Re: [sixties-l] re: Steal this movie

From: William Mandel (
Date: Wed Jun 07 2000 - 19:13:05 CUT

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    Don't ignore documentaries. On Sept. 19, PBS TV stations
    nationwide will show, on the "P.O.V." show, a new film, "KPFA On
    The Air," which necessarily includes that station's treatment of
    the Sixties. A decade ago there was a film whose title is
    self-explanatory, "Berkeley in the Sixties". Earlier, there were
    three on the HUAC hearing in San Francisco in 1960. Two were
    actually made to respond to the first of them. The response films
    were the ACLU's pedestrian "Operation Correction" and Robert
    Cohen's docudrama-style "House Committee on Un-American
    Activities," actually a very good movie despite its deliberately
    deadpan title. The film they were produced to answer, which had
    enormous impact in bringing the student movement into existence,
    was "Operation Abolition," the FBI-HUAC version of what happened
    at the HUAC hearing in San Francisco in 1960. I describe it as
    follows in my autobiography, SAYING NO TO POWER, Creative Arts,
    Berkeley, 1999:
        "The film, 'Operation Abolition,' was given enormous
    audiences -- 18 million total -- by the cooperation of the
    largest corporations and the nation's police departments. It
    briefly made me a national figure among youth. My testimony often
    had an effect opposite from that intended by the film-makers.
    Thirty-five years later, an aging San Francisco street poet told
    me that he, a student in Minnesota, went with his buddy, named
    Zimmerman, to see the film. It turned them against the
    Establishment. His friend became known to the world as Bob Dylan.
        "All this [reference is to unquoted preceding passages] was
    actually a lull before the storm that burst of the heads of
    students and myself with the first showing of 'Operation
    Abolition.'....A mysterious Washington company produced the movie
    within two months of the events. HUAC filed it as a report to
    Congress, thus protecting it against libel suits. It needed that
    protection, because it was an outrageous piece of falsification
    by editing. Time sequences were reversed so as to suggest, for
    example, that Longshoremen's Union president Harry Bridges had
    incited the students to riot. In fact he was having lunch in a
    restaurant and didn't get to City Hall until the police riot was
    over. 'Police riot' is a phrase the students invented to describe
    the events that occurred. The movie libeled individuals,
    including me, referring to me as a Communist. I had left the
    party three years earlier, before moving to California, a fact
    the FBI unquestionably knew. The courts had already found the
    designation 'Communist' damaging in a libel suit by a TV
    personality. I had, under pain of perjury had I testified
    falsely, denied Communist membership at the HUAC hearing,
    although in very careful phrasing so it could not imply
    condemnation of anyone who did choose to be a member of the
       "The first two showings of 'Operation Abolition' were on TV in
    Los Angeles, introduced by a former governor of California....I
    responded with a letter accusing the show and those associated
    with the film of defamation of character, slander, and libel. My
    letter was read on a subsequent broadcast in that TV show....The
    host said, in the course of a long tirade: 'William is the fellow
    that before this House Committee said that he was very proud when
    people walked up to him on the street and congratulated him as
    the man who killed Joe McCarthy...And he called the members of
    the Committee that were sitting in San Francisco Judases....It's
    high time that the Congress of the United States enacted
    legislation that would protect the committees from such abuse as
    was...directed toward it by William Mandel and Archie Brown of
    the Longshoremen's Union....By next year there will be some
    protection afforded the Committee so these men can be cited for
    contempt when they act in such a manner and dunked into the pokey
    for an extended period of time.'"
        "...another letter from the same viewer [who had provided me
    the quoted passage] made the matter seem more serious: 'You seem
    to have been selected out of many candidates to receive Tom's
    right-wing ire. Last night, Aug. 23, Tom commented on a
    photostatic copy of KPFK's Folio...He read a series of the titles
    of your programs....It could possibly have serious
    repercussions....He has devoted followers....I don't really think
    I'm exaggerating the effect on his rabidly patriotic and
    conservative followers.'"
       "'Operation Abolition' had its first showing in our area at
    the end of September....The showing had been on that same public
    TV station, KQED, that had just taken me off the air. It was Caspar Weinberger, later President Reagan's
    super-hawk Secreaty of Defense. I wrote the station that I would
    sue KQED-TV for libel unless it ran my full testimony, which
    contradicts the film script. The results were triumphant and
    hilarious. My full testimony was available only in audio form.
    Weinberger sat at a desk and said that...he had shown a film
    containing a portion of the testimony of William Mandel, and that
    the audience would now hear Mr. Mandel's full testimony. And so
    for fifteen mnutes the future most-powerful cabinet member sat
    stone-faced under a huge blow-up portrait of me the producer had
    provided, as I ripped into HUAC. I'd love to have a print of that
       "The letter from Los Angeles about that TV show was the first
    of a steady stream I received from all over the country for years
    to come about 'Operation Abolition.' People would see me in the
    film, be outraged, decide I could help them in their efforts to
    fight the Committee and the local reactionaries who were
    promoting it, and wrote me either for suggestions or to come and
    speak. My home address was in the official proceedings of the
    hearing, which were widely circulated by both sides."
        "In 1962 Stanford students asked me to debate on campus a Dr.
    Fred Scharz, an Australian resident in the U.S. who was the
    founder and head of the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade....The
    strategy was to ride my drawing power because of 'Operation
    Abolition,' and to mousetrap me with the proposed subject:
    'Resolved: That Communist Professors Should Be fired,' with me
    taking the negative."
        "In September 1964 [my son] Bob was to be one of four
    veterans of the Mississippi voting-registration effort to address
    the Democratic State Committee of California in Sacramento in
    support of a resolution favoring the Freedom Democratic Party in
    Mississippi over the racist official party. A newsman asked him
    in unfriendly fashion whether he was the son of the Mandel of
    'Operation Abolition.'"
        "1964 marked the beginning of the highest wave of student
    activism in thirty years. Tens of thousands of students had seen
    'Operation Abolition,' in which my defiance of the House
    Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) invariably brought
    applause. They essentially adopted me. Here was a rare bird:
    someone their parents' age who was not content to color within
    the lines." (pp. 368-394, passim).
                                                      William Mandel
    Jeffrey Apfel wrote:
    > Martin Blank wrote:
    > > Jeffrey Apfel wrote:
    > >
    > > > radman wrote:
    > > >
    > > >
    You may find of interest website

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