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Reagan, the Reds, and Media Indifference to the Threat Today
By Cliff Kincaid
The new book, Ronald Reagan: 100 Years, is the official centennial publication from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library. It is being advertised as a collectible memento for the centennial celebrations and events that highlight the birthday and legacy of Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, it gives short shrift to the roots of his anti-communism and the reality of the communist threat that he actively combated.
“One of the most delicate issues facing Hollywood during the late 1940s was the fear of Communist infiltration in the motion picture industry. Like his father, Ronald Reagan believed deeply in freedom and the rights of individuals, so was a fierce anti-Communist,” it says.
It goes on, “He viewed the Communist threat as real and testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in Washington in 1947. At the same time, he was genuinely concerned that the motion picture business was being swept up in a hysteria that viewed it as being sympathetic to Communists. He wanted to make certain that reputations were not ruined by rumor or innuendo. He believed that one of his most important responsibilities as president of the SAG [Screen Actors Guild] was to protect its members from unwarranted accusations.”
While he did have that concern, such a description doesn’t go into necessary detail about Reagan’s anti-communism and the nature of the communist threat in Hollywood. There is much more to it than a “fear” of “hysteria” dragging innocent victims before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA). And Reagan was more than just “genuinely concerned” about the problem. He fought the communists in the SAG and exposed their activities before the committee. He regarded the committee as worthwhile and with having proper and valid jurisdiction.
Reagan’s example is important as Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, prepares to hold the first in a series of hearings “examining al Qaeda’s coordinated radicalization and recruitment of people within the American Muslim community.” The threat is very real, although a coalition of left-wing and Muslim groups are objecting to the very idea of such hearings. These include the Open Society Institute of George Soros and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, regarded as an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“As a citizen,” Reagan said, speaking of the Communist Party USA, “I would hesitate to see any political party outlawed on the basis of its political ideology. However, if it is proven that an organization is an agent of foreign power, or in any way not a legitimate political party -- and I think the government is capable of proving that -- then that is another matter.”
We now know the CPUSA was Soviet-directed and funded.
Tragically, congressional liberals abolished the House Internal Security Committee, the successor of the HCUA. And today, as we saw with the “One Nation Working Together” rally in Washington, D.C., the CPUSA is accepted as a member in good standing of the “progressive” coalition.
Professor and author Paul Kengor dealt with the subject of Reagan’s anti-communism in two previous books on Reagan, God and Ronald Reagan and The Crusader, and especially in his most recent book Dupes.
He tells me, “In fact, Reagan had a very real fear, a legitimate fear, of communist infiltration in Hollywood. Reagan learned that not out of hysteria but out of up-close, in-your-face experience -- which was often violent -- and because Reagan himself had been a liberal Democrat who was ‘naïve’ (his word) about the communist threat. Reagan plainly admitted that in the period of 1945-46, when he had been a liberal Democrat, he had been badly duped by Hollywood’s communists. These people masqueraded as ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives,’ always concealing their true ideology (communism) and their true loyalty (Stalin’s Soviet Union).”
By “these people,” Kengor says, “I mean, among many others, the likes of hardcore communist screenwriters John Howard Lawson and Dalton Trumbo, who confronted Reagan directly, in their usual vicious, belligerent manner -- fingers in the face, screams of ‘fascist’ and ‘capitalist scum.’ As I’ve laid out at length, they manipulated other Hollywood liberals like Gene Kelly and Katharine Hepburn, with Reagan to follow.”
But Kengor says that Reagan soon learned that these “liberals” and “progressives” weren’t that at all. At first, Reagan had not been “sharp about communism,” and “by reason of deception” considered the closet Marxists to be good liberals like himself. “Reagan learned that the Reds were not under the bed, but in the bed,” he says. “This was not a judgment based on paranoia or hysteria but on hard, cold, painful facts learned from firsthand experience.”
In his first memoir, Where’s the Rest of Me? Reagan wrote, “The communist plan for Hollywood was remarkably simple. It was merely to take over the motion picture business … [as] a grand world-wide propaganda base.” Reagan said the communist plan for the takeover of Hollywood “would have been a magnificent coup for our enemies.” In Reagan’s view, Kengor adds, that was what was at stake, with the “master scheme” including a careful strategy “to line up big-name dupes to collect money and create prestige.”
It was the dream of Lenin, who himself had said, “Of all the arts, for us the most important is cinema.” Grigori Zinoviev, Lenin’s head of the Comintern, had declared that motion pictures “can and must become a mighty weapon of communist propaganda and for the enlightening of the widest working masses.”
“The Communist Party USA followed those orders and got to work with earnest in Hollywood in the 1930s,” Kengor explains.
He concludes, “Anyone who still to this day pooh-poohs that very real scheme is still a liberal dupe. Liberals want to fictionalize what actually happened with communism and Hollywood. The truth is that the penetration was very real, very nasty, very under-handed, very much pro-Stalin, and very much worthy of our attention and getting it right.”
Will we get it right on the matter of how groups like the Muslim Brotherhood are infiltrating the Muslim community in the U.S.? And what about Al-Jazeera, the Muslim Brotherhood channel, extending its subversive reach into American homes through U.S. and cable satellite providers?
Incredibly, Al-Jazeera has been taking out ads in such papers as the New York Times and the Washington Post asking for more media access in the U.S. and highlighting praise for the pro-terrorist channel from such figures as Sam Donaldson of ABC News and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.
While he welcomes Rep. Peter King’s probes of radical Islam, Rep. Steve King of Iowa recently told investigative journalist Jim Simpson that establishing a new House committee concerned with internal security and Marxist threats to America might be necessary. “I think that is a good process and I would support it,” he said.
The “progressives” who collaborate with the CPUSA and other foreign-affiliated organizations have greeted this call with alarm.
But judging by his own appearance before the HCUA and strong record of anti-communism, Ronald Reagan would support such a congressional committee. This is something to consider as we celebrate his birthday and legacy and consider the many threats to America.