CARTOONS OF THE DAY ~~ COLD WAR IN SYRIA AND DEMOCRACY IN TURKEY

Images by Carlos Latuff

The "Cold War" in Syria

The “Cold War” in Syria

 

Meanwhile in Turkey ….

Democracy? InTurkey? Turkish govt threats Twitter with legal actions due one of my cartoons about Erdogan and ISIS, published in 2015.

Democracy? InTurkey?
Turkish govt threats Twitter with legal actions due one of my cartoons about Erdogan and ISIS, published in 2015.

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The cartoon in question

This is the cartoon that Sultan Erdogan doesn't want you to see, making pressure onTwitter to remove it from social media.

This is the cartoon that Sultan Erdogan doesn’t want you to see, making pressure on Twitter to remove it from social media.

BEFORE ISLAMOPHOBIA THERE WAS THE RED SCARE ~~ THE HIDDEN STORY

As the Red Scare spread, about 300 workers in the entertainment industry were blacklisted.

redscare-H

‘Trumbo’ and the Hidden Story of the Red Scare

James DiEugenio

The post-World War II years could have shaped America into a very different country by building on the foundations the New Deal and moving more along the lines of European allies with publicly financed health care and other social protections.

Instead, reactionary forces that never made peace with President Franklin Roosevelt’s Depression-era reforms generated a new Red Scare, wildly exaggerating the threat from a small number of mild-mannered communists and leftists in Hollywood to steer the nation in a right-wing direction favored by big business.

A new movie, Trumbo, recounts one early chapter in that saga, the persecution of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and other leftists in the movie industry who became known as the Hollywood Ten, subjected to jail and “blacklisting” for their political views.

The film tells Trumbo’s personal story as a victim of ambitious congressmen, a zealous columnist and intimidated movie executives, but also how this talented screenwriter ultimately prevailed with the help of actor Kirk Douglas and a few other Hollywood luminaries who appreciated Trumbo’s skills and saw the blacklisting as a hysterical witch hunt.

But what the movie fails to explain is how the scars from the Red Scare permanently changed America, making it a place of fearful conformity with a relatively narrow band of acceptable political thought. The era killed off a vibrant Left that could have challenged the Right’s hostility to government social programs fulfilling the constitutional mandate to “provide for the … general Welfare.”

Yet, as a tale of one man’s struggle against a fearsome combination of government pressure and industry complicity to control his freedom of thought, Trumbo is a worthy – and even rare – historical drama.

An Exceptional Talent

Dalton Trumbo was one of the most colorful, fascinating and prolific writers that the Hollywood film colony ever produced. Trumbo wrote, or co-wrote, well over 50 produced screenplays. In addition, he wrote numerous plays, novels and non-fiction books. Some of his most famous scripts were A Bill of Divorcement, A Guy Named Joe and Kitty Foyle.

Unfortunately for Trumbo, he was never allowed to walk up on stage to receive an Academy Award. Not because he did not win any. He actually won two: one for The Brave One and one for Roman Holiday. But at the time he won those Oscars — in the 1950s — he was on what became known as the Hollywood blacklist.

This was an unofficial assemblage of the names of persons working in the motion picture industry who were not allowed to be employed by any of the major studios or television networks. Therefore, when Trumbo won those two awards, his Oscars were given to people who either did not actually exist or who worked as a “front” for Trumbo.

A “front” was someone who had an acceptable name to the studios and who was deemed employable. This person did either little or no work on the completed script, but was allowed a percentage of the fees accrued for the screenplay. Trumbo was finally given his Oscar for The Brave One in 1975, the year before he died. It was not until 2011 that his name was restored to prints of Roman Holiday.

Trumbo was born in Colorado in 1905. He began writing in high school for his local newspaper. When he attended college at the University of Colorado, he worked as a reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera. After working for a number of years at a bakery and after years of having his stories and novels rejected, he finally began to have some success when his essays were accepted in some major magazines. He then became a script reader for Warner Brothers.

From about 1937 to 1947, Dalton Trumbo was one of the highest-paid writers in Hollywood. Some sources state that he was the highest paid writer in the film colony. Trumbo had two qualities that producers craved: he was versatile and he was fast. He could write in a variety of film genres, from comedy to fantasy to personal drama to the epic structure. And since he was a workaholic, he could produce completed screenplays and rewrites at a rate that was exceptional.

Actor Kirk Douglas was astonished at how fast Trumbo wrote the script for Spartacus. In Douglas’s book, I am Spartacus, the actor said Trumbo worked at least twice as fast as any writer with whom he worked. Those qualities, plus a gift for finding a story arc and creating credible characters and dialogue, helped Trumbo ascend to the highest peak of Hollywood success before the age of 40.

Hunting ‘Subversives’

Trumbo’s career all but collapsed when he ran headlong into the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). This infamous committee first became prominent under Texas Congressman Martin Dies in 1938 when it was initially supposed to investigate Nazi espionage in America. But since it was largely composed of Republicans and conservative Democrats (like Dies), it quickly turned to inquiring into one of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, the Federal Theater Project. (Robert F. Vaughn, Only Victims, p. 36)

The Federal Theater Project was a part of the Works Progress Administration, which became the largest single employment program of the New Deal. The Federal Theater Project was meant to employ out-of-work actors, directors and stage managers in federally funded stage productions; both in New York and several regional outlets.

It was a smashing success in that it produced nearly 1,000 plays in four years. These were seen by hundreds of thousands of spectators. Some of the plays were directed by Orson Welles and have become legendary in stage history, e.g., The Cradle Will Rock.

HUAC did not like the spectacular success of this program. Dies once said that the WPA was the greatest boon the communists ever had in the United States. (ibid) Dies called several people to testify about supposed communist influences in certain productions. The committee was so unsophisticated in its understanding that it criticized the director of the project for going to Russia to see new experimental plays by theater innovators like Konstantin Stanislavsky. (ibid, p. 61)

Congressman Joe Starnes famously asked project director Hallie Flanigan if playwright Christopher Marlowe was a communist, though Marlowe had died in 1593. Yet, these clownish blunderings became popular with newspapers and magazines. And, at first, HUAC gained a large amount of public support. Dies unsuccessfully called for the resignation of New Deal officers such as Harry Hopkins and Harold Ickes. (ibid, p. 70). But Dies did kill the Federal Theater Project.

After World War II, HUAC became a standing committee and – under new chairman Parnell Thomas – the panel decided to hold hearings into the Hollywood film industry. The committee investigators, led by Harry Stripling, assembled dossiers which were largely created from information delivered by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. HUAC then held open hearings, calling a series of prominent players in the entertainment field.

Contempt of Congress

The first panel consisted of “friendly witnesses” who essentially agreed with the committee’s judgments and aims – that Hollywood was filled with communist agents who were assembling works of propaganda in order to weaken the foundations of American life. Then, HUAC called “unfriendly witnesses” who did not agree with these judgments, refused to cooperate with the committee and were then indicted for contempt of Congress.

The “friendly witnesses” included three heads of major studios: Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer and Walt Disney, all extremely powerful, wealthy and politically connected. Warner volunteered the names of suspected communists, e.g. writers Alvah Bessie, Howard Koch and Ring Lardner Jr. (Vaughn, p. 81)

Disney testified that a strike his studio endured a year before was caused by communist infiltration of trade unions, and he named union leader Herbert K. Sorrell as a communist agent. Disney also named an animator at his studio, David Hilberman, as a communist. (ibid, p. 85)

Mayer testified that HUAC should write legislation that would regulate the employment of communists in private industry.

With Republicans in control of the committee, it enlisted novelist Ayn Rand as a witness who watched the film Song of Russia and evaluated whether or not it was propaganda. Rand declared that since the film did not depict normal life in Russia as a gulag, it was propaganda.

As author Victor Navasky has written, the parading of these friendly witnesses was little more than the scaffolding for a sideshow. Famous actors such as Robert Taylor, Adolphe Menjou, Robert Montgomery, Gary Cooper and Ronald Reagan joined the studio executives. (Reagan continued defending HUAC into the 1970s even after it was formally disbanded.)

There was a tactical aim in all of this. By presenting these witnesses first and urging them to deliver speeches and name suspected subversives, the 10 “unfriendly witnesses” who followed were set up in the public eye as being antagonistic toward the earlier star-spangled cavalcade.

Trumbo was in this second group. He had been a member of the Communist Party from about 1943, an isolationist and anti-war, an attitude conveyed by his famous novel Johnny Got His Gun, published in 1939. In the rapidly ascending spiral of Cold War demagoguery, these qualities made him a perfect target of HUAC and one of its ambitious young members, Richard Nixon.

Pleading the First

Trumbo and his group of fellow writers – Albert Maltz, Ring Lardner Jr., Lester Cole, Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, John H. Lawson, Sam Ornitz, Adrian Scott and Edward Dmytryk (who was a writer-director) – decided to do battle with HUAC. They knew that the question the committee would ask was, if they were now or had ever been a member of the Communist Party, which would not be officially outlawed until 1954.

But the witnesses knew that if they admitted this, the next question would be: Who else do you know who is or was a member? Or the committee would ask, did you attend any meetings, and if so who did you see there?

Since they had already seen what men like Mayer, Warner and Disney did in getting rid of suspected leftists, the witnesses knew that not only would their careers be endangered but anyone else they named would be put at risk.

Therefore, Trumbo and other witnesses decided not to plead the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination but instead refused to directly answer the committee’s questions, citing their First Amendment rights of choice and privacy. For their stance, Trumbo and nine other witnesses, who became known as the Hollywood Ten, were prosecuted for contempt of Congress.

Their main attorney, Bartley Crum advised them that the Supreme Court would not uphold such a conviction. But after Trumbo was convicted in the lower court, the Supreme Court refused to hear his case. Trumbo went to prison for about 11 months in Ashland, Kentucky.

Besides prison terms, the Hollywood Ten case led to a blacklist by movie executives who “deplored the action of the 10 Hollywood men who have been cited for contempt by the House of Representatives.” All business ties and contracts with them were “suspended without compensation” and none would be re-employed until they were acquitted or purged themselves of contempt and declared under oath he is not a communist.

As the Red Scare spread, about 300 workers in the entertainment industry were blacklisted. Some, like actor Philip Loeb, were pushed to the edge. As Douglas notes in his book, Loeb could not care for his emotionally troubled son and committed suicide, a particularly painful experience for Douglas who knew Loeb when they were both up-and-coming actors in New York.

Eking Out a Living

When Trumbo emerged from prison, he first moved to Mexico for a couple of years. He tried to eke out a living writing scripts, but the man who once commanded $75,000 per screenplay could make only a fraction of that sum. So, he moved back to Los Angeles where he lived in a small house in Highland Park. For the next several years, he employed phony names and hired fronts to produce his scripts, even when he was dealing with small, independent production companies like the King Brothers.

Even though Trumbo was making much less money and working much harder and longer, he could not claim credit for his work. As Jay Roach’s Trumbo shows, this put a tremendous strain on Trumbo’s home life.

Beyond the movie executives, other powerful Hollywood figures piled on the Hollywood Ten and went after their support group, the Committee for the First Amendment. Actor John Wayne and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper formed the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservations of American Ideals.

When a performer or writer wanted to recant and purge himself, he got in contact with this group. As Reagan said in an interview for the film Hollywood on Trial, they would tell this person that the Alliance really could not help you unless you decided to help yourself. Once the person did so, he would get permission from studio executives to work again.

Roach’s film shows actor Edward G. Robinson, who had supported Trumbo with monetary contributions and didn’t work for a year, going through this penance under the approving eye of Wayne.

Some Hollywood Ten defendants, like director Edward Dmytryk, could not handle the pressures and made arrangements with the powers that be to recant and name names. As result, actress Lee Grant was added to the blacklist while the rehabilitated Dmytryk went on to direct films, including The Caine Mutiny, shot in 1954 at the high tide of the blacklist.

As the film shows, however, there were some brave souls who finally cracked the blacklist.

When Kirk Douglas came to Hollywood in 1945, he was hired to work on a film called The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. There was a strike going on, the one which Disney referred to in his testimony before HUAC. The striking union, largely representing set dressers, had asked the Screen Actor’s Guild to honor their picket line.

Under the influence of Guild leaders — such as George Murphy, Ronald Reagan and George Montgomery — SAG refused to do so. But the writer and the director of Douglas’s film, respectively Robert Rossen and Lewis Milestone, did support the strikers. They would not cross the picket line. Fearing a lockout, producer Hal Wallis had the actor sleep in his dressing room.

As Douglas related in his book, two years later, both Milestone and Rossen were called before HUAC. Milestone escaped to France. Rossen admitted membership in the Communist Party. Both men were blacklisted.

Another Douglas friend and colleague, Carl Foreman, producer of the film High Noon, was called to testify but fled to England. Foreman was targeted because some took High Noon as an allegory for what HUAC was doing to America.

A Disgusted Douglas

All this shocked Douglas, who knew that none of these men posed any threat to the security of the United States. He realized how absurd the practices of the HUAC actually were.

For instance, the committee called baseball player Jackie Robinson to testify against actor Paul Robeson, but Robinson could offer little or no information about the actor. Douglas concluded that the only reason Robinson was called was because, like Robeson, he was a famous African-American.

Douglas was also distressed by the fact that six of the Hollywood Ten were Jewish as was he and as were many of the executives who capitulated so completely before HUAC. Douglas could not understand why people of the Jewish faith, who fully understood the price and pain of being persecuted, would go along with the HUAC circus, led by a clown like Thomas.

As Douglas wrote and as the film shows, much of this stemmed from fear. Men such as Warner, Mayer and Harry Cohn were “terrified their great power would be taken away from them if their loyalty to America was called into question.”

Roach’s film shows a scene with columnist Hedda Hopper going into Mayer’s office, calling him a kike, and threatening to vilify him in her columns unless he cooperated with the committee.

But Douglas rejected such pressure, agreeing with actor Fredric March who said: “They’re after more than Hollywood. This reaches into every American city and town.”

Ironically, HUAC’s aggressive witch hunt against leftists in Hollywood contributed, indirectly, to the undoing of Trumbo’s isolation. In 1950, author Howard Fast was called before HUAC and grilled about his colleagues in a group opposing Spain’s fascist dictator Francisco Franco. When Fast refused to answer, he also was imprisoned.

In prison, Fast used the library to research the life of Spartacus, a slave who turned gladiator and finally became a rebel leader against Imperial Rome. After getting released from prison, Fast wrote a historical novel about the man who almost undid the Roman Empire.

But Fast’s life was not the same as it had been before. He was banned from speaking on college campuses. He was under surveillance by the FBI. And he was denied a passport, which deprived him of his right to do research on Spartacus in Europe.

When Fast finished his book, he tried to sell it to his old publisher, Little, Brown and Company, but was turned down after the FBI visited the publisher. Six other publishing houses also turned it down. With no other alternative, Fast published it himself. In four months, it sold 48,000 copies with Fast and his wife shipping out copies from their basement.

Finding Spartacus

By the 1950s, Kirk Douglas had built a very successful career as an actor. He also despised the fact that MGM made him sign a loyalty oath to play painter Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life. So, Douglas created his own production company with partner Ed Lewis, who dropped off a copy of Fast’s Spartacus on Douglas’s desk.

Douglas loved the book and decided to produce the film (and star in it). Fast insisted on writing the first draft of the script but it was quite poor, prompting Douglas to enlist Trumbo to do the re-write. But Douglas told Universal Studio chiefs Ed Muhl and Lew Wasserman that Lewis was writing the script.

About halfway through the film’s production, Trumbo stopped working, complaining that he had written about 250,000 words on the project so far and did not want to do that much work if his name was not on the film.

Douglas drove to Trumbo’s house and told him that when the film was finished, he would insist that Trumbo get screen credit, which is what Douglas wanted to do all along. Douglas invited Trumbo to a meeting at the Universal commissary with himself and director Stanley Kubrick, something Trumbo had not done for almost 13 years.

After columnist Hedda Hopper exposed the fact that Trumbo was secretly writing Spartacus, producer-director Otto Preminger approached Trumbo to write a movie from the Leon Uris book Exodus. Preminger announced this in the movie trade papers, joining Douglas in helping Trumbo crack the blacklist.

After Douglas and Preminger made their announcements, singer/actor Frank Sinatra also decided to employ a blacklisted writer, Albert Maltz, except Sinatra wanted to make this into a big event. But Trumbo advised Douglas to tell Sinatra to drop his crusade, since it would probably hurt Sen. John Kennedy in his presidential race against former HUAC member Richard Nixon. Joseph Kennedy, the candidate’s father, also advised Sinatra not to go that route.

A President Weighs In

But after Kennedy got elected in 1960, he and longtime friend, Paul Fay, attended a public screening of Spartacus. The American Legion was picketing and Kennedy could have asked for a private screening of the film. Wasserman and Muhl would have been glad to oblige.

But on the advice of his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the President made the deliberate public appearance.

Roach closes the film with a nice strophe. Hopper is in her living room watching television when a segment depicting Kennedy’s attendance at the film comes on the screen. The camera rotates around her face slowly, as she begins to realize that her reign of terror is now ending.

The scene dissolves to black. Out of the darkness, we see Trumbo in the wings about to go on stage in 1970 to collect his Laurel Award, the annual distinguished career award given out by the Writers’ Guild of America. Eloquently, Trumbo addresses the issue of the whole blacklist period and the film closes.

Director Jay Roach began his career in comedy, directing Michael Myers in the Austin Powers films. He also directed the Robert DeNiro comedy Meet the Parents before going to the small screen to direct works closer to his heart. For HBO, he directed the political dramas Recount about the Republican heist of the 2000 presidential election in Florida, and Game Change about Sen. John McCain’s decision to pick Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate in 2008.

Roach has now made Trumbo, a political drama for the large screen. Overall, he does fairly well. Dalton Trumbo did several interviews that were captured on film and can be seen by almost anyone. Actor Bryan Cranston has obviously watched them at length as he does a nice job portraying Trumbo’s feisty character.

The English actress Helen Mirren plays Hedda Hopper. From the first time I saw Mirren in The Long Good Friday, I was struck by her intelligence, subtlety and technical proficiency. She furthers that tradition here with a nicely understated performance. In an easy part, John Goodman is strong and vivid as low-budget producer John King.

Roach likes to begin a scene low key and then build it to a powerful explosion or aria. For example, he does this with Goodman wielding a baseball bat at a representative of the producers’ alliance sent to intimidate him from employing blacklisted writers.

The one disappointment in the cast is Diane Lane as Trumbo’s wife Cleo. Either she could not find the center of her character, or Roach could not help her. It’s a completely blasé performance in a major role.

A Bigger Picture

In my opinion, some of the film’s shortcomings originate in the script by John McNamara. The film tries to make the opening of Spartacus into a crowning historical moment, which is not true. Because of the power of Douglas, Wasserman and Muhl, this achievement ended the blacklist for Trumbo but not for many others who did not have that kind of torque behind them. For them, it lingered on into the mid-1960s.

Another problem with the script is that it misses the core motivation for HUAC and the careers of some of its members, like Dies, Thomas and Nixon. For political reasons, they bitterly resented the scope and the goals of Roosevelt’s New Deal. They did not want government to be the solution to the Great Depression. So, they decided to poison the New Deal’s legacy with the taint of communism.

To a degree, they were successful. HUAC managed to drastically limit the American political spectrum by attacking, smearing, prosecuting and demonizing any political orientation left of the Democratic Party.

HUAC, Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare tilted the politics of the country decidedly to the right, meaning that – unlike many European industrialized countries – there is no serious left-leaning American political party.

Though HUAC Chairman Thomas went to prison on fraud charges, Sen. Joe McCarthy took up the anti-communist cause, expanding the Red Scare into the U.S. government and other aspects of American life. As with HUAC, FBI Director Hoover supplied information to McCarthy.

When Robert Kennedy became Attorney General, he looked at the information that Hoover had. There were maybe 50,000 members of the Communist Party in the United States and many of them were FBI informants. In other words, there was no real communist threat to fear. It was more a creation of men like Hoover who recognized that an exaggerated fear of communism was an effective weapon for gaining political advantage and personal power.

It was this subterranean agenda that the American public was never made to understand. Therefore the consequences went unabated.

Even today, prominent right-wingers decry government programs to create jobs or alleviate suffering – including President Barack Obama’s private-insurance-based health care program – as “socialism” or “communism.”

The value of scaring the American people has not been lost. Today, we live with another excessive threat, the War on Terror, which has led to the Patriot Act, torture, drone strikes and racial profiling.

The ability of Americans to resist these current excesses is crippled by the failure of politicians, the courts and the media to stop the Red Scare that started in Hollywood in 1947.

Trumbo is a decent enough picture. And Roach should be praised for his good intentions in filming it. There are few directors and producers making politically relevant films in America today.

But in my opinion, this subject would have been better served if Roach had made a mini-series on the subject. That would have given him the opportunity to depict a much wider American canvas and a much larger subject.

Dalton Trumbo was part of an epic struggle. In the end, he personally won, but the country lost.

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See the following from What Really Happened

(Click on link)

THE NEW McCARTHYISM

HOW THE FBI INVADED MY PRIVACY WHEN I WAS ONLY 10 YEARS OLD

A survivor of the Cold War

"Are you now, have you ever been .." Image by Richard Correll

“Are you now, have you ever been ..”
Image by Richard Correll

As I get older I find my mind wandering back to events of the past. I look at this as my brain finding ways to keep me young, at least that’s what I tell myself.

Looking back to 1954 has reminded me of my very first personal encounter with the FBI .First, a bit of a background …… to this day I find the incident rather amusing.

First, a bit of a background

I grew up in a Working Class Jewish community in Brooklyn called Brighton Beach. It was known as a ‘hotbed of Communism’ in those days and was often referred to as “Moscow By The Sea” (strangely enough it is referred to today as “Odessa By The Sea” because of the multitude of immigrants living there from the Former Soviet Union. It is now ‘the hotbed of the Russian Mafia’)

But, back to 1954 …

Those were the  days when the Social Networks had it’s emphasis on “Social”. People actually inter reacted with people, not via electronic devices but face to face. We knew who our neighbours were and we knew almost everything about them without having to rely on FaceBook or Twitter.

After school activities did not involve sitting home and watching TV or texting our friends on mobile phones, they involved continuing our education after school hours. Many of my contemporaries went to Hebrew lessons at the local temples or synagogues. As zionism was completely alien to my family I was sent to a Yiddish language school.

And that’s where it happened ….

On the wall of our classroom, two framed photos were hanging ….

One was of the Yiddish writer Shalom Aleichem

shalom-aleichem

The other was yet another Yiddish writer I.L. Peretz

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One afternoon two FBI agents entered our classroom and arrested the teacher. Someone had apparently ‘reported us’ for teaching Communism, proof being that one of the photos resembled Lenin, and the other Stalin.

In those days, just pointing your finger in accusation was enough ….

Just a year earlier the switch was pulled executing Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Communism was something to fear, and Jews were to be watched carefully to prevent its spread.

Much like Muslims are treated today in the USA …. strange, eh?

Just another example of not learning the lessons of history and repeating it.

But, just as I ‘Survived’ those ugly, dark days of the Cold War, so will the victims of today.

THE RESURRECTION OF THE disHONOURABLE JOSEPH McCARTHY … Full length movie

Just-cause-you-got-the-monkey
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It started with THIS ….


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And Continues with THIS …

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The New McCarthyism

By Michael Rivero FROM

Back in the year 1947, the House Select Committee began an investigation into the Motion Picture Industry. Ostensibly the goal was to ferret out communists working in the film industry. But in actuality the US Government was concerned that Hollywood was no longer as blindly supportive of government policy as it had been only a few years earlier at the height of WW2. In particular, J. Edgar Hoover had long held the opinion that the entertainment industry should be the propaganda arm for the government in peace time as well as war.

However, as WW2 had ended, the defense establishment had lobbied for the creation of a “Cold” war against the Soviet Union, a war not actually to be fought, but constantly to be prepared for at huge cost to the taxpayers. This cost was the visible manifestation of the “Military Industrial Complex” President Eisenhower referred to in his farewell address, and many in Hollywood openly wondered just why so much more money had to be thrown into the war machine during a time of peace, and more to the point, just why we were supposed to be so afraid of the communists.

Hoover’s desire to remake Hollywood into a gigantic propaganda machine had started at the end of WW1 when Hoover tried to persuade Charlie Chaplin to cease making films that portrayed authority figures as oafish buffoons. Chaplin refused, laughed at Hoover. Years later, as head of the FBI, Hoover was instrumental in having Charlie Chaplin’s citizenship revoked in retaliation.

Hoover’s mania with Hollywood was a seldom reported but constant factor in show business. The 1959 film, “The FBI Story” starring Air Force General Jimmy Stewart was reportedly directed by Mervyn LeRoy, but in actuality J. Edgar Hoover was personally supervising the film (and briefly appears in it, shown only from the back) to make certain the “correct” image of the FBI was shown.

In later years, FBI informants became permanent fixtures at movie studios, and spied for the FBI. When Disney Studios made “That Darned Cat”, a pre-production copy of the screenplay “somehow” made its way to the FBI, which promptly sent Disney a memo expressing concern at how the FBI was to be portrayed.

[That Darned Cat]Click for full sized page. [That Darned Cat]Click for full sized page.

Likewise, when Paramount Pictures produced,”Skidoo”, starring Jackie Gleason, it featured a single scene in which Gleason’s character is seen fleeing a building marked,”FBI” carrying a file cabinet on his back. That one single scene prompted the following four page memo.

[Skidoo page 1]Click for full sized page. [Skidoo page 2]Click for full sized page.
[Skidoo page 3]Click for full sized page. [Skidoo page 4]Click for full sized page.

Along with “nudging” the film studios to portray certain things certain ways, the FBI did not hesitate to wreck the careers of those people it felt posed a dangerous threat to the government’s public image. During the height of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program, the FBI destroyed the career of actress Jean Seberg

Jean Seberg was considered a threat to the US Government because of her public support for civil rights at a time when the Civil Rights movement was starting to point out the racial bias in the draft system that placed a disproportionate percentage of black kids on the front lines of Vietnam. Seberg was also a supporter of the Black Panthers in their pre-militant days when their agenda was breakfasts for the ghetto kids, local control of school curriculum, and ending the draft.
Jean Seberg, a well known actress in the 60s, became pregnant and the FBI sent out letters to the gossip columnists identifying the baby’s father as a Black Panther, in order to cheapen Seberg’s image. Keep in mind that the 60s was an era in which sexual relations between blacks and whites was still considered taboo by most Americans.

The scans below are of the official FBI letter from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. asking permission for the scam.

[Seberg Letter Page 1]letter requesting permission for the smearing of Jean Seberg.

[Seberg Letter Page 2]page two of request for permission to smear of Jean Seberg

The text of the letter:

“Bureau permission is requested to publicize the pregnancy of Jean Seberg, well-known movie actress by (name deleted) Black Panther (BPP) (deleted) by advising Hollywood “Gossip-Columnists” in the Los Angeles area of the situation. It is felt that the possible publication of Seberg’s plight could cause her embarrassment and serve to cheapen her image with the general public.
” ‘It is proposed that the following letter from a fictitious person be sent to local columnists:
“I was just thinking about you and remembered I still owe you a favor. So —- I was in Paris last week and ran into Jean Seberg, who was heavy with baby. I thought she and Romaine [sic] had gotten together again, but she confided the child belonged to (deleted) of the Black Panthers, one (deleted). The dear girl is getting around!
” ‘Anyway, I thought you might get a scoop on the others. Be good and I’ll see you soon.
‘Love,
” ‘Sol.,
“Usual precautions would be taken by the Los Angeles Division to preclude identification of the Bureau as the source of the letter if approval is granted.”

Permission to use the fake letter was granted, but with the suggestion that the smear be delayed until Jean Seberg’s pregnancy was in a very obvious condition.

[Seberg Letter Page 1] letter granting permission for the smearing of Jean Seberg.

The story was then run by Los Angeles Times propagandist Joyce Haber.

[Seberg Letter Page 2]Click for full size picture of the Haber Article that launched the smear.

The story was picked up by Newsweek and the international press. The shock of the story was so severe that Jean Seberg suffered a miscarriage. The funeral for the child was held with an open casket, so that the lie stood revealed in its most tragic form. Jean Seberg, her baby dead and her career shattered by this outright lie, attempted suicide several times, finally succeeding in a French Hotel.

[Seberg Letter Page 1] memo that accompanied copy of the Haber story sent to FBI files.

(The name which was redacted from the memo during the FOIA process is thought by many to have been Raymond Hewit, a Black Panther leader. His “outright lie” was far more direct. The FBI typed up a letter on official FBI stationary identifying Hewit as an informant and planted it where other Black Panthers would find it in the hopes that Hewit would then be killed.)

Following Seberg’s death, the Los Angeles Times, the key instrument of her torment, issued a statement by the FBI.

“The days when the FBI used derogatory information to combat advocates of unpopular causes have long since passed. We are out of that business forever.”

The Senate committee that looked into COINTELPRO disagreed, however.

“Cointelpro activities may continue today under the rubric of ‘investigation.’

Finally, no single celebrity filled the government with more fear than did ex-Beatle John Lennon. Lennon’s popularity, and hence his ability to influence popular opinion, coupled with his strong anti-war stance, made him a real threat in the event the United States decided it had to go to war. For this reason, Lennon was one of the most watched celebrities, and according to Lennon’s youngest son, the victim of a government assassination plot.

[Lennon 1]Click for full sized page. [Lennon 2]Click for full sized page.
[Lennon 3]Click for full sized page. [Lennon 4]Click for full sized page.
[Lennon 5]Click for full sized page. [Lennon 6]Click for full sized page.
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[Lennon 9]Click for full sized page. [Lennon 10]Click for full sized page.

Having documented the FBI’s willingness to destroy anyone they feel represents a threat to the government, let us return to the days of the House Select Committee on UnAmerican Activities.

While Senator Joseph McCarthy grabbed headlines with his shouts of “Communist”, Hoover set about his self-appointed task of purging Hollywood of any he viewed as “disloyal” to the United States, which meant anyone unwilling to make the movies they were told to make, when and how they were told to make them. Senator McCarthy’s screed of “Communist” provided Hoover with a bludgeon he could and did use with impunity on Hollywood’s creative talents. Careers were ruined. Some 400 people, mostly innocent of any actual wrongdoing, were destroyed. Some, like Jean Seberg would later do, committed suicide. Ten men (the famous Hollywood Ten), Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Ring Lardner jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, Dalton Trumbo, and eminent director Edward Dmytryk were jailed for contempt of Congress.

Others punished for refusing to cooperate included Larry Adler, Stella Adler, Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Joseph Bromberg, Charlie Chaplin, Aaron Copland, Hanns Eisler, Carl Foreman, John Garfield, Howard Da Silva, Dashiell Hammett, E. Y. Harburg, Lillian Hellman, Burl Ives, Arthur Miller, Dorothy Parker, Philip Loeb, Joseph Losey, Anne Revere, Pete Seeger, Gale Sondergaard, Louis Untermeyer, Josh White, Clifford Odets, Michael Wilson, Paul Jarrico, Jeff Corey, John Randolph, Canada Lee, Orson Welles, Paul Green, Sidney Kingsley, Paul Robeson, Richard Wright and Abraham Polonsky. Lee Grant was registered on the black list because she refused to give evidence against her husband Arnold Manoff.

Stars such as Larry Parks were destroyed because they refused to “name names” of other actors who were party members. Actor Philip Loeb committed suicide. Edward G. Robinson, never a communist, was put on a “grey list,” and spent the rest of his life making B movies (except for his final role opposite Charlton Heston in “Soylent Green”). Sam Jaffe, formerly a well-known actor and Oscar winner in 1950 was registered on the black list because he refused to cooperate with the committee. He spent the next 6 years working as a math teacher and living at his sister’s until he was able to return to films in 1957.

Of course, what was really involved was money. War is good for business. Business had been great during WW2 and the newly created “Cold War” was just a way to keep business good. The Military Industrial Complex NEEDED Hollywood to demonize the Soviets. Otherwise, too many people were going to ask why we were being told to be so afraid of them, and few in the government had a really convincing answer for that question. So, in order to perpetuate the Cold War, those in Hollywood who might sympathize with the designated villains had to be removed; their ruined lives a small price to pay for unending access to the taxpayers’ wallets.

But that was then and this is now.

Once again vast sums of money are being spent on a war, this time a hot one and getting hotter. Once again parties with a vested interest are out to smear and destroy anyone who dares ask if the wars are worth the sacrifice of our young people (not to mention the money), indeed if there really is any point at all to the wars aside from justifying the flow of money to defense contractors.

But the Soviet Union has gone out of business. The word “communist” doesn’t carry the same psychological impact it used to, so the war hawk smear squad has come up with a new one, “Anti-Semite.” Like “Communist”, “Anti-Semite” is used to ruin the lives of people who have not actually done anything wrong other than to challenge the war profiteers. It is a new word for an old trick, and I am amazed that they are still playing the same old game, but I guess the FBI can always find some dumb-assed idiot to fall for it and do their dirty work of wrecking a career for them.

Of course, it really isn’t that new a word. Oddly enough, Charles Lindbergh the famous aviator commented in a speech in Des Moines in 1941…

Our theaters soon became filled with plays portraying the glory of war. Newsreels lost all semblance of objectivity. Newspapers and magazines began to lose advertising if they carried anti-war articles. A smear campaign was instituted against individuals who opposed intervention. The terms “fifth columnist,” “traitor,” “Nazi,” “anti-Semitic” were thrown ceaselessly at any one who dared to suggest that it was not to the best interests of the United States to enter the war. Men lost their jobs if they were frankly anti-war. Many others dared no longer speak.

Today we are seeing once again the heavy hand of the war profiteers trying to reshape the film industry into a tool to propagandize the public into a high war-fever such that they will gladly trade their own blood for gold to line the pockets of the defense establishment. And those individuals who have the courage to speak out are attacked, and once again they are smeared to silence them. In the 1940s it was “Communist”, today it is “Anti-Semite”, but aside from the particular label used, the methods, goals, and morality are little changed from the days of Joseph McCarthy.

If there is a difference today it is that the American people are better educated. No longer dependent on the state schools, or controlled media, the public understands the tactics used to silence those who speak out. As a result, those who speak out are more and more not only accorded the sympathetic ear that their message deserves, but the effects of the smearing are far less ruinous than in times past.

Thus, when we see people like Willie Nelson, Sean Penn, and Marion Cotillard speak out and survive, or when people like Tom Shadyac (or myself) voluntarily walk away from Hollywood because speaking the truth matters more to them, it sends a message that it is now permissible, indeed imperative to speak out. This is not to say that there are not risks. Rosie O’Donnell lost her spot on “The View”, but the majority of Americans understand exactly why, and understand that Rosie sacrificed a great deal trying to get the truth out. Rosie is and will be remembered as a hero for truth long after her co-hosts on “The View” are properly forgotten.

In contrast, of course, we look back at those who aided the “Commie” witch-hunts of the 1940s with deserved contempt. No doubt many aided Hoover purely to rid themselves of competition, and then tried to lull themselves to sleep with the idea that in some way they had actually done something good for the nation by wrecking their neighbors’ careers. I have no doubt strong liquor played a role in this grossest of self-deception. But if the informants and smear artists of the 1940s are remembered in a poor light, that should serve as a reminder to the informants and smear artists of today. It does not matter what you do with the rest of your life, aiding the new version of McCarthyism is how history will remember you. While people like Charlie Sheen, Willie Nelson, Sean Penn, and Marion Cotillard (and to step out of entertainment, former President Jimmy Carter) will be remembered and honored for their courage, history will lump the smear artists together with Stalin’s “Useful idiots”, little more than no-talent opportunists for whom ratting out someone was the fastest path to advancement.

They say that history repeats itself, and indeed that is the major thing wrong with history. We are seeing history repeat itself again. We have been down this path before, in the 1940s. Whether the word is “Communist” or “Anti-Semite”, Hollywood is making the same mistake all over again. And Hollywood will have to live with that image in the coming decades.

ISRAEL’S PERPETUAL STATE OF WAR

If the Bible was written today it would most likely speak of David’s Empire being surrounded by imaginary enemies. The zionists have claimed for 61 years that “they want to push us to the sea.” Who are ‘THEY’?

Could it be Jordan, Israel’s FRIEND to the East?
Could it be Egypt, Israel’s FRIEND and COLLABORATOR to the South?
Could it be the Palestinians languishing in refugee camps since 1948?
Could it be the Palestinians living in the Occupied West Bank who are surrounded by a concrete wall of apartheid and 600 illegal checkpoints that must be gone through to enter Israel proper?
Or is it the Palestinians living in Gaza, the WORLDS LARGEST CONCENTRATION CAMP?

Or, might it be Iran, a country that Israel has been trying to blast off the face of this earth for years…. just waiting for the final ‘OK’ from Obamaland.
Or perhaps it might be Iraq, whose entire government and infrastructure were totally destroyed by invading American troops.

Israel, in order to continue with its ‘perpetual state of war’ has to convince its citizens that the ‘threat’ is real. We saw this today when the air raid sirens sounded throughout the country in what was the state’s largest civilian drill.

We saw this very same paranoid behaviour in the United States during the Cold War. Sirens sounded randomly and the people were expected to run off to designated bomb shelters. Drills were held in public schools to instill fear upon the youngsters as well. We were forced to scurry under our desks for ‘protection'(pictured above). America was also surrounded by ‘imaginary’ enemies. I still have in my possession a ‘dog tag’ with my name, address and father’s name. It was issued to all students in the early 50’s. We were instructed to wear it around our necks at all times, and to put it in our mouths whenever the sirens sounded. This was so our parents would be able to identify our remains if the Russians actually dropped a bomb on us. How our parents survived still remains a mystery to this day.

The entire exercise mentioned above was merely the methods used to perpetuate the then State of war that the United States was in. Today it is Israel that ‘plays these games’.

Instead of Israel attempting to reach a peaceful agreement with its ‘enemies, it finds it more worthwhile to keep the status quo. Its citizens were not promised change or hope in the last election. Netanyahu was elected to keep things as they are in Israel, unlike the American electorate that voted for change and received a continuation of the ‘same old, same old’ in its place.

Perhaps if President Obama implements the change he promised, Israel will be forced to do the same….. money talks 😉

THE NEW FACE OF ISLAMOPHOBIA

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Ramblings and Realities……

Islamophobia has become the new Cold War of the 21st century.

When all else fails, blame the Muslims…. that’s the name of the new ‘game’. When issues are not the case, point a finger, accuse the opponent of ‘being one of them’. It worked in the 50’s when the word ‘communist’ was the worst accusation possible, why not play by those same rules?

We are living in different times today. We are able to see beyond the finger pointing today. Today the rules are slightly different …. in the 50’s, the fingers were pointed at individuals or organisations, today they are pointed at entire nations.

As a child, I was taught in school that ‘Islam was the religion of the sword’…. it was something to be wary of, something to watch very carefully. We were being prepared to face the ‘new enemy’. It was ‘the next in line’ after communism…. the enemy of the future.

Looking back to my early school years it’s hard not to remember the ‘air raid drills’ that we had during class. We were told that the Russians had nuclear bombs (thanks to the American spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg) {good Islamic sounding names BTW}. We were also told that they planned to use those bombs on us. We were issued ‘ID’ tags, much like the ones issued to soldiers. On it was our name, address and names of our parents. We were told to put these under our tongues whenever there was a drill. During the drill itself we had to crouch under our desks. It was explained to us that if there actually was an attack, we would be able to be identified by the tags in our mouths, and our parents could then be notified….

??????????????????????????????????????????????????

That logic makes about as much sense as the rest of the Cold War. Notify our parents???? They weren’t killed as well??? They were only two blocks away when the bomb fell…. SHEESH!

Jump to the 2000’s…… same bomb, same fear….. different enemy–Iran, which just happens to be an Islamic nation.

As a side note, let’s take a look at that bomb…. who was the first to get it? Who was the first to use it?? On August 6th 1945 the United States dropped that bomb on the civilian city of Hiroshima. Three days later they dropped another one on the civilian city of Nagasaki.

SO….. from those two actions alone we can see who the real enemy is…

As Americans, we were lied to by the government our entire lives… anyone that lived through the Cold War and McCarthy era can see that. Why then are we swallowing the line that Islam is the enemy?
Let’s look at some realities….
Who at present is the aggressor in Iraq?
Who is threatening to literally wipe the Islamic Republic of Iran off the map??
Who is systematically killing off the entire nation of Palestine???
Anyone with eyes, ears and a functioning brain can see who the actual enemy is….
Islam is the victim, not the enemy.
The attempts by the West and by Israel will not alter that fact. The dehuminisation of Islam will not change the above realities.

Overcoming ignorance is the only way to change the situation. Look at the realities of the world we are living in…. look at who is holding the guns, dropping the bombs…. with your money….
Only you can put an end to this.

THE ESSENTIAL LESSONS OF THE ROSENBERG CASE

Sketches of the Rosenbergs by Pablo Picasso
Fifty five years after the execution of their parents as convicted nuclear spies, the sons of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg share their views on that dark period in American history known as the Cold War… a must read.
Also see The New McCarthyism….

The essential lessons of the Rosenberg case


The couple’s sons say those in power manufactured evidence and targeted their parents, making them the focus of the public’s Cold War fear and anger.
By Michael Meeropol and Robert Meeropol
October 5, 2008
We are the sons of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. We were young children — 10 and 6 years old, respectively — when our parents were put to death in the electric chair at Sing Sing for passing the secret of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.

For many years after that, we believed our parents to be wholly innocent of the charges against them. But over the years, and especially as further evidence became available at the end of the Cold War, we began to question that belief.

Now, 55 years after their execution, two recent revelations in our parents’ case have again rekindled fierce debate about their culpability. But in our opinion, these disclosures — the release of our aunt’s sworn statements to a grand jury and a surprise new admission by our parents’ codefendant — have obscured both the essence and the essential lessons of the Rosenberg case.

Many Americans now living were not born when our parents stood trial in 1951 for conspiracy to commit espionage, so they may not understand why this case remains one of our nation’s most sensational courtroom dramas. The reason is that, at the height of the Cold War, two people were executed for allegedly giving the secret of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.

Viewed through the lens of 1950s America, it appeared to many that the Rosenbergs had given our archenemy the means to destroy our nation. The trial judge justified the death sentences by pronouncing that our parents made it possible for the Soviets to build their bomb earlier than expected, causing the Korean War and the deaths of thousands of American soldiers. “I consider your crime worse than murder,” said the judge as he sentenced our parents to death. “Plain deliberate contemplated murder is dwarfed in magnitude by comparison with the crime you have committed.”

But was that true? Had they in fact passed the so-called secret of the atomic bomb to the Russians? We have acknowledged for a long time the possibility that our father may have engaged in non-atomic espionage. The recent statement by our parents’ codefendant, Morton Sobell, confirms exactly that, and several weeks ago we stated publicly for the first time that we now believe that our father did, in fact, participate in passing along military information.

But Sobell’s recent admission sheds no light on whether our father in fact stole the secret of the atomic bomb, the crime for which he was executed. To this day, there is no credible evidence that he participated in obtaining or passing on any such secret.

In contrast, the newly released grand jury transcript does provide interesting new information about the case.

At the start of the investigation against our parents, David and Ruth Greenglass, our mother’s brother and sister-in-law, confessed to being part of an atomic spy ring and cooperated with the prosecution in exchange for no charges being brought against Ruth and a comparatively light sentence for David.

Ruth’s trial testimony provided the one key piece of evidence that led to our mother’s conviction and subsequent execution. She testified at trial that our mother typed up notes that contained the “secret” of the atomic bomb, provided, supposedly, by David, a U.S. Army sergeant with only a high school education, who was assigned as a machinist to the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

However, the newly released transcript reveals that Ruth Greenglass’ grand jury testimony included nothing about our mother typing any espionage notes. The only notes mentioned in Ruth’s testimony were ones she wrote herself, which described the buildings at Los Alamos, not the atomic bomb.

It was not until February 1951, months after her grand jury testimony, that Ruth gave a new statement in which she reported (we would say “invented”), for the first time, the allegation that our mother had typed David’s handwritten notes describing the atomic bomb. Confronted with Ruth’s revisions, David Greenglass then contradicted his earlier statement to the FBI in which he had denied our mother’s participation in espionage activities. Subsequently, David and Ruth both testified at the trial that our mother had typed notes about the secret of the atomic bomb.

In another stunning discrepancy, there is no mention in Ruth’s grand jury testimony of an alleged meeting described by David and Ruth at the trial, during which David supposedly handed over the “secret of the atom bomb sketch” — trial Exhibit 8 — to Julius. Exhibit 8 was the main evidence for the government’s contention that Julius successfully stole such a secret. If there is no mention of the meeting in David’s grand jury testimony (which has yet to be released but which is essential to obtain), the core of the government’s case against both of our parents will be dealt a crippling blow.

Some commentators have, in essence, said that neither this lack of evidence nor these inconsistencies matter. “The Rosenbergs were Soviet spies, and not minor ones either,” wrote Ronald Radosh in these pages on Sept. 17.

Evidently, in Radosh’s eyes, our mother remains a spy even though the new information indicates that the evidence against her was fabricated, and our father succeeded in passing vitally important data even though there is no clear proof to this day of the value of the military/industrial information that he, Sobell or others transmitted.

Radosh’s arguments also divert attention from the most important problem of all: The U.S. government executed two people for stealing the secret of the atomic bomb — a crime it knew they did not commit.

The central lesson of this episode is that our government abused its power in dangerous ways that remain relevant today. Those in power targeted our parents, making them the focus of the public’s Cold War-era fear and anger. They manufactured testimony and evidence. They arrested our mother simply as leverage to get our father to cooperate.

They used the ultimate weapon — the threat of death — to try to extort a confession. They created the myth that there was a key “secret” of the atomic bomb, and then devised a strategy to make it appear that our father had sought and passed on that “secret.” They executed our father when he refused to collaborate in this lie. They executed our mother as well, even though they knew that she was not an active participant in any espionage activities.

This case provides a crucial warning about the tendencies of our government to manufacture and exploit public fear, to trample civil rights and to manipulate judicial proceedings. In our current political climate, the targets being vilified have changed, but the tactics of those in power remain much the same.

Michael Meeropol is chairman of the economics department at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass. Robert Meeropol is the founder and executive director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children (

www.rfc.org).

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