Useful Idiots

Useful Idiots (or Willing Idiots) are those people who were willing to naively believe a person or group with the ultimate goal of appeasement. Its origin lied in westerners who were willing sympathizers with the Soviet Union.


Speech Relevance

In 'Encroaching Control' Reagan speaks of Lenin and how:
Lenin, determined the idea that the communist party never would be a large party. That it would be a hard, small, professional cadre. That only those people who had proven themselves would be allowed membership and this small professional cadre would, as he said, manipulate and use the masses when they were needed and he referred to us as the masses, we were the willing idiots.
There have been thousands, if not millions of these "willing idiots" throughout history. An example of some can be found by exploring Reagan's experiences with Hollywood...from 'Encroaching Control' again:
Now, after more than a decade of peace and freedom from the attentions of these people, the order within the last year has come down from the communist party that your memories are short, so are ours, the climate has changed and they are to come out from hiding and once again take up where they left off, re-infiltrate the entertainment industry and again seek to subvert the screens to communist propaganda. Many people in our midst, misguided, well-meaning, will help them, will believe in the civil rights of a man to believe politically what he wants to believe.

Those "misguided, well-meaning" people may be Reagan making reference to the 1947 "Committee for the First Amendment" which was a collection of Hollywood actors, writers and directors who decided to stand against the House of Representatives' Un-American Activities Committee in support of a group that became known as the Hollywood Ten.

The Hollywood Ten was a group of screenwriters and directors who were found in contempt of Congress and blacklisted when they refused to answer questions about their involvement with the Communist Party.

Members of the "Committee for the First Amendment" included such Hollywood blockbuster stars as Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Henry Fonda, Gene Kelly, Edward G. Robinson, Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Henreid, Billy Wilder, Sterling Hayden, Groucho Marx, Lucille Ball, Danny Kaye, Lena Horne and Frank Sinatra.

The extent of the support went as far as some of these stars traveling to Washington D.C. in solidarity with their colleagues. They were unprepared for the level of evidence already presented to Congress. Congress had membership checks, party rosters, even some Communist Party membership cards. Humphrey Bogart in particular was rather upset over the situation. Having stood with Communists, people began to think he was one himself. Bogart is known to have said, "You F-ers sold me out!" and later wrote an article for Photoplay magazine in March of 1948 stating emphatically that he was "No Communist!"


Source Links

Useful Idiot (Wikipedia)

Google Answers on Useful Idiots