Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Excerpt of the day

From Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges

"The opponents of the New Deal, backed and funded by the business elite, announced that President Roosevelt had permitted communists to infiltrate the government and government-funded programs, such as the Federal Theatre Project. And that project was the first target of the Dies Committee, led by Texas Democrat Martin Dies. The theatre project was denounced in a series of hearings in August and November 1938. The Dies committee eventually became HUAC. [Hallie] Flanagan [head of the Federal Theatre Project] was asked about an article she had written titled "A Theatre is Born," in which she described the enthusiasm of the federal theaters as having "a certain Marlowesque madness."

"You are quoting from this Marlowe," observed Alabama representative Joseph Starnes from the committee. "Is he a Communist?"

The room rocked with laughter, but I did not laugh," Flanagan remembered. "Eight thousand people might lose their jobs because a Congressional Committee had so prejudged us that even the classics were 'communistic.' I said, 'I was quoting from Christopher Marlowe.'"

"Tell us who this Marlowe is, so we can get the proper references, because that is all we want to do," Starnes said.

"Put in the record that he was the greatest dramatist in the period of Shakespeare, immediately preceding Shakespeare," Flanagan answered.

By 1939 the theatre project was killed.

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