Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Arthur Miller was a Communist… or so they say

The FBI investigated Arthur Miller from almost the time of his first production. "A 34-page FBI report, compiled in 1951, states Miller was 'under Communist party discipline' in the 1930s and was a member of the party in the 1940s. The FBI was relying on information from informants. Miller, who died last year at age 89, was a longtime liberal who opposed the Vietnam War, opposed nuclear weapons and supported civil rights." CBC 06/21/06

It never ceases to amaze me that “free will” and the act of questioning authority are inevitably viewed as something deviant. Miller didn’t like the Vietnam War, I suppose not many that fought there enjoyed it either – does that make them communists as well? If I recall Russia had more than its fair share of “international conflicts” while labeled a purely communist state, the same with China. What was the purpose of the Cold War if “communist” and “peace-loving” are interchangeable? Our current good buddy North Korea… now there’s a peace-loving soul.

Mr. Miller didn’t care much for nuclear weapons, either, huh? Well, I really didn’t have much of an opinion on them, myself, until I lived in north central Montana and started to notice the missile silo bunkers intermittently placed throughout what was essentially my backyard. Think about it in terms of horseshoes and hand grenades and you’ll understand my sudden concern. A few locals told me that once the missiles started to fly, they planned to just sit back and get drunk for the final party. That was not reassuring.

Civil Rights now that’s something you can sink your teeth into as pure “Red-Lovin”. Why should freedom of speech and equality of race and opinion ever be considered part of a Republic? In 2005, a political party within Russia demanded that Judaism and Jewish organizations be banned from the country. In June, 500 prominent Russians, including some 20 members of the nationalist Rodina party, demanded that the state prosecutor investigate ancient Jewish texts as "anti-Russian" and ban Judaism — the investigation was actually launched, but halted amid international outcry. Wait, though aren’t they an… ahem… democracy… now? Not really, but neither are we.

One example is the fact that guests to public Presidential speeches are regularly removed from the site or simply not allowed entrance if they have anti-war or anti-Bush rhetoric posted on their vehicle in the form of a bumper sticker. Where is freedom of expression? I don’t believe these types of infractions are particularly new. I just don’t agree that we should sit back and ignore them as long as we are unharmed. Could being tossed from the President’s immediate location due to a bumper sticker be a form of conceptual art? Something was done (whether intentionally or not) that caused a reaction – so maybe it could fall under that classification. I don’t have much patience for Cindy Sheehan, although I agree with much of her message… I just tend to wish for a different messenger. Is it because she has crossed the line from grieving mother to conceptual artist? Gandhi beat the British Empire by speaking rather than lifting arms in battle. Doesn’t he fall under this same category (although, much more likeable than Sheehan)? Is the world recognizing that conceptual art has relevance beyond shocking public nude art photo shoots and Christos’ wrappings? Is the fight for a true democracy ultimately going to be won by conceptual artists? – DN

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