down the attendees' license plate numbers. They passed their findings along to the FBI.) A number of conservative voices took a similar position of opposing the probe without embracing the reds, as when the reliably Republican New York Herald Tribune called the hearings a "witch hunt," editorializing that "the beliefs of the men and women of the screen are, like the beliefs of any ordinary men and women, nobody's business but their own." Howard Hughes, fresh from his own brush with congressional investigators (these ones probing his wartime contracts), asked the Committee for the First Amendment if they'd like to fly from Los Angeles to D.C. free of charge in one of his airplanes. (They opted to charter a plane instead, lest someone accuse them of being Hughes' puppets.)

Anyone who cares about free expression should object to censorship by proxy, both as it manifested itself in the early days of the Cold War and as it threatens to re-emerge in social media today.

Though the worry at the heart of the hearings was that Communists were planting propaganda in the movies, the investigators spent relatively little time discussing just what these messages might be—and when they did get to specifics, the testimony sometimes got a little ridiculous. When Rand tore into Song of Russia, as clear-cut a case as you'll find of pro-Kremlin propaganda, she somehow managed to get drawn onto a tangent about whether children ever smile in the Soviet Union. "If they do," she assured the committee, "it is privately and accidentally."

It wasn't the most fruitful approach to the issue. Not that it was the government's business, but there certainly were a number of radicals writing, acting, and directing in Hollywood in this era. Indeed, the recent trend in left-wing histories of the period isn't to deny that they were slipping messages into their movies but to celebrate it. "Had the moguls and the congressmen the wit to see it, the evidence was right before their eyes," Doherty writes, summarizing these historians' position. "Look not to the pro-Soviet troika of World War II or the preachy social problem films of the postwar era, but to the shadowy netherworld of film noir, where brutalist melodramas like Body and Soul (1947), Brute Force (1947), and Force of Evil (1948) whispered that something really was rotten in the heart of America."

That they did. Force of Evil, directed and co-scripted by blacklistee Abraham Polonsky, basically beats the viewer over the head with the idea that organized crime is just another face of monopoly capitalism. ("What do you mean, 'gangsters'?" one character declares at one point. "It's business.") And it wasn't just noir. In their 2005 book Hide in Plain Sight: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950–2002, the cultural historians Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner note that blacklisted writers managed even to insert political themes into children's animal movies, which lent themselves well to underdog narratives. In 1956, for example, Dalton Trumbo (writing as "Robert Rich") worked a little dialogue into The Brave One in which a "boy learns about the history of his Mexican people and how illiterate Indians won a nation's freedom from the armies of European aristocrats."

Needless to say, that unobjectionable history lesson is pretty far from the noxious politics of Mission to Moscow. The most interesting question about the "propaganda" of the old Hollywood left isn't what messages anyone intended to add to the movies; it's what audiences actually took away from the films. Communism that's been translated into Hollywood terms doesn't always look so red on the screen. As the independent historian Bill Kauffman once commented, when communist filmmakers had to work "within studio straightjackets," they often "channeled their work into 'populist' avenues (the small banker fighting the big banks, the lone man against the crowd) and wound up sounding libertarian."

Take 1958's Terror in a Texas Town, a Western best known today for a gloriously weird showdown that pits a gunman against a man armed with a whaling harpoon. Here the blacklisted Trumbo (working behind a front) wrote a story in which a wealthy businessman used both private violence and a corrupt government to seize property from independent farmers. I can see why a Marxist would like the movie, but a Randian might appreciate it too. Who exactly was subverting whom?

The hearings of 1947 had their biggest effect a little more than a month after they ended. About 50 executives, producers, and lawyers met at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, then emerged with the Waldorf Declaration, which stated that the studios "will not knowingly employ a Communist or member of any party or group which advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional methods."

There are obvious parallels between this blacklist and the Hays Code, a self-censorship system that governed Hollywood from the 1930s through the 1960s. Both the blacklist and the code were created and administered by private entities, but neither would have existed—or, at least, neither would have had real teeth—were it not for government pressure. The most notable difference is that the latter, whose rules sharply limited how filmmakers could depict everything from sex to crime to faith to the flag, policed what was on the screen rather than who was working behind the scenes.

It was therefore easier to quietly evade the rules of the blacklist than to quietly violate the code. There was an obvious incentive for such evasions, too. During the negotiations that led to the Waldorf Declaration, Doherty writes, producer Sam Goldwyn threatened "to hire some of the Communists who were fired and thus 'pick up some good talent' on the cheap." The other studio bosses reeled Goldwyn in, but his comment was a pretty good prediction of how the blacklist eventually unspooled.

During the negotiations that led to the blacklist, producer Sam Goldwyn threatened "to hire some of the Communists who were fired and thus 'pick up some good talent' on the cheap."

First a few blacklistees were able to work behind pseudonyms or fronts. After about a decade, some productions were bold enough to publicly hire them, or at least some of them. (Trumbo had to conceal the fact that he'd written Terror in a Texas Town, but blacklisted actor Ned Young got a juicy part with full credit.) By 1960, Otto Preminger and Kirk Douglas were able to make a big deal of openly tapping Trumbo to script Exodus and Spartacus, respectively—but when Frank Sinatra then said that blacklistee Albert Maltz would be adapting William Bradford Huie's book The Execution of Private Slovik into film form, a backlash forced him to backpedal. It would be a few more years before the blacklist unraveled completely, and a few years past that before Hollywood started making self-congratulatory films about how bad the old days had been.

Even then, Doherty can find no evidence that the Motion Picture Association of America ever formally revoked the Waldorf Declaration. As best as he can tell, it simply became a dead letter.

RKO Pictures, Samuel Goldwyn ProductionsRKO Pictures, Samuel Goldwyn ProductionsIn the Trump era, the target of choice for people worried about foreign subversion—and other disfavored speech, from "fake news" to sex ads—is social media. "You created these platforms, and now they're being misused," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) told representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter during last year's hearings on Russian activities during the 2016 election. "And you have to be the ones who do something about it—or we will."

As tech companies create ever-more-intrusive rules about what can and can't be said using their products, threats like Feinstein's clearly play a substantial role in their decision making.

That's not to say the threats are all pushing them in the same direction. Then–Sen. Al Franken gave an unintentionally funny speech to the Open Markets Institute last year. Big tech, he complained, has "failed to take commonsense precautions to prevent the spread of propaganda, misinformation, and hate speech." These platforms, he declared a little later, "should be 'neutral' in their treatment of the flow of lawful information." It is obviously difficult to simultaneously treat speech neutrally and not treat speech neutrally, but Franken didn't seem to see the tension between these two rather different critiques of Silicon Valley.

But that too has a precedent. At the same time that a congressional committee was pressuring Hollywood to crack down on Communists, the Department of Justice was prosecuting the same studios for antitrust violations. "If the producers acted together," Doherty notes, "they were conceding that the studios were in cahoots, conducting a conspiracy in restraint of trade." The studio bosses stewed about the double bind, but they went ahead with the blacklist. (They also lost the antitrust case. But in retrospect, that would have happened either way.)

As a result, Hollywood radicals missed out on work, got paid less for the work they did do, and sometimes humiliated themselves trying to get into the industry's good graces. If Rand really didn't "know of one leftist who has suffered for his views," she was poorly informed. She did at least acknowledge the so-called Hollywood 10—eight Communists and two ex-Communists who were cited for contempt of Congress after they refused to say whether they had ever belonged to the party. They were hard to miss, since they wound up in jail.

J. Parnell Thomas, the Garden State congressman who had chaired the hearings, ended up in jail too: In 1948 he was busted for kickbacks, fraud, padding his payroll, and other hallmarks of Jersey politics. And then, in a coincidence that could have been ripped from a corny liberal message-movie, he landed in the same prison as Lester Cole, one of the Hollywood 10.

There, Cole was put to work cutting hay while Thomas labored in the prison chicken coops. One day, Doherty reports, Thomas yelled over to Cole: "Hey, Bolshie, I see you still got your sickle. Where's your hammer?"

Cole yelled back: "Just like in Congress, you're still picking up chickenshit!"

Photo Credit: Bettmann/Contributor

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  • Horny Lizard||

    Senator Ted "McCarthy" Cruz or is it Ted "Son of an Assassin" Cruz wants that Disney director arrested for making those jokes and of course that got the ghouls at Breitbart howling. The top comment wants all of "Hollywood" arrested. The Nazis sympathizes are still at it.

  • Brian||

    And progressives fully embrace political censorship with Citizens United.

    Apparently fascism is all the rage nowadays.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I have no idea what Horny Lizard is on about, but what really galls me is all the left's furor over a neo-nazi rally while thousands of professors brag about being full-on Marxians.

  • Jayburd||

    Part of the "Nazi Scare".

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    Does it matter if the number is off? How many orders of magnitude would matter?

    Or do I just misunderstand the framing? Is a Marxian some special term of opprobrium with a different meaning than, "Marxist?" If it is, what distinguishes a "full-on" Marxian from a garden variety Marxian?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Luckily, Nazis are Socialists and Ted Cruz does not seem to be full-blown Socialist yet.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    The practice of Marxism is sidtious at a minimum. It should be prosecuted as such.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    'Seditious'

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Exactly. There has to be some line at which Americans can fight back against people actively using the protections of the Constitution to destroy Americans.

  • DiegoF||

    Didn't he just say he should be brought up on charges "if the tweets are true"? This is shameless and silly grandstanding, which is hardly shocking coming from him (and I'd have voted for him for prez if I were a Republican), but it's not really asking for someone to be arrested for tweets per se. It feeds into a toxic atmosphere of fear, overreaction, and moral panic (especially a problem of course when it comes to "the children"), and possibly a call to police/prosecutorial harassment, since it might be read as a call to investigate the guy whereas there is really no call for doing that at all. But again, this aspect of typical Cruz is not quite as dangerous as it's being made out to be in the headlines.

  • Cy||

    The 'ol catch 22. What do you do with Tyrants when they run around advocating and attempting to make laws for their tyranny?

    Free speech seems to be on the ropes. But we all know that the revolutionary war wasn't just won with Free Speech.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Start vigorously prosecuting marxists for sedition. In daily life we need to get back to a set of societal mores where anyone who has marxist beliefs is ostracized and has no real upwardly mobile opportunities.

    Basically, anything that hurts their cause, or them. They are at war with us, and their goal is the complete infringement of our individual rights, and our subjugation.

    Destroy them first.

  • perlchpr||

    It's going to be quite a bit of work to root them out of the Civil Service.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Part of the reason that cutting the federal budget forces many of them out.

    Bureaucrats like Peter Strzok and Lisa Page know exactly what they are doing. They are getting paid to work the system from the inside out to destroy this Constitutional Democratic Republic. Many of these people are not even doing the jobs that taxpayers are paying for.

    The FBI is supposed to be paid to be objective federal police. Instead they tend to be partisan hacks who use government power to attack people.

    Trump is the biggest threat to their existence in a very long time.

  • Jayburd||

    50,000 emails in one summer? That's not a lot if you are in love.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "This was misleading, to put it mildly. The blacklist really did exist. It was an organized effort to remove people from the movie industry for their political opinions, and the federal government played a major role in launching ...."

    We know now that many of the people involved with this were actual Communist agents. They received active support from the KGB or other Communist units to undermine the USA via propaganda or to recruit new agents. Ronald Reagan was an actor working among them and was a Democrat during this period. He would later colelct evidence against them and testify against them.

    Some of the agents even continued their Communist activities during WWII, but luckily for them the USSR became a US ally in 1941. It was not treason because the USSR was our ally.

    There is a fine line between free speech and being an agent of a foreign power trying to destroy Americans.

  • Moo Cow||

    So...lock up the demented old circus-monkey in the white house because he is clearly an agent of a foreign power. Hahahaaaaaahaha! You are such a partisan.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Prove Trump is an agent of a foreign power. Otherwise take your Lefty BS and shove it up your ass.

    Nobody is fooled anymore. Don't you see that? Your Lefty propaganda has been exposed and is being ignored by most Americans.

  • Moo Cow||

    Already proven you old hack.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Pretty sure that Rosie O'donnell's crayon drawings don't meey evidentiary standards, but since when has the left ever relied on reality?

  • Moo Cow||

    Rosie O'Donnell??? What are you some elderly shut-in?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    There is no proof you fucking moron. Wishing doesn't count.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Oh Lefty, you would provide a link to some proof if you had some.

    Speaking of proof. The Carter Page heavily redacted FISA warrant application was released. Source #1 looks to be Christopher Steele, the British Spy trying to influence American election 2016.

    Looks like more and more coming out to expose the unconstitutional and illegal violations of Carter Page's 4th Amendment rights and Obama and Hillary conspiring to use a British spy to rig the election.

  • ThomasD||

    You'd think a libertarian publication might be more interested in exploring and exposing these apparent abuses of an individual by the state, but that would assume it values principles over principals.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    ONE MINUTE LATER...

    An article on Carter Page is published. Turns out they just needed some lead time to write something up.

  • ThomasD||

    Did you read it? Do you think Shackford approached the topic with the sort of jaundiced eye you should expect from someone concerned about abusive use of state power?

    IOW it only took a minute for Reason to show itself.

  • ThomasD||

    The release shows that the FBI clearly knew that their 'multiple' sources all shared a common nexus. One they chose to avoid telling the court.

    Because you can't spell Shackford without hack.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I recall one book that took the tack that the USSR supported a lot of groups that, on examination, were a waste too their money. The Hollywood Pinks included more than their fair share of virtue-signaling twats (or both sexes),, and one of the motivations of people who (Horrors!)Named Names was often getting back for a lot of Marxist bullying.

    This should be a good object lesson for the present day Hollywood Leftists; what was In yesterday may well be Out tomorrow...so it's well to temper your self-righteousness with a little mercy. You may need it next week.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    They won't.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The VENONA Project is an excellent source of additional information on people who were actively trying to overthrow the US government as agents of the KGB, GRU, and NKVD.
    NSA Venona Docs

  • hello.||

    Gee what a surprise. Reason "Honest condemnation of #Berkley violence must also condemn those who invited him.What's point except baiting n inciting in Trump's America?" is defending communists again.

  • Jerryskids||

    You can still find pro-Communist messages tucked away in the oddest places in film, Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven for example:

    Sheriff Little Bill (Gene Hackman): You'd be William Munny out of Missouri, killer of women and children.

    Will Munny (Clint Eastwood): That's right. I've killed women and children. I've killed just about everything that walks or crawled at one time or another. And I'm here to kill you, Little Bill, for what you did to Ned.

    Given that Eastwood's the hero of the movie, I guess we're supposed to feel favorably toward the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents and if that ain't a pro-Communist message I'll eat my hat.

  • hello.||

    Looks like the point of that movie sailed over your head just like any other adult topic of conversation.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Looks like the point of that comment sailed over your head just like any other adult topic of conversation.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its fun to try and distance the real work of foreign agents from typical Hollywood scripts.

    Why would the KGB, GRU, and NKVD spent so much time, money, and effort to groom Communist agents in Hollywood if they were just hanging out and doing nothing to overthrow the shackles of the US Constitution?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Unforgiven wasn't political.

  • ThomasD||

    Divining a political context to that exchange requires a peculiar form of autism.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    Then he's come to the right place.

  • Rock Lobster||

    Yeah. Everyone knows that Clint Eastwood, who also produced and directed the film, is well to the left of Hugo Chavez.

  • Robert||

    Wait a minute—the killer of women & children was named Munny?! There's your pro-communist message!

  • soldiermedic76||

    Clint Eastwood, one of the few long time outspoken libertarian leaning conservatives in Hollywood made a pro-communust movie? Really, is that your thesis?

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Eastwood isn't a 'hero' in that film. Oh, he's the POV character, but UNFORGIVEN is like HISTORY OF VIOLENCE in that it takes a well worn Hollywood trope and shows how bloody and unpleasant it would be if even a tiny bit of realism snuck in.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Pretty much. And the Funny character clearly regrets his dark past. The only reason he kills all those people at the end is because of what they did to Ned (Morgan Freeman).

  • hello.||

    Hey maybe the way Christians can finally get libertarians to quit trying to strip away their free association free speech and free exercise rights is to just adopt communism as part of their theology. The Pope is already at least halfway there and most people under 40 are pretty well sure that Jesus was a gay socialist anyway.

  • Cy||

    *brown gay socialist

    You racist!

  • Jayburd||

    Don't forget free sex. At least discounted day old sex.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    We all know that the real traitors are Trumptards allied with Putin to assault our democracy with Facebook posts!

    News isn't speech!

  • Longtobefree||

    Hell, news isn't even news anymore.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Anyone who cares about free expression should object to censorship by proxy, both as it manifested itself in the early days of the Cold War and as it threatens to re-emerge in social media today.

    Comparing efforts to out Soviet agents and modern lefties on social media are twisted as usual.

    Modern Lefties on social media are trying to silence speech and destroy the Constitution. They are literally using the Constitutional protections of the 1st Amendment to destroy the Constitution. Censorship is simply being used to silence anti-Lefty positions.

    Efforts to out active Soviet agents in Hollywood followed Constitutional restrictions for government such as Congressional investigations, search warrants, collecting evidence, and allowing people to defend themselves. The Communist agents chose to ignore Congressional subpoenas to attend hearings. The FBI already had evidence of their activities and just wanted to perjury trap them.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Comparing efforts to out Soviet agents and modern lefties on social media are twisted as usual.

    The sentence doesn't refer to the activities of "modern lefties on social media." It refers to congressional efforts to pressure social media companies into adopting more restrictive rules, as discussed at the end of the article. (See the section that starts "In the Trump era, the target of choice for people worried about foreign subversion...")

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its YOUR highlight Jesse. Why highlight that if that was not some fun statement you wanted the reader to pay attention to?

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) told representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter during last year's hearings on Russian activities during the 2016 election. "And you have to be the ones who do something about it—or we will."
    As tech companies create ever-more-intrusive rules about what can and can't be said using their products, threats like Feinstein's clearly play a substantial role in their decision making.

    Then FB can sue Feinstein for threats. They have the cash. The US government cannot force FB to do anything that would violate their 1st Amendment rights. You're making excuses for FB doing what it has wanted to do for some time. Lefties by and large work at FB and this is their chance to silence comments and information that they dont like. They are a private company so they can absolutely do that.

    As a result, Hollywood radicals missed out on work, got paid less for the work they did do, and sometimes humiliated themselves trying to get into the industry's good graces. If Rand really didn't "know of one leftist who has suffered for his views," she was poorly informed.

    Booo Hooo. Poor Soviet agents got caught trying to overthrow this Constitutional Democratic Republic and had to suffer the consequences of their actions. Boo hoo.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Its YOUR highlight Jesse. Why highlight that if that was not some fun statement you wanted the reader to pay attention to?

    I don't know what you mean by "highlight," but yes, I do like it when readers pay attention to what I write. I'm not sure why you'd think my clarification of what the sentence means was a request that people not pay attention to the sentence. But then, I'm not sure why you think I'm defending Facebook; I'm not sure why you think the population hurt by the blacklist was limited to Soviet agents; I'm not sure why you think all sorts of things.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You highlighted certain portions of your article in blockquote or whatever that increases the font and singles out the included text.

    You are trying to put 100% of Facebook's cronyism and removal of speech as part of some private-public partnership. Its 100% Facebook doing this.
    The Life and Death of a Hollywood Blacklist
    Sometimes censorship is a public-private partnership.

    All sorts of people get affected when the government has to investigate foreign agents in a crony organization like Hollywood to collect evidence to prevent the destruction of the US Constitution.

    I'm not sure why you write the nonsense you write. Hopefully its why we dont see you much on here anymore.

    Sometimes Anarchists just like to see the world burn.

  • Jesse Walker||

    You highlighted certain portions of your article in blockquote or whatever that increases the font and singles out the included text.

    You think writers pick their own pullquotes? I mean, it's not that I object to the pullquotes that were picked, but no, that wasn't me.

    You are trying to put 100% of Facebook's cronyism and removal of speech as part of some private-public partnership.

    This semi-literate sentence is difficult to parse, so I don't know what exactly you are trying to say. But I think most people will understand that the phrase "public-private partnership" implicates the company as well as the government; if you choose instead to take it as a defense of Facebook, well, you can't help stupid.

    All sorts of people get affected when the government has to investigate foreign agents

    Can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, eh comrade?

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    you can't help stupid

    Ah, I see you've met loveprostitution1963. He's sailed off the deep end recently.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Even funnier is that Jesse tries to throw in common Socialist term to imply that I am the authoritarian.

    Its fits right in with Jesse being a moron and then using his dime store history degree to support his nonsense.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I wouldn't know how small time writers like yourself dont even have creative management over your articles. Good to know.

    Funny when elitists like you attempt to bash a comment with some gibberish about 'semi-literate writing'. I guess we are too kind to not point out your horrible writing style.

    Everyone can read what you wrote. You wrote that garbage and it upsets you when someone discusses how nonsensical your positions are. Its okay though, we know that you are stupid.

    Why Reason prints your garbage is beyond me but its fun to tear apart.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    FB does not want to sue government officials for making threats because FB is a crony company that is in bed with Government on most issues. FB is hoping to be made the 'Official Social Media Website of Government' by spying on Americans for the NSA to circumvent the 4th Amendment.

    Its like AT&T being the go to telecom company for the NSA and getting special perks. AT&T is a blight on the American capitalism record. AT&T rarely provides services that Americans want until it gets some kickback from government. AT&T was still trying to push landlines when everyone wanted DSL. AT&T was pushing DSL when people wanted faster internet to stream video.

    Facebook is NOT the good guy in this scenario.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Zuckerberg wants the government to regulate Facebook and turn it into a utility. Then it will be protected instead of collapsing like MySpace when the next Big Thing comes along,

  • Jayburd||

    Remind me again where Rand migrated from and what happened there. And how it was euphemistically represented in the press and government AS WELL AS HOLLYWOOD. I'm sure there are enough people still alive who grew up during the 20s and 30s who were 'scared' of rumours of 'politcal' systems preforming genocide. Talk to them. My folks figured out why institutions turned a blind eye towards it and that 'scared' them even more. They weren't asking "who is John Galt?" but "who is John Birch?" It's along the lines of modern defectors wondering why the American people ignore or support this shit.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Rand saw firsthand when Communists stole their family business and kicked her out of the University she was attending because she was bourgeois (Middle Class). She fled Russia for her life.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    That sort of thing is why they need to be stopped here, and before they get much further. Or winning elections won't matter.

  • Mark22||

    Anyone who cares about free expression should object to that sort of censorship by proxy,

    Walt Disney hated communists and communism, and it was his choice as a private business owner, not government coercion, to refuse to hire people who he suspected of being communists. And when Alfred Hitchcock decided to hire Norman Lloyd, he didn't face any government consequences.

    So, in what way was it "censorship by proxy" or did it violate libertarian principles for Hollywood producers to choose not to hire people who they suspected of being communists?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    People like Jesse Walker get upset when Americans fight back. In this case, it was Government outing Communist agents under the restrictions of the Constitution. Private companies and persons like Disney used freedom of association to avoid these treacherous Communist pieces of shit.

    Then you had Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan testifying against these Communists to provide background information, since in the USA you cannot simply beat information out of suspects. Unlike in Communist countries.

    Even more interesting is that these 5th element types were only exposed at a tiny fraction of what their strength was.

    If Communism is so great and what you are doing is so great for Americans and American, be loud and proud.

  • ThomasD||

    Fifth element > fifth column

  • DiegoF||

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Thanks ThomasD, I had the Supreme Being on my mind for that second.

  • Kelarjian||

    OK, Teacher. Stop correcting everyone!

  • Jesse Walker||

    So, in what way was it "censorship by proxy" or did it violate libertarian principles for Hollywood producers to choose not to hire people who they suspected of being communists?

    It does not violate libertarian principles for a company to refuse to hire people they suspect of being Communists or Trotskyists or Republicans or whatever. It does violate libertarian principles for the government to pressure companies to refuse to make such hires. The latter is what we call censorship by proxy. More on that here.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    You might want to take the time to try educating some of your fellow reason writers on that concept. Let me guess: trump's tweets about the nfl are totally government coercion or something.

  • Mark22||

    It does violate libertarian principles for the government to pressure companies to refuse to make such hires. The latter is what we call censorship by proxy. More on that here.

    Yes, that would be censorship by proxy. But, as my examples show, the people implementing the blacklist by and large either hated communists themselves or were afraid of what an association of communism would do to their profits. And people like Hitchcock, who violated the blacklist, faced no government sanctions.

    So, you justify a claim of "censorship by proxy" with equally vague weasel words of "government pressure". I'd like to know what concrete forms this supposed "government pressure" actually took.

  • Jesse Walker||

    If you scroll up, you'll find an article on the subject.

  • Mark22||

    The only evidence you list in that article is that there was strong and specific government pressure on studios not to blacklist people because such blacklisting could be viewed as an anti-trust violation. You present zero evidence in this article or the other that, in blacklisting suspected communists, movie studios didn't simply express their own preferences and the preferences of their audiences, just like they do today when they blacklist suspected harassers of women.

    Note that I have an open mind about this; I'm not trying to prove a point either way. I have no love for the 1950's US government, war mongers, eugenicists, and homophobes that they were. I simply have heard the specific claim that the blacklist was censorship-by-proxy repeated frequently and I want to see the evidence for it. It's becoming increasingly clear that there is none, because if there were, people like you wouldn't have such trouble producing it.

  • Jesse Walker||

    The hearings were the pressure. The Waldorf Declaration almost certainly would not have been adopted without them.

    Incidentally, I would not say that "there was strong and specific government pressure on studios not to blacklist people because such blacklisting could be viewed as an anti-trust violation." As far as I'm aware, no one involved in prosecuting the antitrust case raised the specific question of blacklisting Communists; it was more that the studio execs were aware that the coordination required in establishing a blacklist might be used as evidence against them.

  • Mark22||

    The hearings were the pressure.

    Thanks for being clear that that is all you have. I consider the idea that government hearings (=speech) on matters of public record (=party membership) constitutes censorship to be utterly ludicrous.

    The Waldorf Declaration almost certainly would not have been adopted without them.

    Correct, it would not have been adopted without them. But it is clear from the Waldorf Declaration that it is not the result of "pressure", but the result of an industry association horrified by the idea that there were communist party members working in that industry in prominent positions. There is not even a shred of criticism in the declaration; rather, the declaration asks for more leeway and support in being able to exclude communists.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Mark22: I recommend the Doherty book, which details the various motives at play. I think it's safe to say this wasn't a mere matter of studio executives reacting in horror to the news that communists were among them.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Jesse's claim that he keeps spouting is that government hacks like Pelosi threatening companies to "do something or they will" means that companies went after Communists because it was a private-public partnership.

    There is far more evidence that Communists were outed, Americans were upset about it and possibly would not spend money on movies, so movie executives cut their losses and refused to hire Communists.

    Furthermore, Jesse continues to minimize that many of these Communists were not simply offering a dissenting voice of Socialism. They were recruiting other Soviet agents and working through plans to undermine this Constitutional Democratic Republic.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Jesse's claim that he keeps spouting is that government hacks like Pelosi threatening companies to "do something or they will" means that companies went after Communists because it was a private-public partnership.

    Taken literally, this word salad suggests that you think I'm blaming the Hollywood blacklist on something that Nancy Pelosi said 70 years later. The fact that the quote is actually from Dianne Feinstein is just icing on the cake.

    There is far more evidence that Communists were outed, Americans were upset about it and possibly would not spend money on movies, so movie executives cut their losses and refused to hire Communists.

    The fear of losing business certainly played a role too, just as the fear of boycotts played a role in the creation of the Production Code. But you can't disentangle what happened from the threat of government action. Remember, this all took place before Burstyn v. Wilson; even direct film censorship was still considered constitutional, so threats from Washington had more teeth.

  • Mark22||

    But you can't disentangle what happened from the threat of government action.

    You haven't given any evidence of any specific "threat of government action". Communists were unpopular, so both politicians and the industry wanted to take action; no coercion was needed. And any government action was constrained by the 1A. You may notice that politicians often say that they are going to propose unconstitutional laws because it plays well with voters, and then don't follow through with it. That's not "pressure". And something that, by your own admission, you "can't disentangle" isn't evidence of anything either.

    Furthermore, the Waldorf Declaration is clearly supportive of anti-communist efforts and was even asking for more latitude in being able to blacklist, so the idea that the Waldorf Declaration was created under pressure against the wishes of the industry is ludicrous.

    So, I still know of no government pressure, and no violation of libertarian principles there. Government exposed a bunch of public conduct that the American public hated and industry did the politically and economically expedient thing.

    Now, I wish I could at least conclude from your inability to produce evidence that there is no actual evidence, but sadly, it's clear from your responses that you simply don't know much about the subject at all.

  • Mark22||

    Your arguments also don't make sense in many other ways. For example, members of Congress constantly demonize people based on political beliefs and pressure particular industries (education, media, high tech) not to hire people with those political beliefs. Pressuring companies not to hire certain groups of people may be a violation of equal protection, but it's not a violation of free speech.

    And your outrage is rather selective, given that you focus on (1) the Hollywood Blacklist, and (2) Twitter/Google. I'd say that your selectivity is politically motivated, but I think it's just motivated by superficiality and herd behavior: you complain about what people in the press complain about.

  • Jesse Walker||

    it's clear from your responses that you simply don't know much about the subject at all

    Well, I know that the 1A wasn't a big impediment in the pre-Burstyn era, when governments around the country regularly engaged in film censorship with the Supreme Court's blessing. And I know that understanding the motives behind the Waldorf Declaration requires you not just to read the statement but to look at the record (to the extent that we have it) of what happened in the lead-up to it and in the room when it was produced. Again, I recommend the discussion in the Doherty book.

    And your outrage is rather selective, given that you focus on (1) the Hollywood Blacklist, and (2) Twitter/Google. I'd say that your selectivity is politically motivated, but I think it's just motivated by superficiality and herd behavior: you complain about what people in the press complain about.

    That's a kind of bizarre critique, given that the press has been, if anything, cheering for the creation of more restrictive rules for social media.

    Also, it's not really mysteriously "selective" to focus on (1) the topic of the book under review, and (2) a roughly analogous contemporary debate. If you want to see me writing about other examples, follow the link I gave you upthread. (Here it is again.)

  • Mark22||

    Well, I know that the 1A wasn't a big impediment in the pre-Burstyn era, when governments around the country regularly engaged in film censorship with the Supreme Court's blessing.

    The US government has frequently engaged in censorship. The question is whether it engaged in censorship in the case of HUAC and the Hollywood Blacklist. You have failed to show any evidence in any of your writings that Hollywood was pressured, let alone that Congressional pressure not to hire communists would even amount to censorship.

    And I know that understanding the motives behind the Waldorf Declaration requires you not just to read the statement but to look at the record (to the extent that we have it) of what happened in the lead-up to it and in the room when it was produced. Again, I recommend the discussion in the Doherty book.

    What you are saying is that you are incapable of describing clear evidence of "censorship by proxy", but that it requires book-length tea-leaf reading by a biased scholar of film history to argue that point.

    Thanks, but I'll save my time and my money: you have already clearly communicated that Doherty's book is not worth reading because neither he nor you evidently have anything sensible to say about censorship or governmental abuse of power.

  • Jesse Walker||

    The question is whether it engaged in censorship in the case of HUAC and the Hollywood Blacklist. You have failed to show any evidence in any of your writings that Hollywood was pressured, let alone that Congressional pressure not to hire communists would even amount to censorship.

    The question is whether its pressure compelled the companies into self-censorship. That's what "censorship by proxy" means. While I'm certainly open to debates about how central the government's pressure was here, it seems absurd to suggest that what went on at the hearings was not pressure at all.

    book-length tea-leaf reading by a biased scholar of film history

    Doherty is, if anything, refreshingly unbiased. The book (which of course is not a "book-length tea-leaf reading") was free of the sort of ax-grinding that often shows up in texts on this topic.

  • mtrueman||

    "What you are saying is that you are incapable of describing clear evidence of "censorship by proxy"

    No surprise, really. The red scare was about creating an atmosphere of self censorship. It successfully decimated the ranks of the CPUSA,

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Jesse never does provide evidence to support his statements.

    I would never give him or anyone he recommends one cent.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Jesse's article is typical non-Libertarian apologist nonsense hiding under a Libertarian picture of Ayn Rand.

    Jesse makes the argument that FB is only doing because Pelosi threatened Zuckerberg. Then goes on to dismiss any constitutional attempts to prevent treacherous Communists from undermining the USA from the inside out as tyranny.

    Its what anarchists do. They are okay with any actions that destroys this Constitutional Democratic Republic.

    They act like they care about Constitutional rights and limitations on government but the goal is to get the USA to become Anarchy-land.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Jesse, what if the person/people in question ARE undeniably communist, perhaps by their own admission? CPUSA members at least used to swear allegiance to the Soviet Union, a foreign power. These people are by their own standard, are traitors and seditionists. Striving to overthrow our constitutional republic and replace it with their slaver Soviet system.

    Are treason and sedition not first amendment carve outs?

  • Jesse Walker||

    Obviously the First Amendment doesn't cover Communist espionage or sabotage, but it certainly should cover Communist speech. I would never want to censor speech for its ideological content, even if that content is linked to loyalty to a foreign power.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    But what of speech that specifically advocates for the overthrow and/or subversion of our republic and the constitution?

  • DiegoF||

    What...yes of course it covers that! You can find it in your nearest Barnes and Noble.

  • Jesse Walker||

    But what of speech that specifically advocates for the overthrow and/or subversion of our republic and the constitution?

    Yes, that too. Combat ideas with ideas.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    You're missing the point. It's not that they have some different ideas. that isn't the concern. The problem comes with the fact that their belief system involves enslaving the rest of us with deadly force and crusing any freedom and liberty.

    You appear to treat this as just some kind of alternate way of thinking. Maybe I'm wrong about that.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Jesse is an anarchist so he does not care how this Constitutional Demcratic Republic gets destroyed as long as it happens.

    Americans should just talk while actual foreign agents try to steal elections, Lefty hordes rush our borders, and propagandists hide behind our 1st amendment to recruit agents of foreign powers.

  • Mark22||

    but it certainly should cover Communist speech

    And even if government had pressured Hollywood not to hire Communists, how would that have been a First Amendment violation? Is government pressuring Google to hire fewer whites a violation of the First Amendment rights of whites? Obviously not.

  • DiegoF||

    Well, race is not a form of self-expression, with apologies to Ms. Dolezal. So if the government does pass a law saying, "No company can hire anyone who criticizes us," or "No company can hire Catholics," it's going to get hit with a 1A lawsuit. Whereas if it says, "No hiring whites," you're going to have to go with a 4A claim (Equal Protection anti-incorporated back into the Due Process clause) or something to that effect.

    Nonetheless I don't know why we are continuing to discuss this matter of pressuring at a Congressional hearing as though it is a constitutional matter at all. Members of Congress can call any American they want before them for any reason, force them to answer whatever questions they feel like, and say whatever they want to them however menacing. These are some of the most absolutely protected rights and activities in the entire republic.

  • DiegoF||

    ...In other words, if it's not clear, the 1A issue is not the hiring. (It should be a free association issue, of course, but we do not live in that world.) It is the effect on speech from such a law; my examples show why laws like employment regulations that make any reference to speech content are incompatible with the 1A.

  • Jesse Walker||

    even if government had pressured Hollywood not to hire Communists, how would that have been a First Amendment violation?

    There's a good chance the courts would not have seen it as one. Not all the policies that I object to are violations of the First Amendment.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I'm far more interested in legitimately prosecuting as many practitioners of communism as the constitution allows. Communism is incompatible with our constitutional republic. The two cannot coexist, and the don't want it to.

    Communism is effectively a form of socioeconomic cancer.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Communists are at war with Americans and will be whether Americans are ready for battle or not.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Meanwhile, in the present day: "I'm literally a communist! You idiot!"

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Your link does not work.

  • DiegoF||

    I'm guessing it was that Indian-British activist chick who told off the always-ridiculous Piers Morgan when he, hearing her bitch about Trump's immigration policies, presumed she was a knee-jerk Obama party-line type and said, "you" did not say anything when Obama was doing this, when "your hero" was doing this. Here, learn more about the incident from the U.S.'s last true source of journalism.

    That, or Potato was merely using text highlighting to identify his political affiliation.

  • perlchpr||

    Hunh. I'm not sure I've ever agreed with a communist on anything before, but Piers Morgan is an idiot.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Haha. Yes he is.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Or rather, he plays one on TV(?)

  • Jayburd||

    She doesn't quite get to private property or re-education.

  • DiegoF||

    If I feel like batshit genocide advocating crazy, I'll stick to M.I.A.

    Yeah, I know she's Sri Lankan. Whatever.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Thanks, that was it. I tried linking to a Spectator article on it (British magazine) but I'm not superbly good at basic HLTM programming.

  • Jayburd||

    A Deconstructed Potato is an Idaho Potato or what's known on these pages as a 'common tater'.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Idaho but she up and left me.

  • Homple||

    Public discourse will soon be controlled by mobs of left wing Joe McCarthy wannabees with twitter and facebook accounts

  • Jayburd||

    Write that algorithm and you will be rich.

  • Jayburd||

    Facebook and Twitter should ban whatever the fuck they want. But we shouldn't publicly shame people who subscribe to a political system that practices genocide. Going after 90 yr. old Nazis is a witchhunt.

  • Nardz||

    Carter Page FISA warrant released. First one in 40 years of FISA existence.
    https://www.zerohedge.com/
    Might be worth an article, Reason

  • Jayburd||

    Old news, nothing to see here, can't we just "move on" to impeachment? I mean, the cops wouldn't have gotten a warrant if there was nothing there, right? Why would they lie?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Doubtful they will do an in-depth article. The FISA warrant application Is heavily redacted but Source #1 is Christopher Steele. This evidence that the FBI let a British Spy hired by Hillary attempt to manipulate election 2016.

    Information like this just undermines the TDS positions that many at Reason hold.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    My review of "High Noon", the famous Gary Cooper/Grace Kelly western written by probable communist Carl Foreman and featuring communist actors Lloyd Bridges and Howland Chamberlain examines one "loaded film in particular: http://brightlightsfilm.com/ca.....1TdAPZFwcg

  • Johnimo||

    "High Noon" is my favorite movie of all time. It was a hot, motionless, summer afternoon in Oklahoma when my Grandfather took my mother and brothers to see it. I haven't been able to turn away since that day nearly 65 years ago. I'd never seen or heard of a "morality play" but I knew it instinctively when I saw it.

    You fail to mention, however, in the above referenced excellent review of the movie, that Amy too had experienced great loss upon the death of her father and brother who were Quaker pacifists. Are you sure Coop doesn't shoot first, after hearing one of the outlaws break a window (to retrieve at memento) just before they realize the Marshall is just around the corner of a dilapidated old building?

  • Michael Cook||

    I am berating the Smithsonian magazine this month for an article titled "A Battle to Remember" by Alex W. Palmer which celebrates the effort of modern leftists in Spain to remove the remains of Communist-Anarchist-Republican victims of the Spanish Civil war from the Franco-built grandiose common tomb called the Valley of the Fallen.

    I noted that Palmer's piece was very long and repetitious on identifying Gen. Franco as an authoritarian Fascist and a murderous strongman. Several long documented anecdotes of war crimes done by Franco's side are presented along with sympathetic pictures and interviews of their families today, but none, zero, nothing about the right-wing victims and their families.

    That's SOP for left wing historians. They also forget to mention that Franco was far more than just neutral in WWII. Franco resisted strong pressure from Hitler to allow the German army to transit Spain and attack the British fortress of Gibraltar from its weak, landward, side. Franco also saved more Jewish lives from the oven prior to March 1945 than Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    Finally, fascism outright murdered 7 million civilians; communism at least 60 million for political reasons. Blacklist, anyone?

  • Michael Cook||

    About the right-wing victims in Spain, that would be a lot of local officials and police whose allegiance was to the government in Madrid, as well as their families and supporters, not to mention numerous priests and Nationalist soldiers and their families.

  • DiegoF||

    I think it was Rothbard who said that he had initially cheered on McCarthy because his focus was on exposing Communist infiltration of the government, which certainly sounds like a worthy cause on paper. But this is one of the things, one of the bargains he made, that Rothbard intensely regrets, because he saw he was feeding an unhealthy climate that could not be contained; even McCarthy himself ended up not limiting his attention to the public sector.

    Unfortunately there are no real constitutional restraints on Congress hunting down whatever private party it feels like, dragging him before them at the point of a gun, and forcing him to answer any questions they feel like asking (you have far fewer rights, even on paper, than in court; and the few you do have, it is up to Congress itself to restrain itself from infringing; it is an unchecked power and no court can protect you), where they can additionally threaten the poor fellow with any sort of consequence--even a blatantly unconstitutional one--should he not take this or that action. Such are the powers vested in the legislature, the pre-eminent branch for domestic policy; it has inherited its powers from kings...

  • DiegoF||

    ...In our perverse present, of course, we enjoy the worst of all worlds. The legislature has vacated most of its powers to the executive bureaucracy and does not want them back; and when bureaucrats are called to testify before this behemoth of frighteningly unchecked and unlimited power, they regularly smirk, talk back, insult, and loudly refuse to comply. We have so used to this perverse norm that reporters and commentators regularly write things like, "It is department policy not to turn over information" about such-and-such to Congress. This is what they report, like it was the most normal thing in the world! And the best Congress can do is sputter back, and maybe get some press out of playing the bad cop.

    These things are core Congressional duties, of course--overseeing and keeping tabs on the Federal bureacracy run by the executive branch. But it would seem our esteemed representatives are too busy dragging private citizens before them at the point of a gun and demanding what they are doing to fight dirty lyrics, violent video games, and hate speech.

  • mtrueman||

    "Modern Lefties on social media are trying to silence speech and destroy the Constitution. "

    Don't know how you come up with that. Far from silencing speech, the lefties are delving back into the past and airing speech via social media. Like that film director who was fired the other day. The lefties are not censoring but punishing views that are anathema.

  • Sevo||

    The imbecile trueman shows up, hoping that someone will make a mistake and click on his name and double the hits on is blog for July:

    "Don't know how you come up with that. Far from silencing speech, the lefties are delving back into the past and airing speech via social media."
    Tell us about how the lefty media is delving back into the past and correcting Duranty's bullshit, bullshitter.

  • Jayburd||

    I just love it when motherfuckers write about HUAC like it happened in a vacuum. From now on I decree that anyone who uses the words 'witch hunt' or 'red scare' are Great Terror, Great Leap Forward, and Killing Field deniers.

  • Michael Cook||

    When it comes to asserting that right-wing regimes and their supporters can never legitimately be the victims of war crimes and genuine atrocities, the left-wing journalists and history twisters are foggers of records non pariel. Consider the legend of Che Guevara. Was he morally justified to assassinate local officials and ambush local police and militias throughout Central and South America, or is that just the heroic myth a lot of aging hippies cling to their bosoms today, and they LOVED his image on their Tee Shirts?

  • macsnafu||

    So, if a friend of Dianne Feinstein's sends her a snail mail with "fake news" in it, does that mean that the US Postal Service is responsible for the misuse of their mail system?

    It just seems to me that many people misunderstand modern technology, perhaps deliberately, and what it really means.

  • DiegoF||

    So, if a friend of Dianne Feinstein's sends her a snail mail with "fake news" in it, does that mean that the US Postal Service is responsible for the misuse of their mail system?

    No. But then, remember that it is commonly held that it was a decision of statutory, not constitutional, law to regard all online service providers, not just the actual ISPs, as one would a telephone company or delivery service, instead of as a book or newspaper publisher. If this is true, then Congress could chip away at this all it wanted (they have already started, in fact) and reduce the Internet to nothing resembling what it has become.

  • Jayburd||

    Gosh, that reminds me of the 10lbs of non specific addressed mail I use to receive each week, thinking it was the only thing that kept the Post Office going. I wonder what keeps them going now?

  • Sevo||

    "This was misleading, to put it mildly. The blacklist really did exist. It was an organized effort to remove people from the movie industry for their political opinions, and the federal government played a major role in launching it. Anyone who cares about free expression should object to that sort of censorship by proxy, both as it manifested itself in the early days of the Cold War and as it threatens to re-emerge in social media today."

    These are strong claims and I see zero citations.
    "It was an organized effort to remove people from the movie industry for their political opinions..."
    Really? How was it "organized"; that's a pretty vague claim. Was it a couple of guys talking about some com-symps over drinks at dinner? Maybe a foursome on a Sunday figuring it wasn't a good idea to provide a pulpit for those who would prefer the golfers be shorn of their property? Cite(s) missing for your claim.

    "...and the federal government played a major role in launching it...:"
    No kidding? What role was that. Cite(s) missing for your claim.

  • Sevo||

    Cont'd:
    "Anyone who cares about free expression should object to that sort of censorship by proxy, both as it manifested itself in the early days of the Cold War and as it threatens to re-emerge in social media today."
    I'm guessing you really are pretty ignorant of the time.
    There was an organized (and I mean "organized"; funded by the KGB through the CPUSA to promote communism by all means possible, see for example, Henry Wallace's presidential campaign).
    Now, if (as you have not yet shown), the Fed Gov was involved in denying employment to people of a certain 'imbecility', you might have a point.
    If, as seems quite possible, there was a popular backlash against those promoting slavery under a communist government, you are out to lunch.
    I have certainly not read exhaustively regarding the time, but to pick some obvious examples, not even Halberstam, who is nobody's idea of a right winger makes anything like your claims in his "The Fifties". Nor does Rovere in "Senator Joe McCarthy" which is no pean to the man. Manchester in "The Glory and the Dream" also makes no such claims, and no one would mistake him for a 'capitalist tool'.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Really? How was it "organized"; that's a pretty vague claim.

    You appear to have missed the part of the article that describes around 50 executives meeting at the Waldorf and emerging with a formal policy adopted by their studios.

    "...and the federal government played a major role in launching it...:"
    No kidding? What role was that.

    You appear to have missed the part of the article that describes the congressional probe that preceded and prompted that meeting.

    I have certainly not read exhaustively regarding the time, but to pick some obvious examples, not even Halberstam, who is nobody's idea of a right winger makes anything like your claims in his "The Fifties". Nor does Rovere in "Senator Joe McCarthy" which is no pean to the man.

    I have not read Halberstam's book, but I would not be surprised if he does not discuss the formation of the blacklist in a book called The Fifties, since the blacklist was adopted in 1947. Similarly, Rovere would have little reason to dwell on the subject, since McCarthy was not involved in any of this. McCarthy was not a part of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. McCarthy was a member of the Senate.

    I'm guessing you really are pretty ignorant of the time.

    Well, I know what year I'm writing about; and I know which house of Congress contained Joe McCarthy. (And, yes, I'm aware that the CPUSA was directed by the Soviet Union. Were you under the impression that this article is pro-CPUSA?)

  • Sevo||

    "You appear to have missed the part of the article that describes around 50 executives meeting at the Waldorf and emerging with a formal policy adopted by their studios."

    You are correct; I apolgise.
    -------------------------
    "You appear to have missed the part of the article that describes the congressional probe that preceded and prompted that meeting."

    I stand by my statement.

  • Johnimo||

    This is too much fun. I haven't seen anyone so infected with anti-Russian nonsense since I saw in the John Birchers when I was a young man. The Birchers were accused of "looking for commies under their beds before going to sleep at night." Now who's looking? It's the very lefties who used to make fun of the right wingers.

    I laugh every time I read about this stuff. You couldn't make it up any better if you were righting fictional nonsense.

  • Hank Phillips||

    When a teenage pizza guy the owner (with reverent awe) showed me a John Birch Society article carpetbiting and foaming at the mouth over a Country Joe MacDonald song I really like. The realization that christianofascism and the similar communist versions of socialism really exist--and that what they say about each other is mostly true--helped prepare me to reject Republican and Democratic bullshit. It is precisely because those kleptocrats are so nearly identical that Libertarian spoiler votes so effectively defang their policies and repeal their most evil laws.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Fuck off, you Antichrist asshole.

  • DavidS-T||

    As a Trotskyist (well, actually, Shachtmanist) writer noted, the problem with the films the Hollywood Stalinists made during World War II wasn't that they were "subversive" but exactly the opposite: "And in his foreword, that incomparable political muddlehead, Thomas Mann, testified that he never saw any Communist propaganda in a Hollywood film. Mann, of course, is right, even though Kahn does not mention the film Mission to Moscow. This film too was not propaganda for a communist society or ideology: it was simply a crudely lying whitewash of a totalitarian despotism which happened to be allied with American imperialism at the moment. But while there was not a trace of communism in these pictures, there was a ton of chauvinism, jingoism, hate incitement, anti-internationalism and flag-waving imperialist propaganda – propaganda of a kind without which the Thomas Committee itself could not exist. If there is today a spiritual climate of intolerance, suspicion and hate, are not these writers themselves partly responsible?" https://tinyurl.com/y7o48nhw

  • Sevo||

    "...which happened to be allied with American imperialism..."
    Trotskyist bullshit.
    Fuck off.

  • DavidS-T||

    You don't have to be a Trotskyist to realize that pro-Soviet films were made in Hollywood in 1941-45 not because the studio executives were pro-Communist (which is laughable) but because the USSR was aligned with the US in those years. The *writers* may have been motivated by Stalinism--but it isn't the writers who determine what films get made. (If it were, Trumbo and the rest would have been able to push anti-Allied films during the period of the Nazi-Soviet pact--and would have been able to get pro-Soviet films made during the Cold War.) The studio bosses were simply producing what the US government wanted--glorifying the Allied cause.

    If believing that the US as well as the USSR was an imperialist power makes you a Trotskyist, then Murray Rothbard was a Trotskyist!

  • Pat001||

    The U.S. government never blacklisted anyone. The entertainment industry blacklisted people in Hollywood suspected of being Communists -- and now they're blacklisting anyone suspected of being a conservative.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You're lucky. You probably wont get a word salad reply from Jesse Walker.

  • Pat001||

    Maybe someday someone will write another "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" about the blacklisting of conservatives.

  • Empress Trudy||

    Yes and no. Censorship is generally wrong but when an private industry does what it feels like, even if it's insane, then how can Reason legitimately oppose it? No one forced top directors and writers to pursue a career in Hollywood.

  • Hank Phillips||

    What Rand talked about in her testimony was the specific propaganda movie. When she offered to explain a concept in 20 minutes by way of an answer to a vague question, Richard Nixon quickly changed the subject. Rand testified from experience with totalitarian altruism. The politicians were fishing for ways to hurt "commie atheists", which today they call "liberals."

  • Marshal||

    This was misleading, to put it mildly. The blacklist really did exist.

    This is a pretty shitty start. She admitted the blacklist existed when she noted the supposedly blacklisted people were working under pseudonyms.

  • Peter||

    Substitute "Nazi sympathizer" for communist and how does the narrative hold up?
    Some percentage of the blacklisted were passively, or actively, assisting a hostile foreign power.
    Although now I am not sure if Russia is our friend (pre Trump) or sworn enemy(post Trump).
    It gets confusing sometimes.

  • Jayburd||

    "It just gets to the lack of seriousness," Acosta said on CNN. "Forget about the fact that Kim Kardashian is here at the White House today and what planet that is anything resembling normal, because it's not.

    "She shouldn't be here talking about prison reform. It's very nice that she is here, but that's not a serious thing to have happened here at the White House."

    Is this guy related to that Tony commenter?