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  • Hardcover
  • The Time of the Toad: A Study of Inquisition in America and Two Related Pamphlets
  • Dalton Trumbo
  • English
  • 19 January 2019
  • 9780061361081

10 thoughts on “The Time of the Toad: A Study of Inquisition in America and Two Related Pamphlets

  1. says:

    How I came to read this bookI first heard the word McCarthyism from an aunt way back in the early 1980 s She was a history major from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, and a liberal I was in my late teens then India had just recovered from Indira Gandhi s Emergency 1975 77 and slowly moving towards the right of the political spectrum As a staunch leftist, I was outraged that freedom of expression could be curbed like that But it was an old story, and the nightmare of the Emergency was past, so I filed away the knowledge as a historical curiosity and forgot all about it.I was reminded of it again while reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver in 2010 Now with the help of Wikipedia and other sources, I could do a bit of research and what came up was appalling I could really understand the meaning of witch hunt And with India inexorably moving towards the right, it was a frightening reminder of what could happen.Fast forward to 2014 I read and reviewed Eminent Historians Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud by Arun Shourie, which puts forward the conspiracy theory that all reputed Indian historians are communists and have massively distorted India s true history which is, of course, pure bovine excrement and I said as much in my review A disgruntled right winger commented that I was purposefully shutting my eyes and pointed me to an interview by Yuri Bezmonov a Soviet defector as conclusive proof that the Indian intelligentsia were compromised.Well, I read the book written by that guy too Love Letter to America and found the same sort of wild allegations without a shred of proof The matter should have rested there, had not the Indian government started its own witch hunt for Urban Naxals , based on Vivek Agnihotri s book of the same name Soon, the right wingers all over India were discovering Maoists around every corner And increasingly, intellectuals in academia and entertainment were being targeted.McCarthyism had been revived in India with a vengeance.The Review McCarthyism is the practice in the United States of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence The term refers to U.S senator Joseph McCarthy R Wisconsin and has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting from the late 1940s through the 1950s It was characterized by heightened political repression as well as a campaign spreading fear of Communist influence on American institutions and of espionage by Soviet agents Wikipedia In the late 1940 s, the USA went mad Due to the heightening of tensions because of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the government began seeing a communist infiltrator under each bed and across every corner Hundreds of people were hounded out of their careers and lost their livelihood due to governmental persecution.The most infamous of the institutions created as a tool for this inquisition was the House Un American Activities Committee HUAC The House Un American Activities Committee HUAC, or House Committee on Un American Activities, or HCUA was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives The HUAC was created in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having Fascist or Communist ties Wikipedia One of the main contributions of the committee to the anti communist witch hunt was its enquiry into the Hollywood film industry Over a period of nine days, it examined witnesses from industry and compelled them to reveal their ties to the American Communist Party Ten of them refused, citing the Fifth Amendment to the constitution, which protected a citizen from giving self incriminatory evidence These ten people were convicted of contempt of Congress charges, and ultimately fined and jailed even though they had done nothing illegal even the Communist party was a legal organisation And around 300 people were blacklisted and lost their careers.Dalton Trumbo, screenwriter and novelist, was one of them And this essay is his indictment of this state sponsored terrorism It talks about the freedoms which are sacrosanct in a democracy, and how they were being crushed by the current administration Even though Trumbo s voice comes to us from seven decades ago, it s worth listening to.Trumbo calls the particular time period the time of the toad , after Emile Zola s quip to a young writer on how to stomach absolutely unpalatable and jingoistic newspaper columns eat a toad, alive and whole It will settle the stomach to such an extent that it can digest anything All nations in the course of their histories have passed through periods which, to extend Zola s figure of speech, might be called the Time of the Toad an epoch long or short as the temper of the people may permit, fatal or merely debilitating as the vitality of the people may determine, In which the nation turns upon Itself in a kind of compulsive madness to deny all In its tradition that is clean, to exalt all that is vile, and to destroy any heretical minority which asserts toad meat not to be the delicacy which governmental edict declares it Triple heralds of the Time of the Toad are the loyalty oath, the compulsory revelation of faith, and the secret police. Nation states are artificial constructs And governments, in times of insecurity, creative a narrative of Us vs Them the so called patriots vs traitors It is an example of the in group against the out group , as explained by Desmond Morris in The Human Zoo The in group may be the majority religion, race or believers of a particular political philosophy The out group is usually an underprivileged minority, who are seen as the cause of all the troubles plaguing the in group and the nation.The obvious example near at hand, for Trumbo, is Nazi Germany after going through its recent history in brief, he suddenly shifts to USA and the House Committee for Un American Activities, as a worthy successor to Nazi era repressive fora However, here there is the additional feature of an enemy nation the traitorous out group is loyal to the Soviet Union.Once such an out group is identified, it s child s play for the authorities to terrorise the populace into submission Most people are not willing to sacrifice their lives for the truth You put the fear of reprisals into people and to escape, they will point their finger at anyone other than themselves.He details the acts of the committee, and how person after person chickened out and agreed to testify, and squeal on their colleagues It makes compelling reading because this is what happens everywhere, right from the original witch hunts in Europe to the modern day totalitarian regimes If a man Is a Communist and denies his affiliation More the committee, he has committed perjury and he will go to jail if he answers affirmatively, the second question put to him will be Who else If he refuses this answer he is in contempt in the same degree as if he had refused the first, and he will go to jail If he answers the second, he will be confronted with the third Who are your relatives Your friends Your business associates Your acquaintances At which point, if he complies, he is involved in such a nauseous quagmire of betrayal that no man, however sympathetic to his predicament, can view him without loathing. As the persecution goes on, studio bosses and union leaders use it as an opportunity to settle old scores, break strikes and gain political advantage Soon, it is the situation where any form of expression not expressly sanctioned by the administration becomes a thought crime Orwell was writing about communism, but his metaphor works for the right as well because, freedom of expression can never be partial, as expressed by Mr Benjamin De Voto, writing in the September 1949, issue of Harper s Magazine, about the committee s attempt to police universities There is no such thing as academic freedom that is just a mite restricted, The colleges are entirely free or they are not free at all For any supporter of free thought, this is almost a tautology but those who want to impose the will of the state on its citizens, freedom of expression is anathema Trumbo s dire warning that the American movie industry will follow the German one, where films were only used as fascist propaganda, didn t come true, fortunately But the poison injected into the minds of the common man remained as distrust of any viewpoint questioning the status quo And of late, it has re emerged as censorship and gagging of academics and intellectuals across an increasingly right leaning world Education, hitherto presumed to consist of free inquiry into the nature of truth, thus becomes merely an instrument of whatever policy the nation momentarily may pursue That policy, determined outside the university and being on its own ipse dixit right, obviously cannot be subject to free inquiry When policy has been made, inquiry ceases National policy is truth, truth is national policy It cannot be otherwise. Sounds chillingly familiar, doesn t it The world as a whole including my country, India is going through the Time of the Toad People are not just eating the toad they are swallowing it whole and declaring it the tastiest food ever In this situation, we cannot hope any state institution to give us succour because for them to exist, toad eating is mandatory.The only thing to do is refuse to eat the toad Shout out loud from the rooftops Make your voice heard If the voices are sufficient in number, it will breach any wall.REFUSE TO EAT THE TOAD.

  2. says:

    A chilling tale of the anti Communist hysteria of the mid twentieth century by one of its targets A reminder that it could, and in fact has, happened again.

  3. says:

    Trumbo s book on McCarthyism and the accompanying attacks on artists and others Mostly it describes the reasons he felt the trials to be non democratic and to be violations of law Interesting to read in the Trump era, when once again the American legal system is under attack by politicians who are supposed to be defending it.

  4. says:

    El tiempo del sapo es un alegato a la libertad de expresi n, de creaci n y de asociaci n, en unos tiempos donde, frente al miedo, los gobiernos optan por la represi n de cualquier idea innovadora o que se salga de sus expectativas

  5. says:

    Ocurri en 1956, la glamurosa Deborah Kerr subi al estrado muy dispuesta y pronunci aquello de and the Oscar goes to En juego estaba el galard n al mejor gui n y el aforturnado result ser un tal Robert Rich Tras los aplausos de rigor, los estilosos asistentes miraban incr dulos a su alrededor en busca del misterioso guionista Finalmente tuvo que ser un representante del sindicato de guionistas el encargado de recoger la estatuilla en nombre de Rich, quien al parecer se encontraba en el hospital apunto de ser padre Falso de toda falsedad, que dir a aquel.Como se descubri m s tarde, el autor se encontraba exiliado en el DF donde tuvo que emigrar a verlas venir, previo paso por una prisi n federal por tiempo de un a o Robert Rich result ser el seud nimo de Dalton Trumbo, uno de los m s exitosos guionistas de la poca dorada de Hollywood, cuyo delito fue negarse a confesar sus filiaciones pol ticas en 1947 ante el Comit de Actividades Antiamericanas.Lee el resto de la rese a en

  6. says:

    Saw a biography on PBS about him Very intellectual wordsmith.

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About the Author: Dalton Trumbo

Dalton Trumbo worked as a cub reporter for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, covering courts, the high school, the mortuary and civic organizations He attended the University of Colorado for two years working as a reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera and contributing to the campus humor magazine, the yearbook and the campus newspaper He got his start working for Vogue magazine His first publi