Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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April 04, 2006
naming names

Interesting when looking at playwright Elmer Rice's FBI file (on-line here, all pages part of .pdf file) to see that as the Red Scare heated up from the 1940s through the early '50s, the memo writers seemed to like to refer to him more and more prominently by his birth name, Reizenstein.

"During 1937, Elmer Rice was listed as an officer of the American Civil Liberties Union."

October 1942 memo (file pg. 5)

"RICE is described as a trifle to the left, recently a liberal."

May 1944 memo (file pg. 10)


"We find that Reizenstein alias Elmer Rice has a long 'Red' record. . . . Reitzenstein-Rice violently maintains he isn't a Communist."

December 1951 memo (file pg. 30-31)

"'REIZENSTEIN', alias 'ELMER RICE', has a long 'Red' record. . . . REIZENSTEIN (RICE) violently maintains he isn't a Communist. . . . "

September 1952 memo (file pg. 44)

Rice's November 1951 letter to the television producers of one of his plays, written to protest their censorship and interference with casting decisions due to "'public-relations' (i.e. political) considerations," and to break his contract, is inspiring:

"Every day, artists are being denied employment, vilified, exposed to humiliating 'investigations', called upon to 'clear' themselves of charges made by irresponsible publicity-seekers and opportunistic patrioteers. . . .

The air does not belong to the Ellington Agency, nor to the Celanese Corporation, nor to the networks. It belongs to the American people."

(file pgs. 28-29)