Lee J. Cobb – Blacklists In American

Lee J. Cobb
Hollywood is a business and has been a business for a long time. Whether, studio system, independents or corporate, it has always been a business. During the red scare of the 1950’s, actors and writers were thrown out of work for having “communist” sympathies which generally meant having the wrong ideas at the wrong time. For instance, being opposed the fascists in Spain is okay if you were opposed later than the Spanish Civil War but opposition to the Spanish fascists is suspect if you were opposed during the civil war.

Are we entering a time when having the wrong beliefs, pro religious freedom (letting the followers of Islam build mosques in the United States), expressing opposition to government surveillance (being in league with the terrorists), or believing in progressive values (liberal fascists), can get you fired?

To save your job would you name the names of others who shared your “subversive” beliefs?

Read Lee J. Cobb’s account –

From Wikipedia

Later, Cobb explained why he “named names” saying:

When the facilities of the government of the United States are drawn on an individual it can be terrifying. The blacklist is just the opening gambit—being deprived of work. Your passport is confiscated. That’s minor. But not being able to move without being tailed is something else. After a certain point it grows to implied as well as articulated threats, and people succumb. My wife did, and she was institutionalized. The HUAC did a deal with me. I was pretty much worn down. I had no money. I couldn’t borrow. I had the expenses of taking care of the children. Why am I subjecting my loved ones to this? If it’s worth dying for, and I am just as idealistic as the next fellow. But I decided it wasn’t worth dying for, and if this gesture was the way of getting out of the penitentiary I’d do it. I had to be employable again.

— Interview with Victor Navasky for the 1982 book Naming Names

What’s worth dying for? What will it take before you sell out your friends for actions you don’t consider crimes?

James Pilant

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