HUAC and the Red Scare

Topics: Cold War, Communism, Communist state Pages: 3 (1114 words) Published: April 10, 2014
As World War II came to a close in 1945, the Communist Party in America was beginning to simmer away. The government was worried that a Communist takeover in America would soon begin. They believed that these far-left ideas would destroy traditional American values.

The House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) was founded in 1938. Its original purpose was to find Nazi and Fascist sympathizers in Hollywood. After the war was over, the committee began targeting Communists. The government believed that the Communist uprising would begin in Hollywood because of the influential power of motion pictures on the American people. Directors, writers, producers, and actors could easily insert subliminal messages into their films to sway Americans to the Communist Party. HUAC began in Hollywood to find Communist sympathizers.

The hunt for Communists in Hollywood was sparked by an article in The Hollywood Reporter. Written by William Wilkerson, “A Vote for Joe Stalin”, would name eleven Communist sympathizers in Hollywood. In October 1947, over 40 individuals working in the film industry were summoned to appear in front of HUAC. Nineteen of the witnesses vocally stated that they would refuse to comply and be “difficult.” One of these nineteen was John Howard Lawson.

John Howard Lawson was a major playwright and screenwriter during the golden age of Hollywood. In 1933, Lawson was one of the founding members of the Screen Writers Guild (along with a few other future Hollywood Ten members). He also became the first president of the Screen Writers Guild during its first year in existence. In 1934, Lawson joined the Communist Party. Throughout the next decade, the Communist Party would come to dominate most of Lawson’s life and work. Lawson began to insert much of his political ideology into the screenplays he was writing (He would eventually go on to be nominated for an Academy Award in 1938). Lawson would begin to influence many of his fellow Communist...
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