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China Government United States Entertainment Politics

The FBI Feared Communist Infiltration of EPCOT (muckrock.com) 112

v3rgEz writes: In 1981, Walt Disney World was getting ready to unveil a new gem in its crown of amusement parks, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT. Revolving around a massive sphere called "Spaceship Earth" and a lagoon that initially called for cultural installations from nine countries, EPCOT was intended to be the ultimate harmonious international village, a shining example of global unity. Naturally the FBI had a problem with it. FOIA'd documents recently released to MuckRock show that as early as December 1979, almost three full years before the October 1, 1982 opening of EPCOT, the bureau was concerned with possible Soviet involvement in the endeavor. And even after Soviet involvement was ruled out, the FBI began to worry about Chinese influences.
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The FBI Feared Communist Infiltration of EPCOT

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  • by h33t l4x0r ( 4107715 ) on Saturday January 16, 2016 @06:50AM (#51312937)
    All those asian families taking pictures? Who takes that many pictures?
  • by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Saturday January 16, 2016 @07:00AM (#51312949) Homepage
    ...is fear itself. Seems these wise words have been largely forgotten. As a nation, the USA is the most lily-livered scaredy cats out there. I'm not talking about individuals, just the national characteristic. Why else spend such vast sums on a military that has more or less nothing to do? (and for which idle hands the devil makes plenty of work, starting wars it can't finish and general meddling). Why else are guns so fetishised? Why else is so much effort being put into monitoring everyone's trivial business? Why else are fingers pointed at harmless scapegoats like ordinary muslims? My country, right or wrong? Think about it.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You just made the list

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know, maybe 1981 - height of the cold war, maximum million-fold-apocalypse MAD, Star Wars SDI fantasy that meant actual warfare, recent history of Vietnam and Cuban soldiers sponsored by the Soviets to fight in Angola, dozens of ongoing and major conflicts around the world between the super powers, active spy rings on both sides. Everything you could imagine and more.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why the fuck were you poking around in all those places to start with? You can't use those as a reason when you first decided to involve yourselves. Get the hell out of the rest of the world. Go hide in your own mountains and deserts and leave the others alone.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          This posts, and most replies to this article in general, directly reflect the growing level of disconnect from the Cold-War era.

          I won't say that the USA is "perfect" or even "good" by nature. As a "superpower", there is a general expectation from the world community that the country steps in to prevent genocide, render aid, and so on. There's also a strong desire for oil and the resources that go along with the mass of industry from manufacturing large capital goods and vast agriculture.

          The cold war began a

      • by Teancum ( 67324 )

        Having lived in 1981 with a memory of the events of that era, I can say you are clueless about what ordinary Americans thought about such things. It certainly wasn't the "height of the Cold War", which could best be used to describe the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis some twenty years earlier. The Vietnam War was over. The Soviet Union was going through "Perestroika" and frankly was even seen as somewhat hopeful that perhaps the Soviet states would actually get some much needed freedoms they lacked

        • by fatboy ( 6851 )

          Perestroika is 1981? I think not. As someone that remembers the time well, I never hear the word Perestroika until Gorbachev was President. That was sometime in 1985 IIRC. Most definitely the later half of the 80's, under Regan. Definitely not during the Carter era or early Reagan.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, China has engaged in very extensive industrial espionage in western countries. I bet Russia's back in the industrial espionage game. Heck even Israel engages in industrial espionage against the United States.

    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      They know others through knowing themselves and what they'd do.

    • The only thing to fear is fear itself.

      Hence its supreme usefulness to government agencies.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The US government uses the Boogey Man to scare it's people into going along with whatever laws they shove down our throats. First it was communists and now it is terrorists. Americans are far, far more likely to die falling in their bathtub than by terrorist attack.

      So where is the war on bathtub slips? Sounds absurd doesn't it? So why let them take away all of our rights for something far less dangerous? We put up with massive risk in terms of getting into automobiles, yet people just ignore it totally

    • Why else spend such vast sums on a military that has more or less nothing to do?

      Because we finally learned a lesson, after two world wars... And we've successfully avoided a third one. The US military acts as surrogate for numerous other nations with little or none. And the world has been far more peaceful for more than half a century, as a result.

    • How about "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance", or "For evil to succeed, good men need only do nothing."

      Seems you have forgotten those wise words as well.

    • Obligatory Robot Chicken https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLcIAJsaF3o [youtube.com]
      Oh, guns are fetishized because for almost all of human existence they would have been considered magic... you point a stick and boom, something dies. While it's not really magic, it is really the power of life or death and many people can not resist owning that...
      • a bit of trivia from Jim Butchers The Dresden Files

        Karen Murphy (who is about 5 foot tall and lightly built) has a P90 that she uses as a goto weapon when dealing with the lesser Things That Go Bump In The Night.

        as long as you can hold it and pull the trigger a Gun does not care who you are

      • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Saturday January 16, 2016 @03:43PM (#51314987) Homepage

        That's silly. When I use a gun, I point it, pull the trigger, and boom, a paper target gets a hole in it. Why would I want something to die? That wouldn't be very nice.

        Claiming that "the power of life or death" is a fetish is ridiculous. Every driver on the road has that power. Every plumber, electrician, and Boy Scout has that power. Every airplane pilot has a lot of that power. The simple truth is that humans are fragile creatures, and the simple safety measures we follow daily can easily be bypassed if one has the motivation to do so. The realization of how close one comes to death every day is terrifying.

        That's what scares people, not a magic boom-stick.

        What distinguishes firearms, though, is that they are themselves an easy target. Politicians, pundits, and concerned citizens can reassign their fear, allowing themselves to think of cars as "safe", because the really scary thing is a tube that makes loud noises. By concentrating all of the fear into one scapegoat, the rest of society seems perfectly livable.

        • Claiming that "the power of life or death" is a fetish is ridiculous. Every driver on the road has that power.

          No one sells cars claiming, "The only thing that stops a bad driver with a car is a good driver with a car."

          • ...So you've never seen an ad boasting about how this particular vehicle's safety features will protect your children from the bad things on the road?

        • That's silly. When I use a gun, I point it, pull the trigger, and boom, a paper target gets a hole in it. Why would I want something to die? That wouldn't be very nice.

          If your fetish is limited to putting holes in paper targets, then why don't you use a BB gun? A blow-gun? A bow and some arrows? A pointy stick? Some well-thrown playing cards?

          Oh, those would take significantly more skill, and that skill cannot easily be transferred to using the same device for easily killing people.

          Note that I am not reasoning with you—That is impossible. I am pointing out your logical fallacies for everyone else.

    • ...is fear itself. Seems these wise words have been largely forgotten. As a nation, the USA is the most lily-livered scaredy cats out there. I'm not talking about individuals, just the national characteristic. Why else spend such vast sums on a military that has more or less nothing to do? (and for which idle hands the devil makes plenty of work, starting wars it can't finish and general meddling). Why else are guns so fetishised? Why else is so much effort being put into monitoring everyone's trivial business? Why else are fingers pointed at harmless scapegoats like ordinary muslims? My country, right or wrong? Think about it.

      What sets apart the men from the boys is the cost of their toys. And once you have a toy budget, you have to spend it or lose it. War games does not consume battleships or submarines and very few aircraft. Now draw your conclusions.

  • If the average person had been smoking whatever it was, they'd have been locked up!
  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Saturday January 16, 2016 @07:26AM (#51312989)
    Trick question.

    They're much worse now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. Basically since its conception the FBI has been nothing more than America's version of the secret police. Throughout its history the FBI has been used to suppress dissent. It may have had noble goals at its creation, but hoover and his successors along with high-level govt officials from both parties, over the past ~100 years, have shaped it into an organization which is a fundamental threat to basic freedom.

      Today its baiting ignorant people into "islamic terror plots" which they clearly have no ca

  • So what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Saturday January 16, 2016 @07:43AM (#51313003)

    This doesn't indicate that the FBI listened in on any private conversations, blacklisted anyone, tried to get anyone fired, spread lies about anyone, or otherwise did the bad things that people usually think of when they complain about the FBI. And they feared the Soviets and Chinese would infiltrate because, you know, EPCOT has national pavilions run by those countries and staffed by their citizens. And when they found out that pavilions were not allowed to be political, they then decided the Soviets were not a threat. They don't seem to have thought the Chinese were a threat for very long, either.

    Basically, this whole thing is just a complaint about the FBI doing their job.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This doesn't indicate that the FBI listened in on any private conversations, blacklisted anyone, tried to get anyone fired, spread lies about anyone, or otherwise did the bad things that people usually think of when they complain about the FBI. And they feared the Soviets and Chinese would infiltrate because, you know, EPCOT has national pavilions run by those countries and staffed by their citizens. And when they found out that pavilions were not allowed to be political, they then decided the Soviets were not a threat. They don't seem to have thought the Chinese were a threat for very long, either.

      Basically, this whole thing is just a complaint about the FBI doing their job.

      Preventing political messages?
      yep... they where doing their cold war job.

      • Preventing political messages? yep... they where doing their cold war job.

        Are you actually admitting that we no longer hold the FBI to working within the framework of the Constitution? If so, why do we incarcerate Americans for any crimes if we allow treason (as defined by the intentional undermining of our Constitution) to operate with impunity?

        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
          Check out Amendment 1. Now if the FBI was to say they were keeping an eye on these folks because they had intel they were up to nefarious purposes, then yes.
          • Check out Amendment 1.

            I'm very familiar with the document. In fact, I am very fond of it.

            Now if the FBI was to say they were keeping an eye on these folks because they had intel they were up to nefarious purposes, then yes.

            And yet, after all this time, we do know that they FBI routinely acted against people like Martin Luther King, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and John Lennon among many others without "intel" of any kind other than a gut feeling by Jedgar himself.

            • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

              And yet, after all this time, we do know that they FBI routinely acted against people like Martin Luther King, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and John Lennon among many others without "intel" of any kind other than a gut feeling by Jedgar himself.

              And we know that Benjamin F read the mail of suspected Tories... I guess the Amendments may have been tongue in cheek?

              • And we know that Benjamin F read the mail of suspected Tories... I guess the Amendments may have been tongue in cheek?

                The FBI saw that these people were blacklisted and in MLK's case the FBI deliberately tried to drive him to commit suicide.

                But even if we were to accept that Franklin did break what would eventually become our law of the land, the argument that two wrongs make a right is an absurd proposition.

                • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
                  My cheeky comment was more to open a discussion on one aspect that always troubled me - the founders talked a good game, but they certainly didn't walk it. This well known violation [si.edu] seems at odds with their ideals.
                  • My cheeky comment was more to open a discussion on one aspect that always troubled me - the founders talked a good game, but they certainly didn't walk it. This well known violation seems at odds with their ideals.

                    As I mentioned previously, what Franklin did does not excuse anyone else from committing the same act. Yes, I agree with you. The founders touted the "All men are created equal" line but then ensured that slaves were not defined as men.

                    However, and let's be clear on this point, none of this has any relevance of the topic of the moment. We have laws in place which dictate how our government is allowed to operate. And if we can prosecute and then jail Americans for breaking many of our laws where no tangi

                    • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

                      The founders touted the "All men are created equal" line but then ensured that slaves were not defined as men.

                      It should be noted that while slaves were not defined as "men", neither were: women, anyone under 21, anyone not propertied and self-sufficient, and certainly no convicted felons, IIRC. You might also note that while many assume only white propertied males over 21, that was not exactly the case either.

                      ...we can damn well prosecute and then incarcerate those who break our laws regardless of their claim that they were simply following orders.

                      I believe this is finally coming round, and we can only hope everyone is held to the same yardstick.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      You forgot about the part where they stop white, right wing terrorists who take over federal facilities. Oh wait, they do not do that. Almost forgot. They would rather sit around and speculate about Disney then do their fucking jobs.
    • Basically, this whole thing is just a complaint about the FBI doing their job.

      Would you mind explaining exactly what you think the FBI is expected to do as part of their job?

      Last I heard, having a political philosophy, of just about any kind, was protected by the Constitution. Can you imagine the uproar we would see if the FBI targeted the entire conservative bloc in this country? Conversely, when the FBI went after the left, no one seemed to care enough to do anything about restricting these actions.

      • Can you imagine the uproar we would see if the FBI targeted the entire conservative bloc in this country? Conversely, when the FBI went after the left, no one seemed to care

        The FBI went after the KKK, and plenty of other far-right wing organizations.

        Conversely, while right-wing terrorists are demonized, left-wing terrorists get hired as professors to spread their influence on the next generation:

        http://theothermccain.com/2013... [theothermccain.com]

        • The FBI went after the KKK, and plenty of other far-right wing organizations.

          Indeed. And in those cases, they went after violent assholes who lynched people, bombed churches and generally broke the law with impunity as no jury in their locations would ever convict them.

          Conversely, while right-wing terrorists are demonized, left-wing terrorists get hired as professors to spread their influence on the next generation

          Oh, you mean like when the FBI tried to force Martin Luther King to commit suicide? Or when they went after people like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, or John Lennon?

          No, you're talking about protesters from a time when the FBI routinely invented evidence against people. Of course, common sense should have told you th

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      There is no Russian pavilion. There have been rumors and plans of one, but it has never been built.

      I keep waiting for the SJWs to complain about the lack of an African pavilion. There's kind of a pit stop space that could house one, but it's never been built. I suppose the counter argument might be that they instead built an entire theme park for Africa, Animal Kingdom, but a fair amount of that park isn't specifically set in Africa although the Tree of Life and the safari part of it give it an African d

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )

        It might just be that the people you call SJWs are just normal, reasonable people who point out your glaring mistakes in reason and knowledge. A good example is you complaining that some people you made up are going to complain that a continent is not represented in a showcase of countries.

        Hint: labelling people you don't like with some throwaway, nebulous term doesn't make you look particularly intellectually honest. It makes you look lazy, and relegates your argument to the same level of the people you

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          It's funny how this same block of made-up people also pushes a made-up holiday called Kwanzaa that claims to represent a made up African culture. You might even argue I'm taking their pan-Africanism at face value.

          Of course, we both know that it's perfectly logical to consider the Moroccan pavilion representative of "Africa" because, well, Morocco is in Africa, but we also know perfectly well that my made-up group of activists would object that Morocco is no more "African" than Africa-born Boer leader Paul

    • Re: So what? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Doing what job? Making sure Americans aren't exposed to ideas from elsewhere? Especially ideas that might make them question the non-stop pro-capitalist propaganda we're all fed by our corporate media?

      The FBI was a joke then and it's a very dangerous joke that isn't very funny now. They only know how to threaten dissent and dissenters, protect the rich and powerful, and of course how to manufacture terrorists so they can arrest them to justify their continued existence.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Actually, it is an indication that they are paranoid and insane. You know, the kind of people that should be professionally evaluated whether they are a danger to society.

  • I've always wondered who runs the country pavilions. They have a slightly not-run-by-Disney feel them. Sure, you can use your magic band to pay for stuff in their food stalls and restaurants and gift shops and the employees have Disney nametags on, but it always seems sort of not quite Disney otherwise. The Chinese pavilion even more so. And AFAICT they are staffed almost entirely by nationals of the country.

    I think the Chinese pavilion was there when the park opened (we went as a family in Christmas of

    • Chinese pavilion surely used workers from Taiwan or Hong Kong.

  • in a quickly created amusement part.... With multinational brands shown the visiting public their branded propaganda in public?
    Interactive life size ads?
    Most of the new cash went back to winning coveted US entertainment awards over the years and for more tv shows.
    The internet protection was not active for a while and the wider internet wondered around... using ftp.
    A lot is about staff from other nations selling food... and getting their students into the USA.
    The millions of people moving past would be
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      One final interesting aspect is if a nation's staff could party. Lack of any basic party skills or per person interest in partying resulted more a lot more surveillance.
      So ensure all embassy staff, trade missions and people sent to the USA can party to a US standard.
      The ability of a nations staff to relate to new and popular music, hold witty conversation in English, have an understanding of alcoholic beverages and move quickly to participate in all social events seemed to be an interesting part of US co
  • The Chinese are essentially broadcasting all their propaganda on a 50kW AM station located just outside of DC; that doesn't disclose they're Chinese; and that no one has done anything about.
  • It's very strange to look back on the Cold War now -- Russia and the US wasted trillions of dollars and built a huge nuclear arsenal basically to stare each other down. If Epcot opened a few years later (mid to late 80s) I wonder if they would be targeting the Japanese pavilion as a possible hotbed of industrial espionage. When you walk through there today, you can feel a little bit of the ghost of the Japanese economic bubble. For those not old enough to remember, this was the time where there were breathl

  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Saturday January 16, 2016 @10:49AM (#51313463)
    Should we be more frightened by a somewhat insane FBI or a band of rabid communists? I think maybe the FBI is the greater of two evils. Gee whiz! Americans might learn to use chopsticks in an international village. That is a threat to American knife and fork makers and capitalism in general.
    • I just read Betty Medsger's "The Burglary," about the burglary of the Media, PA office of the FBI in 1971 by a group of people who named themselves the Citizens Committee to Investigate the FBI. J. Edgar Hoover went apoplectic over it, but they never found the burglars. The documents stolen led to the revelation of COINTELPRO, among many other things. The book is also a primer on the history of 20th century surveillance by our government. A band of rabid communists isn't going to have millions or billio
    • I'd say the FBI are more dangerous because commies are easier to spot, due to their funny accents and pointy beards and all that.

  • EPCOT as envisioned by Walt Disney was to be an actual city where people would live and work. He designed it in concentric rings, somewhat resembling a wagon wheel with spokes. The inner zone would have towers and was supposed to be where people work. The middle ring was a park and retail area, and the outer-most ring was residential. Walt Disney had the idea that all major American corporations would want to relocate their R&D to EPCOT, so if you could get GM next door to GE and might get an electric o
    • EPCOT as envisioned by Walt Disney was to be an actual city where people would live and work.

      And coincidently, Walt was also worried that Communists may get into the city. He became a little paranoid about them after the animator's strike.

  • Worse yet, I think the Americans were involved with it to!

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