July 10, 2020

PLAYING THE SAP:

THE DAY DASHIELL HAMMETT WAS DRAGGED INTO COURT OVER A BAIL FUND FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS AND REFUSED TO NAME NAMES (OLIVIA RUTIGLIANO, 7/09/20, Crime Reads)

On July 9th, 1951, celebrated author Dashiell Hammett found himself in court in Manhattan, on suspicion of communist activities. The prosecutor, U.S. the Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was Irving Saypol, described by TIME Magazine as the United States's "number-one legal hunter of top Communists."

Several years earlier, Hammett had been elected president of the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), a New York-based defense organization created to protect workers' rights and to abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1947, it merged with the National Negro Congress to protect the rights of African Americans, specifically those who were incarcerated and on death row.

Under Hammett's tenure, as early as 1946, the CRC established a bail fund to assist with releasing people convicted for political reasons. Hammett was one of three trustees of the funds, as well as the labor economist Robert W. Dunn and the millionaire Frederick Vanderbilt Field. On April 3 of the following year, the CRC was labeled as a Communist front group, and added to the Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations.

Hammett is a great illustration of the divergence between what authors write and what they believe.  At the end of his masterwork, Sam turns Brigid in, even though he loves her, because it is the right thing to do. In his own life, Dah covered for the Sovet-controlled Communist Party and remained loyal to it long after Soviet barbarity had been exposed.   


Posted by at July 10, 2020 7:30 AM

  

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