July 8, 2005

ENEMIES (via Glenn Dryfoos):

Widely Red: a review of Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony's Long Romance With The Left By Ronald Radosh and Allis Radosh (Martin Peretz , New Republic)

In their new book, Red Star Over Hollywood, Radosh and his historian wife Allis examine this sensibility in the film industry, focusing on the blacklist, its perpetrators and their targets. The moral high ground has usually gone to the latter, the self-styled martyrs for progress. The Radoshes examine this case in all its complications. And let's make one thing clear: They have contempt for those who banished and ostracized anyone for his or her political views. In that sense, they are true liberals: Even communists need to feed their families. What they do not countenance is the behavior of the fellow travelers, the true believers, the party apparatchiks, those who knew all too well that, by joining the Communist Party or its multitude of front groups, they had enrolled in defending ruthless dogma and more ruthless regimes.

For Radosh, this is part of an ongoing project of two decades about the distorted ethical universe inhabited by communists and their comrades. Among a half dozen volumes examining the subject, in The Rosenberg File, he (and Joyce Milton) produced the first scholarly (and readable) text to prove with newly discovered evidence the guilt of Julius Rosenberg as an atomic spy for Moscow, to demonstrate that the evidence against Ethel was not credible and certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt, to examine the dishonest and counterproductive hysteria mustered by the hapless couple's supporters, to show that their innocence was deduced by their defenders from the sheer but counterintuitive fact that they were loyal to Josef Stalin. Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War, a book Radosh co-edited, overturns conventional history that portrays the communist apparatus as an ally of Republican Spain rather than its ruthless manipulator. This apparatus also murdered many faithful sons and daughters of democratic Spain and from among the International Brigades--socialists and anarchists, especially. Of course, this is not exactly news. It is the message of George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia. Which brings us to the most disgraceful blacklist of all: the systematic and, for a long-time, successful effort by "progressive" cadres in top literary circles to keep Animal Farm and 1984 from being published in America. Now, Orwell was a literary genius. His sin was that, though a man of the left, he was anti-Stalinist. That was enough to justify boycotting his writings.

The era of the blacklist and of inquests by legislative and congressional committees into thousands of people's politics left many victims, maybe two handfuls of suicides, wrecked careers, many lives destroyed in other ways. None of this has any claim to being just. And filmtown's executives turn out to be craven and cowardly. But what about the moral lives of the victims, the Hollywood victims, in particular? They have built a legend of virtue, and this virtue is contrary to the truth. Some of those who were blacklisted actually did treasonous deeds for the Soviet Union. They certainly were traitors to their friends, even to their families, to both of which they lied routinely. All of this is documented in Red Star, and documented meticulously.

The question is: why are you obligated to help feed the enemies of your society?

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 8, 2005 6:26 PM

Anyone of that era who didn't recognize the red star over hollywood from the late thirties onward attended the movies with their ears closed.

Posted by: Genecis at July 8, 2005 8:50 PM

True, but it is no less outrageous that the entire entertainment biz has turned a blind eye to The Other Totalitarianism. I know the reasons for that as well as the next emmit, but it really ticks me off.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 8, 2005 10:20 PM

Hollywood rearely, if ever, can take a historical tome and translate it to screen without stretching or totally altering the truth. So it's not surprising they would have no problem in picturing some of their leading lights of a half-century ago in heroic terms, no matter what the records may say.

Given the limited amount of images and instatanious tramsmissions from the Soviet Union in the first part of the 20th Century, I can forgive those who were too dense to figure out the truth before Aug. 22, 1939. But anyone who stuck with Uncle Joe after that without thinking or caring that all their talking points about Hitler had suddenly been reversed deserves only scorn, not sympathy.

Posted by: John at July 9, 2005 1:21 AM