The Hollywood What Now?

by Jonah Goldberg

I don’t have a burning desire to defend everything ever done under the banner of American anti-Communism, even though I consider anti-Communism a moral and patriotic necessity. I have no doubt some people were wronged, just as some were treated unjustly in the name of anti-anti-Communism and, well, just plain Communism. Large, sweeping, social and political movements imbued with great passion will have their excesses and hypocrisies. Some Wobblies were occasionally treated horrifically by forces on both the left and the right. If memory serves some were even tarred and feathered. Stalinists in the US were perfectly happy to turn Trotskyists over the government (they named names!) under the same laws they would later denounce when applied to Stalinists. During the so-called “Brown scare” that preceded the “Red scare” many Nazi sympathizers were justifiably exposed, but some merely wrong-headed isolationists were slandered as well. Walter Winchel even read the names of some on the air calling them “Americans we can do without.” FDR himself often insinuated that isolationists were part of a pro-Nazi conspiracy. 

The anti-Communist effort also painted with too broad a brush at times. That story is far better known and is treated as one of America’s greatest sins, especially in Hollywood where a number of screenwriters were blacklisted.  I’m willing to argue about where the line between right and wrong, good and evil, should be drawn when it comes to the blacklist. I’ve had those arguments many times and reasonable people draw those lines in different places. But given that tens or hundreds of millions of people were murdered in the name of Communism, the loss of a few screenwriting jobs never struck me as much more than a footnote or sidebar to the story. That doesn’t justify treating people unfairly of course, but I remain amazed at the ability of people to shrug off mass murder as the boring fixation of tedious rightwingers while simultaneously growing furious and indignant over the Hollywood blacklist. Yes, America should have a high standard for how we treat our own, but the mismatch always struck me as a depraved self-indulgence. 

Enter The Hollywood Reporter’s apology for “Hollywood’s Holocaust.” Apparently, The Hollywood Reporter didn’t toe the progressive line during the Red scare and it is now apologizing for it. Howard Kurtz celebrates THR’s better-late-than-never apology for this  ”odious” and an “appalling chapter of the publication’s history.” 

Well, okay. But “Hollywood’s Holocaust”? Really? That’s a moral and logical perversion. It’s hard enough to get liberals to admit that the Soviet genocide in the Ukraine was a holocaust or to get them to do more than shrug at China’s murder of 65 million people. But when Hollywood studios refrained from hiring people whose political views are out of fashion (they’d never do that today, would they?) that’s a “Holocaust”? Good lord, what is wrong with these people?

Hat tip and attaboy to J. P. Freire, who has a lot more to offer on the subject here.

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