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Return To the Silent Film

In the early and mid 1950’s the era of McCarthyism elicited both fear and anger from many in Hollywood. There were those who testified on behalf of the Senator, ‘telling on‘ fellow Hollywood actors, and there were those who were outspoken against the witch hunts. Humphry Bogart led a delegation of film industry individuals to Washington and spoke out in opposition to the House Unamerican Activities Committee’s Hearings.

In 2001 when the National Security Agency began doing wiretapping sweeps of telephone calls from Pakistan to the United States, there was again an expression of disapproval, notably from members of Hollywood and Chat-Shows.  Presidential candidate Barak Obama voiced his dissent against FISA, that is, of course, before he agreed with the FISA laws during his campaign for the presidency.  Obama vacillated on this issue, during the campaign, as he did on other issues such as the use of habeas corpus for prisoners  in Afghanistan, the Cuba embargo, and illegal immigration.
Interestingly, when the White House began its recent initiative to persuade people to report names of individuals who were providing information in opposition to the Obama Health Care Policy, there was silence from an habitually vocal group.

There was no opposition voiced by Hollywood. Actors were quiet. I suppose, from Hollywood’s standpoint, then, it must be okay to trample over freedoms, to perform outrageous tell-on-your neighbor’ tactics as long as the individual in power is someone you like.
I took a second look at the controversial April 2009 Homeland Security document produced by Janet Napolitano, director of the Homeland Security Department. I was showing it to a friend, expressing my outrage, but in all my outrage, there was something that I hadn’t noticed the first time around:

    “Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.  It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

In the document listed under the most likely candidates for terrorism, is the category, “rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority’ .  If this refers to the process wherein conservative lawmakers and spokespeople strive to keep the authority now possessed by the states in the hands of the state, and not yield it to the Federal Government, then… well, she may as well have written, ‘most Republicans’.  Back to Thomas Jefferson,  Jefferson himself was extremely averse to power being given to the Federal Government;  he argued vehemently against this, and fought with Hamilton over the very topic. I suppose the author of our Declaration of Independence, if he were alive today, would be considered a likely terrorist.

As far as angry-voices at Town Hall Meetings, the tradition of angry and vocal dissent goes back to the First Continental Congress. Many topics were discussed, in loud voices, including the topic of slavery. Loud vocal dissent is far from un-American.
What is un-American is… silence. But I guess you can take that to Hollywood.
Obama’s ‘power-grab’ to move the Census Bureau into the White House and thus gain total control over the future political topology as is dictated and affected by the presence or absence of various population demographics, such as those represented by minorities and other representative groups, was commented upon even by Democratic Senators, but no outrage from Hollywood.

There has never been a point in History when a Socialist movement did not end up in an extremely oppressive form of government with power in the hands of a few, and a growing silence on the faces of the many. First comes the silence of approval, then the silence of ennui, and, finally, the silence of survival. This was true whether one is considering the Socialistic Revolution in 1917 in Russia, the National Socialist movement in Germany in the 1930’s, the Socialist Revolution in China, the Socialist Movements that swept Central and South America in the 1960’s, or even the Socialist Movement in Canada that has resulted in a constricting of the air-waves, and a parsimonious regulation of Health-Care that has people lined up as though it were a slot-machine that was bound to ‘finally pay off’.

Back in 1914, when the seeds of the Russian revolution were being sewn, many of the Intellectuals who helped further the cause of what became the 1917 Russian Communist Revolution were themselves later sequestered, disenfranchised, exiled, or brought under control. Many of them became part of the captive brain-trust of the Russian Bureaucracy It’s not a given, that just because you support a regime with ‘your words and then your silence’ that you will be rewarded. Usually, the opposite is true. I wait to hear some criticism from the liberally minded West-Coast against the banking, auto-industry, census bureau power ‘consolidations’ of the current power core, the pieces of legislation on the table asserting to use the rationale of interstate activity as a reason to overturn, usurp and foist authority over the 50 states on a variety of health related issues, and of course, the attempted National Health Care power-grabs of the current administration, but all’s quiet out west.

-Juan Zapatero


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