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CPC Report; An unabashedly liberal perspective

21 June 2010

Are you Now or Have You Ever Been a Member of the Communist

Party?


Treason, the GOP & the RWLM- part 2: McCarthyism via HUAC

McCarthyism did not begin with McCarthy nor did it end with him. After the downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the HUAC was still investigating communists in Hollywood. Doing so was a clear-cut violation of the 1st Amendment, which was written to protect the individual American citizen's right to hold certain beliefs, even if they might be unpopular to the public in general. What conservatives often seem not to comprehend is that the 1st Amendment was never written for those who advocated opinions that are popularly held, for these people do not need such protection. It is those who dissent from the status quo who deserve the protection of the 1st Amendment, even if they be communists.

Many who refused to with HUAC cited the the 5th Amendment as a reason not to cooperate, such as Paul Robeson. This was usually referred to as taking the 5th. Some of those who refused to cooperate, also refused to take the 5th as well. These individuals willingly risked contempt charges being filed against them by HUAC, such as Pete Seeger. All of the before mentioned individuals were blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment as the result of their refusal to cooperate. Afterwords they found getting employed in Hollywood difficult, whether it be in directing, in acting or in the writing of scripts.

Only those who cooperated, such as Elia Kazan, emerged unscathed by cooperating. What the committee primarily wanted from the witnesses seemed to be the names of other people that the witnesses testifying knew that might be considered "subversive". This was commonly referred to as "naming names".

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work in progress



Testimony of Jack L. Warner before the House Committee on Un-American Activities 1947

Ideological termites have burrowed into many American industries, organizations, and societies. Wherever they may be, I say let us dig them out and get rid of them. My brothers and I will be happy to subscribe generously to a pest-removal fund. We are willing to establish such a fund to ship to Russia the people who don’t like our American system of government and prefer the communistic system to ours.

That’s how strongly we feel about the subversives who want to overthrow our free American system.

If there are Communists in our industry, or any other industry, organization, or society who seek to undermine our free institutions, let’s find out about it and know who they are. Let the record be spread clear, for all to read and judge. The public is entitled to know the facts. And the motion-picture industry is entitled to have the public know the facts.

Our company is keenly aware of its responsibilities to keep its product free from subversive poisons. With all the vision at my command, I scrutinize the planning and production of our motion pictures. It is my firm belief that there is not a Warner Bros. picture that can fairly be judged to be hostile to our country, or communistic in tone or purpose.

Many charges, including the fantasy of “White House pressure” have been leveled at our wartime production Mission to Moscow. In my previous appearance before members of this committee, I explained the origin and purposes of Mission to Moscow.

That picture was made when our country was fighting for its existence, with Russia as one of our allies. It was made to fulfill the same wartime purpose for which we made such other pictures as Air Force, This Is the Army, Objective Burma, Destination Tokyo, Action in the North Atlantic, and a great many more.

If making Mission to Moscow in 1942 was a subversive activity, then the American Liberty ships which carried food and guns to Russian allies and the American naval vessels which convoyed them were likewise engaged in subversive activities. The picture was made only to help a desperate war effort and not for posterity. . . .

Rep. Stripling- Well, is it your opinion now, Mr. Warner, that Mission to Moscow was a factually correct picture, and you made it as such?

Mr. Warner- I can’t remember.

Rep. Stripling- Would you consider it a propaganda picture?

Mr. Warner- A propaganda picture—

Rep. Stripling- Yes.

Mr. Warner- In what sense?

Rep. Stripling- In the sense that it portrayed Russia and communism in an entirely different light from what it actually was?

Mr. Warner- I am on record about 40 times or more that I have never been in Russia. I don’t know what Russia was like in 1937 or 1944 or 1947, so how can I tell you if it was right or wrong?

Rep. Stripling- Don’t you think you were on dangerous ground to produce as a factually correct picture one which portrayed Russia—

Mr. Warner- No; we were not on dangerous ground in 1942, when we produced it. There was a war on. The world was at stake.

Rep. Stripling- In other words—

Mr. Warner: We made the film to aid in the war effort, which I believe I have already stated.

Rep. Stripling- Whether it was true or not?

Mr. Warner- As far as I was concerned, I considered it true to the extent as written in Mr. Davies' book.

Rep. Stripling- Well, do you suppose that your picture influenced the people who saw it in this country, the millions of people who saw it in this country?

Mr. Warner- In my opinion, I can’t see how it would influence anyone. We were in war and when you are in a fight you don’t ask who the fellow is who is helping you.

Rep. Stripling- Well, due to the present conditions in the international situation, don’t you think it was rather dangerous to write about such a disillusionment as was sought in that picture?

Mr. Warner- I can’t understand why you ask me that question, as to the present conditions. How did I, you, or anyone else know in 1942 what the conditions were going to be in 1947. I stated in my testimony our reason for making the picture, which was to aid the war effort—anticipating what would happen.

Rep. Stripling- I don’t see that this is aiding the war effort, Mr. Warner—with the cooperation of Mr. Davies or with the approval of the Government—to make a picture which is a fraud in fact.

Mr. Warner- I want to correct you, very vehemently. There was no cooperation of the Government.

Rep. Stripling- You stated there was.

Mr. Warner- I never stated the Government cooperated in the making of it. If I did, I stand corrected. And I know I didn’t.

Rep. Stripling- Do you want me to read that part, Mr. Chairman?

Chairman Thomas- No; I think we have gone into this Mission to Moscow at some length. . . .

Testimony of  Louis B. Mayer before the House Committee on Un-American Activities 1947

During my 25 years in the motion-picture industry I have always sought to maintain the screen as a force for public good. 

The motion-picture industry employs many thousands of people. As is the case with the newspaper, radio, publishing, and theater businesses, we cannot be responsible for the political views of each individual employee. It is, however, our complete responsibility to determine what appears on the motion-picture screen.

It is my earnest hope that this committee will perform a public service by recommending to the Congress legislation establishing a national policy regulating employment of Communists in private industry. It is my belief they should be denied the sanctuary of the freedom they seek to destroy. . .

The primary function of motion pictures is to bring entertainment to the screen. But, like all other industries, we were lending every support to our Government in the war effort, and whenever a subject could be presented as entertaining, we tried, insofar as possible, to cooperate in building morale. . . .

There were a number of representatives of the Government who made periodical visits to the studios during the war. They discussed with us from time to time the types of pictures which they felt might assist the war effort. They were coordinators and at no time did they attempt to tell us what we should or should not do. We made our own decisions on production. We are proud of our war efforts and the results speak for themselves.

Mention has been made of the picture Song of Russia, as being friendly to Russia at the time it was made. Of course it was. It was made to be friendly. In 1938 we made Ninotchka, and shortly thereafter Comrade X, with Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr—both of these films kidded Russia.

It was in April of 1942 that the story for Song of Russia came to our attention. It seemed a good medium of entertainment and at the same time offered an opportunity for a pat on the back for our then ally, Russia. It also offered an opportunity to use the music of Tchaikovsky. We mentioned this to the Government coordinators and they agreed with us that it would be a good idea to make the picture.

According to research I have made, our newspapers were headlining the desperate situation of the Russians at Stalingrad at that time. Admiral Standley, American Ambassador to the Soviet Union, made a vigorous plea for all-out aid. He pleaded for assistance second only to the supplies being provided the United States Fleet, and emphasized that the best way to win the war was to keep the Russians killing the Germans, and that the most effective way was to give them all the help they needed.

The United States Army Signal Corps made The Battle of Stalingrad, released in 1943, with a prologue expressing high tribute from President Roosevelt, our Secretaries of State, War, and Navy, and from Generals Marshall and MacArthur.

The final script of Song of Russia was little more than a pleasant musical romance—the story of a boy and girl that, except for the music of Tchaikovsky, might just as well have taken place in Switzerland or England or any other country on the earth. . . .

Since 1942 when the picture was planned, our relationship with Russia has changed. But viewed in the light of the war emergency at the time, it is my opinion that it could not be construed as anything other than for the entertainment purpose intended and a pat on the back for our then ally, Russia. . . .

Testimony of Miss Ann Rand before the House Committee on Un-American Activities 1947

Rep. Stripling- Now, Miss Rand, you have heard the testimony of Mr. Mayer?

Miss Rand- Yes.

Rep. Stripling- You have read the letter I read from Lowell Mellett?

Miss Rand- Yes.

Rep. Stripling- Which says that the picture “Song of Russia” has no political implications?

Miss Rand- Yes.

Rep. Stripling- Did you at the request of Mr. Smith, the investigator for this committee, view the picture “Song of Russia”?

Miss Rand- Yes.

Rep. Stripling- Within the past 2 weeks?

Miss Rand: Yes; on October 13, to be exact.

Rep. Stripling- In Hollywood?

Miss Rand- Yes.

Rep. Stripling: Would you give the committee a break-down of your summary of the picture relating to either propaganda or an untruthful account or distorted account of conditions in Russia?

Miss Rand- Yes.

First of all I would like to define what we mean by propaganda. We have all been talking about it, but nobody—

Rep. Stripling- Could you talk into the microphone?

Miss Rand- Can you hear me now?

Nobody has stated just what they mean by propaganda. Now, I use the term to mean that Communist propaganda is anything which gives a good impression of communism as a way of life. Anything that sells people the idea that life in Russia is good and that people are free and happy would be Communist propaganda. Am I not correct? I mean, would that be a fair statement to make—that that would be Communist propaganda?

Now, here is what the picture “Song of Russia” contains. It starts with an American conductor, played by Robert Taylor, giving a concert in America for Russian war relief. He starts playing the American national anthem and the national anthem dissolves into a Russian mob, with the sickle and hammer on a red flag very prominent above their heads. I am sorry, but that made me sick. That is something which I do not see how native Americans permit, and I am only a naturalized American. That was a terrible touch of propaganda. As a writer, I can tell you just exactly what it suggests to the people. It suggests literally and technically that it is quite all right for the American national anthem to dissolve into the Soviet. The term here is more than just technical. It really was symbolically intended, and it worked out that way. The anthem continues, played by a Soviet band. That is the beginning of the picture.

Now we go to the pleasant love story. Mr. Taylor is an American who came there apparently voluntarily to conduct concerts for the Soviets. He meets a little Russian girl from a village who comes to him and begs him to go to her village to direct concerts there. There are no GPU agents [State Political Administration, forerunner of the KGB]and nobody stops her. She just comes to Moscow and meets him. He falls for her and decides he will go, because he is falling in love. He asks her to show him Moscow. She says she has never seen it. He says, “I will show it to you.”

They see it together. The picture then goes into a scene of Moscow, supposedly. I don’t know where the studio got its shots, but I have never seen anything like it in Russia. First you see Moscow buildings—big, prosperous-looking, clean buildings, with something like swans or sailboats in the foreground. Then you see a Moscow restaurant that just never existed there. In my time, when I was in Russia, there was only one such restaurant, which was nowhere as luxurious as that and no one could enter it except commissars and profiteers. Certainly a girl from a village, who in the first place would never have been allowed to come voluntarily, without permission, to Moscow, could not afford to enter it, even if she worked 10 years. However, there is a Russian restaurant with a menu such as never existed in Russia at all and which I doubt even existed before the revolution. From this restaurant they go on to this tour of Moscow. The streets are clean and prosperous-looking. There are no food lines anywhere. You see shots of the marble subway—the famous Russian subway out of which they make such propaganda capital. There is a marble statue of Stalin thrown in. . . .

Incidentally, I must say at this point that I understand from correspondents who have left Russia and been there later than I was and from people who escaped from there later than I did that the time I saw it, which was in 1926, was the best time since the Russian revolution. At that time conditions were a little better than they have become since. In my time we were a bunch of ragged, starved, dirty, miserable people who had only two thoughts in our mind. That was our complete terror—afraid to look at one another, afraid to say anything for fear of who is listening and would report us—and where to get the next meal. You have no idea what it means to live in a country where nobody has any concern except food, where all the conversation is about food because everybody is so hungry that that is all they can think about and that is all they can afford to do. They have no idea of politics. They have no idea of any pleasant romances or love—nothing but food and fear.

That is what I saw up to 1926. That is not what the picture shows.

Now, after this tour of Moscow, the hero—the American conductor—goes to the Soviet village. The Russian villages are something—so miserable and so filthy. They were even before the revolution. They weren’t much even then. What they have become now I am afraid to think. You have all read about the program for the collectivization of the farms in 1933, at which time the Soviet government admits that 3,000,000 peasants died of starvation. Other people claim there were seven and a half million, but 3,000,000 is the figure admitted by the Soviet government as the figure of people who died of starvation, planned by the government in order to drive people into collective farms. That is a recorded historical fact.

Now, here is the life in the Soviet village as presented in “Song of Russia.” You see the happy peasants. You see they are meeting the hero at the station with bands, with beautiful blouses and shoes, such as they never wore anywhere. You see children with operetta costumes on them and with a brass band which they could never afford. You see the manicured starlets driving tractors and the happy women who come from work singing. You see a peasant at home with a close-up of food for which anyone there would have been murdered. If anybody had such food in Russia in that time he couldn’t remain alive, because he would have been torn apart by neighbors trying to get food. But here is a close-up of it and a line where Robert Taylor comments on the food and the peasant answers, “This is just a simple country table and the food we eat ourselves.” . . .

Now, here comes the crucial point of the picture. In the midst of this concert, when the heroine is playing, you see a scene on the border of the U.S.S.R. You have a very lovely modernistic sign saying “U.S.S.R.” I would just like to remind you that that is the border where probably thousands of people have died trying to escape out of this lovely paradise. It shows the U.S.S.R. sign, and there is a border guard standing. He is listening to the concert. Then there is a scene inside kind of a guardhouse where the guards are listening to the same concert, the beautiful Tchaikovsky music, and they are playing chess. Suddenly there is a Nazi attack on them. The poor, sweet Russians were unprepared. Now, realize—and that was a great shock to me—that the border that was being shown was the border of Poland. That was the border of an occupied, destroyed, enslaved country which Hitler and Stalin destroyed together. That was the border that was being shown to us—just a happy place with people listening to music.

Also realize that when all this sweetness and light was going on in the first part of the picture, with all these happy, free people, there was not a GPU agent among them, with no food lines, no persecution—complete freedom and happiness, with everybody smiling. . . .

Now, here is what I cannot understand at all: If the excuse that has been given here is that we had to produce the picture in wartime, just how can it help the war effort? If it is to deceive the American people, if it were to present to the American people a better picture of Russia than it really is, then that sort of an attitude is nothing but the theory of the Nazi elite, that a choice group of intellectual or other leaders will tell the people lies for their own good. That I don’t think is the American way of giving people information. We do not have to deceive the people at any time, in war or peace.

If it was to please the Russians, I don’t see how you can please the Russians by telling them that we are fools. To what extent we have done it, you can see right now. You can see the results right now. If we present a picture like that as our version of what goes on in Russia, what will they think of it? We don’t win anybody’s friendship. We will only win their contempt, and as you know the Russians have been behaving like this.

My whole point about the picture is this: I fully believe Mr. Mayer when he says that he did not make a Communist picture. To do him justice, I can tell you I noticed, by watching the picture, where there was an effort to cut propaganda out. I believe he tried to cut propaganda out of the picture, but the terrible thing is the carelessness with ideas, not realizing that the mere presentation of that kind of happy existence in a country of slavery and horror is terrible because it is propaganda. You are telling people that it is all right to live in a totalitarian state. . . .

Mr. Wood- Let me see if I understand your position. I understand, from what you say, that because they were a dictatorship we shouldn’t have accepted their help in undertaking to win a war against another dictatorship.

Miss Rand- That is not what I said. I was not in a position to make that decision. If I were, I would tell you what I would do. That is not what we are discussing. We are discussing the fact that our country was an ally of Russia, and the question is, What should we tell the American people about it—the truth or a lie? If we had good reason, if that is what you believe, all right, then why not tell the truth? Say it is a dictatorship, but we want to be associated with it. Say it is worth while being associated with the devil, as Churchill said, in order to defeat another evil which is Hitler. There might be some good argument made for that. But why pretend that Russia was not what it was?

Mr. Wood- Well—

Miss Rand- What do you achieve by that?

Mr. Wood- Do you think it would have had as good an effect upon the morale of the American people to preach a doctrine to them that Russia was on the verge of collapse?

Miss Rand- I don’t believe that the morale of anybody can be built up by a lie. If there was nothing good that we could truthfully say about Russia, then it would have been better not to say anything at all.

Mr. Wood- Well—

Miss Rand- You don’t have to come out and denounce Russia during the war; no. You can keep quiet. There is no moral guilt in not saying something if you can’t say it, but there is in saying the opposite of what is true. . .

Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Hearings Regarding the Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry, 80th Congress, 1st Session, October 20, 1947 in William Bruce Wheeler and Susan D. Becker, Discovering the American Past: A Look at the Evidence, Volume II: Since 1865, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990), 249–52, 254–56.

Testimony of  Ronald Reagan before the House Committee on Un-American Activities 1947


Mr. Stripling- As a member of the board of directors, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and as an active member, have you at any time observed or noted within the organization a clique of either Communists or Fascists who were attempting to exert influence or pressure on the guild?

Mr. Reagan- Well, sir, my testimony must be very similar to that of Mr. (George) Murphy and Mr. (Robert) Montgomery. There has been a small group within the Screen Actors Guild which has consistently opposed the policy of the guild board and officers of the guild, as evidenced by the vote on various issues. That small clique referred to has been suspected of more or less following the tactics that we associate with the Communist Party.

Mr. Stripling- Would you refer to them as a disruptive influence within the guild?

Mr. Reagan- I would say that at times they have attempted to be a disruptive influence.

Mr. Stripling- You have no knowledge yourself as to whether or not any of them are members of the Communist Party?

Mr. Reagan- No, sir; I have no investigative force, or anything, and I do not know.

Rep. Stripling- Has it ever been reported to you that certain members of the guild were Communists?

Mr. Reagan- Yes, sir; I have heard different discussions and some of them tagged as Communists. . . .

Rep. Stripling- Would you say that this clique has attempted to dominate the guild?

Mr. Reagan- Well, sir, by attempting to put their own particular views on various issues, I guess in regard to that you would have to say that our side was attempting to dominate, too, because we were fighting just as hard to put over our views, in which we sincerely believed, and I think, we were proven correct by the figures—Mr. Murphy gave the figures—and those figures were always approximately the same, an average of 90 percent or better of the Screen Actors Guild voted in favor of those matters now guild policy.

Rep. Stripling- Mr. Reagan, there has been testimony to the effect here that numerous Communist-front organizations have been set up in Hollywood. Have you ever been solicited to join any of those organizations or any organization which you considered to be a Communist-front organization?

Mr. Reagan- Well, sir, I have received literature from an organization called the Committee for a Far-Eastern Democratic Policy. I don’t know whether it is Communist or not. I only know that I didn’t like their views and as a result I didn’t want to have anything to do with them.

Rep. Stripling- Were you ever solicited to sponsor the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee?

Mr. Reagan- No, sir; I was never solicited to do that, but I found myself misled into being a sponsor on another occasion for a function that was held under the auspices of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee.

Rep. Stripling- Did you knowingly give your name as a sponsor?

Mr. Reagan- Not knowingly. Could I explain what that occasion was?

Rep. Stripling- Yes sir.

Mr. Reagan- I was called several weeks ago. There happened at the time in Hollywood to be a financial drive on to raise money to build a badly needed hospital in a certain section of town, called the All Nations Hospital. I think the purpose of the building is so obvious by the title that it has the support of most of the people of Hollywood—or, of Los Angeles, I should say. Certainly of most of the doctors, because it is very badly needed.

Some time ago I was called to the telephone. A woman introduced herself by name. Knowing that I didn’t know her I didn’t make any particular note of her name and I couldn’t give it now. She told me that there would be a recital held at which Paul Robeson would sing and she said that all the money for the tickets would go to the hospital and asked if she could use my name as one of the sponsors. I hesitated for a moment because I don’t think that Mr. Robeson’s and my political views coincide at all and then I thought I was being a little stupid because, I thought, here is an occasion where Mr. Robeson is perhaps appearing as an artist and certainly the object, raising money, is above any political consideration, it is a hospital supported by everyone. I have contributed money myself. So I felt a little bit as if I had been stuffy for a minute and I said, certainly, you can use my name.

I left town for a couple of weeks and when I returned I was handed a newspaper story that said that this recital was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles under the auspices of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee. The principal speaker was Emil Lustig, Robert Burman took up a collection, and the remnants of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were paraded to the platform. I did not in the newspaper story see one word about the hospital. I called the newspaper and said I am not accustomed to writing to editors, but would like to explain my position, and he laughed and said, “You needn’t bother, you are about the fiftieth person that has called with the same idea, including most of the legitimate doctors who had also been listed as sponsors of that affair.”

Rep. Stripling- Would you say from your observation that that is typical of the tactics or strategy of the Communists, to solicit and use the names of prominent people to either raise money or gain support?

Mr. Reagan- I think it is in keeping with their tactics; yes, sir.

Rep. Stripling- Do you think there is anything democratic about those tactics?

Mr. Reagan- I do not, sir.

Rep. Stripling- As president of the Screen Actors Guild you are familiar with the jurisdictional strike which has been going on in Hollywood for some time?

Mr. Reagan- Yes, sir.

Rep. Stripling- Have you ever had any conferences with any of the labor officials regarding this strike?

Mr. Reagan- Yes, sir. . . .

Rep. Stripling- Do you know whether the Communists have participated in any way in this strike?

Mr. Reagan- Sir, the first time that this word “Communist” was ever injected into any of the meetings concerning the strike was at a meeting in Chicago with Mr. William Hutchinson, president of the carpenters union, who were on strike at the time. He asked the Screen Actors Guild to submit terms to Mr. (Richard) Walsh, for Walsh to give in in the settling of this strike, and he told us to tell Mr. Walsh that if he would give in on these terms he in turn would break run this Sorrell and the other commies out—I am quoting him—and break it up. I might add that Mr. Walsh and Mr. Sorrell were running the strike for Mr. Hutchinson in Hollywood.

Rep. Stripling- Mr. Reagan, what is your feeling about what steps should be taken to rid the motion-picture industry of any Communist influences, if they are there?

Mr. Reagan- Well, sir . . . 99 percent of us are pretty well aware of what is going on, and I think within the bounds of our democratic rights, and never once stepping over the rights given us by democracy, we have done a pretty good job in our business of keeping those people’s activities curtailed. After all, we must recognize them at present as a political party. On that basis we have exposed their lies when we came across them, we have opposed their propaganda, and I can certainly testify that in the case of the Screen Actors Guild we have been eminently successful in preventing them from, with their usual tactics, trying to run a majority of an organization with a well organized minority.

So that fundamentally I would say in opposing those people that the best thing to do is to make democracy work. In the Screen Actors Guild we make it work by insuring everyone a vote and by keeping everyone informed. I believe that, as Thomas Jefferson put it, if all the American people know all of the facts they will never make a mistake.

Whether the party should be outlawed, I agree with the gentlemen that preceded me that that is a matter for the Government to decide. As a citizen I would hesitate, or not like, to see any political party outlawed on the basis of its political ideology. We have spent 170 years in this country on the basis that democracy is strong enough to stand up and fight against the inroads of any ideology. However, if it is proven that an organization is an agent of a power, a foreign power, or in any way not a legitimate political party, and I think the Government is capable of proving that, if the proof is there, then that is another matter. . . .

I happen to be very proud of the industry in which I work; I happen to be very proud of the way in which we conducted the fight. I do not believe the Communists have ever at any time been able to use the motion-picture screen as a sounding board for their philosophy or ideology. . . .

Chairman Thomas- There is one thing that you said that interested me very much. That was the quotation from Jefferson. That is just why this committee was created by the House of Representatives, to acquaint the American people with the facts. Once the American people are acquainted with the facts there is no question but what the American people will do a job, the kind of a job that they want done; that is, to make America just as pure as we can possibly make it.

We want to thank you very much for coming here today.


Testimony of  Walter E. Disney before the House Committee on Un-American Activities 1947

Rep. Smith- Have you ever made any pictures in your studio that contained propaganda and that were propaganda films?

Mr. Disney- Well, during the war we did. We made quite a few—working with different Government agencies. We did one for the Treasury on taxes and I did four anti-Hitler films. And I did one on my own for Air Power.

Rep. Smith- From those pictures that you made have you any opinion as to whether or not the films can be used effectively to disseminate propaganda?

Mr. Disney- Yes, I think they proved that.

Rep. Smith- How do you arrive at that conclusion?

Mr. Disney- Well, on the one for the Treasury on taxes, it was to let the people know that taxes were important in the war effort. As they explained to me, they had 13,000,000 new taxpayers, people who had never paid taxes, and they explained that it would be impossible to prosecute all those that were delinquent and they wanted to put this story before those people so they would get their taxes in early. I made the film and after the film had its run the Gallup poll organization polled the public and the findings were that 29 percent of the people admitted that it had influenced them in getting their taxes in early and giving them a picture of what taxes will do.

Rep. Smith- Aside from those pictures you made during the war, have you made any other pictures, or do you permit pictures to be made at your studio containing propaganda?

Mr. Disney- No; we never have. During the war we thought it was a different thing. It was the first time we ever allowed anything like that to go in the films. We watch so that nothing gets into the films that would be harmful in any way to any group or any country. We have large audiences of children and different groups, and we try to keep them as free from anything that would offend anybody as possible. We work hard to see that nothing of that sort creeps in.

Rep. Smith- Do you have any people in your studio at the present time that you believe are Communist or Fascist employed there?

Mr. Disney- No; at the present time I feel that everybody in my studio is 100 percent American.

Rep. Smith- Have you had at any time, in your opinion, in the past, have you at any time in the past had any Communists employed at your studio?

Mr. Disney- Yes; in the past I had some people that I definitely feel were Communists.

Rep. Smith- As a matter of fact, Mr. Disney, you experienced a strike at your studio, did you not?

Mr. Disney-Yes.

Rep. Smith- And is it your opinion that that strike was instituted by members of the Communist Party to serve their purposes?

Mr. Disney- Well, it proved itself so with time, and I definitely feel it was a Communist group trying to take over my artists and they did take them over.

Chairman Thomas- Do you say they did take them over?

Mr. Disney-They did take them over.

Rep. Smith- Will you explain that to the committee, please?

Mr. Disney- It came to my attention when a delegation of my boys, my artists, came to me and told me that Mr. Herbert Sorrell—

Rep. Smith- Is that Herbert K. Sorrell?

Mr. Disney- Herbert K. Sorrell, was trying to take them over. I explained to them that it was none of my concern, that I had been cautioned to not even talk with any of my boys on labor. They said it was not a matter of labor, it was just a matter of them not wanting to go with Sorrell, and they had heard that I was going to sign with Sorrell, and they said that they wanted an election to prove that Sorrell didn’t have the majority, and I said that I had a right to demand an election. So when Sorrell came I demanded an election.

Sorrell wanted me to sign on a bunch of cards that he had there that he claimed were the majority, but the other side had claimed the same thing. I told Mr. Sorrell that there is only one way for me to go and that was an election and that is what the law had set up, the National Labor Relations Board was for that purpose. He laughed at me and he said that he would use the Labor Board as it suited his purposes and that he had been sucker enough to go for that Labor Board ballot and he had lost some election—I can’t remember the name of the place—by one vote. He said it took him 2 years to get it back. He said he would strike, that that was his weapon. He said, “I have all of the tools of the trade sharpened,” that I couldn’t stand the ridicule or the smear of a strike. I told him that it was a matter of principle with me, that I couldn’t go on working with my boys feeling that I had sold them down the river to him on his say-so, and he laughed at me and told me I was naive and foolish. He said, you can’t stand this strike, I will smear you, and I will make a dust bowl out of your plant.

Chairman Thomas- What was that?

Rep. Disney- He said he would make a dust bowl out of my plant if he chose to. I told him I would have to go that way, sorry, that he might be able to do all that, but I would have to stand on that. The result was that he struck.

I believed at that time that Mr. Sorrell was a Communist because of all the things that I had heard and having seen his name appearing on a number of Commie front things. When he pulled the strike the first people to smear me and put me on the unfair list were all of the Commie front organizations. I can’t remember them all, they change so often, but one that is clear in my mind is the League of Women Shoppers, The People’s World, The Daily Worker, and the PM magazine in New York. They smeared me. Nobody came near to find out what the true facts of the thing were. And I even went through the same smear in South America, through some Commie periodicals in South America, and generally throughout the world all of the Commie groups began smear campaigns against me and my pictures.

Rep. McDowell- In what fashion was that smear, Mr. Disney, what type of smear?

Mr. Disney- Well, they distorted everything, they lied; there was no way you could ever counteract anything that they did; they formed picket lines in front of the theaters, and, well, they called my plant a sweat-shop, and that is not true, and anybody in Hollywood would prove it otherwise. They claimed things that were not true at all and there was no way you could fight it back. It was not a labor problem at all because—I mean, I have never had labor trouble, and I think that would be backed up by anybody in Hollywood.

Rep. Smith- As a matter of fact, you have how many unions operating in your plant?

Chairman Thomas- Excuse me just a minute. I would like to ask a question.

Rep. Smith- Pardon me.

Chairman Thomas- In other words, Mr. Disney, Communists out there smeared you because you wouldn’t knuckle under?

Rep. Disney- I wouldn’t go along with their way of operating. I insisted on it going through the National Labor Relations Board. And he told me outright that he used them as it suited his purposes.

Chairman Thomas- Supposing you had given in to him, then what would have been the outcome?

Rep. Disney- Well, I would never have given in to him, because it was a matter of principle with me, and I fight for principles. My boys have been there, have grown up in the business with me, and I didn’t feel like I could sign them over to anybody. They were vulnerable at that time. They were not organized. It is a new industry.

Chairman Thomas- Go ahead, Mr. Smith.

Rep. Smith- How many labor unions, approximately, do you have operating in your studios at the present time?

Rep. Disney- Well, we operate with around 35—I think we have contacts with 30.

Mr. Smith- At the time of this strike you didn’t have any grievances or labor troubles whatsoever in your plant?

Mr. Disney- No. The only real grievance was between Sorrell and the boys within my plant, they demanding an election, and they never got it.

Rep. Smith- Do you recall having had any conversations with Mr. Sorrell relative to communism?

Mr. Disney- Yes, I do.

Rep. Smith- Will you relate that conversation?

Mr. Disney- Well, I didn’t pull my punches on how I felt. He evidently heard that I had called them all a bunch of Communists—and I believe they are. At the meeting he leaned over and he said, “You think I am a Communist, don’t you,” and I told him that all I knew was what I heard and what I had seen, and he laughed and said, “Well, I used their money to finance my strike of 1937,” and he said that he had gotten the money through the personal check of some actor, but he didn’t name the actor. I didn’t go into it any further. I just listened.

Rep. Smith- Can you name any other individuals that were active at the time of the strike that you believe in your opinion are Communists?

Mr. Disney- Well, I feel that there is one artist in my plant, that came in there, he came in about 1938, and he sort of stayed in the background, he wasn’t too active, but he was the real brains of this, and I believe he is a Communist. His name is David Hilberman.

Rep. Smith- How is it spelled?

Mr. Disney- H-i-l-b-e-r-m-a-n, I believe. I looked into his record and I found that, No. 1, that he had no religion and, No. 2, that he had considerable time at the Moscow Art Theater studying art direction, or something.

Rep. Smith- Any others, Mr. Disney?

Mr. Disney- Well, I think Sorrell is sure tied up with them. If he isn’t a Communist, he sure should be one.

Rep. Smith- Do you remember the name of William Pomerance, did he have anything to do with it?

Mr. Disney- Yes, sir. He came in later. Sorrell put him in charge as business manager of cartoonists and later he went to the Screen Actors as their business agent and in turn he put in another man by the name of Maurice Howard, the present business agent. And they are all tied up with the same outfit.

Rep. Smith- What is your opinion of Mr. Pomerance and Mr. Howard as to whether or not they are or are not Communists?

Mr. Disney- In my opinion they are Communists. No one has any way of proving those things.

Rep. Smith- Were you able to produce during the strike?

Mr. Disney- Yes, I did, because there was a very few, very small majority that was on the outside, and all the other unions ignored all the lines because of the set-up of the thing.

Rep. Smith- What is your personal opinion of the Communist Party, Mr. Disney, as to whether or not it is a political party?

Mr. Disney- Well, I don’t believe it is a political party. I believe it is an un-American thing. The thing that I resent the most is that they are able to get into these unions, take them over, and represent to the world that a group of people that are in my plant, that I know are good, 100 percent Americans, are trapped by this group, and they are represented to the world as supporting all of those ideologies, and it is not so, and I feel that they really ought to be smoked out and shown up for what they are, so that all of the good, free causes in this country, all the liberalisms that really are American, can go out without the taint of Communism. That is my sincere feeling on it.

Rep. Smith- Do you feel that there is a threat of communism in the motion-picture industry?

Mr. Disney- Yes, there is, and there are many reasons why they would like to take it over or get in and control it, or disrupt it, but I don’t think they have gotten very far, and I think the industry is made up of good Americans, just like in my plant, good, solid Americans.

My boys have been fighting it longer than I have. They are trying to get out from under it and they will in time if we can just show them up.

Rep. Smith- There are presently pending before this committee two bills relative to outlawing the Communist Party. What thoughts have you as to whether or not those bills should be passed?

Mr. Disney- Well, I don’t know as I qualify to speak on that. I feel if the thing can be proven un-American that it ought to be outlawed. I think in some way it should be done without interfering with the rights of the people. I think that will be done. I have that faith. Without interfering, I mean, with the good, American rights that we all have now, and we want to preserve.

Rep. Smith- Have you any suggestions to offer as to how the industry can be helped in fighting this menace?

Mr. Disney-Well, I think there is a good start toward it. I know that I have been handicapped out there in fighting it, because they have been hiding behind this labor set-up, they get themselves closely tied up in the labor thing, so that if you try to get rid of them they make a labor case out of it. We must keep the American labor unions clean. We have got to fight for them. . . .

Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Hearings Regarding the Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry, 80th Congress, 1st Session, October 23–24, 1947 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1947).




Testimony of John Charles Moffit before the House Committee on Un-American Activities 1947

Rep. Stripling- Did you ever join any organizations while you were in Hollywood in connection with being a writer for the motion-picture industry?

Mr. Moffit- Yes, sir; I did. In 1937, shocked by the conduct of the Fascists in Spain, I joined an organization known as the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League. Both my wife and I became members of that organization. We contributed considerable sums of money—for us—to what we supposed was the buying of ambulances and medical supplies for the assistance of the Loyalists in Spain.

After we had been in that organization some months we were invited to what turned out to be a more or less star chamber meeting, an inner corps meeting. It took place in the home of Mr. Frank Tuttle, a director. Mr. Herbert Biberman, who had been responsible for my being in the Anti-Nazi League, was there, as was his wife, Miss Gail Sondergaard, an actress. Donald Ogden Stewart was also one of those present. . . .

Rep. Stripling- Would you give the committee an account of the activities that you observed as a member during those 6 weeks?

Mr.  Moffit- Well, the most significant activity I observed came out in a conversation with Mr. John Howard Lawson—

Rep. Stripling- Would you identify Mr. Lawson?

Mr.  Moffit- Yes, sir.

Rep. Stripling- He is a writer, is he not?

Mr.  Moffit- John Howard Lawson is a writer. He was the first president of the Screen Writers Guild.

It has been testified before the Tenney committee of the California legislature that Mr. Lawson was sent to Los Angeles by the Communist Party for the purpose of organizing Communist activities in Hollywood. It was testified by a former secretary of the Communist Party for Los Angeles County. . . .

Rep. Stripling- We will go back to your activities in the Anti-Nazi League.

Mr.  Moffit- During the period I referred to, the period between the time I discovered that this was a Communist front organization and the period some 6 weeks later, there, when I resigned, I had several conversations with Mr. Biberman, Mr. Lawson, and others of that organization.

During the course of it Mr. Lawson made this significant statement:

He said: As a writer do not try to write an entire Communist picture.

He said: The producers will quickly identify it and it will be killed by the front office.

He said: As a writer try to get 5 minutes of the Communist doctrine, 5 minutes of the party line in every script that you write.

He said: Get that into an expensive scene, a scene involving expensive stars, large sets or many extras, because—

he said: then even if it is discovered by the front office the business manager of the unit, the very watchdog of the treasury, the very servant of capitalism, in order to keep the budget from going too high, will resist the elimination of that scene. If you can make the message come from the mouth of Gary Cooper or some other important star who is unaware of what he is saying, by the time it is discovered he is in New York and a great deal of expense will be involved to bring him back and reshoot the scene.

If you get the message into a scene employing many extras it will be very expensive to reshoot that scene because of the number of extras involved or the amount of labor that would be necessary to light and reconstruct a large set.

That was the nucleus of what he said at that time.

I later heard another statement by Mr. Lawson. That was made in the summer of 1941 when some young friends of mine who were attending what was purported to be a school for actors in Hollywood—I think it was on Labrea Boulevard—asked me to go over and hear one of the lectures, instructions on acting.

I went over on this night and Mr. Lawson was the lecturer. During the course of the evening Mr. Lawson said this—and I think I quote it practically verbatim—Mr. Lawson said to these young men and women who were training for a career of acting, he said:

It is your duty to further the class struggle by your performance.

He said: If you are nothing more than an extra wearing white flannels on a country club veranda do your best to appear decadent, do your best to appear to be a snob; do your best to create class antagonism.

He said: If you are an extra on a tenement street do your best to look downtrodden, do your best to look a victim of existing society. . . .

 

Testimony of John Howard Lawson before the House Committee on Un-American Activities 1947

Mr. Lawson- Mr. Chairman, I have a statement here which I wish to make—

Chairman Thomas- Well, all right, let me see your statement.

(Statement handed to the chairman.)

Chairman Thomas- I don’t care to read any more of the statement. The statement will not be read. I read the first line.

Mr. Lawson- You have spent 1 week vilifying me before the American public—

Chairman Thomas- Just a minute—

Mr. Lawson- And you refuse to allow me to make a statement on my rights as an American citizen.

Chairman Thomas- I refuse you to make the statement, because of the first sentence in your statement. That statement is not pertinent to the inquiry.

Now, this is a congressional committee— a congressional committee set up by law. We must have orderly procedure, and we are going to have orderly procedure.

Rep. Stripling, identify the witness.

Mr. Lawson-  The rights of American citizens are important in this room here, and I intend to stand up for those rights, Congressman Thomas.

Rep. Stripling- Mr. Lawson, will you state your full name, please?

Mr. Lawson- I wish to protest against the unwillingness of this committee to read a statement, when you permitted Mr. Warner, Mr. Mayer, and others to read statements in this room.

My name is John Howard Lawson. . . .

Rep. Stripling- What is your occupation, Mr. Lawson?

Mr. Lawson- I am a writer.

Rep. Stripling- How long have you been a writer?

Mr. Lawson- All my life—at least 35 years—my adult life.

Rep. Stripling- Are you a member of the Screen Writers Guild?

Mr. Lawson- The raising of any question here in regard to membership, political beliefs, or affiliation—

Rep. Stripling- Mr. Chairman—

Mr. Lawson- Is absolutely beyond the powers of this committee.

Rep. Stripling- Mr. Chairman—

Mr. Lawson- But—

(The chairman pounding gavel.)

Mr. Lawson- It is a matter of public record that I am a member of the Screen Writers Guild.

Rep. Stripling- I ask—

[Applause.]

Chairman Thomas- I want to caution the people in the audience: You are the guests of this committee and you will have to maintain order at all times. I do not care for any applause or any demonstrations of one kind or another.

Rep. Stripling- Now, Mr. Chairman, I am also going to request that you instruct the witness to be responsive to the questions.

Chairman Thomas- I think the witness will be more responsive to the questions.

Mr. Lawson- Mr. Chairman, you permitted—

Chairman Thomas- (pounding gavel). Never mind—

Mr. Lawson- (continuing). Witnesses in this room to make answers of three or four or five hundred words to questions here.

Chairman Thomas- Mr. Lawson, you will please be responsive to these questions and not continue to try to disrupt these hearings.

Mr. Lawson- I am not on trial here, Mr. Chairman. This committee is on trial here before the American people. Let us get that straight.

Chairman Thomas- We don’t want you to be on trial.

Rep. Stripling- Mr. Lawson, how long have you been a member of the Screen Writers Guild?

Mr. Lawson- Since it was founded in its present form, in 1933.

Chairman Thomas- Have you ever held any office in the guild?

Mr. Lawson- The question of whether I have held office is also a question which is beyond the purview of this Committee.

(The chairman pounding gavel.)

Mr. Lawson- It is an invasion of the right of association under the Bill of Rights of this country.

Chairman Thomas- Please be responsive to the question.

Mr. Lawson- It is also a matter—

(The chairman pounding gavel.)

Mr. Lawson- Of public record—

Chairman Thomas- You asked to be heard. Through your attorney, you asked to be heard, and we want you to be heard. And if you don’t care to be heard, then we will excuse you and we will put the record in without your answers.

Mr. Lawson-. I wish to frame my own answers to your questions, Mr. Chairman, and I intend to do so.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Mr. Lawson- It is absolutely beyond the power of this committee to inquire into my association in any organization.

Chairman Thomas- Mr. Lawson, you will have to stop or you will leave the witness stand. And you will leave the witness stand because you are in contempt. That is why you will leave the witness stand. And if you are just trying to force me to put you in contempt, you won’t have to try much harder. You know what has happened to a lot of people that have been in contempt of this committee this year, don’t you?

Mr. Lawson- I am glad you have made it perfectly clear that you are going to threaten and intimidate the witnesses, Mr. Chairman.

(The chairman pounding gavel.)

Mr. Lawson- I am an American and I am not at all easy to intimidate, and don’t think I am.

(The chairman pounding gavel.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chairman Thomas- (pounding gavel). Mr. Lawson, just quiet down again.

Mr. Lawson, the most pertinent question that we can ask is whether or not you have ever been a member of the Communist Party. Now, do you care to answer that question?

Mr. Lawson- You are using the old technique, which was used in Hitler Germany in order to create a scare here—

Chairman Thomas- (pounding gavel). Oh—

Mr. Lawson- In order to create an entirely false atmosphere in which this hearing is conducted—

(The chairman pounding gavel.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chairman Thomas- (pounding gavel). Excuse the witness—

Mr. Lawson- As they do from what I have written.

Chairman Thomas- (pounding gavel). Stand away from the stand—

Mr. Lawson- I have written Americanism for many years, and I shall continue to fight for the Bill of Rights, which you are trying to destroy.

Chairman Thomas- Officers, take this man away from the stand—

[Applause and boos.]

Chairman Thomas- (pounding gavel). There will be no demonstrations. No demonstrations, for or against. Everyone will please be seated. . . .

 


A Statement by John Howard Lawson [note: This statement was never put into the public record by HUAC.]

For a week, this Committee has conducted an illegal and indecent trial of American citizens, whom the Committee has selected to be publicly pilloried and smeared. I am not here to defend myself, or to answer the agglomeration of falsehoods that has been heaped upon me, I believe lawyers describe this material, rather mildly, as “hearsay evidence.” To the American public, it has a shorter name: dirt. Rational people don’t argue with dirt. I feel like a man who has had truckloads of filth heaped upon him; I am now asked to struggle to my feet and talk while more truckloads pour more filth around my head.

No, you don’t argue with dirt. But you try to find out where it comes from. And to stop the evil deluge before it buries you—and others. The immediate source is obvious. The so-called “evidence” comes from a parade of stool-pigeons, neurotics, publicity-seeking clowns, Gestapo agents, paid informers, and a few ignorant and frightened Hollywood artists. I am not going to discuss this perjured testimony. Let these people live with their consciences, with the knowledge that they have violated their country’s most sacred principles.

These individuals are not important. As an individual, I am not important. The obvious fact that the Committee is trying to destroy me personally and professionally, to deprive me of my livelihood and what is far dearer to me—my honor as an American—gains significance only because it opens the way to similar destruction of any citizen whom the Committee selects for annihilation.

I am not going to touch on the gross violation of the Constitution of the United States, and especially of its First and Fifth Amendments, that is taking place here. The proof is so overwhelming that it needs no elaboration. The Un-American Activities Committee stands convicted in the court of public opinion.

I want to speak here as a writer and a citizen. . . .

My political and social views are well known. My deep faith in the motion picture as a popular art is also well known. I don’t “sneak ideas” into pictures. I never make a contract to write a picture unless I am convinced that it serves democracy and the interests of the American people. I will never permit what I write and think to be subject to the orders of self-appointed dictators, ambitious politicians, thought-control gestapos, or any other form of censorship this Un-American Committee may attempt to devise. My freedom to speak and write is not for sale in return for a card signed by J. Parnell Thomas saying “O.K. for employment until further notice.”

Pictures written by me have been seen and approved by millions of Americans. A subpoena for me is a subpoena for all those who have enjoyed these pictures and recognized them as an honest portrayal of our American life.

Thus, my integrity as a writer is obviously an integral part of my integrity as a citizen. As a citizen I am not alone here. I am not only one of nineteen men who have been subpoenaed. I am forced to appear here as a representative of one hundred and thirty million Americans because the illegal conduct of this Committee has linked me with every citizen. If I can be destroyed no American is safe. You can subpoena a farmer in a field, a lumberjack in the woods, a worker at a machine, a doctor in his office—you can deprive them of a livelihood, deprive them of their honor as Americans.

Let no one think that this is an idle or thoughtless statement. This is the course that the Un-American Activities Committee has charted. Millions of Americans who may as yet be unconscious of what may be in store for them will find that the warning I speak today is literally fulfilled. No American will be safe if the Committee is not stopped in its illegal enterprise.

I am like most Americans in resenting interference with my conscience and belief. I am like most Americans in insisting on my right to serve my country in the way that seems to me most helpful and effective. I am like most Americans in feeling that loyalty to the United States and pride in its traditions is the guiding principle of my life. I am like most Americans in believing that divided loyalty—which is another word for treason—is the most despicable crime of which any man or woman can be accused.

It is my profound conviction that it is precisely because I hold these beliefs that I have been hailed before this illegal court. These are the beliefs that the so-called Un-American Activities Committee is seeking to root out in order to subvert orderly government and establish an autocratic dictatorship.

I am not suggesting that J. Parnell Thomas aspires to be the man on horseback. He is a petty politician, serving more powerful forces. Those forces are trying to introduce fascism in this country. They know that the only way to trick the American people into abandoning their rights and liberties is to manufacture an imaginary danger, to frighten the people into accepting repressive laws which are supposedly for their protection.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Today, we face a serious crisis in the determination of national policy. The only way to solve that crisis is by free discussion. Americans must know the facts. The only plot against American safety is the plot to conceal facts. I am plastered with mud because I happen to be an American who expresses opinions that the House Un-American Activities Committee does not like. But my opinions are not an issue in this case. The issue is my right to have opinions. The Committee’s logic is obviously: Lawson’s opinions are properly subject to censorship; he writes for the motion picture industry, so the industry is properly subject to censorship; the industry makes pictures for the American people, so the minds of the people must be censored and controlled.

Why? What are J. Parnell Thomas and the Un-American interests he serves, afraid of? They’re afraid of the American people. They don’t want to muzzle me. They want to muzzle public opinion. They want to muzzle the great Voice of democracy. Because they’re conspiring against the American way of life. They want to cut living standards, introduce an economy of poverty, wipe out labor’s rights, attack Negroes, Jews, and other minorities, drive us into a disastrous and unnecessary war.

The struggle between thought-control and freedom of expression is the struggle between the people and a greedy unpatriotic minority which hates and fears the people. I wish to present as an integral part of this statement, a paper which I read at a Conference on Thought Control in the United States held in Hollywood on July 9th to 13th. The paper presents the historical background of the threatening situation that we face today, and shows that the attack on freedom of communication is, and has always been, an attack on the American people.

The American people will know how to answer that attack. They will rally, as they have always rallied, to protect their birthright.

Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Hearings Regarding the Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry, 80th Congress, 1st Session, October 1947 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1947); “A Statement by John Howard Lawson,” published in Gordon Kahn, Hollywood on Trial (New York, 1948); quoted in Thirty Years of Treason: Excerpts from Hearings before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 1938–1968, Eric Bentley, ed. (New York: Viking Press, 1971), 161–65.



Testimony of Eric Allen Johnston-October 1947

I’m not here to try to whitewash Hollywood, and I’m not here to help sling a tar brush at it, either.

I want to stick to the facts as I see them.

There are several points I’d like to make to this committee.

The first one is this: A damaging impression of Hollywood has spread all over the country as a result of last week’s hearings. You have a lot of sensational testimony about Hollywood. From some of it the public will get the idea that Hollywood is running over with Communists and communism.

I believe the impression which has gone out is the sort of scare-head stuff which is grossly unfair to a great American industry. It must be a great satisfaction to the Communist leadership in this country to have people believe that Hollywood Communists are astronomical in number and almost irresistible in power.

Now, what are the facts? Not everybody in Hollywood is a Communist. I have said before that undoubtedly there are Communists in Hollywood, but in my opinion the percentage is extremely small.

I have had a number of close looks at Hollywood in the last 2 years, and I have looked at it through the eyes of an average businessman. I recognize that as the world’s capital of show business, there is bound to be a lot of show business in Hollywood. There is no business, Mr. Chairman, like show business. But underneath there is the solid foundation of patriotic, hardworking, decent citizens. Making motion pictures is hard work. You just don’t dash off a motion picture between social engagements. . . .

I wind up my first point with a request of this committee. The damaging impression about Hollywood should be corrected. I urge your committee to do so in these public hearings.

There is another damaging impression which should be corrected. The report of the subcommittee said that some of the most flagrant Communist propaganda films were produced as the result of White House pressure. This charge has been completely refuted by the testimony before you.

My second point includes another request of the committee.

The report of your subcommittee stated that you had a list of all pictures produced in Hollywood in the last 8 years which contained Communist propaganda. Your committee has not made this list public. Until the list is made public the industry stands condemned by unsupported generalizations, and we are denied the opportunity to refute these charges publicly.

Again, I remind the committee that we have offered to put on a special showing of any or all of the pictures which stand accused so that you can see for yourselves what’s in them. The contents of the pictures constitute the only proof.

Unless this evidence is presented and we are given the chance to refute it in these public hearings, it is the obligation of the committee to absolve the industry from the charges against it.

Now, I come to my third point—a vitally important one to every American and to the system under which we live.

It is free speech. . . .

When I talk about freedom of speech in connection with this hearing, I mean just this: You don’t need to pass a law to choke off free speech or seriously curtail it. Intimidation or coercion will do it just as well. You can’t make good and honest motion pictures in an atmosphere of fear.

I intend to use every influence at my command to keep the screen free. I don’t propose that Government shall tell the motion-picture industry, directly or by coercion, what kind of pictures it ought to make. I am as whole-souledly against that as I would be against dictating to the press or the radio, to the book publishers or to the magazines. . . .

To sum up this point: We insist on our rights to decide what will or will not go in our pictures. We are deeply conscious of the responsibility this freedom involves, but we have no intention to violate this trust by permitting subversive propaganda in our films.

Now, my next point is this:

When I was before this committee last March, I said that I wanted to see Communists exposed. I still do. I’m heart and soul for it. An exposed Communist is an unarmed Communist. Expose them, but expose them in the traditional American manner.

But I believe that when this committee or any other agency undertakes to expose communism it must be scrupulous to avoid tying a red tag on innocent people by indiscriminate labeling.

It seems to me it is getting dangerously easy to call a man a Communist without proof or even reasonable suspicion. When a distinguished leader of the Republican Party in the United States Senate is accused of following the Communist Party line for introducing a housing bill, it is time, gentlemen, to give a little serious thought to the dangers of thoughtless smearing by gossip and hearsay.

Senator Robert Taft isn’t going to worry about being called a Communist. But not every American is a Senator Taft who can properly ignore such an accusation. Most of us in America are just little people, and loose charges can hurt little people. They take away everything a man has—his livelihood, his reputation, and his personal dignity.

When just one man is falsely damned as a Communist in an hour like this when the Red issue is at white heat, no one of us is safe.

Gentlemen, I maintain that preservation of the rights of the individual is a proper duty for this Committee on Un-American Activities. This country’s entire tradition is based on the principle that the individual is a higher power than the state; that the state owes its authority to the individual, and must treat him accordingly.

Expose communism, but don’t put any American who isn’t a Communist in a concentration camp of suspicion. We are not willing to give up our freedoms to save our freedoms.

I now come to my final point:

What are we going to do positively and constructively about combating communism? It isn’t enough to be anti-Communist any more than it is to be antismallpox. You can still die from smallpox if you haven’t used a serum against it. A positive program is the best antitoxin of the plague of communism.

Communism must have breeding grounds. Men and women who have a reasonable measure of opportunity aren’t taken in by the prattle of Communists. Revolutions plotted by frustrated intellectuals at cocktail parties won’t get anywhere if we wipe out the potential causes of communism. The most effective way is to make democracy work for greater opportunity, for greater participation, for greater security for all our people.

The real breeding ground of communism is in the slums. It is everywhere where people haven’t enough to eat or enough to wear through no fault of their own. Communism hunts misery, feeds on misery, and profits by it.

Freedoms walk hand-in-hand with abundance. That has been the history of America. It has been the American story. It turned the eyes of the world to America, because America gave reality to freedom, plus abundance when it was still an idle daydream in the rest of the world.

We have been the greatest exporter of freedom, and the world is hungry for it. Today it needs our wheat and our fuel to stave off hunger and fight off cold, but hungry and cold as they may be, men always hunger for freedom.

We want to continue to practice and to export freedom.

If we fortify our democracy to lick want, we will lick communism—here and abroad. Communists can hang all the iron curtains they like, but they’ll never be able to shut out the story of a land where freemen walk without fear and live with abundance.

[Applause.]

(The chairman pounding gavel.) . . .

Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Hearings Regarding the Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry, 80th Congress, 1st Session, in William Bruce Wheeler and Susan D. Becker Discovering the American Past: A Look at the Evidence, Volume II: Since 1865, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990), 280–83.


Lillian Hellman, Letter to HUAC, 19 May 1952

Dear Mr. Wood:

As you know, I am under subpoena to appear before your committee on May 21, 1952.

I am most willing to answer all questions about myself. I have nothing to hide from your committee and there is nothing in my life of which I am ashamed. I have been advised by counsel that under the fifth amendment I have a constitutional privilege to decline to answer any questions about my political opinions, activities, and associations, on the grounds of self-incrimination. I do not wish to claim this privilege. I am ready and willing to testify before the representatives of our Government as to my own opinions and my own actions, regardless of any risks or consequences to myself.

But I am advised by counsel that if I answer the committee’s questions about myself, I must also answer questions about other people and that if I refuse to do so, I can be cited for contempt. My counsel tells me that if I answer questions about myself, I will have waived my rights under the fifth amendment and could be forced legally to answer questions about others. This is very difficult for a layman to understand. But there is one principle that I do understand: I am not willing, now or in the future, to bring bad trouble to people who, in my past association with them, were completely innocent of any talk or any action that was disloyal or subversive. I do not like subversion or disloyalty in any form and if I had ever seen any I would have considered it my duty to have reported it to the proper authorities. But to hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions, even though I long ago came to the conclusion that I was not a political person and could have no comfortable place in any political group.

I was raised in an old-fashioned American tradition and there were certain homely things that were taught to me: To try to tell the truth, not to bear false witness, not to harm my neighbor, to be loyal to my country, and so on. In general, I respected these ideals of Christian honor and did as well with them as I knew how. It is my belief that you will agree with these simple rules of human decency and will not expect me to violate the good American tradition from which they spring. I would, therefore, like to come before you and speak of myself.

I am prepared to waive the privilege against self-incrimination and to tell you everything you wish to know about my views or actions if your committee will agree to refrain from asking me to name other people. If the committee is unwilling to give me this assurance, I will be forced to plead the privilege of the fifth amendment at the hearing.

A reply to this letter would be appreciated.

Sincerely yours,

Lillian Hellman

Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Hearings Regarding Communist Infiltration of the Hollywood Motion-Picture Industry, 82d Congress, May 21, 1952, in Ellen Schrecker, The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents (Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 201–2.


Testimony  of  Robert E. Treuhaft before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 3 December 1953

Mr. Treuhaft- I am obliged to appear before this committee without assistance of counsel, Mr. Tavenner, because of the fact that the repressive activities of this committee have made it impossible for me to secure the assistance of attorneys of my choice. This is a serious charge for a lawyer to make. I am compelled, however, to make it because the state of affairs that I have found to exist in this regard is truly shocking.

A month ago I received a subpoena calling for my appearance before this committee. My law partner and I have been, for many years, and are now, general counsel for the East Bay Division of Warehouse Union Local 6, ILWU, a labor organization which is one of the principal targets under attack by this committee. In fact, I am sure this was well known to the committee’s investigators, and I cannot down the suspicion that my representation of this union had something to do with the fact that my law partner and I are the only East Bay lawyers subpoenaed before the committee at these hearings so far as I know.

I readily agreed to represent four East Bay members of this union as their attorney, who likewise were subpoenaed, despite the fact that I, myself, had been subpoenaed as a witness.

Upon receipt of my subpoena I immediately began to make diligent efforts to secure counsel to represent me. I compiled a list of the 7 leading East Bay lawyers whom I would want to represent me because of their known ability in their profession and because all of them had, from time to time, shown themselves to be champions of the right of advocacy. All had a sound understanding of due process of law and of the other constitutional rights and immunities which are daily trampled upon by this committee. . . .

The first lawyer, whom I will call lawyer No. 1, holds high office in the Alameda County Bar Association. When I first approached this lawyer, he told me that he could see no reason why he could not represent me. The next day, however, he informed me that he felt that he could not do so because of the controversial nature and the publicity attendant upon hearings before this committee and because of his position in the county bar association.

The second lawyer I consulted out of this list, lawyer No. 2, is a former judge who has an active practice on both sides of the bay. I discussed with him the position which I intended to take before this committee; that is, to uphold the Constitution and to rely upon the first and fifth amendments to the Constitution as they might apply to every question that this committee might put to me.

This attorney, who is highly placed in the bar, agreed fully with me in principle and stated that it was his opinion that my decision was sound and wise. He told me that he would like to represent me.

After conferring with his associate, however, he called me in again, and he said that he was very sorry that he could not because representing me with the attendant publicity or representing any witness before this committee would involve financial hardship. He said that he regretted very much to give me this answer because we have been on friendly terms. He said to me, although he is a well-established lawyer, and older than I am, “Why don’t you find some older lawyer, someone who is in a better financial position, to take this risk?”

The third lawyer I went to see and offered a retainer to represent me before these hearings was an older lawyer, and he was a better financially established lawyer so far as I know. He formerly held high office in the American Bar Association, and he, too, has been a champion of the right of advocacy. He told me, “Try to find a younger lawyer. The activities before this committee would be too strenuous,” he thought, the publicity would be harmful.

The fourth lawyer I went to is a leading criminal lawyer in the East Bay. We have been on very friendly terms, and he readily agreed to represent me without any hesitation at all. When I offered him a retainer, he said that he would not accept a retainer from a fellow lawyer. He took the subpoena, and we proceeded to discuss the position I was going to take, and he agreed with me fully that anybody who had represented unpopular causes as a lawyer, as I have, would face grave dangers in answering any questions put by this committee. Three days ago I—I consulted him 2 weeks ago—3 days ago, the day before—3 days before I was supposed to come here, he called me, and he told me that his partner had just returned from out of town and had learned that he had undertaken to represent me. He said that his partner represented a bank, and that his partner felt that the attendant publicity would be so harmful to them that he insisted that they could not represent a witness before this committee.

He told me this with very personal regret. He also expressed the view—his partner did—that any attorney who represented a witness before this committee might find himself in a position where he was persecuted by other governmental agencies, as was Vincent Hallinan, against whom reprisals were taken, because he had the courage and temerity to represent a client who, in some eyes, was considered unpopular.

Lawyer No. 5 is one of the most distinguished members of the bar of Contra Costa County. He has held high office in the bar association there, and he is a leading lawyer in every sense of the word. He has also been a fighter for the right of advocacy. He told me with very great regret that he had discussed with some of his corporate clients the advisability of his intention to represent a witness before this committee. These clients told him that they would consider it an unfriendly act if he were to represent a witness before this committee. He said that although he was well established, he had very high overhead and that he didn’t want to subject his organization to the financial hardship and risk of losing clients that would be involved in representing anyone before this committee. I told him that I intended to take this matter up with the bar association and also to make a statement to this committee on my experiences in attempting to obtain counsel, and that I intended to keep the names of the individuals that I had consulted confidential. He said, “Bob, a fact is a fact. I feel rotten about telling you what I have to tell you, but a fact is a fact; you state the facts, and I authorize you to use my name and to give the reasons that I have given you.”

This man had real courage.

Mr. Scherer- He didn’t appear, though, did he?

Mr. Treuhaft- No; he authorized me to say that he couldn’t appear because these slanderous accusations by committees like this made it dangerous financially.

Mr. Scherer- That is the man you say had real courage?

Mr. Treuhaft- Yes; he had real courage, and all of these lawyers that I named had real courage. I went to them because they were courageous. I am not condemning nor criticizing the lawyers. I am condemning this committee for trying its cases in the newspapers and over the radio. I am condemning this committee for depriving me of right of counsel by its slanderous attacks, attacks by inference, which even repel and revolt some of the Democratic members of this committee . . .

Now the canon of ethics of the American Bar Association, as I think Representative Moulder has referred to, states, and this is law for lawyers, that no lawyer shall, for reasons personal to himself, reject any cause because it is unpopular. All of the lawyers that I consulted did reject this cause for reasons personal to themselves, but for reasons created by the hysteria engendered by this committee in the public mind, the fear that anybody who appears before this committee is labeled as a spy or something subversive, and that the taint may rub off onto the lawyer. . . .

This whole situation is McCarthyism. President Truman recently described it as such. He said that it is the use of the big lie and the unfounded accusation against any citizen in the name of Americanism—in quotes—and security—in quotes. It is the use of the power of the demagogue who lives on untruth, and I am reading here, Mr. Jackson, because I am quoting, and I don’t want to be inaccurate:

“It is the spread of fear,” President Truman said, “and the destruction of faith at every level of our society. This horrible cancer,” he said, “is eating at the vitals of America, and it can destroy the great edifice of freedom.”

Mr. Truman went on to say that this situation should serve to alert the people to the terrible danger that our Nation and each citizen faces and urge his fellow countrymen to “be aroused and fight this evil at every level of our national life.”

I am prepared to fight this evil at every level, and I intend to ask the State bar to look into a situation which I think is truly disgraceful, where lawyers with real courage and standing are afraid to come forward and represent clients before this committee. . . .

Mr. Tavenner- Is it your position that you would desire your appearance continued until you have an opportunity to consult other counsel?

Mr. Treuhaft- I would desire to have my appearance continued until such time as the hysteria engendered by this committee has abated to such an extent that it is possible for me to have counsel of my choice and to such time as it is possible for me to have one of these advocates that I consulted represent me. The Constitution says that I am entitled to counsel of my choice, not counsel of your choice.

Mr. Treuhaft- My question is this: Are you asking this committee to postpone your appearance until you can obtain counsel?

Mr. Treuhaft- Yes, and that postponement would have to await the time that this committee changes its rules so that it conforms with due process of law so that lawyers can appear here with dignity and without fear of reprisal.

Mr. Tavenner- Well, in light of that type of answer, I will proceed with my questioning. . . .

Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Investigation of Communist Activities in the San Francisco Area—Part 3. Hearing before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, 83d Cong., 1st Sess., December 3, 1953 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1954).


Testimony of Pete Seeger before the House Un-American Activities Committee, 18 August 1955

Mr. Tavenner- The Committee has information obtained in part from the Daily Worker indicating that, over a period of time, especially since December of 1945, you took part in numerous entertainment features. I have before me a photostatic copy of the June 20, 1947, issue of the Daily Worker. In a column entitled “What’s On” appears this advertisement: “Tonight—Bronx, hear Peter Seeger and his guitar, at Allerton Section housewarming.” May I ask you whether or not the Allerton Section was a section of the Communist Party?

Mr. Seeger- Sir, I refuse to answer that question whether it was a quote from the New York Times or the Vegetarian Journal.

Mr. Tavenner- I don’t believe there is any more authoritative document in regard to the Communist Party than its official organ, the Daily Worker.

Mr. Scherer- He hasn’t answered the question, and he merely said he wouldn’t answer whether the article appeared in the New York Times or some other magazine. I ask you to direct the witness to answer the question.

Chairman Walter- I direct you to answer.

Mr. Seeger- Sir, the whole line of questioning—

Chairman Walter- You have only been asked one question, so far.

Mr. Seeger- I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.

Mr. Tavenner- Has the witness declined to answer this specific question?

Chairman Walter- He said that he is not going to answer any questions, any names or things.

Mr. Scherer- He was directed to answer the question.

Mr. Tavenner- I have before me a photostatic copy of the April 30, 1948, issue of the Daily Worker which carries under the same title of “What’s On,” an advertisement of a “May Day Rally: For Peace, Security and Democracy.” The advertisement states: “Are you in a fighting mood? Then attend the May Day rally.” Expert speakers are stated to be slated for the program, and then follows a statement, “Entertainment by Pete Seeger.” At the bottom appears this: “Auspices Essex County Communist Party,” and at the top, “Tonight, Newark, N.J.” Did you lend your talent to the Essex County Communist Party on the occasion indicated by this article from the Daily Worker?

Mr. Seeger- Mr. Walter, I believe I have already answered this question, and the same answer.

Chairman Walter- The same answer. In other words, you mean that you decline to answer because of the reasons stated before?

Mr. Seeger- I gave my answer, sir.

Chairman Walter- What is your answer?

Mr. Seeger- You see, sir, I feel-

Chairman Walter- What is your answer?

Mr. Seeger- I will tell you what my answer is.

I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis, or yours, Mr. Scherer, that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.

Chairman Walter- Why don’t you make a little contribution toward preserving its institutions?

Mr. Seeger- I feel that my whole life is a contribution. That is why I would like to tell you about it.

Chairman Walter- I don’t want to hear about it.

Mr. Scherer- I think that there must be a direction to answer.

Chairman Walter- I direct you to answer that question.

Mr. Seeger- I have already given you my answer, sir.

Mr. Scherer- Let me understand. You are not relying on the Fifth Amendment, are you?

Mr. Seeger- No, sir, although I do not want to in any way discredit or depreciate or depredate the witnesses that have used the Fifth Amendment, and I simply feel it is improper for this committee to ask such questions.

Mr. Scherer- And then in answering the rest of the questions, or in refusing to answer the rest of the questions, I understand that you are not relying on the Fifth Amendment as a basis for your refusal to answer?

Mr. Seeger- No, I am not, sir. . . .

Mr. Tavenner- You said that you would tell us about the songs. Did you participate in a program at Wingdale Lodge in the State of New York, which is a summer camp for adults and children, on the weekend of July Fourth of this year?

(Witness consulted with counsel.)

Mr. Seeger- Again, I say I will be glad to tell what songs I have ever sung, because singing is my business.

Mr. Tavenner- I am going to ask you.

Mr. Seeger- But I decline to say who has ever listened to them, who has written them, or other people who have sung them.

Mr. Tavenner- Did you sing this song, to which we have referred, “Now Is the Time,” at Wingdale Lodge on the weekend of July Fourth?

Mr. Seeger- I don’t know any song by that name, and I know a song with a similar name. It is called “Wasn’t That a Time.” Is that the song?

Chairman Walter- Did you sing that song?

Mr. Seeger- I can sing it. I don’t know how well I can do it without my banjo.

Chairman Walter- I said, Did you sing it on that occasion?

Mr. Seeger- I have sung that song. I am not going to go into where I have sung it. I have sung it many places.

Chairman Walter- Did you sing it on this particular occasion? That is what you are being asked.

Mr. Seeger-: Again my answer is the same.

Chairman Walter- You said that you would tell us about it.

Mr. Seeger- I will tell you about the songs, but I am not going to tell you or try to explain-

Chairman Walter- I direct you to answer the question. Did you sing this particular song on the Fourth of July at Wingdale Lodge in New York?

Mr. Seeger- I have already given you my answer to that question, and all questions such as that. I feel that is improper: to ask about my associations and opinions. I have said that I would be voluntarily glad to tell you any song, or what I have done in my life.

Chairman Walter- I think it is my duty to inform you that we don’t accept this answer and the others, and I give you an opportunity now to answer these questions, particularly the last one.

Mr. Seeger- Sir, my answer is always the same.

Chairman Walter- All right, go ahead, Mr. Tavenner.

Mr. Tavenner- Were you chosen by Mr. Elliott Sullivan to take part in the program on the weekend of July Fourth at Wingdale Lodge?

Mr. Seeger- The answer is the same, sir.

Mr. Willis- Was that the occasion of the satire on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

Mr. Tavenner- The same occasion, yes, sir. I have before me a photostatic copy of a page from the June 1, 1949, issue of the Daily Worker, and in a column entitled “Town Talk” there is found this statement:

The first performance of a new song, “If I Had a Hammer,” on the theme of the Foley Square trial of the Communist leaders, will be given at a testimonial dinner for the 12 on Friday night at St. Nicholas Arena. . . .Among those on hand for the singing will be . . . Pete Seeger, and Lee Hays—

and others whose names are mentioned. Did you take part in that performance?

Mr. Seeger- I shall be glad to answer about the song, sir, and I am not interested in carrying on the line of questioning about where I have sung any songs.

Mr. Tavenner- I ask a direction.

Chairman Walter- You may not be interested, but we are, however. I direct you to answer. You can answer that question.

Mr. Seeger- I feel these questions are improper, sir, and I feel they are immoral to ask any American this kind of question.

Mr. Tavenner- Have you finished your answer?

Mr. Seeger- Yes, sir. . . .

Mr. Tavenner- Did you hear Mr. George Hall’s testimony yesterday in which he stated that, as an actor, the special contribution that he was expected to make to the Communist Party was to use his talents by entertaining at Communist Party functions? Did you hear that testimony?

Mr. Seeger- I didn’t hear it, no.

Mr. Tavenner- It is a fact that he so testified. I want to know whether or not you were engaged in a similar type of service to the Communist Party in entertaining at these features.

(Witness consulted with counsel.)

Mr. Seeger- I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life. I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody. That is the only answer I can give along that line.

Chairman Walter- Mr. Tavenner, are you getting around to that letter? There was a letter introduced yesterday that I think was of greater importance than any bit of evidence adduced at these hearings, concerning the attempt made to influence people in this professional performers' guild and union to assist a purely Communist cause which had no relation whatsoever to the arts and the theater. Is that what you are leading up to?

Mr. Tavenner- Yes, it is. That was the letter of Peter Lawrence, which I questioned him about yesterday. That related to the trial of the Smith Act defendants here at Foley Square. I am trying to inquire now whether this witness was party to the same type of propaganda effort by the Communist Party.

Mr. Scherer- There has been no answer to your last question.

Mr. Tavenner- That is right; may I have a direction?

Mr. Seeger- Would you repeat the question? I don’t even know what the last question was, and I thought I have answered all of them up to now.

Mr. Tavenner- What you stated was not in response to the question.

Chairman Walter- Proceed with the questioning, Mr. Tavenner.

Mr. Tavenner- I believe, Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I will have the question read to him. I think it should be put in exactly the same form.

(Whereupon the reporter read the pending question as above recorded.)

Mr. Seeger- “These features”: what do you mean? Except for the answer I have already given you, I have no answer. The answer I gave you you have, don’t you? That is, that I am proud that I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I have never refused to sing for anybody because I disagreed with their political opinion, and I am proud of the fact that my songs seem to cut across and find perhaps a unifying thing, basic humanity, and that is why I would love to be able to tell you about these songs, because I feel that you would agree with me more, sir. I know many beautiful songs from your home county, Carbon, and Monroe, and I hitchhiked through there and stayed in the homes of miners.

Mr. Tavenner- My question was whether or not you sang at these functions of the Communist Party. You have answered it inferentially, and if I understand your answer, you are saying you did.

Mr. Seeger- Except for that answer, I decline to answer further. . .

Mr. Scherer- Do you understand it is the feeling of the Committee that you are in contempt as a result of the position you take?

Mr. Seeger- I can’t say.

Mr. Scherer- I am telling you that that is the position of the Committee. . . .

Mr. Seeger- I decline to discuss, under compulsion, where I have sung, and who has sung my songs, and who else has sung with me, and the people I have known. I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American. I will tell you about my songs, but I am not interested in telling you who wrote them, and I will tell you about my songs, and I am not interested in who listened to them. . . .

Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Investigation of Communist Activities, New York Area (Entertainment): Hearings, 84th Congress, August 18, 1955

Testimony of Zero Mostel before the House Un-American Activities Committee on 14 October 1955. 
Frank Wilkinson

"It began with the committee's counsel immediately launching his attack. 'Mr. Mostel, are you or are you not a Communist?' Zero leaped out of his chair behind the counsel's table, knocking the microphones to the floor, and reached for the throat of the HUAC's attorney while shouting, 'That man called me a Communist! Get him out of here! He asked me if I'm a Communist! Get him out of here!'

"The committee was roaring with laughter. They were delighted. Here they had Zero Mostel all to themselves, on stage, in a private dining room. Zero went on playing and parlaying with them for at least twenty minutes, responding to their questions by reciting each amendment in the Bill of Rights.


He didn’t ask Zero, 'Are you or are you not a Communist.' He asked him, 'Are you or are you not claiming the Fifth Amendment.' What they wanted him to say was 'Yes'. After another ten minutes of sparring, Zero said, 'Yes, I'm claiming the Fifth Amendment'.

"The hearings were stopped right there. The committee's PR guy goes to the door and opens it. He doesn't say a word to the crowd of reporters. He just holds up five fingers, and the press dashes off to the telephones there in the hotel. The headlines the next morning: 'Zero Mostel Pleads Fifth Amendment at HUAC Meeting.'"

Rep. Jackson- I Mr. Chairman, may I say that can think of no greater way to parade one's political beliefs than to appear under the auspices of Mainstream, a Communist publication.

Mr. Mostel- I appreciate your opinion  very much, I do want to say- I don't know, you know- I still stand on pay grounds and maybe it is unwise and impolitic of me to say this.  If I appeared there, what if I did an imitation of a butterfly at rest? There is no crime in making anybody laugh. I don't care if you laugh at me.
Rep. Jackson- If your interpretation of a butterfly at rest brought any money into the coffers of the Communist Party, you contributed directly to the propaganda effort of the Communist Party.
Mr. Mostel- Suppose I had the urge to do the butterfly at rest somewhere?
Chairman Doyle- Yes, but please, when you have the urge, don't have such an urge to put the butterfly at rest by putting some money in the Communist Party coffers as a result of that urge to put a butterfly at rest.

Testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), October 14, 1955, regarding Mostel's appearance at a Communist Party fundraiser.






Testimony of Paul Robeson before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 12 June 1956

In 1949, Manning Johnson, a former CPUSA member, identified Robeson as a fellow member of the Communist Party in testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Johnson testified:

Chairman Walter- The Committee will be in order. This morning the Committee resumes its series of hearings on the vital issue of the use of American passports as travel documents in furtherance of the objectives of the Communist conspiracy.  

Rep. Arens- Now, during the course of the process in which you were applying for this passport, in July of 1954, were you requested to submit a non-Communist affidavit?

Mr. Robeson- We had a long discussion—with my counsel, who is in the room, Mr. [Leonard B.] Boudin—with the State Department, about just such an affidavit and I was very precise not only in the application but with the State Department, headed by Mr. Henderson and Mr. McLeod, that under no conditions would I think of signing any such affidavit, that it is a complete contradiction of the rights of American citizens.

Rep. Arens- Did you comply with the requests?

Mr. Robeson- I certainly did not and I will not.

Rep. Arens- Are you now a member of the Communist Party?

Mr. Robeson- Oh please, please, please.

Rep. Scherer- Please answer, will you, Mr. Robeson?

Mr. Robeson- What is the Communist Party? What do you mean by that?

Rep. Scherer- I ask that you direct the witness to answer the question.

Mr. Robeson- What do you mean by the Communist Party? As far as I know it is a legal party like the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Do you mean a party of people who have sacrificed for my people, and for all Americans and workers, that they can live in dignity? Do you mean that party?

Rep. Arens- Are you now a member of the Communist Party?

Mr. Robeson- Would you like to come to the ballot box when I vote and take out the ballot and see?

Rep. Arens- Mr. Chairman, I respectfully suggest that the witness be ordered and directed to answer that question.

Chairman Walter- You are directed to answer the question.

(The witness consulted with his counsel.)

Mr. Robeson- I stand upon the Fifth Amendment of the American Constitution.

Rep. Arens- Do you mean you invoke the Fifth Amendment?

Mr. Robeson- I invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Rep. Arens- Do you honestly apprehend that if you told this Committee truthfully—

Mr. Robeson- I have no desire to consider anything. I invoke the Fifth Amendment, and it is none of your business what I would like to do, and I invoke the Fifth Amendment. And forget it.

Chairman Walter- You are directed to answer that question.

Mr. Robeson- I invoke the Fifth Amendment, and so I am answering it, am I not?

Rep. Arens- I respectfully suggest the witness be ordered and directed to answer the question as to whether or not he honestly apprehends, that if he gave us a truthful answer to this last principal question, he would be supplying information which might be used against him in a criminal proceeding.

(The witness consulted with his counsel.)

Chairman Walter- You are directed to answer that question, Mr. Robeson.

Mr. Robeson- Gentlemen, in the first place, wherever I have been in the world, Scandinavia, England, and many places, the first to die in the struggle against Fascism were the Communists and I laid many wreaths upon graves of Communists. It is not criminal, and the Fifth Amendment has nothing to do with criminality. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Warren, has been very clear on that in many speeches, that the Fifth Amendment does not have anything to do with the inference of criminality. I invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Rep. Arens- Have you ever been known under the name of “John Thomas”?

Mr. Robeson- Oh, please, does somebody here want—are you suggesting—do you want me to be put up for perjury some place? “John Thomas”! My name is Paul Robeson, and anything I have to say, or stand for, I have said in public all over the world, and that is why I am here today.

Rep. Scherer- I ask that you direct the witness to answer the question. He is making a speech.

Rep. Friedman- Excuse me, Mr. Arens, may we have the photographers take their pictures, and then desist, because it is rather nerve-racking for them to be there.

Chairman Walter- They will take the pictures.

Mr. Robeson- I am used to it and I have been in moving pictures. Do you want me to pose for it good? Do you want me to smile? I cannot smile when I am talking to him.

Rep. Arens- I put it to you as a fact, and ask you to affirm or deny the fact, that your Communist Party name was “John Thomas.”

Mr. Robeson- I invoke the Fifth Amendment. This is really ridiculous.

Rep. Arens- Now, tell this Committee whether or not you know Nathan Gregory Silvermaster.

Rep. Scherer- Mr. Chairman, this is not a laughing matter.

Mr. Robeson- It is a laughing matter to me, this is really complete nonsense.

Rep. Arens- Have you ever known Nathan Gregory Silvermaster?

(The witness consulted with his counsel.)

Mr. Robeson- I invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Rep. Arens- Do you honestly apprehend that if you told whether you know Nathan Gregory Silvermaster you would be supplying information that could be used against you in a criminal proceeding?

Mr. Robeson- I have not the slightest idea what you are talking about. I invoke the Fifth—

Rep. Arens- I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that the witness be directed to answer that question.

Chairman Walter- You are directed to answer the question.

Mr. Robeson- I invoke the Fifth.

Rep. Arens- The witness talks very loud when he makes a speech, but when he invokes the Fifth Amendment I cannot hear him.

Mr. Robeson- I invoked the Fifth Amendment very loudly. You know I am an actor, and I have medals for diction.

 . . . . . . . . .

Mr. Robeson- Oh, gentlemen, I thought I was here about some passports.

Rep. Arens- We will get into that in just a few moments.

Mr. Robeson- This is complete nonsense.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chairman Walter- This is legal. This is not only legal but usual. By a unanimous vote, this Committee has been instructed to perform this very distasteful task.

Mr. Robeson- To whom am I talking?

Chairman Walter- You are speaking to the Chairman of this Committee.

Mr. Robeson- Mr. Walter?

Chairman Walter- Yes.

Mr. Robeson- The Pennsylvania Walter?

Chairman Walter- That is right.

Mr. Robeson- Representative of the steelworkers?

Chairman Walter- That is right.

Mr. Robeson- Of the coal-mining workers and not United States Steel, by any chance? A great patriot.

Chairman Walter- That is right.

Mr. Robeson- You are the author of all of the bills that are going to keep all kinds of decent people out of the country.

Chairman Walter- No, only your kind.

Mr. Robeson- Colored people like myself, from the West Indies and all kinds. And just the Teutonic Anglo-Saxon stock that you would let come in.

Chairman Walter- We are trying to make it easier to get rid of your kind, too.

Mr. Robeson- You do not want any colored people to come in?

Chairman Walter- Proceed. . . .

Mr. Robeson- Could I say that the reason that I am here today, you know, from the mouth of the State Department itself, is: I should not be allowed to travel because I have struggled for years for the independence of the colonial peoples of Africa. For many years I have so labored and I can say modestly that my name is very much honored all over Africa, in my struggles for their independence. That is the kind of independence like Sukarno got in Indonesia. Unless we are double-talking, then these efforts in the interest of Africa would be in the same context. The other reason that I am here today, again from the State Department and from the court record of the court of appeals, is that when I am abroad I speak out against the injustices against the Negro people of this land. I sent a message to the Bandung Conference and so forth. That is why I am here. This is the basis, and I am not being tried for whether I am a Communist, I am being tried for fighting for the rights of my people, who are still second-class citizens in this United States of America. My mother was born in your state, Mr. Walter, and my mother was a Quaker, and my ancestors in the time of Washington baked bread for George Washington’s troops when they crossed the Delaware, and my own father was a slave. I stand here struggling for the rights of my people to be full citizens in this country. And they are not. They are not in Mississippi. And they are not in Montgomery, Alabama. And they are not in Washington. They are nowhere, and that is why I am here today. You want to shut up every Negro who has the courage to stand up and fight for the rights of his people, for the rights of workers, and I have been on many a picket line for the steelworkers too. And that is why I am here today. . . .

Rep. Arens- Did you make a trip to Europe in 1949 and to the Soviet Union?

Mr. Robeson- Yes, I made a trip. To England. And I sang.

Rep. Arens- Where did you go?

Mr. Robeson- I went first to England, where I was with the Philadelphia Orchestra, one of two American groups which was invited to England. I did a long concert tour in England and Denmark and Sweden, and I also sang for the Soviet people, one of the finest musical audiences in the world. Will you read what the Porgy and Bess people said? They never heard such applause in their lives. One of the most musical peoples in the world, and the great composers and great musicians, very cultured people, and Tolstoy, and—

Chairman Walter- We know all of that.

Mr. Robeson- They have helped our culture and we can learn a lot.

Rep. Arens- Did you go to Paris on that trip?

Mr. Robeson- I went to Paris.

Rep. Arens- And while you were in Paris, did you tell an audience there that the American Negro would never go to war against the Soviet government?

Mr. Robeson- May I say that is slightly out of context? May I explain to you what I did say? I remember the speech very well, and the night before, in London, and do not take the newspaper, take me: I made the speech, gentlemen, Mr. So-and-So. It happened that the night before, in London, before I went to Paris . . . and will you please listen?

Rep. Arens- We are listening.

Mr. Robeson- Two thousand students from various parts of the colonial world, students who since then have become very important in their governments, in places like Indonesia and India, and in many parts of Africa, two thousand students asked me and Mr. [Dr. Y. M.] Dadoo, a leader of the Indian people in South Africa, when we addressed this conference, and remember I was speaking to a peace conference, they asked me and Mr. Dadoo to say there that they were struggling for peace, that they did not want war against anybody. Two thousand students who came from populations that would range to six or seven hundred million people.

Rep. Kearney- Do you know anybody who wants war?

Mr. Robeson- They asked me to say in their name that they did not want war. That is what I said. No part of my speech made in Paris says fifteen million American Negroes would do anything. I said it was my feeling that the American people would struggle for peace, and that has since been underscored by the President of these United States. Now, in passing, I said—

Rep. Kearney- Do you know of any people who want war?

Mr. Robeson- Listen to me. I said it was unthinkable to me that any people would take up arms, in the name of an Eastland, to go against anybody. Gentlemen, I still say that. This United States Government should go down to Mississippi and protect my people. That is what should happen.

Rep. Kearney- Did you say what was attributed to you?

Mr. Robeson- I did not say it in that context.

Rep. Arens- I lay before you a document containing an article, “I Am Looking for Full Freedom,” by Paul Robeson, in a publication called the Worker, dated July 3, 1949.

At the Paris Conference I said it was unthinkable that the Negro people of America or elsewhere in the world could be drawn into war with the Soviet Union.

Mr. Robeson- Is that saying the Negro people would do anything? I said it is unthinkable. I did not say that there [in Paris]: I said that in the Worker.

Rep. Arens- I repeat it with hundredfold emphasis: they will not.

Did you say that?

Mr. Robeson-: I did not say that in Paris, I said that in America. And, gentlemen, they have not yet done so, and it is quite clear that no Americans, no people in the world probably, are going to war with the Soviet Union. So I was rather prophetic, was I not?

Rep. Arens- On that trip to Europe, did you go to Stockholm?

Mr. Robeson- I certainly did, and I understand that some people in the American Embassy tried to break up my concert. They were not successful.

Rep. Arens- While you were in Stockholm, did you make a little speech?

Mr. Robeson- I made all kinds of speeches, yes.

Rep. Arens- Let me read you a quotation.

Mr. Robeson- Let me listen.

Rep. Arens- Do so, please.

Mr. Robeson- I am a lawyer.

Rep. Kearney- It would be a revelation if you would listen to counsel.

Mr. Robeson- In good company, I usually listen, but you know people wander around in such fancy places. Would you please let me read my statement at some point?

Chairman Walter- We will consider your statement.

Rep. Arens- I do not hesitate one second to state clearly and unmistakably: I belong to the American resistance movement which fights against American imperialism, just as the resistance movement fought against Hitler.

Mr. Robeson- Just like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman were underground railroaders, and fighting for our freedom, you bet your life.

Chairman Walter- I am going to have to insist that you listen to these questions.

Mr. Robeson- I am listening.

Rep. Arens- If the American warmongers fancy that they could win America’s millions of Negroes for a war against those countries (i.e., the Soviet Union and the peoples‘ democracies) then they ought to understand that this will never be the case. Why should the Negroes ever fight against the only nations of the world where racial discrimination is prohibited, and where the people can live freely? Never! I can assure you, they will never fight against either the Soviet Union or the peoples’ democracies.

Did you make that statement?

Mr. Robeson- I do not remember that. But what is perfectly clear today is that nine hundred million other colored people have told you that they will not. Four hundred million in India, and millions everywhere, have told you, precisely, that the colored people are not going to die for anybody: they are going to die for their independence. We are dealing not with fifteen million colored people, we are dealing with hundreds of millions.

Rep. Kearney- The witness has answered the question and he does not have to make a speech. . . .

Mr. Robeson- In Russia I felt for the first time like a full human being. No color prejudice like in Mississippi, no color prejudice like in Washington. It was the first time I felt like a human being. Where I did not feel the pressure of color as I feel [it] in this Committee today.

Rep. Scherer- Why do you not stay in Russia?

Mr. Robeson- Because my father was a slave, and my people died to build this country, and I am going to stay here, and have a part of it just like you. And no Fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear? I am for peace with the Soviet Union, and I am for peace with China, and I am not for peace or friendship with the Fascist Franco, and I am not for peace with Fascist Nazi Germans. I am for peace with decent people.

Rep. Scherer- You are here because you are promoting the Communist cause.

Mr. Robeson- I am here because I am opposing the neo-Fascist cause which I see arising in these committees. You are like the Alien [and] Sedition Act, and Jefferson could be sitting here, and Frederick Douglass could be sitting here, and Eugene Debs could be here.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chairman Walter- Now, what prejudice are you talking about? You were graduated from Rutgers and you were graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. I remember seeing you play football at Lehigh.

Mr. Robeson- We beat Lehigh.

Chairman Walter- And we had a lot of trouble with you.

Mr. Robeson- That is right. DeWysocki was playing in my team.

Chairman Walter- There was no prejudice against you. Why did you not send your son to Rutgers?

Mr. Robeson- Just a moment. This is something that I challenge very deeply, and very sincerely: that the success of a few Negroes, including myself or Jackie Robinson can make up—and here is a study from Columbia University—for seven hundred dollars a year for thousands of Negro families in the South. My father was a slave, and I have cousins who are sharecroppers, and I do not see my success in terms of myself. That is the reason my own success has not meant what it should mean: I have sacrificed literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for what I believe in.

Rep. Arens- While you were in Moscow, did you make a speech lauding Stalin?

Mr. Robeson- I do not know.

Rep. Arens- Did you say, in effect, that Stalin was a great man, and Stalin had done much for the Russian people, for all of the nations of the world, for all working people of the earth? Did you say something to that effect about Stalin when you were in Moscow?

Mr. Robeson- I cannot remember.

Rep. Arens- Do you have a recollection of praising Stalin?

Mr. Robeson- I said a lot about Soviet people, fighting for the peoples of the earth.

Rep. Arens- Did you praise Stalin?

Mr. Robeson- I do not remember.

Rep. Arens- Have you recently changed your mind about Stalin?

Mr. Robeson- Whatever has happened to Stalin, gentlemen, is a question for the Soviet Union, and I would not argue with a representative of the people who, in building America, wasted sixty to a hundred million lives of my people, black people drawn from Africa on the plantations. You are responsible, and your forebears, for sixty million to one hundred million black people dying in the slave ships and on the plantations, and don’t ask me about anybody, please.

Rep. Arens- I am glad you called our attention to that slave problem. While you were in Soviet Russia, did you ask them there to show you the slave labor camps?

Chairman Walter- You have been so greatly interested in slaves, I should think that you would want to see that.

Mr. Robeson- The slaves I see are still in a kind of semiserfdom. I am interested in the place I am, and in the country that can do something about it. As far as I know, about the slave camps, they were Fascist prisoners who had murdered millions of the Jewish people, and who would have wiped out millions of the Negro people, could they have gotten a hold of them. That is all I know about that.

Rep. Arens- Tell us whether or not you have changed your opinion in the recent past about Stalin.

Mr. Robeson- I have told you, mister, that I would not discuss anything with the people who have murdered sixty million of my people, and I will not discuss Stalin with you.

Rep. Arens- You would not, of course, discuss with us the slave labor camps in Soviet Russia.

Mr. Robeson- I will discuss Stalin when I may be among the Russian people some day, singing for them, I will discuss it there. It is their problem.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Rep. Arens- Now I would invite your attention, if you please, to the Daily Worker of June 29, 1949, with reference to a get-together with you and Ben Davis. Do you know Ben Davis?

Mr. Robeson- One of my dearest friends, one of the finest Americans you can imagine, born of a fine family, who went to Amherst and was a great man.

Chairman Walter- The answer is yes?

Rep. Arens- Nothing could make me prouder than to know him.

Chairman Walter- That answers the question.

Mr. Robeson- Did I understand you to laud his patriotism?

Mr. Robeson- I say that he is as patriotic an American as there can be, and you gentlemen belong with the Alien and Sedition Acts, and you are the nonpatriots, and you are the un-Americans, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

Chairman Walter- Just a minute, the hearing is now adjourned.

Mr. Robeson- I should think it would be.

Chairman Walter- I have endured all of this that I can.

Mr. Robeson- Can I read my statement?

Chairman Walter- No, you cannot read it. The meeting is adjourned.

Mr. Robeson- I think it should be, and you should adjourn this forever, that is what I would say. . . .

Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Investigation of the Unauthorized Use of U.S. Passports, 84th Congress, Part 3, June 12, 1956; in Thirty Years of Treason: Excerpts from Hearings Before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 1938–1968, Eric Bentley, ed. (New York: Viking Press, 1971), 770.


John F. X. McGohey, Opening Statement on Behalf of the Government, March 21, 1949

The charge of conspiracy is set forth in the first paragraph of the indictment, which his Honor has just read to you.

The remaining nine paragraphs of the indictment set forth the details of the indictment. Briefly, these paragraphs charge that these defendants brought about meetings in New York City in June and July of 1945 of the National Committee and the National Board and the National Convention of the Communist Political Association, in order to dissolve that Association and to organize in its stead the Communist Party of the United States of America. They charged that it was a part of the conspiracy that these defendants would assume leadership of the Communist Party of the United States of America; it is further charged that the defendants would organize clubs, district and state units of their party; that they would recruit new members of their party; and that they, the defendants, would publish books, magazines, and newspapers; that they would organize schools and classes, in all of which it was planned that there would be taught and advocated the Marxist-Leninist principles of the duty and necessity of overthrowing and destroying the Government of the United States by force and violence.

Now, that is what we charge. To support that charge we propose to prove by witnesses on that stand, and documents which they will introduce, just what these defendants did, what these defendants said, and what these defendants caused others under their supervision and control to do, and to say what the defendants actually did at that Convention in July 1945, according to their own statements, was to reconstitute the Communist Party of the United States of America; to educate the working class in the course of its day-to-day struggles, for its historic mission, the establishment of Socialism. They based the party upon the principles of Marxism-Leninism. . . .

I ask you ladies and gentlemen to remember that phrase Marxism-Leninism. You will hear it frequently throughout this trial. We propose, we say, that we will establish that it is fundamental in the principles of Marxism-Leninism:

(1) That Socialism cannot be established by peaceful evolution but, on the contrary can be established only by violent revolution; by smashing the machinery of government, and setting up in its stead a dictatorship—a dictatorship of the proletariat.

(2) That this smashing of the machinery of government and setting up of the dictatorship of the proletariat can be accomplished only by the violent and forceful seizure of power by the proletariat under the leadership of the Communist Party.

The revolutionary doctrines of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin are constantly repeated in the lectures and in the discussions, and the thinking of both the teachers and the students is constantly checked against these revolutionary writers. In each of these schools it is reiterated constantly that the students are being trained as professional revolutionaries. Marxism, they are taught, is not merely dogma, it is a guide to action. . . . At the proper time, they are taught—the proper time being a time of national crisis, unrest, disorder brought about by a severe depression or war—at such a time the Party members will be in positions of influence in the key trades in the basic industries, and when the National Board decides that the revolutionary situation is at hand, the Party will lead the proletariat in violent revolution. They teach that this revolution cannot be without violence, for to be successful the entire apparatus of the Government must be smashed. Every vestige of the bourgeois state and class must be wiped out. Only when this has been accomplished can the program of Marxian Socialism be successfully carried out.

Now there are sections in the constitution of the Communist party which was adopted at its convention in July 1945 that purport to urge support of American democracy. These are in that document for legal purposes only, as we will show from witnesses on this stand. We will show that such declarations as I have referred to are mere talk; that they are just empty phrases, that they are inconsistent with the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of the overthrow of the Government by force and violence.

Eugene Dennis, Opening Statement on Behalf of the Communist Party, March 21, 1949

In view of the opening statement of the prosecution the defense is obliged to make sure that the jury fully understands just what the indictment charges and what it does not charge. The foreboding-sounding words “overthrow and destruction of the Government of the United States by force and violence” appear five times in the ten paragraphs of the indictment. But I call to your attention that not one of . . . these ten paragraphs charges that we Communist leaders at any time committed a single act, a single overt act of force and violence against the Government of the United States, or that we ever directly or indirectly advocated or attempted its forcible overthrow.

The alleged conspiracy as stated in the indictment limps only on three active verbs—to organize the Communist Party, to teach, and to advocate.

Since no overt criminal act is even alleged there is no X to mark the spot where it was not committed. . . .

The allegation of crime rests on the charge that we Communist leaders used our inalienable American rights of free speech, press, and association, and sought to advance certain general political doctrines which the indictment falsely says teach and advocate the duty and necessity to overthrow the Government of the United States by force and violence. . . .

We 11 defendants will prove that the very time when we allegedly began this menacing conspiracy we were in fact advocating and organizing all-out support to the Government of the United States. . . .

We will prove that all of us . . . taught the duty of upholding the United States Government and of intensifying the anti-Axis war effort . . . and we defendants will put in evidence the honorable war record of the 15,000 American Communists who, in accord with what we taught and advocated, served with the armed forces in the military defense of our country. . . .

We Communist leaders will show that in June and July of 1945 we thought that labor and the people could not rely on the Truman Administration to curb the greedy monopolists. We taught that, on the contrary, the people would have to resist the efforts of the administration and the bipartisan Congress, to scuttle FDR’s progressive policies. We will also prove that we did not even consider, let alone teach or advocate, that the Government, headed by President Truman, should therefore be overthrown by force and violence. We will establish that everything we did teach and advocate was in the interests of the American people and in accord with their understanding of achieving a Government of, by, and for the people. . . .

. . . My co-defendants and I will show that we put into practice the real principles of Marxism-Leninism, by teaching that labor and the people should intervene to defend their living standards, their democratic rights, and world peace. . . .

We will show with what peaceful intent we taught and advocated, amongst other things . . . to oppose American support to the unjust and criminal war against the Chinese people waged by the miserable Chiang Kai-shek, to oppose the civil war against the Greeks, waged by the monarchist-fascist puppet of the American trusts, with the American people footing the bill, to oppose the Anglo-American oil lords against the new State of Israel, and the people of Indonesia, and to oppose the restoration of the German and Japanese monopolies and war potential under the new management of the American cartelists. . . .

I and my co-defendants will show, we will show that we publicly advocated that all peace-loving Americans should unite that the Truman Administration enter into direct negotiations with the U.S.S.R. and respond in good faith to its repeated disarmament and other peace proposals. . . .

And to establish further the record of what we defendants actually have done in the period covered by the indictment, we Communist leaders will show that we have advocated defense of the people’s living standards as an inseparable part of the struggle for democracy and peace. . . .

. . . The defense will squarely meet and disprove the prosecution’s charge that the principles of scientific socialism teach or imply the duty or the necessity to overthrow the United States Government by force and violence. . . .

When the defense puts our Communist Party constitution in evidence, the jury will see that it speaks of the duty to organize and educate the working class, and declares that Socialism should be established, not by force and violence, but “by the free choice of the majority of the American people.”

We defendants will prove that we have always taught that capitalism in America or elsewhere cannot be abolished by plots, or conspiracies, or adventures, or by power revolutions. We will put in evidence our teaching that this fundamental change can be brought about only when both of two conditions have been fulfilled, when capitalism has fully outlived its social usefulness and when a majority of the American people—I repeat, a majority—led by labor and the Communists resolve to get rid of a system of social production that has become destructive of their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. . . .

I have already indicated how we American Marxists will prove that we teach that Socialism is not an immediate issue in the United States today, but that the central issues, the central immediate issues confronting our people are peace or war, democracy or fascism. . . .

You will see that our Communist Party Constitution acknowledges not only that we learn from Marx and Lenin but that we owe much to and learn from the teachings of men like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, William Sylvis, and Eugene V. Debs. . . .

. . . The prosecution asks this jury for what amounts to a preventative conviction, in order that we Communist leaders may be put under what the Nazis called protective custody. I ask the jury to weigh the prosecution’s case against the proof we defendants will offer to establish that we have taught and advocated the duty and necessity to prevent the force and violence of Fascism, imperialists of war and lynching and Antisemitism. I ask you to weigh carefully our sincere offer of proof which demonstrates that we Communists are second to none in our devotion to our people and to our country, and that we teach and advocate and practice a program of peace, of democracy, equality, economic security, and social progress.

Source: Trial testimony in Joint Appendix, United States of America v. Eugene Dennis et al., United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Ellen Schrecker, The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents (Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 174–78.

As Regards Patriotism by Mark Twain

It is agreed, in this country, that if a man can arrange his religion so that it perfectly satisfies his conscience, it is not incumbent upon him to care whether the arrangement is satisfactory to any one else or not.

In Austria and some other countries this is not the case. There the State arranges a man's religion for him, he has no voice in it himself.

Patriotism is merely a religion -- love of country, worship of country, devotion to the country's flag and honor and welfare.

In absolute monarchies it is furnished from the Throne, cut and dried, to the subject; in England and America it is furnished, cut and dried, to the citizen by the politician and the newspaper.

The newspaper-and-politician-manufactured Patriot often gags in private over his dose; but he takes it, and keeps it on his stomach the best he can. Blessed are the meek.

Sometimes, in the beginning of an insane and shabby political upheaval, he is strongly moved to revolt, but he doesn't do it -- he knows better. He knows that his maker would find it out -- the maker of his Patriotism, the windy and incoherent six-dollar sub-editor of his village newspaper -- and would bray out in print and call him a Traitor. And how dreadful that would be. It makes him tuck his tail between his legs and shiver. We all know -- the reader knows it quite well -- that two or three years ago nine-tenths of the human tails in England and America performed just that act. Which is to say, nine-tenths of the Patriots in England and America turned Traitor to keep from being called Traitor. Isn't it true? You know it to be true. Isn't it curious?

Yet it was not a thing to be very seriously ashamed of. A man can seldom -- very, very seldom -- fight a winning fight against his training; the odds are too heavy. For many a year -- perhaps always -- the training of the two nations had been dead against independence in political thought, persistently inhospitable toward Patriotism manufactured on a man's own premises, Patriotism reasoned out in the man's own head and fire-assayed and tested and proved in his own conscience. The resulting Patriotism was a shop-worn product procured at second hand. The Patriot did not know just how or when or where he got his opinions, neither did he care, so long as he was with what seemed the majority -- which was the main thing, the safe thing, the comfortable thing. Does the reader believe he knows three men who have actual reasons for their pattern of Patriotism -- and can furnish them? Let him not examine, unless he wants to be disappointed. He will be likely to find that his men got their Patriotism at the public trough, and had no hand in their preparation themselves.

Training does wonderful things. It moved the people of this country to oppose the Mexican war; then moved them to fall in with what they supposed was the opinion of the majority -- majority-Patriotism is the customary Patriotism -- and go down there and fight. Before the Civil War it made the North indifferent to slavery and friendly to the slave interest; in that interest it made Massachusetts hostile to the American flag, and she would not allow it to be hoisted on her State House -- in her eyes it was the flag of a faction. Then by and by, training swung Massachusetts the other way, and she went raging South to fight under that very flag and against that foretime protected-interest of hers.

Training made us nobly anxious to free Cuba; training made us give her a noble promise; training has enabled us to take it back. Long training made us revolt at the idea of wantonly taking any weak nation's country and liberties away from it, a short training has made us glad to do it, and proud of having done it. Training made us loathe Weyler's cruel concentration camps,* training has persuaded us to prefer them to any other device for winning the love of our "wards."

There is nothing that training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach or below it. It can turn bad morals to good, good morals to bad; it can destroy principles, it can re-create them; it can debase angels to men and lift men to angelship. And it can do any one of these miracles in a year -- even in six months.

Then men can be trained to manufacture their own Patriotism. They can be trained to labor it out in their own heads and hearts, and in the privacy and independence of their own premises. It can train them to stop taking it by command, as the Austrian takes his religion.
* Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau, Spanish military governor of Cuba in 1896 and 1897.



Postscripts

To Representative Michelle Bachman, welfare queen extraordinaire,

Way to go Michelle. For all the talk of opposing those government handouts aka socialism, this does not stop you from taking advantage of what is offered. Already known are your rants against a government takeover of medicine aka socialized medicine, in which health care is rationed and death panels rule the day. This benefit which has been available for you and your family since being first elected in the House in 2006 and without any death panels or rationed care included. Lucky you. This had been denied to millions of Americans in the past not fortunate to be serving in US Congress. There just doesn't seem to be enough job openings. But what the hell, you got yours, let them get theirs.

But do your teabagging followers know about the $251,973 in federal subsidies for both dairy and corn between 1995 and 2006. Both of these products are heavily “socialized” business opportunities in America. In Truthdig on the internet, Yasha Levine wrote that;

"These subsidies are at the heart of America’s bizarre planned agricultural economy and as far away from Michele Bachman’s free-market dream world as Cuba’s free medical system. If American farms such as hers were forced to compete in the global free market, they would collapse."*

However, you Michelle truly have your constituents interests in mind. You preach responsibility. The protection and assistance offered by the federal is just fine for you, but you make it absolutely clear that bailing out homeowners would be “rewarding the irresponsible while punishing those who have been playing by the rules.” Of course you are one of the responsible ones "who have been playing by the rules.” That is why you said nay against every foreclosure relief bill aimed at helping the typical homeowner that has come up for a vote in the House. Since your district has the highest foreclosure rate in Minnesota, there must be a lot of people you have enlightened on the virtue of responsibility and I bet your constituents are very grateful that you have done so. Thank God they will have the opportunity to express their gratitude this coming November.

*See Michele Bachman: Welfare Queen in truthdig

Source- http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/michelle_bachman_welfare_queen_20091221/



 
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