un american committee

Why does Trump hate Rosie O’Donnell? She had the audacity to call him a snake oil salesman ten years ago. He’s dedicated the last decade to publicly calling her a fat pig. He’s (admittedly) sexually assaulted women; then essentially said they were too ugly to rape and threatened to sue them for defamation. Think about that. This vindictive spoiled man-child will have the full power of the Justice Department and the surveillance state. Sycophants love power and Trump has it. Disgraced former Speaker Newt Gingrich, current Trump proctologist, has already floated a new House Un-American Activities committee. Decency?

but actually the most dedicatedly anti-capitalist revolutionary piece of musical theatre is, of course, Guys and Dolls, because its Pulitzer Prize was never awarded due to Abe Burrows being under investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee

Yalta Conference- USSR declares war on Japan after Germany’s surrender. USSR promised lost territory.

Potsdam Conference- Vague decisions on what happens to the lost/conquered territory after the war. Truman attends.

Satellite Countries Created- Countries in Eastern Europe that were heavily influenced by the USSR and Communism.

Iron Curtain- Figurative line between the Western non-Communist European countries and the Eastern Communist European countries

Containment Policy- US foreign policy with the steady goal of containing Communism (ideally, not defeating it, but preventing it from spreading).

Truman Doctrine- Political support for non-Communist countries in the Middle East and Eurasia (this includes supporting dictatorships).

Marshall Plan- Economic aid to European countries after WWII

NATO vs Warsaw Pact- NATO: band of Western nations (this was NOT the United Nations). Warsaw Pact: Band of USSR and its allies

HUAC- House (Of) Un-american Activities Committee.

McCarthyism- Senator Joseph McCarthy’s claim that he had a list of over 200 Communist working in the US government (or army).

Domino Theory- The theory that declared that if one European country “falls” to Communism, the others will commence to “fall” also.

Brown v Board of Education- A court ruling that declared Plessy v Ferguson  as unconstitutional.

Montgomery Bus Boycott- A 13-month mass protest that was sparked by Rosa Parks and ended in the Supreme Court ruling that bus segregation was illegal.

Baby Boom- Period from 1945-1960 that experienced increased births and a lowered death rate. This encouraged a period of “have 2.5 perfect kids and move to the suburbs” type of conformity.

The Feminine Mystique- A book by Betty Friedan that sparked the second-wave feminism movement.

The Beat Generation- a rebellious movement composed of poets Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac. Their works were primarily anti-materialism, anti-war. and anti-capitalism. 

On 18 August 1955 Pete Seeger testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

Seeger refused to take the Fifth Amendment, but also refused to acknowledge the right of the Committee to ask him questions about his political affiliations, or the names of other people.

“I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it,” Seeger said.

“I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis [D-LA], or yours, Mr. Scherer [R-OH], that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.

CHAIRMAN FRANCIS E. WALTER [D-PA]: Why don’t you make a little contribution toward preserving its institutions?

MR. SEEGER: I feel that my whole life is a contribution. That is why I would like to tell you about it.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I don’t want to hear about it.

The committee then tried to question Seeger about where he performed, and if he ever performed, citing Elia Kazan’s testimony regarding the Communist Party’s wish to have American entertainers perform for them. Seeger replied, “I feel these questions are improper, sir, and I feel they are immoral to ask any American this kind of question… .  I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life. I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody. That is the only answer I can give along that line.

Pete Seeger found guilty of contempt of Congress (and faced 10 years in prison) but successfully appealed his case, which was overturned in 1962. Seeger was also blacklisted – his songs not played on the radio and he could not appear on TV – for 17 years.


January 9th 1913: Richard Nixon born

On this day in 1913, the future 37th President of the United States Richard Milhous Nixon was born. Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California and later represented his state in the House of Representatives and the Senate as a member of the Republican Party. He made a name for himself in Congress for his role in the anti-communist House Un-American Activities Committee, especially in the infamous Alger Hiss case, and this led to his becoming Vice-President from 1953 to 1961 under President Eisenhower. After a closely fought campaign, he lost the 1960 election to Democrat John F. Kennedy, but later won the presidency in 1968. As President, Nixon initially increased US involvement in the ongoing Vietnam war and extended the military operations into neighboring Cambodia, but he eventually ended American involvement in the war in 1973. Nixon also made history by visiting the communist nations of China and the Soviet Union, thus easing tensions between the Cold War camps. In domestic affairs Nixon is notable for his support of affirmative action policies for African-Americans and his establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. However, Nixon’s previous record in office has been overshadowed by the fact that in 1974 he became the first and only US President to resign from office. This occurred after revelations about the Watergate scandal, which refers to the illegal activities carried out his administration, including the wiretapping of political rivals, and a subsequent cover-up. He was formally pardoned by his successor Gerald Ford, and tried to rehabilitate his image until he died from a stroke in 1994 aged 81.

House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)

Marilyn came under investigation by this House of Representatives body after then fiance Arthur Miller was subpoenaed to appear in Washington in 1956. Originally founded to monitor foreign agents during the war years, HUAC later became known for its dogged pursuit of reputed Communists, culminating in black listing and jail sentences for many well-known Hollywood actors and writers for their “dangerous political beliefs.” Miller ultimately believed that HUAC was interested in him more for publicity than anything else.

Miller was called before the committee in June 1956. It quickly became apparent that, despite the best efforts of the FBI, there was no proof that Miller had been a member of the Communist Party. Miller admitted to the committee that he had attended Communist Party writers’ meetings, but denied ever having been “under Communist discipline.”

In his autobiography, Timebends, Miller clarifies: “The simple truth was that I myself could barely recall a great many of the organizations or causes to which I had given my support….I had indeed at ties believed and with passionate moral certainty that in Marxism was the hope of mankind and of the survival of reason itself, only to come up against nagging demonstrations of human perversity, not least my own.”

Miller refused to name names: “I’ll tell you anything about myself, but my conscience will not permit me to use the name of another person.” Even though it meant a trial for contempt, Marilyn greatly admired his principled stand that writers should be able to write what they wanted, and his refusal to implicate others in order to save his own skin.

The most widely reported incident during the courtroom hearing, however, had nothing to do with Communists. In support of his request to have his passport returned so he could go to England, Miller stated that his reasons were to attend a production of one of his plays, and that he wanted “to be with the woman who will then be my wife.” Under further questioning, he announced: “I will marry Marilyn Monroe before July 13….When she goes to London he will go as Mrs. Miller.” Some people, including Marilyn’s publicist Rupert Allen, have said that this was the first Marilyn knew of these firm wedding plans. 

Marilyn too had been put under pressure to make Arthur capitulate. Fox heavyweight Spyros Skouras visited Marilyn in New York to convince her to use her influence over Miller and end what he considered bad publicity for his star. Marilyn stood firm: “I said, ‘I’m proud of my husband’s position and I stand behind him all the way.’”

In May 1957 Miller appeared on trial for contempt for refusing to answer questions put forth by HUAC. He was found guilty and sentenced to a $500 fine a well as one month in jail, but then immediately launched an appeal. Marilyn dutifully went with him to Washington to lend her support, staying with Joseph Rauh and his wife Olie. To help her husband’s case, she even held a press briefing. In the summer of 1958, on the ground that Miller had not been adequately informed of the reasons why he was answering questions, the guilty verdict was overturned and Miller’s name was cleared. 

- The Marilyn Encyclopedia by Adam Victor.