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Radical Islamic Bullies

While discussing the liberation of Afghanistan from the Soviet Union, many people fail to understand that Osama bin Laden was one of the freedom fighters (mujahideen) who helped to defeat the Soviets. The United States backed these freedom fighters economically and militarily.

Afghanistan is where bin Laden and his followers learned to use weapons, engage in guerilla warfare, and the art of making bombs. Bin Laden — a Saudi Islamic fundamentalist — objected to the presence of U.S. military bases on “holy soil” in Saudi Arabia. He organized the terrorist group Al-Qaeda to fight westernization in Muslim countries and the U.S. itself. It was Saudis linked to Al-Qaeda who slammed into the World Trade Center on 9/11.

President Bill Clinton and the CIA warned the American people about Al-Qaeda, but people did not know enough about radical Islam to understand. Nor could they imagine such a terrible thing happening.

Instead of addressing the problem head on, President Bush invaded Iraq and avoided any major military action against Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where their camps were actually located. This was incomprehensible to many people. (If he was going to break international law and invade a country, it should have been Afghanistan.)

Under President Obama’s watch, bin Laden was finally killed and Al-Qaeda temporarily dispersed. But another threat emerged: ISIS. They announced their presence to the world through video-taped beheadings of Western journalists and other unlucky victims. Instead of taking these horrific actions seriously, Europe failed to act, and President Obama laughed and called them “J.V.” Realistically, the western world should have acted after the first beheading.

NO RADICAL ISLAMIC GROUP CAN BE WRITTEN OFF AS NOTHING BECAUSE ALL OF THESE GROUPS ARE WILLING TO USE VIOLENCE AND A CALL TO ISLAMIC UNITY AND PURITY TO PROMOTE THEIR AGENDAS. The media either downplays these groups or portrays them as “victims” of colonialism, even though European colonialism ended a long time ago. In point of fact, the Islamic governments which arose after colonialism puppet governments failed, are the real culprits.

The Muslim world has been uniquely divided against itself since the time of the the Prophet Muhammad. Westernization, which brought many countries into the 20th century, has been rejected over and over again when fundamentalist regimes have taken power. In Afghanistan, the Taliban were allowed to take over, resulting in an extreme form of Islamic oppression. The media – and the current Biden administration – does a poor job of reporting on situations like this. The realities of these events are so far removed from American life that people cannot comprehend the horrors of daily life for people in Afghanistan. Before the fall of Kabul, a poll revealed that 75% of the Afghanistan population hated the Taliban. People who were desperate to leave the country died, trying to get on airplanes leaving the airport.

Terrorism on U.S. soil was not as active under President Trump because he was proactive in preventing it. But in Europe, the media still tends to downplay any connection to radical Islamic terrorism when something happens because of the large numbers of Muslim refugees who have been allowed into European countries.

When an act of radical Islamic terrorism occurs — wherever it occurs — people need to know who did it and why. Trying to sweep it under the rug is just ignoring the problem. For example, the goal of ISIS (and Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and other, lesser-known groups) is to re-establish the caliphate in the Middle East. Although this sounds unrealistic to most people, it is a rallying point for ISIS and these other groups in recruiting new members. Referring back to the glory days of Islamic civilization gives down-trodden, oppressed people pride and hope for the future. ISIS – and these other groups – employs technology experts and does much of its recruiting on the Dark Web. The media does not report on this enough.

In reality, some Muslims DO become radicalized. Some of them DO become involved in violent terrorism. Some Americans have been seduced into joining radical Islamic terrorist groups. The media – and our government – has a responsibility to report fully and truthfully on this. Instead, President Biden plans to send $65 million to the Taliban in Afghanistan under the guise of helping the women and children of this war-torn country. The people will never see a dime of that money. Just like the U.S. military left behind $85 billion of weapons and other military equipment for the Taliban to use, the money will be spent on a terrorist government and terrorist activities. Biden has already allowed unvetted Afghanistanis to leave the country as refugees. Nobody knows how many are actual terrorists in disguise.

When we have politicians like Senator Krysten Sinema encouraging Americans to fight with the Taliban; government officials like John Kerry weaponizing terrorist countries like Iran (the leading country when it comes to financing terrorism); and presidents like Obama and Biden kissing terrorists’ asses, the American people are sitting ducks for violence, torture, and death.

Islamic fundamentalists are bullies. And they don’t care what you and I think about it. They are hate-filled, ideology-driven idealists determined to fulfill a goal – the Islamization of the whole world. Groups in America that became influential under the Obama-Biden regime are the Muslim Brotherhood (a well-known terrorist organization that was given access to the White House on numerous occasions under Obama), CAIR (The Council on American-Islamic Relations), and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). These three groups are all connected.

Are all Muslims terrorists? Of course not, and the good ones should not be confused with the bad ones. But we know who the bad ones are, and it is unacceptable and completely unthinkable that our political leaders are negotiating and doing business with these guys. Even worse, it is total incompetence when the CIA and the FBI become aware of active groups and fail to act. The heads of these organizations should be immediately fired when something happens.

Finally, it is up to the American people to educate themselves and demand change from our own government.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

February 5, 2019; updated September 13, 2021

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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How the Paramount Decision and the Hollywood Blacklist Changed Hollywood

Rapid post-war changes in American society put downward pressure on studio revenues and profits.  But the Paramount decision and the Hollywood blacklist led to permanent changes that determined how Hollywood studios would conduct business from then on.

Once the Justice Department set its site on the Hollywood filmmaking industry, there was no turning back.  The first antitrust challenge by the Department of Justice came in 1938.  The Hollywood studios operated as trusts, and the Department of Justice was determined to break them up (Lewis 194).

Operating as trusts, the studios held almost complete control over the industry from film development to exhibition.  Studios released new films via a two-tier system.  Most first-tier theaters were owned by the studios.  Second-tier theaters, owned mainly by independents, were pressured by the studios into accepting certain terms if they wanted to screen first-run movies.  The studios used other scams to keep the theaters under their thumbs, such as “blind bidding (the licensing of films sight unseen) [and] block booking (the licensing of an entire slate of films in order to get access to one or two hit titles)” (Lewis 194-195).

After much legal wrangling, the Big Five – MGM, Warner Bros., Paramount, 20th Century-Fox, and RKO – signed an “interim consent decree” (Lewis 195) with the Department of Justice on October 29, 1940.  This decree allowed a system of arbitration to be set up that could resolve conflicts between theater owners and the studios.  But the decree did nothing to break up studio monopolies and end their monopolistic practices.  This led to the studios and the theater owners arbitrating a new consent decree in 1941 called the United Motion Picture Industry (Unity) plan.  The plan gave theater owners more leverage but did not go far enough to limit the power of the studios (Lewis 195).

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Paramount case in 1948 (which also included RKO, Warner Bros., 20th Century-Fox, Loew’s-MGM, Columbia, Universal, and United Artists.)  On May 3, 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that the studios must divest themselves of studio-owned theaters across the country.  The Court reasoned that the studios had colluded to “restrain free and fair trade and to monopolize the distribution and exhibition of films” (Lewis 195).

On the plus side, the Court found the fines imposed on theater owners by the MPAA [Motion Picture Association of America] for screening films without a PCA [Production Code Administration] seal, unconstitutional (Lewis 196-197).

While domestic revenues and studio profits declined after the Paramount decision, “foreign demand for American films after the war” (Lewis 197) grew steadily.  The Cold War was in full swing.  “The Office of War Information . . . cooperated with the MPAA to establish for the studios an ideological and industrial presence abroad” (Lewis 197) which would ensure that American filmmakers would depict America in a positive light.

Within this climate of anti-Communism and competition with the Soviet Union, the Hollywood blacklist was born.  Fearing Communist propaganda and influence in Hollywood, nineteen studio employees were subpoenaed in 1947 by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.  Only ten were required to show up for questioning (called the Hollywood Ten.)  Noted playwright, Bertolt Brecht, testified in a closed session and later emigrated to East Germany (Lewis 197-198).

Members of the Hollywood Ten were generally uncooperative with the House Committee on Un-American Activities and were ultimately indicted and imprisoned for contempt of Congress.  At first, the MPAA publicly supported the Hollywood Ten.  Its president, Eric Johnston, declared, “There’ll never be a blacklist” (Lewis 200).  But shortly after he backtracked, saying, “We did not defend them” (Lewis 200).  After the Hollywood Ten were indicted and sentenced, the MPAA helped to institute “an industry-wide blacklist” (Lewis 200).

The blacklist benefited the studios financially because the contract system was slowly being replaced by “the union-guild movement” (Lewis 200).  The blacklist allowed studios to exert a certain amount of control over actors, guilds, agents, and lawyers.  At the same time, financiers in New York supported the MPAA and gave them more control over the Hollywood studios (Lewis 200).

As a result of the indictments and subsequent blacklist, the studios cancelled contracts and refused to pay members of the Hollywood Ten.  Civil suits dragged on for years.  Hundreds of “writers, directors, producers, and actors were blacklisted between 1947 and 1957” (Lewis 200), resulting in bitter feelings against the Hollywood studios.

Although the Hollywood studios lost financially when divestiture was ordered by the Supreme Court, they gained more power and control as a result of the Hollywood blacklist when the union-guild movement eventually replaced the contract system.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

January 9, 2018

Copyright 2018-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Lewis, Jon. American Cinema: A History. New York: Norton, 2008.

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The Rise and Fall of the Hollywood Studio System

1928 MGM Logo

The studio system has its roots in the principles of Henry Ford, whose success in the automobile industry led other industries to adopt his assembly-line production process.  The high risks and costs associated with making movies led the studios to adopt more controlled, streamlined processes.

After the Wall Street crash of 1929, the eight major movie studios developed the contract system (Lewis 102-103).  All people associated with making a movie (writers, directors, actors, technicians, etc.) worked on an exclusive contract with the studio.  Studio executives managed the production of the movie and the labor force.  It was a top-down style of management that included a General Manager, Executive Manager, Production Manager, Studio Manager, and individual unit production supervisors (Barsam 470).

“The studio used its contracts to control production costs and efficiently staff the production teams at work on its slate of films” (Lewis 103).  The result was a polished product which reflected the individual style of each studio.  These contracts only worked one way, however.  The employee was required to work for the studio according to the terms of the contract.  But the studio had the option of cancelling a contract at will.

The studios cranked out quantities of movies (538 movies were produced in 1937) (Barsam 473), but they were not so concerned with quality.  After World War II, the number of movies produced in 1946 fell to 370 (Barsam 473).

Three factors ultimately led to the downfall of the Hollywood studio system: studios had become such efficient production machines, they no longer needed big name central producers; the rise of the labor unions and the government’s interference in their monopoly over production, distribution, and exhibition; “the studios began to reorganize their management into the producer-unit system” (Barsam 474).

Additionally, the creative talent—writers, directors, actors, etc.—demanded contracts that would allow for more creative freedom and better quality of movies.  World War II profoundly impacted the number of personnel and film supplies available to make movies.  And finally, the invention of television created a new form of competition (Barsam 474).

The glamorous Golden Age of Hollywood was supported by the studio system, which controlled all means of movie production, distribution, and exhibition.  As the world and technology changed, the studio system was forced to change, too.

 Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 21, 2017

Copyright 2017-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Barsam, Richard, and Dave Monahan. Looking at Movies, 5th ed. New York: Norton, 2016.

Lewis, Jon. American Cinema: A History. New York: Norton, 2008.

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The World is Too Much with Us

silence_title_image

 

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. –Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

~ William Wordsworth (1770-1850) ~

My Thoughts:

If this was true over 150 years ago, it’s even more true today.

The world is overwhelming us, beating us down, blasting wave after wave of propaganda and lies into our heads. Who knows the truth anymore? Who knows what’s right from wrong? Who even knows what’s real? The constant prattle of commentators/agitators, politicians, and celebrities is driving all of us mad. Where is the escape? When will it end?

Escape into the wilderness, they say, but a tumultuous crowd awaits us there. The noise! — oh, the noise! I long to escape it.

Quiet, peace, serenity, silence — a long-forgotten reality.

I will find it inside myself.

Dawn Pisturino

September 28, 2017

Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

 

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