By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
That $380 million difference represents a whole lot of new buses. It’s good to see that Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa has begun standing tall for the Blue Line. But I hope he realizes that, as a top legislator, he’s also in a perfect position to do something about those outlandish Blue Line costs. The mitigation of which is long overdue.
The Final Reward
Last week a caller politely suggested that I cover the anti–Elia Kazan Oscar protest: "It’s happening downtown, and that’s your beat." And it’s political. Boy, was it political. But, I thought, so many others have written about it. What’s new to say?
Then the weekend press consensus came out for Kazan — two Times front-page Opinion pieces not only defended Kazan, but trumpeted that the victims of his self-serving snitching had it coming. ("Bobby Franks was a snotty kid," as Lenny Bruce used to say.) On the preceding Friday, the brain-damaged stripling who apparently constitutes the Daily News editorial page’s affirmative action program charged the Academy Awards pickets with "McCarthyism." Yeah, that’s where you’d always find ol’ "Tail-gunner" Joe McCarthy, out on some picket line. Exercising his right to protest, peacefully.
It all left rather a stink in the air. There probably hasn’t been such culpable championship since Nero purchased his own poetry reviews. So here we are.
Certainly, the facts aren’t in dispute: Kazan helped blacklist — much to the advantage of his career — people who’d done neither him nor his country any harm. That many of us might find the Hollywood 10’s beliefs contemptible, or even question the legal basis of their defense, isn’t to the point. They were punished for their beliefs. That they shared some of these beliefs with individuals who spied on America or sent millions to the firing squads is not germane. "Freedom of speech means nothing," George Orwell wrote, "if you can only say what others want to hear." The right to free speech must include the right to be wrong. This right was subverted by the likes of Elia Kazan and the venal mob of legislators to whom he pandered.
Kazan is America’s anti-Dreyfus. His treachery isn’t in doubt, even to his defenders. But because of his accomplishments and his victims’ politics, we are told to forgive him. Even in the absence of contrition.
The same rationale could apply to Knut Hamsun, the great Norse novelist who embraced Hitler — but to my knowledge, Hamsun betrayed no one but himself. Or to writer Mikhail Sholokhov and poet Ilya Ehrenberg, who boosted Stalin and did, like Kazan, denounce their writer colleagues. What’s most corrupt — and corrupting — about Kazan’s honor is its affirmation that, if you are successful enough in Hollywood, nothing else you do will be held against you.
So the gilded statue goes to an elderly and unrepentant cad. It certainly isn’t news that, in this vile world, good suffers and evil prospers. What is news is that, as of March 21, 1999, this maxim is the official policy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.