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Roy Brewer and the commies

Regarding the death of former labor leader and Ronald Reagan confidante Roy Brewer...

May I add to John Meroney's whitewash of Roy Brewer, the arch-witch hunter and 'clearance expert' of the Hollywood anti-radical purges?

Conservatives like Meroney like to present tinhorn Torquemadas like the Brewer not as ferocious and vengeful rightwingers but the way Brewer himself preferred to be known, as a 'compassionate', vaguely Democratic labor leader whose overlordship of the blacklist machinery was more an act of mercy than massacre.

Twaddle. Brewer had been an organizer for the racket-ridden projectionists union before he moved up as a paid frightener for studio executives who needed a smiling 'moderate' fanatic to do their dirty work of ruining careers and, sometimes, lives.

Full disclosure: Brewer helped blacklist me.

He was in the great line of Hollywood hysterics who spend their lives snooping, for 'dirty' sex, or dope, or Communists or, today, guess who?

Brewer's real function was economic, to destroy any left-leaning or independent, honest trade unions in the film industry. The studios were far more comfortable paying off crooked labor extortionists than dealing with stroppy and unpredictable studio workers trying to organize outside the death grip of the then-hopelessly corrupt IATSE which dominated the union scene. That's the basic reason, his useful anticommunism aside, that Brewer was beloved by studio bosses.

His specialty was forcing repentant ex-Communists to their knees to 'confess and repent' to regain their jobs. This is the man who said:

"Communists want to use the movies to soften the minds of the world. They shouldn't work in Hollywood because we shouldn't make it possible for them to subvert the free world." Omigosh, he may have believed that crap - and it paid him well.

Clancy Sigal

September 20, 2006 10:27 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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