The 2015 movie Trumbo tells the story of Communist and Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. He was at the top of his game and much in demand in 1947 when McCarthyism took hold and Communists in all areas of public life were exposed, some being jailed. The movie is meant to portray Trumbo as noble, heroic, and victimized by narrow-minded bigots. Trumbo will not deny being a Communist and will not cooperate with the McCarthy hearings. He is sent to jail, and his life and his family begin to unravel. Before he goes to jail, his young daughter knows that some serious business is afoot, but she does not really understand the nature of the problem. There is a scene where she asks her father about Communism. Trumbo is portrayed as the epitome of wisdom and humanity as he helps his daughter come to grips with whether or not she may be a Communist. The scene is quite brief. You should click the link and watch it. Trumbo asks his daughter what she would do if she took a lunch to school and saw another kid there who had no lunch. She says that she would share her lunch with the poor kid. Trumbo basically tells her that she must indeed be a Communist.
Trumbo is simply Communist Hollywood grinding America’s nose in the dirt. A generation after McCarthy, Communism is alive and well and back in business in government and in Hollywood. Communist propaganda once again is “entertainment.” But I thought the father/daughter scene would be much more entertaining if we took the Communist propaganda out of it. I decided to re-write that scene to portray the question and the answer much more accurately. It makes a much more inspiring story:
Girl: Dad, are you a Communist?
Girl: Is Mom a Communist?
Girl: Dad, am I a Communist?
Dad: Well, let’s see. Suppose you are one of a group of kids who all bring a lunch to school. And suppose there are other kids who do not. The school administration says that they really, really care about the kids who have no lunch. So, they confiscate all the lunches that are brought to school, and at lunch time they decide who gets what food.
Girl: That doesn’t sound right to me. Why not just leave me free to share my lunch with other kids as I see fit?
Dad: It sounds like maybe you are not a Communist. You sound like a selfish, greedy Capitalist, who doesn’t really care about hungry kids. You just want to make a lot of theoretical excuses for holding on to your lunch.
Girl: No, I really do care about hungry kids. I care at least as much as the school administration cares.
Dad: If you really cared, you would gladly turn over your lunch to the authorities. They have determined what everyone who cares must do. If you do not want to turn over your lunch, this just proves that you do not really care.
Girl: What gives them the authority to dictate what I must do?
Dad: They are smarter than you are.
Girl: I don’t think so.
Dad: I can tell that you definitely are not a Communist. A real Communist does not know what to think unless the really smart people in charge have laid it out for him. What makes you so sure that they are not smarter than you?
Girl: You evidently are an ivory-tower Communist, who doesn’t really know (or perhaps doesn’t really care) what life is like for the masses. Here’s how it works, Dad. During the morning the administrators eat most of the food. At lunch time there isn’t much food left to go around. The administrators seem to have favorites, and they give more food to them. Some kids who had brought a lunch end up with hardly anything to eat. Do you know what happened next?
Girl: The kids who usually brought lunches stopped bringing them. They thought: why should I bring a lunch? Let someone else bring a lunch and I will get some of theirs. I get about as much to eat either way, so why should I be the one supplying the food?
Dad: They sound like a bunch of selfish, greedy Capitalists.
Girl: Do you know how the school solved that problem?
Girl: They chose several kids they called “rich,” and mandated them to bring large lunches every day. The administrators still eat about half of the food, and each of the kids get a little bite to eat. Except, the favorites always seem to get a little bit more. I haven’t figured out yet what they do to become favorites. It seems to be a closely guarded secret.
Dad: Is that a problem?
Girl: I think I care more about hungry kids than they do. They say they care, but instead of hungry kids being fed they actually turned all of the kids into hungry kids. It seems kind of stupid. That’s why I think I am smarter than they are, and that’s why I think they have no authority to tell me what to do with my lunch.
Dad: I can see that you certainly are not a Communist. You just want to have your own way. I don’t see you doing anything about the hungry kids. The school administrators may not have a perfect system, but at least they are doing something. If you are so smart, how would you handle the problem?
Girl: It really is very simple: I have friends. I get to know people. If I know that a kid is poor and cannot afford to bring lunch every day, I share with him when he doesn’t have anything to eat. If I know a kid who usually is able to bring a lunch, but on a certain day something happened and he can’t bring one, then I can share with him. But I also get to know other kids too. I know a kid who could bring a lunch, but he sees that he doesn’t really need to because other kids always give him food. He has become lazy and takes for granted the generosity of other kids. I think it would be a good thing for him to go hungry a couple of times because it would spur him on to make sure he always brought a lunch instead of pretending that he is poor. The school administrators do not know the kids in this way. They do not really know the needs. All they can do is hand down a lot arbitrary policies from an ivory tower that has no contact with reality. They claim they care about hungry kids, but all they can accomplish is to enrich themselves while spreading hunger throughout the student body.
Dad: Girl, you have a real problem. Not only are you not a Communist, but you instead harbor some very dangerous ideas. I am warning you to be quiet about the kinds of things you have been saying to me just now. If I hear that you are talking with other kids at school about these things and spreading these ideas around, I will have no choice but to report you. What happens from that point would be out of my control. I hope you consider your course very carefully. You are skating on thin ice.
Girl: I probably will be sent away to a labor camp, and then later after I die they can make a cool movie about me, telling all the world how those terrible Communists persecuted a wonderful girl like me. I will become a hero and my story will galvanize the popular sentiment never to allow Communist intimidation to do such things to any other wonderful girls like me.
Dad: Don’t count on it, kid. We have that narrative all locked up. We are the ones who are noble and wonderful and victims. We are the ones they will be making movies about.