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Old Feb 24, 2009, 04:37 AM
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Zoe Wanamaker- Who Do You Think You Are?

For a long time I've hit the channel change button whenever Zoe Wanamaker came on the screen. Last night she was the subject of the genealogical programme Who Do You Think You Are? and as that's one of the bits of decent post-tea-time telly that Mrs L gets to relax with we watched it.

Her story was remarkeable. I hadn't realised that her father was Sam Wanamaker, the US actor who masterminded the Globe Theatre in London. Tracing her ancestry back revealed a few things to her that she wasn't aware of and it was interesting and moving. Her father got out of Hollywood one step ahead of a sub-poena in the MCarthy era, as she found going through the archives of the FBI, being able to read the file that they had on him and his wife.

Sam Wanamaker was a member of the Communist party and his daughter traced back his life, to that of his father, an immigrant as a boy at the turn of the centrury, from what is now the Ukraine. Her grandfather soon became a stalwart of the Union - of garment workers in Chicago - and the ideals that he instilled in his son obviously found their way down the generations.

Tracing her grandfather's origins back to the Ukraine showed the shocking conditions that Jews lived in during those times and the Pogroms that eventually resulted in them fleeing to the USA. The biggest tragedy was that his wife died within two weeks of arriving in Chicago.

It's ironic that half a century and two generations after fleeing persecution to go to the States the Wanamakers had to flee the persecution of the McCarthy era. All things happen for a reason though and, as the programme pointed out, if tat hadn't happened there would not now be a Globe Theatre in London. It's very sad that Sam died before the theatre opened.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 06:05 AM
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So, in the land of the free, it's not permitted to be a member of the Communist Party? It is considered to be appropriate to hound and discriminate against those who are, or might be, members of that party?

Do feel free to use your own words, rather than just post links to blog sites.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 06:05 AM
Out of Time
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What we really get from all that is that McCarthy was right.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Highflight
What we really get from all that is that McCarthy was right.
The land of the not so free, then?
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by leccyflyer
So, in the land of the free, it's not permitted to be a member of the Communist Party? It is considered to be appropriate to hound and discriminate against those who are, or might be, members of that party?

Do feel free to use your own words, rather than just post links to blog sites.
Depends on which Communist Party.

The Comintem required member parties (CPUSA) to actively work to bring about the overthrow of the US goverment. By definition, members of the CPUSA were traitors. After the disolution of the Comintem, the CPUSA continued to actively seek the violent overthrow of the geverment. The suppression efforts of the McCarthy era began the isolation of the CPUSA. Yes, hounding members of this communist party was appropriate.

Hounding communists not associated with this party was not appropriate, and violating the US consitution in persuit of anyone was inappropriate.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 08:16 AM
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I'm not certain which particular Communist Party Sam Wanamaker belonged to sarge, but judging by the extensive file that the FBI had on the chap, shown on the programme if he was actively plotting to overthrow the government then they ought to have had enough - the file included the testimony of an actress that he worked with who stated that both Wanamaker and his wife were members of the Communist Party- to haul him in, but it would appear that he was tipped off and flew the coop.

It did strike me, especially in the context of other programmes in the series that had they remained in the Ukraine, as a family, chances are that they wouldn't be here today.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by leccyflyer
I'm not certain which particular Communist Party Sam Wanamaker belonged to sarge, but judging by the extensive file that the FBI had on the chap, shown on the programme if he was actively plotting to overthrow the government then they ought to have had enough - the file included the testimony of an actress that he worked with who stated that both Wanamaker and his wife were members of the Communist Party- to haul him in, but it would appear that he was tipped off and flew the coop.

It did strike me, especially in the context of other programmes in the series that had they remained in the Ukraine, as a family, chances are that they wouldn't be here today.
Most of McCarthyism was guilt by association - identified by casting a ridiculously (and anti-consitutionaly) large net.

Until your post, I'd never heard of Wanamaker. Odds are, he was simply a member of a political party that represented his desires for changes to how normal people are treated by society. Unfortunately, that often meant membership in a party that actively planned to foment rebellion against the US goverment (specifically) and democracy in general.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 08:26 AM
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Actually, according to Wiki, it would appear that Mr Wanamaker was a member of the American Communist Party from 1943 to 1947, at which time he left the party. He had during that period also served with distinction in the US Army - hardly the actions of a traitor. It seems that he became aware that he'd been blacklisted as a result of his prior membership of the Communist Party and didn't return to the US from an appearance in the UK.

I hadn't made the connection between him and his daughter and in fact had always assumed that she was decended from lizards.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by leccyflyer
Actually, according to Wiki, it would appear that Mr Wanamaker was a member of the American Communist Party from 1943 to 1947, at which time he left the party. He had during that period also served with distinction in the US Army - hardly the actions of a traitor.
The "American Communist Party" from the wiki article appears to be the CPUSA. If so, then at the time he was serving in WWII, he was a member of an organization that persued the violent overthrow of the US goverment and believed that democracy must be replaced by dictatorship worldwide.

Of course, he also resigned from the CPUSA. At worst, he decided he no longer agreed with the CPUSA goals. More likely, he never did. That's the problem with the whole "McCarthy was right" argument - it ignored a presumption of innocence. Functionally, I don't see that how we persued "communists" in 1950 differs much from how we populated Guantanamo.

The irony is that our actions, via the HUAAC blacklisting, perfectly mirrored how our movies portrayed the Russians acting .
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by leccyflyer
I hadn't made the connection between him and his daughter and in fact had always assumed that she was decended from lizards.
I read her wiki article - it lists the 24 February evening television show as a source. Strange for us over here, as 24 February evening hasn't happened yet.

What about her is objectionable? The article deals only with her professional career and gives nothing of her political views, etc.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 09:12 AM
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Ah, Madame Hooch from Harry Potter.

Communism was a evil force within the world, but in many ways so is the mentality of McCarthyism of the "Red Scare" era. McC-ism is apparently undergoing a revival with the "commie and muslim under every bed" mindset of the postBushism age. Maybe we'll outgrow it...

--Bill
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 09:23 AM
All under control, Grommit!
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United Kingdom, Aberdeen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarge
I read her wiki article - it lists the 24 February evening television show as a source. Strange for us over here, as 24 February evening hasn't happened yet.

What about her is objectionable? The article deals only with her professional career and gives nothing of her political views, etc.
Dunno, and it's certainly nothing to do with her political views, since I wasn't aware of them at all, and us commies have to stick together after all . I've just always reached for the channel switch when she's appeared. That's even the case for some fairly highly rated shows that she's been in, with actors whose work I do like, such as Robert Lindsay.

Just one of those things, can't put my finger on it, but she does have a certain lizard-like quality . I've revised my opinion of her on the basis of last nights programme though, she did a good job and came across well.

It's a cracking show if you ever get the chance to see it. TV newsreader Moira Stuart - a stunningly beautiful woman, who was recently canned because she was too old, female and black to be the Beebs news anchor any longer - had probably the most interesting show, tracking down her relatives in the West Indies. Stephen Fry's was an excellent edition of the show also, though harrowing with all the dead ends that he turned up in the Germany of the late 1930's. It's a great show for those interested in human history and a stark reminder that we're only a few generations away from a very different world.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 09:24 AM
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Lets hope so....Jim
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highflight
What we really get from all that is that McCarthy was right.

LOL.........................
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