Over half a century ago, I accidentally discovered an historical oddity that had no real historic value. It was just odd. Over the years, like common stock certificates that soar in value while lying forgotten in a safe-deposit box, this oddity has achieved tremendous significance, and I want to cash in on it, because with anti-Americanism becoming so popular among Americans, this little historical oddity might nudge some of those anti-Americans back to their senses.
I did basic training in the Army at Fort Dix, New Jersey. One of our advantages was that our weekend pass may not have enabled us to go home but it definitely enabled us to join in on the adventures in nearby New York City. The year was 1952, and Sen. Joe McCarthy was at the pinnacle of his controversial and divisive powers. The far left had a hard time dealing with its true issues because America was spearheading the military rescue of non-Communist South Korea, which had clearly been the victim of a flat-out invasion by the Communist North. The left set about doing what they do best, however, which was making the new American crime of “McCarthyism” sound infinitely worse than it actually was. There was the unambiguous accusation that Sen. Joe McCarthy was Hitler all over again and that America was proving daily that it was the new Nazi political base and recreation center in every way.
I was walking alone eastward on West 42nd Street one Saturday evening when the skies opened up, and I had no raincoat of any kind. I ducked into the first protected shelter, which turned out to be a movie theater, and even my first glance was enough to tell it was unlike any other movie theater I’d ever experienced.
This was no ordinary “movie theater.” This was a Communist Disney World!
Don’t lose any of the important pieces. Here I amble alone into a library stocked with every bit of Communist compulsory reading from Marx and Lenin and famous American Communist writers like Howard Fast,”The Daily Worker” (Communism’s daily newspaper in English) and the latest hit films fresh from Moscow. And yet here I was, one short block from Times Square at the height of the so-called “McCarthy Era”!
Tell me, please, Mr. Anti-American, was there an anti-Hitler movie theater in downtown Berlin from 1933 to 1945? Was there ever an anti-Stalin library open for one and all a block from the Kremlin? Did any country ever offer a newsstand so those who wanted to bring the government down could stay in touch with one another? And don’t we fair-minded clear-thinkers agree that America deserves at least a high-five for granting freedom even to those who would destroy America?
It’s ground-kissing time in America. When I told David Horowitz, a so-called “red-diaper baby,” of my discovery of The Stanley Theater, he lit up and recalled all the many Saturdays his parents took him to The Stanley Theater to watch, not cowboys and Indians, but Bolsheviks and Mensheviks!
Too many good stories are ruined by over-verification, but the exit from Fort Dix to the bus stop that takes you into New York City is alleged to be the site of a short but colorful “Freedom Fight” starring an African-American GI with a weekend pass in his hand and an MP (military policeman) with a deep Southern accent who kept finding pickayunish little problems with the black soldier’s pass. Finally, at the point where no reasonable person could have assumed anything except that old-fashioned racism, the soldier put his face smack into the face of the MP and said, “Look a-here, buddy, I got a mother in Heaven and a father in Hell and a girl in Harlem, and I’m gonna see one of them tonight!”
Somewhat easier to prove are the words of a Russian comedian who became a legal immigrant to America. “I left Russia for America on Thanksgiving,” said Smirnoff. “Actually it was early March, but ANY day you leave Russia for America is Thanksgiving!