Given that Ray Bradbury's novella The Fireman (which would eventually become Fahrenheit 451) was written in response to the McCarthy HUAC hearings, it might not be a surprise to learn that the FBI kept a file on him. The contents of that file have been released under the FOIA, and shows that the FBI apparently held a dim view of science fiction, since it could "frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would seriously believe could not be won..." [emphasis mine]. (via).
"Untold History of the United States challenges the basic narrative of the U.S. history that most Americans have been taught.... [Such history] is consoling; it is comforting. But it only tells a small part of the story." Instead of clips of modern people pondering the past, Oliver Stone's ten-part series relies heavily on archival footage and clips from old Hollywood films, with narration by Stone. Towards the end, he gets into the assassination of JFK, "but that should not detract from a series that sets out to be a counterweight to the patriotic cheerleading and myth-making." [more inside]
The Homosexual Atom Bomb
Such absurd equations show how homosexuality became a floating signifier, associated with whatever political tendency one most disliked. Rather than representing a certain group of people, it represented everything that was wrong—whatever that meant. America’s Red Scare bled into its Lavender Scare; the Soviets associated homosexuality with capitalism and fascism. But empty as it was, the political use of the trope of homosexuality had a devastating effect on real people from both countries."Homosexuality Is Stalin's Atom Bomb to Destroy America" is on display at the Winkleman Gallery in NYC. [more inside]
Hearings on the "extent of radicalization" of US Muslims initiated by Rep. Peter King are underway in Washington. [more inside]
In 1955, at least twelve men in Boise, Idaho were arrested for "infamous crimes against nature.". In the resulting dragnet, the vice president of the Idaho First National Bank was sentenced to seven years in prison, while national magazines fomented a McCarthyite Lavender Scare with headlines such as Male Pervert Ring Seduces 1,000 Boys. This dark chapter in Idaho gay history was documented in both John Gerassi's 1966 book, The Boys of Boise and the recent film, The Fall of '55, by documentarian Seth Randal, but neither Gerassi nor Randal could identify The Queen, a closeted but politically connected homosexual who allegedly used his massive clout to stop the witch hunt.
Silence in class. "University professors denounced for anti-Americanism; schoolteachers suspended for their politics; students encouraged to report on their tutors. Are US campuses in the grip of a witch-hunt of progressives, or is academic life just too liberal?" From today's Guardian.
Miguel Tinker Salas is the Arango Professor in Latin American History at Pomona College, a political historian and sometime commentator on U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. On Tuesday, an FBI/LA County Sherrifs Office Joint Terrorism Task Force came calling during Tinker Salas's office hours. "After identifying themselves, they proceeded to ask about my relation to Venezuela, the government, the community, my scholarship, my politics...After they departed, the three or four students who were outside my office informed me that these individuals had asked them about my background, my classes, what I taught, my politics and they even wrote down the cartoons that are on my door."
The Pond is the history of a secret, independent US intelligence-gathering group which preceded (and outlasted) the OSS. Shuffled from Cabinet to Cabinet to the CIA, it eventually ran aground against the infighting of McCarthy's Red Scare hearings and was no more by 1955.
McCarthyism Watch: "The fact that they asked for anything but flag stamps did raise a question for the clerk." At which point do the anecdotes about irrational patriotism and paranoia add up to a genuine cultural shift? I mean, stamps?
Herblock coined "McCarthyism." Longtime Washington Post cartoonist Herbert Block dies at 91. Wielding independence through his sketches, the artist who gave President Richard Nixon five o'clock shadow won three Pulitzer prizes and the admiration of loyal readers. Don't miss "Five Decades of Herblock" cartoons and essays.