Saturday, December 27, 2014

Here's The Jimmy Stewart Scene That Inspired The FBI To Warn Americans That "It's A Wonderful Life" Was Commie Propaganda


Today the 1946 Frank Capra film is universally considered a Christmas classic but when it was first released, the FBI and the House Un-American Activities Committee tried to label it Communist propaganda. In 1947, an FBI document, Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry, went after two of the screen writers, Frances Goodrich and her husband Albert Hackett for, among other things, "eating lunch daily with" known Communist screen writers. According to Michael Winship, Bill Moyers senior writer, the FBI-- which was working with Ayn Rand on this crackpot project-- was not happy with the film's storyline, in which the hero, Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey, was in opposition to "the avarice and power of banker and slumlord Henry Potter, played by Lionel Barrymore." The FBI memo accused the film of "a rather obvious attempt to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a 'scrooge-type' so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists." The movie also "deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters."

Ayn Rand wasn't the only right-wing extremist cooperating with the FBI in its attempt to censor popular culture. Among the other rats: Gary Cooper, Walt Disney and, of course, Ronald Reagan. Today, these same types are going out of their minds because Pope Francis has been turning the Catholic Church away from knee-jerk conservatism and towards-- horror of horrors-- the actual message of Jesus Christ. All the talk about banksters and capitalism's excesses has been bad enough for them, but now the Pope has been shaking up the conservatism that dominates the curia itself.

Offering his Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia, the senior churchmen who run the Holy See, Pope Francis, having observed at close quarters for the past 20 months how the Vatican actually works, unexpectedly gave his Roman bureaucrats a severe dressing down.

He listed 15 deadly sins-- "ailments" he called them-- that he had witnessed since he took office. Too much micro-management, too little internal co-ordination, examples of boastfulness, showing off, claiming to be indispensible, a tendency to gossip and defamation and, even worse, clerics leading double lives.

...According to worldwide polls conducted by the prestigious US-based Pew Research Centre, a majority of people in over half the 43 countries surveyed say they had a positive view of Pope Francis, with particularly high ratings in Europe (84%) and Latin America (72%).

Part of his popularity derives from favourable media comment on his style of communication with his flock and with outsiders, but also with his style of Church government:
He has made it increasingly clear that he has no time for careerism among Catholic clergy and has started to shift long-tenured cardinals and bishops away from the Vatican

He has moved cautiously but effectively to clean up the money-laundering scandal concerning the Vatican Bank, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), which had tarnished the image of the church for the past two decades

He installed Australian Cardinal George Pell as overseer of all Vatican finances

From 1 January, new accounting and management practices become operative within all Vatican departments. They will be obliged to draw up detailed annual budgets, which-- astonishingly-- had never been done in the past
...Perhaps Pope Francis's most significant quote of the year was during a recent interview with La Nacion, a newspaper from his home town in Argentina, Buenos Aires.

Acknowledging internal resistance to his planned reforms, he said: "It's a good sign for me, getting the resistance out into the open, no stealthy mumbling when there is disagreement. It's very healthy to get things out into the open!"
Perhaps getting everything out in the open would have protected Pope John Paul I from being murdered by the curia after just a month. He was also trying to reform the corrupt, reactionary Vatican, albeit more quietly. The Pope is even making an impact inside the Beltway. Today, Brent Budowsky, writing for The Hill suggested a "Ready For Pope Francis" movement, asserting he's the most popular public figure in the world.
The people’s pope, alone among world leaders, has directly and forcefully confronted institutions of finance, politics, media and now the organization that governs the Catholic Church itself. For this reason, while the 21st century remains young, we may be witnessing in real time the leadership of a man historians will ultimately regard as one of the greatest men of the century.

Jesus taught that the last shall be first, that we should sell all of our possessions and give the proceeds to the poor, and that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus forcefully challenged the institutions of his time, as Francis does, and for this he was crucified.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus not because of big discounts during holiday sales but because His message of love and generosity is timeless and common to teachings of great faiths everywhere. It is with this faith that Francis teaches and with this standard that, while Francis condemns abuses of institutions in almost every power center of the world, he criticizes himself and asks for forgiveness-- an honesty more politicians might practice.

When Francis notes that as the stock market rises it becomes a banner headline but when millions of homeless people suffer they are treated like nonpersons to be forgotten, he is challenging the institutions of media.

When Francis condemns abuses of greed in the economy and calls for dramatic reforms, he is challenging financial institutions and calling for dramatic change.

When Francis condemns the environmental degradation that could destroy the planet itself, he is challenging business and political institutions that fail to be stewards of the earth.

When Francis teaches love and kindness toward the poor, he is challenging politicians who support cutting help for the poor, such as food stamps, a program the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly supports.

It is said that when Francis read stories about would-be immigrants who died seeking a better life when their overcrowded boats sank in stormy seas, and learned that when the bodies were recovered the drowned mothers were still tightly hugging their sons and daughters with love during their last moments of life, he rededicated himself to humane treatment for immigrants. Francis challenges those in power who think otherwise, as some in earlier generations did when they opposed immigration of those who were Italian, Irish and Jewish, among others.

When Francis excoriates some members of the Catholic Curia itself, listing 15 “ailments and temptations” that corrupt their service to the Lord, as he did this week in his Christmas address that read like an indictment of abuses of power within the church itself, he is challenging the institutions of governance he leads.

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At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cut out the religion, and Pope Frank could be the social reformer the world needs. But I'm certain that the Cardinals are already planning the night cap that ensures Frank doesn't wake up some morning soon. His recent slap in their faces had to sting!

You are wise to note the condition of John Paul I's passing. It is about to happen again.

At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And this just in: in 2015 the Pope will undertake a concerted effort to alert his 1.2 billion followers, and whoever else will listen, of the need to deal with climate change.

Of course, 35 years of denial from "the most powerful nation on earth" may have already sealed the fate of that earth as, for example, the much feared release of methane from melting permafrost is being consistently observed.

John Puma


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