Selective Backlisting

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Selective blacklisting – Having more than once objected in these pages to complaints about Hollywood (and other professional) blacklisting that regarded only sometime Communists as victims, I was gratified to find in Murray Friedman’s informative new book, “The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy” {Temple University, 2005}, this information about Morrie Ryskind (1895-1985), who shared Academy Award nominations during the 1930s, whom I admire as the co- scenarist of the Marx Brothers’ classics “Coconuts” (1929), “Animal Crackers” (1930), and”A Night at the Opera” (1935):

“In 1947, Ryskind told the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities what he knew about alleged communist infiltration of the film industry. For his outspoken testimony, he was denounced as a Wall Street lackey and Red-baiter. Fearful of adverse publicity, industry representatives urged Ryskind to tone down his attacks. Ryskind, who could earn $75,000 per script, balked. He was blacklisted and never wrote another script.” A sometime lefty who became a nouveau conservative in the 1940s, Ryskind was later among the founding editors of the National Review.

As a veteran member of the Freedom to Read Committee at American PEN, may I suggest that the next time you read another book about Hollywood blacklisting, you look for Ryskind’s name among those victimized. If it is not included, know that its author is probably advocating not Free Speech but something else – selective reparations for some people probably entwined with selective blacklisting of others.

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