One letter under Feb. 15's heading "Kazan Still at Eye of Storm" hit the mark in describing why I am so uncomfortable when issues related to the blacklist resurface. Like Sally Norton, the author of the letter, I am appalled at the ignorance of people that pours out to the press. The same virulent anti-communism that fueled the fires of the witch hunt smolders just below the surface.
It is as though every time the Holocaust were mentioned, we would have to listen to letters from former Nazis and fascist sympathizers mislabeling it a hoax. Lives were destroyed, and people still fail to see the forces involved in their destruction.
For years people whose politics would have put them on the side of those supporting or allowing the blacklist have fought to have Elia Kazan recognized for his lifetime achievement and be, in effect, "forgiven" for naming names before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Their support of Kazan has not been because of his special talent; rather it is because he is the only talent they could gather behind to win absolution for their cause. They would blur history to the point that all can be seen as victims and none can be seen as perpetrators.
After weeks of letters and editorial columns celebrating and denigrating Elia Kazan, I would like to state one fact: He never ran a studio. The men who presided as chairmen and heads of production over Columbia, Warner Bros., MGM, Universal, etc., were the ones who buckled under Sen. McCarthy's pressure.
Kazan could have "named names" from Washington, D.C., to eternity and he still wouldn't have been in a position to curb or silence anyone's career; he never possessed that authority. It was the Hollywood moguls who cowered in the face of McCarthy's "witch hunt." Kazan merely made his feelings and opinions known in an exercise of free speech, an exercise protected under the 1st Amendment.
In light of these facts, shouldn't the artists who were blacklisted be a little more upset with the men who actually adhered to the blacklisting than with a man who merely stood up for what he believed in?