January 19, 2018 | Rome, Italy | °C

On witches, Reds and Spacey

By Christopher P. Winner
Published: 2017-11-19

Like a Stalin-era prisoner, Stacey will likely be urged to confess his sins, beg forgiveness, and promise to cleanse his abhorrence through personal repair. He'll be asked to accept his ostracizing with grace and thank god America is now a secular state, sparing him the gallows. He's one less witch.

In the early 1950s, the House Un-American Activities Committee repeatedly interrogated Hollywood figures regarding alleged (that word again) Communist affiliation. On one occasion, Committee Chairman Parnell Thomas faced screenwriter John Howard Lawson, an avowed Communist. Their opening exchange made it clear that, once labeled, witches are witches and have nowhere to go.

Thomas: "Are you a member of the Communist Party or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"

Lawson: "It's unfortunate and tragic that I have to teach this committee the basic principles of Americanism."

Thomas: "That's not the question. That's not the question. The question is — have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"

Lawson: "I am framing my answer in the only way in which any American citizen can frame his answer to ..."

Thomas: "Then you deny it?"

Rarely was Thomas able to complete his thoughts. Soon after, he was blacklisted.

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Christopher P. Winner

Christopher P. Winner is editor and publisher of The American. His column appears weekly.

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