How Dare You Question Israel, You Anti-Semite. Career Over. by Michael Rivera
“A criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has
not sufficient capital to form a corporation.” — Howard Scott
The New McCarthyism
By Michael Rivero
Back in the year 1947, the House Select Committee began an
investigation into the Motion Picture Industry. Ostensibly the goal was
to ferret out communists working in the film industry.
But in actuality the US Government was concerned that Hollywood was no
longer as blindly supportive of government policy as it had been only a
few years earlier
at the height of WW2. In particular, J. Edgar Hoover
had long held the opinion that the entertainment industry should be the
propaganda arm for the government in peace time as well as war.
However, as WW2 had ended, the defense establishment had
lobbied for the creation of a “Cold” war against the Soviet Union, a war
not actually to be fought, but constantly to be prepared for
at huge cost to the taxpayers. This cost was the visible manifestation
of the “Military Industrial Complex” President Eisenhower referred to in
his farewell address,
and many in Hollywood openly wondered just why so much more money had to
be thrown into the war machine during a time of peace, and more to the
point, just why we
were supposed to be so afraid of the communists.
Hoover’s desire to remake Hollywood into a gigantic propaganda
machine had started at the end of WW1 when Hoover tried to persuade
Charlie Chaplin to cease making films
that portrayed authority figures as oafish buffoons. Chaplin refused,
laughed at Hoover. Years later, as head of the FBI, Hoover was
instrumental in having Charlie Chaplin’s
citizenship revoked in retaliation.
Hoover’s mania with Hollywood was a seldom reported but
constant factor in show business. The 1959 film, “The FBI Story”
starring Air Force General Jimmy Stewart
was reportedly directed by Mervyn LeRoy, but in actuality J. Edgar
Hoover was personally supervising the film (and briefly appears in it,
shown only from the back)
to make certain the “correct” image of the FBI was shown.
In later years, FBI informants became permanent fixtures at
movie studios, and spied for the FBI. When Disney Studios made “That
Darned Cat”, a pre-production copy of the screenplay
“somehow” made its way to the FBI, which promptly sent Disney a memo
expressing concern at how the FBI was to be portrayed.
Likewise, when Paramount Pictures produced,”Skidoo”, starring
Jackie Gleason, it featured
a single scene in which Gleason’s character is seen fleeing a building
carrying a file cabinet on his back. That one single scene prompted the
following four page
Along with “nudging” the film studios to portray certain things
certain ways, the FBI did not hesitate to wreck the careers of those
it felt posed a dangerous threat to the government’s public image.
During the height of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program, the FBI destroyed the
of actress Jean Seberg
Jean Seberg was considered a threat to the US Government because of
her public support for civil rights at a time when the Civil Rights
movement was starting to point out
the racial bias in the draft system that placed a disproportionate
percentage of black kids on the front lines of Vietnam. Seberg was also a
supporter of the
Black Panthers in their pre-militant days when their agenda was
breakfasts for the ghetto kids, local control of school curriculum, and
ending the draft.
Jean Seberg, a well
known actress in the 60s, became pregnant and the FBI sent out
letters to the
gossip columnists identifying the baby’s father as a Black Panther, in
order to cheapen Seberg’s image. Keep in mind that the 60s was an era in
which sexual relations between blacks and whites was still considered
by most Americans.
The scans below are of the official FBI letter from Los Angeles to
Washington D.C. asking
permission for the scam.
The text of the letter:
“Bureau permission is requested to publicize the
pregnancy of Jean
Seberg, well-known movie actress by (name deleted) Black Panther
(deleted) by advising Hollywood “Gossip-Columnists” in the Los
area of the situation. It is felt that the possible publication of
Seberg’s plight could cause her embarrassment and serve to cheapen
image with the general public.
” ‘It is proposed that the following letter from a
be sent to local columnists:
“I was just thinking about you and remembered I still
owe you a favor.
So —- I was in Paris last week and ran into Jean Seberg, who was
heavy with baby. I thought she and Romaine [sic] had gotten together
again, but she confided the child belonged to (deleted) of the Black
Panthers, one (deleted). The dear girl is getting around!
” ‘Anyway, I thought you might get a scoop on the
others. Be good and
I’ll see you soon.
“Usual precautions would be taken by the Los Angeles
preclude identification of the Bureau as the source of the letter if
approval is granted.”
Permission to use the fake letter was granted, but with the
suggestion that the smear be delayed
until Jean Seberg’s pregnancy was in a very obvious condition.
The story was then run by Los Angeles Times propagandist Joyce
The story was picked
up by Newsweek and the international press. The shock of the story was
severe that Jean Seberg suffered a miscarriage. The funeral for the
was held with an open casket, so that the lie stood revealed in its most
tragic form. Jean Seberg, her baby dead and her career shattered by this
outright lie, attempted suicide several times, finally succeeding in a
(The name which was redacted from the memo during the FOIA process
is thought by many to have been Raymond Hewit, a Black Panther leader.
His “outright lie” was far more direct. The FBI typed up a letter on
FBI stationary identifying Hewit as an informant and planted it where
other Black Panthers would find it in the hopes that Hewit would then be
Following Seberg’s death, the Los Angeles Times, the key
instrument of her
torment, issued a statement by the FBI.
“The days when the FBI used derogatory information to combat
of unpopular causes have long since passed. We are out of that
The Senate committee that looked into COINTELPRO disagreed,
“Cointelpro activities may continue today under the
Finally, no single celebrity filled the government with more fear
ex-Beatle John Lennon. Lennon’s popularity, and hence his ability to
opinion, coupled with his strong anti-war stance, made him a real threat
in the event
the United States decided it had to go to war. For this reason, Lennon
was one of the most
watched celebrities, and according to Lennon’s youngest son, the victim
of a government
Having documented the FBI’s willingness to destroy anyone they
feel represents a threat to the government, let us return to the days of
the House Select Committee on UnAmerican Activities.
While Senator Joseph McCarthy grabbed headlines with his shouts of
“Communist”, Hoover set about his self-appointed task of purging
Hollywood of any he viewed as “disloyal”
to the United States, which meant anyone unwilling to make the movies
they were told to make, when and how they were told to make them.
Senator McCarthy’s screed of
“Communist” provided Hoover with a bludgeon he could and did use with
impunity on Hollywood’s creative talents. Careers were ruined. Some 400
innocent of any actual wrongdoing, were destroyed. Some, like Jean
Seberg would later do, committed suicide. Ten men (the famous Hollywood
Ten), Alvah Bessie,
Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Ring Lardner jr., John Howard Lawson,
Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, Dalton Trumbo, and eminent
director Edward Dmytryk were jailed for contempt of Congress.
Others punished for refusing to cooperate included Larry Adler,
Stella Adler, Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Joseph Bromberg,
Charlie Chaplin, Aaron Copland, Hanns Eisler, Carl Foreman, John
Garfield, Howard Da Silva, Dashiell Hammett, E. Y. Harburg, Lillian
Hellman, Burl Ives, Arthur Miller, Dorothy Parker, Philip Loeb, Joseph
Losey, Anne Revere, Pete Seeger, Gale Sondergaard, Louis Untermeyer,
Josh White, Clifford Odets, Michael Wilson, Paul Jarrico, Jeff Corey,
John Randolph, Canada Lee, Orson Welles, Paul Green, Sidney Kingsley,
Paul Robeson, Richard Wright and Abraham Polonsky. Lee Grant was
registered on the black list because she refused to give evidence
against her husband Arnold Manoff.
Stars such as Larry Parks were destroyed because they refused to
“name names” of other actors who were party members. Actor Philip Loeb
committed suicide. Edward G. Robinson, never a communist, was put on
a “grey list,” and spent the rest of his life making B movies
(except for his final role opposite Charlton Heston in “Soylent
Green”). Sam Jaffe, formerly a well-known actor and Oscar winner in 1950
was registered on the black list
because he refused to cooperate with the committee. He spent the
next 6 years working as a math teacher and living at his sister’s until
he was able to return to films in 1957.
Of course, what was really involved was money. War is good for
business. Business had been great during WW2 and the newly created “Cold
War” was just a way to keep business good.
The Military Industrial Complex NEEDED Hollywood to demonize the
Soviets. Otherwise, too many people were going to ask why we were being
told to be so afraid of them,
and few in the government had a really convincing answer for that
question. So, in order to perpetuate the Cold War, those in Hollywood
who might sympathize with the designated
villains had to be removed; their ruined lives a small price to pay for
unending access to the taxpayers’ wallets.
But that was then and this is now.
Once again vast sums of money are being spent on a war, this time a
hot one and getting hotter. Once again parties with a vested interest
are out to smear and destroy
anyone who dares ask if the wars are worth the sacrifice of our young
people (not to mention the money), indeed if there really is any point
at all to the wars aside from
justifying the flow of money to defense contractors.
But the Soviet Union has gone out of business. The word
“communist” doesn’t carry the same psychological impact it used to, so
the war hawk smear squad has come up
with a new one, “Anti-Semite.” Like “Communist”, “Anti-Semite” is used
to ruin the lives of people who have not actually done anything wrong
other than to challenge the
war profiteers. It is a new word for an old trick, and I am amazed that
they are still playing the same old game, but I guess the FBI can always
find some dumb-assed idiot to fall for it and do their dirty work of
a career for them.
Of course, it really isn’t that new a word. Oddly enough,
Charles Lindbergh the famous aviator commented in a speech
in Des Moines in 1941…
Our theaters soon became filled with plays
portraying the glory of war. Newsreels lost all semblance of
objectivity. Newspapers and magazines began to lose advertising if they
carried anti-war articles. A smear campaign was instituted against
individuals who opposed intervention. The terms “fifth columnist,”
“traitor,” “Nazi,” “anti-Semitic” were thrown
ceaselessly at any one who dared to suggest that it was not to the best
interests of the United States to enter the war. Men lost their jobs if
they were frankly anti-war. Many others dared no longer speak.
Today we are seeing once again the heavy hand of the war profiteers
trying to reshape the film industry into a tool to propagandize the
public into a high war-fever such that they will
gladly trade their own blood for gold to line the pockets of the defense
establishment. And those individuals who have the courage to speak out
and once again they are smeared to silence them. In the 1940s it was
“Communist”, today it is “Anti-Semite”, but aside from the particular
label used, the
methods, goals, and morality are little changed from the days of Joseph
If there is a difference today it is that the American people
are better educated. No longer dependent on the state schools, or
the public understands the tactics used to silence those who speak out.
As a result, those who speak out are more and more not only accorded the
sympathetic ear that their message deserves, but the effects of the
smearing are far less ruinous than in times past.
Thus, when we see people like Willie Nelson, Sean Penn, and
Marion Cotillard speak out and survive, or when people like Tom Shadyac
(or myself) voluntarily walk away from Hollywood
because speaking the truth matters more to them, it sends a message that
it is now permissible, indeed imperative to speak out.
This is not to say that there are not risks. Rosie O’Donnell lost her
spot on “The View”, but the majority of Americans understand exactly
and understand that Rosie sacrificed a great deal trying to get the
truth out. Rosie is and will be remembered as a hero for truth long
after her co-hosts on “The View” are properly forgotten.
In contrast, of course, we look back at those who aided the
“Commie” witch-hunts of the 1940s with deserved contempt. No doubt many
Hoover purely to rid themselves of competition, and then tried to lull
themselves to sleep with the idea that in some way they had actually
done something good for the nation by wrecking their neighbors’ careers.
I have no doubt strong liquor played a role in this grossest of
But if the informants and smear artists of the 1940s are remembered in a
poor light, that should serve as a reminder to the informants and smear
artists of today.
It does not matter what you do with the rest of your life, aiding the
new version of McCarthyism is how history will remember you. While
people like Charlie Sheen, Willie Nelson,
Sean Penn, and Marion Cotillard (and to step out of entertainment,
former President Jimmy Carter)
will be remembered and honored for their courage, history will lump the
smear artists together with
Stalin’s “Useful idiots”, little more than no-talent opportunists for
whom ratting out someone was the fastest path to advancement.
They say that history repeats itself, and indeed that is the
major thing wrong with history. We are seeing history repeat itself
We have been down this path before, in the 1940s. Whether the word is
“Communist” or “Anti-Semite”, Hollywood is making the same mistake all
over again. And Hollywood will have to live with that image in the
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