Why The FBI Investigated Ray Bradbury For Being A Communist

By Rudie Obias | 8 years ago

There’s no doubt about it, the late Ray Bradbury was one of the greatest American science fiction writers of all-time. His work had the ability to capture the imagination and inspire readers to re-think their worldview, but while some considered his work important, others considered it dangerous. In the 1960s, the FBI suspected Bradbury of having Communist affiliations and leanings.

Bradbury was very outspoken and critical of the US government and the House Un-American Activities Committee, which investigated suspected Communists living in America. His activity was investigated and reported by screenwriter Martin Berkeley, who claimed Bradbury’s work had Communist leanings and undertones. Berkeley felt Bradbury’s work would “spread poison” to the American public as the FBI stated…

…the general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would seriously believe [sic] could not be won since their morale had been seriously destroyed.

Bradbury famously denounced these unfounded claims by taking out a full-page ad in Variety calling these probes a “claptrap and nonsense” and called his accusers “cowards and McCarthyites.” Bradbury’s FBI file was noted in author Sam Weller’s biography, The Bradbury Chronicles.

Berkeley appeared to be an anti-Communist zealot and outed 155 people in Hollywood as active Communists. His career was doomed in Hollywood and could only find work writing B-movies including Tarantula and The Deadly Mantis.

In 1959 the Russian government, because it “slandered their type of government as well as many other countries”, banned Bradbury’s short story The Fireman, which later became Fahrenheit 451. The FBI probably should’ve taken this into consideration before investigating Ray as a Communist.

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