HUAC

January 16, 2009 | 51 comments
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After nearly 40 years in the wilderness, HUAC is back in style!

The Hanks Un-American Activities Committee is ready to shed “a little bit of light” on the un-American Americans who are “responsible” for Proposition 8.

Tom Hanks looking creepy in HUAC-era apparel

I wonder if we’ll have Hollywood blacklists this time around?

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51 Responses to HUAC

  1. Frank McIntyre on January 16, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Sheldon, your image is blocked — presumably by the BYU filters for Tom Hanks. Can you upload the picture to T&S?

    Thanks!

  2. Timj on January 16, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Just a quick comment…
    I felt that certain people in this past election who made comments about certain people who were “Real Americans” would be the ones who brought this back into style.
    But maybe I shouldn’t equate a “fake American” with “Un-American.” Or should I?

  3. bbell on January 16, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    So much for Hollywood tolerance and appreciation for diversity.

  4. Sheldon Gilbert on January 16, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Frank,

    Does that work?

  5. Adam Greenwood on January 16, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    I am not now, nor have I ever been, an un-American Mormon American. I am a fellow traveler though.

  6. Matt W. on January 16, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    In other news, it isn’t often we get an article with MRM speaking out and defending the church on a position.

  7. Sheldon Gilbert on January 16, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    It seems like it’s high time we come up with some clear, concrete categories for our persecutions:

    Un-American Mormon Americans: Mormon Americans who supported Prop 8

    Un-Mormon Mormon Americans: Mormon Americans who opposed Prop 8

    Un-American Mormons: Foreign Mormons who don’t know or care what Prop 8 is

  8. Matt W. on January 16, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Ok, top 5 Tom Hanks movies:
    1. Saving Private Ryan
    2. Forrest Gump
    3. Philadelphia
    4. Apollo 13
    5. Joe Vs. The Volcano

  9. Sheldon Gilbert on January 16, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    I would definitely bump Joe vs. Volcano to the top.

    And, I guess my wife’s faves “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail” could share a slot, because they’re the same movie.

  10. Martin Willey on January 16, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Another “Hollywood personality” is unhappy with Mormon invovlement on Prop 8. This is news?

  11. Frank McIntyre on January 16, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Sheldon, that picture was definitely worth the wait.

  12. Adam Greenwood on January 16, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    I move we adopt the Sheldon Gilbert Classification in #7 as definitive. All in favor?

    Aye.

  13. Hans on January 16, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    My top 5 Hanks Movies are:

    1. Cast Away
    2. Apollo 13
    3. You’ve Got Mail
    4. Forrest Gump
    5. Catch me if You Can

    Kind of unorthodox, but I like those movies.

  14. iguacufalls on January 16, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Wait, why don’t I see BIG in any of these movie lists. It was a classic! The beginning of the Hanks Genius!

  15. dangermom on January 16, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    And what about “The Man with One Red Shoe?”

  16. Ray on January 16, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Matt W. already highlighted what amazed me about the article – other than Hank’s Hysterical Hypocrisy. That MRM would defend us in any way, no matter the issue involved. . .

    and I agree with the nomination of BIG.

  17. Sheldon on January 16, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Iguacufalls,

    I always thought BIG was kind of creepy.

    Speaking of BIG, I was happy to see Hanks finish his ‘transmogrification’ (to borrow Calvin’s term) period of filmaking.

    Transforming from a kid to a 30 yr old in BIG? Turning from a man into a mer-man in SPLASH?

  18. Hans on January 16, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    I remember seeing BIG when I was like six, so it was kind of creepy to me at the time and I have always had a weird feeling about it since. However, if there was sixth place in my list, I would put Turner and Hooch. Nothing like a movie with Tom Hanks and the Dad that always got mad at Urkel, along with a dog.

  19. danithew on January 16, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Tom Hanks deserves a good solid HUAC in the head.

  20. iguacufalls on January 16, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Sheldon – for the record, my tongue was firmly planted in cheek as I was typing. :) And I do think he makes some very entertaining films, which I also think he should continue making so he’s too busy to make silly comments like this.

  21. Billy Destura on January 16, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Screw Tom Hanks. We’ve got the superior Jimmy Stewart in our corner.

  22. Matt W. on January 16, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    The Prop 8 Maps thing is interesting. I wonder if they’ll sew yellow star of davids on all doner jackets next.

  23. Adam Greenwood on January 16, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Yellow beehives. All the cohab honies are wearing ‘em.

  24. Dead Seriously on January 16, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Two words:
    Turner
    Hooch

    Now THAT is some high quality cinema, ladies and gents.

  25. Matt W. on January 16, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Turner and Hooch is Just K-9 Cop with an uglier dog.

  26. Left Field on January 16, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    You’ve Got Mail? Completely implausible story line. Some middle-aged single guy with a golden retriever meets a beautiful woman on the internet, and they fall in love and get married.

    Oh wait, that was me.

  27. danithew on January 16, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    I like Turner and Hooch no matter what anyone says.

  28. Blain on January 17, 2009 at 3:20 am

    You’re also forgetting that cinematographic masterpiece, Bachelor Party. Tawny Kitaen and kitchen utensils. Wow.

    When most people value diversity, they mean that other people should respect people who look different, but agree with them.

    Hanks is a great actor who has done some great films. I love the work he’s done for WWII veterans. On this, he’s wrong. Life’s like that.

  29. S.P. Bailey on January 17, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Reminds me of when Woody Harrelson showed up on campus fighting for some idiotic cause when I was an undergraduate. I am not obsessed with glib show people enough to care what they think about anything, especially politics, policy, culture and the like. Except that I already knew that Woody was an idiot. And I thought that the guy who played Buffy Wilson on Bosom Buddies was a cooler than this.

    Here’s the difference between you and me, Tom: I think you and your lefty ilk are dead wrong on this issue. But I would never presume to question your “Americaness.” Maybe next time you can express your policy preferences without resorting to such self-righteous, jingoistic, polarizing, and generally ominous rhetoric.

  30. Sanford on January 17, 2009 at 5:36 am

    All Hanks is saying here is that it is un-American to be a bigot. Does anybody disagree with that? You can argue about whether opposing gay rights makes someone a bigot but you can hardly argue that being a bigot is ok.

    The public’s notion of what is unacceptable discrimination is ever changing. And I believe we are witnessing society alter its views to include discrimination toward homosexuals as being unacceptable. Not unlike the way society changed its views toward racial discrimination. And as society changes its idea of bigotry, those who do not adapt may find themselves defined as bigots whether they like or not.

    Hanks is simply using rhetoric that appears to be well on its way to becoming the prevailing sentiment in this country.

  31. Tom on January 17, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    By Hanks’s standard, the majority of Americans are un-American.

  32. jimbob on January 17, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    “All Hanks is saying here is that it is un-American to be a bigot. Does anybody disagree with that? You can argue about whether opposing gay rights makes someone a bigot but you can hardly argue that being a bigot is ok.”

    And I believe that all Palin was saying was that real Americans vote Republican. You can argue about whether opposing Republicans makes someone a Democrat, but you can hardly argue that being a Democrat is ok.

    I’m starting to think both Palin and Hanks used circular logic.

  33. Alison Moore Smith on January 17, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    For ONCE the article actually has well-reasoned arguments against the foolish.

    Bill McKeever, a rep for the Mormonism Research Ministry, added, “Personally, I find it un-American to tell people that they shouldn’t vote their conscience. Hanks said he doesn’t ‘like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper.’ Considering that just about every law discriminates in some form or another, makes this comment ridiculous. Hanks’ comment shows that he very much believes in discriminating against people with whom he disagrees. I may not agree with Mormon theology, but I certainly defend their right to express their opinion.”

    To add to that, if Hanks intends to “shed a little light” on “who’s responsible” for Prop 8, doesn’t that suggest that he supports making list of who supported it? Wouldn’t that be “discrimination codified on [a] piece of paper”???

  34. Alison Moore Smith on January 17, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    You can argue about whether opposing gay rights makes someone a bigot but you can hardly argue that being a bigot is ok.

    I will.

    Not to be too elementary, but my dictionary has two definitions for bigot:

    (1) obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one’s own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions

    (2) expressing or characterized by prejudice and intolerance

    Both of these apply particularly well to Hanks himself, and with only a little modification to most people in the world as well. That doesn’t necessarily make it OK, but it’s at least really common and these days almost always applies to those who CALL other people bigots.

  35. Ray on January 17, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Alison FTW.

  36. Rob Perkins on January 17, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    “The truth is this takes place in Utah…” referring to the depictions in “Big Love,” I guess, but this “truth” is dubious, since “Big Love” is fiction.

    “…the truth is these people are some bizarre offshoot of the Mormon Church,” which is, I suppose, colloquially correct, at least for the FLDS at some decades-past point in history. This too is a dubious thing to say; Hanks already thinks “mainstream” Mormons are bizarre.

    “And the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen,” is categorically and provably false, and non sequitur in the context of his show, and equivocation in the larger sense, in an attempt to place polygamist ideas in the same place as Mormon Prop-8 supporters.

    So… not only is he preparing with his faction to sever and marginalize at least 2% of the American population, in favor of offering “dignity” to another 3% or so, he’s also been completely incoherent about it.

  37. Blain on January 17, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    34 — Excellent points. I believe the proper phrase is “How dare you challenge my patriotism?” All these folks pretending they are the gate-keeper on who gets or gets to use a label, be that “patriotic” or “un-American” or “Christian” or “anti-Mormon,” as if their saying it made it so.

    My younger cousin (I only have one) used to say that everybody’s a bigot over something, even if it’s just bigotry. He’s not completely right about that, but he’s right more often than not. It’s not at all hard to find people whose minds are closed to a question, and who will condemn others based on something having to do with that question, whether it means what they want it to mean or not. Disagreeing with Tom Hanks about Prop-8 doesn’t make me un-American. It doesn’t even make me a bigot, necessarily — I may have reasons for disagreeing that are based in something other than prejudice or hatred.

    I have a dream that one day people will not try to marginalize or demonize those they disagree with. It might take half the Millennium to get there, but I still have my dream.

  38. Alison Moore Smith on January 18, 2009 at 4:32 am

    True, Blain. The circular arguments are abundant. Anyone who tells another not to judge, is judging. Those who condemn intolerance, and intolerant. Why do those who shout the loudest believe “the rules” only apply to others?

    Ray, ya made me smile. :)

  39. Aaron on January 18, 2009 at 8:32 am

    It is un-American to be a bigot? C’mon, for most of my life being a bigot was as American as apple pie. I think it applies to religion, too — doesn’t it?

    As for “The Man With One Red Shoe,” that was a very bad ripoff of a very good French movie, “The Tall Blond Man With One Black (or maybe it was brown) Shoe.” Mr. Hanks, who I generally like, made a most un-American movie that time.

  40. Kent Larsen on January 18, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Sheldon, I think your analogy with the House Un-American Activities Committee goes too far. McCarthy and his committee had a lot more power and a much more devastating effect than Hanks ever could with his lone remark.

    But, I was especially pleased with the Church PR department’s response, which suggested not only that Hanks was entitled to his opinion, but also that the voters in California were entitled to theirs as well. Whoever came up with that one might consider running for office or working PR for a politician, its the kind of thing politicians need to come up with on a regular basis.

    I can’t resist adding a request that we try to look at this issue a little from the other perspective, in order to understand where they are coming from.

    We’ve gone through a 50+ year period during which racial bigotry went from something acceptable to most Americans to something that is not acceptable to most Americans. Racial bigotry is the natural model for many people to use in this case, so its easy to equate anyone that opposes the extension of a legal benefit to a group that has been discriminated against with bigotry.

    I don’t look at it this way exactly, but I do know that many Americans see race and sexuality as equal. If we allow people of the non-dominant race to do something, why shouldn’t we allow those of the non-dominant sexual orientation to do the same thing? they think. Today most Americans would call anyone who tried to pass a law prohibiting Asians or any other racial group from getting married a bigot. I think most Mormons would agree.

    [Again, let me make it clear. This is NOT my logic. It is the logic of those who call Mormons bigots.]

    For Mormons, the challenge is to logically and clearly address this argument. Why aren’t we bigots if we try to prohibit homosexuals from marrying? I think we need to answer that question.

  41. Aluwid on January 18, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Kent,

    “Why aren’t we bigots if we try to prohibit homosexuals from marrying?”

    Is it bigotry to prohibit the blind from getting a drivers license?

    I suppose that would depend on what you consider the meaning of a drivers license. If a drivers license is societies stamp of approval upon an individual – declaring them to be responsible, intelligent, and worthwhile – then I think you could make the argument that it was bigotry to block the blind from receiving that status. If on the other hard, the idea behind a drivers license was to signify that the individual was capable of safely navigating on public roads then refusing to give drivers licenses to the blind is just common sense.

    The same goes for marriage between a couple of the same sex. If marriage is just a societal stamp of approval of a couples love and commitment “You’re in love, we love love, love is great!, you are great!” then I’m sure a lawyer could convince four out of seven justices that preventing same-sex marriage is bigotry. If on the other hand, marriage is a cultural framework around the natural procreative process between a man and a woman – a process which is critical to the survival of our human race – then allowing same-sex marriage makes as much sense as letting someone barrel down the freeway at 80 mph with their seeing-eye dog sticking it’s head out the passenger-side window.

    I highly doubt that even a small minority of those that are against same-sex marriage are motivated by bigotry. No one is calling for laws to prevent homosexuals from marrying – that is not what the debate is about. Rather, they’re against same-sex marriage because having a male + male or a female + female married couple defies common sense.

    Either way – whoever convinces the majority of society (or judges) that their definition of marriage is correct wins.

  42. Sheldon on January 19, 2009 at 2:15 am

    Kent,

    I don’t think my analogy to HUAC was intended to go as far as you think. Certainly I don’t suggest that Tom Hanks’ ‘lone remark’ anywhere approaches the level of influence that HUAC or its Senate counterpart had.

    I think nowadays HUAC invokes an image of a rather silly, paranoid Commie-huntin’ fella. I wanted to tap into that perception because frankly, I thought Hanks comment was silly. Not malicious, or persuasive, or even dangerous – just silly.

    I doubt Hanks’ comment was well thought out, and I suspect he rather regrets putting his foot in his mouth.

    I understand what he was trying to say – and I think you’ve captured well his likely viewpoint – and I’ve no quarrel with Hanks having such an opinion. Let him have his space in the marketplace of ideas.

  43. Kent Larsen on January 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Aluwid@41:

    FWIW, you don’t have to convince me.

    My whole point is NOT what the argument should be, but rather who the argument should be intended to convince.

    You are right that it is not bigotry to deny drivers licenses to the blind. But the blind aren’t the ones crying bigotry.

    If you want to stop people like Hanks calling Mormons “unamerican” for their actions in California, you need to make the case that this action isn’t discriminatory or bigoted in a way that can be understood coming from their perspective.

    It really doesn’t matter what the motivations of those against same-sex marriage are. It matters what the perception is. And on the other side the perception is that the motivation is bigotry.

    Your argument above only goes half way, IMO, because you don’t support your contention that “marriage is a cultural framework around the natural procreative process between a man and a woman.” I know that is a huge and possibly impossible hurdle to overcome, especially given the obvious counter-argument that same sex marriage doesn’t logically inhibit others from having marriages that are “a cultural framework around the natural procreative process between a man and a woman.” Nevertheless, without showing the full argument clearly, anyone against same sex marriage will continue to be percieved as a bigot.

    The biggest problem we have on controversial issues like this one (and abortion, etc.), IMO, is NOT being right, it IS in how we communicate.

    Too much of the time we rally our troops with borderline hateful language and give arguments that convince us but are nonsensical, or often offensive, to those on the other side. And then when they make their arguments, or make the same kind of statements, such as Hanks did, that imply that those opposing same sex marriage are bigots or unamerican or discriminatory, you are offended, or find the argument nonsensical.

    The only options in these situations is to either escalate the arguments to see who can gain the most adherents (and get many on both sides even more angry — which is what seems to happen on issue after issue), or figure out how to communicate in a respectful way that seeks to understand the other side and find solutions that are acceptable to the vast majority.

    The dialog we use is the key to the latter, and I don’t think that suggesting that Hanks is like McCarthy is going to get us there.

  44. Kent Larsen on January 19, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Sheldon@42:
    “I don’t think my analogy to HUAC was intended to go as far as you think.”

    If you will look at my arguments in #43, I think you will see that the issue isn’t what you intended, but rather how it will be perceived.

    If Hanks were to read what you wrote, I’d guess he would be quite offended.

    “I doubt Hanks’ comment was well thought out, and I suspect he rather regrets putting his foot in his mouth.”

    To me this seems quite unlikely. I doubt Hanks sees things from your perspective. I’m sure he looks at this as a civil rights issue, not as an issue of how to define marriage or preserve its sanctity.

  45. Juliann on January 19, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    #43 The biggest problem we have on controversial issues like this one (and abortion, etc.), IMO, is NOT being right, it IS in how we communicate.

    I think that is exactly why they cry “bigot”. It is in the perception, as you say, and if you label someone long enough with powerful backing–which they have through the press–perception becomes reality. Once someone is successfully labeled a bigot no one is expected let alone required to listen to them.

  46. Raymond Takashi Swenson on January 19, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    The part of Tom Hanks’ comment that bothers me the most is that he believes that the US and California constitutions are “self-correcting” documents. He clearly subscribes to the notion that these supreme laws that override all actions by legislatures and citizen referenda are NOT dependent on the sovereignty of the people–the voters–but have an independent sovereignty and authority that speaks TO the people through the anointed high priests of the temple of justice.

    This is certainly the anti-democratic version of the role of the courts that is pushed by many in the courts themselves, and certainly by progressives who think that the majority of voters are unenlightened and incapable of understanding what is just, fair, or even in their own best interests.

    To a great extent it is a myth that has its roots in the otherwise praiseworthy decision by the US Supreme Court in Brown v. Topeka board of Education. Perhaps some of the faultiness in the reasoning was due to the fact that it was designed to be a unanimous ruling. When the court ruled that segregation was inherently wrong, it could have simply cited the plain words of the 14th Amendment and pointed out that when one segment of society makes laws that place another segment at a disadvantage, the process is inherently a denial of equality. But that same logic should have been obvious to the Supreme Court back when it made the egregious ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson a half century earlier that “separate is not inherently unequal.” Rather than denounce the rationale of Plessy as blatantly obvious hogwash, along with all of the similar segregation rulings the court had issued for 50 years (including upholding the imprisonment of 100,000 Japanese-descent Americans without trial), the court instead asserted that, based on sociological research presented in the Brandeis briefs to the court, school segregation was not in practice equal, so did not reach the standard announced in Plessy of acceptable segregation. This was depicted as a dawning realization or evolution in the court’s thinking, rather than an admission that the court had aided and abetted a monumental and obvious hypocrisy for half a century. Thurgood Marshall was an intelligent advocate in building a line of cases that let the court gradually back off from Plessy without having to admit that its prior rulings were worthless humbug that no one should have given any respect to.

    So now, in order to support the myth that the rulings of the Supreme Court are authoritative because the justices are wise, we get the fiction that their wisdom grows and evolves (and is therefore so scientific), and they get to reinterpret the Constitution in order to make it wiser than it was when it was made. This is an elitist view of the Constitution, one that sees it as a means of restraining the bigoted and stupid hotheads who are elected by the voters to the congress and the presidency. The “progressive” view is that those who are putatively bigots or stupid have no right to control the process of government and lawmaking.

    The real basis for respecting the rulings of a Supreme Court is that they represent the best honest understanding of what the Constitution means as a law created by the people through their elected delegates and state legislatures. This is a role that respects the sovereignty of the people. When the justices abandon that understanding of their role, they are abandoning the only legitimate source of their authority.

    The sad result of the “philosopher king” view of courts is that it is growing in its hubris against the sovereignty of the people, especially in this issue of same-sex marriage. At some point it is going to produce something that is simply intolerable to the people. And the result will be that the public acceptance of the courts’ rulings and willingness to be bound by them will disappear. And any attempt by progressives in Congress or the Presidency to enforce the rulings will also be seen as illegitimate and tyrannical and a denial of the most fundamental civil liberty, the right to govern ourselves. Civil and uncivil disobedience could then break out on a large scale, as happened in the former Soviet Union, with police and the military refusing to support coercion of American citizens. And many things about our law and jurisprudence that are valuable will be lost along with the judicial overreaching.

  47. Kent Larsen on January 19, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Julianne@45:
    My only nitpick with your statement is that you are looking at this completely from the perspective of those against same sex marriage. If you want to help solve the problem, don’t accuse the other side of failing to communicate well, instead, seek to improve your own communication.

  48. Rob Perkins on January 19, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    #47: The other side has, in fact, failed to communicate well. The largest piece of evidence in that is the ongoing labeling of SSM opponents as “bigots”, which not only applies only to a subset of that faction, but equally applies to a subset of their own faction.

    “You bigot!” is, in that sense, nothing more than hate speech itself, designed to intimidate one’s opposites into silence.

  49. Juliann on January 19, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Kent, the efficacy of changing perception through name calling is not relevant to what side you are. The SSM opponents name calling is not sticking because they don’t have the backing of a powerful press whereas the SSM backers do. If the power brokers started backing “McCarthy” name calling that would change perceptions, too. As for communication….I don’t expect any when each side’s position rests on a premise the other side doesn’t even acknowledge let alone accept.

  50. Ray on January 19, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Honestly, my biggest problem with Hanks’ statement is that it is a perfect example of the “natural” tendency to deflect blame and not take responsibility for a loss caused by the ineptitude of one’s own side.

    In the end, the NO campaign outspent the YES campaign, even with the Church entering the picture. Mormon members’ monetary donations simply leveled the playing field. Their organization and campaign skills put the NO side to shame. That’s it. Bigotry charges only serve to absolve incompetence from blame and allow the losers to avoid introspection and change.

    Hanks’ statement was lazy and hypocritical. That’s my main concern – that people accept such a statement as “Truth” without examining how stupid it is.

  51. S.P. Bailey on January 23, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Tom Hanks apparently took note of our disapproval here at T&S. His statement as published on People magazine’s website. (Apparently Teen Bop and Soap Opera Digest had more important fish to fry):

    “Last week, I labeled members of the Mormon church who supported California’s Proposition 8 as “un-American.” I believe Proposition 8 is counter to the promise of our Constitution; it is codified discrimination. But everyone has a right to vote their conscience – nothing could be more American. To say members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who contributed to Proposition 8 are “un-American” creates more division when the time calls for respectful disagreement. No one should use “un- American” lightly or in haste. I did. I should not have.
    Sincerely,
    Tom Hanks”

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