Ed Driscoll

"The Left Looks For Heretics; The Right Looks For Converts"

Andrew Breitbart’s latest Washington Times column on the new Hollywood Blacklist features several quotes from his father-in-law, the great Orson Bean:

“When the blacklist hit, I saw actors walk across the street to avoid me. The doorman at 485 Madison Avenue (former CBS headquarters) turned his back as I walked by. But I never felt hated by the ring-wing blacklisters. They just felt we were terribly wrong,” he said.

“These days, the left doesn’t just disagree with right-wingers–they hate them.”

Maybe that’s why there’s been historically much more of a outflow amongst intellectuals from port to starboard since the mid-1950s. As Jonah Goldberg noted in early 2001, many ex-communists followed Bean’s path to the right–or at the least back to the center:

If you count normal, non-pointy headed people, millions. Generation after generation of the Left’s best minds have decided they like things over here more. Many if not most of National Review’s founding editors were former Communists. The very word “neoconservative” was coined as an epithet by the socialist Michael Harrington to describe all of his friends who were heading for the exits to conservatism. It’s not just the older generation. Every decade we get a new wave of writers and scholars who have come in from the rain, Christina Hoff Sommers, Michael Kelly, Andrew Ferguson, Charles Murray, just to name a few. Hell, I don’t even act surprised anymore when I meet conservatives who say “I used to be a Communist.” It’s almost a cliche.

Which might also help to explain Glenn Reynolds’ quote from a year later:

As the old saying has it, the left looks for heretics and the right looks for converts, and both find what they’re looking for. The effect is no doubt subliminal, but people who treat you like crap are, over time, less persuasive than people who don’t. If people on the Left are so unhappy about how many former allies are changing their views, perhaps they should examine how those allies are treated.

We touched upon the original blacklist, and Hollywood’s eternal Mobius Loop-style reminiscences of it in a recent edition of our Silicon Graffiti video blog: