Classic EssaysKevin Alfred Strom

Yiddishkeit Pathology

Herbert Biberman and Samuel Ornitz, two Hollywood Jews and members of the “Hollywood Ten,” after being cited for contempt by the House Committee on Un-American Activities on Oct. 29, 1947

Jewish influence on American mass culture

by Kevin Alfred Strom

THE FOLLOWING article crossed the news wires from Germany:

MUNICH — Bavaria’s highest court affirmed Wednesday that spreading lies about the Holocaust — even in private letters — violates German law.

The Munich judges ordered a lower court to reconsider its decision to drop defamation charges against a 63-year-old man who in letters to members of parliament had denied the existence of gas chambers at the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp.

Denying Hitler’s mass extermination of European Jewry is illegal in Germany. The Regensburg lower court, however, had ruled that sending letters to a limited number of people did not constitute propagating a denial.

But the southern state’s highest court said the man had clearly wanted to affect the legislative process by sending his letters. This constituted an attempt to propagate his views, the court ruled.

“No one can rely on guaranteed freedom of speech to protect expressions that deny the historic fact that Jews were murdered with poison gas in Auschwitz,” the court ruled.

Well, there you have it in terms that are impossible to misunderstand. Sending letters to your elected representatives which express forbidden points of view about a war that ended over 50 years ago is a crime in Germany. To agree with this particular point of view, that Jewish losses were not as large as claimed by Jewish sources and did not result from a plan of mass extermination (a point of view accepted by a growing group of historians today), is to have committed a thought crime. If you have these forbidden thoughts, you damn well better not express them, or you will end up in court.

This point of view is called a “lie” even in the preceding news dispatch. But if it is a lie, it is certainly a very special kind of lie. Telling a lie to your lover about where you spent last night may land you in the doghouse, but not in jail. Telling a lie to the U.S. Congress can earn you a senatorial nomination and a nationwide radio talk show. Telling a lie to the people, preferably many lies, is just considered “business as usual” in the vote contests of Western “democracies.” Questioning the Jewish version of events in World War II, however, which in principle ought to be no different than questioning George Bush’s or Saddam Hussein’s version of what happened in the Gulf War, has become a political crime in Germany, and may soon be one in the United States.

It is a political crime in exactly the same sense that questioning the King’s divorce could have gotten you drawn and quartered in the England of Henry VIII, or that bringing up the subject of the mass murders of innocent Ukrainian farmers by the Jewish commissars could have gotten you a bullet through your brain in Stalin’s Soviet Union.

Do we need a law making it illegal to question the generally accepted account of the heroes of the Alamo? No, everyone would agree that such a law would be unnecessary, ridiculous, and offensive to the principle of free inquiry.

Do we need a law making it illegal to question the laws of gravity or of conservation of energy? No, that would be absurd and repugnant to the spirit of free scientific investigation of the world around us.

Do we even need a law making it illegal to make inaccurate statements about history? Well, if there were such a law, there would be a lot of textbook publishers and “docudrama” producers in jail! And it is more than obvious that stopping lies from being told is not the real purpose of these laws: After all, you can claim that eight million and one Jews were gassed at Auschwitz, and I am quite sure that no one will arrest you.

Do we need a law making it illegal to question any group, any person, any principle, any government, any story, any thing? No! And those who wheedle, bribe, propagandize, and buy the politicians to procure such laws are thereby showing themselves to be extremely insecure about their supposedly unassailable facts. They are acting, in fact, like liars desperate to prevent the exposure of their lies.

This is what the drive for censorship of the Internet is really all about. This is what the drive for so-called “hate crime” laws is all about. This is what all the hue and cry about American Dissident Voices is really all about. It is about protecting the privileges, power, and undue influence now possessed by the richest elite ever to swagger upon the world stage — the organized Jewish minority.

It is most instructive to read the Jewish press. When the editors know that the Gentile masses are not reading, amazing admissions are sometimes made.

I recently came across an article published in the leftist Jewish magazine Tikkun for September/October 1995, entitled “The Hollywood Blacklist and the Jews.” The article is by a self-described non-Jewish Judeophile, Paul Buhle, a man who has recently graced the faculties of Brown University and the University of California and who, along with a certain Joel Kovel, is an “Alger Hiss Professor of Social Studies” at Bard College. He has had his lecture tapes marketed by an outfit calling itself “The New York Marxist School.” Mr. Buhle’s text confirms the thesis which has been advanced in this newsletter: both the openly Communist and the pro-Communist elements in the media were and are overwhelmingly Jewish.

Naturally, Buhle decries Senator Joseph McCarthy’s efforts to clean the Communists out of the Federal government and the efforts of some in Hollywood to root out the Communists there.

Let me quote a few passages from the article:

. . . The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals [pronounced] a universal ban on any writer, actor, director, producer, or technician unwilling to sign a loyalty oath….

A second subtext [of McCarthyism], barely disguised, was anti-Semitism. The message — from rural Southern barber shops to Senate chambers — that “Jews control Hollywood” and that Jews were poisoning America had a special meaning to those faced with “investigation.”

. . . To clear oneself, to resume something like a normal life, it was never enough to declare personal departure from the Left ….One had to name names, most especially those of intimate associates who had shared decades of participation in social movements. A blacklistee recently reminded me of the race memories stirred by the Red-hunting committees. In earlier days the czar, caliph, or general had demanded something strikingly similar: We let you live, Jew, if you inform on your friends. Otherwise . . .

Without embarrassment at his positing of victim status for incredibly wealthy Hollywood Jews while at the same time listing a few of their many multimillion-dollar and totally one-sided portrayals of the so-called “Blacklist” period, Buhle continues:

Since the days of The Front written, directed, and acted by former blacklistees, with the notable addition of Woody Allen and Barbara Streisand’s more popular The Way We Were, fictional renditions of that era have proliferated in theater, television, and film. The American Movie Channel and BBC are each preparing treatments of the Hollywood Red Scare. NPR has planned for 1996 a drama series written by Tony Kahn, son of Gordon Kahn (sometime scriptwriter for Roy Rogers films and author of Hollywood on Trial about the blacklist’s withering day-to-day effect upon a Jewish family. Meanwhile, a small production company is completing a documentary of Hollywood’s Great Survivor, Abraham Polonsky, writer for that famous Jewish radio show, The Goldbergs, master of the 1940s film noir, secret scripter for television’s You Are There, and most recently film-maker of themes both racial Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here and Old World Yiddish cultural Romance of a Horse Thief.

This is where I come in. An odd Gentile with a taste for Jewish culture and a dedication to oral history field work, I’ve spent years interviewing aged union activists and Yiddish newspaper editors, as well as Jewish poets of various generations, summer camp employees, and theatrical types of every left-of-center political description. The passage of time has lately taken me beyond the immigrant generations to a fascinating slice of the next one threatened with oblivion, the Jewish creators of 1930s-’50s popular culture.

Why Jews? And why so many of them leftish Jews, the very people who injected into nearly anonymous popular-culture objects of my generation’s youngest years the otherwise scarce values of egalitarianism and social justice?

. . . But here, nevertheless, I find my ideal: the old Jewish radical, full of spunk and insight.

. . . I was listening to Abe Polonsky, spry at eighty-two and loaded with bons mots, in the lunchroom of Neiman-Marcus, not far from his apartment in West Los Angeles. While models in fabulously priced designer suits struck poses, Abe reminded me of an American ghetto past. Three-quarters of a century ago, in New York, his grandmother introduced him to the narrative: Night after night, she read the boy what he wryly calls “Huckleberry Finn on the Volga,” American fiction remixed, reinterpreted, and rendered into Yiddish language and Yiddishkeit, the diaspora sensibility. From this origin, Polonsky developed the intellectual reflexivity to move from one cell of American popular culture to another, era after era, withstanding persecutions and transcending changes of political or commercial fashion.

. . . Yiddish was, of course, the vernacular language of European Jewry for more than five hundred years, and the language within which Jewish socialism and modern Jewish literature took root simultaneously. I call it, with some irony, the lingua franca of popular culture, and I believe that its very adaptability from linguistic climate to linguistic climate conditioned the native Yiddish speakers to “translate” their culture into new forms, according to the possibilities at hand.

An endless number of show business anecdotes testify equally to the odd and adaptive Yiddishkeit of the generations that loved the Yiddish stage but also shimmied in jazz parlors, watched Charlie Chaplin, went to Hollywood, and created some of the strangest and most interesting popular art objects of the twentieth century. But before we get to Hollywood, we need to go backward a bit, scooping up some history along the way.

As far back as the Christian Middle Ages, the historians tell us, bits and pieces of folk culture and humor from the surrounding cultures were absorbed into Yiddishkeit, notwithstanding the efforts of religious authorities to keep out Gentile contaminants. With the passage of time, the Yiddish language itself continuously grew and contracted, absorbing and casting off different elements as its speakers traveled, adapted, and readapted to the problems and possibilities around them.

. . . By the time the future Hollywood writers of the 1930s and ’40s were born, between around 1905 and 1920, a last major Yiddish literary wave (called die Yunge, the young ones) had taken its stand . . .

. . . In just this atmosphere of mixed fascination and revulsion, movies became an extraordinarily significant factor in the ways that Jews would affect modern culture at large. Jews also rewrote, popularized, and to some degree transformed jazz, the basic American music rooted in African-American culture. They became a business force and creative talent behind comic books a generation or so later. And they penned best-seller after best-seller, psychologized and tantalized readers with dozens or hundreds of Dr. Ruths and Jonathan Kellermans. They did marvelous things on Broadway. But it was film where they could be moguls and writers, scenarists and even stars for the masses — under Gentile names, at least for the first several generations.

. . . Anti-fascism and the drive for unions created a bloc of Hollywood progressives (mostly, but by no means entirely, aligned with the small group of Communists, nearly all of them Jewish). It was a West Coast commonplace to say that social movements had real life in them, while movies were only a way of making a living.

. . . The idea or ideal of the public intellectual, not a handful of noted idealists but of a mass of artistic-intellectual toilers in the field of popular documentation and presentation, emerged during the later 1930s at the leftish fringes of the New Deal. Government agencies such as the Works Progress Administration helped make this possible. But the driving concept, of a radically democratic pluralism, had important origins in the networks of the heavily politicized Yiddish stage, and the Yiddish backgrounds of Left cultural figures, including painters and writers as well as movie people. More than anyone else, these people had the need to envision a multicultural, multiracial America in order to imagine a worthy place for themselves in it. (Emphasis added)

. . . The war suddenly made the public intellectual, even the Jewish left-wing intellectual, a precious resource. As the Red Army held Hitler’s legions at bay and powerful liberals urged an anti-fascist propaganda campaign, Left film writers collaborated in a string of remarkable (and sometimes hit) features. Films such as Action in the North Atlantic, Hitler’s Children, Edge of Darkness, Tender Comrade, Pride of the Marines, and, yes, Casablanca reflected an unprecedented articulation of democratic but also cryptically Jewish social values. Especially in those starring John Garfield, the Everyman struggles in an alien world for love and community. Bogey’s Rick was a Spanish Civil War vet and a goy with a Jewish heart, his “Café American” a little piece of America where the melting pot still contains the elements of hope in a dark world.

. . . The Jews who wrote and in some cases directed these films were making a career for themselves in a commercial medium, make no mistake about it. That was (and is) the way Hollywood works. . . . But consciously or unconsciously, they were reweaving the fabric of the past, their own past, into the present. Yiddish language virtually never appeared in the Hollywood film, but Yiddishkeit was not absent.

Left-wing Hollywood came out of the war, as many Americans did, with remarkably naive optimism about the future. And why not? Their films were boffo at the box office. Director Edward Dmytryk’s Murder, My Sweet, with Dick Powell as the beleaguered private eye, was a magnum success that proved the commercial possibilities of film noir with its vivid night scenes, paranoid loners, and cynical desperadoes. Dmytryk’s Crossfire, a brilliant frontal attack on anti-Semitism (and one of the favorite targets of congressional investigators seeking Hollywood “subversion”), introduced Robert Ryan as the perfect, twisted face of hate. Till the End of Time and The House I Live In (an award-winning short feature, starring Frank Sinatra singing an ode to anti-anti-Semitism) verified the hopeful themes of postwar promise.

But the further America (and the world) got from the optimistic, antifascist unity days, the more noir things looked in real life. In a brief moment of relative artistic freedom for anti-capitalist messages, Jewish left-wingers made their aesthetic statement and took their political stand. Abraham Polonsky’s Force of Evil, called by Andrew Sarris “one of the great films of the modern American cinema” and re-released this March in the “Martin Scorsese Presents” video package, shows corruption at the very heart of the system. His John Garfield, emblematic as always “Call me Julie,” as the Jewish actor began private conversations, shedding his gentile mask), is the perfected man on the make plagued with inner doubts precisely because something inside him knows better.

. . . Jewish left-wingers like Carl Foreman also pressed, without much immediate luck but great confidence of long-run success, for serious cinematic treatment of race relations in America.

All this bold experimentation ended with the blacklist. A host of writers, directors, and technicians, overwhelmingly Jewish, faced ruin.

. . . Returning instead to disguise, they and a younger cohort of Jewish progressives who eluded the blacklist continued to experiment with various popular culture mediums, especially television. There they reoriented their Left/New Dealish sensibility to the changing scene. The problem of community in a world of cultural transitions and alienated teenagers, of determined women, troubled races, and continuing injustices found its answer in an ethos of tolerance, real justice, and an openness to learn from new and unfamiliar cultures.

. . . Polonsky, himself “greylisted,” wrote (using pseudonyms) for “You Are There,” television’s earliest self-proclaimed “quality” show, directed by a former Group Theater child actor, Sidney Lumet. He and his collaborators, Walter Bernstein and Arnold Manoff (whose wife, Lee Grant, was blacklisted for refusing to testify against him), wrote most of the episodes, projecting faux “newscast” episode-dramas — “a day like all days, only, you are there” — with heavy emphasis on the historic struggle for free speech and assorted civil liberties.

Fellow blacklistee Paul Jarrico . . . wrote for what historians consider television’s finest early sitcom, “The Phil Silvers Show” . . . depicting a racially integrated troop of soldiers led by the sentimental (and for anyone but the culturally hard of hearing, the emblematically Jewish) schemer Sergeant Bilko . . . The bureaucracy and stupidity and sheer superfluousness of military life (at the height of the Cold War) could perhaps be read as a subscript . . . sympathetic portrayals of ordinary soldiers and the ludicrousness of visiting martinets, punctuated this hilarious lampoon of a peacetime army devoted to meaningless pursuits.

Note well that an army that might be used against Jewish Communism is “ludicrous,” quite the opposite of Hollywood’s romanticized vision of the “good war” when Germany was the enemy.

Back to the Paul Buhle’s article from the Jewish publication Tikkun:

. . . Norman Lear, a former radio writer from the small milieu of almost exclusively Jewish, progressive professionals, had actually been an officer in the short-lived Television Writers of America, a union destroyed for refusing to accept the blacklist. Lear’s authorship began with “All in the Family” . . . . . . Spinoffs such as “The Jeffersons” and “Maude” carried the momentum forward . . . Lear had opened things up.

. . . “M*A*S*H” offered better opportunities for hard politics and a limited but real artistic experimentation. [It was] based upon blacklistee Ring Lardner, Jr.’s co-authored Oscar-winning script for the Robert Altman film…. Auteur Larry Gelbart, another seasoned writer from the Cold War days, was best known for his playscript of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which (until The Front) was arguably the biggest showcase of Jewish blacklistees…. Half-Jewish Alan Alda had become America’s wholesomely anti-war sweetheart . . . All told, “M*A*S*H” offered another side of the legacy of Abe Polonsky’s Hollywood generation: truths through entertainment that documented the horrors of the modern world.

. . . There’s more to the legacy, by a long shot. Next time you wade through hours of Malcolm X, hang on for the credits: Arnold Perl, ten years dead and a blacklistee to boot, is there as co-author with Spike Lee. Who else but a Jewish ex-Red from a Yiddish background?

There is more, much more, to this amazing article, “The Hollywood Blacklist and the Jews” by Paul Buhle, published in the September /October 1995 issue of the Jewish magazine Tikkun. It should be available in most larger public libraries.

There you have it from the horse’s mouth, written by a self-confessed Judeophile and published in a Jewish journal. They came here to destroy the Old America and to remake it in a Jewish mold. And this they have done. In our insane thoughtlessness we let them become our dream makers and information brokers, and they have erected a new moral order — a new religion if you will — in which to question them is the very definition of evil and soon, very soon, may become a crime.

If you care enough not to want your children or grandchildren to grow up slaves to these evildoers, you need to support us in our educational efforts with every fiber of your being. You need to make it the most important thing in your life!

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Source: Free Speech magazine, April 1996

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1 Comment

  1. James Clayton
    January 2, 2017 at 7:17 pm — Reply

    Editor: The second time Edward Dmytryk’s name is used in the instant post it isn’t spelled typically. [Now corrected; thank you — Ed.]

    What a tremendous piece of insight. It is very important to propagate this quality of material far and wide. Thank you all.

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