There was considerable reaction to my commentary as to why Hollywood is not producing movies on the 100 million people killed by Communism. The best e-mail was a one-sentence declaration. The gentleman said, "We'll get movies about the Communist atrocities when there are no more Communists in Hollywood." I had largely forgotten about that. Of course, leftists but actual Communists? I do not think so. When Ronald Reagan was President, all you had to do was say a magic word and he would tell you how he had fought the Communists and won. He was President of the Screen Actors Guild and as such co-operated with government authorities in tracking down the Communists and seeing to it that they paid for their wrong choice.
I saw President Reagan shortly before his summit meeting with President Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland. A number of us had expressed great concern lest the President give away SDI. His Chief of Staff had assembled a group of tough anti-Communists who he was sure would be reassured after they met with the President. Others danced around the issue. I put it right to the President. "We are concerned about your upcoming meeting with Mr. Gorbachev and we are fearful about the future of SDI." Rather then reassure us, Reagan launched into a long monologue about his having defeated the Hollywood Communists in the 1940s. He offered not one word of assurance to us about the upcoming summit.
What Reagan was trying to tell us was that he knew how to fight the Communists and he did not intend to lose. It turned out our fears were unfounded. When Gorbachev offered a deal to get rid of all offensive missiles pointed at the United States in return for our scrapping SDI Reagan walked away from Reykjavik with no deal. That bit of courage likely cost Republicans control of the Senate in 1986.
I digress. When the Soviet Union was disintegrating, President Boris Yeltsin appointed a free-market economist, Igor Gaidar, as his Premier. At that time I was a virtual commuter to Moscow so on one of those trips my close friend Arkady Murashev arranged for me to meet with Gaidar. I was confused. I had been not just in Moscow and Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, but all over the Soviet Empire. In the American media I kept on reading about how the Russian people were starving, that ordinary household items were beyond their reach and that the streets were filled with beggars trying to sell a family heirloom for an American dollar. I saw none of this and, mind you, I was covering some of the backwater streets as I was photographing Moscow's tramway system. So I asked Gaidar why it was that he thought free-market efforts in the Soviet Union were being trashed by American media when the reality was far different from what I was seeing.He replied with a stinging answer, one I never will forget. He said, "Well, the Soviets spent millions of dollars infiltrating your media. Just because the Soviet Union went away doesn't mean these people have gone away. They are still there." Of course, I knew this. And yet I really never thought about it. In those days we had the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. How liberal Members of Congress and the left-wing media hated these committees. When they saw their opportunity, following the huge Republican defeat of 1964, they managed to get rid of both of them. The Senate Subcommittee hung around a bit longer than HUAC, but it was a toothless tiger at the end.
From what Gaidar told me, we needed to have revived these committees with a focus not so much on Hollywood but on the media itself. We know that one New York Times reporter, who always portrayed Stalin as Good Old Uncle Joe, was in fact a Communist and operated for decades on the Times staff. Were there any more? How about the Washington Post?
If the Soviets were a threat, and they were, then Radical Islam is the far greater threat. Why? Because the Soviets were a conservative power. They did not do things without understanding the consequences. The Islamists are not conservative. Anything but.
Of course any Senator or Congressman who had the courage to suggest reviving the two internal security committees solely to investigate Islamofascists or equivalents would be ridiculed and mercilessly attacked. Let us hope a couple of the Members would have courage enough to do so.