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Reds under the Hoots

Phil Edwards 05 Oct 14 - 03:57 PM
GUEST 05 Oct 14 - 04:41 PM
Greg F. 06 Oct 14 - 10:42 AM
Deckman 06 Oct 14 - 02:52 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 06 Oct 14 - 03:13 PM
GUEST,# 07 Oct 14 - 03:24 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 07 Oct 14 - 06:43 AM
JJ 07 Oct 14 - 09:20 AM
Phil Edwards 07 Oct 14 - 07:02 PM
Deckman 07 Oct 14 - 07:09 PM
Don Firth 07 Oct 14 - 08:06 PM
Stewart 07 Oct 14 - 10:20 PM
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Subject: Reds under the Hoots
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 Oct 14 - 03:57 PM

How to Spot a Communist (1955)


In 1955, the U.S. First Army Headquarters prepared a manual called How to Spot a Communist. Later published in popular American magazines, the propaganda piece warned readers, "there is no fool-proof system in spotting a Communist." "U.S. Communists come from all walks of life, profess all faiths, and exercise all trades and professions." ... And yet the pamphlet adds, letting readers breathe a sigh of relief, "there are, fortunately, indications that may give him away. These indications are often subtle but always present, for the Communist, by reason of his "faith" must act and talk along certain lines."
    While a preference for long sentences is common to most Communist writing, a distinct vocabulary provides the more easily recognized feature of the "Communist Language." Even a superficial reading of an article written by a Communist or a conversation with one will probably reveal the use of some of the following expressions: integrative thinking, vanguard, comrade, hootenanny, chauvinism, book-burning, syncretistic faith, bourgeois-nationalism, jingoism, colonialism, hooliganism, ruling class, progressive, demagogy, dialectical, witch-hunt, reactionary, exploitation, oppressive, materialist.
Endquote (emphasis added)

Do you have a friend or neighbour who's always talking about hootenannies? Call the cops!

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Subject: RE: Reds under the Hoots
Date: 05 Oct 14 - 04:41 PM

That was only the First Army Headquarters. They didn't know squat. The Second Army Headquarters would have added integrity, justice, equality, humanity, fairness,Mudc*t.

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Subject: RE: Reds under the Hoots
From: Greg F.
Date: 06 Oct 14 - 10:42 AM

Somehow I don't think Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, Charlie Chaplin, Gypsy Rose Lee, W.E.B. BuBois, Aaron Copeland, Dashiell Hammett, Langston Hughes, Lena Horne, Artie Shaw & a host of others found the publication even faintly amusing.

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Subject: RE: Reds under the Hoots
From: Deckman
Date: 06 Oct 14 - 02:52 PM

Fascinationg! I volunteered for the american army on 1955. By then I had been very active in Seattle hoots for three years. When I signed the "loyalty oath". which was requiered then, I dutifully listed my singing activities and the various Seattle groups I regularly sang for. It turned out that several were on the FBI's list of communist groups. I was asked why I sang all those "communist songs." I said it was because they had the best songs. I was sent home, and two days later two FBI agents canvessed my neighbors, checking up on me. I was finally accepted ... I guess that at 18, I wasn't considered too much of a threat. bob(deckman)nelson

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Subject: RE: Reds under the Hoots
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 06 Oct 14 - 03:13 PM

Greg. There is as you say a host of others. One case that particularly sticks in my throat is that of Yip Harburg, the lyricist who wrote Buddy Can You Spare a Dime, and went on to produce the lyrics of The Wizard of Oz, before disappearing into obscurity.

Why did he disappear into obscurity? Well, Yarburg, who wasn't even a Communist - more of a left wing liberal - was named as a Red by the HUAC in 1950. As a result he was blacklisted by the entire entertainment industry and didn't work again until 1962.

The one grain of satisfaction I ever got from this was in singing Ding Dong The Witch is Dead (from The Wizard of Oz), whilst Margaret Thatcher 's effigy went up in smoke on the St George's Plateau in Liverpool.

That's one conflagration old Yip would surely have approved of.

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Subject: RE: Reds under the Hoots
From: GUEST,#
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 03:24 AM

I joined the AFofM in New York in about 1965/66. They had two questions that demonstrated how Commie-nuts the US was at the time.

1) Are you or have you ever been a Communist?
2) Do you advocate the violent overthrow of the American government?

That sonuvabitch Joe McCarthy was just that. And the bastards that sold out their fellow performers/musicians/actors were no better. Just a simple historical reminder that totalitarianism in one of its many forms can flourish anywhere.

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Subject: RE: Reds under the Hoots
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 06:43 AM

Another reason to read Edward Renehan's book "Pete Seeger vs. The Un-Americans" (2014).

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Subject: RE: Reds under the Hoots
From: JJ
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 09:20 AM

Regarding loyalty oaths, a friend of mine used to say, "If I'm committed to the violent overthrow of the government, do you think I'm going to be stopped by the threat of perjury?"

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Subject: RE: Reds under the Hoots
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 07:02 PM

I was asked why I sang all those "communist songs."


(Wait, you weren't actually singing the Volga boat song or, I don't know, Happy Birthday Uncle Joe or anything?)

I remember a now-departed friend of mine talking about the political education sessions he had as a (volunteer) member of the US Army in the 60s (he served in Vietnam, but not as a draftee). Apparently pol. ed. consisted very largely of wordplay - "American. That's Amer- I Can!", and "Communist. Communisssst! Hear the hiss!". Your tax dollars at work.

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Subject: RE: Reds under the Hoots
From: Deckman
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 07:09 PM

A little more... When the Captain asked me why I sang all those "communist songs", I broke into"

"We are marching to Pretoria", Pretoria, etc ..."

Then I gave him a verse of "Olleanna." He didn't know what to say. He just shook his head and told me to go home.

I wonder what he would have said if I'd sung "Banks of Marble?"

Good thread ... bob(deckman)nelkson

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Subject: RE: Reds under the Hoots
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 08:06 PM

It's off and running nicely now, due to the good offices of Stewart Hendrickson and Bob Nelson (with me always ready to kibbitz from over here in the corner), but the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society was first organized by a bunch of folk music enthusiasts back in 1953-54. Not one of them was a Communist, although I know there were a couple of Democrats and two Quakers involved.

We held several local events at the time, including a street fair (blocked off a street in Seattle's University District—with local businesses cooperating and with all the necessary city permits), complete with people selling their homemade jewelry and weaving and such (folk art) in a sidewalk bazaar, with a folk concert in the evening with Walt Robertson singing, the Scandia Folk Dance Group dancing up a storm, and Bill and Marty Holm (Bill was an anthropologist, and his wife, Marty, was Native American) performing authentic Pacific Northwest Native American dances.

Auspicious beginning!

Then we had an opportunity to sponsor a concert by Pete Seeger. And we pounced on it! He sang a great concert in the auditorium of Wesley House (Methodist Student Organization), with a legendary party after the concert, swapping songs with Pete (he wanted to hear some of the local singers), that went until 4:00 a.m. Fantastic!

And although during his concert, he did sing a song about Jay Gould's daughter and hoboes riding the rails, I can't recall Pete singing anything controversial in the whole two and a half hour concert. The Goofing Off Suite? An exploding frog? Nothing subversive that I could detect.

Subsequently, several of the organizers of the PNWFS—me included—were visited by FBI agents (men in grey suits). Full of questions about the PNWFS and the people I knew who were involved, none of which had anything to do with what the PNWFS was really all about. The most "Leftist" person I knew was a Democratic precinct committeeman….

It frightened off people, such as those who worked for Boeing and needed a security clearance, and essentially killed the fledgling organization. It had the stench of the Inquisition about it, with people looking furtively over their shoulders and crossing theselves.

But—thank you, Stewart!! We're back on track.

Don Firth

P. S. Aaron Copeland, the quintessential American composer who wrote "A Lincoln Portrait" was suspected of being a Communist? And Larry Adler? Who knows the amount of damage he could have done to Truth, Justice, and the American Way with his harmonica…?

P. P. S. To the tune of The Volga Boatman:   
             "Par-a-NOI-a (grunt), par-a-NOI-a (GRUNT)…."

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Subject: RE: Reds under the Hoots
From: Stewart
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 10:20 PM

Thanks Don, the PNWFS has risen again. It's hard to keep the folk and music down. That indeed was a dreadful time. I was a kid in LA in the mid '50s where the pastor of the church I attended was denounced as a communist and his home fire-bombed just because he stood up to the witch hunt.

Cheers, S. in Seattle

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