The Mrs. and I saw the movie “Trumbo” last night and it is very good. It’s about the “Hollywood Ten” a group of blacklisted scriptwriters, and in particular Dalton Trumbo the unofficial leader of the group, during the Communist scare of the 1950s. We see the support they received (very little), the betrayals they suffered (very painful) and, finally, the victory they won (very satisfying).
This movie is a reflection on what happens when we let fear rule us and decide to go against the basic rights set down in our constitution. These men were blacklisted because they belonged to the Communist Party.
As the movie begins we read that the Communist Party developed during the depression years and that as the Soviet Union became our ally against Hitler, membership increased rapidly. The US government did not allow criticism of “Uncle Joe” Stalin during World War II. There was nothing wrong with being a member of the Communist Party at that time.
But with the cold war Communism became something scary and being a communist was unacceptable; unacceptable to the point that the 1st amendment right of free speech was side-lined concerning communists.
These ten scriptwriters were never accused of spying or being involved in actions against the government of the Unites States. They simply belonged to a political party that had existed since 1919 and one day certain people decided their 1st amendment rights no longer counted.
This story is something we are reliving today. People against guns want to do away with the 2nd amendment. But once you undercut one amendment what’s to stop you from undercutting others.
People with certain sexual orientations are using the scare tactic of ‘intolerance’ to browbeat those who disagree with them, trampling on their 1st amendment rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. They make full use of their 1st amendment right of freedom of speech but want to deny the same right to others, just as the right of freedom of speech was denied to the Hollywood Ten in Trumbo.
This movie is a reminder of the damage done when the rights ensured by our Bill of Rights are ignored. What was done to the Japanese-Americans during World War II was disgusting. German-Americans were not rounded up and put in detention camps. But because Japanese-Americans were “different”, their 1st amendment rights didn’t matter.
Can we learn from the past or are we doomed to endlessly repeat it?