I have known who Bella Dodd was for a long time. I read her book, School of Darkness, several years ago and more importantly I had a conversation with Alice von Hildebrand about her. Alice knew her personally and so did her husband Dietrich. Alice taught at the same college in New York that Bella had also taught at the beginning of her professional career. Alice was grounded in philosophy and Bella was absorbed in materialism, communist materialism. While Bella was indeed, like Alice, a Catholic, her family had never given her any of the benefits of a religious upbringing or the sacraments, nor had they taken her to church. Bella was baptized as an infant in Italy before her parents came to the USA to work. That would be the end of her journey as a Catholic until much later in her life.
For a long time I have read books which mention her name or refer to her testimony before Congress on the activities of the Communist Party in this country, but until a couple of weeks ago, I had not read the full transcript of that appearance in 1953. I did some searching and found a PDF of the event. This is a link here. I decided to retype this document because it is, in my opinion, badly edited, and difficult in places to read. I made a point to change as little as I could even if it meant leaving in a grammatical error here and there, because I did not want to prepare anything other than an authentic text where I might quote the document later. I color coded my copy to make it clearer who is talking and also to highlight the numbered section headings for quicker reference to the original PDF.
Reading a transcript is a little like reading a script of a theatrical play. It isn’t written as I am now writing, with long complex sentences, flowery language, and carefully placed phrasing. It is conversational, as we normally speak to each other. What I discovered was the fact it is very easy to read, but very difficult to stop reading because it is like walking away from a discussion you truly want to hear.
I hope you too will be fascinated with the quotes I will highlight here on the blog in my next couple of posts.
I will begin with this question and answer segment between Mr. Kunzig, counsel for the Committee on Un-American Activities, and Dr. Bella Dodd.
Mr. Kunzig: you described to us, this, how you yourself became a member of the Communist Party. I would like to bring up one point. You mentioned a Gil Green. Is that the same Gil Green now a fugitive from justice after conviction under the Smith Act?
Dr. Dodd: Yes. Mr. Kunzig. May I add one thing about becoming a Communist? One doesn’t become a Communist overnight by getting a card. You become a Communist over a long period of time by acting with them little by little until you find yourself so enmeshed that you have lost your other connections with society except that group which operates in secret and operates together and establishes a camaraderie which is a part of that fascination of the movement.
Mr. Clardy: Your getting out of the party is more or less a reversal of the process by which you go in. You come out slowly as you awaken to these things?
Dr. Dodd: It takes just as long to come out of the party as it does to get in. It is much more painful. Getting in, you are somewhat excited because you are going into something secret and active, but getting out is a disillusioning process because you have nothing else to hold onto. You have no other standard of belief. You have no other standard by which to judge all activities, you find yourself out in a world of nothingness. That is why it is difficult for people to pull out. They have lost contact with friends and families, and move only within a restricted circle.
Pulling out, also, is painful because you are punished. The kind of punishment which the Communists mete out to the person trying to get out of the party is a terrific thing. There are hundreds of Americans who are in the Communist Party who would like to be out of it, but they are so entrapped they are afraid to get out. They are afraid of being anti-Communist and they remain in the party and shrivel up and become nothing.
Mr. Walter: That I understand with uneducated people, but I can’t understand it as it applies to people such as you or other professional people. They have their professions and their ability to analyze facts, truths, and it would certainly seem to me that if it takes them a long while, they are wondering whether or not they want to get out or ought to get out.
Dr. Dodd: Well, Congressman Walter, communism is a way of life. It is a whole philosophy of being. If you believe in communism, then everything you do, you do with this philosophy. If once you lose that philosophy, you have to rethink your every single act and every statement you make. Where shall you stand on this question if you don’t have a barometer by which to live?
Unfortunately, unless one has a religious background and a tremendous devotion and understanding of American history and the American system of Government, one is left floundering because one doesn’t know where to go. The Communists make it very hard for you to get out.
First of all, they punish you. In 1946, when I tried to walk out of the Communist Party, Bill Norman, then secretary of the party in New York, said, “Dodd, nobody gets out of the party. We throw you out, but you don’t get out by yourself.”
Then you are told that everyone who gets out will ultimately disintegrate and become nothing but a stool pigeon. That is a hard word to live with. It is a hard word to live with.
As I read this exchange, I thought of how abused Donald Trump has been by people who once called him friend, but who now are hell bent to destroy him. (Not that Donald was EVER a Communist. I do not mean to imply that in the least. I am merely saying he was a friend of the left who have turned on him like a swarm of bees.) I thought of how nearly impossible it is for any progressive liberal Democrat to abandon that party and switch to being a Republican. It isn’t a matter of changing country clubs because you like the sand traps better on one course versus the other. Deciding to not be a Democrat is deciding to change EVERYTHING about your entire life, how you think, what you stand for, what you believe in, and with whom you will thereafter associate. Just ask Candace Owens.
Being a communist is much like being in a cult, doing what you are told, believing what you are told to believe, saying what you are told to say, and hating those you are told to hate. People don’t start off this way, but they are lured into supporting communist activities by what sounds or appears to be good, or appeals to them on an emotional level alone. This is generally known as “the kernel of truth” in all communist propaganda. It is a hook that is easy to endorse, a slogan that is easy to adopt, and a cause that seems noble, but which ultimately has a poisonous effect on those who take the bait. The fact you cooperate with communists doesn't make you a communist anymore than having a liberal friend makes you a liberal. However, there is a lot of truth in the expression, "Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas." It is easy to fall into the communist mindset once you've been part of their activities even if all you did was wave a banner or sign a petition or pass on their emails.
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote a book titled, Peace of Soul. He described the fact we are all looking for something to fill the void in our life. We want to be at peace and we want to be loved and to belong. Unfortunately for too many not just in this country but around the world, they never find exactly what they are looking for because they never find their way to the truth, Jesus Christ, our Lord. In Him and in the Church alone is that total peace to be found. Everything else is a tin substitute.
(To be continued….)