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Anti gay blacklist

A movement is afoot to boycott (or “blacklist”) people working in the arts who donated to the Yes on 8 campaign.

Bud Schulberg – the writer of What Made Sammy Run? and On the Waterfront – once taught a writing class I attended. Schulberg, you may or may not know, was one of the few writers who actually testified to HUAC and gave up the names of other writers who had once belonged to the Communist party. The fifteen writers he named were put on the Hollywood blacklist. Schulberg later went on to work with Elia Kazan (another artist who named names) on On the Waterfront.

While Schulberg and Kazan went on to continue their careers, due to the blacklist and their naming names, many other writers, actors, and artists were prevented from working for fifteen years or more. However, both Schulberg and Kazan were in a bind: if they didn’t name names, their own careers would be over. And they were talented artists committed to creating stories that featured the plight of the working man. Yet they found themselves highly criticized for not having the backbone to stand up to HUAC.

After McCarthy’s downfall, HUAC itself was pronounced “unamerican” by Truman and was eventually made a mockery of in the sixties hearings of the Yippies and other sixties figures.

After the blacklist later ended, the tables turned: Kazan and Schulberg and others who had talked found themselves ostracized from Hollywood. When Kazan was awarded the lifetime achievement award in 1999, even then it still provoked much controversy.

A boycott of an organization is one thing. Organizations are political entities entirely persuadable by political pressure. Targeting individuals, however, is another matter. And I mention all this to say that I find the idea of a blacklist of individuals – for whatever reason – immensely distasteful. Persuade, cajole, bargain, complain, voice anger, write letters, “out,” call names, embarrass these people, yes, by all means. But I would caution anyone who wants to use a tool as drastic as a blacklist that attempts to damage a person’s career. Not only does it silence the response you need in order to create dialogue, and ultimately, another potential advocate. It also, as with all such political witch-hunting, tends to precipitate unfortunate results for everyone involved.

November 13, 2008 - Posted by | News | , , , ,

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