sidewalks, with more arriving by thernminute. An occasional limousinerncruised slowly by, and sometimes yourncould make out a waving hand from behindrntinted glass. Of course, this onlyrnteased the gawking folks who had comernto see stars. More than once a newcomerrnasked if I had “seen anyone yet,” which Irntook to mean “anyone like Tom Cruisernor Mer)i Streep,” and I had to respondrnsadly that I had not. A Goodyear blimp,rnthree helicopters, and a banner-towingrnairplane competed in the category ofrnnoisiest and most irritating flying machine.rnAs I was thinking how the eventrnhad the sounds and feel of a big footballrngame, I noticed a handful of people carryingrnsigns kitty-corner to the pro-Kazanrndemonstration. The Committee AgainstrnSilence had arrived.rnGetting to their protest site posedrnsomething of a problem. Security guardsrnhad taped it off earlier in the day, andrnthey weren’t letting spectators across FirstrnStreet. The large mob gathered on thernother side of First Street complained bitterlyrnabout this. (They didn’t care thatrnsuch a great location had been closed offrnfor a bunch of pinkos to use, just that itrnhad been closed off.) W’Tien I headed tornthe anti-Kazan site, three or four spectatorsrnfollowed. An assiduous securityrnguard intercepted us halfway across thernstreet, screaming, “Go back! This area’srnoff limits.” But nothing was stoppingrnus — especially an unarmed securityrnguard —and we left him standing in thernmiddle of the street with a bruised ego.rnThe anti-Kazan people distinguishedrnthemselves from the rabble by t)ing redrnscraps of T-shirt around their arms. Accordingrnto one, they were only the “advancernparty” for what could be 1,000rnprotesters. This “advance party” was middle-rnaged and astonishingly vuppified forrna pack of commies. When I asked two ofrnthem how they secured a site so close tornthe red-carpet entrance, one of them gotrnannoyed and muttered, “We’ve got a policernpermit and evervihing,” before turningrnaway to chatter on a cell phone. Hisrncomrade had a different story, saying, “Irnthink probably the academy was a playerrnin it.” I listened to her prattle on aboutrnthe world’s dismay over the academy’srndecision to honor such a vile man. Shernwas explaining why the 1950’s was thernmost politically correct era in Americanrnhistory when a look of fear shot across herrnface, and she started screeching, “Stop!rnStop! This area’s for the protesters.”rnI looked over mv shoulder to see arnhorde of spectators stampeding acrossrnFirst Street. They had had enough of beingrnpushed around by rent-a-cops; nowrnthey were taking matters into their ownrnhands. Several security guards and a couplernof protesters offered futile resistancernand almost got crushed for their trouble.rnAnti-Kazan protesters were furious thatrntheir site had been overrun. The womanrnI’d interviewed flashed me a sneeringrnlook that blamed me for leading the onslaught.rnBut the story ended happily forrnthe Committee Against Silence. The invadersrnwere unwittingly drafted into thernanti-Kazan camp by the Los AngelesrnTimes, which reported the following dayrnthat 500 people protested Kazan’s award.rnMy own estimate put the number atrn150. And they weren’t friendly. Severalrnanti-Kazan protesters hurled insults at thernpro-Kazan side. A woman who seemedrnunder the control of hallucinogensrnsquirmed in laughter when her comradernscreamed that Kazan was “a slime man”rnto a pro-Kazan demonstrator wearing arnVietnam veteran’s baseball cap. Anotherrnwoman shouted, “Ahh, I see the Nazirnpart)’s here!” At that, a large brute holdingrna pro-Kazan sign and wearing a JewishrnDefense League T-shirt scowled inrndisgust, and for a moment I thought Irnmight have to intervene to keep himrnfrom picking her up and shaking the siliconernimplants out of her.rnThe appearance of the Red Menacernjump-started the pro-Kazan side. YAFersrnboomed their baritone chants of “HevrnHey, Ho Ho, Hollywood Commies GotrnTo Go,” and “Kazan’s the Man, Kazan’srnthe Man!” Fittingh’, given the surreal circusrnsurrounding them, they seemedrnoblivious to a stark irony. Here were virulentrnopponents of liberalism supportingrna man who has never repudiated liberalrnpolitics, just communism. Kazan defendedrnhis decision to testify before thernHouse Un-American Activities Committeernas a way of saving the Hollywood careersrnof “good liberals” who weren’t alliedrnwith the communists.rnScott McConnell, director of communicationsrnfor the Ayn Rand Institute andrnvice chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee,rncalled Kazan an “honest liberal” ofrnthe old school who “believes in individualrnrights and saw that the CommunistrnParty of America and the Soviet Unionrnwere the enemies of individual rights.”rnMcConnell believes Hollywood continuesrnto suffer an infestation of communism.rn”Thev wouldn’t call themselvesrncommunists,” he told me. “They’d callrnthemselves environmentalists or multiculturalistsrnor socialists or left-leaning orrnprogressives. But they still have a lot ofrnthe same policies and philosophies.”rnThe Committee Against Silence wasrnnot hiding its ideology behind euphemisms.rnAbout 50 of them lockedrnarms and marched into First Street underrnsigns reading “Hail Heroic Soviet Spies”rnand “Reforge the Fourth InternationalrnWorld Parfy of Socialist Revolution,” asrnwell as two familiar red flags sporting thernhammer and sickle. This was too muchrnfor the YAFers to stomach, and theyrncharged off their corner to meet the hatedrnfoe. A communist protest leader withrna bullhorn urged her comrades on in arnchant of “Down with McCarthyism,”rnwhile the YAFers shouted, “Long livernMcCarthy.” An all-out brawl seemed imminent.rnHundreds of spectators (whornhad, up until that point, behaved dutifullyrnby staying on the sidewalks) followedrnthe lead of the demonstrators andrnstreamed into First Street. The wholernscene was drifting into chaos.rnMovie stars could swoop in at anyrntime. Order needed to be restored, and arnsquad of police officers moved in to separaternthe demonstrators and clear thernstreet for the parade of limousines. Itrntook about 15 minutes to herd everybodyrnback on the sidewalks. After the crowdrnnearly crushed me against a newspaperrnbo,, I decided to head to the pavilion’srnback entrance. I muscled my wayrnthrough Hollywood’s believers for aboutrna half-block before looking back at wherernthe demonstrators stood. A few signs rosernabove the crowd like insignificant atollsrnin a sea of star envy. The political squabblersrnhad been absorbed by the celebrit)’-rnworshiping masses.rnJonathan Ellis is an assistant editor forrnLiberty magazine.rnLetter From Venicernby Andrei NavrozovrnFirst ImpressionsrnIt has been only a few weeks since I usedrnmy tears to moisten the mixed-fruit schiacciatarncake of Florentine captivity, butrnJULY 1999/37rnrnrn