(Ron Capshaw’s article appeared in Tablet, 1/12.)

When Arthur Miller died in 2005, obituary writers saluted his standing as one of America’s greatest playwrights and praised his moral courage for refusing to name names of Communist Party members before the House Unamerican Activities Committee, or HUAC. The New York Times called Miller’s refusal “a courageous act in an atmosphere of palpable fear” and lionized him as a liberal casualty of the McCarthy era because he “never joined the Communist Party.” BBC News seconded the idea that Miller was an innocent bystander in the HUAC hearings when they reported that “it was his liberal views” and not any Communist sympathies that “caught him in the McCarthy anti-communist witch-hunt.” The Guardian stated that it was The Crucible, his anti-McCarthy metaphorical play, and not any party card, that brought him before HUAC. The Nation predictably hailed him as a heroic liberal resister against the thought control posed by HUAC, and so on.


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