Monday, October 20, 2008

Anniversary - House Un-American Activities Committee

On this day in 1947, the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) began its inquiry into the communist influence on the Hollywood motion picture industry.

Some screenwriters and directors refused to answer the committee's questions and were convicted of contempt of Congress. Known as the "Hollywood Ten", they were fired by studio executives and blacklisted in the movie industry. The blacklist grew through a variety of channels and eventually included over 300 names including, notably, Arthur Miller and Charlie Chaplin.

The HUAC, though not officially involved with Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations, suffered declining influence after his repudiation (in 1954, McCarthy was formally condemned by the Senate, found to have "acted contrary to senatorial ethics and tended to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute, to obstruct the constitutional processes of the Senate, and to impair its dignity.") In 1959, President Truman described the committee as the "most un-American thing in the country today."

(image credit: wikipedia, org, then Representative Richard Nixon is seen seated at the questioning table)