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"Easy Street" von Charlie Chaplin

Booting a Tramp: Charlie Chaplin, the FBI, and the Construction of the Subversive Image in Red Scare America

For the FBI to suspect that one of the world's most famous film stars, a man worth upwards of $30 million, was plotting to overthrow capitalism suggests at the very least the organization had its wires crossed. How- ever, like the tramp in Modern Times who gets caught in the cogs of modern industry, Charlie Chaplin, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, found himself entangled in the "machinery" of McCarthyism. Although some historians now question the extent to which anti- communist hysteria swept the United States during this period, the early years of the Cold War undeniably witnessed numerous at- tempts to purge the culture of anything that could be deemed sub- versive, including abstract modern art and the story of Robin Hood. Yet Chaplin was no spy, nor was he a communist. Even had he been, he certainly was not a threat to the nation. Chaplin at- tracted the attention of countersubversives like FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover because of his prominent status as a cultural icon. That FBI officials treated Chaplin as a threat to national security shows the extent to which cultural "subversion" and more tangible forms of subversion, such as espionage, were conflated.

In my high school years in St. Louis County early in the 1960s, dreadful years of the Cold War, in our curriculum we were offered a choice of foreign languages: German, Russian and Spanish. In college we read the books of Karl Marx and others. Knowledge of cultures was the intent for better understanding of adversaries. I chose for the romantic language of Spanish. In college I added the German language because of my science studies. Keeping an open mind and critical thinking was part of my education. A failure of truth in government to lower itself and society to censorship. Shocking.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Mar 6th, 2022 at 06:47:35 PM EST

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