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Counterpunch

Jarrico's Last Words on Blacklisting

November 03, 1997|PAUL JARRICO

Editor's note: Writer Paul Jarrico, 82, who was nominated for an Oscar for "Tom, Dick and Harry" (1941), was killed Tuesday south of Oxnard driving home to Ojai from the second of two events in Los Angeles this week honoring blacklisted writers. Jarrico, who was himself blacklisted, was point man on a committee working to restore credits denied to writers who were blacklisted as a result of the 1947 House Un-American Activities Committee hearings led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

These were Jarrico's remarks made at the event Monday staged by Hollywood's four major guilds--the Writers Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild of America and AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists:

The guilds have come a long way since they failed to protect the Hollywood 10 and the Hollywood hundreds. What [the guilds'] presidents have affirmed tonight is the guiding principle of unionism: that an injury to one is an injury to all.

In Budd Schulberg's novel, "What Makes Sammy Run?," Sammy has lied and cheated and knifed his way up the ladder to become head of a major studio. As he surveys his domain from the window of his penthouse, glowing with satisfaction, the writer who is telling the story asks him how he feels. Sammy considers this. "Patriotic," he says.

As we heard Parnell Thomas say to Ring Lardner Jr., "Any real American would be proud to answer that question."

Any real American? And of course the next question: "Who else?"

Patriotism defined as your willingness to betray others: Do it to show that you love your country; refuse to do it and you're in contempt of Congress, a Congress beneath contempt.

Patriotism--a contradictory word, for the history of our country is contradictory. I think of it as a double-helix: two strands of history intertwined. One strand is brutal slavery, the genocide visited upon Native Americans, the ugly waves of know-nothing bigotry that have greeted every wave of immigration, women subordinated, labor strikes broken by force of arms, lynchings, periodic repression of dissent.

The other strand is noble history: the abolitionists, the suffragettes, the ongoing fight to end racism, to end sexism, to end the obscene chasm between poverty and wealth.

Our brutal history defines patriotism as: "My country right or wrong." Our noble history defines it as: "My country: right the wrong."

Right the wrong. It may take another 50 years, but we shall overcome. The good guys will win.

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