August 30, 2005

Lucille Ball and the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Have We Learned Our Lesson Yet?

An interesting read is the from the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Freedom of Information Privacy Act concerning Lucille Ball's testimony at the 1953 House Select Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings which reflected her registration to vote as a communist in 1936 due to the insistence of her grandfather.

There are three parts to this testimony which are presented in PDF format on the FBI web site. Alot of the information is blacked out, but still with a little bit of history, we can fill in those blacked out marks.

Those behind this McCarthyism in the days of the Hollywood Witch Hunts and red scare from the post World War 2 era, promoted by the notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy (Republican Senator) is much like today's Karl Rove and the Republican GOP Smear Campaign against anything that opposes the Republican Agenda and their March to War. Anyone against them must be eliminated by further lies and propoganda.

The HUAC came into being because they wanted to prove that a lot of actors and writers were communists. They thought that movies were brainwashing Americans and putting communist propaganda into their heads. The Committee probed Hollywood, but they never confirmed any of the charges. They even questioned 10-year-old Shirley Temple. Movie studios became very careful about their products and their actors, because they did not want to be accused. Just to be associated with someone who was suspected of communism was enough to ruin a career.

There were those who decided to reap political gain from the fears of the American public. Two future presidents were present at the hearings. Richard Nixon was a member of the HUAC, and Ronald Reagan appeared as a friendly witness. McCarthy was often in the news, telling the American people that they were being overrun with communists, and that they must rid themselves of all the communists before America could be great again.

The HUAC blacklisted many people. Blacklisting means putting people on a list of suspected communists. It meant that their professional reputation was destroyed, and that no one would hire them for fear of being thought a communist. Many actors couldn’t star in movies anymore because they were blacklisted. Some authors for the big screen continued to write movies using fake names, but most never worked again. Some were forced to leave the country.

A cartoonist lampooned McCarthy and made up the term McCarthyism, which to him meant fanaticism. He didn’t like the way that McCarthy was hurting people. Then supporters of McCarthy took up the term, only they turned the term around, and said that it meant patriotism.

In the election after the hearings, the Republicans won most seats in the Congress and the Senate, and this happened largely because of McCarthy and the Senate hearings. The people also elected a Republican president. But McCarthy’s power went to his head, and he went too far. He accused officials in the government of communism. He accused officials of the Army of communism. McCarthy never proved any of these charges, and his ideas were discredited.

Even while the HUAC hearings were going on, in the height of the "red scare", many people knew that the hearings were unfair, and they knew that the blacklists were wrong. Could a government that would allow unfair practices be fair in other ways?

Reform groups and those who happened to stand up against McCarthy suffered, too, during the McCarthy era. They were often accused of having communist or socialist leanings, and support for reform wavered. Fewer social reforms were passed. People didn’t want to be called a communist, and America’s poor suffered for it.

The national anthem calls this the land of the free. People here are allowed to hold any belief that they want. Joe McCarthy forgot that. All of America forgot that during the Senate hearings, and we are still paying for it today.

Turn this to the acts of today and we still see very haunting simularities. Karl Rove trying to discredit anyone opposed to the President or the War or Republicans in general. The smear and lie campaigns that he continues to be behind and the Republicans that stand behind and protect him from his treasoness acts of outing a CIA Agent in order to discredit her husband. The proof that this War in Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 or with terrorism, was preordained by Bush and his cabinet way before 9/11.

Hopefully people have begun to wake up to these lies and fanatism, which like the McCarthy era, destroyed many lives! Thank God, Lucy was able to rebound and continue her momentous career! She stands on the side that will be vindicated, once again!

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