Monday, November 9, 2009


We recently watched Pickup on South Street, a 1953 film noir/spy hybrid with heavy anti-Communist themes. The movie itself was interesting, but it got me to wonder about the apparently intense anti-Communist attitude of the time.

At first I didn't really understand this attitude. I mean, Communism isn't necessarily evil. It is an economic/political philosophy that is directly opposed to Capitalism but that doesn't make the conversation unnecessary. So what confused me was the blanket use of the term "Communist" as the ultimate pejorative. I understand that Stalin was evil. No doubt about that, but that doesn't make all Communists evil as well. I also understand that the USSR was framed as America's de-facto enemy during that time. So I suppose that "Communist" was a blanket term used to describe a political and military enemy. The fact that Communism can refer to something other than a Russian with nuclear weapons pointed at grandma's house must have been lost on many Americans.

So I would like to take this opportunity to point out how far our culture has come in just a few decades. Our enemy this time stems not from a political philosophy but from a religious one. Our enemy this time is Islamic Terrorism. Our enemy is not Islam, just as our Cold War adversaries were Soviet Communists and not simple Communism. The very idea of treating Muslims among us as we treated Communists a few short decades ago is appalling. It is true that they may have a tougher road than most Americans but we would never dream of calling them out and denying them jobs based on their religious leanings.

I'll admit that I have been less than generous to Muslims. I still think that their religion is immoral and dangerous, but only slightly more so than Christianity. The point is that I think we are better at separating the actual enemy from others who carry the same label.

But I'm not a political scientist and I clearly don't know what I'm talking about. I don't want to give that impression. Maybe all Communists are evil and maybe all Muslims are terrorists who hate America, freedom and women.

1 comment:

miriamt said...

It doesn't take being a political scientist to KNOW that not all people who believe in communism are evil. And it doesn't take being a theologian of any religion to KNOW that there are believers of all sects that are bent on doing evil and those that are bent on doing good.
This is all a reaction from basic fear. If you live in fear of anyone who is different from you , you tend to shoot first and ask questions later (if at all).
I do believe we are (many of us are) less terrified than we were during the cold war, but fear continues to be a primal emotion that motivates a great majority. We will have evolved to a new level for the species when we are no longer primarily motivated by fear.
I can’t wait!