Culture

I Was a Communist for the FBI a Half-Century Later

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The years I wasted being what Ron Rosenbaum calls a “buff buff” — surveying the obsessive in-fighting between rival JFK assassination “researchers” — has made me wary of “revisionist history”: those parallel, “unofficial” narratives too often cobbled together from hearsay, microfiche, junk science and dodgy “eyewitness” testimony.

I dislike the dismissive term “revisionist history” itself, of course.

It’s so often associated with twitchy, autodidactic Holocaust debunkery, not to mention the “shape-shifting-alien-lizard” theory of civilization.

However, the fact is, Diana West’s new book American Betrayal is a revisionist history of the Cold War, albeit one that boasts the imprimatur of no less than Amity Shlaes.

I just wish there was a more respectable term for what West has produced.

The fact is, West’s findings will be fairly familiar to readers of M. Stanton Evans’ 2009 book Blacklisted by History.

West acknowledges her debt to Evans throughout, but her own Herculean original research takes Evans’ debunking of the left’s “red scare” mythology to a new level, and her conclusions are more troubling.

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Alas, despite the easy availability of books like these — such as Red Star Over Hollywood — most liberals are still flogging the “red scare” horse, which is not only dead, but was rendered down to dog food thanks to the Venona transcripts.

(Ann Coulter called Blacklisted by History “the greatest book since the Bible,” but alas, the former hasn’t sold as many copies as the latter.)

Hollywood keeps churning out “brave,” highly-fictionalized flicks about “McCarthyism” even though evidence declassified decades after his death indicates that in so many respects, Joe McCarthy was right.

I hope to return to American Betrayal in greater depth once I’ve finished the book and had time to digest it.

However — speaking of Hollywood — I was struck by one of West’s observations early on, regarding the dearth of American motion pictures exposing the evils of communism:

Stateside, what about the flatfoots, the G-men, who shadowed honest-to-goodness Communist conspirators? We have The House on 92nd Street, an interesting 1945 movie with FBI heroes trailing a Nazi spy ring operating on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, but no movie features FBI heroes trailing myriad Communist spy rings operating out of New York and Washington.

Actually…

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Although it sounds like a gag to our post-modern ears, there really is a 1951 film called I Was a Communist for the FBI.

It’s a noir-ish melodrama, very much of its time, and one of those “based on a true story” endeavors, so viewer beware.

However, do note that commentators tend to dismiss the man who inspired the film, Matt Cvetic, as an emotionally unstable alcoholic — the very same libelous accusations thrown at Whittaker Chambers and Joe McCarthy himself, often by the same “educated” liberals who still spread the corny slander that J. Edgar Hoover wore women’s clothes.

(Speaking of Hoover: The Bureau was eager to distance itself from the filmuntil it was a hit.)

If you’ve read David Horowitz’s Radical Son, detailing his teacher-parents’ membership in the Communist Party, this movie’s depiction of “red” public school infiltration won’t seem as “Mystery Science Theater” to you as it does to knee-jerk liberals.

And that’s just one of the “crazy” revelations in this movie that doesn’t seem so “crazy” to some of us.

Should you be interested, the rarely-aired curio I Was a Communist for the FBI is available (at least right now) in full on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCTtvgrsOtM