The New York Times and American Communism

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From the New York Times obituary for Walter Bernstein (no relation), a blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter, has this to say about his ties to the Communist Party, USA:

"I didn't join the party until after the war," Mr. Bernstein said, although the events of the '30s, including the Depression, the Spanish Civil War and the rise of fascism in Europe, made the Communist cause attractive to him. "The Communists," he said, "seemed like they were doing something."….

Mr. Bernstein was considered untouchable both in Hollywood and in the fledgling television industry in New York once his name had appeared in "Red Channels," an anti-Communist tract published in 1950 by the right-wing journal Counterattack.

"I was listed right after Lenny Bernstein," Mr. Bernstein recalled. "There were about eight listings for me, and they were all true." He had indeed written for the leftist New Masses, been a member of the Communist Party and supported Soviet relief, the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and civil rights.

If I had read this without knowing Bernstein's biography, I would have been led to believe that Bernstein joined the became interested in the Communist Party in the 1930s [he in fact joined the Young Communist League, the Party's youth wing, in 1937] because of despair over the Depression and concern about fascism. He was later punished for having once belonged to the Party, as well as his support for the leftists in Spain and for civil rights.

In fact, Bernstein was a member of the American Communist Party and remained so until 1956. In other words, he remained a[n affiliate and then] member of the Soviet-controlled and overtly pro-Soviet CPUSA through Stalin's pact with Hitler, through the antisemitic post-World War II purges, through the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe–through the point where any reasonable person would have been aware of Stalin's crimes.

[UPDATE from Prof. Harvey Klehr, an expert on American Communism:

Some additional details that reveal both the Times inability to ever get a story about American communists right and Bernstein's own mendacity. Bernstein admitted in his autobiography that he joined the Young Communist League in 1937;claiming he joined the Party after WWII was not entirely honest. And, in the Venona decryptions, there is a 1944 message wherein the New York station of the KGB reported that he had met with "Khan," likely Avrom Landy, an American communist who acted as a liaison with the KGB. Bernstein, whose name is given in plain text- no code name- "welcomed the re-establishment of liaison with him and promised to write a report on his trip by the first of November." The trip was quite probably a journey to Yugoslavia while a correspondent for Yank, during which Bernstein became the first Western newsman to obtain an interview with Josip Tito. In his autobiography Bernstein admitted that the interview was an act of subversion, "against American policy in Yugoslavia." And, he claimed that a Soviet diplomatic official asked him about the trip but he refused to answer his questions. But he admitted speaking to Landry!]

As I've written elsewhere:

When the blacklist was started, Joseph Stalin, one of the great mass murderers in human history, controlled the Soviet Union, a totalitarian, repressive, imperialist nation that was involved in a Cold War with the United States. As we have seen, hardcore CPUSA members were as a rule loyal to this dictatorship and not the United States,and screenwriters were obligated to try to use their positions to promote Communism….

[M]ost of those blacklisted were at least as morally complicit in Stalinist crimes100 as a typical American Nazi of the 1930s and 40s was complicit in Nazi crimes. Communist screenwriters, in particular, "defended the Stalinist regime, accepted the Comintern's policies and about-faces and criticized enemies and allies alike with infuriating selfrighteousness …. screen artist reds became apologists for crimes of monstrous dimensions. … film Reds in particular never displayed any independence of mind or organization vis-a-vis the Comintern and the Soviet Union." Nor was the screenwriters' Communist activism irrelevant to their jobs, as they actively sought to maximize Communist and pro-Soviet sentiment in films, and minimize the opposite. Screenwriter and leading Communist John Howard Lawson urged his comrades to "get five minutes of Party doctrine into every film, and to place such moments in expensive scenes so that they would not be cut by the producer."

One can certainly debate whether, in the absence of criminal liability, being a Soviet stooge during Stalin's reign merited blacklisting. One cannot argue, however, that Soviet stooges were not Soviet stooges, but that seems to have become the default assertion about blacklisted Hollywood writers among the cultural elite.

[Update: I'm getting feedback that the Hollywood blacklist mostly caught up people with left-wing politics who were not involved in Communism. This is a myth, as discussed here: "According to Ronald Radosh, co-author of Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony's Long Romance With The Left (2005), and an expert on American Communism, not only were all of the Hollywood Ten members of the CPUSA at the time they were blacklisted, so were approximately 98 per cent of all of the Hollywood blacklist's targets."]

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (the Jewish media's equivalent of the AP) does the Times one better:

Walter Bernstein, a proudly "secular" Jewish screenwriter best known for his 1960s and '70s dramas and for being blacklisted during the McCarthy era, has died at 101….

Bernstein, born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, called himself a "secular, self-loving Jew of a leftist persuasion," according to the Times.

That persuasion got him labeled as a communist sympathizer in the 1950s, when the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee cracked down on leftist attitudes in Hollywood.

Quite obviously, what got him labeled as a "communist sympathizer" was that he was a member of the Communist Party USA. As for being a self-loving Jew, I can't speak to his later sentiments, but any Jew who continued to support Stalin through his murder of leading Jewish cultural figures and the "Doctors' Plot" isn't at the top of my list for a B'nai B'rith award.

The way domestic pro-Soviet Communism is treated in popular culture, as if it was a figment of the right-wing imagination (as suggested by the term "witch hunts" and Arthur Miller's play on that topic) is bizarre. In addition to the persistent insistence that actual members of the CPUSA like Bernstein were either never Communists or just had a brief dalliance with Communism, we have the consistent attribution of JFK's murder by Lee Harvey Oswald, who by then had graduated from pro-Soviet to pro-Cuban Communism, to vague right-wing forces. We also have the remarkable heroine status of Angela Davis (she stars, for example, in Ibram Kendi's work), despite her long history as a shill for the USSR and East Germany. (She is pictured below with East Germany's dictator Erich Honecker. She remained an active member of the CPUSA until its collapse in 1991.)

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  1. While it is true that the degree of pervasiveness of communism at the time in Hollywood is understated today (it was overstated then) there really is no need to defend organizations like the House of Un-American Activities and its ilk.

    “One can certainly debate whether, in the absence of criminal liability, being a Soviet stooge during Stalin’s reign merited blacklisting.”

    No, one can’t. These weren’t soviet spies, they were ordinary people with left wing sympathies. There is nothing wrong with that. One can certainly acknowledge the lies of the Soviet Union and correct the record, but come on professor.

    Wouldn’t it have been more effective than blacklisting to reveal the crimes of Stalin and of the Soviet Union? The fact that they couldn’t is also evidence that the people you are targeting didn’t know about it.

    Journalists who deliberately kept it a secret, they are worthy of the highest possible condemnation. But going after actors who didn’t know, because it was a secret? Really? And, to release the elephant in the room, what would you say about more modern Hollywood blacklists? 🙂

    1. If you were following CPUSA orders to try to insert pro-Soviet propaganda into your scripts, you weren’t a “Soviet spy” but you were serving as a Soviet agent. The vast majority of people with “left-wing” sympathies did not join the CPUSA, while those blacklisted were mostly CPUSA members; each and every one of the Hollywood Ten was. The notion that people got blacklisted solely for having left-wing political views is myth. As for HUAC, given that the CPUSA amounted to a criminal conspiracy, it was proper to hold hearings and investigate. As so often happens with congressional hearings, however, grandstanding and demagoguery proved more important than actual investigation. As for Stalin, his crimes were not a secret, people like Bernstein didn’t leave the party because they didn’t know about them before 1956, but because they had a quasi-religious belief that they were justified. Kruschev’s denunciation of those crimes broke the spell.

      1. Krushchev didn’t break the spell for Pete Seeger. He was a lovable (by some) folk singer, and die-hard Stalinist until about 1990, when he kinda-sorta came around to the conclusion that Uncle Joe might not quite have been all he had been cracked up to be.

        PS, why do you say one would have the impression Bernstein joined the Party in the ’30s? Doesn’t he specifically say he joined after the War (I assume he means WW2)? If anything, joining after the war is more morally questionable than joining in the depths of the Depression.

        1. Krushchev didn’t break the spell for Pete Seeger. He was a lovable (by some) folk singer, and die-hard Stalinist until about 1990, when he kinda-sorta came around to the conclusion that Uncle Joe might not quite have been all he had been cracked up to be.

          The thing is, this actually proves the point of anti-blacklist types. Trying to suppress Pete Seeger’s art would have been very bad! It was good art! Same with Dalton Trumbo’s screenplays!

          The blacklist was the original form of “cancel culture”, and it had all the faults of the current one. I’m sorry, if you think the way to fight the Soviet Union was to get left-wing artists fired, you are a bad person.

          1. The blacklist was the original form of “cancel culture”, and it had all the faults of the current one. I’m sorry, if you think the way to fight the Soviet Union was to get left-wing artists fired, you are a bad person.

            Let’s suppose that WWII had ended in a stalemate and armistice and both Hitler and Stalin remained in power. Would you make the same arguments about postwar screenwriters taking direction from Hitler’s Nazi party? Would you make it about screenwriters who were secretly taking direction from Al Qaeda after 9/11? From Putin’s government or the CCP now?

            1. The issue is whether the CPUSA meant the same loyalty to the USSR that the Nazi Party did to Germany.

              I’m not sure it does.

              Philosophy – even a wrongheaded one – is not the same as loyalty.

              Plus, again, that it wasn’t about open membership. The blacklisting looked to ferret out secret members, sympathizers, those with the wrong friends.
              Even for Nazis and AQ, that’s some bullshit in an open society.

              1. And really, even with open members of the Nazi party, I understand the resonance and deeply felt injury that this would involve, but we actually kind of understand that we can watch Leni Riefenstahl’s 1936 Olympics film without being converted to Naziism. It’s not the argument stopper that one might think it would be.

                1. The problem, basically, is that if you don’t purge the commies, eventually the commies purge you. They’re not big into sharing institutions.

                  1. That, as Prof. Volokh would say, is a slippery slope without a mechanism.

                    Honestly, I think most people are illiberal. I think that most people, if they were given absolute power, would try to destroy and disempower their adversaries.

                    A good indicator of this is the number of religious people who think that God will send their enemies to hell and eternally torture them. These are people who think of themselves as good people. And yet, when given the opportunity to believe that their adversaries will be tortured forever, they adopt the belief.

                    So one of the reasons why we have mediating institutions is to check these things by forcing people to work together. And it works, pretty well. Indeed, while there were lots of Communists in Hollywood, they actually didn’t foment a revolution here and didn’t foreclose free speech. The danger wasn’t nearly what the anti-Communists said it was. Because mediating institutions work.

              2. “The issue is whether the CPUSA meant the same loyalty to the USSR that the Nazi Party did to Germany.

                I’m not sure it does.”

                That can only be because you are ignorant of the history of the CPUSA, as most educated people are. Lots of naifs joined the party not recognizing that it put loyalty to the USSR and its “Party line” above all. Most of them left when they realized it, or at least when they realized it and the Soviets did something especially awful that they were then obligated to defend, like ally with the Nazis. Those who stayed, however, knew exactly what they were doing.

                1. I’m no expert, but I’ve touched on the issue in my studies of Oppenheimer, and I don’t think your characterization is broadly accepted historically.

      2. “Kruschev’s denunciation of those crimes broke the spell.”

        I’m told that it was the tanks going into Prague that broke the spell for a lot of American college professors….

        1. In 1956 the tanks rolled into Budapest.

      3. If you were following CPUSA orders to try to insert pro-Soviet propaganda into your scripts, you weren’t a “Soviet spy” but you were serving as a Soviet agent.

        I said this in the Tulsi Gabbard case, but I think people grossly (and I would argue dishonestly) misuse language in these debates. An “agent”, in spycraft, means something, and it doesn’t mean an ideological sympathizer. An “asset” means something, and it doesn’t mean someone who does things that may help a foreign regime.

        If you want to argue that Hollywood screenwriters were trying to help the Soviets, say that. Don’t call them “agents”. Deliberately using language that reasonable readers are going to assume makes a much stronger claim is actually one of the complaints people had about McCarthy and his ilk.

        1. I think an agent is one who is following orders. If a writer inserts dialogue in a movie because it’s the character, that’s one thing, if they insert it because they were told to then that makes them an agent. Someone that is ready to take at least some orders and follow them is an asset.

          Someone who’s independent actions are sometimes beneficial is not an asset or an agent, even if they are friendly.

          1. Let me put it this way- in an atmosphere where people are losing their jobs, getting smeared, and sometimes even getting prosecuted, using language in the way ordinary people understand it is really important. Because it’s so easy to mislead people.

            So no, you shouldn’t use “agent” to use anything other than “in the employ of a foreign power”. Not because it can’t have other meanings, but because people who want to smear people and take their jobs away love throwing terms like “agent” around to try and do it.

            1. Agent: a person who acts for or represents another.

              I’m not going to apologize or change my wording to avoid using the ordinary meaning of a word. Especially when I am using in context of someone who is acting at the direction of the CPUSA. And I also would include people currently who are employed in the US that have knowing contact with and relate information to representatives of the CCP.

              But I certainly do think there is a large difference between that use and labeling someone a Soviet agent.

              1. I’m not going to apologize or change my wording to avoid using the ordinary meaning of a word.

                In a world where people are misusing words and misleading people, it’s not a matter of apology so much as it is a matter of you should be on the side of not misleading people.

                1. Are FBI agents spies?

                  Wells Fargo agents?

                  Travel agents?

                  Sorry, you’re restricted meaning is not the mainstream meaning.

                  1. As I said down below, context matters. So much of the conservative discourse on this issue (and liberal discourse on the Tulsi Gabbard-Hillary Clinton thing) involves intentionally using language that people absolutely know will make people sound like they are working for a foreign power when they aren’t.

                    And given that, I think hiding behind the dictionary is really bad.

                    1. Yes, I can see why you are not fond of dictionaries.

              2. Indeed, agents don’t have to get paid. There are many motivations that can be at play.

      4. It’s an important distinction that what turned a progressive leftist like Ronald Reagan into a fervent anti-communist was a concerted and coordinated effort of communists to take control of the screen actors guild. It wasn’t just an independent faction of the union, it was a directed effort of the communist party, that is an important distinction.

        1. FWIW, Reagan was never a leftist. The farthest left he got was New Deal Liberal, and that’s not leftism.

          1. Reagan was a member of the Hollywood Democratic Committee, a Popular Front–style organization who’s executive director was a member of the Communist Party.

            Reagan in his own words:
            “I thought government could solve all our problems just as it had ended the Depression and won the war. I didn’t trust big business. I thought government, not private companies, should own our big public utilities; if there wasn’t enough housing to shelter the American people, I thought government should build it; if we needed better medical care, the answer was socialized medicine.”

            I call those the ideals of a progressive leftist.

            1. Utilities and government housing programs are not leftism.

              1. How about claiming the authority to regulate each person’s economic decisions -is that leftism?

                1. You mean like laws against child labor?

                  1. No, I mean laws like PPACA.

                    Hiring a child to work is an action, the thing regulated is an action.

                    PPACA is a whole different animal in that it expressly stated that Congress has the power to regulate our economic decisions.

                    From PPACA: “The requirement regulates activity that is commercial and economic in nature: economic and financial decisions about how and when health care is paid for, and when health insurance is purchased”

                    But you knew all that.

                    1. We regulate your decision to hire a hooker, to invest in life insurance on another party, to convert your culturally historic building into a Chuckie Cheese and (in most places) to purchase and install non-frostproof gas lines. Catch the wave.

                    2. Laws that ‘regulate each person’s economic decisions’ span child labor to the ACA to the Takings and Taxing Clauses.

                      If some outrage you, and others do not, you need to draw your lines better about why.

                    3. Sarcastro,
                      Can you show a single conviction for “deciding” to do something, rather than actually doing the thing, or at least attempting to do the thing, prohibited?

                      I decided to go for a walk today without my mask, but the temperature dropped to zero, so I stayed inside instead to rant on the VC. Do I need to worry about being arrested for defying the local mask law? Of course not, no one in their right mind thinks the government can regulate our decisions rather than our actions.

                      But we should never forget that every one of the House and Senate Dems tried to do just that in PPACA.

                    4. …Are you trying to recharacterize the act/inact distinction into a act/decide distinction?

                      Because the answer to that is the same as it was at SCOTUS: taxes.
                      Making more money isn’t an action, it’s a decision. Taxes change based on that decision. And the Constitution explicitly contemplates such policymaking.

                    5. Regarding PPACA at SCOTUS, there was a commerce clause argument (activity/inactivity) in which the failure to abide by the mandate results in a penalty and a completely separate “it is a tax” argument.

                      Insisting that a thing is really its opposite (inactivity and activity) is pretty much the hallmark of totalitarian regimes. Pretending laterl on that they never said it also a dead giveaway.

              2. Ownership of utilities is. Regulation of a a state sanctioed monoplopy is closer to the fascist ideal

                1. Which may say something about your definition of leftism and fascism, if water utilities are embraced by both ideologies.

                  But I’ve learned from this blog not to sweat the semantics and branding of terms from left to liberal to conservative to libertarian.

          2. ” New Deal Liberal, and that’s not leftism.”

            You make several comments here below about the “right”. You mean conservatives, correct?

            So all conservatives are on the “right” but no liberal is on the “left”.

            Very convenient.

            1. “On the left” is different than “leftist”.

              I wouldn’t call all conservatives “rightists” either.

              1. Your selective language contortions must be very comforting. Back in the real world, there isn’t any difference between “on the left” and “leftist”.

                1. Actually, there very much is, and conservatives are being knowingly dishonest when the claim there isn’t. They just love calling liberals “leftists” for the same reason they love calling them “socialists” or “communists”, and liberals love calling conservatives “fascists”.

                  1. Having already corrupted the original meaning of “liberal”, they (you included) now seek to signify a zero-length distinction “leftist”, “left”, “leftual persuasion”, “left wing”, “socialist”.

                    Won’t work. Your Ministry of Mistruth is not yet in charge of common language.

    2. “One can certainly acknowledge the lies of the Soviet Union and correct the record, but come on professor. ”
      And how many did that on a public basis.

    3. “Stooge” =/= “Spy”. Acknowledging the lies of the Soviet Union and correcting the record necessarily includes correcting the record about the apologists and “stooges” for the Soviet Union whether or not those apologists were (illegal) spies or (legal but wrong) sympathizers.

      That said, I agree that blacklisting was a pretty stupid (and depending on the context, illegal) tactic that did far more harm than good.

      1. Please explain (with examples) how the Soviet Union would (did) treat individuals in the Soviet Union who were following directions of a non-USSR government as to how to broadcast “Western Propaganda”? Hint, somehow USSR did NOT make the delicate distinction between “stooge” (or whatever other synonym one wishes to use to describe someone following the directions of a foreign power) and “spy”. Such folk were very fortunate indeed if they were only expelled from the USSR. There were other places and options that were not nearly so nice.

        Honestly, I don’t see why “agent” is not the perfect word for the actions of Bernstein. “Agent” is used in law to mean “someone acting on behalf of another” and that’s what at least some of the Hollywood types were doing, no?

        1. So you’re saying that because the Soviet Union treated sympathizers as spies, that we should do (or have done) the same? Do you realize that would defeat the very arguments we were making that we had the better system?

          “Agent” is a perfectly good term if limited (as you do) to the legal definition. Unfortunately, the Ian Fleming novels gave “agent” a connotation indistinguishable from “spy” so in common usage that won’t resolve the confusion. “Stooge”, for all its derogatory connotations, clearly implies someone untrained, unpaid and probably misguided and thus (in the US at least) at a lesser level of culpability than a “spy”.

    4. Almost all high level CPUSA members of the 1950s would have been guilty under FARA and other statutes. And not in the way they are typically stretched in your modern prosecutions, as legitimately providing material support and acting as an agent of a hostile foreign power.

    5. Alladin, Joe McCarthy was an alcoholic — he was one by the standards of the 1950s when everyone drank heavily. Those were drunken rants — he died of alcoholism a year or two later.

      Notwithstanding that, he was *right* — we learned this 40 years later when the Soviet Union imploded and we got to read the Soviets own records. The SOVIETS thought that these people were their agents, etc.

    6. “ordinary people with left wing sympathies”

      They were propaganda agents for a hostile foreign power.

      Despicable humans.

      1. Bob — history is repeating itself, except that the ChiComs are outright buying people. The current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue comes to immediate mind…

  2. Cancel culture….good?

    1. Backing Commies again I see.

      1. Yeah, that’s my point, Bob.

        Great reading.

        1. Yes, you could call it a cancel culture based on a systematic pattern of behavior.

          1. What behavior? Belonging to a political party that holds beliefs that you and Prof. Bernstein disagree with?

        2. I get your point, defending Commies is just a bonus for you.

          1. He’s like a little Joe McCarthy, ain’t that sweet.

            1. Look, another Commie defender enters.

    2. Yeah I dont understand the argument either.

      Why can’t both sides of an issue calmly explain why the other person is wrong without advocating blacklists or the like? Is it really so much to ask of people?

      1. That would be great if one side didn’t resort to pipe bombs, insurrection, and attempts to hang the vice president.

        How does one “calmly explain” why they’re wrong in the midst of that? How do you drown out their chants of “you will not replace us?”

        Oh, sorry… we’re talking about calmly explaining things to leftists. My bad.

        1. Yes, if your only understanding of conservatives was from the media, I’m sure you would have that perception. And the other way, if your only perception of left wing people as rioting communists, you would also have a negative perception of the ability of communication.

          The point being that if you got off social media and actually spoke with people you disagree with in person, you would have a much more nuanced view of the views of others.

          1. Outside of news sites like this one, I literally (and I mean literally) deleted all of my social media after the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica revelation. I also make a point of reading some center-right publications, including Volokh, though I consider the rest of Reason to be nowhere close to centrist.

            I do try to speak to conservatives in my family and I cannot get past the conspiracy theories about Biden and China, how CNN is all lies, or the COVID hoax. We cannot agree on an authoritative source of facts and they cannot be convinced that COVID is worse than influenza or that there isn’t a Deep State.

            I have some understanding of why they think these things largely because I’ve gone out of my way to research why people fall for conspiracies. But from a practical perspective, it doesn’t matter. 43% of GOP voters supported the attack on the Capitol. Now GOP voters are a minority of Americans and the poll has its limits, but that’s still a big chunk of Americans that appear out of reach.

            For the near term, I no longer reach out to the family. I cannot trust them to take COVID seriously enough to respect my health. No amount of nuanced understanding is going to change that other than coming to the realization that they’ve got to pull themselves out of it on their own and I’ll keep my safe distance until they do.

            1. Oh, please. 538 purged the last even centrist staff member a few years ago. They’ve got about as much insight into the thinking of conservatives as Kirkland does.

              When they say that “45% of GOP voters supported the attack on the Capitol”, (Not 43%) what it means is that 45% of GOP voters didn’t accept the narrative that it was an attack on the Capitol.

              In fact, the pollster said, “The partisan difference in support could be down to differing perceptions of the nature of the protests. While 59% of voters who are aware of the events at the Capitol perceive them as being more violent than more peaceful (28%), the opposite is true of Republicans. By 58% to 22%, Republicans see the goings on as more peaceful than more violent.”

              So they weren’t supporting “the attack on the Capitol”, they were supporting “the protest at the Capitol”.

    3. I think that blacklisting CPUSA members in the 50s is a close call. If that’s a close call, then canceling someone because of a poorly-worded tweet, uttering the n-word in the course of a discussion about the use of the n-word, publishing an op-ed by a US Senator, and so forth and so on is not a close call.

      1. Another way to look at it is to compare the use of the word “Communist” to “Racist” or “White Supremecist” today. If one limits the definition to actual CPUSA members or actual KKK members, then yeah, one can make a plausible argument for “cancellation.” But we do not limit the definitions, and instead weaponize (to use a term I detest) the words to destroy those with whom we should just disagree in good faith.

        1. Ridgeway — the “White Supremicists” don’t have ICBMs, the Soviets did…

      2. “I think that blacklisting CPUSA members in the 50s is a close call.”

        Henry Kissinger states that “the Cold War was not a garden party.”

        The USSR wanted to incinerate us, and had the means to do so.
        That needs to be remembered…

        1. Actually they didn’t have the ability to incinerate us. But you know–scare the s..t out of the gullible and you will be the beneficiary of trillions of dollars of “protection”.

          1. Two words: Tsar Bomba….

      3. “canceling someone because of a poorly-worded tweet”

        Or letter to the editor? Google Bernstein, Volokh and Shipman.

      4. How is it a “close call”? If you’re serious about free speech, free exchange of ideas, political pluralism, etc. *on principle* (as opposed to merely using them as a cudgel to protect your own tribe), opposing McCarthyism should be the easiest call imaginable.

        McCarthyism was never about protecting the US – the Soviets had just lost 25 million people fighting the Nazis and were in no position to pose a threat. It was always about crushing the left and defanging labor unions.

        1. “were in no position to pose a threat”

          Just the largest army in the world and after 1949 nukes.

          1. And a national ideology that explicitly called for the dominance of worldwide communism.

            1. All in stark contrast with the US, with a limited military, no nukes, and a national ideology that abhorred imperialist aggression and worldwide dominance. Lmao.

              In the years following WWII, the Soviets were licking their wounds after taking the brunt of the Nazi’s force. They were in no position to attack the US, and demonstrated no interest in doing so.

              1. You might have a different point of view if you lived in Hungary, Poland, or the other satellite nations with the Soviet boot on your neck.

                1. Maybe. And maybe you would have a different point to view if you lived in Cambodia, Vietnam, Nicaragua, or El Salvador.

                  There were no “good guys” in the Cold War.

                  1. My wife’s grandfather was killed by the Communists in Cambodia. Her mother at the age of 13 was separated from her family and forced marched over a hundred miles to a guarded commune.

                    The people in Cambodia don’t blame the US or the west for what happened there, they blame the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot who had been plotting since the 30’s to do exactly what they did.

                    1. Yes, no question the Kissinger-backed Khmer Rouge was evil. So were the US bombings.

                    2. AT,
                      Pretty slick excuse for Pol Pot murdering 3 million fellow Cambodians.

                    3. “So were the US bombings.”

                      The parts of Cambodia that the U.S. bombed (and invaded, and sent in various patrols) were occupied by North Vietnamese at the time.

                      It’s also true that we bombed France, Holland, Norway, etc in WWII. That doesn’t mean we were bombing downtown Paris or Oslo or Rotterdam because we didn’t like the French, Norwegians, or Dutch.

                    4. Occupied in the Vietnam War covers for a lot of civilian targeting.

                      We hadn’t declared anything on Cambodia. Those bombings were war crimes.

                      Communism sucks. It’s pretty unfortunate we sucked as well in reaction.

                    5. “Kissinger-backed Khmer Rouge”

                      You are insane.

                    6. “Occupied in the Vietnam War covers for a lot of civilian targeting.”

                      I’m trying to understand. You seem to think that the areas occupied by the NVA, and bombed et al, contained civilians? I don’t think that’s the case. I have read a bunch of bios from e.g. the LRRP people who were on the ground there, and there weren’t any civilians, just NVA troops.

                      “We hadn’t declared anything on Cambodia. Those bombings were war crimes.”

                      When you allow foreign troops to use your country during a war, you can reasonably expect the belligerents in that war to attack those foreign troops. For one example of many, we bombed the Atlantic coast U-boat pens in WWII. We weren’t at war with Vichy France. Also war crimes?

                    7. The reliance on strategic bombing in Vietnam was not our finest hour.
                      When it’s not even a country we’re officially allowed to be bombing, it’s that much worse.

                      Strategic bombings in Cambodia accomplished nothing except death. Because strategic bombing, at least in the 1970s, was not a thing; we just thought it was.

                      This ‘expected creep of hosilities’ is not how these things work, though. If we wanted to include Cambodia, we should have officially included Cambodia.

                    8. “You are insane.”

                      Perhaps, but the United States’ support for the Khmer Rouge is well-grounded in the historical record. See, for instance https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/04/khmer-rouge-cambodian-genocide-united-states/

                    9. “The reliance on strategic bombing in Vietnam was not our finest hour.
                      When it’s not even a country we’re officially allowed to be bombing, it’s that much worse.”

                      I’m not sure whether you’re talking about bombing NVN itself, or the areas in Laos and Cambodia occupied by the NVA as logistics bases and the Ho Chi Minh trail. When you go to war with a country – and NVN was certainly in a de facto war with the U.S. – you can expect the enemy to fight back.

                      Your position seems oddly formalistic. The NVA was officially not supposed to be in Laos, Cambodia, or South Vietnam either, and yet there they were.

                      “Strategic bombings in Cambodia accomplished nothing except death.”

                      We regularly sent LRRP patrols to do BDA after the raids. Have you read any of those accounts? If so, how do you characterize the damage they found to be nothing?

                      “Because strategic bombing, at least in the 1970s, was not a thing; we just thought it was.”

                      When we finally took off the gloves in 1972, 11 days of raids brought peace after years of foot dragging by NVN.

                      “If we wanted to include Cambodia, we should have officially included Cambodia.”

                      Again, I’m a little confused. When there was a German target in Norway or Holland or France, we just bombed it. What’s this ‘officially included’ bit?

                    10. I’m a pretty hard-core functionalist, but the law of war is indeed oddly formalist.

                      I’m not an expert, but absent hot pursuit you don’t get to attack a sovereign country because the foes from a different country went over there, unless they fully occupied it.
                      And it’s not hard to see why not – else all conflicts would be global.

                      Peace in Vietnam was not won through 11 days of strategic bombing.

                    11. “I’m not an expert, but absent hot pursuit you don’t get to attack a sovereign country because the foes from a different country went over there, unless they fully occupied it.
                      And it’s not hard to see why not – else all conflicts would be global.”

                      I’m sure you know much more about international law than I do, but I’m talking practicalities, not formalities. If people are using my country as a base to attack your country, and I don’t stop those attacks, you are going to come into my country to attack them, if you have the military capability to do so.

                      The Germans, for example, didn’t fully occupy France until late in the war, but we bombed the U-Boat pens anyway.

                      “Peace in Vietnam was not won through 11 days of strategic bombing.”

                      You seem to be talking about a different war than the one I remember :-). Because what I remember was that that 11 days abruptly ended years of arguing about table shapes and whatnot, and NVN finally agreed to release the POWs if we let them have SVN.

              2. “All in stark contrast with the US, with a limited military,…”

                “They were in no position to attack the US…”

                Just FWIW, the consensus opinion, then and now is that in the 1950’s:
                -the Soviets weren’t going to – didn’t have the capability to – invade Kansas
                -the Red Army would have reached Brest in a few weeks if they decided to.

                If you want to make a detailed argument that the military history is all wrong, have at it, but you are swimming against a lot of consensus.

                (As a wee tot, I was in Germany … my Dad was one of the speed bumps the Red Army was going to roll over. For that matter, so were we; the evacuation plans were a joke)

                1. “the consensus opinion, then and now is that in the 1950’s:
                  -the Soviets weren’t going to – didn’t have the capability to – invade Kansas”

                  Yeah, this is precisely my point. HUAC, McCarthy and the other supposed “patriots” that Prof. Bernstein lauds had no jurisdiction with regard to what happened in Brest.

                  1. I’m going to disagree there. The U.S. presence in NATO was what was keeping the Sovs from ‘liberating’ western Europe. That’s why we were there – to make sure the Sovs realized that an invasion would cause enough U.S. casualties that the U.S. would be in the resulting war. What happened in America – whether America had the resolve to continue to risk a general war to keep Europe free – directly affected what happened in Europe.

                    “McCarthy and the other supposed “patriots” that Prof. Bernstein lauds”

                    I don’t see Mr. Bernstein lauding McCarthy. Perhaps you could point out where he does that? Not liking the CPUSA and supporting McCarthy aren’t direct equivalents.

                    1. Ok, so let’s stipulate that the USSR could have and would have invaded Western Europe (I think that’s extremely speculative, but whatever). How does that undercut my point that they were no threat to the US (and thus there was no emergency to justify red scare measures)?

                    2. We had this notion that the USSR subjugating Europe was indeed a threat to the U.S. A few years earlier, we thought that Hitler subjugating Europe was also a threat to the U.S. Both for quite similar reasons.

                      “I think that’s extremely speculative”

                      FWIW, the US Army disagreed, and so did the Soviets.

                    3. Being concerned about Vietnam makes sense, given the International choosing of sides between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

                      But we absolutely chose the wrong instrument to win that conflict. We still haven’t learned that you shouldn’t bring guns to a hearts and minds fight.

                    4. “But we absolutely chose the wrong instrument to win that conflict. We still haven’t learned that you shouldn’t bring guns to a hearts and minds fight.”

                      Well, you shouldn’t bring only guns. It’s arguable whether we should have tried. It’s pretty clear that, in hindsight, Korea is a lot better off than if we hadn’t fought there. Vietnam is a lot closer call – NVN proved to be a better (as opposed to good!) government than the Kim dynasty, and jungles are friendlier to insurgencies than more open terrain.

                      And if we did choose to fight, we went about it wrong. Some of that is LBJ’s fault, and some is the military. For an interesting account of doing it right, read ‘The Village’ by Bing West. America tends to be too impatient. It took the Brits 12 years to win in Malaya, which is probably on the short side. The policies where we were rotating officers thru every six months so everyone could check the combat command box … just nuts.

                    5. We’re failing at the same thing all over the Middle East right now. And it’s been longer than six years.

                      Korea was a war between basically 2 countries with some heavy proxy action, which is why the methods of warfare made sense. Though only up to a point, IIRC.

              3. “abhorred imperialist aggression”

                That actually was us.

                For instance, we declined to interfere to support continued French rule in Indochina and we broke British imperialism at Suez.

                Of course, the best example was opposing and finally rolling back Soviet imperialism.

              4. Korea comes to mind…

        2. It is also not a “close call” because people never point out the mechanism whereby driving left wing artists into hiding would actually do anything to not make the USSR a great, expansionist power.

          When the Cold War was won, it wasn’t won because we deliberately made life miserable for a bunch of left wing artists. All we did was shoot ourselves in the foot, by depriving us of great art, to please the mob.

          1. The idea was not so much that driving artists into hiding would fight communism, so much as that being an artist shouldn’t immunize you against being an adherent of a totalitarian ideology, or being allied with a hostile foreign power.

            1. So what?

              News flash: lots of artists may be supportive of the policies of foreign governments. That doesn’t mean they should lose their jobs.

              1. Dilan,
                You made a good point earlier in pointing out that too often one side or the other is calling persons who actually occupy some middle ground as either fascists or communists.

                Now you seem to be saying that even actual communists are no different than artists who may be supportive of the policies of foreign governments.

                Can’t we just call things as they are and stop the word play? I agree with your earlier post but what is wrong about calling an avowed communist a communist and treating them as such?

                Left of center is not communist, and communist is not merely left of center. It is just as wrong for conservatives to label everything left of center as communist, as it is for liberals to pooh pooh the difference between left of center and actual communism.

                1. Actual Communists in the 1950’s were pretty bad people. And there were a number of them in Hollywood. But that still doesn’t mean they should have lost their jobs.

                  1. What is wrong with bad people losing their jobs in 2019 onward?

          2. “it wasn’t won because we deliberately made life miserable for a bunch of left wing artists”

            Maybe not, but it was a nice side benefit.

            1. I find your morals execrable, but I don’t wish misery on you.

              Be better at living in a pluralistic society.

        3. Tell that to Eastern Europe.

          And whether or not Soviet Communism posed an existential threat to the US, having Soviet agents embedded in our government, unions, and in a position to shut down key industries was not something we should just stand by and let happen.

          It wasn’t small ‘c’ Communism that was the target, it was Soviet Communist agents.

          1. That’s not what the blacklists targeted. Nor the HUAC. Nor McCarthy.

      5. “Cancelling” is pretty darned imprecise here. It can mean anything from “I don’t like what you said” to “I’m asking your boss to fire you.”

        The majority of “cancelling” takes the form of speech. Often merely calling someone’s boorish behavior out as unacceptable. Being called a racist for tweeting the n-word is referred to as “cancellation,” for example.

        A private corporation worried about its brand may choose not to associate with someone who goes online and says a lot of offensive things. That’s “cancellation” too. Disney spends a lot of money keeping its brand polished and doesn’t need one of its less lucrative actors drawing negative attention towards it. Why take the risk?

        If money is speech, then boycotts are speech. That’s “cancel culture” too. Chik-fil-a and Coors beer found themselves “cancelled” when LGBT organizations recommended avoiding those brands.

        By tying “cancel culture” to Hollywood blacklisting without there being a clear understanding of what “cancelling” really entails (that vagueness is probably more of an intended feature) we create a false equivalence. “Cancellation” is a right-wing invention that lets people claim victim status for using offensive speech or actions; it’s a shield against disagreement and consequences.

        1. Cancellation is driving people of out their jobs, out of their professional associations, out of their social memberships.

          If you want to read about the modus operandus of cancellation have a good look at ” How to respond to code of conduct reports”
          by Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner
          https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52745304-how-to-respond-to-code-of-conduct-reports

          It is a favorite of many groups with newly formed ethics committees seeking to make their organizations “safe” for members, where Safety is the consideration that trumps all else.

    4. Right wingers have always supported cancel culture, from HUAC and McCarthy to the Dixie Chicks etc. They only object when it’s their own ox being gored.

      1. But so has the Left. HUAC got going back during WWII to investigate anyone accused of being “anti-Brtish”. And the American Left was just fine with it then.

      2. There is a very wide divide between McCathy and the Dixie Chicks.

  3. I support cancel culture. Do not cancel cancel culture. The right does cancel culture much better than the left, and it should proceed.

    Crush the most toxic occupation in the nation, 10 times more toxic than organized crime, the lawyer profession. Arrest its hierarchy, 25000 internal traitors, for its insurrection against the constitution. Try them for an hour. The sole evidence would be their legal utterances. Then sentence them to 10 years at hard labor.

    The slightest viewpoint discrimination should result in the cancelling of all government exemptions, subsidies, and grants for any woke non-profit agency. The slightest diversity training should be investigated by the Civil Rights Division of the Education Department for cancellation of accreditation.

    All woke corporations should be boycotted and investigated by federal agencies with oversight, with a view to cancelling them.

    1. Josef? Is that you?

    2. Cancel culture is huge on the Right and has been for a long time. Dixie Chicks, Freedom Fries, Kaepernick, Jemele Hill, etc., etc.,. Heck, Fox recently canceled people for daring to correctly call Arizona for Biden and the GOP is going whole hog to cancel any Rep or Senator that dared vote against Trump.

      1. You’re confusing “criticizing” with “canceling”.

        1. In use, “canceling” and “criticizing” are the same thing. “Cancelling” is just the right’s way to claim that criticism victimizes them. It’s a “two birds one stone” sort of deal. They can march around shouting “you shall not replace us” and feign offence when anyone criticizes them for it while simultaneously turning themselves into the victims.

          From a marketing perspective, it’s nearly as clever and effective as “Pro Life” turned out to be.

  4. Also, at the end of the day, “The Crucible” is a terrible movie that is near unwatchable. “On the Waterfront”, which was a direct response to The Crucible, is a brilliant movie that is widely regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time and is mandatory watching for any aspiring director. So who won out at the end? Maybe not “On the Waterfront,” but surely you are overstating the pervasiveness of attitudes like Arthur Miller? And “Death of a Salesman” is excellent, so its not like “The Crucible” is bad because its left wing. Its bad because it is so obviously preachy and completely misstates the actual circumstances of what’s going on.

  5. “Communist screenwriters, in particular, “defended the Stalinist regime, accepted the Comintern’s policies and about-faces and criticized enemies and allies alike with infuriating selfrighteousness …. screen artist reds became apologists for crimes of monstrous dimensions. …”

    Wait, is this about then, or now?

    1. Then they were apologists to foreign crimes. Today, domestic crimes.

  6. My dad was called before HUAC. When I was a young teenager I got a part-time job with the federal government (age 15, $1.65/hour) and I had to sign statements affirming that I wasn’t and never had been a member of the Communist Party.

    I never did manage to square any of that with those history and civics courses in high school that proclaimed we lived an a country protected by the 1st amendment. It wasn’t the first time I was told I wasn’t allowed to think what I wanted to think, but it was the first time in the adult world experiencing it.

    1. Who told you that you weren’t allowed to think what you wanted? You were told that the federal government wouldn’t hire you if you willingly joined a party controlled by a hostile totalitarian government which was intent on placing spies throughout our government.

    2. I never did manage to square any of that with those history and civics courses in high school that proclaimed we lived an a country protected by the 1st amendment.

      So I presume you are equally puzzled by the current efforts to week out people with “extreme” views from the civil and military service?

      (BTW, when I was employed by the federal government, I had to attest, not only that I wasn’t a Communist, but that I wasn’t a fascist. Do you find that equally problematic?)

    3. It’s easy to understand once you realize that the CPUSA wasn’t a normal political party. It was actually a subversive organization organized, directed, and funded by the USSR. It just presented itself as a political party as a defensive measure.

      It fell apart when the USSR stopped funding it, it had never had enough domestic support to fund its operations without the money it was getting from Russia.

    4. The same question should be asked again. Are now or have you ever been a member of a woke entity? If the answer is yes, no job.

    5. Fascinating. Today, if you are/were a communist party member, you can get appointed to lead our intelligence agencies!

  7. A whole generation was subject to propaganda through the schools, telling them that the fight against domestic communism was a “witch hunt”. The defining characteristic of witches that makes witch hunts so awful, of course, is that witches don’t exist, so the hunt can only ever sweep up the innocent. But, of course, the communists were very real.

    The only reason they managed to pull this off is that we allied with Stalin during WWII, so it wasn’t politically feasible to purge our domestic communists at the same time we purged the fascists.

    1. A whole generation was subject to propaganda through Twitter, telling them that the fight against Donald Trump was a “witch hunt”.

      1. Hilarious. There is a legal requirement to read certain people on Twitter? Who knew.

    2. A whole generation was subject to propaganda through the schools, telling them that the fight against domestic communism was a “witch hunt”.

      This is not true. When I was in school McCarthy and the rest were widely regarded as great patriots and heroes – defenders of the country against subversion. Well into the 60’s books like “None Dare Call it Treason” and Hoover’s “Masters of Deceit” enjoyed wide popularity, and students were encouraged to read them.

      1. I found a copy of “None Dare Call it Treason” in a second hand shop, but in the 1970’s, had to read The Crucible in school.

        1. In the 1990s, I learned both that the USSR was bad and that McCarthyism was bad.

          1. As long as they didn’t try to tell you that all anti-communism was McCarthyism, that’s good.

          2. Do schools still teach “that the USSR was bad”? (They certainly should, but I don’t think they do.)

    3. > The defining characteristic of witches that makes witch hunts so awful, of course, is that witches don’t exist

      No. Even if witches existed, the tactics that witch hunts used would be awful. One, but not the only way they were awful, is that they found the innocent to be guilty. The fact that witches don’t exist encouraged the use of such tactics, of course.

  8. “we have the consistent attribution of JFK’s murder by Lee Harvey Oswald”

    That’s right! As everyone knows (and as the MSM suppresses), Ted “Zodiac Killer” Cruz’s dad was responsible for JFK’s assassination.

    I mean, Trump was talkin’ about it. And it’s not like Trump would ever lie about something.

  9. Fortunately, blacklisting is back in style again. Not for Commies, of course, ‘cuz they were on the right side of history, but for fascists (usually defined as anyone to the right of Mitt Romney, but often including him too) and racists (defined as people who believe that folks should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin).

    1. And here I thought racists thought the color of your skin reflected the content of your character. That is what that whole Confederate battle flag waiving on the US Capitol in January was about–the content of their character?

  10. “I was listed right after Lenny Bernstein,” Mr. Bernstein recalled. “

    It’s interesting that Walter Bernstein mentioned Leonard Bernstein.

    The composer and conductor was also subject to FBI surveillance, placed on various lists, including one of individuals to be detained in case of a national emergency, and blacklisted for a time by CBS. He was never a Communist. At one point his passport was not renewed for a time.

    He was not, of course, the only individual to be subject to this treatment. Maybe those who think there was a lot of unjust activity by the govenment in the name of anti-Communism have a point after all.

    The way domestic pro-Soviet Communism is treated in popular culture, as if it was a figment of the right-wing imagination (as suggested by the term “witch hunts” and Arthur Miller’s play on that topic) is bizarre.

    Or maybe it’s the denial that the McCarthy investigations and related activity were witch-hunts that’s bizarre.

    1. “Or maybe it’s the denial that the McCarthy investigations and related activity were witch-hunts that’s bizarre.”

      It’s all part of the gaslighting project that some conservatives are engaging in. “All that stuff that people know, and the people that lived through talked about? That’s wrong, because REASONS!”

      You know, FDR was a terrible person who destroyed America as we know it.

      McCarthy was right and just.

      Fascism is really communism, so everything that is bad on the right is really the fault of the left, because all authoritarianism is really the fault of progressives, who remain unchanged since the early 20th century, which means something something eugenics.

      And so on. The only thing worse than law office history is pop culture right-wing history.

      Combine the two, and you have an unprecedented assault on reality.

      1. McCarthy was a demagogue, which doesn’t change the fact that our government WAS lousy with communist infiltrators.

        Oh, and a reminder: The Rosenbergs were guilty.

        1. McCarthy was also a drunk….

        2. What do you think of McCarthy’s methods, Brett?

          You tend, to your credit, to be quite critical of law enforcement excesses. Does that change when the enforcement is against those you dislike?

          1. I think that McCarthy ought to rot in hell for discrediting anti-communism like that. But even good causes attract bad people.

            1. even good causes attract bad people.

              Sure.

              The serious problems arise when the bad people get to be the leaders of the good causes.

            2. I think you’re conflating means with ends, Brett.

              1. No, the end of fighting communism was a good one, communism is as worthy of fighting as fascism, they are twin evils. Adherents of neither philosophy should be in a position of influence, and certainly not in such as position unexposed.

                McCarthy’s evil was all about the means. And the Venona intercepts and a period of access to the KGB archives during the fall of the USSR demonstrated that he was not nearly as wrong as he is commonly portrayed.

                1. And what would McCarthy have been like *sober*???

                  Shouldn’t we also ask that?

    2. Witch hunts imply no witches. There were in fact Communists loyal to the Soviets who acted as subversives, among whom Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs are the most famous examples. But the very fact that you believe that it was all a witch hunt is a good demonstration of the success of that trope in seeping into public consciousness, regardless of the facts. Noting that there were in fact Communists loyal to the Soviets, and that the CPUSA was indeed a criminal conspiracy against the US, is not to justify each and every investigation or punishment. But if you deny that people like the Hollywood Ten were party members (not “witches”), were loyal to the Soviet Party line, and sought to advance Soviet interests to the extent they could (the best argument against go after them was that their propganda was totally ineffectual), then you are denying the historical background in favor of propaganda.

      1. Weirdly, I don’t think that most people (sane people?) understood the lesson to be, “There were never any communists. The Soviet Union did not exist.”

        Naw. That’s some revisionist thinking right there. A whole giant strawman for you.

        Instead, the lesson most of us took was, “It can be a dangerous world. But what’s more dangerous is when there are those that lie and exaggerate the problems out there in order to stoke division and fear for immediate political and personal gain.”

        I mean, you would think that’s a timeless lesson. And yet …

        Of course, the problem wasn’t just the people like McCarthy, but all of the enablers. All those people who created the conditions for him.

        Because without the willing enablers, McCarthy couldn’t exist. I feel like there’s a lesson there, somewhere, but I’m guessing it’s been lost on the people who need it.

      2. There were in fact Communists loyal to the Soviets who acted as subversives, among whom Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs are the most famous examples. But the very fact that you believe that it was all a witch hunt is a good demonstration of the success of that trope in seeping into public consciousness, regardless of the facts.

        OK, so “witch-hunting” can, to be technical, is not accurate. But the stoking of hysteria sure does look like a witch hunt.

        I don’t deny that there were Communists running around. There were. What I do deny is that the methods used by McCarthy and others were remotely appropriate ways to deal with the problem.

        A campaign of innuendo, smears, blacklisting, and the like was a despicable thing to do, all the more so as it implicated completely innocent individuals. Do you think the treatment of Leonard Bernstein was justified?

        I also repeat my question as to whether Walter Bernstein specifically was guilt of any of the things you mention. What scenes did he put in his movies at the behest of his masters in Moscow?

        1. No one has said anything about McCarthy. The blacklist predated McCarthy’s rise to prominence.

          1. Again, you assume that the people reading this are idiots? That they don’t know the difference between SENATOR McCarthy and the HOUSE Un-American Activities Committee?

            McCarthy did not arise in a vacuum. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the time know that after the war, there were issues (and that the testimony of Reagan and Disney pre-dated McCarthy).

            Again … McCarthy needed enablers. If everything hadn’t been set up for him to exploit, he couldn’t have done it.

            If you look back, it’s almost comical that an idiot who couldn’t tell the truth to save his life managed to have such an outsize importance on the GOP and America , but it’s only because the path was set for him to do so. Man, I wish there was something we could learn from this.

            Naw. Let’s try and make sure no lessons are ever learned. After all, everything is probably Obama’s fault, AMIRITE?

          2. A campaign of innuendo, smears, blacklisting, and the like was a despicable thing to do, all the more so as it implicated completely innocent individuals.

        2. As a general matter, if you join a criminal conspiracy, you’re on the hook, even if you don’t commit any predicate acts yourself.

          The matter is somewhat complicated by the fact that the CPUSA pretended to be a normal political party. It is somewhat clarified by the fact that Bernstein was a member from 1937 to 1956, well after the horrors of communism had already been exposed.

          The most you can say in his defense is that he persisted in being in denial for a long while, but not his whole life. And, yes, it is to his credit that he eventually bailed.

          It’s no less to his discredit that he ever joined.

          1. A good analogy is to someone who runs a mafia-owned restaurant. The restaurant is itself legal, but is also serving as a way for the mob to launder money. The owner is willing to facilitate mafia business by running the restaurant and hosting sit-downs. He also knows that he is bound by the mob’s code of silence, and that if the mob ever asks for a “favor” he is obligated to do it. He may not be guilty of any crimes, but he is far from “innocent” and is part of a criminal conspiracy, even if you couldn’t make criminal charges stick to the extent of a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

            1. David, your comment is confused.
              You say mafia-owned, and then describe the owner as if he were not a mafioso. Which is it?
              Maybe you meant mafia-frequented restaurant. But then other parts of your analogy weaken.

            2. “A good analogy is to someone who runs a mafia-owned restaurant. The restaurant is itself legal, but is also serving as a way for the mob to launder money. The owner is willing to facilitate mafia business by running the restaurant and hosting sit-downs. He also knows that he is bound by the mob’s code of silence, and that if the mob ever asks for a “favor” he is obligated to do it. He may not be guilty of any crimes, but he is far from “innocent” and is part of a criminal conspiracy, even if you couldn’t make criminal charges stick to the extent of a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

              Sounds like the Republican Party Restaurant and Don Trump.

              1. Most lameness. Carry on hater.

                1. The Republican Party wanted to benefit from the bigotry, but I’d like to think at least some conservatives were appeasing the bigots rather than genuinely embracing the bigotry. The code of silence, the facilitation, the rituals (ring-kissing). . . seems a sound description.

                  1. Finally a comment on which I will agree with you

            3. The owner is willing to facilitate mafia business by running the restaurant and hosting sit-downs. He also knows that he is bound by the mob’s code of silence, and that if the mob ever asks for a “favor” he is obligated to do it. He may not be guilty of any crimes, but he is far from “innocent” and is part of a criminal conspiracy, even if you couldn’t make criminal charges stick to the extent of a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

              What about a guy who is just a regular customer, knows some of the Mafia guys, maybe has some sympathy with them, but doesn’t facilitate anything?

              Again. What did Walter Bernstein do?

              1. Bernard,
                What about the customer?
                He is advised to look at his food and his dining partner and not the guys in the corner of the room.

                1. I meant to refer to a customer who maybe is friendly with some of the mob guys – grew up with them or whatever – and might say hi or wave, and possibly has a decent idea what they do for a living.

                  1. But I would not say that they were guilty of anything except minding their own business.

          2. the CPUSA pretended to be a normal political party. It is somewhat clarified by the fact that Bernstein was a member from 1937 to 1956, well after the horrors of communism had already been exposed.

            This may make him a dupe or even a bad guy, but it is not the same as being in a criminal conspiracy.

            1. He was a member of the CPUSA, and the CPUSA was a criminal conspiracy. Granted, a criminal conspiracy using being a political party as a cover, but still a criminal conspiracy. It was, after all, an espionage hub for the USSR, among other things.

              1. You need a lot more due process before the government is allowed to treat the CPUSA as a criminal conspiracy.

                1. S0,
                  C’mon. This was J Edgar that we’re talking about.
                  The FBI machinery was not rolled back until Edward Levy was became AG.

                  1. Brett’s thesis is current, though. Not about the operation of law (or lack thereof) in the 1950s.

            2. BTW, it certainly was during the Manhattan Project and the several years thereafter.
              It is interesting that Gen. Groves actually knew about Oppenheimer’s communist (even Stalinist) leanings, but he didn’t care and pushed through opposition for Oppenheimer to be made the leader at Los Alamos because he thought that Oppie was the ideal person to get the job done.

              1. Oppie wanted rapprochement with the USSR, I don’t think you could call him Stalinist.

                Yeah, he really was the ideal guy though.
                From what I can tell, his skillset was much more suited to managing scientists than to sciencing through issues himself.

                1. You might try reading he most recent biography.
                  He was actually a brilliant physicist who originated the idea of gravitational crushing of stars. From what I know, you are correct that he was more suited to managing than undertaking the scientific and technological tasks himself.
                  He certainly was no Enrico Fermi, but he built a great laboratory.
                  Whether someone with the same political background as he had, could get a top secret clearance to work at LANL today is an interesting question to speculate about.

                  1. “American Prometheus?”

                    His ‘physics of bank shots’ was clever (more than I could do certainly), but never made him indispensable like many of his contemporaries, IMO.

                    On the other hand, the book certainly proved out his ability to steer his grad students (by hook or by crook sometimes). How many of them got the Nobel? It was a ridiculous amount.

                    The clearance hearing was as much about personalities as it was loyalty.
                    I mean, one of the big allegations was he slow-rolled the hydrogen bomb for nefarious reasons, which was certainly never established.

                    1. I know only one living scientist who was deeply involved at Los Alamos at that time. He will not talk about the topic.

                    2. ” How many of them got the Nobel? It was a ridiculous amount.”
                      A large number of those Nobelists were either great physicists in their own right (Bethe, Alvarez), students of Wheeler (Feynman), or Enrico Fermi.
                      Certainly he made Los Alamos his lab. It remains a great laboratory to this day.

                    3. Yeah, I got a buddy works out at LANL. Been meaning to visit him and get a tour or something ever since I read Richard Rhodes.

                      Being great doesn’t necessarily mean you’re broad-spectrum great. As I recall from the book (it’s been a couple of years now) supposedly Oppie was able to read a paper really quickly, see not only where the flaws were, but where that student would have the best time. And then manage to make them think it was their idea.

      3. “Witch hunts imply no witches.”

        No they don’t – “witch hunt” has always referred to rounding up innocents along with a few token guilty parties. Modern “woke cancellers” can point to a a few actual monsters they’ve caught (Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, etc.) Does that justify their excesses as well?

        1. Good point AT. They don’t justify it.
          However, if you work in certain environments, you’re much better off to keep your mouth shut than make even small criticisms of the woke gospel.

        2. But the moral impact of the term derives from there not being witches, so that sweeping up innocents is inevitable, not just an unfortunate mistake.

          Remember, use of the term comes from The Crucible, an allegory about the anti-communism movement portrayed as witch trials, and there were no real witches in The Crucible.

          1. And blacklisting and all the anticommunist paranoid measures of the 1950s sweeping up innocents was indeed inevitable. And established.

            1. And pretty much the entire point. The 1950s red scare was about going after the Right’s political rivals – mainstream left-ish types with no ties to the USSR – not Stalinist spies.

          2. the moral impact of the term derives from there not being witches,

            Not entirely. It also derives from the methods used by the hunters.

            There are pedophiles. Starting rumors about someone being a pedophile, with the potential bad consequences for that person, is still a terrible thing to do. I think you’re hanging your hat on a semantic objection to the specific term, and avoiding some of the larger issues.

            I mean, if someone is reasonably suspected of espionage by all means bring charges and so on. But don’t try to ruin their life with innuendo and broad statements. Especially not if you are in Congress, and your words carry weight.

    3. The US security services and the Soviet security services both knew there were lots of high-profile soviet agents in the US. Hmmm, who to believe, them or you… toughy.

  11. Nor was the screenwriters’ Communist activism irrelevant to their jobs, as they actively sought to maximize Communist and pro-Soviet sentiment in films, and minimize the opposite.”

    You have slipped from the specific – Walter Bernstein – to the general – “screenwriters.” Maybe you have some examples of Bernstein specifically doing this.

    1. Bernstein copped to it:

      “”I was listed right after Lenny Bernstein,” Mr. Bernstein recalled. “There were about eight listings for me, and they were all true.” He had indeed written for the leftist New Masses, been a member of the Communist Party and supported Soviet relief, the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and civil rights.”

      1. What of that is “maximize Communist and pro-Soviet sentiment in films, and minimize the opposite”?

      2. That doesn’t answer the question.

        And supporting civil rights is an indicator of being a Communist agent? That item in itself is self-defeating.

  12. I have always assumed that the continuous denial of real Soviet agents and Soviet agents of influence was itself an instruction from the Russian communist party/KGB. It is helpful when attempting to deny the reality of Soviet crimes in general, if the opposition can be ‘demonstrated’ to be fantasists/paranoic.

  13. If I had read this without knowing Bernstein’s biography, I would have been led to believe that Bernstein joined the Communist Party in the 1930s because of despair over the Depression and concern about fascism. He was later punished for having once belonged to the Party, as well as his support for the leftists in Spain and for civil rights.

    Why? The excerpt you quoted says he joined “after the War”, and doesn’t say anything about him leaving. I’ve never heard of this guy before, but after reading the quote I would have assumed he joined at some point in the late 40s and remained a member during the period where he was blacklisted.

    (Of course, if he did in fact join in he 30s then printing his false claim to the contrary uncritically is itself a problem.)

    1. Of course, he is omitting the issue of age; Bernstein candidly states that he joined the YOUNG Communist League when he was in college in 1937.

      He joined the adult party after war. Weirdly, he was a little busy during the war, given he was serving. It’s funny how these small details can matter. And yet …

      1. His zeal to sign up and fight the Nazis likely only confirms his status as a “premature antifascist” in the eyes of red-baiters like Prof. Bernstein.

        1. “zeal to sign up and fight the Nazis”

          “In February 1941, Bernstein was drafted into the U.S. Army.”

          Did not “sign up”.

          “Eventually attaining the rank of Sergeant, he spent most of World War II as a correspondent on the staff of the Army newspaper Yank…”

          Much nazi fighting.

          1. American Communists were happy to fight the Nazis after the USSR was invaded by them. For a while, though, when the Nazis and the USSR had a peace treaty and divided Poland up between them, American Communists who stayed in the Party, including the Jewish ones, were actively against any American anti-Nazi action.

            1. “American Communists were happy to fight the Nazis after the USSR was invaded ”

              Probably true but Auntie T. was defending on the basis of a draftee military journalist being a zealous Nazi fighter, which he was not.

    2. Nos: “He had indeed written for the leftist New Masses, been a member of the Communist Party and supported Soviet relief, the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and civil rights.”

      “had been” read to me like past tense, especially when coupled with Soviet relief, which was a 1940s thing, and supporting the loyalists, which is a 1930s thing.

  14. BTW, I was raised on the same propaganda as everyone else about looking for Communist subversives being a “witch hunt” (even read the Crucible in school) and all sorts of innocents who went to one peace rally or something being blacklisted by Hollywood. And then I learned the truth when I did my own research. The most persuasive part of that research was reading Ellen Schrecker, a leftist historian who is sympathetic to the Communists. She acknowledges that it was CPUSA members who bore the brunt of the blacklists and serious (not McCarthy) investigations. But she argues that the USSR had ceased spying by the 1950s with CPUSA members, so going after them was not justified. Harvey Klehr, by contrast, says it was only because of increased vigilance that the USSR was not able to replicate its espionage success. I’m not qualified to resolve that dispute, but I can accept the consensus that the CPUSA was a subsersive organization in the1940s, that it relied on CPUSA members for subversion, with the only question whether attempts at subversion continued into the 50s. Either way, it seems that investigations were warranted, and long-time Party members were not moral innocents.

    1. What do you think of

      (1) Pres. Biden’s apparent failure to include Mr. Netanyahu in his series of calls to foreign leaders

      and

      (2) reports that Israel paid premium prices to get plenty of early vaccine inventory, then vaccinated many or most of its residents while refraining from vaccinating the persons it disfavors in the territories it occupies?

      Thank you.

      1. 1) Antisemitism is deplorably common on the left, which is at the moment ascendant in the Democratic party. Wouldn’t terribly shock me if there were even some effort to move the embassy back out of Jerusalem.

        2) You really think the Israelis would have much luck with a mass vaccination project in the Palestinian territories? Anyway, the Oslo accords put the Palestinians in charge of their own health care arrangements.

        I would agree they should be more aggressive about vaccinating Palestinians who routinely cross the border, that’s just basic public health.

      2. What do those questions have to do with this thread?

      3. RAK,
        That is what democracy is all about. Live with it, hater.

        1. Live with it? I am enjoying Pres. Biden’s conduct with respect to Mr. Netanyahu and Israel so far . . . he seems to be enforcing the ‘no free swings’ doctrine against clingers. If he never calls Mr. Netanyahu, that would be about right.

          1. The hater speaks again. He’ll call the Israeli PM; he needs the Israeli PM. Just not this month.

          2. “If he never calls Mr. Netanyahu, that would be about right.”

            No such luck…

    2. …..Harvey Klehr, by contrast, says it was only because of increased vigilance that the USSR was not able to replicate its espionage success. ….

      Apparently their successor agencies are doing just fine, however.

  15. WOW — it didn’t take long for the communist apologists to come out of the woodwork.

    1. Happens on every thread on Communism. You ought to see the angst every time Somin talks about a day to honor victims of Communism.

    2. Sorry about your safe space ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. I surmise that you only believe in that concept for your progsymp friends.

        1. You’ve surmised incorrectly.

          1. You’re not convincing with the denial.
            You smirk at Bob.
            Moreover, VC comments is hardly anyone’s safe space.

            1. ” VC comments is hardly anyone’s safe space”

              The Volokh Conspiracy’s censorship record contraverts that assertion.

              1. Your hobby horse is demonstrably false even just in this very comment thread.

  16. I’ve always assumed that some, even many, of the Hollywood hacks and hams caught up in the hysteria of the day were or had been Communists of some sort. My grandfather had a neighbor and business associate who made a hobby of pursuing alleged Commies in the media. He died shortly after a substantial judgment against him in a libel action. And, of course, there were some actual spies*, though there wasn’t much, if any, overlap. But I’ve never understood what threat Dalton Trumbo and Pete Seeger presented that warranted the panic of the time.

    * Nixon, despicable as he was, actually caught one. McCarthy never caught any.

    1. This.

      “There were lots of Communists.” [true] “Some of them may have been working for the Soviets.” [also true] “Ruining the lives of a bunch of left wing artists somehow hurt the Soviet Union and protected US national security.” [completely false]

      It just cost us some great art, and harmed a bunch of people.

      Also, I think there’s a sort of core dishonesty with the right’s position on this stuff that rarely gets discussed. I think a lot of what they really wanted WAS to try and decimate left-wing art. In other words, they were convinced that these folks were putting a bunch of pro-Soviet messages in their art, and that this was bad. But they talk about it as though it was really about Soviet espionage. No- it was very much the worry that these lefty Hollywood screenwriters might convince Americans to become more left wing, to want to upend American capitalism and move our politics to the left.

      And trying to stop that is just classic censorship, full stop. Everyone here would agree that if the government tried to ban a movie because it had a lefty political message, that would be unconstitutional. Even the conservatives. But the blacklist was trying to do the same thing sub silentio.

      1. Your failure to distinguish between “lefty artists” and “long-time members of the CPUSA, who were obligated to follow the Party Line, including on artistic matters, and were subject to Party discipline” illustrates the problem. Regardless of one’s opinion on the blacklist, one needs to start with the acknowledgment that almost everyone on the Hollywood blacklist (we are not talking about other investigations or lists here) was a CPUSA member, and thus a Stalinist. And given that the Party ordered them to put Communist messages in their art, and the Party was under the control of the Soviets, they were in fact Soviet agents.

          1. Exactly. There’s a jump between “someone is a long time member of the CPUSA” and “we should try to stop them from making art” that Prof. Bernstein is just assuming.

            He never answers WHY we should stop CPUSA members from making art, because he can’t.

            1. Yes, what was the threat? What sensible person cared about Edward G. Robinson’s politics, or Jack Guilford’s, or even Paul Robeson’s? There’s an old Hollywood joke about the ambitious starlet who was so dumb she f****d the writer. Hollywood cranked out some execrable “our gallant Soviet ally” films during WWII, with the smiling approval of the rapacious capitalists who ran the studios and our government. When the winds changed, so did the movies.

              1. Right. “Mission to Moscow” is a lot more laudatory of the USSR than anything put out by the Hollywood Ten.

            2. One might boycott Stalinist members of the CPUSA loyal to the USSR in the 1950s for the same reason one might boycott Nazi members of the German American Bund loyal to Nazi German in the 1930s. Anyway, my post didn’t take a position on the boycott, just on the fact that dead Stalinists should be remembered as Stalinists, not with the myth that they were just innocent leftists caught up in hysteria.

              1. The blacklist is not simply a “boycott”. It was a group boycott that shut people out of their line of work. That’s super-different.

                It’s like the difference between a law school deciding not to hire libertarian law professors, and all the law schools in the country agreeing to maintain a blacklist of libertarian law professors. They two things are not the same.

                And since you (correctly!) insist people get the history right about what the Soviets were doing, I think it’s fair to insist you get the history right about what happened to these people. They were deprived of their jobs by a group boycott.

        1. Why do David Bernstein posts always seem to end with a lot of backpedaling in the comments? What “Party discipline” would they have been subject to that a non-member couldn’t have been subjected to?

          1. Expulsion from the social circle of party members

            1. Considering how many people later admitted that they got into various forms of radical politics to get laid, that would be a significant sanction.

          2. To Magister: I haven’t backpedaled at all.

            To Dilan: No one stopped them from “making art.” People weren’t willing to pay them commercially for their art, which is quite different. Stalinists had to work under pseudonyms while people in the gulags that they supported were eating tree bark to try to stay alive doesn’t tug my heartstrings.

            1. Still waiting to hear about those scenes that Communists actually put into movies, and what threat the CPUSA held over them that was worse than the blacklisting. Or was it something that the anti-Communist hysteria conveniently prevented?

              Dodging on backing up what your post asserts without proof is backpedaling.

              1. Interestingly enough, there are things in blog posts called “links.” When a blogger links to a lengthy article on the subject, the assumption is that he is not going to provide all the relevant details in the blog post, or in comments, but that interested readers will read the links, and, in this case, can track down the associated footnotes if they are really interested.

                1. The assumption with David Bernstein is that he will evade and engage in unsupported generalities, apparently because he can’t come up with actual evidence beyond his own puffery.

  17. On the one hand, I view people who supported communism after the 1930’s about like I view KKK or NAMBLA members – it’s just unsupportable.

    One may argue how many of the Red Scare targets deserved it, or not – I don’t have an opinion. But there were undoubtedly innocent victims – John Henry Faulk comes to mind. What happened to him was unconscionable, and ought to give pause whenever sentiments run high. His autobio ‘Fear on Trial’ or his lawyer’s account, ‘The Jury Returns’ by Louis Nizer are highly recommended reading.

    1. Oppenheimer.

      The issue is not that open Commies were shunned in the 1950s, it’s the mania to ferret out the secret Commies became as close to 1984 as we’ve gotten.

      Well beyond cancel culture, to ruination based on speculated thoughtcrime and guilt by association.

      1. And some here still support it. Which isn’t quite NAMBLA, but does not speak well about their commitment to liberty and democracy.

        1. There’s something that ideologies have that you might call Confederate Nostalgia Syndrome.

          And what I mean by that is this. For whatever reason, very committed ideologues want to believe that not only are they on the right side of history now, but that their movement was always on the right side of history.

          And I think that’s one reason there’s so much Confederate revisionism on the right. Obviously a significant strain of American conservativism traces right through the White Evangelical South, through Jim Crow and right back to slavery. So you end up with conservatives, including plenty of conservatives who would never endorse the actual policies of slavery OR Jim Crow, saying things like “Southern heritage” and “the Confederacy was about tariffs”, rather than just saying “splitting the country apart to try and perpetuate slavery was terrible, full stop, and it is a good thing that Southern conservativism has moved past that”.

          It’s a thing in ideological movements. A form of “Oceania is at war with Eastasia, Oceania was always at war with Eastasia”.

          In this case, the easiest thing to do would just be to say “yes, we were correct to recognize the Soviet threat, but a bunch of right wingers (and Cold War liberals!) went too far and ruined a bunch of artists’ lives and that shouldn’t have happened”. But doing so admits that your ideology sometimes gets things wrong. And that’s tough to do.

          There are liberal versions of this too. There are liberals who argue that Jimmy Carter was actually a good President, that all of the bad stuff that happened when JFK was President was due to other people in the administration and that he was pure of heart, and that Clinton didn’t actually commit perjury.

          And there are obviously left wing versions of this, arguing that every failure of socialism or communism was not “real” socialism or communism.

          But the point is, one of the differences between an ideologue and a serious thinker is a serious thinker admits that his or her ideology is capable of getting stuff wrong.

          1. +1

            “…that all of the bad stuff that happened when JFK was President was due to other people in the administration and that he was pure of heart…”

            What might be the ultimate example – one of the Soviet writers (perhaps Vasily Grossman in ‘Life and Fate’??) talks about people in the gulag penning letters to Stalin … ‘if only he knew I was here he would make things right’.

          2. Of course you are correct, but there is an asymmetry as a matter of degree.

            You don’t hear a lot on the left extolling the USSR these days. Or Bill Clinton, for that matter.
            Not so about the Confederacy. Or McCarthy.

            1. The hard left’s usual line on the USSR is “it wasn’t true Communism”.

              And there are plenty of people who don’t have Confederate Nostalgia Syndrome. Probably more have it on the right than the left. But, for instance, someone like Jonah Goldberg, for all of his faults, doesn’t want to hear defenses of the Confederacy. And there are right wingers who admit the blacklists went too far.

              1. Oh sure, once someone talks about ‘true Communism has never been tried’ I stop listening.

                But I really don’t hear that a lot these days.

                Don’t take me as saying the entire right loves the Confederacy. Even the ‘hard right’ contains crazy fringey multitudes.
                But the party is absolutely pulling away from Goldberg.

            2. Too bad about Bill Clinton. His predatory sexual behavior aside, he ran an excellent Presidency. It was the last time any of us will ever see a balanced budget.

          3. “… including plenty of conservatives who would never endorse the actual policies of slavery OR Jim Crow…”

            Today’s “religious freedom” laws seem to be a modern version of Jim Crow aimed at LGBT Americans moreso than Black Americans.

            Of course “plenty” is a vague number but I think “plenty more” do endorse religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws in the workplace and public accommodations.

            1. I don’t like religious exemptions, but they are not the same as favoring repealing the civil rights laws or bringing back Jim Crow.

              1. IANAL.

                I don’t see much practical difference between an outright repeal of civil rights laws and religious exemptions that exempt people from civil rights laws.

                According to Pew’s annual religion survey, over 75% of Americans describe themselves as members of a faith. 70.6% as Christian. If 75% of the country has a religious exemption to civil rights law, how is that not effectively repealed?

                1. Because you don’t win a religious exemption just by saying “I’m a Christian and therefore the law doesn’t apply to me”.

                  I am not saying the protections are sufficient, but you actually do have to establish, under penalty of perjury, that you have a sincerely held religious belief that requires discrimination in the particular context. And that’s a showing a lot of people can’t make, even if they are Christians.

            2. “…seem to be a modern version of Jim Crow…”

              Yeah. What Dilan said. You are minimizing Jim Crow, and that’s not cool.

              1. The essence of Jim Crow wasn’t that people were free to discriminate. It was that they weren’t free to refrain from discriminating.

                Jim Crow didn’t tell the bus company that it was up to them where people were seated, and then the bus company up and decided that Rosa Parks had to sit in the rear. It directed the bus company, under penalty of law, to seat Rosa Parks in the back.

                The tragedy of the civil rights movement is that we went straight from mandating discrimination, to mandating non-discrimination, and then back to mandating discrimination again, without ever trying to let people be free.

                Thinking that people should have been permitted to be free, even if they freely decided to discriminate, is categorically different from Jim Crow.

      2. [I]n the 1950s…the mania to ferret out the secret Commies became as close to 1984 as we’ve gotten.

        What about the current mania to ferret out secret “white supremacists”? I think we’re getting pretty close to 1984

        1. I have a totally different take. I think the panopticon is where we seem to be getting closest to 1984.

          With all this facial recognition, which we have seen used to positively identify folks in all sorts of homemade and official videos, we are perilously close to a society that can track all of our movements. (And arguably China may have that capability installed already.)

        2. I don’t see a lot about *secret* white supremecists.

          1. Police and military. It’s a thing, apparently.

          2. I don’t see a lot of white supremacists, period. I see the left throwing about accusations that people are white supremacists pretty casually, though.

            1. No new goalposts.

              We can, and have, talked about overplaying that card. But accusations are not a mania to ferret out hidden white supremacists.

              Look at the reporting on it. These are not thoughtcrimes, they’re pretty open advocacy for racial violence, oftentimes under their own name.
              Makes one wonder how they got to feel so immune from consequence…

      3. “Well beyond cancel culture, to ruination based on speculated thoughtcrime and guilt by association.”
        I doubt that. The vast majority of Americans were totally unaffected by that. In contrast the cancel culture has run rampant over most intellectual enterprises.

        1. I wasn’t around, but I was given the impression the paranoia struck pretty deep into at least elite circles across the country.

          1. Depends on what you mean by elite.
            If you are taking about most, university, medical, or other professional circles. It was pretty isolated and or at least attenuated by the late 50s. ANd was never as pervasive as the present cancel culture in those same circles

      4. Why the one word “Oppenheimer?”

        1. “After the war ended, Oppenheimer became chairman of the influential General Advisory Committee of the newly created United States Atomic Energy Commission. He used that position to lobby for international control of nuclear power to avert nuclear proliferation and a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. He opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb during a 1949–50 governmental debate on the question and subsequently took stances on defense-related issues that provoked the ire of some factions in the U.S. government and military. During the Second Red Scare, those stances, together with past associations Oppenheimer had with people and organizations affiliated with the Communist Party, led to him suffering the revocation of his security clearance in a much-written-about hearing in 1954. Effectively stripped of his direct political influence, he continued to lecture, write and work in physics. Nine years later, President John F. Kennedy awarded (and Lyndon B. Johnson presented) him with the Enrico Fermi Award as a gesture of political rehabilitation.”

          (from the wiki article on him). I think he got a bum rap, but not as bad as Faulk.

          1. From a recent biography, my leftist European friend tells me that he was actively opposed to becoming head of Los Alamos, but Gen, Groves, did not care about politics at that point and pushed through his recommendation that Oppenheimer lead the new lab.
            Whether it was a bum rap I a,m not sufficiently knowledgable about all the evidence to know. Whether he should have been given the Fermi Prize, I do know. His leadership at Los Alamos was essential to the success of the Manhatten Project.

            History (and people) are complicated.

          2. He didn’t have any issue with dropping the bomb on Hitler but had an issue with dropping it on Tojo…now if he had reservations on ethical grounds (which in hindsight would be understandable) he would have resigned. Instead he was very happy to nuke Germany but not Japan..that alone suggests UnAmerican thinking…why did Germany deserve to get nuked sir and not Japan?

      5. “Doubts about Oppenheimer’s loyalty dated back to the 1930s, when he was a member of numerous Communist front organizations, and was associated with Communist Party USA members, including his wife and his brother.”
        Given the success of the Rosenbergs and other atomic spies, it would have been crazy to have Oppenheimer continue to have a high-level clearance given that background.

        1. Given his subsequent performance, and what you have admitted about the CP in the 1930s, that past guilt by association is manifestly insufficient.

          1. Not at all so S0. Like many leftists and German Jews in America, he was fighting Fascism and Hitler in particular.

            His work during the war and in making Los Alamos what it is today were extraordinary. Whether he should have been trusted to keep a security clearance that gave access to work that he opposed is far from clear.

            I have no problem his his clearance being restored many years after his death. The idea of a lab with all cleared persons having access to everything is now anathema to the Department of Energy, to the detriment of the country.

            1. He could easily have leaked to the USSR countless times. Or condoned Russian spies. None of that would have upset the anti-Nazi war effort.

              Sure, the quality of his work isn’t strictly material to the clearance question (though honestly, we both know it was).

              But look at what Bernstein brought. He was a liberal, he had friends that were Commies, and also just bare invocation of the Rosenbergs?!
              That’s textbook guilt by association and redbaiting in line with anything McCarthy did.

              Concur re: DoE. If you’re doing basic research, it’s going to be published anyway. It’s only done in-house because no school can fund the sized stuff we need.

              1. By the way, if you ever go to Los Alamos, be sure to visit the Bradbury museum in the middle of town. It show a lot about the earliest days of the laboratory.

  18. Decades from now, support for Trump will be the stain to which no one will admit.

    1. And again, an irrelevant comment from our troll. Carry on hater.

  19. As is obvious from this post and most of the comments, there is a heavy focus on the Hollywood Ten and other actors, producers, etc. But thousands of people lost their regular jobs and careers after being denounced by fellow jealous employees, anti-union employers, or racists denouncing the civil rights movement. I can really recommend The Great Fear: The Anti-Communist Purge Under Truman and Eisenhower , (Simon & Schuster, 1978). by David Caute for more complete history.

    I have always wondered why America felt it was so weak that it had to conduct a mass persecution of citizens and how if fell for a demagogue.

    Oh, wait.

  20. When it comes to the Hollywood blacklist, there is a distinct tendency, in some quarters, not to focus on “the First Amendment means freedom for the thought we hate – like Communism,” and more of a tendency to be hagiographic about the putative victims – “liberals in a hurry, they just cared a bit too much about racial justice and The Poor.”

  21. I am so encouraged to read that Mr Bernstein supports blacklisting all trump supporters from doing anything, since they are members of a group that avidly supports overthrowing the US gov’t

    Or I might say:
    SQIRRELL
    the right is so thoroughly bankrupt and trumpified they have to go back 70 years to distract from their own complete moral failings

    1. Stalin was one of the few dictators to be worse than Trump.

      1. Basically, in order of evil, it’s

        Hitler
        Stalin
        Satan
        Trump
        Ted Bundy

        1. Or, as Brooklynites of a certain age would rank them: Hitler, Stalin, and O’Malley.

  22. As an American of Italian background I just don’t get the elephant in the room..the propensity for Jewish Immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe to be so pro socialist and communist. Yes I get the whole “the czar did this to my people” and the historical animosity between Christian peasants (Romanian Peasant Revolution) and middle class Jews who administrated govt/feudal rulers estates but why not a massive support for traditional small govt, free market, individual rights instead of a strong central govt with a focus on destroying traditional institutions. The HBO show on the Rosenberg’s daughter interviewing their co conspirators was darn scary. The escaped Russia to a free country which allowed them to become successful and thought their life duty was the destruction of America to support the USSR. What is the attraction of so many Jews for socialism and communism? Given the historical injustices..you would think no Jew in their right mind would support communism and be a strong backer of classical liberalism..

    1. Interesting question you ask. Many intellectual Jews who left Russia in the last days of the Soviet Union have tended to be to the right of center including supporting Trump in 2016.

    2. The group that was most disproportionately Communist was Finnish immigrants. In both cases, proximity to Russia where classical liberals were few and the intellectual class socialist/communist is the simplest explanation.

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