"H.E. was saying that the McCarthy hearings and red-hunting trials in the
USA from 1947 to 1954 were "just as bad" as Stalin's justice system.
(Which is of course absurd, but it's very Harlan. It's unlikely he would
actually defend such a claim if he weren't hyper-excited. Of course, it's
also unlikely he'll ever cease to be hyper-excited.)"
Absolutely incorrect. I and many other people feel the same way. The
House UnAmerian Activities Committee (HUAC) destroyed innocent people with
just as much efficiency and cruelty as the Stalinist courts ever did.
(Remember the lesson from "Infection"..."when you become obsessed with the
enemy, you BECOME the enemy.")
J. Parnell Thomas and Joe McCarthy decided that there were X-number of
communists in the military, industry, radio and the motion picture
business, and they were determined to find them whether they existed or
not. People were brought before the committee and told to name names of
those they thought might be red. Not that they *were* red (and some, a
very few, were), but that they *might be*. And even if you didn't know
anyone who *might be*, if you didn't name SOMEbody, you might be assumed
to be hiding something...and end up blacklisted yourself.
It was crime by association, by implication, by innuendo, by distortion
and by lie. People saw their careers destroyed, their lives ruined, their
families devastated. They had to flee the country to work. Some went to
jail. Some were so utterly destroyed by the process that they committed
No, it wasn't equal to the sheer numbers of the Stalinist death
camps...but in terms of a one-to-one experience, the one was every bit as
vile, sadistic and unholy as the other. And just as random.
One film maker, hired BY OUR OWN GOVERNMENT to make films during the
second world war about the benefits of working with the Russians to defeat
the Nazis later found those same films used to prove he was a commie
A leading radio dramatist of his age was never even called before the
committee, but his name was listed in Red Channels, a crummy little
broadsheet published by the owner of a SUPERMARKET CHAIN in the East
Coast, a guy who one day decided that this writer was a little too pink
for his tastes...and that writer's career stopped THAT DAY.
If Harlan got exercised about it...and if I got exercised about it...it's
because we are writers, and many writers, actors and directors who had
never done anything to anyone, who had nothing to do with reds, were
destroyed in full light of the national media. Jeff Corey didn't work for
about 20 years after his run-in; same for Zero Mostel. It's something we
feel *very* strongly about.