(Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall at the HUAC hearings - the circus was in town)
In 1947 the famous (or infamous) HUAC Hearings were underway. The circus-like atmosphere was embarrassing, even to diehard politicos. But it begged a bigger question - what was happening with Civil Rights in this country? In 1947 there were still repeated attempts at introducing anti-lynching legislation and all of those attempts were, oddly enough, killed by the Southern bloc known as Dixiecrats (we call them Blue Dogs today). Prejudice and racism were a way of life in America in 1947, and it just wasn't confined to the otherwise genteel hearings where rumors and character assassinations were rife and the star factor of seeing a Humphrey Bogart or Lauren Bacall grilled by self-righteous Senators made it all seem surreal. It was an out and out war where vestiges of the Civil War were played out almost daily on Capitol Hill.
In 1947, part of its The Story Behind The Headlines series, NBC Radio commentator Cesar Searchinger did his best to explain the confused and baffling goings on and tried to make some sense of it.
Cesar Searchinger: “Is it really within the power of Congress to assume judicial functions without providing the citizen with a judicial safeguard guaranteed him under due process of law? Is it within the power of a committee to compel or coerce a citizen, publicly, to reveal his political beliefs and a constitution which guarantees everyone freedom of conscience, opinion and speech?
People were beginning to ask those questions. But in 1947 answers were still a long way off.