Liberal treachery from the cold war to the war on terrorism




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Most people who were alive in the fifties have to watch PBS to know it was a frightening period. Liberals simply assert that a certain mood prevailed, and you have to believe it. Liberals' vehemence in declaiming the evils of "McCarthyism" was only equaled by their vehemence in denying that Alger Hiss (Soviet spy), Julius Rosenberg (Soviet spy), Laurence Duggan (Soviet spy), and Harry Dexter White (Soviet spy) were Soviet spies. People who angrily claimed that scores of now-proved Soviet spies were innocent have forfeited the right to have their characterizations of McCarthy accepted on faith.

Liberals act as if the search for Soviet spies in high government positions was an enterprise equivalent to looking for patterns in wheat fields. Indeed, it was Communists who were the victims - victims of a brute named Joe McCarthy. As Ellen Schrecker ruefully mused in her book The Age of McCarthyism, "The Communists never lacked for enemies."1 Nor for dupes, one might add. As millions of people were enslaved and slaughtered in the Soviet Union, liberals produced nondisprovable claims of school-yard taunts in the United States as examples of comparable suffering.

In a classic account of the fear and suffering wrought by "McCar­thyism," the San Francisco Chronicle described the horror that befell the children of Soviet spies, such as Robert Meeropol, son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. There were "phone taps, FBI surveillances, subpoe­nas and ostracism." To be sure, their parents were giving atomic technology to the Soviet Union. But the FBI had no right to watch them! Another child victim reported, "The class started to laugh and scream and hoot at me, yelling 'Commie!'" As the Chronicle reports, "One by one, these testimonies chill us to the bone, making it clear what totali­tarianism once looked like within our own borders."2 Here was the stark horror of American "totalitarianism." Traitors to their country working on behalf of Communist despotism were treated as badly as College Republicans are treated at Amherst College today.

Conservatives could never catch up with the outburst of liberal indignation. They didn't care as much as liberals did. No one could. Confronted with hysterical zealots demanding that their view of history be acknowledged, conservatives essentially said, Fine, if it means that much to you - okay, fine, the human spirit was crushed by Joe McCarthy.

The moment you concede some small point to liberals, they go to work building an enormous elaborate edifice on top of the first lie. Conservatives were always annoyed by the idea of the United Nations - bequeathed to us by Soviet spy Alger Hiss. But they resigned them­selves to the U.N. with the hope that, while useless, it couldn't do much harm. The next thing you knew, the U.N. was dominated by ludicrous despots in countries primarily known for cannibalism issuing lunatic declarations while Democrats and the media acted as if U.N. approval was a constitutional prerequisite to the United States acting in its self-defense. In 1965, the Supreme Court invented a "privacy right" guar­anteeing married couples the right to obtain contraception. It seemed churlish and hypertechnical to object that there was no such right in the Constitution. Thirty years later, the right of married couples to use con­traceptives had transmogrified into a "constitutional" right to abortion-on-demand.

Similarly, having ceded the lie of "McCarthyism," now no one is allowed to call liberals unpatriotic. Liberals relentlessly attack their own country, but we can't call them traitors, which they manifestly are, because that would be "McCarthyism," which never existed.

By now, the left's mind-boggling self-righteousness about Senator Joe McCarthy is so overwhelming, so hegemonic, it seems the record could never be set straight. This is the only suffering liberals can point to. The soft existence of cozy environmentalists and Hollywood degen­erates doesn't provide much in the way of hardship to bleat about. Safely ensconced in the most affluent and free nation in the history of the world, liberals' biggest pretend-fear these days is that "anti-choice" legislation will somehow sweep the Upper West Side of Man­hattan. They haven't really thought through the mechanics of how that would happen. "McCarthyism" is one of the markers on the left's Via Dolorosa. It is their slavery, their gulag, their potato famine. Otherwise, liberals would just be geeks from Manhattan and Hollywood.

The McCarthy myth is the pristine example of how you have to say certain things to be accepted into civilized society. Anyone who fails to issue the ritualistic denunciation of McCarthy must be instantly adjudged a "kook" or - in the reasoned formulation of McCarthy obsessive and author Richard Rovere - "zanies and zombies and compulsive haters."3 It simply must be accepted that Joe McCarthy was a vicious hoodlum with every known human vice. No one knows any facts about McCarthy, but everyone knows that his name is a maledic­tion. Whenever liberals are hysterical about something, but short on details, your antennae should go up.

THE CASUAL ASSOCIATION OF MCCARTHY WITH HOLLYWOOD blacklisting demonstrates the left's renowned respect for the truth. McCarthy's nonexistent crusade has become a fact by sheer repetition. With no explanation, a 2002 New York Times article on the movie industry listed "McCarthyism" as among the various "plagues and scourges" that had beset the industry.4

Honorable though it was, the Hollywood blacklisting had nothing to do with McCarthy. The Hollywood Ten were called before HUAC in 1947. To repeat, McCarthy was never in the House. In 1947, he had just been elected to the Senate and was so little known that the New York Times called him a "moderate Republican." Even Hiss had been exposed, indicted, and convicted before McCarthy took up the anti-Communist cause in his 1950 speech in Wheeling, West Virginia. McCarthy never participated in any investigation of Hollywood.

To be sure, the Hollywood blacklisting was truly heart-wrenching. While people were being forced to eat their shoes in the Ukraine, only a heart of stone could fail to be moved by the stories of Hollywood screenwriters who couldn't sell a Twilight Zone episode for up to three years. There are dark tales of writers whose names did not run in the credits for M*A*S*H.5 Some of the persecuted were even forced to flee to Paris and spin their semipornographic essays from the Champs-Elysees. Such suffering is endlessly recounted in lachrymose memoirs, movies, documentaries, museum exhibits, and awards ceremonies cel­ebrating the blacklist "survivors." Claiming to have been "blacklisted" is Hollywood's version of coming over on the Mayflower.

Sometimes, their bragging gets the better of them and the "sur­vivors" forget to include the part about how hard it was. "Blacklist sur­vivor" Norma Barzman described her life in "exile" in Paris thus: "We had dinner with Picasso every Tuesday night when we were at our country house in Provence. Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, Jacques Prevert were all friends. Plus we got to work with all the amaz­ing European directors including Vittorio De Sica and Constantin Costa-Gavras. It was hard, but it was also the time of my life."6

Meanwhile back in the country they preferred, people were being whisked off to Soviet gulags in the dead of night. They were being sen­tenced to work in forced labor camps. They were sent to Siberia for five years. They were being shot execution-style after being forced to con­fess to absurd diabolical conspiracies.

Ten Hollywood scribblers who subscribed to an ideology respon­sible for murder by the million refused to admit their membership in the Communist Party to a House Committee. All they had to do was 'fess up. But they felt they had a right not to tell the truth, so they were briefly jailed for contempt. This created a slight setback in their din­ners with Picasso. The horror.

Clearly, it wasn't the indignity of testifying before a House Com­mittee that tried their troubled souls. Once the atrocity of having to tell the truth about being Communists had passed, actors and actresses began leaping at the chance to appear before congressional commit­tees. When the Democrats controlled Congress in the eighties, you couldn't turn on C-SPAN without being subjected to the spectacle of some movie star eagerly testifying about disease, childhood obesity, Alar on apples, circus elephants, or the plight of farmers. Indeed, a Democratic-controlled House Agriculture Committee once held a hearing on farmers in which not a single farmer testified. But mil­lionaire actresses who had played farmers' wives in movies, such as Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, and Sissy Spacek, had a lot to say on the subject.7

Nor evidently does the concept of blacklisting offend liberals' sense of fair play. How are the job opportunities these days for screen­writers who believe homosexuality is wrong? Would an actress who is "anti-choice" have an easy time finding work? In 1998, the American Film Institute and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association refused to

grant Elia Kazan a lifetime achievement award because he cooperated with HUAC's investigation of Communists in Hollywood. Kazan dis­covered James Dean and Marlon Brando. He had won three Oscars and directed such movies as A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront. That same year, Cinecon, a national film organization ded­icated to old and silent films, gave its annual film achievement award to Leni Riefenstahl, the Nazi filmmaker most famous for her 1934 film celebrating Hitler, The Triumph of the Will.8 Hollywood's commitment to freedom and civil liberties has always been a one-way ratchet pro­tecting only the admirers of Communist totalitarians.

It is no surprise that the fear of "McCarthyism" comes from Hol­lywood. Only the movie industry could produce that level of womanly hysteria. Hollywood drama queens told deranged lies about their torment - and their guilt - while adults tried to hold hearings into a serious matter. Whittaker Chambers said of HUAC, "I watched the Committee's members behave with conspicuous patience and compo­sure in the face of repeated, insolent provocation that no body of men in civil life would have endured."9

Indeed, the frothing ideological rants of the Hollywood Ten drove away such stars as Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Danny Kaye, and Gene Kelly, who had flown to Washington to support - as they thought - free speech. Not realizing "free speech" was a fig leaf for Communism, John Garfield genially proposed, "Why doesn't Congress make it illegal to belong to the Communist Party and clear the whole thing up?" After one day of watching John Howard Lawson rant at the committee, screaming that the congressmen were Nazis, predicting concentration camps in America, and generally "sounding like Pravda," before having to be physically dragged away, the Hollywood delegation left, humiliated. Bogart later called the trip to Washington "ill-advised, even foolish."10 Bacall said, "We were so naive it was ridiculous."11

Unlike the legal proceedings of their hero, Joseph Stalin, the drama queens were granted full due process. Apparently on orders from Stalin, as Michael J. Ybarra reports in The New Republic, the Hollywood Ten refused to answer the committee's questions.12 Prepos­terously, they claimed a First Amendment right not to answer questions pursuant to a subpoena. This would be like a robber claiming a First Amendment right to say "your money or your life." It was so absurd, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case and the ten went to jail for contempt. All had the benefit of legal counsel, trial by jury, and proof beyond a reasonable-doubt standard. Still, the cosseted, over-pampered Hollywood elites were shocked to discover that they could be held responsible for anything they did, and vowed that the rest of the country would never hear the end of it.

At about the same time - under the legal system Communists revered - Stalin executed, starved, exiled, or imprisoned more than ten million people.13 From 1935 to 1941 alone, Stalin's secret police sent more than three million Soviet citizens to the gulag. Beginning in the thirties, Stalin forced top party officials and prominent Soviet jour­nalists and artists to issue public "confessions" to being "enemies of the people." The accused were told of their indictments the day before the trial began and were not permitted counsel. The trials were limited to ten days. Convictions were not subject to appeal. Witnesses were murdered, put in insane asylums, and poisoned. Contradictions in the obviously manufactured evidence, which included faked autopsies, were dismissed as "camouflage." Those convicted were shot immedi­ately. Within just a few weeks time, in December 1934, thirty-nine "guilty" were shot in Leningrad, twenty-nine shot in Moscow, twenty-eight shot in Kiev, and nine shot in Minsk.14

The most spectacular show trials were reserved for top party offi­cials. Devoted Communists publicly confessed to stunning collabora­tion with the Nazis in comically absurd conspiracies. They were, as one historian said, "monstrous theatrical productions that had to be rehearsed many times before they could be shown to spectators."15 Confessions were extracted with brutal and prolonged torture and threats to family members - who were murdered in the end anyway. The confessions were so unbelievable that it was once thought NKVD (People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs) agents resembling the accused had been used to deliver the astonishing confessions in open court.16 The evidence consisted of "outright lies, deliberately fabri­cated in the torture chambers of the NKVD and put into the mouths of the accused by sadistic investigators."17 Following the procedural for­malities of many advanced cultures, Stalin's executioners sentenced Leon Trotsky to death in absentia. The show trials of party leaders were only a warm-up act for the bloodbath that was to follow. In what is always a bittersweet moment in the history of Communist regimes, Stalin would soon direct his savagery toward the intellectuals. One his­torian described Stalin's campaign against the cultural elites as "unprecedented in world history."18

Yet in accounts of the period, Stalin is treated as an irrelevant dis­traction from the real threat to freedom, which was "McCarthyism." The same ilk who would have sworn on a stack of Communist Mani­festos to be "frightened" of Senator McCarthy were impressed with the overall fairness and operation of Stalin's show trials. The New York Times'?, Walter Duranty wrote in The New Republic that he was con­vinced "the confessions are true."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph Davies, was an eyewitness to the trials. Davies reported to the ever-credulous New Republic, "We see no reason to take the trial at other than its face value."19 Davies proclaimed that the trials had exposed the "virus of a conspiracy to overthrow the [Soviet] govern­ment."20 According to Davies, this was the consensus among Western journalists: The trials, he said, were revealing "the truth at least in part."21 The book in which he wrote that monstrosity, Mission to Moscow, was made into a Hollywood movie about our friends, the Sovi­ets. Indeed, there were many movies about our friends the Soviets and good old Uncle Joe. There were also many movies about the horrors of blacklisting, such as The Front (1976) and Guilty by Suspicion (1991). Amazingly, Hollywood has yet to produce a major movie about the gulag or Stalin's show trials.

One of Stalin's most starstruck admirers, Lillian Hellman, wrote the book Scoundrel Time, describing her heroism in standing up to McCarthyism.22 Hellman also wrote the script for the pro-Soviet movie The North Star; she defended Stalin through the Hitler-Stalin Pact, through the purges, through the forced starvation. But McCarthy got her goat. Needless to say, McCarthy had absolutely nothing to do with Hellman. Hellman had been called to testify before HUAC. (Remem­ber what the "H" stands for!) This innocent victim of McCarthyism - whom McCarthy never noticed - bequeathed profits from her book to a fund for the advancement of the doctrines of Karl Marx.23
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