‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Was Deemed Subversive

December 13, 2018 4:51 PM0 comments

It’s not, as they say, rocket science. Anyone who can calculate the outcome of last month’s midterm elections has notice. The outside number for House seats to flip from Republican to Democrat was 40, and “realistic” predictions were in the 20-25 range. It took awhile for all the votes to be counted, but now it is 40.

Surviving Republican lawmakers at all levels of government have to be worried, and taking stock in yesterday’s announcement by a Kansan who didn’t wait for an election to flip herself. State Sen. Barbara Bollier from Mission Hills in Kansas formally announced that she’s switched parties from Republican to Democrat, citing Donald Trump has her main motivator. She also said that the GOP discriminatory policy on transgender identity was a factor.

Maybe the passing of George Herbert Walker Bush earlier this month was timely in an important way to slap awake a lot of Republicans who’ve been lulled into following the “Freedom Caucus” lemming stampede to the cliff. To date, we’ve been only sorely disappointed to learn how apparently baked in to the Republican brand even those who we hoped might know better have become.

They haven’t learned the most important lesson that holding one’s nose and supporting a bad person because they support some of the what they consider the right policies is profoundly wrong on a multitude of levels.

For one thing, these people obviously do not take issues of religious faith seriously, because if they did they could not behave as they have. The hypocrisy and the duplicity are far too evident, and there is no major religious tradition that does not condemn such things. Anyone who is a true believer would have to have converted to some twisted form of Satanism to justify their actions to this point.

But if fear of losing an election won’t work, fear of going to jail won’t work, and fear of going to hell won’t either, then it’s hard to imagine what can cause a change of heart. Well, it’s the holiday season, and maybe a good cocktail combining a strong dose of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with the H.W. funeral might begin shaking some foundations. They always do a great job with “A Christmas Carol” at Washington, D.C.’s historic Ford’s Theater, where in 1865 perhaps the greatest American leader ever earned his wings.

H.W. was not in the category of a Lincoln, and all the public homage to his legacy this month ignored some of his much less than salutary actions as president, in particular his inaction on the AIDS crisis, but it wasn’t hard to make him appear little less than a saint simply for not being a Donald Trump.

Then there is the holiday tradition, for many, of watching the 1947 Frank Capra classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” That magnificent film was born of the generosity of spirit that animated post-World War II America, a generosity that arose from a genuine cultural feeling that America, collectively, had done something really good in successfully prosecuting a war against a truly evil adversary.

It is yet another terrible irony of history that this generosity was chipped away by America’s own intelligence community, in this case in the form of a memo by the FBI which warned that the film was pro-Communist and subversive of red blooded American values as embodied in the character of Mr. Potter, the blood-sucking banker who would have driven Bedford Falls into the sewer but for the resilience of the local banker, the movie’s hero, George Bailey as played by Jimmy Stewart. Raised in that era, when other great films like “Miracle on 34th Street,” “I Remember Mama,” “The Yearling,” “Red River” and many others were popular, I and my family never heard about “It’s a Wonderful Life,” presumably because of the controversy the FBI built around it as its “Hollywood 10” and other “Red Scare” programs began to kick in.

The FBI’s use of Hollywood to spread fear, suspicion and superstition was the genesis of what has become of the pathetic GOP of today. It was a surviving residue of fascist and anti-FDR ”New Deal” sympathies from that era.

 


Nicholas Benton may be emailed at nfbenton@fcnp.com.

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