Slate: Karina Longworth- The Hollywood Ten Paid The Price For Refusing to Answer The $64 Question

Herbert Biberman & Samuel Ornitz
Herbert Biberman & Samuel Ornitz

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

I blog about political correctness and what I at least see as fascism on a regular basis. Perhaps one piece a week, because its such an important issue today with free speech coming under assault practically everywhere in America and even on college campus’ where free speech needs to be at it’s strongest so young people can learn and share views with each other and get as good of an education as possible. But just like Caucasian-Americans don’t own a monopoly on racism and other forms of bigotry in America, the Far-Left doesn’t own a monopoly on political correctness and fascism. Back in the late 1940s and really through the 1950s Americans were under attack from the Far-Right in this country for simply believing what they believed and who they associated with.

It started in Congress in 1947 with the House of Representatives starting an investigation with their so-called Un-American Activities Committee doing an investigation about Communists in Hollywood. And sure there were Socialists in Hollywood and perhaps even Communists. But so what. They were also Americans who went to work everyday producing films and other entertainment that had nothing to do with the Cold War and certainly were not on the side of Russia and other Communists states back then. At least in the sense of propping them up and trying to make them look better than they actually were. They were Hollywood employees. Actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, who simply went to work everyday producing a lot of good films that people wanted to see and paid a lot of money to see. Who ideologically were Socialists who backed Far-Left candidates and causes in America.

The Far-Right and right-wing version of political correctness which is a form of fascism is that people who don’t share their view of the world and what America should be and be about and don’t agree with them ideologically, are somehow Un-American. And not deserving of the same constitutional rights as other Americans. Meaning the right-wing and especially Neoconservative fascists on the Far-Right who see Senator Joe McCarthy as a hero and even speak highly of Russian President Vladimir Putin today for his crackdowns on opposition media in Russia and homosexuality in Russia. And are now backing Donald Trump for president. People like Far-Right columnist and author Ann Coulter. Who is the real-life Donald Trump who actually believes what The Donald says. Even if Trump doesn’t believe his own propaganda.

In 1947 you had the House call members of the so-called Hollywood Ten to testify in front of the Un-American Activities Committee and asked what would normally be seen as an innocent question. “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” The problem is they were asked to do this under oath and on live national TV. When broadcast news was still an infant. With the whole world (at least in America especially in Hollywood) listening. With Hollywood executives and studio heads being anti-Communist and not able to afford to be associated with Communists or anyone else on the Far-Left in America. With these Hollywood employees having a choice to either plead the fifth and look very suspicious, or admit to being Socialists and risk not being able to work again ever in Hollywood. Even though most of them had kids to take care of and needed to work and earn a living.

The Hollywood Ten weren’t asked if they had committed any crimes or even knew any criminals. Or even associated with organize criminals and mobsters. They were put on trial for their political beliefs. They were considered guilty by association and communist political beliefs. Without any trial even though every American is guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to free speech and the constitutional right to believe whatever they want to. Whatever you think of political correctness on many of our college campus’ right now that is done by private individuals. People getting together in trying to eliminate and censor ideas that they not only disagree with, but find offensive. What happened to the Hollywood Ten back in the 1940s and 1950s was a form of state-fascism. American citizens put on trial simply for their political views.