Tomorrow night Turner Channel Movies is broadcasting an homage to the Hollywood Ten, presenting only their side of the story. Critic Spencer Warren gives the other side in this informative article about their affiliation with and even membership in the CPUSA. This meant that when they were appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee, they were invoking their First Amendment Rights under a Constitution they were seeking to destroy. Warren also details Ronald Reagan’s courageous fight against the Communists in Hollywood, something you won’t hear about on TCM. Warren says that TCM could have and should have invited people like Ronald Radosh and Harvey Klehr to present balance.
Here’s an interesting anecdote about what these men who wrapped themselves in the Bill of Rights really believed:
Ronald Reagan came into direct conflict with [CPUSA member John Howard Lawson, one of the Hollywood Ten] in July 1946 at a meeting of a liberal/leftist cultural group on whose executive committee he served, the Hollywood Independent Citizens Committee of Arts, Sciences, and Professions (HICCASP). Following allegations by the anti-communist liberal Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. that this was a communist front group, Reagan and other liberal members sponsored a resolution denouncing communism, just as the group earlier had denounced fascism. It stated: “We affirm our belief in free enterprise and the democratic system and repudiate Communism as desirable for the United States.” When Reagan spoke at a committee meeting in favor of the resolution, future Hollywood Ten member and Turner hero Dalton Trumbo attacked the resolution as wicked (Reagan had been denounced at an earlier meeting as “capitalist scum” and an “enemy of the proletariat”). And Turner hero Lawson waved a menacing finger at Reagan, shouting, “This organization will never adopt a statement which endorses free enterprise and repudiates Communism! . . . a two-party system is in no way necessary or even desirable in a democracy!” Reagan then proposed a vote by all the members in secret ballot. Lawson replied that “the membership [wasn’t] sophisticated enough to make this decision.” (Quoted in Ronald and Allis Radosh, Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony’s Long Romance with the Left (Encounter Books 2006), pages 115- 116). Peter Schweizer writes in Reagan’s War (Random House, 2002) that Reagan’s experiences at this time led to his long-range plan to destroy communism.