Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday morning tunes: When will we ever learn?

On this date in 1950, at the height of the Red Scare, several musicians saw their careers ended or derailed after they were claimed to be suspected communist sympathizers.
But Hollywood actors, directors and screenwriters were not the only victims of the Cold War anti-Communist purges in the entertainment industry. Prominent figures in the music industry were also targeted, including Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Lena Horne, Pete Seeger and Artie Shaw, all of whom were named publicly as suspected Communist sympathizers on this day in 1950, in the infamous publication Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television. [...]

The evidence of Communist leanings offered in Red Channels included Lena Horne’s appearance on the letterhead of a South African famine relief program, Aaron Copland’s appearance on a panel at a 1949 Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace and Leonard Bernstein’s affiliation with the Committee to Re-Elect Benjamin J. Davis, a black, socialist New York City councilman.

In the end, Red Channels caused some of those named to be blacklisted—Pete Seeger, most famously—to fight publicly to prove their "loyalty" to the United States and still others to repudiate their political pasts and provide the HUAC [House Unamerican Activities Committee] with names of other suspected prominent leftists.

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A little reminder of what the national security state, with the help of right-wing media, is capable of.

And, by the way, Pete Seeger turned 94 last month, still performs, and hasn't signed any corporate sponsorship or endorsement deals, nor has he joined the board of directors of any multinational corporations.

And he never named names.

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