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The Hollywood

Story of a witch hunt

Table of content

What si McCarthyism?

Who do we hunt now?

And the ten?

At the end of the Second World War, two blocks are forming. Capitalists, the United-States ahead, and communists, with the USSR. Their systems were strictly opposed, and the Cold War began. Soon, the communists ideas were seen in the US like a threat for national security. Media, politicians, and other people of influence spread the trend, exaggerating the danger, so that anyone whose opinion differs from them could be seen as a potential communist. These people may be fired, blacklisted, or rejected from any group they were a part of. This behviour had gotten the name of J. McCarthyism, a politician well known for giving lists of names, designating lots of people as potential dangers (within 1950, 1954). Finally, the damage produced by this sort of Whitchurch hunt was far more important than the potential danger of communists groups in the US'


There existed an institution name the HUAC (House of Un-American Activities Comitte), charged to investigate over everyone who is suspected to aspire to communists ideas.

In 1947, the HUAC is looking for them in the movie industry, at Hollywood. Ten professionals, however, refused to awnser to its questions. There were scriptwriters, film makers and authors. Since the HUAC was an official institution, they had been sued and some of them went in prison for several months, were blacklisted from Hollywood, like Dalton Trumbo and Edward Dmytryk. The first kept working in the US with a false name, (and with a salary significantly lower), the second had to go to Great Britain for some time.

There had been a lot of cases of witch hunts throughout history, from the Salem trials in the XVIIth century to the Hollywood ten. But it would be a mistake to think that they belong exclusively to the past. Firstly because in some countries some litteral witch hunts still occurs, and secondly because our Western societies do not insure that there is no metaphorical "witch hunt" similar to the chase of communists during the McCarthyism period. Some may argue, for example, that the expression may be used to describe the case of Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, a plateform which objective is to publish secret information, making it available to the public. Julian Assange had to live, for many years (2012 to 2019), in the Ecuador embassy in London. Indeed, as soon as he would have left the embassy, he would have been arrested and extradited to the United-States. In a sense this is a recent example of a hunt, which may be compared to the different experience of Edward Snowden.

Julian Assange in 2018