March 23, 2005

OTHER? HOW ABOUT ONLY:

Arthur Miller's Other Legacy: Stalin's Little Helper (Allan H. Ryskind, Mar 22, 2005, Human Events)

What has been obscured is Miller's role as willing Soviet pawn. Miller's plays not only savaged America's free-enterprise system, but also were lovingly staged in Communist countries. In a broadcast over Radio Hanoi (Aug. 22, 1972), Jane Fonda told of her euphoria when she "saw Vietnamese actors and actresses perform the second act of Arthur Miller's play, All My Sons." Hanoi Jane said she found it "very moving" that Vietnamese artists were so forgiving that they were "translating and performing American plays while U.S. imperialists are bombing their country."

Fonda didn't have a clue. Ho Chi Minh's ideological warriors were staging Miller's drama because they saw it as "agitprop" against America. The protagonist is a corrupt American manufacturer who causes American pilots to die when he deliberately sells faulty equipment to the U.S. Armed Forces. First produced in 1947, it was given a vigorous thumbs-up by the Communist Daily Worker, which hailed Miller as a "leading figure" in a new generation of playwrights. It has been much admired in Red circles ever since. Death of A Salesman, another terrific punch tossed at the American way of life, became a favorite of the left as well.

Miller also used his writing talents to zing disillusioned Communists, such as his long-time friend and collaborator, Elia Kazan. Kazan had not only turned against the Soviet Union but had also testified against some of his ex-comrades before HCUA. Miller got even with such "turncoats" and "informers" in both The Crucible and A View From the Bridge. The Miller obituaries also failed to report another important part of his legacy: his substantial support of Joe Stalin's fifth column operations here in America, those Soviet-controlled Red fronts.

When finally forced to face his own crimson past before the public, Miller chose to seriously mislead. In his famous June 1956 appearance before HCUA, he vowed--to the eternal cheers of the left--that he would never inform on Red conspirators he had known. But he also proclaimed he would be "perfectly frank with you [committee members] in anything relating to my activities."

Miller kept his first promise, but conspicuously crawfished on the second. Even the crumbs of "admissions" he coughed up had to be pried out of him by HCUA's pit-bull staff director, Richard Arens.


As Mark McGwire amply demonstrated, the reason you don't answer questions from the committee is because you'll incriminate yourself.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2005 10:04 AM
Comments

It's hard to be angry with the intellectually arrogant morons who populated the chattering classes from Miller's era. That's not the case for those who make excuses for them today. It is a toxic kind of rationalized stupidity. There, I said it, the contemporary left is dumb, naive, stupid as well as dangerous.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 23, 2005 1:27 PM

Allan Ryskind's father Morrie was a much better playwright than Miller -- and like him, a Pulitzer winner (with George S. Kaufman) for 1932's "Of Thee I Sing," and unlike Miller, made the transition from the left to the right, testifying about the Communist influence in the Screen Writers Guild in 1947. So the younger Ryskind's rebuff of Miller and his politics is based more than on just a casual knowledge of the subject.

(Morrie also co-wrote "The Cocanuts," "Animal Crackers" and "A Night at the Opera" for the Marx Brothers, which I guess proves that all humor is conservative, or at the very least conservatives have a better sense of humor. I don't think Arthur Miller wrote a good joke in his entire life.)

Posted by: John at March 23, 2005 1:52 PM

Tom,

You're right. Today, we have the example of free market societies which do more or less provide a decent standard of living for everyone and we've seen the collapse of the Soviet model. People raised in the 20s didn't have the benefit of our experience but were limited to what they could gauge from theory and the sheer awfulness of urban poverty they witnessed in the Depression and knew from the stories of people raised in the Lower East Side and similar environs.

To be a Communist after we've seen Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, the Cultural Revolution and the Dear Leader/Great Helmsman is to be deaf, blind and dumb in every sense of the word.

Posted by: bart at March 23, 2005 3:13 PM

Bart-

Anger with 'intellectually arrogant morons' is like being angry with a teenage boy after providing the car keys and the whiskey. Many could easily forecast the outcome in either case even before the rise of Stalin or the raising of the bail money.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 25, 2005 11:07 AM

Bart-

Anger with 'intellectually arrogant morons' is like being angry with a teenage boy after providing the car keys and the whiskey. Many could easily forecast the outcome in either case even before the rise of Stalin or the raising of the bail money.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 25, 2005 11:33 AM
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