Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Welcome aboard, Allan Ryskind

We note the publication of Allan H. Ryskind's Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler;
Allan Ryskind, son of Marx Brothers screenwriter Morrie Ryskind (Animal Crackers, A Night at the Opera, Room Service), exposes the ugly truth about the Communists blacklisted from the film industry. Too often, the "Hollywood Ten" brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee are memorialized as victims of an unjust witch-hunt and heroes who stood up for free speech. The truth is shocking: Not only did these supposed liberal paragons adore Josef Stalin and take their orders directly from the Communist Party, but they also sympathized with Adolf Hitler.

Ryskind, who grew up in the heart of the Hollywood scene and personally knew many of the key players in this real-life Hollywood drama, has penned a definitive, myth-busting account of the Hollywood Ten and Hollywood Blacklist that will forever change the way you think about the ideological battle waged in the movie capital of the world.
Well, none of this will be news to long-time readers of HSIB. They'll already be aware of the facts, thanks to one of The Hollywood Ten himself, Edward Dmytryk;
Dmytryk says that he was stunned by the performances of his friends at the 1947 HUAC hearings, particularly of John Howard Lawson;
Anyone who has ever read The Daily Worker will immediately recognize such vituperation as the hallmark of the doctrinaire communist's attitude toward anyone who might disagree with his or her vision.
Which included, from Lawson's proffered written statement;
"[HUAC] 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."
Which Dmytryk aptly described as 'crude demagoguery';
As one can see, the strategy Lawson used was one at which the communists were past masters: construct your own straw man, then proceed to knock him down. .... It was unnecessary for Lawson to identify himself as a communist; the answer was implicit in his position paper....

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