- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2006

Reagan’s mentor

“When a former Hollywood union boss named Roy Brewer died last month at 97, his passing was barely marked. He deserved a bigger send-off. …

“Brewer outlived his friend Ronald Reagan, two years his junior, and was responsible for helping shape Reagan’s views on communism. Brewer also outlived virtually all the Stalinists he and Reagan battled in the studios more than 50 years ago. …

“[T]he Conference of Studio Unions (CSU), headed by communist Herb Sorrell … tried to shut down the studios [in Hollywood after World War II] and force through concessions that would have served [Communist Party USA] interests. …

“When Ronald Reagan … returned to Hollywood from military duty, he was initially on the side of the CSU. Roy Brewer, in need of allies, made the case that the CPUSA was behind the complicated conflict, and under this tutelage, Reagan became the leading anti-Communist in the talent guilds. …

“By 1956, when Nikita Khrushchev revealed many of Stalin’s crimes, the CPUSA was a spent force in the studios. But the legend of the misguided liberals and misunderstood artists, crushed by vicious McCarthyites like Brewer, lived on: Hollywood’s version of the Greatest Generation.”

— Lloyd Billingsley, writing “Remembering an American Hero,” Thursday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

Golden gangsters

“Perhaps no genre captures the lower aspects of the national soul and the darker elements of its ethos better than the gangster film. …

“[T]he modern criminal emerged with the 20th century. He offered vice and defended both his territory and his corrosive wares with violence. Bloody action could travel all the way up the thermometer of crime until it reached murder, the most conspicuous of which was the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago in 1929.

“The murders were ordered by Al Capone and executed with such contemptuous brutality that the public howled for law and order. The mood was perfect for the emergence of the gangster film, which arrived from Warner Bros. with the startling realism of ‘The Public Enemy’ and ‘Little Caesar’ in 1931.”

— Stanley Crouch, writing on “Concrete Badlands,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

Family pride

“[Last week] America passed the 300 million mark in terms of population. While I haven’t spoken to my wife about this, I can tell you that I am feeling a sense of accomplishment — doing our part, so to speak — to reach this milestone: We have seven children. …

“For three decades, my wife and I have had to endure endless smug, waspish jokes about our family’s size. Really, most of them are quite offensive, deserving a punch in the nose, rather than the mild, passive smile we usually muster in the face of these lame attempts at hilarity such as:

“‘Don’t you own a TV?’ ”

“‘All by the same wife?’ ”

“‘Don’t you know there are ways to fix this problem?’ ”

“‘What about the environment?’ …

“At various times we have been tempted to answer ‘No’ to these jibes, adding, ‘Actually, we just like sex a lot.’ No doubt, the person on the receiving end of such a rejoinder would be shocked, shocked, at the rudeness of the reply. Go figure.”

— G. Tracy Mehan III, writing on “Doing Our Part,” Oct. 18 in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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