Hollywood 10 Were Villains, Not Victims

Michael S. Berliner is executive director of the Marina del Ray-based Ayn Rand Institute, which describes itself as an advocate of reason, individualism and capitalism. Website: www.aynrand.org

Nov. 24 marks the 50th anniversary of the firing of the Hollywood 10 by 50 of Hollywood's leading executives and moguls . The 10 filmmakers had been cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to divulge their political affiliations to the House Un-American Activities Committee investigation into communist infiltration in Hollywood.

The anniversary of the blacklist against the Hollywood 10 and other left-wingers in Hollywood has brought an outpouring of sympathy and apologies to the "victims," along with incessant moral lessons from the media about this "dark" period in American history.

This much is true: Morality and justice are at issue. But the story has been twisted and the characters grossly miscast. The screenplay as written by politically correct Hollywood should be titled "Three Big Lies."

Lie No. 1: By requiring the Hollywood 10 to testify and then jailing them for refusing to do so, the House Un-American Activities Committee violated their 1st Amendment free speech rights. The truth: No one interfered with their freedom of speech. In fact, freedom of speech was not even an issue. HUAC was investigating a question of fact, the fact being membership in the Communist Party. The committee did not ask whether the witness believed in communism, but only whether he had joined the Communist Party. By joining the party (an undisputed fact), the filmmakers were not merely making an ideological statement but were agreeing to take orders to commit actions--criminal and treasonable actions, since the party and the Soviet government it served were openly dedicated to the overthrow of the U.S. government. Therefore, there was a national security reason for the committee to determine membership in the party.

Legal issues aside, there is an obscene irony in the communist writers complaining that their right to freedom of speech was violated, since that right was precisely what the Communist Party was out to destroy.

Lie No. 2: The Hollywood 10 were persecuted by being refused jobs. The truth: They were denied employment by executives who were exercising the right to hire whom they wished, a fundamental right in a free society. It was within the employers' right (and self-interest) not to hire writers who wanted to use their positions to eliminate all private property and private business. What the writers wanted by refusing to testify was the "right" to hide their ideology on the grounds that, were it known, they'd be fired. In other words, they wanted the "right" to defraud their employers. The right to freedom of speech prohibits the government from interfering with the expression of ideas, and that means that an employer cannot be forced to underwrite ideas he's opposed to.

Lie No. 3: The blacklisted writers were humanitarian idealists. The truth: Their "ideal" was the sacrifice of the individual to the collective, a moral viewpoint endorsed by Marxism and put into practice by the Soviet government. It was an "ideal" that destroyed millions of human lives. The Communist Party championed by the Hollywood 10 was the same party that under the leadership of Joseph Stalin exterminated millions of peasants in the Ukraine. The "persecuted" writers dutifully paid their dues to the party whose reign of terror included murdering or banishing to Siberia anyone who remotely threatened its power.

While the Hollywood communists and apologists talked of peace, brotherhood and workers' rights, their spiritual masters were perpetrating what is arguably the most murderous tyranny in world history, its victims estimated at 20 million to 40 million people--not including the tens of millions relegated to a subhuman existence. Far from being pitiable victims, the Hollywood 10 and their followers have the blood of millions on their hands.

So why is Hollywood intent on perpetuating these lies? Why are we asked to apologize to apologists of mass murder? Why are the opponents of tyranny still portrayed as hysterical witch hunters?

The answer lies in ideology. The Hollywood 10 openly hated America and the individualism on which it is based. Little has changed but the concretes. The Soviets are gone, but Hollywood's anti-capitalist, left-liberal political agenda lives, now in such forms as animal rights and environmentalism. Selling the "big lies" helps Hollywood to keep alive the fantasy that the left is the victim rather than the perpetrator of injustice.

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