Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hammett Won’t Play the Red Rat

According to author-blogger Bill Peschel, it was on this date in 1951 that the U.S. government finally broke Dashiell Hammett “for refusing to cooperate with the Communist witch hunt.
In a New York courtroom, the author of The Maltese Falcon and other detective novels refused to testify about the whereabouts of four Communist Party members who had jumped bail after their convictions under the Smith Act. Because Hammett was president of the Civil Rights Congress, which paid the bail, the judge held him and three other members of the group’s bail fund committee responsible. For refusing to testify, they were found guilty of contempt and sentenced to six months in prison, which they were to begin serving immediately.
You’ll find Peschel’s full write-up about this incident here.

1 comment:

kathy d. said...

Good for Dashiell Hammett! He was a principled person who stood up and didn't back down.

He was imprisoned but he did not name names. He took responsibility for his acts and beliefs, but maintained respect for other people.

He didn't cave in.

This is a good lesson for today, for those caving in to the super-rich on cutting Social Security and Medicare -- for which people pay their own working lives, and it does not contribute to the deficit - and for Medicaid which millions of poor and unemployed people need (Many more people need it than receive it).

Principles matter. Principles are important, especially when the lives of tens of millions of people are affected.