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Witch Hunt 

^The Revival ofHmsy 




Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2011 witii funding from 

LYRASIS IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 

Books by Carey McWilliams 

Factories in the Field 
111 Fares the Land 
Brothers Under the Skin 


] apanese-A7nericans: Symbol of Racial Intolerance 

A Mask for Privilege: Anti-Semitism in America 

Witch Hunt 

The Revival of Heresy 

Witch Hunt 

IVitch Hunt 



It is with the saints here as with the boughs of 
trees in time of storm. You shall see the 
boughs beat one upon another as if they would 
beat one another to pieces, as if armies were 
fighting; but this is but while the wind, while 
the tempest lasts; stay awhile, and you shall 
see every bough standing in its own order and 
comeliness: why? because they are all united 
in one root; if any bough be rotten, the storm 
breaks it. 



Little, Brown and Company 







'Published 'November igso 


I am indebted to Benjamin Weintroub, editor of the Chicago Jeivish 
Forwji, and to Louis Adamic, editor of Trends (b Tides, for permis- 
sion to include in this volume portions of the manuscript which orig- 
inally appeared in their publications. I wish also to acknowledge my 
deep indebtedness to Dr. Alexander Meiklejohn, with whom I had the 
honor to collaborate in a brief submitted to the United States Supreme 
Court in the case of the Hollywood Ten. From the stimulating discus- 
sions out of which the brief emerged, I derived some of the ideas and 
suggestions developed in the chapter on the case included in this 
volume. To Richard Dettering, Elmer Gertz, Margaret O'Connor, 
Ross Wills, John Caughlan, Ralph Gundlach, and Robert W. Kenny, 
I am indebted for a variety of favors. 

I am indebted to various publishers for permission to quote mate- 
rials: to The Macmillan Company for permission to quote from Essays 
in Jurisprudence and Ethics by Frederick Pollock; Josiah Royce's 
The Philosophy of Loyalty, copyright 1908 by The Macmillan Com- 
pany and used with their permission; Henry Charles Lea's A History 

(Continued on next page) 

Published simultaneously 
in Canada by McClelland and Stewart Limited 


Acknowledgments vii 

of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, copyright 1887 by Harper and 
Brothers and used with the permission of The Macmillan Company; 
and Sir Gilbert Murray's Liberality and Civilization, copyright 1938 
by The Macmillan Company and used with their permission. To 
Dr. Gerard L. DeGre I am indebted for permission to quote from his 
study. Society and Ideology; and to Columbia Universit)' Press for 
permission to quote from: The Roots of Anierican Loyalty by Merle 
Curti; Power and Morals by Martin J. Hillenbrand, and The Men Who 
Control Our Universities by Hubert Park Beck. The material from 
Freedom and the College by Alexander Meiklejohn is quoted with the 
permission of Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., copyright, 1923, Century 
Company. I am indebted also to: Houghton Mifflin Company for per- 
mission to quote from Richer by Asia by Edmond Taylor; to Harvard 
University Press for permission to quote from The Development of 
Religious Toleration in England by W. K. Jordan and The German 
Universities and National Socialis77i by E. Y. Hartshorne, Jr.; to W. W. 
Norton & Company for permission to quote from What Does Amer- 
ica Mean? by Alexander Meiklejohn and Henri Pirenne's History of 
Europe; to Cornell University Press for permission to quote from 
Safeguarding Civil Liberties Today; to E. P. Button & Co., Inc., for 
permission to quote from Medieval Heresy and the Inquisition by A. S. 
Turberville; to Charles Scribner's Sons for permission to quote from 
Are Teachers Free? by Dr. Howard Beale and Witchcraft in England 
by Christina Hole; to Harper & Brothers for permission to quote from 
Prophets of Deceit by Leo Lowenthal and Norbert Guterman; to 
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., for permission to quote from The Devil in 
Massachusetts by Marlon L. Starkey and The Free State by D. W. 
Brogan; to Henry Holt and Company, Inc., for permission to quote 
from CoTmnunity of the Free by Yves R. Simon; to Oxford University 
Press, Inc., for permission to quote from Dictatorship and Political 
Police by E. K. Bramsted; to Princeton University Press for permis- 
sion to quote from Psychology of Social Classes by Richard Centers; 
to The Citadel Press for permission to quote from Satanism and 
Witchcraft (1946) by Jules Michelet; to The Viking Press, Inc., for 
permission to quote from Ideas Are Weapons by Max Lerner and 
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck; to the University of 
Chicago Press for permission to quote from A Free and Responsible 
Press and from Misunderstandings in Human Relations by Gustav 
Ichheiser (American Journal of Sociology, September 1949); to 
George Allen and Unwin, Ltd. for permission to quote from The 
French Revolution in English History by P. A. Brown; to the Editor of 
the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for permission to quote from an 
article by Dr. Leo Szilard appearing in the June-July 1949 issue; 

viii Acknowledgments 

and to the Editor of the American Scholar for permission to quote 
from articles by Helen Lynd, T. V. Smith, and Arthur O. Lovejoy 
appearing in the Summer 1949 issue of that publication. 

Special thanks, as always, to Jerry Ross McWilliams and Iris 

Dedicated to the Aidlins, 

Mary and Joe; and, with some 

reservations, Mike . . , 



I. CIVIL rights: civil liberties— 2. L AFFAIRE 

BOOK ONE: "Fe^r Hath A Hundred Eyes" 
I The Loyalty Obsession 27 

3. "the censorious eye" — 4. FOOTNOTE TO HISTORY 

y>^i What is Loyalty? Who Are Loyal? 49 


III Thoreau and the Hollywood Ten 67 


rv Hans and the 52 Grams 82 


V The Berkeley Crisis 102 

I. "enemies within THE WALLS" — 2. "a MEANING- 
FUL ceremony" — 3. NONE BUT THE BRAVE — 4. SO- 

VI Imaginary Monsters of Error 1 2 1 


BOOK TWO: Witchcraft in Washington 
VII Bury the Facts 139 


VIII Professors on Trial 156 



EX The Great Debate 1 7 1 


X The Verdict of the Educators 190 


XI In Dubious Directions 202 


XII Freedom Is the Word 214 




BOOK THREE: The Strategy of Satan 

XIII The Roots of Heresy 235 


XIV The Strategy of Satan 260 


,^xv The Semantics of Persecution 282 


XVI The New Inquisition 300 

I. COURTS OF no escape — 2. THE NATURE OF THE 

XVII The Boughs and the Storm 321 


INDEX 341 

Witch Hunt 


Witchcraft, and all manner of spectre- 
work, and demonology, we have now 
named madness, and diseases of the nerves, 
seldom reflecting that still the new question 
comes upon us: What is madness? What 
are nerves? 


In equinoctial times, when day and night are in balance, when 
old worlds are dying and new worlds are struggling to be born, 
there is always a prevalence of witches. For there is a season to 
hunt witches as there is a season to shoot ducks, and the season 
for witches is the autumnal equinox. Witches are not made or 
spawned or fashioned; they are caught. Hunting witches is like 
playing a game: the witch is the one at whom the others point. 
_^ Without a witch hunt, there would be no witches, and witches 
are never hunted without a reason. Witch hunts are a means 
by which, in time of storm, the belief in witches is exploited 
in order to control men's thoughts and to police their loyalties. 
The season for hunting witches is a season of terror and alarm, 
when "fear hath a hundred eyes" and "good and evil interchange 
their names"; when people, "wearied out with contrarieties," 
yield up moral questions in despair. 

But it is also a season of promise: great new hopes are in the 
air, there is a quickening of social thought and energies, with 
deep stirrings and realignments, and, beneath the surfaces, an un- 
mistakable surge toward the future. It is this surge which pro- 
duces the grotesque regression to witch hunting and the ways of 
the Inquisition. Phases of this regression are clearly evident in 
the United States today. We have reached far back into history's 
museum of social horrors to resurrect such instruments of perse- 
cution as the test oath and the inquisitorial tribunal. The use of 

4 Witch Hunt 

these discredited political instruments in an age that boasts of 
its scientific achievements and its freedom from primitive fears 
and superstitions is not hard to explain. Once government at- 
tempts to suppress heresy by punishing heretics, the instruments 
to be used are dictated by the nature of the task. It is the use of 
these instruments that revives, not the fear of the witch, but the 
fear of being identified with the witch, which is one of the most 
terrible and despotic of fears. In time of storm this fear is used 
like a whip to coerce conformity. 

Before people will succumb to this ancient scourging fear, 
however, the belief in witches must be revived, but this is never 
difficult in a season in which the mingling of light and darkness 
brings about a transposition of illusion and reality. In the weird 
lighting which precedes the equinoctial storms, social hallucina- 
tions and delusions flourish as an aspect of the general distortion 
in perception which makes even the most familiar objects and 
landscapes assume forbidding contours. Only a slight change in 
perspective is needed, in this light, to make giants of pygmies 
and monsters of godly opposites. It is easy to imagine that one 
sees witches in this light and it is easy, also, to believe in witches. 
For it is in this season that the Devil elects to reappear upon the 
earth and that the concept of heresy is revived. In time of storm, 
the boughs of the trees grind against each other as if armies 
were marching, as if every tree in the forest would be uprooted 
and destroyed. It seems as if the Devil himself had stirred up 
these equinoctial storms but this is a delusion, for the boughs 
grind against each other not because the Devil has commanded 
them to do so but because there is a storm in the world, because 
a tempest rages. 

This, then, is a book about the illusions created by the boughs 
of trees in time of storm; it is about witches and heretics in 
modern guise and the use of heresy as an instrument of social 
control. But it began with a concern about civil rights . . . 

On October 29, 1947, the fifteen members of the President's 
Committee on Civil Rights issued their memorable report: To 

Introduction 5 

Secure These Rights. The report was promptly hailed, and 
rightly so, as one of the great documents in the history of Amer- 
ican freedom. For the first time in the nation's history, a sys- 
tematic inventory of civil rights had been taken on a nation- 
wide basis. The report noted areas of weakness, pointed up 
certain dangers, and called for a new birth of freedom. Over a 
million copies of the report were distributed and its recom- 
mendations, embodied in President Truman's civil rights pro- 
gram, touched off a major upheaval in American politics. And 
yet there is a curious irony about the report which future his- 
torians are certain to stress. "This committee," reads the report 
(page 47), "has made no extensive study of our record under the 
great freedoms which comprise this right (freedom of con- 
science and expression) : religion, speech, press, and assembly. To 
have done so would have meant making this vast field the 
dominant part of our inquiry. We were not prepared to do this, 
partly because it has been and is being well studied by others. 
What fijially determined us was the conviction that this right is 
relatively secure.'" (Emphasis added.) 

Although it would be unfair to charge the committee with a 
lack of foresight, still it is hard to overlook the failure to take 
notice of such items, for example, as the report of the Com- 
mission on Freedom of the Press, issued in April 1947, which 
warned, in the most emphatic way, that freedom of the press 
was endangered. Again, in August 1947, the American Civil 
Liberties Union, in its annual report, had pointed out that "the 
national climate of opinion in which freedom of public debate 
and minority dissent functioned with few restraints during the 
war years and after, has undergone a sharply unfavorable 
change." This change, moreover, had been marked, in the most 
significant manner, by the issuance of President Truman's loy- 
alty order on March 22, 1947. The issuance of this order alone 
should have warned the Committee on Civil Rights that, by ig- 
noring the civil rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, they 
were diverting public attention from the real threat to civil rights. 

A simple comparison of one or two details of the President's 
loyalty program with earlier experiments in thought control 

6 Witch Hunt 

would have indicated the extent of the danger. For example, 
under the criminal syndicalism statutes and similar measures it 
was always necessary to prove that a particular organization had 
in fact advocated the overthrow of the government by force and 
violence or that the individuals charged with sedition or crimi- 
nal syndicalism had in fact conspired to overthrow the govern- 
ment by such means. But under the new inquisition organizations 
are in effect banned by the simple technique of listing them as 
subversive without proof or evidence or an opportunity to be 
heard, and individuals are branded as disloyal and subversive 
solely by reason of their membership in such organizations. At 
the height of the delirium of the Palmer raids, organizations were 
not banned without a hearing nor were citizens deprived of civil 
rights merely by listing their names in a political rogues' gallery. 

The failure of the President's committee to recognize the new 
threat to the freedoms defined by the First Amendment is symp- 
tomatic of a general inability to distinguish between illusion and 
reality in the field of civil rights. The American people will 
never knowingly acquiesce in any curtailment or abridgment of 
civil rights; but the course of events since the issuance of the 
report of the President's committee reveals a susceptibility to 
myth and illusion that could prove fatal to civil rights. 

The initial illusion arises from the fact that, contrary to gen- 
eral expectations, few encroachments on civil rights took place 
during World War II, a circumstance which was widely inter- 
preted as evidence of a new political maturity in the American 
people. To be sure, there were such shameful episodes as the' 
wartime abrogation of the constitutional rights of Japanese- 
Americans and the violent race riots of midsummer 1943; but, 
by and large, the anticipated denials of civil rights did not take 
place. For one thing, the groups that had been anti-war in 19 16 
were, with a few exceptions, strongly pro-war in 1941. What- 
ever the explanation, the fact that the Roosevelt administration 
managed to steer clear of the witch hunts and loyalty crusades 
of the Wilson administration encouraged the illusion that we had 
progressed to a point beyond which any regression to less 
civilized political behavior was unlikely if not impossible. 

Introduction 7 

This illusion was fostered by still another factor. The ferment 
which came with World War II — a war against fascism — 
touched off a great debate on civil rights for racial minorities, 
a debate which culminated, in a sense, with the issuance of the 
report of the President's committee. Although few basic re- 
forms have been achieved, it is nevertheless true that public 
opinion on the general subject of racial discrimination has under- 
gone a remarkable improvement since 1941. Faced with this im- 
provement, it seemed difficult to believe that a regression could 
be taking place at the same time in other phases of civil rights. 
And it was still more difficult to believe that the same social 
forces which had brought the racial minorities issue into the 
foreground of public attention were also responsible for the 
tendency to curtail the basic freedoms guaranteed by the First 
Amendment. This apparent contradiction was as hard to accept 
as the real contradiction that the President who had appointed 
the Committee on Civil Rights should have cynically touched 
off the worst witch hunt in the last quarter century by signing 
the loyalty order on March 22, 1947, almost before the ink was 
dry on his signature to a letter, written to former Governor 
George Earle of Pennsylvania, in which he had laughed at 
Earle's lugubrious admonitions about "the red menace." 

Both contradictions relate, of course, to the fact that a crisis 
in race relations, which had been long maturing, coincided 
with the first postwar realizations that a general crisis in the 
economy was maturing beneath a surface appearance of pros- 
perity and excellent prospects for the immediate future. De- 
termined to avoid if possible a merging of racial unrest and eco- 
nomic disaffection, the strategists of American reaction began 
to give the appearance of yielding on the subject of racial dis- 
crimination while, at the same time, stepping up the pressure 
against political and economic dissenters. Even as the nation de- 
bated the report of the President's Conamittee on Civil Rights, 
one could see that the hopeful expectation about a new deal for 
racial minorities was being encouraged as a cover for a cam- 
paign to coerce conformity on economic and political issues. 
For example, the report of the American Civil Liberties Union 

8 Witch Hunt 

for 1 946- 1 947 was hopefully captioned "In Time of Challenge"; 
but the report for 1948- 1949 appeared under the ominous cap- 
tion: "In the Shadow of Fear." The Union's "balance sheet" 
for civil liberties showed forty-eight "favorable" items as against 
thirty "unfavorable" items for 1 946-1 947, with most of the 
favorable items being related to victories won in the fight against 
racial discrimination; but unfavorable items outnumbered fav- 
ored in the ratio of three to one for the year 1948- 1949, with 
the unfavorable items being almost entirely related to those civil 
rights which the President's committee had found to be securely 

Confronted with a mounting wave of public indignation on 
the score of racial discrimination, President Truman was com- 
pelled to sponsor a civil rights program for racial minorities; 
but he was disposed to this course of action, apparently, by his 
simultaneous discovery that this program could serve as an ef- 
fective cover for his failure to protect other civil rights — for 
example, the civil rights of government employees. The more 
insistent the nation became that the civil rights of racial minor- 
ities should be protected, the more the public appeared to ac- 
quiesce in curtailments of the civil rights of economic and po- 
litical dissenters. The more American Negro leaders, and their 
liberal allies, affirmed their freedom from economic and po- 
litical heresies, the more comfortably the opponents of the 
President's civil rights program settled down to enjoy pleasant 
filibusters. For the last three years, the general agitation about 
the civil rights of racial minorities has consistently diverted at- 
tention from the extraordinary deterioration which has taken 
place in the public's willingness to respect and protect the rights 
of economic and political minorities. 

Within the last three years, a distinction has gradually de- 
veloped between "civil rights" and "civil liberties" which clearly 
reflects the tendency to renege on the moral commitment to 
freedom which is part of the American heritage. The fact that 
President Truman appointed a committee on civil rights rather 
than civil Uberties attracted little attention at the time but the 
meaning of the distinction has since been clarified. For example, 

Introduction 9 

Mr. Philip B. Perlman, Solicitor General of the United States, 
speaking before the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith in 
Chicago on May 13, 1950, implied that civil rights are essentially 
those rights which government should affirmatively safeguard, 
such as the right to be free of discrimination on the grounds of 
race, color or creed; whereas civil liberties are those rights which 
the individual asserts against government, such as freedom of 
thought and speech. The distinction is implicit in "the shield and 
the sword" metaphor developed by Robert K. Carr, who served 
as executive director of the President's Committee on Civil 
Rights, in his book Federal Protection of Civil Rights (1947). In 
the case of civil liberties, the government is merely a "shield"; 
in the case of civil rights, it can be a sword used to strike down 
discriminations. But what if the price which government de- 
mands for the affirmative protection of civil rights is an ac- 
quiescence in the curtailment of civil liberties? 

Up to a point, the distinction between civil rights and civil 
liberties is valid but it has been given a dangerous extension and, 
in a sense, the danger was inherent in the distinction. For the 
distinction implies that government can act affirmatively to safe- 
guard "rights," which it bestows, but need not protect "liberties" 
which are asserted against government and can therefore easily 
acquire anti-governmental implications. In a subtle way, agitation 
for the first becomes proper, even fashionable, and meets with 
the approval of the administration, which likes to be cast in the 
role of paterfamilias to racial minorities strategically distributed 
in certain states with a largj-e electoral vote; whereas asfitation for 
civil liberties inferentially constitutes an improper concern for 
the sharp thornlike rights which run counter to the hardening 
ideology of Big Business and is therefore heretical. Doubtless the 
distinction was never intended to serve as a rationalization but 
it is being used in this fashion, and most conveniently, for it 
enables spokesmen for the administration to use the right phrases 
while avoiding many of the tough issues and decisions. 

That the distinction has now achieved wide acceptance may 
be shown by reference to a report of the American Jewish Con- 
gress and the National Association for the Advancement of 

lo Witch Hunt 

Colored People entitled Civil Rights in the United States in 1949. 
In the foreword appears this statement: "This report, Hke the 
previous one for 1948, deals with civil rights, namely with those 
civil liberties which are denied to persons because of their race, 
color, religion, or national origin or ancestry." In short, civil 
rights are a special category of civil liberties. This is an innocent- 
appearing and, within limitations, perhaps even a useful distinc- 
tion; but it enables defense organizations to turn in a report on 
civil rights which, for all practical purposes, ignores precisely 
those areas of civil liberties which are under most direct fire and 
attack. Specifically, the distinction made it possible for both or- 
ganizations to conclude that "the year 1949 witnessed a number 
of encouraging developments in the protection and extension of 
civil rights in the United States." The statement is accurate 
enough but it diverts attention — and most dangerously — from 
the fact that 1949 also witnessed major attacks on civil liberties 
by government. 

This tendency to separate civil liberties into categories is in- 
herently dangerous; it is also most unrealistic. Civil liberties are 
cognate, interrelated, interdependent rights. It is quite unrealistic 
to assume that one side of the structure of freedom can be 
strenghtened while another is being weakened. A glance at the 
vote in Congress on key civil liberties issues will show, clearly 
enough, that racial minorities cannot win victories at the expense 
of the civil liberties of political minorities. The forces that have 
blocked the FEPC have been the same forces that have sup- 
ported the House Committee on Un-American Activities, As 
Mr. Perlman has pointed out, in the speech mentioned, "a govern- 
ment which is totalitarian violates 'civil rights' as well as 'civil 
liberties.' " Indeed it cannot be otherwise, for freedom is indi- 

The same contradiction appears in public attitudes on specific 
civil rights issues affecting the rights of economic and political 
minorities. When, early in 1949, the University of Washington 
ousted two professors enjoying permanent tenure rights solely 
because they were members of the Communist Party and dis- 
ciplined three of their colleagues, also enjoying permanent ten- 



ure, for once having been members of the Communist Party, the 
contradictory position taken by most American educators on 
the case became embarrassing to witness and painful to record. 
For example, in a survey of opinion among the nation's leading 
educators, Benjamin Fine reported that sentiment W2& ". . . vir- 
tually unanimous in upholding the ouster of Communist Party 
members." ^ Almost without exception, these educators, includ- 
ing most of the nation's college presidents, assured Mr. Fine 
that ". . . the dismissal of Communist teachers will not impair 
our traditional principles of academic freedom." 

But, these assurances to the contrary, something was actually 
impairing the principles of academic freedom, as witness the 
fact, reported in the same survey, that the American Association 
of University Professors was being "swamped" with complaints 
and that the principle of academic freedom, in the opinion of 
the nation's educators, was under the most severe attack in the 
history of American education. The caption of this section of 
Mr. Fine's report indicates its contents: "Charges of Freedom 
Curbs Rising in Nation's Colleges." ^ The assurance by the na- 
tion's educators that the ouster of Communist instructors solely 
because of their political affiliation would not impair academic 
freedom began to recall, in a most uncomfortable and embar- 
rassing way, President Truman's assurance that the loyalty order 
would safeguard civil rights. 

In the same article in which Mr. Fine reported that American 
educators were virtually unanimous in their approval of the 
ouster of Communist instructors, he also reported that these same 
educators were equally unanimous in their opposition to loyalty 
oaths. Confident that the ouster of Communists would not im- 
pair academic freedom, they were nevertheless "alarmed and 
dismayed" to note the enactment of statutes in Kansas, Massa- 
chusetts, and Pennsylvania authorizing the dismissal of teachers 
on the ground of "disloyalty"; of statutes in Maryland, New 
York, and New Jersey forbidding teachers to join certain or- 
ganizations; and of new legislation in a score of states authoriz- 

^ N. Y. Times, May 30, 1949. 
^Ibid., May 20, 1949. 


Witch Hunt 

ing nonteaching personnel to make checkups and investigations 
on the loyalty of teachers. One cannot ponder the contradictions 
between the assurance and the warning without becoming aware 
that the state of American public opinion on the subject of civil 
rights is far from satisfactory. Consider, by way of further illus- 
tration, a recent statement on academic freedom by the United 
States Commissioner of Education, Mr. Earl James McGrath.^ 

Mr, McGrath believes in academic freedom but . . . "at the 
same time, I believe we should be willing and ready to sign 
loyalty oaths if present pressures of public opitiio?! require 
them. Organized opposition to loyalty oaths places the profes- 
sion in a questionable position. . . . The great danger to the 
future of education in America, and to the American w^av of 
life, is that in our effort to avoid the spread of communistic 
doctrines we may turn this nation into a police state." To op- 
pose the pressures of public opinion, however, would be to 
assume "... a heavy burden of explanation at a time when 
. . . energies are needed to promote democratic values and prac- 
tices rather than to fight a rear-guard action." In other words, 
academic freedom is to be protected by talking about democratic 
values and not by defending this freedom for those who hold 
unpopular beliefs or belong to unpopular minority parties; or, 
stated another way, academic freedom is to be defended only 
when it is expedient, safe, and rewarding to defend academic 
freedom. On its face tlie statement betrays a fear of freedom 
and a willingness to renege on the commitment which all free- 
dom implies — namely, to defend the freedom of others, includ- 
ing the most unpopular minorities. 

This tendency to profess allegiance to the symbols of freedom 
while reneging on the practical commitments is based upon a 
failure to note the source of those "present pressures of public 
opinion" to which Mr. AicGrath refers. Are we to believe, for 
example, that the American public has become fearful of the 
implications of freedom and has decided to beat a strategic 
retreat from freedom's first principles? And if this be so, then 

^Journal of the National Education Association, September 1949 (em- 
phasis added). 

Introduction 1 3 

of what is the public afraid? As I hope to demonstrate in the 
follow ing chapters, it is the economic crisis — the storm that is 
blowing up — which is feeding the fears that are today being 
played upon and manipulated to undermine the public's belief in 
freedom as a policy as well as a principle. Either we do not see 
this crisis or, seeing it, we refuse to acknowledge that it exists. 
For we do not seem to realize that economic insecurity can make 
a mockery of civil rights; that "freedom of the press" can be 
made an utterly meaningless phrase without the enactment of a 
single statute encroaching on this freedom; that invisible social 
and economic pressures can be as destructive of freedom as the 
most overt and brutal repression. In short we seem to be so dis- 
turbed by the agitation of the boughs that we fail to see the storm. 
To believe that the removal of two Communist professors from 
a university faculty will safeguard academic freedom is an illu- 
sion; but the failure to see that this act undermines the whole 
conception of academic freedom is a gross social delusion. 


God help that Country where informers 


It began with a routine political speech of the Lincoln Day 
period, delivered at Wheeling, West Virginia, on February 9 
by Senator Joseph R. iMcCarthy. "I have here in my hand," the 
Senator had said, "a list of 205 [employees] that were known to 
the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist 
Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the 
policy in the State Department," Resurrected by Willard Ed- 
wards of the Washington staff of the Chicago Tribune, the 
charge was distinctly second-rate bombast, being based on ma- 
terial which had been aired before a congressional subcommit- 
tee in February 1948. The charge was so sleazy that the Senator 
was not at all impressed with his own speech and returned to 
Washington unaware of the sensation he had created. 

Once the sensation had broken, however, McCarthy skillfully 
kept it alive and pointed the story toward a climax. At a press 

14 Witch Hunt 

conference on March 2 1 — the original interest having begun to 
taper off — he announced that an unnamed man, connected with 
the State Department, was Russia's "top espionage agent in the 
United States." Certain that this would create a new sensation, he 
cunningly withheld the name of the individual until the last dram 
of sensationalism had been extracted from the anonymous accu- 
sation. Then he set a new sensation in motion by whispering to 
a group of newspapermen that the agent's name was Owen Lat- 
timore, knowing that the "rumor" would leak and thereby build 
up interest in the case. In his first sensational Senate speech on 
February 20, McCarthy had not mentioned Lattimore; indeed 
Lattimore was clearly an afterthought. None of the descriptions 
which the Senator had then given of his "three top espionage 
cases" fitted Lattimore. Finally, after milking the preliminary 
sensations dry, he made a speech accusing Lattimore of being 
"the top Russian espionage agent." 

From then on, the Senator managed to keep just one jump 
ahead of his colleagues, who seemed to be quite incapable of 
coping with his. ever-changing charges and dispersed targets. By 
March 30, Lattimore was merely "one of the top Communist 
agents"; a little later he was merely "a bad policy risk"; and still 
later McCarthy confessed: "I fear ... I may have perhaps 
placed too much stress on the question of whether or not he 
has been an espionage agent." By the use of these hit-and-run 
tactics, carefully repeating each charge after it had been refuted 
with merely a slight change in the wording, the Senator from 
Wisconsin kept the opposition constantly on the defensive. As 
Lattimore bitterly complained: "The truth never quite catches 
up with the lie." 

The cumulative effect of this impudently mendacious attack 
was truly amazing. Although editorial opinion was generally 
critical — even hostile — McCarthy succeeded in making a deep 
impression. A small group of Republican right-wing Senators 
backed him outright; a large number of Democrats and Repub- 
licans were patently sympathetic; and there were many Senators 
who were clearly reluctant to oppose him for fear he might 
"turn up something." In a series of dispatches from Wisconsin, 

Introduction 1 5 

James Reston reported that the grass-roots sentiment was by no 
means unfavorable to McCarthy. Even a full airing of the Sen- 
ator's interesting background and connections, and Gerald L. K. 
Smith's enthusiastic endorsement, seemed to have little effect. 
McCarthy, reported Mr. Reston, was "doing better in Wisconsin 
than in Washington." * 

But he seemed to be doing very well in Washington. On 
April 30, William S. White of the New York Times reported 
the existence of "a movement, perceptible if slow, of Senate Re- 
publicans toward association in one form or another, with 
Senator Joseph R. McCarthy ... in his attacks on the alleged 
Communists in the State Department." And on May 14, Carroll 
Kilpatrick reported to the San Francisco Chro?iicle that "the 
McCarthy campaign against the state department is going to be 
continued indefinitely and with the support of the top Repub- 
lican leaders in the Senate because it seems to be paying political 
dividends." On Ma y 22, the Washiitgton Post, in a full-page edi- 
torial, warned that "for weeks the Capital has been seized and 
convulsed by a terror." Even George Kennan, who had much 
to do with the containment policy, felt compelled to say that 
"the atmosphere of public life in Washington does not have to 
deteriorate much further to produce a situation in which very 
few of our more quiet and sensitive and gifted people will be 
able to continue in government." And finally the dean of Wash- 
ington correspondents, Mr. Arthur Krock, implied that he was 
deeply impressed with McCarthy's charges. Only the fact that 
we have forgotten how witch hunts operate — only the fact that 
we have forgotten the meaning of heresy — can possibly explain 
the panic and consternation which "seized" and "convulsed" the 
capital of the world's greatest power upon its exposure to witch- 
hunting charges and tactics that were thoroughly stereotyped 
as early as the thirteenth century. Henry L. Stimson neatly 
summed up the situation when he said: "This man is not trying to 
get rid of known Communists in the State Department: he is 
hoping against hope that he will find some." 

*2V. F. Times, May 21, 22, 1950. 

1 6 Witch Hunt 

But the real meaning of the amazing affaire McCarthy seems 
to have been entirely overlooked. In signing Executive Order 
9835 on March 22, 1947, creating the loyalty program, Presi- 
dent Truman was motivated, so he has stated, by a desire "to 
protect the security of the Government and to safeguard the 
rights of its employees." "' But, somehow, this second objective 
does not seem to have been achieved; witness such headlines as 
this: "Loyalty Issue Keeps U. S. Employees Jittery" (New York 
Times, June 4, 1950). Even so, few observers have been willing 
to admit that McCarthyism is a direct outgrowth of the Presi- 
dent's loyalty program. The parentage, however, is unmistak- 

It was a foregone conclusion that once 2,000,000 federal em- 
ployees had been "tested" for loyalty, some demagogue — and if 
not McCarthy, then some other — would shout that the test- 
ing procedure had been inadequate or that it had been conducted 
by the "wrong" agency or that the standard of loyalty was de- 
fective. The curious fact is, of course, that the President's loyalty 
order failed to define a standard, nor has the Lovalty Review 
Board yet defined one.^' But in retrospect it will be quite clear 
that McCarthyism is merely a second chapter in the loyalty ob- 
session which the administration officially sanctioned three years 

For example, the Loyalty Review Board "closed its books on 
the first part of its program," namely, the investigation of incum- 
bents, on December 31, 1949. This audit of loyalty had shown 
that 6412 federal employees had been investigated as "suspected 
cases of disloyalty." Hearings reduced the total to 3966, and, 
of this number, 3696 were found eligible to retain their jobs and 
270 were dismissed. Of those dismissed, however, 69 were later 
reinstated, so that the total dismissals, among 2,000,000 employees 
on the payroll on October i, 1947, have only been 201 or ap- 
proximately one tenth of i per cent of all employees, and, of 
this number, 100 cases are pending on appeal! After three years 

^ N. Y. Times, April 25, 1950. 

^See story N. Y. Ti??ies, May 21, 1950: "U. S. Reviews Fail to Define 

Introduction 17 

of diligent investigation, not one single case of espionage was 
brought to light/ 

These impressive findings did not, however, scotch the loy- 
alty obsession. Quite the contrary, the release of the report was 
the signal to reopen the entire question; hence McCarthy's 
charges. For the question of loyalty has only the slightest rela- 
tion to security; it is concerned, rather, with the control of 
heresy. It was for this reason that McCarthyism followed right 
on the heels of the completion of the first federal security audit. 
The immediate effect of McCarthy's charges, of course, was 
to undermine three years of investigation by the Loyalty Review 
Board. "Now, for several weeks," reported Jay Walz, "the pen- 
dulum of criticism has swung to the other side. Behind all of 
Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's charges of Communist infiltration 
of the State Department lies the implication that the Depart- 
ment's loyalty board is too soft, too lenient and ineffectual." ^ 

This implication became painfully explicit when Charles Saw- 
yer, Secretary of Commerce, was told by a subcommittee of the 
Congress to get rid of Michael Lee and William Remington or 
face an investigation of their cases. Mr. Sawyer promptly re- 
moved the two men although both had loyalty cases then pend- 
ing before the Commerce Department Loyalty Board! Indeed 
Remington had been investigated two years previously and had 
been exonerated. The question, of course, is not whether either 
man is guilty or innocent but rather: of what value is a loyalty 
program that can so easily be set aside? By indicting Remington, 
the Attorney General indicated that he, too, was not impressed 
by the President's loyalty program. Even earlier, however, a 
clamor had arisen — as it was bound to arise — to "broaden" the 
test of loyalty and to vest jurisdiction in some independent 
agency, that is, some agency not connected with either the 
executive or the legislative departments. But this is only a further 
evasion of the basic problems, for such a commission would 
quickly become a political target. The plain fact is that the loy- 

"^N. Y. Tmtes, April 6, 1950; also story by Cabell Phillips, N. Y. Tmies, 
February 19, 1950. 

^N. Y. Times, June 4, 1950. 

1 8 Witch Hunt 

alty program has stimulated, not quieted, the hysterical concern 
with loyalty, for without a witch hunt, of course, there would 
be no witches. 

The source of the trouble was clearly pointed out by Mr. 
Justice Edgerton of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals 
in his dissent in the Dorothy Bailey case. "The dismissal," he 
said, "violates both the Constitution and the Executive Order. 
However respectable her anonymous accusers may have been, 
if her dismissal is sustained the livelihood and reputation of any 
civil servant today and perhaps of any American tomorrow are 
at the mercy not only of an innocently mistaken informant but 
also of a malicious or demented one. . . . This dismissal abridges 
not only freedom of speech but freedom of thought ... In the 
present connection it [loyalty] is not speech but a state of mind'''' 
(my emphasis). In other words there would be no trouble about 
loyalty or the morale of federal employees (which is a different 
problem) if we would remember what the Constitution is, 

It is not a device for bullying little children. 

It is not a device for suppressing people who disagree 
with you. 

It is not a device for securing the dominance or leader- 
ship of any class in the community without effort on its 

It is a device to call the best energies of every citizen to 
the common service, to secure to each the fair reward of his 
labors, and to provide the Commonwealth with a compe- - 
tent and unselfish command. 

The Commonwealth seeks not loyalty with a sword, but 
peace and liberty. It knows that loyalty will follow ^^•her- 
ever peace and liberty are secured.'' 

It is only when the Constitution is breached that heresy can be 
used as a whip to produce the dream of every rabble-rouser and 

^ "The Constitutional Questions Raised by the Flag Salute and Teachers' 
Oath Acts in Massachusetts" by George K. Gardner and Charles D. Post, 
Boston Urdversity Law Review, Vol. i6, No. 4, November 1936, p. 803, 
p. 843. 

Introduction 19 

demagogue, namely, a political audience with conditioned re- 

Once McCarthyism had ushered in the second chapter of the 
loyalty program, it was interesting to watch the behavior of the 
administration which had set the program in motion. For now 
McCarthy was calling Mr. Acheson the "Red Dean of Washing- 
ton" and charging that "he works on the Red Team." Even 
more amazing than the fact that this charge should be made by 
a United States Senator against the Secretary of State was the 
dead-pan seriousness with which three former Secretaries of 
State came to Acheson's defense, not realizing, of course, that 
to take the charge of witchcraft seriously is always to lend 
credence to it. It was also amazing to read Ambassador Jessup's 
testimony — the Ambassador was charged with witchcraft because 
he had once acted as a sponsor for the American Russian Institute 
— in which he vehemently protested "the tendency to select two 
names on a list in some undefined context and then to assume that 
the coexistence of these two names reflects a coexistence of at- 
titudes among these two persons." ^° But precisely this doctrine 
is embodied in the President's Executive Order No. 9835 — an 
order on which, like a spike, an Ambassador appointed by the 
President now found himself impaled. 

Caught in this embarrassing position, the President first at- 
tempted an oblique counterattack: it was not possible, he said, 
"to libel McCarthy" (April 14, 1950). But when this failed to 
quiet the storm, he made a speech to the Federal Bar Association 
in Washington (April 25th) in which he sought to distinguish 
between "Communist imperialism abroad" and Communism as 
a domestic menace. The latter, he said, had been grossly exag- 
gerated. But if the domestic Communists were merely "a noisy 
but small and universally despised group," then why the loyalty 
program? Indeed his signature on the loyalty order gave the op- 
position the answer to his argument. Still later, it was truly amaz- 
ing to read the President's letter to Clyde A. Lewis, of the Veter- 
ans of Foreign Wars, in which Mr. Truman said that all this 

^"N. Y. Tbnes, March 21, 1950, 

20 Witch Hunt 

"fuss" about what organizations a man belongs to gave him "a 
pain in the neck"! (June 6th.) "I'd be willing to bet my right 
eye," he said, "that you yourself and I have joined some organiza- 
tions that we wish we hadn't. It hasn't hurt me any and I don't 
think it has hurt you any." At this point, one would like to 
have the comments of Dorothy Bailey. Unfortunately Mr. Tru- 
man has given the sanction and prestige of his office to the very 
doctrine which he now seeks to disavow. The President does not 
believe in witches but . . . 

Nor do we, the American people, believe in witches but . . . 
•rthere is the testimony of Louis Budenz in the Lattimore case. 
' Budenz testified, it will be recalled, that he had never met Lat- 
timore; that he had never seen the man; that he had scarcely 
scanned one of his books. Yet, taking advantage of his immunity 
as a witness, he testified that Lattimore was a Communist be- 
cause someone once told him, out of Lattimore's presence, that 
the latter was a Communisti\ Let Lattimore try to rebut that 
testimony. Budenz, of course, had to give this testimony for he 
must now constantly prove that he is no longer a witch and, to 
be acceptable, this proof, now as always, must take the form of a 
denunciation of those more prominent than the witness. In 
stating that Budenz had falsely attacked him for no other reason 
than "extremely sordid motives of personal career and personal 
profit," Mr. Lattimore reveals a faulty understanding of the 
mechanism of heresy. Fear was the real motive — the dreadful 
fear of being named a relapsed heretic. It is easy to understand 
Budenz, if one understands heresy. In the fifteenth century, 
30,000 witches were sent to the stake on the testimony of such 

Not understanding heresy, Mr. Lattimore does not realize that 
he is guilty of the charge leveled by McCarthy in the dual sense: 
first, that he cannot disprove the charge; and second that the 
charge is essentially true. The problem, of course, is to define the 
charge. Owen Lattimore is obviously not a Communist, and no 
more than was George Washington is he guilty of espionage. But 
these were not the real charges. Even so, Lattimore found it very 



difficult to disprove these ludicrous charges. Nothing that he 
said — and his statement was magnificent — could win complete 
exoneration, for an accusation of witchcraft, once made, cannot 
be obliterated. This particular charge will follow Lattimore for 
years to come. Aside from this, Lattimore faced the same dilemma 
that Harry Bridges faced in his recent trial; he could not prove 
that it was true that he was not a witch. The issue, indeed, 
cannot be proved when it is couched in this form and it is couched 
in this form so that it cannot be proved. 

This is quibbling, however, for Lattimore is guilty of the real 
charge, which was heresy. Once finally cornered, McCarthy 
voiced the real charge against Lattimore and Jessup, namely, that 
they had supported a policy in China with which he — along with 
Senators Knowland, Wherry, and others — disagreed. This was 
the real charge. And because this was the charge, McCarthy was 
quite right in saying that it was wholly immaterial whether 
Jessup "is well-intentioned and has made some good anti-Com- 
munist speeches or that he has, perhaps, had a successful tift with 
Andrew V. Vishinsky." This is precisely what Dorothy Thomp- 
son implied in a column of April 23, when she wrote: "I think 
Lattimore is not a Communist but the policies he has advocated 
certainly cannot be described as anti-Communist." In short, 
policies, ideas, attitudes, and state of mind (as rebellious or non- 
conforming) make up the crime of heresy and it is this crime with 
with which the loyalty program is concerned. We do not believe 
in witches but . . . 
( ,We do not believe in witches but ... in the year 1948 an 
^^merican university employs untrained and politically illiterate 
"anti-Communist" experts to ferret out witches and heretics 
on the faculty and these experts gravely assure the administra- 
tion that a person can be a member of the Communist Party 
without knowing it, just as a witch could be possessed of the 
Devil without being aware of the fact. We do not believe in 
witches but . . . we are given vehement assurance, by a uni- 
versity president, who happens to be a trained scientist, that 
because Lysenko deals harshly with heretics in the Soviet Union, 


Witch Hunt 

heretics should be banished from the faculty of an American 
university in Corvallis, Oregon. We do not believe in w^itches 
but . . . 

One can grant every count in the indictment of Communism 
and still fail to understand educators who defend clear violations 
of academic freedom in the name of academic freedom or leaders 
of a great industry who, with a perfectly straight face, assure 
us that the purging and blacklisting of employees solely for their 
political opinions represents an outstanding contribution to free 
speech. For the contradiction implicit in these attitudes stems not 
from a fear of Communism but from a fear of being identified 
with Communism, and this fear, of course, is fed by feelings of 
insecurity engendered by an increasingly monopolistic and 
dictatorial economy, an economy in which one dissents at the 
risk of forfeiting livelihood, status, and reputation. 

To make this demonstration it is necessary to explore the rela- 
tion between the image of freedom and the reality of freedom in 
contemporary America and also to inquire into the nature and 
meaning of heresy and the distortions and delusions upon which 
the belief in witchcraft has always rested. The nature of this 
assignment has compelled me to adopt a rather roundabout 
method for it is the 'mea?mig of certain questions rather than the 
questions themselves which must be examined if the relationship 
between freedom's image and its reality is to be explored. Every 
age, as Susanne K. Langer has pointed out, is beset with certain 
preoccupations which find expression in a limited number of key 
issues or questions. These questions usually throw more light upon 
the real problems of the age than the answers which are offered. 
Any question is an ambiguous proposition since only a limited 
number of answers will complete the meaning of any question. 
The question, in other words, is a form of statement of which 
the answer is the determination. To understand why a question is 
phrased as it is phrased is to understand the relation between 
the question — the abstract proposition — and the reality from 
which it is supposed to issue. I have sought to explore, therefore, 
the meaning of such questions as: Should Communists be per- 
mitted to teach in American colleges? Should left-wing writers 

Introduction 2 3- 

be permitted to work in the motion picture industry? Should a 
Communist be permitted to hold a fellowship financed by govern- 
ment funds? Should art galleries be permitted to exhibit the 
works of Communist artists? and similar questions, or perhaps 
I should say, similar bear traps. 

With this purpose in mind, Book One is devoted to a study of 
certain forms of modern heresy and to the meaning of such ques- 
tions as: What is loyalty? Who are the loyal? What is the cause 
of the current loyalty obsession? Book Two is given over to a 
study of certain issues affecting academic freedom. Here I have 
emphasized the University of Washington case for the simple 
reason that it is entirely free of extraneous complications, there 
being no overtones of espionage or sabotage or references to 
pumpkins, microfilms, Soviet agents, atomic secrets, or "beautiful 
blond spies." The six professors who figure in the University of 
Washington case were charged with heresy — just that and 
nothing more. Book Three is devoted to a study of the nature and 
origin of heresy and the delusions upon which the concept rests. 
It is my hope that this book will be read by those who favor 
the burning of witches for it is really addressed to them. To these, 
then, may I say that I too believe in witches and witchcraft, al- 
though in a very special sense. The charge against the witch may 
be false but the situation out of which the charge arises is always 
real. Since I believe that those who chase witches are the victims 
of this situation no less than the witches, I can hardly be accused, 
in all fairness, of being a partisan of witches. I am really much 
more concerned about the storm, and all it portends, than I am 
about the agitation of the boughs, which, after all, are united in 
one root. 


^^Fear Hath a Hundred Eyes^^ 

Fear hath a hundred eyes that all agree 
To plague her beating heart; and there is one 
(Nor idlest that!) which holds communion 
With things that were not, yet were 7neant to be. 



The Loyalty Obsession 

The issuance by President Truman of Executive Order No. 
9835 on March 22, 1947, setting up a federal loyalty program, 
marks the beginning of an American obsession with loyalty that, 
in broad outline, parallels a similar Russian obsession dating from 
the "all-out campaign" against the Leningrad Literary Group in 
August 1946/ Since then states, counties, and cities have imitated 
the federal program; many industries and plants now require 
affidavits of loyalty from their employees; scores of trade unions 
have adopted a similar requirement, along with schools and 
colleges; and, in California, an association of amateur archers 
now demands an affidavit of loyalty from its members! Not since 
the time of the Alien and Sedition Acts has the federal govern- 
ment been so intensely and morbidly preoccupied with the loyalty 
of the American people. 

As citizens, we are asked to believe that this preoccupation 
with our loyalty finds immediate justification in a series of "reve- 
lations" about spy rings and espionage activities and, generally, 
in a tense international situation. However, when our officials 
comment upon the parallel preoccupation of the Soviet govern- 
ment, the mote suddenly obscures the beam. For example, 
Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith, by way of answering 
the question: "Why were the Soviet authorities so apprehensive 
about the loyalty of the masses, particularly after the conclusion 
of a successful war?" points unerringly to the impact of the war 
upon internal tensions in the Soviet Union. Superficially the 
American obsession with loyalty appears to stem from the facts 

''■My Three Years in Moscoiv by Lieutenant General Walter Bedell 

2 8 Witch Hunt 

and implications of "the cold war"; but in this respect we could 
be the victims of a serious delusion. 

One way to clarify the meaning of the loyalty program is to 
identify some of the instruments being used to determine who is 
loyal and who is disloyal. Properly identified, these instruments 
provide the key to an understanding of the curious psychological 
warfare which the government has been waging against the 
people for the last three years. Surely the use of the political 
court-martial to coerce conformity and the revival in the United 
States, in the middle of the twentieth century, of the discredited 
and abhorrent "test oath" should remind us that a concern with 
loyalty has often served as cover for an attack on civil liberties. 


Allegiance has a different background in America than in Eng- 
land, or, for that matter, in most European countries. With us, 
the obligation of allegiance is not derived from an oath but from 
a relationship. "Allegiance and protection," wrote Chief Justice 
Waite, "are reciprocal obligations. The one is compensation for 
the other; allegiance for protection and protection for allegiance." 
With the British allegiance remained an aspect of fealty until they 
were finally forced to acknowledge, after a long experience with 
test oaths, that allegiance to the modern state rests upon con- 
siderations slightly more complex than the sworn loyalty of a 
servant to his master. A subject "swears" allegiance to his 
sovereign; the allegiance of American citizens goes to the compact 
embodied in the Constitution and derives from the citizenship 
conferred by the Fourteenth Amendment. It does not imply an 
uncritical acceptance of the foreign policy of the government 
even in a critical period nor does it imply ideological conformity. 
We pledge allegiance to the flag; not to the profit system. The 
growth in democratic understanding implied in the distinction 
between the allegiance of citizens and the feudal fealty of sub- 
jects is clearly reflected in the history of the disastrous "test 
oath" from which the modern loyalty affidavit derives. 

The Loyalty Obsession 29 

After the passage of the act vesting the succession in the heirs 
of Anne Boleyn, the words "papist" and "popery" became 
devil words with the British Protestants. The "papists," of course, 
were "agents of a foreign power," whose activities were supposed 
to be directed by a highly disciplined "conspiratorial" organiza- 
tion which, of course, was plotting to overthrow the government 
"by force and violence." The papists, it was said, evaded perjury 
by subtle equivocations and reservations M^hich were encouraged 
and condoned by the Jesuits. In the popular view, the Jesuits 
were known for their "secret notions and traitorous practices." ^ 
To cope with this situation, a thoroughgoing "loyalty program" 
was inaugurated. Papists could not hold office; they were banished 
from the court; they could only live in certain restricted areas; 
they were subject to periodic fines; their properties could be 
confiscated; their religious ceremonies were often prohibited for 
long periods; the Catholic party or faction was banned; and indi- 
vidual Catholics faced the constant threat of arrest, imprison- 
ment, and exile. Officials with Catholic wives were placed under 
close surveillance; proposals to take Catholic children from their 
parents were seriously considered; and "mulcts in purse and per- 
son" were levied right and left. It should be added, also, that 
Catholic and Protestant were then partisan political designations. 
Couched in the idiom of theology, the struggle was undeniably 

When from time to time a high-ranking British official was 
identified as having been a "secret" Catholic, a spasm of fear 
swept through high court circles and still another investigation 
would be promptly ordered. But each investigation only gave rise 
to new waves of persecution. Incidents such as the celebrated 
Gunpowder Plot served to keep the fear of "papist treachery" 
alive and the manipulation of this fear became a major political 
tactic. Every crisis in the relations between Britain and France, 
or Spain, including, of course, the persecution of Protestants by 
French Catholics, was likely to make matters more difficult for 

2 The Development of Religious Toleration in England by W. K. Jordan, 
1932, Vol, I, p. 162. 

^Ibid., Vol. II, pp. 7 and 157; Vol. Ill, p. 17. 

30 Witch Hunt 

the Catholics in England and was invariably cited as justification 
for further repressions. But historians have noticed that the perse- 
cution of Catholics correlates more directly with "the state of 
the union" than with the state of relations between Britain and 
the CathoUc powers on the Continent. Every domestic crisis, for 
some reason, brought forth new "revelations" about the papists or 
yet another artfully rigged "incident." 

Today the verbalisms by which this incessant persecution of 
the Catholic minority was justified have a familiar sound. For 
example, in his famous "Apologie for the Oath of Allegiance," 
King James insisted that the anti-Catholic measures were purely 
civil and precautionary; he was concerned with the "loyalty," 
not the beliefs, of Catholics. It was his purpose to distinguish 
between "loyal" and "disloyal" Catholics, or, as he put it, between 
"trew subjects" and "false-hearted traitors." The oath was simply 
a device by which the former could be distinguished from the 
latter; no offense was intended. "No man hath lost his life," he 
explained, "no man hath indured the racke, no man hath suffered 
corporall punishment in other kinds, meerely or simply, or in any 
degree or respect, for his conscience in matter of religion." Yet 
all these things ivere happening to Catholics and the situation 
kept getting worse. No matter how often or how thoroughly the 
loyal Catholics were sorted out from the disloyal, the process 
was repeated with each new crisis in domestic affairs. The 
severity of the measures, also, seemed to increase with the gravity 
of the domestic crisis. 

The test oath, of course, was the principal instrument by which 
Catholics were identified. Ostensibly concerned with loyalty, 
it was really an instrument used in a struggle for power between 
partisan groups. For years the best legal minds in England kept 
tinkering with the oath, clause by clause, word by word, until it 
finally became, in the words of Sir Frederick Pollock, "swollen 
with strange imprecations and scoldings." Every word in the oath 
was intended to make it that much more difficult for Catholics to 
challenge the dominance of Protestants, although the oath was 
always justified in terms of the "foreign danger" and "the Jesuit 
problem." Not only did the oath taker pledge allegiance and 

The Loyalty Obsession 3 1 

agree to respect the line of succession but he was also required 
to repudiate any foreign allegiance and to abjure specific Catholic 
doctrines. This "doctrinal disavowal" was supposed to make the 
oath papist-proof; to make it airtight. No emphasis is required 
to point up the extraordinary power which the test oath gave 
to those who did the "testing" over those who were being 

Once imposed, the test oath became increasingly vexatious as 
more abjurations and disavowals were constantly added and 
the penalties for perjury were increased. But the basic objection 
always went, not to the form of the oath, but to the very idea 
that a majority should arrogate to itself such a tyrannical power 
to intimidate and coerce a minority. Furthermore, the test oath 
imposed a definite qualification upon the rights of citizens; in 
fact it made citizenship a revocable privilege. As the author of a 
tract published in 1678 pointed out, the test oath destroyed the 
natural rights of the peerage and "turned the birthright of the 
English nobility into a precarious title. . . . What was in all 
former Ages only forfeited by Treason is now at the mercy of 
every Faction or every Passion in Parliament." Yet then as now 
the test oath was defended as an innocent expression of patriotic 
sentiment. No loyal American, we are told, could possibly object 
to making an affirmation of loyalty in which various foreign 
allegiances and "subversive" doctrines are repudiated. But if 
circumstances require an affirmation of loyalty, they will also 
require investigation and surveillance. And any attempt to investi- 
gate or verify the affirmation presupposes the use of spies and 
informers, the services of a political police, and the existence of 
some Star Chamber before which suspects can be haled for 
questioning. It also implies disabilities and penalties other than 
sentences for perjury. Thus a procedure originally sanctioned 
as a "mere ceremony" suddenly turns out to be a means by 
which some citizens impose disabilities on other citizens with- 
out due process of law. 

Measures for testing loyalty are invariably developed outside 
the existing legal framework. Like other crisis-inspired measures, 
they are defended as temporary devices improvised to meet a 

32 Witch Hunt 

special emergency. It seems entirely proper, therefore, to tolerate 
certain departures from traditional forms. Besides, the fiction pre- 
vails that to charge a person with being disloyal is not to charge 
him with the commission of a criminal offense. Today, for exam- 
ple, the meanest pickpocket in the land can demand, as a matter of 
right, the protection of constitutional safeguards which govern- 
ment employees with long records of faithful service are denied by 
the loyalty review boards. The purpose of loyalty testing, it is said, 
is not to punish anyone — perish the thought! — but to guard the 
nation's security. As Maca ulay caustically observed: "Only a 
rank Jacobite and an enemy of the Whig Party" would dare 
contend that the test oath had criminal overtones or that it re- 
sembled an ex post facto indictment. The difficulty, of course, is 
that the security of a nation is indistinguishable from the security 
of its citizens in the exercise of their rights. 

By way of satirizing the diabolical sophistry that test oaths are 
merely "innocent ceremonies," counsel in an early American case 
had this comment to offer: 

We will not punish thee — we are merciful! But go — we 
proclaim thee an outlaw, disabled from following thy past 
calling — we forbid thee earth, fire and water, and com- 
mend thee to the charity of some other country in which 
we wish thee all success. No Punishment? I defy the history 
of the world to invent a punishment more refined and in- 
genious than to punish a man through his love of truth, his 
adherence to his word. He will not lie, he will not swear a 
false oath; no matter how guilty he be of offenses, he has ' 
a regard for the truth and will not lay a perjury to his soul. 
It is indeed an ingenious punishment; it dispenses with 
statutes defining offenses and providing penalties therefor; 
it dispenses with courts, with all their paraphernalia of in- 
dictments by grand juries and trial by petit juries, executing 
the law upon offenders; all that is needed, is, that a law be 
passed every year or two requiring every citizen to swear 
that he has never wronged or defrauded anyone; that he 
has never slandered his neighbor; that he has never com- 
mitted murder, burglary, larceny, adultery, or fornication; 
and if he cannot thus swear, then forbid him to follow any 

The Loyalty Obsession 33 

profession, trade or calling, for that will not be a punish- 
ment inflicted upon him, but a mere regulation of the 
trades, callings and professions in the State; and to provide 
such a regulation, the State has a most perfect right; nay, 
more, it may prohibit them all to non- jurors, and still violate 
no provision of the Constitution. . . . Had the Constitu- 
tion provided, like some of the English statutes . . . that 
persons refusing the oath should be attained of a praemunire 
upon the first tender, and suffer as in cases of high treason 
for the second, that would be a punishment, and the law 
would be void as conflicting with the Constitution of the 
United States; but as the penalty does not reach to tangible 
property, nor actually touch the body, it is to be held no 
punishment, but a mere regulation of the business affairs of 
the people. Sirs! "You take my life when you do take the 
means whereby I live!" "Requiescat in pace" was the part- 
ing benediction bestowed by the Inquisitors as they turned 
away from the brother whom they walled up alive in his 
death cell. "Go in Peace" is the blessing bestowed upon 
those who may not swear by all the words of this new 
evangel of liberty.* 

The same point, of course, is made in the old story about the 
Quaker and his dog. Tray. "Go to," said the Quaker to poor 
Tray, "I will not kill thee, but I will give thee a bad name." And 
so he turned poor Tray into the streets with the cry of "Mad 
dog!" and then someone else did kill poor Tray. . . . 


None of the parties to the incredibly bitter "religious wars" 
seemed to realize that the fanaticism of faith clearly masked a 
fanaticism of avarice. The tragedy of the situation, as Tawney 
pointed out, consisted in the fact that the problems of a swiftly 
changing economic environment should have burst on Europe at 
a time when it was already torn by religious dissension.^ These 

■*4i Mo. 340, decided in 1867. 

^ Religion cmd the Rise of Capitalism by R. H. Tawney, 1926, p. 82. 

34 Witch Hunt 

problems were naturally debated in terms of religious partisan- 
ship; but differences in social theory did not coincide with dif- 
ferences in religious affiliation. The struggle was not between 
capitalist Protestants and Catholic guildsmen but between pro- 
ducers and merchants some of whom were Catholics and some 
of whom were Protestants. The economic revolution prolonged 
and greatly intensified the religious controversy by vastly aug- 
menting the stakes for which the parties contended. Conversely, 
the religious division made it possible to organize the struggle 
for control and dominance of the new social forces released by 
the economic revolution. "Anti-Catholicism" in England was, so 
to speak, the principle upon which social power was organized 
and, as such, it naturally had to be stepped up whenever a domes- 
tic crisis threatened the existing social controls. By providing 
a basis and rationale for exclusion, it gave a specific direction to 
the struggle for place and position. 

Today an economic revolution, resembling that w^hich swept 
over Europe during the "religious wars," cuts across national con- 
flicts in much the same manner that the economic revolution of 
that period cut across religious dissensions. The fact that national 
rivalries, for all practical purposes, have been reduced to the 
rivalry between two great powers merely underscores the parallel. 
The revival of commodity production at the end of the Middle 
Ages did not cause so much as it exacerbated the religious con- 
flict between Catholic and Protestant; and, similarly, the economic 
revolution of our time has not caused so much as it has intensi- 
fied, and greatly complicated, national rivalries. Now as then 
the world is caught in a dual conflict: economic-theological then, 
economic-ideological now. Increasingly the great power rivalry 
of our time tends to be transformed into a world-wide ideological 
conflict. When a concern is expressed today over a person's 
"loyalty," as often as not it is his "ideological" loyalty which is 
in doubt; but unfortunately neither ideological nor religious 
loyalties respect national boundaries. In our time two conflicts, 
by no means identical (Socialism is not identical with Russian 
nationalism), have tended to fuse and the obsession with loyalty 
reflects this confusion. Thus we brand the ideological noncon- 

The Loyalty Obsession 35 

formist as "disloyal" just as, in the period of the "religious wars," 
the religious nonconformist was persecuted as "an enemy" of 
the state in which he had been born, whose language was the 
only language he knew, and beyond whose borders he had prob- 
ably never traveled. 

It will be objected that the parallel with the "religious wars" 
is too remote; that the historical background of the test oath has 
no relevance to "the problem of Communism." But just where 
did the test oath first reappear in modern times? Oddly enough in 
Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy where police terror had re- 
duced the idea of an oath to utter absurdity. In reviving the test 
oath, the Nazis were not quaintly attempting to test loyalty by 
medieval standards; they used the oath to humiliate and destroy 
political opponents. For example, there were any number of men 
in the German and Italian universities who were known as anti- 
fascists. But once these men had been compelled to take the oath 
of loyalty, they were morally discredited in the eyes of all who 
knew them and, more important, in their own eyes as well. Every 
antifascist who took the oath by this very fact undermined re- 
spect for the values upon which the opposition to fascism rested. 
With the Nazis and Fascists, the test oath was clearly a means by 
which political opponents were silenced and discredited and not 
a means by which loyalty was tested. Such an astute terrorist as 
Dr. Goebbels would have placed slight credence in an affirma- 
tion of loyalty from a German with an antifascist record; he 
understood the dual conflict of our times too well for that. 

The failure to appreciate the meaning of test oaths is based in 
part upon a failure to recognize that dictatorships are brought 
into being by social conditions and not by evil notions or danger- 
ous thoughts. Dictatorships appear during periods of maladjust- 
ment, when, as Dr. William Yale has pointed out, "the unity of 
the social group is torn to shreds by the variety of suffering and 
the resulting diversity of discontents." ^ The maladjustment is 
usually related to an inability to control the environment which 
comes about either through an ability to produce more than the 
society can consume at a profit or from an inability to produce 

^Journal of Social Psychology, July 1939, pp. 336-340. 

36 Witch Hunt 

all that is needed. Whatever the cause, social institutions do not 
lose their validity until they have ceased to be suitable adjust- 
ments. When the maladjustment becomes acute and chronic, the 
resulting instability is said to be the work of "termites" and 
"fifth columnists" and the test oath and similar loyalty devices 
are then demanded as means by which "disloyal" elements can 
be identified. Instead of investigating causes, the society perse- 
cutes heretics; instead of unearthing reasons, it undertakes to 
suppress criticism, "It is distressing to realize," writes Dr. Carl 
J. Friedrich, "that the oath has always cropped up as a political 
device when the political order was crumbling. In the period of 
religious dissensions, the oath of allegiance made its appearance 
in England as an instrument of intolerance and, a little later, of 
royal aggression." ^ 


In the main, we, the American people, have misjudged the 
motivation of the loyalty program because we have forgotten 
that the loyalty obsession really began twenty-five years ago, 
when the Soviet Union was merely an international hypothesis. 
It was during and immediately after World War I that loyalty 
first became a major obsession with us and, then as now, a special 
concern was voiced over the loyalty of teachers. The frenzy 
of these years culminated in the passage of the Lusk Laws in 
New York in 192 1. From the day of their adoption, the laws 
involved the administration of the schools in a nightmare of 
dissension, litigation, and confusion. An orgv of investigation and 
harassment took place as individuals squared away to settle per- 
sonal grievances and disputes that had been accumulating for 
decades. "Principals, supervisors, fellow-teachers," writes Dr. 
Howard K. Beale, "were now free to report for trial for 'dis- 
loyalty' and for possible dismissal any teachers against whom they 
had grievances." ^ The mere threat of investigation proved to be 

^"Teachers' Oaths," Harper's, January 1936, pp. 171-177. 
^ Are American Teachers Free? 1936. 

The Loyalty Obsession 37 

quite sufficient to frighten teachers into a blind conformity. 
Indeed "the censorious eye" was more effective, according to 
Dr. Beale, than actual force or coercion because "dismissals 
would have raised protests whereas terrorization gained its end 
without unpleasant publicity." 

Ironically the power of the Soviet Union to seduce rather 
than subvert the American people was then given as the main 
justification for the concern with loyalty. No one dreamed of 
suggesting at that time that the Soviet Union actually menaced 
the national security of the United States. Writing in opposition 
to the Lusk Laws, John Dewey shrewdly observed that the laws 
were "only the outward symbol of that tendency on the part 
of big business in our present economic society to hold teachers 
within definite prescribed limits. These suppressive tendencies 
work in a more refined way than laws. The great body of teach- 
ers are unaware of their existence. They are felt only through 
little hints about 'safety,' 'sanity,' and 'sobriety' coming from 
influential sources. ... It is something more than academic free- 
dom that is being menaced. It is moral freedom, the right to 
think, to imagine. It involves, when it is crushed, a crushing of 
all that is best in the way of inspiration and ideals for a better 
order." ^ 

The existence of a real external enemy does not provoke the 
type of fear which appears in loyalty obsessions. Fear in the 
presence of a real enemy can be exhilarating. The fear that found 
expression in the Lusk Laws was a morbid fear of self; a fear 
of the people as reflected in the group thinking of a dominant 
class. It should be emphasized that the "Bolshevism" against which 
reaction inveighed in 19 19-1922 was, to most people, the vaguest 
of doctrines. There was no network of Communist parties 
through the world then nor was Russia the great power it is to- 
day. Nevertheless Bolshevism was denounced with the same 
vehemence that Communism is denounced today. In further 
confirmation of John Dewey's theory, it might be pointed out 
that the nation's concern with loyalty did not reach the intensity 
of an obsession until immediately ajter World War I. Reaction 

^Quoted by Beale, p. 571. 

38 Witch Hunt 

never has too much to fear when the people are engaged in a 
war, when armies have been mobilized, and when special war- 
time powers and controls have been invoked. But the moment 
"peace breaks out," loyalty becomes a problem. 

As a matter of fact the "menace" in the period from 19 19 to 
1922 was Socialism rather than Bolshevism. The New York 
Council on Education then found that "membership in the 
Socialist Party was incompatible with the obligations of the 
teaching profession." Legislative committees made findings that 
the Socialist Party was "not a party in the usual sense," exactly 
paralleling current findings about the Communist Party. Five 
members of the Socialist Party were summarily expelled from 
the New York Legislature for being "disloyal" and Congress re- 
fused to seat Victor Berger, the Socialist, who had been elected 
from the Fifth Congressional District of Wisconsin. In 19 19 
three prominent Socialists, all anti-Communists today, as they 
were then, were dismissed as teachers from the New York 
schools. In all this excitement, one can look in vain for even a 
suggestion that the Soviet Union, as such, menaced the security 
of the United States in the sense in which that "menace" is ex- 
pressed today. 

Once the nation had returned to "normalcy" following the 
severe deflation of the postwar period, the obsession with loyalty 
quickly abated despite the fact that it had become apparent, by 
then, that the Soviet Union would survive and that it was rapidly 
consolidating its position. But with "everything under control," 
with the sun of the Coolidge prosperity upon the land, the 
menace of Socialism became merely the memory of an ugly night- 
mare. However, in line with the Dewey thesis, the tendency to 
repress all criticism did not entirely disappear. A number of 
organizations continued to agitate for a general loyalty program 
as a permanent part of the structure of government. Then, in 
1934, the Hearst press launched a new campaign against "radi- 
cals" in the schools and colleges. It was in this same year also 
that the campaign to require the flag salute in the school was 
launched, all as part of a drive for "patriotic conformity." 

The Loyalty Obsession 39 

Within five years, some fourteen states had adopted laws re- 
quiring teachers to take loyalty oaths. 

Today it is generally agreed that the emphasis on loyalty in 
this campaign of 1934-1935 was primarily occasioned by the fear 
of the early reforms of the New Deal and, more particularly, by 
the approaching 1936 election. It should be noted that the Soviet 
Union had been recognized by the United States before the 
campaign was launched and that this, generally, was the period 
of the popular front and of Litvinoff's stirring speeches in favor 
of collective security. One can say that the Soviet Union was 
not in any sense then regarded as a "national enemy." Here, 
again, is striking proof that John Dewey had correctly analyzed 
the Lusk Laws as a manifestation of a more or less constant trend 
in the society. Seen in the perspective of a quarter century, it is 
clear that our current obsession with loyalty, like the similar 
obsession in the Soviet Union, is influenced by, but not caused by, 
the state of relations between the two countries. 

That internal tensions provide the real motivation for loyalty 
campaigns becomes clear the moment one examines, not the na- 
tional loyalty program, but its local counterparts. For example, 
on April i, 1947, the Board of Supervisors of Los Angeles, fol- 
lowing the lead of President Truman, and never to be left behind 
in any crusade, adopted a loyalty program based on a test oath 
containing specific disavowals. During the war, not a single case 
of disloyalty had been reported among the county's 20,000 
employees; yet, with substantially the same employees on the 
payroll, the county suddenly became concerned with their loyalty 
two years after the war was over. In this case, the loyalty ordi- 
nance was clearly adopted as part of a drive for poHtical con- 
formity; it had nothing to do with "security." Officials who 
wanted to vote against the proposal told me that they feared 
to oppose it. Newspaper editors hesitated to criticize the proposal 
although frankly conceding its absurdity. Influential citizens pri- 
vately confessed their misgivings but were reluctant to voice a 
protest. The security equation was not changed in the slightest 
degree by the adoption of the ordinance but the campaign to 

40 Witch Hunt 

secure its adoption, and its adoption, undeniably coerced opinion, 
and made for conformity. 


Perhaps a footnote to history may help to explain the nature 
of loyalty obsessions . . . 

The first response to the French Revolution in the United 
States was one of elation, sympathy, and popular support. As 
the revolution swept forward, however, this initial support nar- 
rowed down and became increasingly partisan. The more the 
struggle in France was debated, the more its domestic implica- 
tions were emphasized. Democratic Clubs sprang up on all sides 
to support the revolution, and also to discuss domestic political 
questions. "Meeting regularly through the year," to quote Claude 
G. Bowers, "they were teaching the mechanic, the clerk, the 
small farmer, to think in terms of politics." ^° The Federalists, out 
to monopolize power in the wake of national liberation, promptly 
denounced the cliibs as "demoniacal societies" and "nurseries of 
sedition" which should be suppressed at the earliest opportunity. 
To create such an opportunity, they began to develop the thesis 
that the French Revolution imperiled American interests; there- 
fore, all those who supported the French were per se "subver- 
sive" and a menace to the Federalist Party. But the formula also 
worked just as well in reverse: anyone who agitated for social 
reform and opposed the Federalist Party was, by this token, pro- 
French and therefore "disloyal." 

By the time Adams was inaugurated as President, popular en- 
thusiasm for the revolution had noticeably abated. This could only 
mean that the danger of domestic, native "subversion" had de- 
clined and, with this decline, one would naturally have expected 
that the danger of a war with France would have tapered off. But 
the powerful Hamiltonian wing of the Federalist Party promptly 
seized this moment to demand a declaration of war, seeking by 

^° Jefferson and Hamilton: The Struggle for Democracy in A?nerica, 
1925, p. 256. 

The Loyalty Obsessiofi 41 

this agitation to weaken still further the movement for social re- 
form. "The French Stamp," with which they began to smear their 
opponents, was simply a partisan tactic in this campaign. Curi- 
ously enough, the louder the war party clamored for a war against 
the French (who were "menacing" American interests), the more 
violently they denounced, not the French, but their political op- 
ponents in America. 

To climax this campaign, and to destroy the Democratic Clubs, 
which were more concerned with domestic than with interna- 
tional politics, the Federalists pushed through the Alien and Sedi- 
tion Acts. The Alien Act was primarily aimed not at the French, 
but at the Irish. If the Irish had been conservatives, their sympa- 
thy with the French might have been overlooked; but as followers 
of Jefferson it was clear that they should be summarily deported. 
The Federalists even tried to make it appear that the Irish were 
guilty of a plot to overthrow the government. On the other 
hand, the clear purpose of the Sedition Act was "to crush the 
opposition press and silence criticism of the ruling powers," 
all in the guise of protecting America against subversive French 
ideas and an Irish fifth column. Advocated as part of a drive 
for war against a "foreign enemy," the act was aimed not at 
this enemy, but at the American people. Ironically both bills 
were debated, as Bowers put it, "under conditions of disorder 
that would have disgraced a discussion of brigands wrangling 
over a division of spoils in a \vayside cave." The Federalists — 
those apostles of "law and order," those enemies of "French 
anarchy" — hooted and howled, scraped their feet, coughed, 
laughed; and resorted to physical violence in an effort to in- 
timidate their opponents in debate. In a magnificent speech 
against the Alien Bill, Edward Livingston vividly foretold how 
the act would be used and what effects it would have: 

The county will swarm with informers, spies, relators, 
and all the odious reptile tribe that breed in the sunshine 
of despotic power. . . . The hours of the most unsuspected 
confidence, the intimacies of friendship, or the recesses of 
domestic retirement, afford no security. The companion 
whom you must trust, the friend in whom you must con- 

42 Witch Hunt 

fide, the domestic who waits in your chamber, are all 
tempted to betray your imprudent or unguarded follies; 
to misrepresent your words; to convey them, distorted by 
calumny, to the secret tribunal where jealousy presides — 
where fear officiates as accuser, and suspicion is the only 
evidence that is heard. . . . Do not let us be told that we 
are to excite a fervor against a foreign aggression to estab- 
lish a tyranny at home; that like the arch traitor we cry 
"Hail Columbia" at the moment we are betraying her to 
destruction; that we sing, "Happy Land," when we are 
plunging it in ruin and disgrace; and that we are absurd 
enough to call ourselves free and enlightened while we 
advocate principles that would have disgraced the age of 
Gothic barbarity. 

With the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts, a Reign of 
Terror broke upon the land which, beginning in 1798, extended 
through the autumn of 1800. Then as now, the press, the clergy, 
the colleges, all joined in the great crusade to coerce total con- 
formity as the prelude to a declaration of war. Mobs broke into 
the headquarters of the Democratic Clubs. Artisans employed in 
the manufacture of war materials were driven from their jobs 
with charges of being "pro-French" and "disloyal." Newspapers 
screamed that any person who doubted the wisdom of either 
the Alien or the Sedition Act deserved to be listed as disloyal, 
and the Right Reverend Bishop White of Philadelphia an- 
nounced that those who opposed either measure "resisteth the 
ordinance of God." Hamilton was commissioned a major gen- 
eral; the harbor of New York was fortified; and a campaign 
was launched to recruit a large standing army. Editors were ar- 
rested and convicted under the Sedition Act; Congressmen 
were threatened \^'ith arrest for the offense of writing letters 
to their constituents; and lawyers who defended those charged 
with sedition were denounced from the bench for "propagating 
dangerous principles." From 1798 to 1801, liberty, as Bowers 
wrote, "was mobbed in America." 

Every effort M^as made by the war party, of course, to prevent 
President Adams from sending commissioners to negotiate a 

The Loyalty Obsession 43 

treaty with the French and the situation in France was con- 
sistently misrepresented in the American press. Federalist edi- 
tors did not hesitate to develop the theme that a war with France 
would be a good business for the strugghng colonies. Hamilton 
kept assuring the President that the Bourbons would soon be 
restored by the coalition and that it would be folly to seek a 
treaty with the French government then in power. But once the 
commissioners had sailed, the ground m'sls suddenly cut from 
beneath the war party and, with Jefferson's election, the loyalty 
obsession quickly abated. The new President refused to prosecute 
those arrested before the Sedition Act expired on Alarch 3, 
1 80 1, pardoned those who had been convicted and were still 
in jail, and ultimately Congress repaid most of the fines levied 
under the act. The sudden disappearance of the loyalty obsession 
OTice the oppositW7i had covie to -power is striking evidence that 
domestic politics had more to do with this obsession than for- 
eign loyalties or European politics. 

The pattern in England was similar although the end result 
was quite different. The British, too, had greeted the revolution 
with enthusiasm. But with the publication of Burke's Refiectio?is 
in 1 790, the first tonic enthusiasm was soon displaced by a wave 
of fear and hostility which, set in motion by the upper classes, 
finally spread throughout the nation. To Burke the revolution 
was a hateful thing, not because of the violence exhibited, but 
because he discerned as the characteristic of the revolutionary 
philosophy an "intellectual presumption," amounting to a kind 
of atheism in politics, which he could not abide. Like Hamilton, 
he used the horrors of the revolution to conceal an underlying 
hostility to democracy.'^ 

But a dislike for political atheism, however widespread, would 
never have caused the change which began to take place in British 
opinion after 1790. For a decade prior to this date, the current 
of social reform had been running more strongly in England 
than in France. The enthusiasm with which the revolution was 
first hailed, in both England and America, showed how quickly 
the people had identified the sudden and unexpected turn of 

^^ The French Revolution in Etiglish History by P. A. Brown, 1918. 

44 Witch Hu7it 

events in France as a phase of their own struggles. What the 
Tories really feared, of course, was the impetus this interpreta- 
tion gave the movement for social reform. The onset of the 
terror gave them a chance to use the French Revolution against 
the people as the people had first used the revolution against 
them. In a most ingenious manner, and with the utmost political 
skill, they succeeded in linking the public's dislike of the excesses 
of the revolution with the notion that democratic ideas and re- 
forms were responsible for these excesses and not the coalition 
against the French Revolution which they had largely organized. 
To bring off this deception, they made effective use of the 
Francophobia which had accumulated in Britain through the 
years and the long-standing popular dislike of "atheism." 

The terror began in Britain with the publication by the gov- 
ernment (which was, of course, opposed to terror in France) 
of the names of all those who had signed the various memorials, 
"addresses of sympathy," and other manifestations of fraternal 
support for the French Revolution. There followed a series of 
measures, some official, some unofficial, which had the intended 
effect of whipping up rather than allaying the public's appre- 
hension. At the height of the public excitement, as Coleridge 
wrote, "there was not a town ... in which a man suspected 
of holding democratic principles could move abroad without 
receiving some unpleasant proof of the hatred in which his sup- 
posed opinions were held by the great majority." Tavern own- 
ers began to deny meeting places to the "radicals" and "friends 
of freedom"; printers refused to print their pamphlets and 
statements; and, as in our time, the government began to pro- 
mote a loyalty program by stimulating so-called "loyal addresses 
from the country at large," An official heresy hunt was soon 
on foot "in almost every town from Portsmouth to Newcastle 
and from Swansea to Chelmsford." Landlords were asked to re- 
port on "disloyal" tenants; "oaths of loyalty were collected like 
taxes"; and an army of well-trained and well-paid spies, in- 
formers, and perjurers was employed by the government to 
strike down its principal political opponents. In Northampton- 
shire villages, a house-to-house canvass of opinion was con- 

The Loyalty Obsession 45 

ducted by landowners and "the friendly societies" were tested, 
again and again, for loyalty. "The county," wrote P. A. Brown, 
"was netted for treason, and the mesh was small." 

The entire movement for social reform in Britain was stig- 
matized as "disloyal" through the simple stratagem of calling 
attention to the fact that most of the reformers were, or had 
been, sympathetic to the French Revolution. This made them, 
of course, "agents of a foreign power," and thereby convicted 
the lot of them of "constructive treason," The net result was 
to make any and every aspect of social reform synonymous 
with treason. Literally all reform measures, "mild, moderate and 
extreme," were alike tarred as disloyal and subversive. Wilber- 
force, who had asked leave in 1790 to bring in a bill to bar 
the traffic in slaves, suddenly discovered that the bill had be- 
come "pro-French" and subversive. Then, as in our time, im- 
portant intellectuals, like Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Southey, 
ingloriously recanted, "went over to the government," and 
sought injunctions in the courts when Leigh Hunt and Hazlitt, 
with a fine sense of mischief, began to reprint their earlier 
"odes to freedom." 

The government-inspired terror cannot be entirely explained, 
however, as a sophisticated plot to organize a heresy hunt for 
partisan political advantage. What Pitt and his ministers did, as 
P. A. Brown put it, was to mix ". . . precautions against a 
danger genuinely feared, with attempts to use panic as an in- 
strument for purposes of state." By and large the Tory officials 
confused cause and effect. The enormous success of The Rights 
of Man convinced them that the suppression of such a document 
was necessary to prevent future, if not current, disaffection. 
The British people, in their view, did not read Tom Paine's tract 
because they were sympathetic to the French Revolution; on 
the contrary, having read Paine, they had become sympathetic 
to the revolution. In a critical period, the party in power is 
tempted to conclude that "false" ideas are causing discontent, 
and "evidence" is generally available to support this view since 
the existing discontent always provides a market for "sub- 
versive" tracts. The Tories simply could not bring themselves to 

46 Witch Hunt 

concede that the reason many people In Britain were interested 
in the French Revolution was because they were dissatisfied with 
conditions in Great Britain. To the Tories, living off the fat of 
the land, it seemed quite incredible that anyone could be dis- 
satisfied with life in Britain. 

The confusion of cause and effect was strikingly evident in 
the government's attitude toward the disaffection in Scotland. 
Noting that "radical" tracts had a larger circulation there, the 
government concluded that the explanation was to be found in 
the fact that Scotland had a somewhat higher literacy rate than 
England. It never occurred to them that there might be more 
reason for discontent in Scotland. It was this perverse logic 
which led Braxfield, most arrogant of judges, to conclude that 
a meeting might be subversive even though nothing was said 
about overthrowing the government. "If men have created dis- 
satisfaction in the country," he argued, "it will very naturally 
end in overt rebellion; and if it has that tendency, though not 
in the view of the parties at the time, then it is sedition to all 
intents and purposes." That is, ineji create dissatisfaction, not 
conditions, not problems, not situations. Protesting against this 
deluded logic, one defendant, the luckless Gerald, reminded 
Braxfield that Christ, too, had been a reformer. To which Brax- 
field replied, in high glee, "Muckle he made o' that, he was 

The view that nonconformity in time of crisis is treasonable 
leads quite naturally to the delusion that conformity in time of 
crisis constitutes proof of loyalty. Similarly if ideas cause dis- 
content, then the suppression of these ideas will produce con- 
tentment. Here, indeed, is the mainspring of most heresy hunts. 
"Men become heretics or infidels," wrote Sir Frederick Pol- 
lock, "because they are disgusted with the behaviour of the of- 
ficers who represent the Church, or because they hold them- 
selves wronged by the established order of things which the 
Church official supports. It is both natural and convenient for 
Churchmen to invert the real order of cause and effect, and 
assign the origin of every general disorder to the heresy or in- 
fidelity which is in truth only a symptom of it. The political 

The Loyalty Obsession 47 

distress may perhaps be represented as a divine judgment on 
heresy, or at any rate, it will be pointed out to the civil author- 
ities that they have another conclusive evidence of the manner 
in which free-thinking breeds sedition, and a plainer demonstra- 
tion than ever of how clearly the interests of society are bound 
up with those of the established order." ^" 

Unfortunately the Tory tactic succeeded all too well in Britain 
and the nation was soon at war. The Tories, of course, won 
both wars: the one abroad, the one at home; but the British 
people lost these wars.^^ For nearly fifty years, the wheels of 
social progress turned scarcely at all. The reform organizations 
were completely ruined; their funds were dissipated; their 
leadership was largely demoralized; their membership intimi- 
dated. The longer social reform was delayed, the more blind and 
unreasoning the Tories became and their delusions increased 
with their arrogance and power. The more the upper classes 
feared social change at home, the more suspicious and arrogant 
they became in the conduct of British foreign policy. And the 
more power Britain acquired, the more the Tories suffered from 
the fear of encirclement. The longer this "freeze" lasted, also, 
the more the Whigs turned against the Radicals, while the 
Tories sat back and enjoyed their arid doctrinal disputes. In 
the long run, of course, the freeze ended and the reforms came 
thick and fast; but for nearly fifty years reaction ruled Britain 
with a blind despotism. 

However we may read this footnote to history, we should be 
able to agree on this: that the brutalization of the intellectual, 
social, and political life of a society, that is, of a people united 
by common bonds of culture and tradition, of language and 
history, is a crime of a magnitude that cannot be readily meas- 
ured. The crushing of the reform movement in Britain may 
have been a partisan victory for the Tories but it was truly a 
national disaster. The extent of this disaster can only be appre- 

'^~ Essays in Juris prude?2ce and Ethics, 1882, p. 172. 

^^ See, e.g., Hazlitt's magnificent and unimprovable description of the 
effects of both wars as quoted in The Life of Williayn Hazlitt by P. P. Howe, 
1922, pp. 118, 213. 

48 Witch Hunt 

ciated by contrasting the condition of the British working class, 
in the decades after 1800, with the remarkable advances made 
by the American working class which, thanks largely to Jef- 
ferson's leadership, had succeeded in upsetting the FederaUst 
counterpart of the Tory plot. Heresy hunts have the effect of 
draining off vital group energies which any society must ac- 
cumulate if it is to solve the problems of survival. To spread 
fear and suspicion ^within a society is to poison the life of that 
society at its source, which is to be found in the ability of the 
people to co-operate. There can never be a satisfactory excuse 
or justification for this particular crime. If the danger from 
abroad is real, then all the more reason why unity should be 
fostered among the people, and the greater the danger, the 
greater the need for unity. Given the right combination of cir- 
cumstances, it is easy to launch a heresy hunt — as easy as it is 
to squeeze the trigger of a gun. But the consequences are likely 
to reverberate long after the echo of the shot has died away. 
"The class of men," wrote P. A. Brown, "who had been the 
victims of the riots [the Birmingham Riots of 1789] disappeared 
for that generation from pubHc life; and with them the chief 
stimulus to thought and civilization in Birmingham." (Emphasis 


What Is Loyalty? Who Are Loyal? 

It is typical of this paranoid age that although loyalty now 
amounts to a major American obsession, the meaning of loyalty 
has not been defined. The delusion that people can be "tested" 
by the decree of their confnrmit-y m a <;r andard left undefined 
says a good deal more ahout the state of our nerves than it 
does about the problem of the disloyal in modern society . A 
delusion of this magnitude betrays a sense of guilt. Can it be 
that we are really concerned about loyalty because we sense 
that we have been disloyal to something in our tradition and 
heritage that we love and revere? When an individual is ob- 
sessed by the "disloyalty," say, of his wife, or his secretary, a 
psychiatrist immediately seeks to find out what aspect of his 
own personality he distrusts; the obsession is regarded, in other 
words, as a symptom of insecurity. But we fail to note any ele- 
ments of delusion in a public concern with loyalty which now 
amounts to a national obsession. 

The way to test whether we are confusing loyalty with morale 
is to determine what we mean by loyalty. President Truman's 
loyalty order does not define the meaning of the term; nor does 
it define disloyalty. The procedural unfairnesses of the order 
have received wide attention but the study of these defects 
fails to reveal a more fundamental objection to the program. Of 
far graver import is the attempt to test people — to divide them 
into categories — upon the basis of their conformity to a standard 
left undefined. Here is a key to an understanding of the real 
meaning of the loyalty program. For this program is reallycon- 
cerned not wi th loyalt y, bnt- ^ithliereg'y ." ) JisLoyaity is ...^Qtl4e-- 
ined for preciselv The same reason t \\?t h^ry<;y i^ypc nPTrp^ r]p- 

50 Witch Hufit 

ined; vou need an elastic standard of eullt if 

''our intention is 

to punish an attitudeTa feeling, a d Tsposition. T hat we are pun- 
riil^^Mr^'^y i'nn'^T?r'giTi^£^ 3F"tesHtig loyalty becomes clear th e 
moment we attempt to define the meaning of loyalty. 


What is the new loyalty? It is, above all, 


Josi^b ^oyce seems to have understood the meaning of loy- 
alty better than most Americans.^ He defined loyalty as "the 
^^^jJ jrtR 2.ndj ^[acn cz\ and tho mu gh-going d ^v»tipf| r^ ppprcnp 
to a cmis e." Loyalty is inextricably related to the idea orfree- 
dom; a coerced loyalty is a contradiction in terms. To be loyal, 
also, one must have a cause. One can be in love with another 
person without being devoted to a cause, but one cannot be 
loyal to another person without being devoted to some "idea" 
which commits you and the other to a real unity of belief. Loy- 
alty is a positive good-in-itself — good for society and good for 
the loyal person despite the fact that the particular cause may 
be unworthy. The basis of this conception is simply that man 
needs to be related to something larger than his personal inter- 
ests and private concerns. Indeed the only way "the old circular 
conflict" between self-will and conformity can be broken is 
through loyalty to a cause. Loyalty is the miracle of emotion bv 
which social unity and consent are achieved without coercion 
and without a blind and senseless conformity. 

J'he f s'^'^nrr of j oyaltv is consent freely given . Loyalty is not 
subservience or slavish submissiveness or docile conformity. On 
the contrary, loyalty is perfectly consistent with an extreme 
individual autonomy. In fact Royce believed that "the only way 
to be practically autonomous is to be freely loyal." All loyalty in- 
volves autonomous choice and, by its very nature, loyalty is 

* The Philosophy of Loyalty, 1908, ed. 1924. 

What Is Loyalty? Who Are Loyal? 51 

protean; there are always many loyalties. Just as one cannot be 
loyal to anything unless it be as a matter of willing devotion or 
conscious choice, so one loyalty implies other loyalties. To be 
loyal to one's country, for example, is to be loyal to many other 
things. Loyalty itself is never an evil since disloyalty is a form 
of moral suicide. 

Since the state of mind of the loyal person has a value to this 
person, answering one of man's most deeply sensed personal 
needs, there is something highly immoral about the notion that 
one group of citizens should attempt to coerce the loyalty of 
other citizens. This is tantamount to an assault upon the idea of 
loyalty for, as Royce said, "all the loyal are brethren." Even if 
these other citizens are loyal to an unworthy cause, their loyalty 
should never be the focal point of attack. The problem of how 
to treat with the disloyal presents serious moral and political 
issues but it can never be solved by committing a new act of 
disloyalty, that is, by attempting to undermine their loyalty. 

To attack the loyalty of the Communist to his cause is to make 
a mockery of the idea of loyalty. His loyalty to his cause is a 
good thing in itself. The cause can be taken apart, dissected, 
pulverized; but it is strategically most unwise to attack his loy- 
alty to this cause. To undermine this loyalty is like bribing a 
servant to betray his master. If you want to wean the servant 
from his master, convince him that his master is unworthy, give 
him some cogent reason for accepting your offer; but don't at- 
tempt to bribe or threaten him. To issue a subpoena for the in- 
dividual who has just resigned or been expelled from the Com- 
munist Party, upon the assumption that he would now like to 
attack the cause to which he was formerly loyal, is both stupid 
and insulting for it implies that the ex-member is inherently a 
renegade. To the extent that he is a decent person, he will 
resent the implication. Similarly to force a Communist to be- 
tray his loyalty to other Communists, or to attack his loyalty 
with threats and penalties, is ethically indefensible and tac- 
tically stupid. It is also self-defeating for it implies that the cause 
must be very powerful otherwise the bribe would not be offered 
and the threat would not be made. To attack a person's loyal- 

52 Witch Hunt 

ties touches the deepest springs of his nature; it is like asking him 
to be dishonest or to commit treason to his own conscience. 

Even if it be assumed that a majority of Communists are dis- 
loyal or that the party itself is a disloyal conspiracy, it does not 
follow that all Communists carry the taint of presumptive dis- 
loyalty. Theoretically it is altogether possible for a person to 
join the Communist Party and to remain completely loyal to 
that party and to this country. To some people these loyalties 
may seem to be entirely incompatible; but the real test can 
only be found in the attitude, the feelings, the personality, the 
character of the person involved. This person may be de- 
luded or biased or ignorant; but the test of his loyalty is to 
be found in his feelings, not your feelings or my feehngs. To 
judge his patriotism by some other person's appraisal of what 
it means to be a Communist is completely fallacious. It also 
happens to be self-defeating as a tactic. For to attack the loy- 
alty of all Communists is to keep some people in the Com- 
munist Party who might otherwise like to leave it and, at the 
same time, to encourage dishonest people to desert a cause which 
they would promptly rejoin if it were ever to their advantage 
to do so. Besides, the national security of the United States is, 
and always will be, more gravely threatened by the person 
who has no loyalties — who is incapable of loyalty — than it can 
ever be threatened by a Communist loyal to his cause. 

"Can a Communist be a loyal American? Can a loyal American 
be a Communist?" However the question is worded, it is sig- 
nificant that it should be seriously debated and even more sig- 
nificant that a large section of the American public would today 
probably answer the question in the negative. A negative answer 
to the question implies a loss of confidence in self-government; 
it suggests that the basic principles embodied in the First Amend- 
ment have been tacitly repealed. For, as Mr. Justice Holmes 
pointed out in the Gitloiv case, ". . . if, in the long run, the 
beliefs expressed in proletarian dictatorship are destined to be 
accepted by the dominant forces of the community, the only 
meaning of free speech is that they should be given their chance 
and have their way." But a negative answer implies far more 

What Is Loyalty? Who Are Loyal? 53 

than a repeal of the First Amendment. If such an answer were to 
be returned, in all seriousness, by a majority of the American 
people, it would mean that we had abandoned freedom as a 
principle of American life and that we had turned autocrats and 

In order to accept this conclusion, however, it is necessary 
to keep certain considerations in mind. Today American capi- 
talism has entered upon its ideological phase — that is, its pre- 
suppositions have now been given formal ideological statement 
and its underlying assumptions have been crystallized as doctrine; 
not to accept these presuppositions and assumptions is to run 
the risk of being called "un-American." The creed of the 
American capitalist, in short, is now hardening into the mold 
of official doctrine. To admit that a Communist cannot be a 
loyal American is to concede a prime tenet of the capitalist 
ideology, which is that not only Communists and Socialists, but 
all those who reject the philosophy of "free enterprise," are 
"bad security risks." And to concede this tenet, with all its im- 
plications, is to go a long way toward accepting the capitalist 
credo as the official American ideology. 

Now, we can no more admit that the ideology of American 
capitalism has become the official American ideology than we 
can admit that the Communist ideology, or any other ideology, 
should be adopted as the official American ideology. For the 
official American ideology is, and always has been, that there 
should be no official American ideology. Long ago we re- 
jected the notion of official ideologies or an orthodox doctrine. 
But if we say that a Communist cannot be a loyal Ameri- 
can, we have in effect said that a capitalist cannot be a loyal 
American for we have admitted the principle of heresy. There 
are any number of American capitalists who are, in every re- 
spect, as rigidly authoritarian as the most doctrinaire American 
Communist. To say t hat a Communist cannot b f . 1 1n)^nl Amffr- 
ican is to say"tlia t there are ideas whic|i sh nnld ^^ Kinnarl nr 
^eresy and tnougnts which should be f^iippres'^erf ^<^ ^Mi^pgerons" 
and "subversive/]^ And to make this concession is to betray a 
fundarnentaF aspect of the American tradition — namely, the 

54 Witch Hunt 

sharp distinction which this tradition has always made between 
nonconformity and heresy. 

Heresies are spaw^n ed by orthodoxiej. It is quite impossible to 
conceive of heresy apart from the existence of some official 
creed or ideology. Heresies arise ivithm an official creed. It is 
for this reason, in fact, that the heretic accepts the authoritarian- 
ism of the official creed even though he may reject every other 
doctrine of this creed. "Heretics" are usually very devout, 
doctrinaire, dedicated people who are convinced, beyond all 
reason, not only of the soundness and "correctness" of their 
views, but of the doctrine of infallibility. As a matter of fact, 
heretics are usually excommunicated or expelled before they 
have consciously realized the abyss over w^hich they have trav- 
ersed. Once they make this discovery, they are often so appalled 
at the enormity of what they have done that they reverse the 
situation and begin to charge the "faithful" with being "devia- 
tionists," "revisionists," and so forth. 

In the United States, we have never, up to this point, con- 
ceded that there could be, or that there should be, an "official" 
American ideology; nor have we ever tolerated any orthodoxies 
in religion or in politics. Therefore the concept of heresy is 
repugnant to a fundamental aspect of the American tradition. 
To concede that ideas should be stamped out as heresies is to 
admit that an orthodox creed exists in terms of which it is pos- 
sible for official censors to determine w^hat ideas are scriptural 
and what are heretical. But with us, iVmericanism is simply what 
a great many, quite diverse Americans think of America. These 
Americans worship at the democratic shrine as they worship 
generally, that is, as individuals who are at liberty to emphasize 
this or that aspect of the American tradition, each seeking what 
is most meaningful to him, each eulogizing some particular phase 
of this tradition. Ours is a dejnocratic tradition in precisely this 
sense — namely, that it is not imposed from without but cre- 
ated, and constantly re-created, from ^\'ithin. It is not something 
precisely defined or "given" or "stated"; it consists, in the last 
analysis, in a belief in freedom. We believe in freedom largely 
because we have never tolerated orthodoxies — that is, never 

What Is Loyalty F Who Are Loyal? ^S 

completely, officially, w ith the full sanction of the government. 
The traditional American policy — as distinguished from the 
policy of certain Americans — has always been to encourage 
nonconformity rather than to suppress heresy. Heresy is a 
European concept; nonconformity is American doctrine. 

"I was not born to be forced," wrote Thoreau. "I will breathe 
after my own fashion. . . . The only obligation which I have 
a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. . . . 
A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is, 
that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, 
privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order 
over hill and dale to the M^ars, against their wills, ay, against their 
common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep 
marching, indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They 
have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are 
concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are 
they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at 
the service of some unscrupulous man in poM^er? . . . The mass 
of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as ma- 
chines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the 
militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases 
there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the 
moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and 
earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufac- 
tured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no 
more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the 
same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these 
even are commonly esteemed good citizens." " 

This is the doctrine of American nonconformity, of civil dis- 
obedience; and it is the antithesis, in every respect, of the doc- 
trine of heresy. Those who think this doctrine makes for 
anarchic disunity do not understand the nature of unity; it is 
only by recognizing this doctrine that a real unity can be 
achieved. Uniformity is not unity; conformity is not unity. In 
a crisis, a community of free men will present a unity that is 
unshakable; that cannot be commanded; that is beyond the 

^Thoreau: Philosopher of Freedom, edited by James Mackaye, 1930. 

S6 Witch Hunt 

power of any authoritarian regime to coerce. The people who 
seek to coerce loyalty are the people who fear freedom. These 
are the people who want to retreat into a neatly arranged 
ideological cave in which they can feel secure against "doubts," 
"disloyalties," and uncertainties. The ideological mind is based 
on a fear of individual responsibility in an age when responsibil- 
ity has become increasingly terrifying. The mind that believes 
ideas should be suppressed is a mind that is the prisoner of an idea. 
But such a mind cannot be liberated by suppressing the idea 
that imprisons it: it must free itself. The ideological mind ra- 
tionalizes; it does not reason. It obeys; it does not think. It 
functions compulsively. And, by a tragic paradox, the activ- 
ity engendered by an ideology of cast-iron rigidity reflects 
the fears and hatreds which originally sought refuge in the 
ideology, thus creating, on a mass basis, a form of paranoid 

Nonconformity is not un-American; America is nonconform- 
ity. To grant that the Communist ideology runs counter to the 
American tradition of nonconformity does not mean that a 
Communist cannot be a loyal American. For this could only 
mean that people cannot free themselves from the fetters of an 
ideology; that they are incapable of freedom; that, as human be- 
ings, they are permanent prisoners of an ideology from which 
there is no escape. But if Communists are doomed in this fash- 
ion, then we are all doomed; for there are neither Communists 
nor anti-Communists in this world but only human beings who 
are essentially alike and who happen to be non-pro-or-anti- 
Communist. To write Communists off as beyond the reach of 
reason is to confess that one has become a prisoner of the anti- 
Communist ideology. And, besides, just what do we mean by 
a loyal American? Or, stated another way, to what is the loyal 
American loyal? 


By insisting on an undefined loyalty, we have been obscuring 
the real basis of American loyalty, which happens to differ, in 

What Is Loyalty? Who Are Loyal? 57 

some respects, from other national loyalties. With us the growth 
of national loyalty was a slow, awkward, and largely unconscious 
process. The size of America, and the rapidity with which it was 
settled, made at one time for a strong conflict between national 
and sectional loyalties. Gradually, over a period of many years, 
a wide variety of factors began to build up a conception of na- 
tional loyalty: the beauty of the land; its size and grandeur; 
its richness; the ease of living in America; the sense of abundance 
and well-being; the freedom of social intercourse, and so forth. 
But for a long time American loyalty was defined, at different 
periods, by quite different standards. As Merle Curti has pointed 
out, Anglo-Saxons were once widely regarded as being "more 
loyal" than other Americans; at other times, a demand for 
loyalty has masked purely selfish economic interests; and, in 
the latter part of the last century, loyalty was widely believed 
to have its roots in racial homogeneity.^ And there are still those 
who insist that a belief in the right of revolution is incompatible 
with American loyalty despite ths fact that America had its 
origin in a revolution. We should be, therefore, rather cautious 
about testing the loyalty of the American people by any single 
standard, much less by a standard which is simply assumed. 

The fact is that the slow growth of American loyalty, which 
is an aspect of the rapid expansion of America, has resulted in 
two sharply conflicting traditions of loyalty. The older tradi- 
tion has always emphasized loyalty to America as an aspect 
of America's devotion to such ideals as self-government, liberty, 
and equality. But there is another tradition, neither as old nor 
as deeply rooted, which defines American loyalty in terms of 
narrow, shifting, partisan group-interests, racial, economic, ethnic, 
or religious. This latter tradition, as Curti points out, stresses 
the chauvinistic, organic, compulsive variety of patriotism as 
opposed to the time-honored identification of American pa- 
triotism with the love of liberty. The contrast is that between 
loyalty as a form of hero worship and loyalty as an aspect of 
social intelligence, or, as Henry Steele Commager has said, be- 
tween loyalty measured as an "uncritical and unquestioning ac- 

^The Roots of American Loyalty by Merle Curti, 1946. 

58 Witch Hu7it 

ceptance of America as it is" and loyalty based on the realiza- 
tion that America was "born of revolt, flourished on dissent, 
and became great through experimentation." * 

The older tradition is the sound one, not by preference but 
by necessity. For the nature of our institutions implies a dis- 
tinction between loyalty to the government and loyalty to the 
general good, to the nation. It is precisely this distinction which 
makes American loyalty differ from that of nondemocratic na- 
tional loyalties. The distinction must obtain in any self-govern- 
ing democracy for otherwise the principle of loyalty, upon 
which social unity is predicated, becomes hopelessly restricted. 
If any element, including a majority, were to force an identifica- 
tion of American loyalty with some specific ideology, then 
America would cease to exist as a self-governing democracy. 
One can be a perfectly loyal American without believing in 
capitalism, free enterprise, predestination, God, theosophy, 
Christ, or the profit motive. 

Indeed any other concept of American loyalty would make 
the problem of loyalty insoluble for us. If it were not for this 
principle, it would be impossible for Americans to be "loyal" 
citizens for they are the most diverse people on earth. On the 
other hand, by recognizing this principle we make it possible 
for the anarchist to be loyal and also for the vegetarian, the 
atheist, the Fifth iVIonarchy Men (if any survive), the Zuni In- 
dians, the cultists of Southern California, and the nudists of 
New Jersey; sun worshipers, snake worshipers, and rum wor- 
shipers, all can be loyal Americans. Our problem, as Rovce 
pointed out, is to provide opportimities for these diverse ele- 
ments to exhibit their loyalty in ways which they find appropri- 
ate and meaningful. Those who would limit opportunities for 
loyalty demonstrate an unawareness of the basis of American 
loyalty; they strike at the very roots of American loyalty. The 
distinction emphasized by Curti and Commager is not a cross 
which we must bear; on the contrary, it is the bright particular 
glory of the United States of America; it is, so to speak, the 
poi7it about America. Conversely, the European idea has always 

*"Who Is Loyal to America?" Harper's, Vol. 195, p. 193. 

What Is Loyalty? Who Are Loyal? 59 

been that a person cannot be a loyal German, or Italian, or 
Spaniard, or Frenchman, or Swede, unless a much larger aspect 
of his personal capacity for loyalty is committed to some limit- 
ing concept, whether it be king, czar, church, pope, communion, 
or commissar. 

With us two traditions of loyalty are in conflict not merely 
in the sense that different Americans accept one tradition or the 
other but in the further sense that the conflict exists within 
most Americans and therefore finds expression in contradictory 
attitudes and self-defeating policies. The continued existence of 
this unresolved conflict can be explained, Dr. Alexander Meikle- 
john has suggested, by the fact that we have permitted a fron- 
tier experience to bhnd us to the distinction between independ- 
ence and freedom. It is this confusion which accounts for our 
failure to realize that we love freedom more than anything else. 
Our commitment is to freedom, not to independence; freedom 
implies an obligation to respect the freedom of others, inde- 
pendence is self-assertion. Failing to recognize this commitment, 
we act as though the "meaning" of American freedom were to 
restore the bourgeoisie of Western Germany to their prewar 
eminence, as though our mission were to save the world from 
Communism rather than to lend our influence to the creation 
of a world order based on the principle of freedom. 

This unresolved conflict accounts for our uncertain and often 
contradictory behavior as a people; our current obsession with 
loyalty relates to another issue. People become obsessed with loy- 
alty when they are somehow conscious of having been dis- 
loyal to some commitment or obligation. Writing in 1935, Dr. 
Meiklejohn pointed out that ". . . there has come upon us, in 
recent years, a vivid sense of having been disloyal to our own 
purposes. In many ways we are obsessed by the fear of having 
betrayed ourselves." '^ This obsession dates from the First World 
War. Up to this time, we had thought that we were above and 
beyond the "mess" of Europe. With the armistice, we said: now 
is the time for Europeans to listen to us; we can set them right; 
we can point the way. But how quickly that dream changed 

^ What Does America Mean? 1935, p. 74. 

6o Witch Hunt 

into the fascist nightmare! And, without knowing just how or 
why, most Americans sensed that we were to some degree re- 
sponsible for the rise of fascism. "We calculated with the utmosf 
nicety," writes Dr. Meiklejohn, "how heavily each of the na- 
tions should be prepared for future war. And in the midst of 
all these calculations we found a safe and vastly enriched Amer- 
ica making exceedingly careful provision for herself." With 
this realization, the moral difference between America and 
Europe seemed to vanish overnight. And in the midst of this 
debacle we saw the incredible happen: we saw barbarous Rus- 
sia, long synonymous with tyranny, assert a claim to world 
leadership. We heard the crude commissars of this backward 
land make the most preposterous claims: of having eliminated 
racial discrimination; of having solved the problem of unem- 
ployment; of having lifted the burden from the oppressed. 
Coupled with our disillusionment, this shock was too much. We 
began to show "a dreadful sense of disloyalty to ourselves," 
which found expression in the loyalty obsession after the First 
World War. This obsession, from which we are once again suf- 
fering, can only be diagnosed as a form of acute paranoid delu- 
sion resulting from a betrayal of fundamental American postu- 
lates and principles. 

There is, indeed, a real problem about the disloyal in Amer- 
ica. The problem has to do with a sharp decrease in the op- 
portunities for loyalty which has resulted in the phenomenon 
of self-estrangement or alienation. The social mind, as Royce 
pointed out, becomes self-estranged or alienated when people 
"no longer recognize their social unity in ways which seem to 
them homelike," that is, meaningful and familiar. The growth in 
scale and number of institutions and the ever-increasing com- 
plexity of modern life have greatly reduced the opportunities 
for loyalty. Government has become so remote and impersonal 
that it is sensed as a form of dictation, imposed upon us, un- 

What Is Loyalty F Who Are Loyal!* 6i 

related to our needs and unresponsive to our wishes. Dwarfed 
by social forces they seem powerless to control, many people 
are consumed with a feeling of littleness and impotence. So- 
cial happenings seem arbitrary, capricious, and, on occasion, 
highly malevolent. The average person is caught in a murderous 
cross-current of pressures and cannot feel sovereign even in his 
own back yard. 

In a setting of this kind, the sentiment of loyalty becomes dis- 
placed. Writing in 1908, Royce saw that the great industrial 
forces of modern society "excite our loyalty as little as do the 
trade winds or the blizzard." How can anyone feel loyal to 
600,000 stockholders? How can the liveried attendant at the 
filling station feel a personal loyalty to the satrapy that is 
Standard Oil.^ In this present harsh predicament, man is forced 
to find new institutions to which he can be loyal; for it is the 
feeling of loyalty that invests his life with meaning and purpose 
and dignity. Suffering from a feeling of alienation, he seeks out 
his own kind among the fraternity of the alienated. Hence the 
cults, the sects, the "crazes" that flourish in American life. In 
a world in which they feel self-estranged, people seek refuge in 
partisan organizations; in dogmatisms; in compulsive ideologies. 
Under the impact of these developments, the society unity of a 
nation can become greatly weakened. It is this general situation 
which gives rise to the real problem of the disloyal in modern 

Self-estrangement has now, of course, become a form of so- 
cial malaise; a deep-seated sickness of our time. In Prophets of 
Deceit, Leo Lowenthal and Norbert Guterman have pointed out 
how ". . . distrust, dependence, exclusion, anxiety, and disil- 
lusionment blend together to form a fundamental condition of 
modern life: malaise." This malaise, which the modern agitator 
understands so well and exploits with such skill, has many causes: 
the decay of the patriarchal family; the breakdown of primary 
social ties; the substitute of mass culture for traditional cultural 
forms; the rise of industrialism; the bigness and complexity of 
modem urban living; but, in the last analysis, it is "a consequence 
of the depersonalization and permanent insecurity of modern 

62 Witch Hunt 

life." The tendency to retreat into ideologies is a symptom of 
this malaise — an attempt on the part of the alienated to find 
something to which they can relate their lives; to which they 
can be loyal. If we were realistically concerned with the prob- 
lem of disloyalty, we would be listening to those who have 
worked out a scientific diagnosis of the malaise of alienation 
and not to J. Parnell Thomas and Elizabeth Bentley, both of 
whom are clearly victims of the disease. 

Ideas do not alienate people from society or create social di- 
visions; the divisions foster the feeling of alienation and the 
ideas to which this feeling gives rise. If we have two conflicting 
traditions of loyalty, it is in part because, as Dr. W. Lloyd 
Warner has pointed out, "The American social system ... is 
permeated with two conflicting social principles: the first says 
that all men are equal before God and man and emphasizes the 
spirit of the great ritual documents of our nation . . . the sec- 
ond, contradictory to the first, more often found in act than 
in words, in oblique reference than direct statement, declares 
that men are of unequal worth, that a few are superior to the 
many, and that a large residue of lowly ones are inferior to all 
others." *^ 

The conflict in social principles reflects the increasingly sharp 
diff^erentiation of social classes in the United States. Today 
social scientists are in general agreement that socioeconomic 
stratification is hardening in the structure of American society. 
In one of the best recent studies. Dr. Richard Centers has estab- 
lished, with a wealth of statistical evidence, the existence of the 
following social groupings: an upper class consisting of about 
3 or 4 per cent of the population; a middle class made up of 
about 40 per cent; a working class of well over 50 per cent; 
and a lower class of from i to 5 per cent.^ Dr. Centers also 
found that a person's attitudes, values, and interests of a socio- 
political nature are in part determined by his status and role 

^Democracy In Jomsville: A Study of Quality a?id Inequality, 1949, 
p. xvii. 

■^ The Psychology of Social Classes: A Study of Class Consciousness by 
Richard Centers, Princeton University Press, 1949. 

What Is Loyalty? Who Are Loyal? 63 

in the economic process. He found, too, that the interests of 
one social group are often in conflict with those of another 
and that this conflict is clearly reflected in the attitudes and 
opinions. There is, of course, nothing novel about these findings; 
but they happen to be supported, in this case, by a massive accu- 
mulation of data. 

The existence of these conflicting ideologies, as yet not too 
clearly or too consistently focused, is all the more remarkable 
in view of the fact that the educational resources of the nation 
have been largely devoted to imbuing all citizens with a com- 
mon set of attitudes and values; that the newspapers, motion 
pictures aiid radio are steeped in a type of thinking which over- 
whelmingly reflects the interest of a single social class; and that 
the "experts" in American culture — the editors, physicians, 
lawyers, priests, and teachers — are very largely identified with 
the middle and upper classes in outlook and sympathies. Never- 
theless the American people have become class conscious and 
a part, calling itself the working class, has "begun to have at- 
titudes and beliefs at variance with the traditional acceptances 
and practices." ^ Here is convincing evidence that status and 
role in the economic process tend to determine attitudes and 
identifications, not in any purely mechanical way, not as an 
aspect of blind determinism, but simply because people do think 
and, thinking, change their beliefs. To be sure, class conscious- 
ness in America is still in its incipient phases and, where it is 
most pronounced, it exists as nonsupport and dissent, rather 
than in the form of a well-defined movement with a distinct 
ideology. But Dr. Centers detects "a crude and elemental class 
consciousness" out of M'hich might well arise a militant and 
sharply class-conscious political movement. This can only mean 
that the American people are beginning to identify themselves 
with two conflicting social attitudes which could become, in 
time, two ideologies. Self-estrangement is the individual mani- 
festation of this process; class consciousness is its social mani- 
festation. Thus to one element of the population, loyalty clearly 
implies a devotion to free enterprise, to things as they are, 

^Ibid., p. 218. 

64 Witch Hunt 

whereas to other Americans, loyalty may have quite different 


As the destructiveness of war has increased, the fear of "the 
enemy" has grown; nowadays any element in the population 
even remotely or conting:.iitly identified with "the enemy" 
is in instant and deadly peril in time of war, and this same 
fear, of course, feeds the loyalty obsession. Psychologists have 
long known that fear distorts perception and so it is not sur- 
prising that the fear of war should inspire grotesque delusions 
on the subject of loyalty. Witness, for example, a tragic mis- 
conception of World War II. 

In the crystallization of sentiment against Japanese-Americans 
on the West Coast, one could blueprint the various steps by 
which the fatal delusion of disloyalty arises. In this case, the 
misidentification was brought about by a deceptive syllogism: 
(a) we are fighting a dangerous enemy, the Japanese, who are 
a people of fanatical loyalty; (b) there are 110,000 people of 
Japanese descent on the West Coast; (c) therefore these people 
must be loyal to Japan and disloyal to the United States. Under 
the dominance of this delusion, we proceeded to round up 
110,000 men, women, and children, two thirds of whom were 
citizens of the United States, and to place them in concentra- 
tion camps euphemistically called "relocation centers," 

From first to last, no acts of sabotage or espionage were chalked 
up against the record of Japanese-Americans during the war. 
But I well remember the "logic" that prevailed when mass 
evacuation was ordered. In a Town Meeting of the Air debate, 
I was amazed to hear my opponent, a member of Congress, 
gravely assure the audience that Japanese-Americans were under 
a cloud of suspicion precisely because no acts of sabotage or 
espionage had been proved against them! This was, he thought, 
a most "unnatural," therefore a most suspicious, circumstance. 
There is, however, a real basis for the perverse logic which 
sees something "menacing" in the absence of evidence of dis- 

What Is Loyalty? Who Are Loyal!* 6^ 

loyalty. Once a majority has decided to oppress a minority, no 
loophole is ever left by which individuals belonging to the 
minority group can escape. A dense system of assumptions, be- 
liefs, and superstitions is erected to make escape impossible. 
Dominant groups never reason in this perverse fashion until 
they have decided to be oppressive. Once this decision is reached, 
they are, of course, impervious to reason because they have de- 
cided not to reason but to be massive, dogmatic, coercive. This 
is the "logic" of persecutions. 

Once we had placed the Japanese-Americans in concentra- 
tion camps, however, we began to feel a twinge of conscience. 
It was then suggested that we might reverse the un-American 
procedure which we had followed up to this point by simply 
testing the loyalty of the evacuees. In brief we would simply 
run a kind of mass Wassermann test on 110,000 human beings 
and the findings would unerringly indicate which were loyal 
and which were disloyal. The loyal would then be released, the 
disloyal detained. It never occurred to the well-intentioned of- 
ficials who dreamed up this procedure that emotional loyalty to 
the enemy's culture might not necessarily be synonymous with 
disloyalty to the United States. The Issei, the immigrant gen- 
eration, would have been moral monsters if they had not felt 
some vestige of loyalty to Japan, where they were born, where 
their parents lived, from whence they had derived their lan- 
guage, their culture, and their moral sentiments. But this did fiot 
mean that the Issei were disloyal to the United States, a land 
in which they had prospered, where their children were born, 
and where, ironically enough, some of them had enlisted for 
service in the army and navy during the First World War. But 
to the deluded superpatriots, suffering from a guilty knowledge 
that Japanese-Americans had been sorely discriminated against 
in the prewar period, the existence of two loyalties implied dis- 
loyalty to the United States. To them "dual loyalty" was synony- 
mous with disloyalty. Yet the Issei were living, breathing, tragic 
evidences of the fact that, for the loyal, there are always many 
loyalties; that a person's loyalties, as Laski pointed out, are 
"as diverse as his experiences of life." The failure to recognize 

66 Witch Hunt 

this truism was largely responsible for the Japanese-American 

The loyalty questionnaire w hich the evacuees were asked to 
sign was universally resented, by Issei, Nisei, and Kibei. Con- 
sider the Nisei, the American-born. Stripped of their constitu- 
tional rights without a hearing or charges, torn away from their 
homes, their jobs, their properties, denied a chance to enlist in 
the army, they were then asked to prove their loyalty by filling 
out a form while being confined in a concentration camp! The 
questionnaire was resented in almost exact relation to the evacu- 
ee's loyalty to America, Some of the Nisei, in anger and dis- 
illusionment, renounced their American citizenship; others sim- 
ply refused to answer the questions. From first to last, the 
whole loyalty-testing procedure was a dismal failure and has 
been so appraised. For example, several thousand renunciations 
of citizenship have been set aside by the courts on the ground 
that the loyalty-testing procedure was unw^arranted, fatallv de- 
fective, and tragically misconceived. Yet no one has suggested 
that this experience might have some bearing on our current 
efforts to test loyalties. 

But there is a further point to the tale. Japanese intelligence 
had no difficulty in recruiting "agents" in this country but they 
were the kind of persons who are basically incapable of loyalty 
to anything. Many of them, it so happened, turned out to be of 
old-line Anglo-Saxon background and descent. To compare 
these moral derelicts with a proud Japanese-conscious Issei, 
aware of his loyalties, sensitive to his moral obligations, is to 
learn why loyalty is a positive good in itself and why the loyal 
are brethren. It is to appreciate, also, that loyalty to America 
rests on America's devotion to humanity. Americans are loyal 
to a principle, an ideal, a tradition. If the United States will 
only give free scope to Emerson's statement that it is ". . . the 
office of America ... to liberate, to abolish kingcraft, priest- 
craft, caste, monopoly, to pull down the gallows, to burn up 
the bloody statute-book, to take in the immigrant, to open the 
doors of the sea and the fields of the earth," it need never be 
concerned about loyalty to America. 

Thoreau and the Hollywood Ten 

The unhealthy state of American public opinion on civil rights 
finds disturbing illustration in the case of the Hollywood Ten. 
From the turgid hearings which began in Washington on Octo- 
ber 1 8, 1947, under the chairmanship of J. Parnell Thomas, now 
a resident of Danbury Prison, this question seemed to emerge: 
Does a congressional committee have the power to compel dis- 
closure of a person's political beliefs and affiliations? The ques- 
tion is real enough but it by no means exhausts the issues raised 
by the case, some of which touch upon ideas fundamental to the 
whole conception of self-government. Yet, in the excitement of 
the moment, these more basic issues were largely ignored. The 
public's failure to identify the real issues in the case provides, 
indeed, painful documentation for the proposition that the mean- 
ing of civil rights must be rediscovered at fairly regular intervals 
in history. 

The confusion about the issues was so prevalent, in fact, that it 
engulfed the victims as well as their persecutors. Before the hear- 
ings had gotten under way, a committee had been formed in 
Hollywood, known as the Committee for the First Amendment, 
on the theory, apparently, that J. Parnell Thomas intended to 
violate Hollywood's right of free speech. Somewhat later, how- 
ever, the argument began to veer toward a haven which was 
called "a right of silence." Even this change of direction, how- 
ever, failed to provide a satisfactory basis for the contention of 
the Ten that, in some manner, their rights had been gravely vio- 
lated. Indeed it was only as the case was shaped up for presenta- 
tion to the Supreme Court, following their conviction of con- 

68 Witch Hunt 

tempt of Congress, that the real issues began to emerge. Basically 
these issues relate to a question which Henry David Thoreau 
raised in his essay on Civil Disobedience: "Must the citizen ever 
for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the 
legislator?" That so fundamental a question should issue from an 
inquiry in which the name of Hollywood figured so prominently 
must be put down as a major irony. In fact the Hollywood back- 
ground was probably responsible for the strange manner in which 
the extraordinary importance of the case was obscured by weirdly 
irrelevant headlines. 


Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. 


The issues in the case of the Hollywood Ten relate to the 
meaning to be found in such phrases as "self-government" and 
"government by consent." For example, how can a people be 
self-governing" when governments are organized precisely be- 
cause men will not govern themselves? Is government by con- 
sent, as Edward Hallett Carr has insisted, "a contradiction in 
terms"? 15 government is a process by which some people exer- 
cise compulsion on others, how can a people be self-governing? 
These questions, in turn, hinge on the meaning of "consent." 

A free society, as D. W. Brogan has pointed out, believes that 
the quality of the assent obtained from the governed m.atters as 
well as the fact that assent is obtained.^ It is the quality of popular 
consent that distinguishes a democracy from a so-called plebis- 
citarian dictatorship. Under dictatorial regimes, the people are 
often asked to register assent in manipulated plebiscites; but, in 
a self-governing democracy, the people do more than "assent" — 
they govern themselves. With us, as Madison pointed out, "the 
censorial power is in the people over the government and not in 
the government over the people." 

If self-government is to have any real meaning, the consent of 

^The Free State, 1945, p. 98. 

Thoreau and the Hollywood Ten 69 

the governed must be able to find free expression. "The free act 
towards a good end," writes Dr. Martin J. Hillenbrand, "is always 
better than a compulsory act towards a good end, even though 
both may achieve the same result. A free expression of belief has 
significance; a forced expression of supposed belief means noth- 
ing, and compounds misuse of power with a lie. . . . Unless men 
can freely propound, receive, examine, compare, accept or reject 
the opinions and theories of other men, progress toward better 
living and fuller development of personality is scarcely possible." ^ 
In any power relationship — I speak now as a parent — the real 
difficulty is not to obtain assent from the governed but to make 
sure that the governed are really assenting and not merely sub- 
mitting. Submission can be bribed, manipulated, or coerced; in- 
deed submission is easier to obtain than consent. A free society 
spurns the notion of submission, which can never lead to real self- 
discipline and is as harmful to the censors as to their victims. "It 
is very hard indeed," writes Brogan, "to keep to the level of argu- 
ment, or persuasion, when you have the level of force to tempt 
you." Force, once used, becomes a habit. 

To ensure a free consent is, perhaps, one of the most difficult 
problems in a democracy. The problem is difficult because it can 
never be solved in any purely mechanical way. Checks and bal- 
ances and constitutional safeguards alone will not ensure that 
consent is freely granted or withheld. A majority in Congress, 
reflecting a majority sentiment among the people, can make a 
mockery of the idea of government by consent, which means, of 
course, the consent of all the governed, all the time. For minori- 
ties "consent" in a democracy even when they are outvoted. As 
long as a minority is permitted to state its case freely and without 
intimidation, government can be said to rest on the consent of 
the governed; but the moment this ceases to be the case, govern- 
ment by consent becomes, indeed, a contradiction in terms. 
There is little danger that a majority in Congress could ride 
roughshod over the rights of a majority (the ballot takes care of 
this risk): but there is always a real danger that a majority in 
Congress might destroy the quality of the consent, which more 

^Fower and Morals, 1949, p. 167. 

70 Witch Hunt 

than anything else, perhaps, distinguishes a democracy from 
other forms of government. 

Under our system of government, the people really have two 
sets of representatives: electors (voters) and representatives 
chosen by electors. Elaborate precautions have been taken, as a 
cursory examination of any state election code will demonstrate, 
to protect the electors against intimidation. But no provisions can 
be found in these codes which protect the people, including the 
electors, from indirect intimidation as applied, say, by a commit- 
tee of Congress. It is implied, of course, that the representatives 
of the people will not attempt to intimidate the people; but there 
is really nothing to prevent this from happening except the deter- 
mination of the people that it shall not be permitted to happen. 
The Bill of Rights, unfortunately, does not fully protect the 
people against indirect intimidation since only the Supreme Court 
stands between an unpopular minority and the vengeful policies 
of an enraged congressional majority. Not only is the Supreme 
Court reluctant to impose restraints on large congressional majori- 
ties but, as we have learned to our sorrow, the death of four, 
three, two, or even one member of the Court can determine 
whether the Court functions as a guardian of civil rights or as an 
agency co-operating in the destruction of civil rights. In theory 
the majority of the people are protected against indirect intimida- 
tion by congressional committees since the people have a chance 
to change the composition of Congress every two years; but a 
minority cannot rely upon this safeguard. As a matter of practical 
effect, however, even a majorit)^ enjoys no real immunit}^ from 
the modern forms of psychological warfare which governments 
use to coerce consent. Nowadays large majorities can be manipu- 
lated by carefully timed headlines, "revelations," and a thoroughly 
unscrupulous exploitation of the silence and secrecy surrounding 
many phases of government. 

On the other hand, it is argued that Congress must have the 
widest freedom to make inquiries and investigations, not only to 
inform its members on public questions, so that they may act in- 
telligently, but also to inform the people. Under the guise of 
exercising this informing function, however, Congress cannot 

Thoreau and the Hollywood Ten 71 

undertake to censor the thinking of a72y of the people without 
endangering the distinction between consent and submission. The 
power of Congress to force a disclosure of facts, which is neces- 
sarily broad and currently undefined, must be checked at the 
point where Congress's need to know the facts ceases. Congress 
may need to know who a man is and what he has done; but unless 
his beliefs are translated into acts, what he thinks is no concern 
of Congress. For it is just at this point — in this twilight zone 
where thinking verges on action — that a congressional majority 
can most easily pierce the weakest point in a democracy's arma- 
ment against antidemocratic tendencies, namely, the majority's 
ability to coerce a minority through its control of a large majority 
in Congress. Supreme Court decisions may help to define the 
boundaries of the congressional power to investigate; but in the 
last analysis, an informed public opinion offers about the only 
effective check on the new techniques of indirect intimidation 
developed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. 

It has been said in defense of the particular investigation that 
Congress sought only those facts which were necessary to inform 
its members and the public on the danger of Communist infiltra- 
tion into the motion picture industry. But in the course of inform- 
ing the public on this or any subject. Congress must take care 
that it does not intimidate any portion of the pubhc. As the Com- 
mission on Freedom of the Press has pointed out: "Any power 
capable of protecting freedom is also capable of endangering it. 
Every modern government, liberal or otherwise, has a specific 
position in the field of ideas; its stability is vulnerable to critics 
in proportion to their ability and persuasiveness. A government 
resting on popular suffrage is no exception to this rule. It also 
may be tempted — just because public opinion is a factor in official 
livelihood — to manage the ideas and images entering public de- 
bater^ (Emphasis added.) It can be a short step from "inform- 
ing" the public to intimidating the public. 

And this, in effect, is precisely what happened in the case of 
the Hollywood Ten. The House Committee on Un-American 
Activities, in the guise of "informing" the public and Congress on 

^ A Free aiid Responsible Press, 1947, p. 6. 

72 Witch Hunt 

Communist infiltration in the motion picture industry, proceeded 
to interdict a vast range of social, economic, and political ideas 
and to proscribe those identified, in any manner, with any of these 
ideas. The action had a clear tendency to dissuade other people 
from listening to an exposition of these ideas or from reading 
about them or from being associated with those interested in 
them. It would be difficult, also, to imagine a more coercive pres- 
sure than that which was applied to force the Hollywood writers 
to disclose their political beliefs and affiliations. In effect they 
were confronted with the unenviable choice of making public 
disclosure of their beliefs, and thereby forfeiting the right to 
earn a living in the profession of their choice; or of refusing to 
disclose their behefs and going to jail. Nor was the individual 
injustice, which was grave enough, the real measure of the wrong 
done. "So long as there is any subject," wrote John Jay Chapman, 
"which men may not freely discuss, they are timid upon all sub- 
jects. They wear an iron crown and talk in whispers." 

In the guise of informing the public, the committee conducted 
a form of carefully rehearsed psychological warfare against the 
American people; for what was done to the Ten served as a 
warning to all the others. Every effort was made to humiliate the 
"unfriendly" witnesses and to focus an image of them on the 
mirror of American public opinion of such calculated distortion 
as to make them appear "monsters of error." On the other hand, 
the friendly witnesses were presented with halo-effects and were 
encouraged to abuse and defame their former colleagues. No op- 
portunity whatever was offered the latter to cross-examine their 
accusers or to call witnesses or to offer evidence on their own 
behalf. The more violent and abusive the accuser, the more the 
committee beamed its approval. The combined facilities of press, 
radio, and motion pictures, moreover, were enlisted to make a 
national spectacle of their humiliation. 

The notion that Congress should have the power to force a 
disclosure of political beliefs and affiliations rests upon the mis- 
taken assumption that secrecy is somehow inimical to self-govern- 
ment. Actually a measure of concealment is neither criminal nor 
sinister but, on the contrary, is a necessary means by which a 

Thoreau and the Hollywood Ten 73 

real consent is expressed. For example, it is implied in a democracy 
that elections shall be free and equal; that is, that every qualified 
voter shall have an equal right to cast a free ballot. For the ballot- 
ing to be free, the general mode of voting must be secret. The 
purpose of the secret ballot is not so much to protect the voter 
as to ensure the expression of real public sentiment as distin- 
guished from a coerced or counterfeit sentiment. We have never 
demanded that all voters "stand up and be counted." On the con- 
trary, we have been inclined to agree with Cicero that "the ballot 
is dear to the people, for it uncovers men's faces, and conceals 
their thoughts." The courts have long recognized that a voter 
cannot be compelled to reveal how he voted, even in the case 
of a contested election where the question of how he voted is 
pertinent. To compel disclosure would be to encourage a system 
of espionage by means of which the veil of secrecy, which the 
ballot is supposed to protect, might be penetrated at will. Hence 
the current loud and vulgar insistence that everyone "stand up 
and be counted" is highly subversive of a first principle of self- 
government, namely, that a measure of concealment is indispen- 
sable if a real consent is to be obtained. The denial of this truism 
is based on the naive belief that complete freedom of political 
action prevails in the United States. It should be emphasized, how- 
ever, that the secrecy of the ballot is a personal privilege. The 
voter can, if he wishes, tell a committee, or the world, how he 
voted. In this respect, the privilege resembles the personal privi- 
lege against compulsory self-incrimination. 

Charles Edmundson, in an article in Harpefs,^ has given a 
graphic account of how the voters of Tennessee were able to oust 
the Crump machine in 1949. "The machine was so powerful," 
he writes, "that only a little overt intimidation was required to 
keep the restless in line. ... It had been twenty years since 
responsible citizens here [Memphis] had dared to form a com- 
mittee to fight the Boss." Even the businessmen who made con- 
tributions to the anti-Crump campaign took care to specify that 
their names should be kept secret. Nor is this an exceptional case. 
Every social reform movement has taken full advantage of the 

* January 1949, pp. 78-84. 

74 Witch Hunt 

principle of secrecy. "If," writes Arthur Garfield Hays, "all the 
Abolitionists in the early days had been obliged to come out into 
the open, their cause might never have progressed very far. The 
risks were too great for disclosure." ^ Where major social reforms 
are concerned, the risks are always too great. The citizen, like the 
voter, can decide the time and manner for the disclosure of his 
pohtical beliefs should he care to disclose them; but he cannot 
be compelled to make an affirmation under oath, in response to 
threats both stated and implied, as to the behefs which he holds 
or rejects without doing irreparable damage to the principle of 
consent in government. 

The principle of consent applies to groups as well as to indi- 
viduals; freedom of association is the counterpart of freedom of 
belief. Voters must have the right to combine freelv, without fear 
of surveillance or intimidation, in order to give realistic expression 
to their beliefs. This right is as broad as the freedom of decision 
which belongs to each individual citizen. It includes, for example, 
the freedom to perform those acts which are appropriate and 
necessary to the maintenance of party organization. To pressure 
voters to retire from a political party under threat of some pen- 
alty, formal or informal, is as indefensible as to intimidate a voter 
or to suppress a party outright. One of the first acts of dictatorial 
regimes has been to abrogate the principle of free political asso- 
ciation. In the absence of this right, it becomes almost impossible 
to obtain a free expression of consent from the governed. 

Historically, freedom of association is intimately related to the 
right of the people peacefully to assemble, a right which existed 
long prior to the Constitution. In this day and age, the people 
cannot assemble on the village green whenever a crisis impends 
nor can a voter give full expression to his views merely by casting 
a ballot at stated intervals. He must also be concerned with cau- 
cuses, conventions, partv primaries, and the whole range of col- 
lective political activities. The right of free association, like the 
right to vote, is subject to regulation but it cannot be suppressed 
in the guise of regulation. The real danger, however, is that the 
right will be reduced to utter meaninglessness by trumped-up 

'^Nation, January 29, 1949, 

Thoreau and the Hollywood Ten 75 

grand jury indictments of minority party officials and by the 
constant harassment, by legislative committees, of unpopular 
political minorities. 

The protection of the individual against compulsory disclo- 
sure of his political beUefs, moreover, is only one aspect of the 
problem of securing a real consent from the governed. To force 
a person to disclose unpopular political beliefs, or an unpopular 
political association, can constitute direct intimidation; what is 
not so clear, but is more important, is that the only way to 
suppress ideas is to attack individuals. Ideas cannot be sent to 
jail but individuals can. If you believe that an idea should be 
banned, as a heresy, you will be driven to the necessit)^ of attack- 
ing the rights of the person who holds the idea. The genesis of 
heresy hunts is to be found in the process by which, in time 
of storm, abstract doctrines or ideologies become divorced, for 
all practical purposes, from the individuals who adhere to these 
ideologies. Once this divorcement takes place, even the most 
kindly disposed persons find it possible to acquiesce in the de- 
struction of the rights of those who subscribe to ideologies which 
they hate or fear. For the censors can always make a plausible 
contention that it is the ideology which is being destroyed rather 
than the rights of those who believe in the ideology. Thus it is 
only a step from the proposition that Communism should be de- 
stroyed to the proposition that the rights of citizens who are 
Communists should be destroyed, and, eventually, to the final 
and fatal simplification that all Communists should be destroyed. 
This deceptive logic relates back to a basic semantic confusion, 
namely, the tendency to think of words and ideas as things-in- 
themselves rather than as names for real things. 

Caught in this logic, our desire for freedom seems to be increas- 
ing at the same time that our feeling of moral commitment to the 
idea of freedom is steadily weakening. The more violently we 
denounce clear and flagrant violations of civil rights in Hungary, 
the greater becomes our indifference to clear and flagrant viola- 
tions of civil rights in Seattle. The more insistent we become 
about "freedom," as we define freedom, the angrier we grow 
with those with whom we disagree. In time of storm, rival ideolo- 

76 Witch Hunt 

gies tend to become identical in their denial of the first principle 
of freedom, namely, that it involves a moral commitment to 
defend the freedom of others. In this respect anti-Communism 
has become identical with Communism. "There is in all of us," 
explains a character in Humphrey Slater's novel The Heretics, "a 
raging, snarling Urge to Conform. We intensify our conformity 
to our own group, and therefor our emotional satisfaction, by 
opposing and persecuting other rival groups; and the more like 
our own group another is, the more of a rival it seems, and the 
more passionately we hate it." This ardor for conformity can 
become psychopathic when, in time of storm, the values of a 
society seem to be threatened more from within the society than 
from without it. It is in such times that the dreadful imperative, 
"Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live!" becomes the reigning 
principle of politics. 

In the last analysis, therefore, the importance of the case of the 
Hollywood Ten does not turn on the question of whether Con- 
gress has the power to compel a disclosure of political beliefs and 
affiliations; the Supreme Court may rule that it has this power. 
The importance of the case goes to the question of what we mean 
by "the consent of the governed" and how this consent is to be 
obtained. The public's failure to see this larger issue, however, 
is understandable since in this, as in so many present-day civil 
rights issues, only about a third of the case's significance appears 
on the surface of the debate. The relevance of the case to the 
problem of obtaining a free consent from the governed becomes 
apparent as the power to punish for contempt is examined in rela-r 
tion to certain characteristic pressures which modern society 
brings to bear upon the nonconformist. Pressures can be felt but 
they cannot be seen: they can kill you but you cannot photo- 
graph them. 

According to Dr. E. K. Bramstedt the three main "nerves" 
which modern dictatorships manipulate are coercion, bribeiyy 

Thoreau and the Hollywood Ten 77 

and propaganda. "The totalitarian engineers," writes Dr. Bram- 
stedt, "either threaten man with dangerous insecurity, turning 
the screw on him by various forms of terror, or they promise 
him a deceptive security by the cash value of corruption or the 
mental opium of propaganda. In all these cases they reckon that 
man will eventually prefer the security of complete submission 
to the grave risks of an independent attitude. Many advantages 
of an economic or social kind are promised and sometimes 
granted. The mind of the masses is filled with colorful suggestions 
of what is marked as good or bad for them. It is the combination 
of these three agencies which constitutes the mental climate of a 
dictatorship. Terror, corruption, and propaganda are only three 
different sides of the same triangle, and it is impossible to recog- 
nize its geometrical proportions without taking all three Into 
consideration. All three aim at directing people according to a 
preconceived pattern of thought and action. They reduce them 
to an attitude of docile passivity and make them the mere object 
of intellectual hypnosis, however subtly applied. Man, when suc- 
cessfully approached by any of these three methods, does not 
act but reacts, he does not think but follows a stimulus. At the 
end he is e?ichained by fetters of ivhich he is ofte?i only vaguely 
aware.''"' ^ (Emphasis added.) 

The failure to recognize this geometrical, mutually re-enforc- 
ing pattern accounts for the Inability of people to measure the 
enormity of the moral wrong committed in the case of the 
Hollywood Ten. For example, to measure the pressure which 
the House committee brought to bear upon the Hollywood 
writers, one would have to multiply, so to speak, the fear of a 
jail sentence by the size of the monetary prizes which Hollywood 
offers for conformity and then add to this the pressure of Inces- 
sant ofHcial propaganda which labels certain Ideas "good" and 
others "bad." "Restrictions on free speech and Inquiry," writes 
Dr. Ezra Day, "may no longer take overt form; there may no 
longer be a direct exercise of police power to keep thought and 
speech and inquiry within bounds; but an excessive concern for 

^Dictatorship and Political Police: The Technique of Control by Fear, 
1945, P- 137- 

78 Witch Hunt 

public relations may have the same effect and may exercise pow- 
erful restricting influences." These influences are not as tangible 
as a jail sentence, a prosecution, or a book burning; but they are, 
in some respects, more effective as restraints on thought. In a 
sense they are also more dangerous, for the restraints being in- 
visible, an illusion of complete freedom prevails. If people avoid 
issues as controversial, or merely as being bad public relations, 
the effect is much the same as though their rights had been di- 
rectly violated. Socially the significant fact is that silence has 
engulfed a certain area of thought; the techniques by which 
people are "silenced" are really of secondary importance. 

The three nerves of modern dictatorships function with the 
most subtle interactions. One can even formulate certain rules 
governing the application of pressure in modern societv^ The 
greater the bribe, the less need for coercion. To convince a man 
who receives a salary of $30,000 a year that it is "inexpedient" 
for him to be identified with a certain "controversial" issue is 
usually about thirty times easier than to convince the man who 
makes $1000 a year or the man who is unemployed. That is, it 
would be that much easier if it were not for one complicating 
factor: both men may be so thoroughly propagandized that 
neither can readily distinguish between the values he respects and 
the values which he is told, morning, noon, and night, are re- 
spectable. Modern propaganda carries a burden of coercion and 
bribery, just as the bribe contains elements of propaganda and 
coercion, and coercion is enhanced by propaganda. For example, 
the coercive threat of confinement in a concentration camp is 
heightened by propaganda about concentration camps. When an 
employee is confronted with the choice of speaking his mind or 
losing his job. It is anyone's guess as to whether terror, corruption, 
or propaganda is the decisive factor; usually the combination tips 
the scales. The employee would be hard put to determine which 
nerve is causing the most pain; but he is keenly aware of an in- 
tense, unremitting, many-sided pressure to conform. 

Discussing the modern forces making for conformit)^ the L7w/- 
versity of Feiinsylvania Latv Review points out that "the pressure 
has been toward the development of new devices, untrammelled 

Thoreau and the Hollywood Ten 79 

by such hard-won protective elements [as civil rights], devices 
operating indirectly, imposing new sanctions such as economic 
deprivation in place of fine and incarceration. The inclination has 
been to withdraw within the operation of such techniques those 
persons who, because of their position on the fringes of groups 
formerly subject to criminal law, could not otherwise be brought 
under governmental control." '^ (Emphasis added.) These new 
techniques are immensely effective because they rely upon im- 
plied sanctions and, by a curious delusion, are not sensed as vio- 
lations of civil rights, even by the victims themselves. "Liberal- 
ism," writes Dr. John H. Hallowell, "was not destroyed by the 
Nazis . . . rather, the Nazis were the legitimate heirs to a system 
that committed suicide." ^ 

Economic subjugation which, by being "invisible," appears to 
be nonbrutal, is certainly one of the most effective pressures mak- 
ing for conformity in modern life. If the recusant individual is a 
writer, do not bother to burn his books — a book burning might 
call attention to the violation of civil rights; simply blackhst him 
with editors and publishers. Make it difficult for him to com- 
municate with his audience and dangerous for his audience to 
communicate with him. Convey to him by a hundred suggestions, 
often subtle, sometimes brutal, an awareness of what "pays" and 
what does not pay. Dangle rich prizes for conformity before his 
eyes and then rely upon "enlightened self-interest" to police his 
errant thoughts. If he fails to conform, make it impossible for 
him to earn a livelihood from his craft. Destroy his self-confi- 
dence. Create such an atmosphere of hostility toward him that 
even his children will be shunned by other children, but take 
care, all the while, to Insist that his civil rights have not been 
violated in the slightest degree! 

The direct sanctions, however, must always be available. A gen- 
eral propaganda against "subversive activities" and "Commu- 
nism" will serve as a vivid reminder that these sanctions exist; it 
will also be a major factor in the psychological warfare directed 
at the recusant individual. But to make the point even clearer, 

"^ Vol. 96, p. 399. 

^ The Decline of Liberalism as an Ideology, 1946, p. 108. 

8o Witch Hunt 

select, from time to time, an intransigent heretic and make an 
example of him; the others will get the point. The humiliation 
of an intransigent heretic has symbolic value; it is much more 
important, propagandawise, than the humiliation of a less defiant 
witness. Having selected the strategic hostages, bring every pres- 
sure to bear upon them to recant. Every inquisition aims primarily 
at recantation since silence, in periods of great social tension, is 
more menacing than action. The prelude to recantation consists 
in breaking the will to resist by myriad and convergent pressures. 
The aim of Fouche, the dreaded Minister of Police under 
Napoleon I, was ". . . not so much the annihilation of the caught 
bird, but the catching of others. He did not believe so much in 
violent punishment but in enforced enlightenment. The prisoner 
could improve his own position by enlightening the eager police 
... all the M^orse for him if he failed to realize his own interest." ^ 

In the particular case, ten writers were discharged from their 
positions and blacklisted in the motion picture industry as a 
result of direct pressure applied by a congressional committee. 
If the committee had subpoenaed ten editorial writers from ten 
newspapers, all identified with a similar point of view, and had 
then told their employers to fire them, it could not have been any 
clearer that the intention was censorial. This, indeed, is how cen- 
sorship is accomplished under the guise of protecting "the free- 
dom of the screen." No laws are necessary; all that is needed is 
a little pressure, strategically applied. 

In the case of the ten heretics from Hollywood, one could feel 
the stage and off-stage pressures being applied. At the opening 
of the hearings, Mr. Eric Johnston, speaking for the industry, 
gave eloquent assurance to the committee that he would ". . . 
never be a party to anything so un-American as a blacklist." 
Chairman J. Parnell Thomas ignored this fancy speech-making 
and continued to apply the pressures. But Johnston still held fast; 
on October 27, 1947, he declared: "When one man is falsely 
damned in an hour like this when the Red issue is at white heat, 
no one of us is safe!" Hollywood applauded a fine performance 
but Thomas, who had learned the arts of pressure in squeezing 

^Bramstedt, op. cit., p. 24. 

Thoreau a?id the Hollywood Ten 8i 

nickels and dimes from his stenographers, continued to apply 
more pressure. Once again Johnston demurred, this time on No- 
vember 20: "It's either free speech for all American institutions 
or individuals or it's freedom for none — and nobody." This 
seemed to be too good to be true and it was, for on November 26 
this same Mr. Johnston declared on behalf of the entire motion 
picture industry: "We \\ ill forthwith discharge or suspend with- 
out compensation those in our employ, and we will not re-employ, 
any of the ten until such time as he is acquitted, or has purged 
himself of contempt, and declared under oath that he is not a 
Communist." In those dreadful "dark ages," long, long ago, 
witches were made to sit on hot irons or stools until they con- 
fessed and recanted; but we use steam, and the pressure of steam. 

On June 10, 1950, John Howard Lawson and Dalton Trumbo 
of the Hollywood Ten surrendered in court and were sentenced 
to one year in jail and fined $1000 each, for contempt, the Su- 
preme Court having declined to review the case, with dissents by 
Black and Douglas. 


Hans and the 32 Grams 

On may 12, 1949, Representative W. Sterling Cole of New York 
placed in the Congressional Record the script of a radio talk by 
Fulton Lewis, Jr. The talk was laden with political uranium: it 
charged that one Hans Freistadt, a naturaUzed citizen, and, worse, 
a Communist, was studying at the University of North Carolina 
under a fellowship granted by the Atomic Energy Commission. 
And then, on May i8, the morning edition of the Ne^co York 
Daily News carried the terrifying headline: atom bomb uranium 
vanishes! From then on, the headlines blossomed like the Rosi- 
crucian's mystic rose. Congress promptly integrated its manifold 
fears in the ohe issue of Hans and the 32 grams. Down the years. 
Congress has made stupid mistakes from time to time, usually 
under the blind governance of fear, but seldom has it made a 
blunder of the proportions that it now proceeded to commit upon 
discovering that 32 grams— 1.05 ounces of U-235 — were missing 
from the Argonne Laboratory in Chicago and that one Hans 
Freistadt, formerly of Vienna, was studying at Chapel Hill. 

After a week's violent speculation, the first photographs of 
Hans Freistadt appeared in the press. Neat, well-dressed, looking 
about sixteen years of age (he was twenty-three), he gazed out 
at the American public with the incredible earnestness and candor 
which seem to be the hallmark of precocity. In appearance, he 
might be described as "the ideal type" American graduate stu- 
dent. Certainly his appearance was sharply at variance with the 

Hans and the 52 Grains 83 

role to which he had been so luridly assigned by Representative 
John Rankin: "The American people are simply horrified that 
the Atomic Energy Commission has a Communist in the Univer- 
sity of North Carolina, teaching him how to blow this country 
to pieces in years to come." What, then, were the facts about this 
political wolf in sheep's clothing? 

Hans Freistadt was born in Vienna in 1926, the year that Adolf 
Hitler set up a special "loyalty review board," known as the 
Committee for Examination and Adjustment, to purge the S. A. 
of weaklings and perverts. Vienna was literally alive with anti- 
Semites in 1926 and, for the first five years of his life, this was 
the world known to Hans Freistadt. His father, a left-wing 
journalist, was then Vienna correspondent for the Berlin Der 
Abend. When Hans was five years old, the family, which included 
a sister, moved to Berlin, where the father edited another left- 
wing paper. The year, of course, was 193 1. Three years later, 
with Hitler in power, the family fled to Vienna, one jump 
ahead of the Nazis. But residence in Vienna was by then almost 
as dangerous, for a Jewish family, as residence in Berlin, and so the 
Freistadts moved on to Paris where the father edited an anti- 
fascist newsletter. 

When the war came, Freistadt senior was promptly thrown 
into a concentration camp in southern France without trial, hear- 
ing, or charges. From September 1939 to April 1941, the father 
remained in the camp while the son and daughter were in Paris 
with the mother. But in the Nazi bombing of Paris the mother 
was killed and, for a time, the two children were left alone. 
Granted a release in the spring of 1941, Freistadt sailed from 
Marseilles for Ncm^ York, under a French exit-permit, with his 
two children. The Jewish Children's Agency arranged to send 
the children to an orphanage in Chicago, where Hans was en- 
rolled, on a temporary basis, in the Hyde Park School. The 
father went on to Mexico where, true to form, he promptly 
founded an antifascist quarterly. Later the father and the daugh- 
ter returned to Vienna where they now live. 

The University of Chicago was sufficiently impressed with 
young Freistadt's academic record to grant him a scholarship 

84 Witch Hunt 

and to admit him without examination or a high school diploma. 
The Jewish Children's Bureau paid for room and board and Hans 
worked part time to buy his books and clothes. In June 1946 he 
was given the degree of bachelor of science, and in August 1948 
the degree of master of science. Between these dates, he spent tvvo 
years in the army and had been advanced to the rank of sergeant 
at the time he received his honorable discharge. Upon returning 
to Chicago, he arranged to take his doctorate under Dr. Nathan 
Rosen at the University of North Carolina in the field of general 

Frelstadt joined the Communist Party in 1946, two years after 
he had become a citizen. He had, however, been interested in 
Communism for a long time; in fact since he had first come to 
know Communists at the age of twehe or thirteen. One oains 
the impression that in both Vienna and Berlin, and later in Paris, 
Communists were not unknown in the Freistadt household. How- 
ever he did not become convinced of "the correctness of the 
Communist beliefs" until fairly late in his army career. A joint 
committee of Congress, made up of the best talent of both 
parties, failed "to ask him just what had happened that had finally 
convinced him, although this was, in a way, the crucial point in 
his examination. 

At Chapel Hill, Freistadt made prompt and public avowal of 
his Communist beliefs: here was a heretic who practiced full dis- 
closure. Shortly after his arrival, he formed the Karl Marx Studv 
Group, composed of precisely thirty-eight students, and wrote 
numberless letters to the editor some of which actually were 
published in the Tar Heel. On at least four or five occasions, he 
took part in debates in the course of which his political position 
was made quite clear. Neither his sponsor nor the administration 
raised any objection to the presence of this part-time instructor 
and graduate student who doubled in the role of the leading 
campus "red." Despite his known Communist afiiliation, the issue 
was not raised when, on March 30, 1949, he was awarded an 
Atomic Energy Commission Fellowship which paid $1600 a year, 
to engage in research of a nonsecret character in theoretical 

Hans and the 52 Grams 85 

Appearing voluntarily before the Joint Committee on Atomic 
Energy, young Freistadt proved to be an able witness. Asked if 
he believed in the capitalist system, he rephed: "I do not. But I 
don't believe that the capitalist system is part of our form of 
government." He believed in "private enterprise" but on a small 
scale. As to "force and violence," he thought that the Nazi gov- 
ernment should have been overthrown by force and violence, 
and it was; but here, where the channels of peaceful progress 
Mere clear, "well, I see no reason why one should not use peaceful 
channels of progress." He was by no means dogmatic: "If, later, 
as a scientist, I find I'm in the wrong and the capitalist system can 
soU'C the boom or bust problem, I might change my mind." 

Although his fellowship had been granted for work in an un- 
restricted field, he made it quite clear that under no circumstances 
Mould he disclose secret information to unauthorized persons. If 
the Communist Party M'as the "agent of a foreign power," he was 
not aware of the fact; and he would resign instantly if he thought 
this were true. Yes, he M'ould fight in the event of a M^ar Math 
Russia, "if, contrary to M^hat I believe and contrary to M^hat 
John Foster Dulles believes, Russia should attack us." But he 
would not work, as a scientist, on aggressive M'eapons of war. He 
M'as insistent that the revocation of his fellowship would be a 
blow to civil rights. "Once scientists and science students are dis- 
criminated against because of their political vieM^s or laM^ful politi- 
cal activities the whole concept of academic freedom as mx have 
knoMm it is endangered." 

Obviously nettled by this cool performance, Congressman Price 
decided to make a political speech. "You perhaps have not gone 
deep enough into the study of American history to know of 
some of the statements of our great patriots, but there are some 
that are carried on the mastheads of some of the American ncM's- 
papers, and one in particular, the most outstanding, is to be found 
on the masthead of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, M^hich reads: 
'My Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she 
always be in the right; but my country, right or M'rong!' I as- 
sume that you do not hold Math that spirit of patriotism?" To 
M^hich Freistadt replied: "My attitude tOM^ard that statement is 

86 Witch Hunt 

the same as that of President John Quincy Adams: 'I disclaim any 
patriotism incompatible with justice.' " 

The Congressman tried again. This time he accused Freistadt 
of ingratitude to "the capitalist system." Hans readily acknowl- 
edged that capitalism had achieved "great things for this country" 
but he doubted that it could solve the economic crisis of our 
time. He hastened to add, however, that he was extremely grate- 
ful to the United States. It is difficult, indeed, to see how anyone 
could expect Freistadt to be grateful to the capitalist system, ex- 
cept in the most metaphorical sense. The capitaHst system had 
not paid his tuition or bought his clothes; nor had it fed him or 
advanced his travel expenses from Chapel Hill to Washington. 
If he should have been grateful to the capitalist system, rather 
than, say, to the Jewish Children's Bureau, then, by the same 
logic, he should also have been grateful to the Reformation, the 
Protestant Ethic, the Industrial Revolution, and Christopher 

There was, indeed, an extraordinary David-and-Goliath qual- 
ity about this inquisition. Here was a young man, alone, without 
counsel, in a" merciless glare of publicity, ably defending his 
views under the supposedly "withering" cross-examination of a 
joint congressional committee -widely praised for the competence 
and ability of its members. Why should this committee have 
found it difficult to understand how this sensitive, idealistic, 
highly intelligent Jewish boy had come to embrace the Com- 
munist doctrine? His early childhood had been spent in a hotbed 
of anti-Semitism; his father had been unjustly imprisoned by a 
capitalist government and his mother had been Idlled by capital- 
ist bombs. Did the committee members believe, as they clearly 
implied, that Freistadt's espousal of Communism, at the age of 
twenty-three, implied a permanent lifelong commitment? Did 
they want to confirm this young Communist's beliefs about 
"bourgeois justice"? As a matter of fact, he gave them a lead to 
the reasons which had prompted him to join the Communist 
Party but they had failed to follow up this lead. Of this voung 
scientist, an American citizen, a veteran, the Denver Post in- 
quired, in an editorial which reflected the nearly unanimous view 

Hans and the 52 Grams 87 

of the press: "Do We Have to Coddle this Hostile Genius?" and 
then went on to castigate Freistadt as "an avowed enemy of free- 
dom." But there is nothing in the record to justify the belief 
that this young man is any more "an enemy of freedom" than 
Albert Einstein or Pearl Buck or Cardinal Stritch. 

Even more difficult to understand is the position of the Uni- 
versity of North Carolina. In a report to the trustees, the admin- 
istration had this comment to offer: "The Communists are taking 
advantage of the unlimited freedom of our university. And if 
we are not realistic, prudent and cautious, we may discover too 
late that we have . . . stretched our freedom and tolerance to 
the point that we have been unwitting 'collaborationists' of the 
Communists." And then, as though under some mysterious com- 
pulsion, the administration came out squarely and resoundingly 
against Communism. "There is only one avowed Communist 
Party member now teaching at any of our three institutions and 
his appointment is temporary and expires June ist, 1949." How- 
ever the administration simply could not wait until June first, so 
ex-Sergeant Hans Freistadt, victim of the Nazi terror, exile and 
refugee to Free America, was "fired" by the university on May 
24, 1949. 

Fortunately one or two American newspapers did speak out 
against this shameful repudiation of freedom, among them the 
San Frajicisco Chronicle (May 20, 1949): 

Hans Freistadt seems to have a very good scientific brain, 
capable of highly promising development in the field of 
relativity. The objective should be to let his brain benefit 
the nation. But what, unfortunately, seems to be happening 
is the formation of a stormy, hysterical resolve to hound 
and harass this young man, interrupt his studies by with- 
drawing his fellowship, and brand him unfit for education 
at the public expense. About the only results of such per- 
secution will be to impoverish science to an extent no one 
can measure and confirm ex-Sergeant Freistadt in his Com- 
munist beliefs. 

However, far more serious results have stemmed from the case. 
For what Congress did, in its hysterical concern over Hans and 

88 Witch Hu?it 

the 32 grams, was to jeopardize the security as well as to libel 
the good name of the American people. 

The hearings in the Freistadt case provide a classic illustration 
of the relation between politics and science; of the difference be- 
tween the way demagogues think and the way trained scientists 

Now what was the program which the committee had under 
investigation? To meet a critical shortage in trained scientific 
personnel, the x\EC had been authorized by Congress to finance 
certain types of research and training. Reluctant to venture into 
a field in which it had no competence, the commission had asked 
the National Research Council to select the candidates. Some 
measure of the council's competence, in this field, may be sug- 
gested by the fact that Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, Dr. Ernest 
O. Lawrence, and Dr. Henry D. Smyth, among other distinguished 
scientists, once held fellowships awarded by the council. From 
the outset, Air. Lilienthal took the position that the issue was one 
of "freedom for scientific inquiry": the real danger, he said, was 
that "the wells of education might be poisoned." On the other 
hand. Senator B. B. Hickenlooper of Iowa kept insisting that the 
only issue was: "Should public funds be appropriated to educate 
members of the Communist Party?" 

Mr. Lilienthal, who is a wily politician, apparently assumed 
that it would be smart strategy to make a brief statement and 
then let Dr. A. N. Richards of the National Academy of Sciences 
and Dr. D. W. Bronk of the National Research Council take 
over the real burden of the defense. Again and again, he sought 
refuge in the proposition that whatever was agreeable to the Na- 
tional Research Council would be agreeable to the AEC. But 
neither Dr. Richards nor Dr. Bronk would take the position that, 
after all, a citizen who is a Communist might have the same 
rights as any other citizen. Before long, both men were actually 
suggest'mg to the Senator from Iowa the very "compromise" 
which they, along with Mr. Lilienthal, had originally intended 

Ha7i5 and the ^2 Grams 89 

to resist. Once they had capitulated, the AEC was compelled to 
"go along with" a policy of discrimination. One week later the 
AEC announced that a loyalty oath and non-Communist affidavit 
would be required of all fellow s. 

But, as always happens, this belated appeasement failed in its 
main purpose. On August 2, 1949, the Senate adopted a rider to 
an appropriation bill providing that fellowships should not be 
granted to any person who advocates or is a member of an organi- 
zation that advocates the overthrow of the government by force 
and violence or of whom the AEC has reasonable grounds to 
believe that he is "disloyal by character or association." Thus the 
AEC is now committed to a policy not merely of loyalty oaths 
but of formal FBI clearance and investigation of candidates, and 
this, in effect, makes political orthodoxy a test of scientific com- 

The fateful rider was carried by a voice vote without audible 
dissent. It is fairly clear, however, that Senator Glenn Taylor was 
the only Senator who might have voted "no" if a record vote 
had been taken. The debate itself makes painful reading. A num- 
ber of able Senators — McMahon, Morse, and Pepper — obviously 
wanted to oppose the rider but the combination of Communism 
and atomic energy constituted too formidable a bugaboo and so 
they remained silent. Senator Pepper was the onlv Senator to 
observe, rather quaveringlv, that the rider failed to provide even 
a "hearing" for those denied "clearance." 

Indeed the weakness of the men of good will is, in some re- 
spects, the most disconcerting aspect of this shameful incident. 
One gains the distinct impression that Mr. Lilienthal wanted the 
National Research Council to work out some deft and subtle pro- 
cedure by which the "reds" could be eliminated without formal 
clearance or investigation. He kept insisting, for example, that 
some "informal arrangement" would suffice. But if it is wrong 
to discriminate against a citizen because of his political beliefs, 
then the discrimination does not become less objectionable be- 
cause it is accomplished by guile and cunninsj'. The "invisible" 
quota which excludes a Jewish student from a medical school is 
just as objectionable as a formal bar. 

90 Witch Hunt 

It is curious, too, that the Senate should have been so uninter- 
ested in the circumstances under which Hans Freistadt became a 
pubHc issue. Tucked away in the transcript, however, is this 
information: Freistadt was granted a fellowship on March 30, 
1949. On April 20, someone in the FBI notified someone in the 
AEC that Freistadt was a Communist. At this time, the FBI had 
not been asked to investigate candidates and the information was 
entirely gratuitous. In fact, the application forms said nothing 
whatever about Communism or about political or ideological 
beliefs. How did it happen, therefore, that a radio commentator 
apparently knew what the FBI knew before this information was 
known to Congress? Freistadt's fellowship, it should be noted, 
was withdrawn before it was scheduled to take effect on July i, 
1949. This puts the AEC in the morally impossible position of 
defrauding as well as injuring a citizen and a war veteran. For 
Freistadt had won this fellowship honestly, in open, competitive 
examination; nor had he been guilty of the slightest equivocation 
or concealment. 

The same ugly background of connivance and manipulation 
appears in the related case of Dr. Isidore S. Edelman. While 
working at the Harvard Medical School on an AEC fellowship. 
Dr. Edelman was approached by William Bradford Huie, a free- 
lance writer, from whom he learned that he was about to be 
exposed as a red. Prior to this visit. Dr. Edelman had not been 
interviewed by the FBI; nor had he been told that he was under 
investigation or that charges of any kind had been filed against 
him. Before he could recover, so to speak, from the shock of the 
announcement, his name was in headlines from coast to coast 
and with the most sinister and damaging implications. 

Dr. Edelman, born in Brooklyn, attended the Indiana Medical 
School. While he was studying there, he and his wife became 
interested in Communism. "I became aware," he testified, "that 
there were many things going on in the world which seemed to 
me quite chaotic." Seeking to investigate Communism for them- 
selves, the Edelmans attended two closed meetings, subscribed 
to the Daily Worker, and later signed some form of application. 
*'I don't know," he later said, "whether this constituted my being 

Hans and the 52 Grams 91 

a member of the Communist Party or not." Thereafter the Edel- 
mans lost interest in Communism and ceased to have any connec- 
tion with the party. Dr. Edelman served in the army during the 
war and was commissioned a captain. 

It should be noted that Dr. Edelman had been granted a fellow- 
ship to study, with the use of tracers, the rates of excretion of 
electrolytes with special reference to the role of the endocrines — 
a subject which could hardly be regarded as having ideological 
or military significance. "I don't know a damn thing about nuclear 
physics," he testified; "if somebody tried to tell me about the 
atomic bomb, I wouldn't know what they were talking about." 
In the transcript appear scores of letters from friends, hospital 
officials, former instructors, and colleagues, all testifying, and 
often in the most eloquent terms, to Dr. Edelman's loyalty and 
patriotism, above all to his loyalty to the sick and the suffering. 

The special finesse to his case is this: he had first applied for a 
position with one of the AEC laboratories but had been denied 
clearance because of the background just mentioned. In the teeth 
of a warning from the joint congressional committee, Mr. Lilien- 
thal had then insisted that he be granted a fellowship, for his 
record indicated that he was an outstanding student for medical 
research. Thus the AEC is directly responsible for the fact that 
Dr. Edelman was placed in a position without his knowledge — 
for he was never informed of the denial of clearance — which 
later exposed him to a vicious public attack. Perhaps for this 
reason the AEC did not withdraw Dr. Edelman's fellowship al- 
though it had quickly withdrawn the fellowship which Freistadt 
had won by competitive examination. Aside from the fact that 
Edelman had left the Communist Party, it is hard to reconcile 
the decisions in the two cases. 

If one listens to what the scientists had to say at the Freistadt- 
Edelman hearings, it is quite clear that the Senator from Iowa, 
and his colleagues, were intellectually impeached. Consider, for 

92 Witch Hunt 

example, the testimony of Dr. Lee A. DuBridge, president of the 
California Institute of Technology. "I think the loyalty oath," 
he testified, "is a piece of paper which has very little meaning. 
It will eliminate an occasional naive youngster who is quite will- 
ing to admit he is a Communist and still thinks he can be loyal to 
his country. It will not eliminate the really dangerous, subversive 
Communists, who are quite willing to perjure themselves if they 
think it to their advantage to do so." 

Sending sleuths around to check up on students, interviewing 
their relatives, friends, and instructors, would be repugnant. Dr. 
DuBridge suggested, to American ideals and harmful to the AEC 
program. Besides it would be quite unnecessary: "99 per cent of 
the so-called field of atomic science is just as nonsecret as biology 
or medicine, or agriculture, or metallurgy, or seismology." Nor 
is it possible, unfortunately, to tell just where brains will arise. 
"They may arise in association with very curious political ideas, 
but brains are a national asset and we should encourage them and 
support them wherever they are found." A clearance program 
might disquahfy "a very considerable number" of perfectly 
honest and loyal men on the basis of inconclusive and possibly 
erroneous evidence. Again and again, Dr. DuBridge warned the 
committee against the introduction of "police-state methods, the 
review of political opinion, the purge of scientists, and the purge 
of other people." 

To a young person, testified Dr. Enrico Fermi, it might seem 
almost one's duty to join the Communist Party, this being the 
most realistic way to find out what the party is like. Must a young 
man accept, at face value, on some other person's authorit\% a 
ready-made mass-produced analysis of Communism and Karl 
jMarx? Is this "scientific"? Is there anything wrong with experi- 
mentalism — the take-nothing-f or-granted attitude — which wt 
have sought to emphasize in American education? If Communism 
is precisely what the anti-Communists charge, then intelligent 
young men and women can be relied upon to discover this fact 
quickly enough. Obviously this is not an argument \A^hy young 
people should join the Communist Party: but it is a reason why 
their elders should not be shocked out of their wits when, from 

Hans and the 52 Grams 93 

time to time, one of them decides to find out about dialectical 
materialism by associating with, and observing, dialectical mate- 

In a letter to Senator McMahon, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer 
pointed out that only a small number of scientists were engaged 
in or would be likely to engage in restricted work; that impor- 
tant contributions to atomic science have been made by scientists 
who were Communists, and thus "it would be contrary to all 
experience to suppose that only those who throughout their lives 
have held conformist political views would make the great dis- 
coveries of the future"; and that the clearance procedure involves 
questions of "opinion, sympathy and association in a way which 
is profoundly repugnant to the American tradition of freedom." 
The security side of the program, he suggested, should be kept 
at an absolute minimum. Secret investigations, he added, "in- 
evitably bring with them a morbid preoccupation with conform- 
ity, and a widespread fear of ruin, that is a more pervasive threat 
precisely because it arises from secret sources." 

Dr. Alan Gregg, of the Rockefeller Foundation, told the com- 
mittee that they were taking a perverse view of the fellowship 
program: the government wxs not trying to give away fellow- 
ships; it was seeking scientific talent. Loyalty investigations would 
be certain to discourage applications: some students might not 
like the idea of being investigated; others might fear disqualifica- 
tion because some uncle or aunt had once belonged to an anti- 
fascist organization; and still others might hesitate, realizing that 
a denial of clearance, for any reason, could have the most harmful 
permanent consequences. 

But all this, Dr. Gregg hastened to add, was quite beside the 
point. If a phrase such as "potentially subversive" is to be used 
in the screening of undesirable applicants, then the committee 
should realize that all applicants are potentially subversive. They 
are also potentially reactionary. In short, youth is potentially 
everything and anything. Great care should be taken, therefore, 
in the manner of approach, for the young draw inferences of value 
from their initial contact w^ith institutions. Besides, there is always 
time to screen scientists for secret work. But to establish a loyalty 

94 Witch Hunt 

test at the outset of a scientist's career is to establish a political 
means test for education, and that, he warned the committee, "is 
going to cause a great big storm. The storms will come slowly; 
but, like most big things, they come slowly at first and then they 
develop speed as they come along." 

Now that this excellent advice has been ignored, one can only 
speculate as to what assurance Senator Hickenlooper has that 
some brilliant research student, whose present political beliefs are, 
to use his own word, "clean," will not decide, ten years hence, to 
join the Communist Party. The most rigorous screening of stu- 
dents cannot eliminate this risk. However miraculous the powers 
of divination, the FBI has not yet invented a test that will certify 
an applicant as being constitutionally immune to the virus of 

The Senator's dogmatic definition of the issue: "Should the 
federal government appropriate money for the education of 
subversives?" has about the same relevance to the real issues in 
the Freistadt case as the question: "How would you like to 
have your sister marry a Negro?" has to the issue of racial dis- 
crimination. I wasted a great deal of time trying to answer this 
question before I realized that it can only be answered by ex- 
posing the neurotic attitude from which it stems. I started say- 
ing, quite simply, "Well, she did," and I had no more trouble 
with the question. 

In his testimony before the joint committee. Dr. Gregg gave 
an excellent demonstration of how to deal with demagogues. 
Congressman Hinshaw wanted to know if Dr. Gregg actually 
thought that we should spend money "to educate people who 
are loyal to some other government." And Dr. Gregg, with ad- 
mirable candor, said yes, he thought this ^vould be an excellent 
idea. Somewhat startled, Hinshaw then stated that membership 
in the Republican, Democratic, or Socialist Party had, of course, 
nothing to do with a man's scientific competence or loyalty; but 
what about the Communist Party? iMembership in the Com- 
munist Party, replied Dr. Gregg, might or might not mean that 
a man was disloyal; but membership in the Democratic or Re- 
publican Party would certainly not be a guarantee of loyalty. At 

Hans and the 52 Grmns 95 

this point, Hinshaw backed away with the comment: "This is 
not a pohtical issue: it is a loyalty issue." 

The plain fact is, however, that the issue is strictly political. 
Dr, Gregg and his associates were discussing the problem of 
loyalty; but Hinsha^^ and Hickenlooper were discussing the 
political issue to which the loyalty obsession has given rise. 
Since the politicians were talking about one thing and the scien- 
tists about another, there could be no meeting of minds. The 
questions which the politicians kept putting to the scientists were 
the questions which the politicians knew perfectly well would 
be put to them by their constituents or bv their political op- 
ponents. Senator Hickenlooper, for example, was clearly thinking 
in political terms: "I do not believe," he said, "that the American 
public will sta72d for the education of a Communist Vv'ith public 
money" (emphasis added). Never having undergone the ordeal 
of a senatorial campaign in Iowa, the scientists could not under- 
stand Hickenlooper's point of view. 

One might assume that Senator Hickenlooper's obsession with 
secrecy and security would disappear once it had been revealed 
that the Russians had actually produced and exploded an atomic 
bomb. But no! the Senator immediately sought to make political 
capital of the announcement by charging that the Russians had 
the secret only because Congress and the American people had 
not listened to his prior warnings and dire misgivings. To plague 
her beating heart, WTote Wordsworth, "fear hath a hundred 
eyes." Fear with its hundred eyes can never be appeased. No 
security system would ever satisfy the Senator from Iowa, for his 
fears, like those of his colleagues, are functional; that is, they are 
strictly political. 

And what about the effect of the Freistadt precedent on the 
fellowship program? On December 16, 1949, the AEC announced 
that it had "drastically reduced" the number of research fellow- 
ships for 1950 "because of the opposition of many scientists and 
scholars to loyalty investigations of applicants in non-secret 
fields." ^ When the National Academy of Science met in October, 
it advised the AEC that ". . . the requirements of FBI investiga- 

'^ See N. Y. Times, December i6, 1949, story by Harold B. Hinton. 

96 Witch Hunt 

tion and Atomic Energy Commission clearance are ill-advised for 
those fellows who neither work on secret material, nor are di- 
rectly preparing for work on Atomic Energy Commission proj- 
ects." Indeed the Academy at first refused to have any further 
connection with the fellowship program but finally agreed to 
authorize the National Research Council to continue selecting 
applicants until June 30, 195 1. Confronted with these develop- 
ments, the AEC was forced to cut the number of fellowships. 
Only 75 new fellowships were granted for 1950 and only 175 
existing fellowships were renewed. 

Oh, yes, the 32 grams . . . Virtually all the missing uranium 
was found, shortly after it disappeared, and was quickly restored 
to the ominous vaults of the Argonne Laboratory. The disappear- 
ance of the material was quite satisfactorily accounted for and 
no spies were arrested. However, in his excitement. Senator B. B. 
Hickenlooper inadvertently revealed a piece of classified infor- 
mation, namely, the degree of enrichment of the lost uranium! 
The Senator, of course, was not indicted; but, at last report, 
Hans Freistadt was looking for a job. 

The hubbub about the Freistadt case provides a perfect illustra- 
tion of how politicians exploit fears to conceal social realities. 
Actually the real issues in the Freistadt case go to some of the 
major questions of our time. It is the enormous discrepancy be- 
tween the question posed in the political debate and the real 
questions that points up the meaning of the case. What, then, 
were some of the real issues which the debate of the fantastically 
irrelevant issue of the Communism of Hans Freistadt concealed? 
The issues all relate to a "situation" which can be suggested but 
which, in all its ramifications, is entirely beyond the scope of 
this book. 

The Constitution guarantees free speech but nothing is said 
in the First Amendment or elsewhere in the Constitution about 
freedom of scientific research or freedom of science. Freedom 

Ha7is and the 52 Grams 97 

of scientific research involves far more than the freedom of 
scientists to speak; indeed it involves far more than their free- 
dom to read and to think. Nowadays it is not freedom from 
social and religious conventions for which scientists must contend 
(after the manner of Pasteur and Darwin); what now threatens 
science is the danger of political control. Hickenlooper is a sym- 
bol of what scientists must fear today. 

Freedom for scientific research implies a great deal more than 
it implied fifty years ago. It implies freedom of discussion, of 
publication (without censorship), of exchange. It implies free 
access to the materials of research and freedom in the selection 
of projects for research. It implies that scientists must be free to 
move about, to travel at home and abroad, to attend conferences, 
and to enjoy complete freedom of correspondence. It implies 
freedom from surveillance. It implies that no effort will be made 
and no pressures will be applied to predetermine the results of 
any experiment. It implies complete political freedom for the 
scientist, for freedom of science is inseparable from political and 
economic freedom and the scientist must be. free to take certain 
issues directly to the public. It implies, also, complete freedom 
in the training of scientific personnel by scientists using scien- 
tific methods and not by politicians with an eye on Gallup polls. 
The Freistadt case raises, directly and by implication, these 
and many related issues; but it \\"as debated and disposed of as 
medieval inquisitors might have disposed of a case of witch- 

These issues are of the utmost gravity for the perfectly obvious 
reason that science has become indispensable to man's ability to 
survive on this earth. Today science implies organization. The 
growth of scientific knowledge alone has reached a point where 
there are definite limits to w^hat any one individual can learn 
and know. Personal association with other scientists has become, 
therefore, a condition to scientific progress and this clearly im- 
plies organization. Also there are only a limited number of 
scientists in the world: according to J. D. Bernal, about 250,000 
scientific workers of whom only 25,000, approximately, are en- 
gaged in research. To make the best use of this limited personnel. 

98 Witch Hunt 

and to train additional personnel, implies organization. "A single 
scientist," writes Dr. Philip M. Morse, "working all by himself, 
is today an unproductive anachronism." Science is no longer one 
thing, far off in a corner of the field of knowledge by itself; it is 
encompassing an ever-larger section of the entire field. It has 
become "the major social institution which has the pecuHar re- 
sponsibility for the discovery of practically all objectively veri- 
fiable knowledge." ^ Today a new scientific finding or theory 
can have almost limitless ramifications throughout the whole 
domain of knowledge. Thus freedom of science has come to mean 
a great deal more than freedom for scientists. Once scientists had 
to fight for the right to be scientists; today thev are compelled 
to fight for the survival of scientific method. 

The necessity for the organization of science is, of course, 
generally conceded; it is, in fact, a contemporary reality. Before 
the war, our institutions of higher learning were spending about 
130,000,000 per year on research; in 1950 the government alone 
will give these institutions more than $100,000,000 for research. 
In 19 1 5, there were about 100 industrial research laboratories in 
the United States, employing not more than 3000 people; in 
1946, some 2500 laboratories employed 133,500 workers. The 
annual research development expenditures by industry increased 
from $116,000,000 in 1930 to $234,000,000 in 1940, and will ex- 
ceed $500,000,000 in 1950. These figures are some measure of the 
degree to which science has already been organized. 

Thus the choice is not between science organized and science 
unorganized, but between a free science and a science subject to. 
political controls and vetoes. And this issue, in turn, relates to the 
question of "consent" and to what we mean by self-government. 
Scientists are a team (the nature of modern scientific research 
makes this inevitable); and they have a common purpose. They 
can be trusted to guard the principle of freedom for science for 
much the same reason that a faculty can be trusted to guard the 
principle of academic freedom — that is, they understand the 
principle and have a direct stake in its preservation. But scientists 
can only guard the freedom of science if they themselves are 

"^Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 1949, p. 26, 

Hans and the 52 Grams 99 

free; if they have real autonomy. Free scientists can be trusted 
for the same reason that free men can be trusted. But freedom 
of science becomes a mockery if politicians can tell scientists what 
is true or false; that is, if they can dictate findings. Findings can 
be dictated, moreover, by many indirect techniques, as through 
the control of funds, of personnel, of appointments, of tests of 
competence, and so forth. It is for this reason that political con- 
formity as a test in the selection of scientific personnel could 
easily lead to politically determined scientific orthodoxies. Gov- 
ernment should no more be permitted to dictate to scientists 
than it should be permitted to dictate academic policies to uni- 
versity faculties or to tell the motion picture industry the writers 
it can employ and those it cannot. In short we are concerned 
today, whether we realize it or not, with the urgent problem 
of "social freedoms" — that is, the freedom of science, academic 
freedom, cultural freedom, freedom for electors, and so forth. 
Individual freedoms, to a large extent, have come to hinge on 
these social freedoms. Individual freedoms are guaranteed, in 
theory, by the Bill of Rights; but we have no bill of rights, ex- 
cept by implication, for these larger social freedoms. 

The attempt of the Hickenloopers to dictate to the scientists 
is but a phase of a tendency, everywhere apparent since 19 14, 
to revert to prescientific political dogmatisms. An increasingly 
large portion of research funds has been diverted into secret 
military channels since 19 14 and, to protect this use, discussion 
has been stifled. The more science has been used in the military 
sphere, the more the politicians have reached out to control sci- 
ence. But science has served the interests of war only because 
science is still partially shackled. In actual practice, freedom 
of science has been used to conceal the denial of a real freedom 
to scientists. By a curious counterpoint, a prior denial of free- 
dom has created the conditions which are cited as a reason for 
a further curtailment of freedom. We do not need to control 
science in order to insure its nonmilitary application: what we 
need to do is to free science. Scientists have shown a real sense 
of social responsibility and have demonstrated a wonderful capac- 
ity for self-discipline (the discipline is inherent in the very pro- 

100 Witch Hunt 

cedures of science) ; but they cannot be held morally and socially 
accountable if they are to be kept prisoners within airtight po- 
litical and ideological systems. To treat scientists as irresponsible 
children or potential traitors is hardly the means to encourage 
political responsibility. The fact that a few bank tellers have 
stolen money does not mean that every bank teller must swear 
not to steal or be subject to surveillance or be denied a passport 
to leave the country. 

Freedom is not incompatible with securitv; freedom is se- 
curity. The community which restricts the freedom of science 
and attempts to curtail the freedom of scientists will lose out in 
the end. There are no scientific secrets and there is no defense 
to atomic bombs. This is the reality we dare not face; this is the 
reality which we propose to conceal by making a fetish of 
secrecy and a totem of security. It has been the secret and 
coercive character of the bomb as a weapon which has created 
the temptation to use secret and coercive methods to destroy 
freedom. It has created the wish to dispense altogether with 
the necessity for free debate and discussion and to found govern- 
ment on the principle of fear rather than consent. 

The attack on Hans Freistadt was more than an attack on a 
young scientist; it concealed an attack on the principle of self- 
government. To eliminate i Communist from 497 fellows, Con- 
gress adopted a political means test for American education at 
its higher scientific levels. It also struck a blow — and a very 
serious blow — at freedom of scientific inquiry. For, beyond all 
doubt, the Freistadt case will be cited — it is already being cited -' 
as the precedent to be followed in the National Science Founda- 
tion program. It will also be cited in connection w'lxh. certain 
phases of the government's program to aid research in the colleges 
and universities and in federal aid to education generally. The 
Freistadt decision foreshadows, in essence, political control over 
science. This implies more than a brake on science: it implies the 
destruction of freedom. The issue is of vast importance since to- 
day scientific method is just being applied, on a broad scale, to the 
solution of social problems. Yet so great are our phobic fears that 

Hans and the 52 Grains loi 

one young man and 32 grams of uranium were permitted to over- 
siiadow these issues. In an effort to master these fears, and to keep 
them within manageable bounds, we have tried almost everything 
now; everything, that is, except freedom.^ 

^ As evidence that Hickenlooper did reveal the degree of enrichment 
of the lost uranium, see: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, August-Septem- 
ber, 1949, p. 207. 

The Berkeley Crisis 

The university of California is the fourth-rankingr American 
university "in order of eminence," according to the late Edwin 
R. Embree. With 43,426 full-time students on eight campuses, 
it has the largest enrollment of any American university. Its 
faculty numbers more than 4000 and it has, in all, about 12,000 
employees. Sharing the pride of the people in its achievements, 
the legislature has always generously financed the university. 
The capital value of the corporation is approximately 81.1 mil- 
lion dollars and the endoM^ment stands at 43,3 million. During 
the last thirty years, the university has achieved a world-wide 
reputation for- the excellence and the diversity of its work in 
the basic sciences. Yet over this campus, where Dr. Ernest O. 
Lawrence and his colleagues have been changing man's concep- 
tion of the universe, there has fallen the shadow of a curious 
political regression. For over a year now, the Regents have been 
attempting to force the faculty to take a test oath under threat 
of excommunication. An explanation for this amazing regression 
is only to be found in an analysis of the gestalt, the configura- 
tion and sequence of events out of which the celebrated Berkeley 
Crisis arose. 

On January 22, 1949, the Regents of the University of Wash- 
ington, in a case that has since achieved world-M'ide notoriety, 
announced the ouster of two instructors who were members of 
the Communist Party. On January 29, 1949, Senator Jack B. 
Tenney, then chairman of California's Committee on Un-Amer- 

The Berkeley Crisis 103 

ican Activities, introduced a resolution in the legislature com- 
mending the Seattle decision, which was promptly adopted. As 
though to avoid the unpleasantness of a direct public threat, the 
legislature sent a copy of this resolution to President Robert 
Gordon Sproul at Berkeley and released a copy to the press. 
There were then pending in the legislature some fifteen "thought 
control" bills, proposed by Senator Tenney, including measures 
requiring test oaths from lawyers, teachers, state employees, 
and even from members of the legislature! In this context, the 
inference was clear: either the University of California would 
adopt a policy similar to that adopted in Seattle or the legisla- 
ture would be compelled to take some coercive action, either 
directly or in the form of a delaying action on the budget. 

By way of replying to this ultimatum, Dr. Sproul forwarded 
a copy of a resolution which the Regents had adopted on Oc- 
tober II, 1940, stating that membership in the Communist Party 
was incompatible with the obligations of faculty membership. 
In effect this was Dr. Sproul's way of saying that the university 
had already adopted the policy which the legislature obliquely 
recommended. And here the matter might have rested had it 
not been announced, right at this time, that Harold Laski, who 
had spoken to overflow audiences at the university in 1940, was 
to lecture at the Los Angeles campus on April 14 and 15. No 
sooner was the announcement made than, from Berkeley, came 
word that the lectures had been canceled. Later, in response to 
a flurry of protest, the administration explained that the invita- 
tion to Dr. Lasld had been "withdrawn" — not "canceled" — 
because of a policy of not permitting visitors to speak at Los 
Angeles unless they were also scheduled to speak in Berkeley, and 
vice versa.^ The withdrawal of the invitation was a curious ac- 
tion for a university which has pretty consistently supported 
the principle of free speech and was doubly hard to explain in 
view of the extraordinary reception which Laski had received 
in 1940. 

^See Laskl's account of the incident, the Nation, August 13, 1949. Later 
Laski did speak in Los Angeles at a meeting of which I was one of six 

I04 Witch Hunt 

Dr. Laski rather naively suggested that the invitation had been 
withdrawn by way of "revenge" for his activities in the British 
Labour Party; but he was clearly mistaken. Dr. Sproul and Dr. 
Clarence Dykstra, Provost of the Los Angeles branch of the 
university, are both sophisticated "liberals"; they were perfectly 
well aware of the fact that Laski was not a Communist. As a 
matter of fact, I first met Laski at a party at which he and Sproul 
held forth on many issues with obvious mutual enjoyment and 
a large measure of agreement and Dykstra w^as Laski's old and 
intimate friend. The fact is that the invitation was withdrawn 
simply because the administration feared the repercussions in 
Sacramento where, at precisely this time, the legislature was 
studying the university's budget as well as the various thought 
control bills which Senator Tenney had proposed. Thus the 
reason for the "withdrawal" was quite different from ^\'hat it 
appeared to be. Outwardly it appeared that the university, 
alarmed by the red hysteria, had suddenly lost its capacity to 
distinguish red from pink. Actually what the university feared 
^^'as a demagogic manipulation of the fear of Communism, 

As the legislative session drew to a close, the controversial 
Tenney bills became the main point of debate and, for a time, 
it looked as though the bills would be enacted. At this juncture, 
the Regents adopted a resolution on June 12, 1949, requiring all 
employees of the university to sign the follo\\ing oath: 

I do not believe in and am not a member of nor do I 
support any party or organization that believes in, advo- 
cates or teaches the overthrow of the United States Govern- 
ment by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional methods. 

In the sequence of events, it is quite clear that the administra- 
tion had hit upon the idea of requiring a test oath as a means 
of offsetting the enactment of a statutory test oath, and also 
of avoiding any embarrassment over the budget. But the strategy 
seriously misfired: first, because the faculty promptly revolted; 
and second because a majority in the legislature, weary of Sen- 
ator Tenney's antics, also revolted. To the surprise of nearly 
everyone, Tenney was replaced as chairman of the Un-Amer- 

The Berkeley Crisis 105 

ican Committee on June 25, 1949, and the Tenney bills were 
tabled. But by this time Dr. Sproul and the Regents were caught 
in the meshes of their own intrigue. 

Once publicly committed, Dr. Sproul felt compelled to de- 
fend the test oath on principle. On November i, 1949, he told 
the American Bankers Association that "with this policy of the 
Regents, I am in complete accord. Indeed, I played a part in 
formulating it because, as a liberal, I believe that totalitarianism 
. . . cannot be reconciled with individual liberty or with human 
dignity." In this same speech, he also spoke of the loyalty oath 
as a means by which democracy might defend itself against 
"enemies within the walls." But who were these enemies? Surely 
not the Communists. There was no Communist problem at 
Berkeley in 1949 for the university had been committed, for 
nearly a decade, to a non-Communist hiring policy. From the 
record, it is quite clear that the real "enemies" were the dema- 
gogues who were manipulating the anti-Communist hysteria. 
Just as the Laski incident had only the most oblique reference 
to the state of relations between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A., 
so the dispute over the loyalty oath had its origin in the ad- 
ministration's abject fear of the manipulation of "the red menace." 
The test oath controversy derives, in other words, from an in- 
ternal rather than an external crisis. 


Two days after the Regents had adopted the loyalty oath 
resolution, the Northern Section of the Academic Senate met 
in emergency session. With only four dissenting votes, a resolu- 
tion was passed asking the Regents to revise the oath or to delete 
from it the specific abjuration. Later the Southern Section of 
the Academic Senate took a similar position and with equal em- 
phasis. It should be pointed out that the faculty did not object 
to the constitutional oath to support and defend the Constitu- 
tion, required of all state officials under iVrticle XX, Section 3 
of the California Constitution which provides that "no other 

io6 Witch Hunt 

oath, declaration, or test, shall be required as qualification for 
any office or public trust." This provision, of course, merely 
echoes the language of Article VI of the Federal Constitution 
which provides, inter alia, that "no religious test shall ever be 
required as a qualification to any office or public trust under 
the United States." Article VI clearly indicates that those who 
drafted the Constitution were opposed to any attempt to make 
orthodoxy a test of loyalty or of fitness for office. 

More surprised than offended by the faculty's show of in- 
dependence, the Regents adopted a substitute oath on June 24 
which reads: 

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the 
Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faith- 
fully discharge the duties of my office according to the 
best of my ability; that I am not a member of the Com- 
munist Party or under any oath or a party to any agree- 
ment or under any commitment that is in conflict with 
my obligations under this oath. 

The new oath was enclosed with contracts for the 1 949-1 950 
school year which were mailed out during the summer although 
execution of the oath was not made a condition to acceptance 
of the contract. Apparently the administration aimed at getting 
as many faculty members as possible to sign and return the 
oath, along with their contracts, before the full faculty could 
reassemble in the fall. To some extent the strategy w^orked but 
a significant minority refused the bait and returned their con- 
tracts duly signed but failed to execute the oath. 

With the commencement of the fall term, the Northern Sec- 
tion of the Academic Senate voted overwhelmingly on Sep- 
tember 9 to reject the specific disavowal clause in the revised 
oath while, once again, raising no objection to the oath to sup- 
port and defend the Constitution. With 700 faculty members 
present, only one dissenting vote was recorded and the faculty 
at Los Angeles took a similar stand. Meeting on October 3, the 
Regents reaffirmed their position that a generalized oath would 
not be acceptable; thus the issue, which had originally seemed 

The Berkeley Crisis 107 

to be one of policy, had suddenly been converted into a major 
constitutional crisis. 

As though to emphasize the gravity of this crisis, the Regents 
then proceeded to discharge Dr. Irving David Fox, a brilliant 
young physicist, for his refusal to answer a question about his 
political affiliations when called as a witness by the House Com- 
mittee on Un-American Activities. Curiously enough, Dr. Fox 
had executed the form of oath which the Regents had de- 
manded and had also assured the Regents, when he appeared 
before them, that he had never been a member of the Com- 
munist Party although he had been interested in Communism 
at one time. The period to which he referred, and about which 
he had been questioned in Washington, was considerably prior 
to his joining the faculty at Berkeley. 

The issue in the Berkeley Crisis turns, of course, upon the 
specific disavowal contained in the test oath proposed by the 
Regents. Speaking for the proponents of the oath, the Los 
A?igeles Times took the position that any pledge of loyalty 
which failed to contain "an implicit disavowal of any group 
whose aim is the violent overthrow of existing American insti- 
tutions" would have no meaning whatsoever." At the same time, 
however, the Times conceded that the oath would not eliminate 
Communists from the faculty since it assumed that all Com- 
munists were liars. Indeed the real basis for the insistence on a 
specific disavowal of Communism is stated in this same editorial: 
"The teacher never has fared better than under the system the 
Communists contemptuously call bourgeois democracy; surely 
he owes that system something, even if he regards its request 
as somewhat redundant." 

What this statement clearly reflects is the demand for total 
ideological conformity upon which the dominant elements in 
a society always insist in time of storm. For example, the word 
"system," as used in the editorial, is fatally ambiguous; does it 
refer to the "system of free enterprise" as defined by the N.A.M. 
or does it have some broader reference? The abjuration is, there- 
fore, primarily aimed at coercing conformity: only in the most 

2 Editorial, September 22, 1949. 

io8 Witch Hmit 

indirect manner is it thought of as a means by which noncon- 
formists might be identified. Edward A. Dickson, chairman 
of the Board of Regents, made this meaning clear in his explana- 
tion of the Regents' insistence on the disavowal clause: "The 
world today," he said, "is standing at what is probably a great 
historical crossroad. The people of the State demand an as- 
surance of good faith from those who staff the great educational 
institution." But an assurance of good faith about what? 

In rejecting the specific disavowal, the faculty raised many 
objections: the oath attempted to substitute a political test of 
competence for academic qualifications; it placed the power to 
hire-and-fire in the hands of the Regents, where it did not be- 
long; it was redundant and insulting; it stressed a negative 
subordinate assertion which had nothing to do wdth academic 
qualifications; and the implied coercion was objectionable per se. 
But the basic constitutional objection to the oath-of-abjuration 
is that it violates the spirit — the historical meaning — of Article 
VI of the Federal Constitution. To be sure, Article VI refers 
to "religious tests" but the experience which this section aimed 
to guard against was unmistakably political. Article VI was 
intended to prohibit test oaths. Test oaths are abhorrent pre- 
cisely because they contain specific disavowals; the specific 
disavowal reveals the intention to make conformity-in-belief a 
test of citizenship. The form of the oath is objectionable, in 
other words, because it betrays this real purpose, this illegal 

No rational person really believes that one loves one's coun- 
try or one's wife the better for swearing to love. Every criminal 
has sworn allegiance many times and the number of revolutions 
in history would indicate that little reliance can be placed on 
oaths of allegiance and supremacy. If the loyalty was the real 
purpose, a general affirmation would suffice, but test oaths are 
concerned with heresy. 

The New York T'nnes, in an editorial of June 14, 1949, chided 
the Berkeley professors for their "stubborn" objection to a mere 
form or ceremony to which "no good citizen could possibly 
object." But the ghost of Sir Thomas More would certainly 

The Berkeley Crisis 109 

appreciate the suggestion that test oaths are merely meaningful 
ceremonies. And the 4000 members of the faculty doubtless ap- 
preciate the imphcation that they are not "good citizens." The 
editorial cites endless examples of public officials who take oaths 
every day — as though that were the issue in the Berkeley Crisis! 
The Berkeley professors have never objected to the constitu- 
tional form of oath; indeed this oath has been taken by faculty 
members as long as there has been a University of California. 
The crisis at Berkeley is not over affirmations of loyalty but 
over abjurations of heresy, the current insistence upon which 
amounts to a form of noonday madness. In a similar vein, the 
Los Angeles Times in an editorial of February 28, 1950, asked 
the faculty if they were "Too Proud to Proclaim Loyalty?" 
Who, indeed, is too proud to proclaim his loyalty? But if the 
publishers of the Los Ajigeles Times and the New York Times 
were asked to submit loyalty oaths, including a specific dis- 
av^owal, from all their executives and employees, as a condition, 
say, to the issuance of a publisher's license, would they think 
this was a mere ceremony? Would they have anything then to 
say about "freedom of the press"? 

The fear that inspires oaths of abjuration is largely unrelated 
to the existence of national enemies, real or imagined. On the 
contrary, the fear springs from a feeling that new and danger- 
ous thoughts are sweeping through the society and that these 
thoughts, as such, imperil the social order. At such moments, 
the concept of heresy is always revived since it is the only means 
by which the state can hope to deal with Dangerous Thoughts. 
In the long run, of course, the use of heresy as a weapon to 
police thoughts is self-defeating, for heresy prosecutions spread 
the heresies which they are supposed to condemn. But, from a 
short-range point of view, the test oath, which is one of the in- 
dispensable weapons in a campaign against heresy, is diabolically 

For example, the test oath completely undermines the safe- 
guard against compulsory self-incrimination. Today I abjure 
Communism under oath; but tomorrow Communism is defined in 
a manner that lands me in jail for perjury. Or the testimony of 

no Witch Hunt 

professional perjurers may land me there without any change 
in the definition. If, sensing these dangers, I refuse to make 
the abjuration, I will be branded or smeared, and may suffer 
the most injurious consequences, simply by reason of my re- 
fusal to do what no official has a right to ask me to do. The 
inclusion of a specific disavowal in a test oath is the key to this 
intention to subordinate the political will of the oath taker to 
that of the oath giver. The viciousness of the oath is to be found 
in the way it exploits the loyalty of citizens to achieve a partisan 
political purpose. 

Test oaths are weapons used to entrap political opponents. 
They are not aimed at heretics per se but at "the other side" 
in general. The oath is designed not to catch heretics but to 
place the entire ideological opposition under an indeterminate 
sentence of banishment and excommunication. Caught off guard, 
this opposition invariably makes the mistake of debating the 
forms and niceties of the sentence rather than challenging the 
power to impose any sentence whatever. In the United States 
at the present time, a test oath with a specific disavowal of Com- 
munism places the entire left (that is, left of center) at the 
mercy of the right, just as the oath of loyalty upon which the 
Czechoslovakian government has been insisting places the en- 
tire right at the mercy of the left. A general affirmation of loy- 
alty is usually free of partisan implications but a test oath with 
a specific doctrinal disavowal is necessarily partisan. 

On February 24, 1950, the Regents adopted a resolution 
which bluntly notified the faculty and employees of the world's 
largest university that they would have to execute the revised 
test oath by April 30 or leave the university. The "cret tous^h" 
stand of the Regents was promptly endorsed by the Los Angeles 
Times; the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce; by the Los 
Angeles Realty Board; by the Republican Assembly; by nearly 
every woman's club in the state; by Senator Jack B. Tenney and 

The Berkeley Crisis iii 

some of his colleagues; and by the Native Sons of the Golden 
West. Generally speaking, public opinion divided on a sharp 
left vs. right basis, the conservative elements demanding that 
the oath be executed, the liberal elements supporting the faculty. 
This division is itself the best evidence of the partisan purpose 
of the oath. 

In the face of this ultimatum, the faculty stood its ground 
with admirable firmness. A group of lecturers, teaching assist- 
ants, and other academic employees not represented by the 
Academic Senate, voted 300 to i to resign in a body if any mem- 
ber of the group were discharged for failing to sign the oath. 
Headquarters were established in a hotel off campus and the 
faculty announced that a war chest was being raised to carry 
the fight to the courts. At a full meeting, attended by 900 
faculty members, the Northern Section of the Academic Senate 
unanimously refused to accept the revised oath. And the stu- 
dents, in a series of mass meetings, rallied to the support of the 
faculty. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 95 per cent 
of the department heads were opposed to the oath. 

With the release of the ultimatum, the pubhc learned for the 
first time that the Regents were no longer of one mind on the 
subject of the loyalty oath. Only 12 of the 18 Regents voted 
to issue the ultimatum. Among those voting against it were, 
surprisingly enough. Dr. Robert Gordon Sproul and Governor 
Earl Warren, both ex-officio members of the board. Apparently 
Dr. Sproul had changed his mind about the desirability of the 
oath and had persuaded his great friend. Governor Warren, to 
exert his influence in an effort to get the Regents to reverse 
their decision. The defection of Sproul so annoyed Mr. John 
Francis Neylan, another member of the board, that he issued 
a long statement in which he pointed out that the Regents had 
not proposed the oath in the first place. "At no time," he de- 
clared, "did the Regents originate any loyalty oath." On the 
contrary, "the Sproul oath," as he referred to the oath, was first 
proposed by Dr. Robert Gordon Sproul on March 25, 1949, 

Caught in this embarrassing position, it became necessary to 
offer some explanation for Dr. Sproul's singular behavior. And, 

112 Witch Hunt 

for the first time, the inner workings of the loyalty plot were 
clearly revealed. For Mr. James H. Corley, vice-president, comp- 
troller, and business manager of the university, then made the 
humiliating admission that he had recommended the loyalty oath 
to President Sproul in the spring of 1949 in an effort, so he said, 
"to save the State University from being wrecked by possible 
political influence." He had feared that the legislature might 
be prompted to press for legislation which would give it direct 
control over the faculty and funds of the university. "On 
assurance from university officials," he added, "that we would 
reaffirm our 1940 declaration of policy, pledging to keep our 
institution free of Communistic influence, the bill was not pressed 
in the legislature." But the administration did more than re- 
affirm this earlier stand: it proposed the special test oath which 
the Regents approved. And what did Dr. Sproul have to sav? 
"I formerly favored the oath," he rather abjectly stated, "as 
a means of rallying the faculty to a firm stand against sub- 
versives." But who were the subversives, the Communists or the 
anti-Communists in the legislature? Both Dr. Sproul's reversal 
of position and Mr. Corley's frank admissions make it all too 
clear that the administration had decided to barter academic 
freedom for a fat budget. The fact that the administration later 
attempted to beat a humiliating retreat can hardly serve to excuse 
what was done — in the name of "freedom" and to "defend 

It is, therefore, a matter of uncontradicted fact that the loy- 
alty oath stemmed not from a fear of Communism or of Com- 
munist influences, but from a fear of the manipulation of anti- 
Communist hysteria by demagogues. What President Sproul 
had to say to the American Bankers Association on the subject of 
loyalty was not only wide of the mark: it was sheer dema- 
goguery. For the administration now admits that it proposed 
the oath not to oppose Communists but to appease anti-Com- 
munists. And this inglorious capitulation, it should be noted, 
was entirely needless, for Senator Tenney was removed as Lord 
High Executioner of the Un-American Committee and his bills 
were defeated. The administration's advocacy of the test oath 

The Berkeley Crisis 1 1 3 

was not responsible for this victory; Tenney was replaced and 
his bills were tabled without reference to the bargain which 
the administration had made. Thus the fears to which the ad- 
ministration yielded were not only base, they were groundless. 

Unfortunately, however, the test oath issue has not been re- 
solved at Berkeley. For one thing, the effects of the controversy 
will not be dissipated for many years to come. As Dean Joel 
H. Hildebrand- has pointed out: "No conceivable damage to 
the university at the hands of hypothetical Communists among 
us could possibly have equaled the damage resulting from the 
unrest and ill will and suspicion engendered by the series of 
events occurring during the past eight months." Once issues of 
this sort arise, thev cannot be easily resolved bv simple "face- 
saving" stratagems. The faculty remains conscious of the fact 
that, in a critical time, it was betrayed bv the administration. A 
majority of the Regents remains conscious of the fact that the 
administration placed the board in an awkw^ard position. And 
the relations between the administration and the legislature have 
been seriously impaired. Indicative of the ill will which the con- 
troversy provoked is the fact that the faculty has accused the 
administration of sending "snoopers" to report on faculty meet- 
ings. It is most disquieting, also, to learn that 86.5 per cent of 
the faculty actually signed the loyalty oath. In other words, the 
13.5 per cent who refused to sign represent a minority of ap- 
proximately the same size that, in Germany, refused to take 
the form of oath submitted by the Nazis. 

It is also unfortunate that the faculty evaded the real issue by 
its failure to challenge the non-Communist policy of the Regents. 
By its failure to challenge the policy statement of October 1 1 , 
1940, the faculty robbed its opposition to the loyalty oath of 
the full meaning which it might otherwise have possessed. For if 
the Regents have a right to determine that membership in the 
Communist Party is incompatible with faculty membership, 
then they have a right to implement this policy by whatever 
means are necessary or appropriate. In a curious evasion of this 
prime issue, the faculty voted in a referendum to oppose the 
loyalty oath but not to challenge the non-Communist policy. It 

114 Witch Hunt 

was thought, of course, that the Regents could be "appeased" 
by this formula; but, as might have been foretold, the Regents 
refused to rescind the loyalty oath. 

At the zero hour, an alumni committee brought about a "face- 
saving" solution: the oath would be withdrawn but the form of 
contract used would contain a non-Communist clause. However, 
non-signers were given the right to have their cases reviewed by 
the faculty committee on academic freedom and* tenure, so that, 
in name at least, the principle of tenure was preserved. 

Despite the fact that Mr. Lawrence M. Giannini, president of 
the Bank of America, resigned from the board with the state- 
ment: "If we rescind the oath today the flag will fly in the Krem- 
lin," a majority of the Regents approved the compromise formula. 
However the compromise settled nothing: 412 members of the 
faculty refused to sign the "non-Communist" pact and their cases 
will have to be reviewed. 

Currently Mr. John Francis Neylan has demanded the resigna- 
tion of Dr. Carl Robert Hurley, a chemistry assistant, because the 
AEC refused tp "clear" Dr. Hurley for employment in 1948. The 
basis for this refusal consisted in the following facts. Hurley was 
charged: (a) with having written a letter in 1940 protesting the 
prosecution of two labor leaders; (b) with having once purchased 
some phonograph records in a Communist bookstore; and (c) with 
the fact that his wife had once written to a friend, allegedly a 
"red," inquiring about housing on the Berkeley campus! Al- 
though the "evidence" is strictly spectral, the incident is serious. 
For Dr. Hurley was assured in 1948 that the AEC hearing — at 
which he denied that he was a Communist — would be confiden- 
tial. Apparently the AEC shares its confidences with John Francis 

Just what, then, was this crisis really about? The cause of the 
crisis is to be found not in the fear of heresy so much as in 
the fear of the manipulation of this fear. One can argue that the 
specter of Communism created the opportunity which dema- 
gogues were quick to exploit; but the fact still remains that the 
immediate threat to academic freedom stemmed from a legisla- 
tive committee which had been created to expose "un-American 

The Berkeley Crisis 115 

activities." Inferentially, therefore, "academic freedom" is un- 
American. The Berkeley incident is symptomatic of a new 
fear of freedom which seems to be motivated by a loss of con- 
fidence in the people. The fears which motivated the legislature 
in setting up a committee on un-American activities, the fears 
which prompted the administration to bargain academic freedom 
for legislative consideration, and the fears which prompted a 
majority of the Regents to approve this bargain, all stemmed 
from a feeling that freedom had to be abandoned as a principle 
of social action; that coercive tactics had to be applied to pro- 
tect some of the people from the rest of the people. And this 
strange attitude is related to a failure to recognize that social 
freedoms transcend individual rights or, to put it another way, 
that social freedoms can be injured and destroyed when the 
people become so obsessed with individual rights and privileges 
that they fail to see the larger social issue. 


Heresy is a storm signal and when social storms are blowing 
up questions of policy are quickly transformed into questions 
of power. People are troubled in such periods by a feeling that 
the issues they debate have a deeper meaning than that which 
appears on the surface. It is this feeling which makes them 
struggle so tenaciously over issues that, in normal times, would 
never arise. In the guise of debating some specific, immediate 
issue, larger questions of social power are really at stake. With 
society "at a great historical crossroad," questions touching upon 
the control of higher education clearly foreshadow the strug- 
gle to determine which branch — which turn of the road — the 
society is to follow. 

In Berkeley a doctrinal debate about "loyalty" and "Com- 
munism" quickly developed into a debate on a constitutional 
issue, namely, "Can the regents of a state university coerce the 
faculty on a matter affecting academic freedom?" On the ques- 
tion of the fitness of teachers, both sides admit the necessity of 

1 1 6 Witch Hunt 

devising some method by which the qualifications of teachers 
can be determined. But the issue arises: How can a teacher be 
approved or rejected without limiting his intellectual freedom; 
without making his "views" the test of his competence? The 
American Association of University Professors believes that 
the issue can only be resolved if the teacher is judged by his 
colleagues. Teachers can be relied upon to preserve the inde- 
pendence of the scholar because the independence of scholars 
is a vital concern to all teachers. They are, therefore, the logical 
guardians of the principle of academic freedom. 

The regents of a state university have "legal power" over the 
university; but their power is not unlimited even though it may 
not be subject to formal limitations. The problem of power, 
which is the central problem of politics, can never be resolved 
unless there is general recognition of the principle that power 
over other people is always to be exercised as a public trust 
and must, therefore, be subject to certain limitations. Initial 
consent can never confer unlimited power. That the people 
have not taken from the regents the power to determine the 
qualifications for faculty membership does not mean that the 
regents have this power. In creating a state university, the peo- 
ple have created a public trust and, at the same time, they 
have limited their own power to interfere with the administra- 
tion of this trust. They have said, in effect, that scholars must 
be free. But scholars can never be free if they are to be subject 
to endless referenda based on every shifting in "the winds of 
doctrine." Hence the people have forbidden themselves, as Dr. 
Alexander Meiklejohn has pointed out, "the power of direct 
control over the academic work of the university." Similar im- 
plied limitations control the power of the regents. In both cases, 
the limitations are inherent in the idea of a university — that is, 
in the purpose of the trust, in its social meaning and function. 
A university would not long remain a university if the people 
or the regents could determine the qualifications of teachers. 

The power to determine qualifications descends from the 
people (with self-limitations) to the regents (with self-limita- 
tions), and from the regents to the faculty. The regents bring 

The Berkeley Crisis 1 1 7 

the faculty into being and confer certain powers upon it; but 
they cannot determine academic questions, including the qualifica- 
tions of teachers. In the first place, they are not competent to 
make such decisions (if they were, they would be teachers); 
and, in the second place, the faculty which is competent to 
determine the matter cannot do so unless it is self-governing, 
unless it is free. In attempting to force a test oath on teachers, 
the regents are of course making a mockery of tenure rights; 
but their action threatens something more important than the 
economic security of the individual instructor — it threatens the 
freedom of knowledge, the social freedom to learn and to know, 
the freedom which only knowledge and intelligence can confer. 

The Berkeley Crisis, indeed, furnishes an excellent case his- 
tory of the distinction between individual rights and social 
freedom. Much of the confusion about the issue stems from a 
failure to recognize that the test oath strikes directly at a social 
principle — that scholars must be free in order to defend the 
freedom of scholarship — and only indirectly at a vested personal 
riglit, in this case the rights conferred by tenure. So far as 
the social freedom is concerned, the damage is done when the 
challenge is issued. For example, suppose that the entire faculty 
M^ere to acquiesce, without objection, and were to sign the 
loyalty oath. Since they had freely "consented," it could hardly 
be said that the civil rights of any faculty member had been 
violated. But society would still have a right to object for it 
could contend that scholars cannot acquiesce in the destruction 
or surrender of a freedom which is theirs not as a matter of 
individual right but of social necessity. 

Academic freedom implies far more than that the individual 
scholar shall not be told what conclusions he should reach. It 
implies something more than economic security and pensions for 
instructors. It implies that faculties must be free in order to 
discharge a social function, namely, to guard truth as the test 
of knowledge and freedom as the test of truth. This implies a 
right to pass on what is taught, by whom, and by what methods. 
It implies freedom of research, of publication, of travel, of 
correspondence, of communication. We fail to recognize these 

ii8 Witch Hunt 

implications because the Constitution guarantees individual rights; 
it does not directly guarantee social freedoms. For example, 
"academic freedom" is only guaranteed by implication. Yet 
academic freedom is vital to the meaning of freedom of speech, 
of press, and of belief. 

This is the issue, then, which the New York Times told its 
readers should be resolved upon the basis that teachers, being 
well-mannered and polite, should not object to "a meaningful 
ceremony"! This casual offhand dismissal of the real issues — 
this failure to recognize the importance of the principle at stake 
— is, indeed, the most disturbing aspect of the whole controversy. 
What this indicates, all too clearly, is that public opinion on con- 
stitutional freedoms is today in a most unsatisfactory state. Civil 
rights are merely restraints which the people have placed on 
themselves; they are no stronger than the will of the people to 
be bound by their commitments. But the issue is even more 
urgent when it relates to social freedoms, which are not defined 
in the Constitution but upon which individual civil rights have 
come to depeqd. 

Concurrently with the controversy at Berkeley, Dr. Charles 
Seymour of Yale, Dr. James B. Conant of Harvard, and Dr. 
Wallace Sterling of Stanford issued statements in which they 
expressed definite opposition to loyalty oaths. For example. Dr. 
Seymour announced that Yale, having managed to get along 
without loyalty oaths for over a hundred and twenty-five years, 
would continue to defend American political ideals "by positive 
and imaginative measures" rather than by "rear guard actions." "'' 
None of these men can be fairly accused of being "soft" on the 
subject of Communism; they are somewhat less "liberal," on 
most issues, than either Dr. Robert Gordon Sproul or Dr. 
Clarence Dykstra. But there is this crucial difference: Seymour, 
Conant, and Sterling preside over "private" institutions which 
enjoy a degree of immunity from political pressures and or- 
ganized red-baiting. This difference underscores the fact that 
it is the demagogic manipulation of anti-Communist feeling 
which is the real threat to academic freedom today. For Com- 

^N. Y. Times, June 22, 1949. 

The Berkeley Crisis 1 1 9 

munism can hardly be a greater evil at Berkeley than at Yale, 
Harvard, or Stanford; what is "menacing" on one side of San 
Francisco Bay must be equally menacing on the opposite side. 
Generally speaking, however, the state universities, including 
Michigan and Illinois, have taken the same position as Wash- 
ington and California, and for the same reason, whereas the 
private institutions have been able to ignore the demagogues. 
But how long will this immunity last, what with the private 
institutions already announcing that they must soon seek federal 

Just as this telltale discrepancy was largely ignored in editorial 
comment on the Berkeley Crisis, so the press also failed, with 
rare exceptions, to point out that a special oath of loyalty im- 
plies an intention to follow through and to verify the accuracy 
of the answers given. This implied intention carries with it the 
threat of a system of espionage by which instructors can be 
kept under a degree of surveillance to determine whether, sub- 
sequent to taking the oath, some of them may have become 
tainted with heresy. Failure to understand the real implications 
of this "meaningful ceremony" also accounts for the failure 
to recognize that loyalt>^ oaths actually feed the fear of Com- 
munism and thereby aid the cause of Communists. Phi Beta 
Kappa, in opposing loyalty oaths, has pointed out that "in 
institutions where such practices obtain, teachers are being in- 
timidated and . . . students are being led to believe that colleges 
dare no longer engage in disinterested pursuit of truth but must 
become instruments of propaganda." * For the inference, of 
course, is that Communist doctrine must be pretty solid and con- 
vincing if the free discussion of Communism is to be silenced 
by legislative fiat or if the presence of a single Communist in- 
structor is not to be tolerated. To force the members of a 
faculty to abjure Communism as a heresy can hardly fail to 
discourage even the critical discussion of Communism. 

Those who urge loyalty oaths for instructors are placed in the 
curious position of advocating Communist methods "to defend 
democracy." While the debate on the loyalty oath was agitating 

*N. Y. T lines, June 19, 1949. 

I20 Witch Himt 

the Berkeley campus, C. M. Bowra, warden of Wadham Col- 
lege, Oxford University, sent a cable which read: "iVIany Ox- 
ford teachers are deeply shocked to hear of Soviet methods 
applied to free American scholars at the University of Cali- 
fornia. We who look upon America as the home of liberty can- 
not believe so grave an infringement of academic liberties pos- 
sible in a society which respects freedom and learning." Clearly 
a majority of the Regents of the University of California are 
fellow travelers of Communism for they have advocated a 
"purge" of ideological deviationists which is, of course, the 
Communist methods for dealing with heresy. The Regents have, 
therefore, embarrassed all the friends of America who, with 
the warden of Wadham College, want to believe that the cause 
of America is the cause of freedom. 

That the loyalty oath mania is invading the area of private 
enterprise finds illustration in the KFI incident in Los Angeles. 
On June 9, 1950, Earle C. Anthony, operator of Radio Station 
KFI and KFI-TV, announced that henceforth all employees 
would have to sign a loyalty oath disclaiming the Communist 
Party. Station KFI has about 200 employees. All signed the oath 
except Mrs. Charlene Aumack, a registered Republican, who de- 
nies that she is a Communist. In refusing to sign the statement, she 
said that she objected to the "infiltration of an insidious totalitar- 
ian tactic into democratic life — especially because the order is, 
in itself, a little thing. . . . Lack of protest by the majority . . . 
indicates that many people already choose to see no further than 
today's loaf of bread. It took but a matter of minutes for some of 
those who disagreed with the order to weigh salary against prin- 
ciple and decide in favor of salary." In opening her reply, Mrs. 
Aumack stated that she was "not convinced that the use of 
dictatorial methods is a sane way to combat undesirable ideologies. 
Dictation is an admission that our democratic system cannot 
survive by democratic methods." '' It should be noted, however, 
that all that iMr. Anthony has done is merely to imitate a policy 
suggested by President Truman when he signed the loyalt>^ order 
on March 22, 1947. 

^ Los Angeles Times, June 14, 1950, 

Imaginary Monsters of Error 

Frame not imaginary monsters of error 
with whom you may contend. He that 
makes any man worse than he is, makes 
himself worse than he. 


Once lighted, the fires of heresy must always be kept burn- 
ing. In this there is nothing strange since heresy prosecutions 
always spread like a fever. But there is something strange in the 
failure to apply the heresy principle with any consistency. For 
example, the idea of testing trade-union leaders for heresy has 
found legislative approval in the Taft-Hartley Act; but Con- 
gressman George A. Dondero's suggestion that the same prin- 
ciple should be applied to guilds of artists has met with only 
mild approval. What is needed, apparently, is a manual on 
heresy, like Sprenger's Malleus Maleficarmn {The Witches^ 
Hmmner), first published in i486, by which our delusions might 
be fashioned into a more consistent and coherent pattern. Lack- 
ing such a manual, we dismiss Dondero's suggestion as a piece of 
congressional foolishness while approving the same suggestion 
as applied in another field. Actually there is nothing foolish 
or illogical about Mr. Dondero's proposal, which was warmly 
applauded in Congress and may yet win public acceptance. 

Congressman George A. Dondero first discovered "modem 
art" as a theme for demagoguery in 1947. The State Depart- 


Witch Hunt 

ment, it will be recalled, had purchased some 79 paintings by 
contemporary American artists for $55,000 and had sent the 
exhibit on a tour through Latin America and Europe. The ex- 
hibit was scarcely on its way, however, before the Secretary of 
State was forced to call oif the tour in response to various 
catcalls and shrieks of protest in Congress. To placate the irate 
Dondero, and his colleagues, Mr. Marshall ordered army surplus 
to dispose of the entire exhibit, as junk, for which some $5544.45 
was realized by way of salvage. 

From this successful foray into a new field of demagoguery, 
Dondero got the idea that modern art offers great agitational pos- 
sibilities. Striding to the well of the House on March 11, 1949, 
he proceeded to deliver the first of a series of speeches on the 
subject of modern art as a form of the Communist heresy. In 
this first speech, the Congressman denounced as highly sub- 
versive the effort of a group of artists to organize a Gallery-on- 
Wheels by which works of art were to be exhibited in gov- 
ernment hospitals by transporting the paintings to the patients. 
At one such show — at the Naval Hospital at St. Albans, New 
York — of 2 8 well-known contemporary artists who had loaned 
paintings, so Dondero reported, 17 were mentioned in the 
famous index prepared by Mr. Dies. That "subversive" 
artists should "sneakingly" exhibit "propagandistic" works 
of art to helpless veterans in army and navy hospitals was, 
of course, tantamount to creating disaffection in the armed 

The response to this initial tirade must have been extremely 
gratifying, for on March 25 Dondero delivered an oration on 
the theme: "Communists Maneuver to Control Art in the United 
States." If one examines this speech carefully, as well as an ora- 
tion on "Communism in the Heart of American Art — What 
to Do About It" (A4ay 17, 1949), and "Modern Art Shackled to 
Communism" (August 16, 1949), it is readily apparent that 
Dondero is neither a nitwit nor a buffoon. A cunning craftsman, 
it must be conceded that he works with a sure hand and a 
steady eye in the fabrication of paranoid delusions. 

For example, the "average American" does not know what 

Imaginary Monsters of Error 123 

Dondero knows, namely, that the famous Armory Show of 
191 3 was a "red plot": the first attempt to use art as a weapon 
for the purpose of firing dumdum bullets at the cultural herit- 
age of the native American. To the "common sense" preju- 
dices of this average native American, the appeal is then made 
that modern art is wholly lacking in merit; that it cannot survive 
without subsidies and subventions; and that it necessarily seeks 
to achieve covert support and hidden patronage. The modern 
artist, foreign in inspiration, is essentially a racketeer who seeks 
to wheedle funds out of gullible patrons, including the govern- 
ment, so that he may propagandize at the expense of the aver- 
age American taxpayer. Bv this time, of course, the average 
American taxpayer is getting pretty indignant. 

Readily admitting that there are many things about modern art 
that he does not know, Dondero nevertheless knows enough to 
know that "dadaism, futurism, constructionism, surrealism, su- 
prematism, cubism, expressionism and abstractionism" are all 
foreign "isms" representing "weapons of destruction" bv which 
"our priceless cultural heritage" is to be destroyed. As the 
argument develops, the appeal to prejudice becomes many-sided 
and highly versatile and ingenious: it becomes an appeal to the 
dislike of "modernity" in a time of social transition w^hen "old" 
values appear to be threatened on all sides; to the hatred of the 
foreigner; to the dislike of the idea, the work of art, or the theory 
that one cannot understand; to the feeling of resentment that 
"the eternal dupe" always feels when reminded that he is, in- 
deed, a "sucker," a fool. 

In the manipulation of these well-known agitational themes, 
Dondero demonstrates a real expertness. For example, he makes 
extremely effective use of the propagandistic trick of listing, like 
beads on a string, the "enemies" and objects of his hatred. He rolls 
off long lists of foreign-born "modern artists": Yasuo Kuniyoshi, 
Japanese-born; Kandinsky, Russian-born; Xavier Gonzalez, Mexi- 
can-born, and others, thereby creating the delusion that all mod- 
ern artists are of foreign birth. This "lumping-together device," 
a favorite propaganda trick with modern agitators, is intended to 
blur the distinction between the symbols of the various things, 

124 Witch Hunt 

ideas, and persons which the agitator wants to attack. It is a 
device by which hatreds are integrated and resentments are fused.^ 
As a device of propaganda, not of rhetoric, it has been proved to 
be immensely effective. 

Dondero is equally adept in the use of the Nazi propaganda 
trick of associating heretics doomed for destruction with loath- 
some images and contemptible symbols. Thus contemporary art 
is equated with "smallpox, cancer, and bubonic plague." It is a 
caricature of art: "abortive, distorted, and repulsive." It is de- 
praved, perverted, and diseased, just as the modern artist is "de- 
generate." This vocabulary of abuse is all too familiar: it is the 
language of fascist art criticism. The really "curious, disconcert- 
ing and frightening part of the new attack," as Howard Devree 
has noted, consists precisely in the use of the same terms and 
phrases which Hitler used to attack modern art. Like the Nazis, 
also, Dondero makes a studied appeal to parasitophobia by creat- 
ing imaginary monsters of error to which he gives such names 
as rats, termites, rodents, insects, bugs, vermin, snakes, and so 
forth. What the agitator seeks to achieve by this appeal as Messrs. 
Lowenthal and Guterman have scientifically demonstrated is "to 
distort and corrupt the very process of the audience's vision and 
audition. The audience must be conditioned to see the enemy as 
an animal and to hear the enemy making animal sounds." The 
violence with which a person eradicates vermin can then "serve as 
a vicarious rehearsal for the lust to annihilate more substantial 
enemies." ^ 

In his first speech, Dondero suggested how this monstrous evil, 
this use of modern art as a vehicle for red propaganda, might be 
remedied. The kev to the problem, he suggested, is to be found in 
the economic insecurity of the modern artist. First off, therefore, 
a direct frontal attack must be launched against the modern artists, 
by name, and against modern artists, as a class. The way to launch 
this attack is to stimulate the latent but potentially aggressive 
"anti-intellectualism" of the "average native American." As a 
grass-roots elite, this element can be urged, out of patriotic 

''-Prophets of Deceit, p. 6i. 
2 op. cit., p. 58. 

Imaginary Monsters of Error 125 

motives, to conduct a thorough "house-cleaning" of loathsome 
foreign isms and these dirty, ratlike modern artists. By denounc- 
ing the modern artist and associating his name with loathsome 
symbols, the larger public can also be induced to boycott modern 

Then the big propaganda guns are trained on the independent 
exhibitors, the museums, the art galleries. For example, Dondero 
singled out for attack such institutions as the Museum of Modern 
Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Fogg Museum, the ACx\ 
(American Contemporary Art Gallery), and, most viciously, 
Artists Equity Association. To make this attack entirely mean- 
ingful and perfectly explicit, certain art directors and museum 
executives were mentioned by name. To attack an institution for 
the crime of having exhibited the works of a certain modern artist 
is to imply, of course, that the removal of these works would 
purge the crime. To attack certain art directors by name, and on 
the same ground, is also to suggest that the removal of these 
directors would wipe out the offense. Also singled out for attack 
were the art critics of most of the New York newspapers because, 
at various times, these critics have spoken favorably of modern art 
or praised certain of the artists that Dondero has denounced as 
Communists. The newspapers and art journals, Dondero was hor- 
rified to discover, did not apply "directional supervision" to their 
art critics. He was justifiably indignant with the Neiv York 
World-Telegram, that stoutly "anti-Communist" publication, for 
its laxity in this regard. 

Then, just to complete the circle, Dondero demanded that the 
various art associations should throw out, "head over heels," those 
members who were Communists or Communist sympathizers. 
Again, and just to make his point clear, he called upon certain 
associations by name to undertake this "noble" task, mentioning, 
among others, the National Academy of Design, the American 
Artists Professional League, the Allied Artists of America, the 
Illustrators Society, and the American Watercolor Society. Like 
an inquisitor of the Middle Ages calling upon a village to sur- 
render up its heretics or face destruction, so Dondero insisted 
that these associations should purge their membership lists of reds 

126 Witch Hunt 

or be branded as heretical. The danger we face, he said, is largely 
due to the fact that the "hard-working, talented, reserved, patri- 
otic proponents of academic art" have hesitated to undertake a 
house-cleaning of this sort. Let these right-thinking hard-working 
native Americans "organize themselves and fight these traducers 
of our American inheritance njoith their own weapons if need be.'' 
(Emphasis added.) 

To these attacks, the artists, exhibitors, and art critics replied 
with far more spirit and solidarity than the educators had shown 
when singled out for similar treatment. Congressmen Jacob K. 
Javits of New York and Charles A. Plumley of Vermont made 
good speeches in reply to those by Dondero, and the press, in 
general, was not too enthusiastic about the attack on modern art 
as a form of Communist propaganda. But even so there were 
casualties: a number of exhibitors returned paintings which had 
been submitted by artists who had been named by Dondero; a 
number of members resigned from Artists Equity; one artist lost 
a commission to do a mural; and another, a National Academician, 
was summarily expelled from a conservative artists' club. In addi- 
tion, Emily Genauer, who had served as art critic of the New 
York World-Telegram for seventeen years, was relieved of her 
duties shortly after Dondero had singled her out for attack. For- 
tunately she was promptly employed by the Herald Tribune to 
do an art column. Bv and large, however, the artists and art critics 
were quite pleased with themselves for having been able to ward 
off the attack with only minor casualties. But the damage was 
more serious than they realized. 

Before assessing the damage, it is necessary to glance at the 
ideological dispute: the debate of words and ideas. Dondero had 
fashioned his argument somewhat as follows: the Communists, 
who believe that art is a weapon, consciously use art as a means 
by which "our" values are assaulted; therefore, "we" are justified 
in using "their" weapons against them. If Lysenko exiles geneti- 

Imaginary Monsters of Error 127 

cists who disagree with him, Oregon State College is justified in 
exiling Dr. Ralph Spitzer. If Kemenev, Stalin's art critic, calls 
modern art "hideous and revolting," and expels modern artists 
from Soviet guilds and unions, then we are quite justified in the 
use of similar methods. 

To the bulletlike simplicity of this argument, the contra- 
Dondero spokesmen rephed that art is not a weapon. Besides, they 
argued, it is absurd to abuse modern abstract art in America when 
"socialist realism" and "national academicism" are about the only 
art forms permitted under the Russian regime.^ By inference this 
argument implies that Kandinsky, Braque, Ernst, Miro, Seligman, 
and Dali, being persona non grata in Moscow, should be auto- 
matically certified as "politically rehable" in New York. Howard 
Devree, art editor of the New York Times, in developing a simi- 
larly oblique counteroffensive, pointed out that the modern artists 
attacked by Dondero are detested by the Soviet art disciplinarians 
and that some of the isms which Dondero associates with Com- 
munism were in existence long before the October Revolution. 
He also objected because Dondero had used the word "Com- 
munist" too loosely. By inference, therefore, the use of the term 
would be justified if accurately applied. By their very oblique- 
ness, these replies failed to answer Dondero. Bv demonstrating 
that Dondero is a fool, his critics mistakenly concluded that they 
had won an argument. 

While Dondero may have intended that his argument should 
be taken literally, the attack had a secret psychological meaning. 
It was couched, perhaps unintentionally, in what Messrs. Lowen- 
thal and Guterman have called the Morse code of the modern 
agitator, which is a kind of political sign language. That the at- 
tack contained many fallacies does not mean that it failed of its 
purpose, which was to arouse hatred. Dondero was not trying to 
convince Weldon Kees or Howard Devree; he was seeking to 
aggravate a feeling of injury, of alienation, of resentment, of 
social malaise, on the part of the thousands of social outcasts who 
make up his audience. His speeches attacking the "human ter- 
mites" in modern art brought forth, so he states, a warm and 

^"Dondero and Dada" by Weldon Kees, the Nation, October i, 1949. 

128 Witch Hunt 

flattering response from the public, nor is there any reason to 
question this statement. 

The social malaise to which Dondero appeals is, as the authors 
of Prophets of Deceit have pointed out, rather like a skin disease. 
If the victim were to consult a doctor, the doctor would tell him 
to stop scratching his skin and would then proceed to isolate the 
cause of the irritation. But the agitator, who is a quack, urges the 
victim to keep scratching; the harder the better. The agitator has 
no real desire "to cure" the patient; he merely wants to sell a 
patent medicine. It is absurd, therefore, to believe that Dondero 
was "answered" by the art critics. The practical political ques- 
tion is not who won the argument, measured by objective intel- 
lectual standards; but what effect did Dondero's attack have, as 
propaganda, upon the elements to whom, if it was not addressed, 
it would normally appeal? The applause of this audience w^as not 
heard by the critics but it doubtless was sweet music to Dondero. 

There is, moreover, an inescapable logic to the Dondero at- 
tack — for those who accept the heresv principle. When he ap- 
peals for "directional supervision" of art critics, he is doing no 
more than urging upon newspapers and magazines the policy 
the motion picture industry officially adopted in response to the 
dictates of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. 
When he urges the "loyal, patriotic, clean-minded, right-thinking 
artists" to clean house and purge their establishment of "this social 
disease," he is doin^ no more than advocating^ the extension of the 
principle of the non-Communist affidavit, embodied in the Taft- 
Hartley Act, to artists' guilds and unions. In short, he is simplv 
arguing, and with obvious consistency, the logical extension of 
President Truman's loyalty program to the arts. In urging a purge 
of Communists and reds from the art associations, he is merely 
advocating a policy which the National Education Association 
has approved for American educators with the added endorse- 
ment of the x\merican press. If a Communist should not teach, 
then why should a Communist artist be permitted to exhibit? It 
is no answer to this question to engage in the familiar and tire- 
some prattle about "tender, unformed minds" and the suscepti- 
bility of college students to propaganda. A painting with a 

Imaginary Monsters of Error 1 2 9 

Communist theme is clearly a form of propaganda which can 
influence "tender, unformed" minds. 

By a painful irony, the very newspapers that criticized Dondero 
for advocating a non-Communist policy for the guilds and unions 
of artists had previously approved the same policy for American 
teachers and educators. Indeed Dondero has managed to get a 
good stout half nelson on his opponents and they will yet feel 
the pressure of his argument if the present heresy hunt continues. 
In effect these opponents lost the ideological dispute when they 
failed to advance the one argument that would have trumped 
Dondero's demagoguery. They should have said — and it is quite 
easy to say — that the civil rights of a witch are precisely the 
same as the civil rights of an art critic or a Congressman from 

The irony of this strange spectacle in which an attack on certa'm 
forms of heresy is denounced while the concept of heresy itself 
is approved becomes even more painful when one realizes that 
Dondero merely echoed, in a crude form, what a number of 
highly respected and widely influential American artists and art 
critics have said about modern art. Indeed one cannot escape the 
conclusion that Dondero received some expert coaching from 
these anonymous inquisitors. In any case, he was not expressing 
a personal eccentricity in launching this attack; on the contrary, 
he was giving expression to a pronounced trend in modern 
thought. One might mention many names but one will suffice. 
Dondero himself quoted with approval the charge of Thomas 
Hart Benton, "the foremost art critic in the United States," that 
"many . . . effeminate elect . . . blanket our museums of art 
from Maine to California." The notion, therefore, that Dondero 
is a "crackpot" is obviously ridiculous. What has the Right Hon- 
orable Winston Churchill, Time'^s Man of the Half-Century, had 
to sav about modern art? And, to bring the issue closer to home, 
who has forgotten President Truman's Informal tirade on the 
same subject? Dondero is no crackpot; whether he knows it or 
not, he is the Kemenev of Michigan, so like his opposite number 
as to be a twin. By referring to modern art as "degenerate," he 
is not denouncing Communism; he is, on the contrary, calling, by 

130 Witch Hwit 

the clearest implication, for the direct censorship and outright 
suppression of modern art. 

Dondero's critics also missed the real edge of his attack when 
they failed to relate what he said, his threats and his menacing 
assaults, to the economic insecurity of the artist in America. In 
replying to Dondero, Congressman Charles A. Plumley quoted 
from a report which Elizabeth McCausland had prepared for the 
Magazme of Art.'*' Miss McCausland had sent out 500 question- 
naires to that number of American artists and about 40 per cent 
had replied. Of these, 44 per cent stated that they depended 
largely or entirely on incomes from sources other than art. With 
an average of four years devoted to art education and twent}^ 
years to their profession, their average total income for 1944 was 
$4144, but their average art income was $548! With scarcely an 
exception, these artists had been forced to seek "outside" work: 
42 per cent of the painters and 53 per cent of the sculptors taught; 
32 per cent of the painters and 6 per cent of the sculptors did 
commercial art; and only 2 per cent of the painters and 3 per 
cent of the sculptors had an independent income. Other jobs per- 
formed by these American artists — and the list was quite repre- 
sentative — were: picture framing, apartment house management, 
beauty shop management, museum work, printing, and so forth. 
"I quote these figures," said Mr. Plumley, "to indicate the eco- 
nomic pressure under which our artists work, all of which means 
that they must devote creative time and energies to non-creative 

But these same figures have still another meaning for thev indi- 
cate, with appalling brevit}^ how perilous is the "freedom" of the 
artist in our society. We would never tolerate an official Kemenev 
nor would we sanction "directional supervision" of art criticism, 
for the tradition of individual freedom is too strong with us. But 
the failure to construe Dondero's attack in the light of these 
figures indicates the existence of a faulty social perception. Some- 
how we fail to "see" the invisible dollar censorship which fetters 
the American artist. Dollar censorship is less objectionable and 
surely less brutal than censorship by commissars; nevertheless 

*"Why Can't America Afford Art?" January 1946. 

Imagifiary Monsters of Error 131 

censorship by pressure can be deadly for the weight of the pres- 
sure is distributed with impartial precision upon every aspect of 
the life of the artist. The pressure, moreover, is constant. Indeed 
it is almost as difficult to escape from this pressure as from a con- 
centration camp. 

The failure to see this reflects the fact that our tradition has 
always placed the emphasis on individual rather than on social 
freedoms. Social freedoms, in a way, are much more difficult to 
protect than individual freedoms. The individual is the guardian 
of his own freedom, for which, it is presumed, he will put up a 
fight if necessary. But if social freedoms are to be protected, social 
groups muse be held responsible for their protection and, at the 
same time, they must be given certain assured freedoms to dis- 
charge this function. Teachers must defend academic freedom; 
scientists must defend freedom of scientific inquiry; radio com- 
mentators must protect the impartial treatment of the news; law- 
yers must defend freedom of advocacy; and artists must defend 
freedom of cultural expression. Basic to this strategy, the public 
must understand the importance of these freedoms without which 
the freedom of the individual becomes more and more of an illu- 

It may be possible to audit the extent to which individual civil 
rights are protected by tabulating the violations of individual civil 
rights; but social freedoms cannot be audited in this manner. 
Freedom of the press, for example, is not secure merely because 
left wing groups are permitted to publish newspapers and periodi- 
cals; the real measure of the freedom is to be found in the content 
of what appears in the large mass publications. The measure of 
freedom of speech is not the fact that radicals are still permitted 
to make speeches; the real measure is to be found in the long list 
of speakers who are never permitted to speak before certain audi- 
ences. The denial of social freedoms, in short, is measured by the 
extent to which the public, or some particular public, is indirectly 
denied access to information and forms of expression which it 
must have if it is to voice a real consent, if it is to be truly self- 

Thus the measure of Dondero's demagoguery is not to be found 

132 Witch Hunt 

in the fact that some injustices resuhed to individual artists. The 
real measure would be this: to what extent have artists, as a result 
of his attack, turned away from certain modes of expression and 
certain themes and subjects? To what extent, for the same reason, 
have galleries and museums been inclined to impose a self-censor- 
ship upon their selection of works to exhibit and to recommend 
for purchase? To what extent have museum directors and art 
critics been induced to praise one group of artists and criticize 
another solely or largely because of ideological considerations? 
To what extent has the public been induced to shun certain artists 
and to prefer others, without regard to the merit of their work? 
To what extent has the economic position of the modern artists 
been further undermined by reason of this attack? To what ex- 
tent, finally, has art been "co-ordinated" to political considera- 
tions — that is, to what extent has it ceased to be free expression 
and become the partisan expression of a specific ideologv? To 
whatever extent this has happened, the people have been denied 
a social freedom which is indispensable to their growth, their 
understanding, their development, in short, to their freedom. 
And, in these and other related aspects, the social freedom of art 
can be curtailed by a cleverly directed attack ^\'hich mav not, for 
the time being, result in any individual casualties. If one keeps 
looking for individual violations of civil rights, one cannot "see" 
the larger denial of social freedom. 

Artists have been given freedom not merely because self-expres- 
sion is fun or the creative life a pleasure; they have been given 
their freedom so that others may in time become free. Art is a 
form of social guidance, a means by which "realit)'" is understood, 
and it is an important aid to perception and self-knowledge. The 
public is injured when freedom of artistic expression — which is 
not specifically safeguarded by the Bill of Rights — is denied. 
Mere freedom to express one's self, which is guaranteed, is hardly 
the measure of real artistic freedom. The artist needs a gallery, 
a museum; the writer needs access to an audience; the playwright 
to a theater; the musician to a symphony orchestra. This is not to 
say that society must guarantee each artist access to these facih- 
ties, regardless of the merit of his work; but it is to say that none 

Imaginary Monsters of Error 133 

shall be denied access to these facilities solely because of his politi- 
cal beliefs. And the reason for this principle is perfectly clear: 
before we act, in any social situation, we take stock of ourselves, 
we look inward, and what we see determines, to some extent, 
how we act. True, the artist expresses "himself" but, in doing so, 
what he expresses "is a reflection of our culture, limited or dis- 
torted by the size and quality of the mirror that is the artist." ^ 
If the artist reflects, in this mirror, not what he sees, but what he 
is told to see, society is to that extent the captive of the same 
forces which have made a captive of the artist. Therefore society 
insists that the artist must be free so that his freedom may be an 
aid to a larger social freedom. 


By asserting that he would destroy heretics "with their own 
weapons if need be," Dondero has confessed his moral involve- 
ment in the ideology of the Inquisition. Like the Inquisitors, too, 
he is playing a dangerous game. For it is always a mistake, as the 
wise Bishop of Norwich pointed out several centuries ago, to 
frame imaginary monsters of error with whom to contend. When 
men see a distorted image of themselves in the mirror of other 
men's minds, they have been known to act like monsters, and 
worse. Indeed this Is why the agitator is but one of many guises 
by w^hich the Devil has returned to the earth, in these equinoctial 
times, to set man against man by lighting once again the ancient 
and never fully extinguished fires of persecution. 

The modern agitator is a prestidigitator, a necromancer, a 
sociological medicine man. He is a wizard who brews, out of a 
strange assortment of herbs, bones, rags, hair, and bits of dung, 
the poison which induces those who drink it to act out, on the 
stage of history, their paranoid delusions and fantasies. The agi- 
tator is the Devil of our times, but it must be admitted that he is 
a strange and clever devil. For he appears in the guise of a clown, 

'^^ "Freedom in the Arts," Annals of the A?nerican Academy of Political 
and Social Science, November 1938, p. 96. 

134 Witch Hunt 

a house painter, a political jester and oratorical buffoon. Since 
his nostrums are fantastic and he himself is so clearly a fool, his 
disguise is nearly perfect; no one will believe that this is really 
the Devil. But the agitator is full of satanic lore of a kind which, 
once thoroughly understood and properly feared, has long since 
been forgotten. For example, the agitator knows something which 
is unknown to those that he intends to use to achieve his purposes. 
He knows that the world is sick and that he has a medicine for this 

In a paranoid age, the Devil-as-Agitator can work miracles, for 
his favorite, and in a sense his secret, weapons are confusion, de- 
lusion, and dissension. His words are feverish and reflect delusion; 
but his audience is made up of people whose cheeks are flushed 
with the fever of resentment and whose minds are inflamed with 
delusions of persecution. Just as we tend to confuse the image 
of freedom with a reality which often negates it, so we dismiss 
the modern Satan as a crackpot because he sounds foolish. We 
say that he is not to be taken seriously; that he is "crazy"; that 
he "doesn't talk sense." All this, of course, is quite obvious. But 
his crazy word patterns reflect an image of reality to minds suf- 
fering from delusion. Such minds, as history has shown on occa- 
sion, can become subject to demonic possession. 

About demonic possession there has never really been much 
mystery. In periods of great social transition, some minds become 
subject to demonic possession because the reality they know is so 
horrible as to constitute a form of "illusion," a grotesque distor- 
tion of the same reality as seen by others from the outside. The 
real power of the Devil, who is an agitator, consists in the fact 
that his suggestions are supported by a basic social reality. Not 
seeing this reality, we dismiss the agitator as a charlatan and ignore 
the meaning of his words. The Devil, of course, is always a charla- 
tan. He appears in many guises; he claims a wisdom he does not 
possess; he lures his victims to destruction by promises which 
reflect their frustrations and desires. The Devil, indeed, is the 
Great Quack; but people must be sick before they will listen to 
a quack. Knowing of their sickness, the Devil speaks to them in a 
language which reflects their distorted perception of reality. 

Imaginary Monsters of Error 135 

Their self-deception is his secret weapon. It is this secret knowl- 
edge which enables him to wield such irrational and despotic 
power, at certain periods, over the sick and the afflicted, the dis- 
possessed and the resentful. 

In his great manual for Inquisitors, James Sprenger defined 
three methods by which the Devil, through witches, entices the 
innocent to the horrid increase of both witches and heretics. The 
first is "through weariness," that is, through inflicting grievous 
losses in temporal possessions on the innocent; the second is to 
seduce the young by working on their carnal desires and by 
appeaHng to their frustrations; the third is the "way of sadness 
and poverty." For Sprenger recognized in i486 what we have 
apparently forgotten in 1950, namely, that the Devil knows how 
to appeal to the scorned, the disappointed, the outcast. Powerful 
as the Devil is, he must have something to work on; there must 
always be some basis for his agitation. When this basis is lacking, 
he disappears from the world; but, with the equinox, he always 
returns. The Devil's secret is simply that he knows that those who 
suffer from delusion are incapable of distinguishing fact from 
fantasy and that they tend to project their inner fears upon other 
persons, thereby creating imaginary monsters of error. To those 
suffering from delusion, therefore, his words are as a crystal ball 
in which they see a perfect reflection of their hopes and fears, in 
which their "enemies" are clearly identified, and the "conspira- 
cies" which threaten their security are lucidly defined. The Devil- 
as-Agitator invariably reappears with the Heretic and he uses the 
Heretic as his foil. For the Heretic is always mistaken for the 
Devil, who cleverly masquerades as a fool. The Heretic is only a 
symptom that the times are "out of joint"; but the Devil is a 
symbolization of the principle that evil is social in origin. The 
failure to understand that it is the Devil, not the Heretic, who is 
the real architect of social disaster is one of the major delusions 
of our time. 


Witchcraft in Washington 

Wars begin in the minds of men, and it 
is in tlie minds of men that tiie defense of 
peace must be constructed. 

— From Preamble, UNESCO Charter 

Bury the Facts 

While we are trained to recognize private 
delusions, we tend to assume that every- 
thing which is public must be real. 

— EDMOND TAYLOR in Richer by Asia 

The regents of the University of Washington performed a neat 
trick in public relations in presenting their decision to the public. 
The omission of the facts and circumstances out of which the 
case of the six professors had arisen had the natural effect of 
focusing public attention on a purely abstract issue, the answer 
to which was predetermined by the wording of the question. 
Few cases of academic freedom have aroused greater interest but 
the resulting discussion has necessarily resembled that of a group 
of persons, all victims of a common delusion, discussing their 
irrational symptoms. Private delusions, of course, represent at- 
tempts to create imaginary situations in which psychotic symp- 
toms appear rational and acceptable; but the same mechanism can 
also appear in "public" delusions. When a major social issue is 
discussed minus the reality which alone gives it meaning, the dis- 
cussion is certain to contain elements of delusion. One can no 
more understand the University of Washington case merely by 
reading the official documents than one can understand the Civil 
War by reading the Dred Scott decision. In presenting the official 
record, the Regents threw away the kernel of meaning and pre- 
sented the public with a shell of abstraction. All they omitted 
were the facts, the social reality, the vital substance of the case.^ 

^See Communism, and Academic Freedom, University of Washington 
Press, 1949. 

140 Witch Hmit 

The University of Washington case has, of course, a specific 
political background. It is perhaps not without significance that 
the most important academic freedom case of our time should 
have arisen in the state where the first effective popular front was 
formed in 1936. Not only was the Washington Commonwealth 
Federation the first effective popular front but the coalition it 
represented dominated Washington politics for over a decade. 
"Forty-seven states and the Soviet of Washington," used to be 
Jim Farley's familiar lament. With a background of Populism 
and Progresslvism, of labor radicalism and Utopian socialism, 
Washington has always been "explosive, articulate, intractable" 
(the phrase is John Gunther's). The key event in the state's 
tumultuous political history is the general strike of February 6, 
19 19 — the first effective general strike in this country.- I have 
seen some intransigent radicals in my life but those of Seattle are 
a special case. Indeed the liberal-labor-radical movement of the 
state always operated under a full head of steam and this ram- 
bunctiousness naturally found reflection, at a fairly early date, in 
a corresponding boldness in the traditional liberalism of the uni- 

One item in the immediate political background, however, has 
a special relevance to the case of the six professors: a pungent 
intra-left congressional campaign in 1946 in which Hugh DeLacv, 
with the backing of the Communists, defeated Howard Costigan, 
one of the founders of the WCF, for the Democratic nomination, 
only to be defeated in the general election. Out of this campaign 
a bitter and disastrous split in the liberal-labor-radical-pension 
coalition emerged which paralleled a similar split in California 
the same year. After the 1946 election, Seattle harbored any 
number of embittered "ex-Communists," some of w^hom had 
thoroughly well-founded personal reasons for their bitterness and 
all of whom, as everyone knew, were ready "to talk" if a proper 

-See History of the Americcrn Working Class by Anthony Bimba, 1927, 
p. 278. 

Bury the Facts 141 

forum could be provided. Since the potential witnesses were 
widely known left-wingers, any testimony they might give would 
be particularly effective anti-Communist propaganda. Up to this 
time, Washington had been successful in staving off various at- 
tempts to create an un-American tribunal of the kind which had 
flourished in California since 1940. With the final dissolution of 
the popular front coalition, Washington was suddenly ripe for 
the un-American treatment. For un-American investigations gen- 
erally appear in the trough of a liberal wave that has reached its 
crest and broken. Almost by definition, un-American investiga- 
tions are post-mortems or inquests and are, therefore, essentially 

The 1946 election was marked in Washington, as elsewhere, 
by a swing to the right and the new legislature promptly author- 
ized, among its first acts, the creation of a committee on un- 
American activities under the chairmanship of Albert F. Canwell. 
The committee was closely patterned after the Tenney Commit- 
tee of California. At the same session, some $25,000,000 was ap- 
propriated for a sorely needed medical school at the Universit)* 
of Washington. Perhaps because of this, the Regents selected a 
new president in 1946 — Dr. Raymond B. Allen. Dr. Allen had 
previously served as dean and president of several medical schools 
but lacked general administrative experience and, as events were 
to prove, was a novice in the type of politics practiced in Wash- 
ington. Canwell \^'as formerly a deputy sheriff in conservative 
Spokane, where he had served as chief of the "identification 
bureau," and his election to the legislature in 1946 represented 
his first major venture in politics. The degree of his political 
sophistication may be measured by the following excerpt from 
a campaign speech: "If someone insists there is discrimination 
against Negroes in this country, or that there is inequality of 
wealth, there is every reason to believe that person is a Com- 

From January 27 to February 5, 1948, the Canwell Committee 
devoted the first of its public hearings to an investigation of the 
Washington Old Age Pension Union — a relic of the former 
popular front. The first report of the committee, entirely devoted 

142 Witch Hunt 

to the W.O.A.P.U., is a most remarkable document in that the 
pension union is not described nor is its program discussed nor 
are its activities analyzed. The hearings took the form of an at- 
tempt to demonstrate that certain individuals, identified as Com- 
munists, had infiltrated the pension movement and acquired 
control of the W.O.A.P.U. But about the only conclusion to be 
drawn from the testimony is that the power and influence of the 
W.O.A.P.U. rapidly declined once the Communists were sup- 
posed to have acquired control; in short, that the investigation was 

By the time this spectacularly inefficient investigation was con- 
cluded, the 1948 political season was far advanced and the com- 
mittee was naturally anxious to find a sensational subject of in- 
quiry. And so from July 19 to the 23 rd, 1948, the committee held 
open public hearings in the 146th Field Artillery Armory in 
Seattle; the subject, Communist infiltration at the University of 
Washington. At this time, there were about 700 full-time mem- 
bers of the faculty and a total teaching personnel of around 1400. 
The Canwell- Committee, however, actually investigated ten al- 
leged Communists. That intensive preliminary investigation 
should have turned up only ten suspects out of 700 for investiga- 
tion would indicate that the investigation was patently absurd; 
but there is other evidence to support this conclusion. 

The high-water mark of antifascism on American campuses, 
as in other phases of American life, was reached in the period 
from 1935 to 1938. Even prior to the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, a 
reaction had set in which was symbolized by the formation of 
the Dies Committee in 1938. During the war years, political divi- 
sions of all kinds were naturally minimized. But with the death 
of President Roosevelt in April 1945, the red-baiting of the Dies 
Committee was resumed on a bolder scale than ever and, as part 
of this campaign, colleges and universities came directly wdthin 
the line of fire for the first time. Many college presidents promptly 
took the necessary precautionary measures, that is, they made 
speeches blasting the reds and announced that Communists would 
not be employed. The influence of radicals, of whatever political 
coloring, had clearly begun to ebb as early as 1938; hence an 

Bury the Facts 143 

investigation of Communist infiltration at the University of 
Washington in 1948 was like an investigation of prohibition ten 
years after repeal. 

Dr. J. H. Hildebrand of the University of California, who be- 
lieves that Communists should not be permitted to teach in 
American universities, points up the real situation in these words: 
"We have not feared any serious influence by Communist pro- 
fessors upon our institutions of learning because we have known 
that, contrary to extravagant statements in the yellow press, the 
colleges and universities are not 'hotbeds of Communism.' Com- 
munist professors are in reality an almost vanishijjg mijiorityT ^ 
(Emphasis added.) A similar admission has been made by Dr. 
T. V. Smith of Syracuse University, who, as a Congressman from 
Illinois, voted in January 1940 to continue the Dies Committee 
and who, in reporting the University of Washington case for the 
New York Herald Tribune, strongly defended the action of the 
Regents. "It is not a matter of fear, any immediate fear of Com- 
munism; we need not be afraid of a handful of Communists in 
colleges." ^ There cannot be the slightest doubt that the Canwell 
Committee investigation set in motion the process which led to 
the filing of charges against sLx members of the faculty on Sep- 
tember 8, 1948. For example, Lawrence E. Davies in a dispatch 
to the Nev} York Tijnes reported: "University leaders take the 
position . . . that once the legislature had embarked upon its in- 
vestigation of campus conditions the university, as a state-sup- 
ported institution, had no alternative than to submit to investiga- 
tion and welcome 'findings of fact.' . . . There is no denying 
that had the university pioneered in an inquiry to weed known 
Communists or 'Communist front' adherents from its faculty, it 
would have drawn upon itself the charge of witch-hunting." ^ 
Yet, in his foreword to the official report, President Allen writes 
that ". . . contrary to fairly widespread impressions, there is no 
connection between the proceedings of this committee [referring 
to the faculty trial committee] and the hearings conducted in the 

^Pacific Spectator, spring 1949, p. 166. 
^American Scholar, summer 1949, p. 344. 
^February 10, 1949. 

144 Witch Hunt 

summer of 1948 by the Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee 
on Un-American Activities unofficially known as the Canwell 
Committee. The two proceedings were entirely separate and dis- 
tinct with the single qualification that certain events occurring 
during the Canwell hearing are made the basis of some of the 
charges filed in this proceeding." ^ 

In the light of what actually happened, this is tantamount to 
saying that the only connection between the Canwell hearings 
and the charges filed against the professors is that the f onner led 
to the latter! It is too clear for words that the universit)^ would 
never have taken action against the professors had the adminis- 
tration not felt that it was "under the gun" of the Canwell Com- 
mittee. A fear of Canwell, not a fear of Communism, set the in- 
quisitorial process in motion. Obviously, therefore, the transcript 
of the Canwell hearings must be regarded as part of the official 
proceedings: the "preliminary hearing" or "grand jury investiga- 
tion" out of which the subsequent prosecution arose. Yet this vital 
part of the record was entirely omitted not only from the official 
report but from the semiofficial reporting of Dorothy Thompson, 
T. V. Smith, Raymond Moley, and many other columnists and 
commentators who praised the "fairness" of the ouster proceed- 
ings. Before anyone becomes too lyrical in praise of the "fair- 
ness" of this heresy trial, it might be worth while to see what 
actually took place before the Canwell Committee. 


Freedom and truth must be sought in the 
world we live in, not in a vacuum. 


The second report of the Canwell Committee, consisting of 
385 pages of fine print, is entirely devoted to the turbulent hear- 
ings on Communism at the University of Washington. No one 
should be permitted to qualify as an expert on this case who has 
not first read this incredible document. The Canwell hearings, 

* Official Report, p. 24. 

Bury the Facts 145 

moreover, raise the real issue of the ouster proceedings. To per- 
mit this hearing to be charitably forgotten — to conceal the 
crude and brutal character of the investigation behind mountains 
of rhetoric devoted to an abstract issue — is to be guilty of a 
form of intellectual quackery or pettifogging. Yet this is what 
happened: the real case was artfully pushed into the background 
and the abstract issue was skillfully moved forward until it com- 
pletely monopolized the pubHc's attention. To get at the real 
issues, therefore, one must cut back to the facts. 

The principal fact about the Canwell hearings is that the at- 
mosphere was so thick with paranoid delusions that even the 
victims, as usually happens in witchcraft prosecutions, became 
confused. "Hissing factionists with ardent eyes" were permitted 
to pour thousands of angry, absurd words into the record while 
the committee members sat nodding their heads like so many 
sage owls. Such well-paid professional experts on the Communist 
heresy as George Hewitt (later charged with perjury) and How- 
ard Rushmore, the ex-Communist who functions as a specialist on 
Communism for the Hearst press, were allowed a freedom of 
denunciation which is probably unique in the record of un- 
American investigations. 

The very savageness of the denunciation immediately created — 
as always happens in witchcraft trials — the delusion that some 
direct link or relationship existed between the witnesses and their 
victims. Why, for example, should these angrily aggrieved wit- 
nesses display such morbid eagerness to injure professors Eby, 
Ethel, and Jacobs, all of whom, like the witnesses themselves, were 
joTiner members of the Communist Party? It is, indeed, a painful 
experience to read the testimony of Nat Honig, a witness who 
had good reason to dislike the Seattle functionaries of the Com- 
munist Party but who permitted this dislike to be exploited in a 
manner that worked against other persons precisely the same in- 
justice of which he complained. The key to this hate-ridden 
atmosphere — which is oppressive even in the reading — is to be 
found in Edmond Taylor's observation that ". . . hating with 
cause leads to the same mental results as the causeless feeling 
of being hated. - . . The difference between the professional 

146 Witch Hunt 

paranoid and the clinical one is simply that the former's social 
behavior ends by distorting his thinking, whereas the latter's dis- 
torted thinking is the source of his social, or anti-social, be- 
havior." ^ 

Throughout the hearing, the professors were browbeaten and 
incessantly rebuked by the chairman and by counsel "for making 
speeches," although the longest answers any of them gave were 
mere fragments by comparison with the pages given over to the 
outpourings of Rushmore, who regaled the committee with "in- 
side" stories about the assassination of Leon Trotsky and similar 
items. In this fog of delusion, the professors spoke vaguely of 
"a right of silence" and then again of "a right of free speech." 
The truth is that neither the defense nor the prosecution had the 
most remote notion of what subject was really under investiga- 
tion. A more chaotic and jumbled record it would be difficult to 

The record, however, does have its fine moments. As in the 
passage where Dr. Garland Ethel, who admitted former member- 
ship in the Communist Party but resolutely refused to name any 
of his former associates in the party, told the committee: "My 
own particular honor forbids that kind of naming persons to 
their possible injury, but most of all it's a question of hving up to 
my own standard of conduct ... I have a standard of honor, 
and that standard is not to name other persons, and I told you 
that would be mv position. That is my position, sir." ^ Or, again, 
when Dr. Harold Eby testified: "I find that I couldn't face my- 
self and live any more, if I were to name people that are my 
friends and associates, who as far as I know are honorable and 
loyal; and so inevitably this question is coming up, it might as 
well come up now, and I cannot name anybody." " 

Dr. Melvin Rader, for eighteen years a member of the faculty, 
was not even accused of being a Communist. Yet here is a sample 
of the manner in which he was questioned by the chief counsel for 
the committee: 

"^Richer by Asia, 1947, p. 75. 

^Second Report of CanweU Committee, p. 133. 

^ Ibid., p. 203. 

Bury the Facts 147 

Q. Do you believe in the form of government that exists 
in the United States of America? 

A. I certainly beheve, sir, in the Constitution of the United 
States and the Bill of Rights and the government set up 
under that Constitution, as it would be interpreted, for 
example, by the Supreme Court. 

Q. Do you believe in our system of society, a capitalistic 
economic system? 

A. I believe that there ought to be enough improvement in 
our economic system so that we could avoid very great 
depressions and a certain amount of unnecessary pov- 
erty, and therefore I can't say that I believe in every 
feature and aspect of our present economic system. 

Q. Do you believe in the capitalist system? 

A. I think I can best answer that question by saying my 
general point of view about these economic matters 
corresponds very closely — very closely indeed — to the 
point of view set forth in the reports and recommenda- 
tions of National Resources Planning Board . . . 

Q. I am not asking you what they think, I am asking you 
what you think. . . . Do you believe in the capitalist 
form of government as it exists in the United States of 
America today? 

Among the witnesses summoned by the committee was a 
Seattle private detective w^ho had joined the Communist Party 
so that he might ferret out the reds on the faculty. The univer- 
sity officials could see nothing dangerous in the practice of using 
private detectives to spy on the political activities of professors. 
Among the affidavits received was one by a neighbor of Dr. H. J. 
Phillips, who told of having peeked through a window of the 
basement in Phillips's home and of having seen there, on an inner 
wall, a framed photograph of Joseph Stalin. A student who had 
visited an off-campus home in which other students, boys and 
girls, were living, some of whom belonged to American Youth 
for Democracy, gave an affidavit with the breathless recital: "Both 
men and women occupants were having breakfast, and seemingly 
a good time. They were all dressed in their pajamas and appeared 

148 Witch Hunt 

quite relaxed with each other." ^° One of the professional "anti- 
Communist" witnesses, a Negro, felt compelled to rebuke still 
another friendly witness who, in the course of his testimony, had 
used the word "nigger." ^^ This witness was then recalled to the 
stand where he obligingly testified that some of his best friends 
were Negroes! 

All this, and pages more of the same, would be irrelevant were 
it not for the fact that those who believe that Communists 
should not be permitted to teach in American universities must 
face a number of unpleasant realities. If Communists are to be 
ousted, then Communists should not be employed. The screen- 
ing of all applicants and present employees then becomes a neces- 
sity. But since a general "loyalty" oath will not suffice — all Com- 
munists being presumed to be liars — an investigation is next in 
order. Hence it becomes entirely proper for a university to co- 
operate with such agencies as the Canwell Committee, nor can the 
university be too squeamish about the use of informers, private 
detectives, "former members," malicious neighbors, neurotic stu- 
dents, and other curious witnesses. But since such an admission 
would be embarrassing, it is much pleasanter to talk about "the 
tireless quest for truth" and similar matters. 

Three days before the Canwell Committee Hearings opened, 
a department head,* who was under subpoena, was summoned to 
an off-the-record session with the committee and its staff. For 
over an hour this professor was grilled in a manner, to use his 
own words, that "closely resembled" the third degree. The par- 
ticular professor was not even listed as a suspect; he was merely 
a witness. Yet he was told by Mr. Canwell that the committee 
had "irrefutable proof" of his membership in the Communist 
Party. He was also told that the Navy, in which he had served 
during the war (he held a reserve officer's commission), was out 

I*' Second Report of Canwell Committee, p. 239. 
" Ibid., p. 228. 

Bury the Facts 149 

"to get" him. The suggestion was made that if he failed to "co- 
operate" with the committee, he might forfeit his job and find it 
very difficult to secure other employment. When he steadfastly 
denied every accusation, he was called a "dupe" and told that one 
could be a member of the Communist Party without being aware 
of the fact! 

In preparation for the hearings, the committee called in any 
number of faculty members for private grillings of this character. 
Great pressure was exerted, in all these interviews, to force the 
witnesses to inform on their colleagues. In each case, the infer- 
ence was clear that if the person interviewed were to turn in- 
former, he could escape unharmed. Shown lists of "suspects," 
witnesses were asked to identify those who were reds by reputa- 
tion. They were also grilled about their own political activities 
ranging back over a period of a decade or more, including peti- 
tions signed, meetings attended, speeches made, organizations 
sponsored, and, of course, affiliation with such dangerous red out- 
fits as the American Civil Liberties Union. Similarly students were 
called in, interviewed, and asked to inform on their instructors — 
always a tempting offer to a certain type of student — and agents 
were sent into classrooms to eavesdrop on certain professors. Yet 
this, too, is all part of a hearing which the American press, with 
rare exceptions, praised for its "fairness" and respect for "due 

The university, of course, is not responsible for the methods 
used by the Canwell Committee. Unfortunately, however, the 
Regents had said that they "welcomed" an investigation by such 
a "responsible" body as the Canwell Committee. At the conclu- 
sion of the hearings. President Allen had said: "I do not feel that 
the investigation . . . constitutes any abridgement of academic 
freedom or civil rights." He then went on to thank the Committee 
for its "unfailing courtesy" and to praise it for its "integrity." In a 
handbill used in Canwell's unsuccessful re-election campaign. 
President Allen was quoted as endorsing the work of the Canwell 
Committee along with a similar endorsement from the President 
of the Board of Regents. 

The University of Washington case provides an excellent illus- 

150 Witch Hunt 

tration of what happens when, as Dr. Helen M. Lynd has pointed 
out, "a University sets out to achieve academic freedom by get- 
ting rid of Communists." The abstract question "Should Com- 
munists Be Permitted to Teach?" seems to call for a simple 
answer, yes or no. But there is nothing about the question which 
suggests that the university might have to pay an exorbitant price 
for their ouster. Here is an estimate of the price that the Univer- 
sity of Washington paid for the ouster of two Communists, made 
by a hundred members of the faculty: 

We believe . . . that the action taken has already done 
serious damage to the University and to the cause of educa- 
tion. The reputation of the University as a center of free 
inquiry has declined; the esprit de corps that gives confi- 
dence and character to any institution has deteriorated; and 
the University of Washington has invited education to join 
it in a retreat from freedom which is democracy's best de- 
fense against totalitarian communism. 

Part of the cost, also, was a tolerance of perjury. At the 
Canwell hearings, George Hewitt, one of the professional anti- 
Communist witnesses, swore that Dr. Melvin Rader once attended 
a Communist Party school at Kingston, New York. Dr. Rader 
immediately entered a categorical denial and offered strong cor- 
roborative proof. In fact, Dr. Rader's denial was so convincing 
that the prosecuting attorney was compelled to issue a warrant 
for Hewitt's arrest on a charge of perjury. The warrant could 
not be served, however, since the Canwell Committee had hur- 
riedly spirited Hewitt out of Seattle, by plane, on the day follow- 
ing his appearance as a witness. Later, however, he repeated his 
charges against Dr. Rader, in a long-distance conversation with 
the district attorney. 

Extraordinary pressure was immediately brought to bear on 
Mr. Charles O. Carroll, the district attorney, to force him to dis- 
miss the perjury complaint. Two inspectors of the U. S. Immi- 
gration Service informed him that the Department of Justice 
wanted the charges against Hewitt dismissed since Hewitt was 
scheduled to appear as an important witness in several pending 

Bury the Facts 151 

anti-Communist prosecutions. Then Carroll was visited by Fred 
Niendorff of the Post-lntellige?Jcer, who claimed, and not with- 
out reason, to be the "father" of the Canwell Committee. Nien- 
dorff, too, demanded that the complaint be dismissed. The Can- 
well Committee was then seeking a new appropriation from the 
legislature and Hewitt's conviction of perjury, he explained, 
might jeopardize this request. Still later the unlucky Carroll was 
summoned to a meeting in the office of Edward T. Stone, man- 
aging editor of the Post-IfitelligeJicer, who demanded that the 
Hewitt prosecution be dismissed. Carroll tells it this way: "Stone 
told me: 'We elected one prosecutor, and we can defeat another. 
We will blast you right out of office if you don't dismiss this 
case.' " Then one of the commissioners of King County, who had 
voted for Carroll's appointment, wrote an open letter to the press 
demanding his resignation for failure to dismiss the Hewitt com- 
plaint. The commissioner, incidentally, had been present at the 
meeting in Mr. Stone's office.^" 

Argument on the request for Hewitt's extradition was heard 
by Judge Aaron J. Le\y of the New York Supreme Court in May 
1949. Judge Levy, who has apparently not traveled widely on the 
Pacific Coast, announced from the bench that to order Hewitt 
returned to Washington would be to send him "to eventual 
slaughter." "I am wondering," he said, "really genuinely wonder- 
ing, what the civilization of that area is really like." If the Soviet 
Union had asked for Hewitt's extradition, the judge's apprehen- 
sion could scarcely have been greater. Needless to say the request 
was denied. 

However Judge Levy's remarks so provoked the Seattle Tmies 
that it undertook an investigation which established beyond all 
doubt that Dr. Rader had been in Washington during the entire 
summer when he was supposed to have been conning the works 
of Marx and Engels In Kingston. After reviewing this unassailable 
documentary proof, President Allen invited Mr. Canwell to con- 
fer w^ith Dr. Rader and representatives of the Seattle Times. Mr. 
Canwell failed to keep the appointment. And the next day Presl- 

^-See Seattle Times, February 2, 1949; Seattle Fost-lntelligencer, Febru- 
ary 3, 1949. 

152 Witch Hunt 

dent Allen issued what is, perhaps, the most cautiously worded 
exoneration on record: "The University is now fully satisfied by 
the present evidence that Mr. Hewitt's allegations concerning 
Professor Rader have been disproved." The Hewitt incident, in 
its entirety, has been omitted from the official record. 

The official record also fails to mention that the Canwell Com- 
mittee, upon the basis of its investigation, made the following 
recommendations to the legislature: (i) that a full-scale investiga- 
tion be made into the manner by which textbooks and other 
reading materials are selected and approved in the State of Wash- 
ington; (2) that measures be taken "to stem the flow" of sub- 
versive reading matter in the schools; (3) that suits for libel and 
slander based on a charge of Communism be barred when brought 
by those listed as belonging to three or more organizations offi- 
cially designated as "subversive"; and (4) that recipients of relief 
and old-age pensions should be required to sign affidavits stating 
that "they will not use any such funds to aid the Communist 
Party or communist conspiracy, or any of the party's officers, rep- 
sentatives or front organizations." 

The University of Washington is not, of course, responsible for 
the follies of the Canwell Committee; but the listed recommenda- 
tions have a relevance to the issue which the Regents decided. If 
otherwise qualified instructors are to be driven from their posts 
solely because they are members of the Communist Party, then a 
purge of textbooks and reading materials is clearly in order. A 
Communist text can be as "dangerous" as a Communist professor; 
heresy printed has always been regarded as more dangerous than 
heresy "talked." If public funds should not be used to pay the sal- 
ary of a Communist professor, should public funds be used to aid 
an indigent Communist or a pensioner? If individuals who are 
Communists are to be publicly exposed, then some relaxation of 
the laws of libel and slander would seem to be in order if onlv to 
offer a slight premium for inaccuracy and to provide a margin of 
safety for chronic liars. 

The recommendations made by the Canwell Committee repre- 
sent, in fact, an entirely logical extension of the doctrine of 
heresy. Those who accept this doctrine cannot be heard to object 

Bury the Facts 153 

that a particular weapon used in a heresy hunt is a bit too crude 
or that it might be used to destroy the innocent. For there is 
nothing more damnable than heresy — if you believe in heresy; 
indeed the evil is so menacing that the use of almost any weapon 
can be justified. The Inquisition, as G. G. Coulton once remarked, 
was like a revolver. "The man behind it might often be peaceful 
enough, but the deadly tool was always there, ready to kill at any 
moment." " It is dangerous to manufacture such weapons and 
then leave them lying about, loaded, for anyone to use. 

The sequel of the Hewitt incident is also interesting. Dr. 
Rader had contended that in June 1938, when Hewitt had placed 
him in the Communist School in New York, he had visited Can- 
yon Creek Lodge, a resort near Granite Falls, Washington, to 
make arrangements for a month's vacation in August. In the 
hearing on Hewitt's petition for a writ of habeas corpus in New 
York, a copy of the final report of the Canwell Committee was 
presented and it was largely on the basis of this report that Judge 
Levy released Hewitt despite the fact that Governor Thomas E. 
Dewey had approved the request for extradition. This report 
stated that Dr. Rader's first appearance at the Canyon Creek 
Lodge was in August 1940, which would indicate, of course, that 
Hewitt, and not Rader, had been telling the truth. 

But from a report issued on May 5, 1950, by Troy Smith, 
Attorney General of the State of Washington, it now appears that 
the Canwell Committee had in its possession, at the time the report 
was issued, conclusive evidence that Dr. Rader was telling the 
truth; this evidence someone suppressed. For the Attorney Gen- 
eral states that an investigator for the Canwell Committee signed 
a receipt for the "Guest Ledger Sheets" of the Canyon Creek 
Lodge; that the names of Melvin and Virginia Rader appeared 
on one of these sheets, with the date June 12, 1938; and that this 
evidence was in the possession of the committee at all times. When 
the Seattle Times made its expose, the search for these registry 
sheets, of course, became very lively. "In the Seattle office of the 
Canwell Committee," reads the Attorney General's report, "the 
trail of the documents became very confused." The investigator 

^^ The iTiquisition by G. G. Coulton, 1929, p. 125. 

154 Witch Hunt 

who signed the receipt for the documents testified that he turned 
them over to the assistant chief investigator, who testified that he 
turned them over to the chief investigator, who couldn't re- 
member ever having seen them! 

The Attorney" General then requested the legislative council 
to search the files and records of the Canwell Committee. The 
moment this announcement was made, Mr. Canwell, who had 
previously stated that he knew nothing about the missing docu- 
ments, promptly notified the press that he just might be able to 
produce them after all! And he did — ten days later, with the 
explanation that the documents had been "wrapped up in an old 
newspaper" and misplaced. Not only was this evidence — vital 
to Dr. Rader's defense — suppressed by someone connected with 
the committee, but the committee, with the evidence in its posses- 
sion, aided Hewitt to escape justice. 

But this is not all. The committee's report, upon which Judge 
Levy relied, contained this statement: "Professor Rader termi- 
nated his paid services (with the University) on the twentieth of 
June, 1938, and did not resume employment there until Septem- 
ber." The fact is, as shown by the records of the university, to 
which the committee had full access, that Rader was paid for 
teaching until July 20, not June 20. Slight wonder then that the 
Attorney General of Washington — in a commendable effort to 
right the wrong done Dr. Rader — should now conclude that 
"George Hewitt did not tell the truth"! For his excellent work 
on this case, Edwin O. Guthman of the Seattle Times was 
awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the best reporting of 1949. In the 
sordid annals of un-American investigations, it would be difficult 
to duplicate the strange behavior of the Canwell Committee in 
relation to the Hewitt case. 

The official record of the University of Washington case does 
not mention the fact that three of four members of the Canwell 
Committee who stood for re-election in 1948, including Albert F. 
Canwell, were soundly defeated. This fact alone would seem to 
indicate that President Allen offered the Canwell Committee a 
warmth of welcome and a degree of co-operation which the 
people of the state would never have compelled him to give if 

Bury the Facts 155 

the issue had been taken to them. Even if President Allen had to 
co-operate with the committee, he did not need to praise its in- 
tegrity and fairness or to endorse the work of the committee. He 
could have stood his ground; he could have defended the principle 
of academic freedom. But instead of doing this he proceeded to 
imitate the committee and to launch, as the next chapter will 
show, an inquisition of his own. 

Professors on Trial 

I lost 
All feeling of conviction, and, in fine, 
Sick, wearied out with contrarieties. 
Yielded up moral questions in despair. 


Following the Canwell Committee hearings, formal complaints 
were filed against six members of the faculty by the administra- 
tion of the University of Washington. Ten members of the fac- 
ulty, all enjoying tenure, had been identified during the hearings 
as past or present members of the Communist Party. Two flatly 
denied the charge; five denied present membership; and three 
refused to testify. Charges, however, were only filed against six 
of the ten. In the official report. President Allen fails to explain 
why no charges were filed against three admitted ex-Communists: 
Angelo Pellegrini, who had been a member of the party for about 
a year in 1935 or 1936; Dr. Maud Beal, who had been a party 
member from 1935 to 1938; and Dr. Sophus Keith Winther, who 
had been a member in 1935 or 1936. 

Presumably the fact that their membership was less recent than 
that of the three ex-Communists against whom charges were filed 
had removed the taint of heresy. Then, too. Dr. Sophus Keith 
Winther belonged in a rather special category. He had published 
an anonymous article in Harpefs in July 1937, which purported 
to be a factual account of the experience of a professor in the 
Communist Party but was forced to admit, at the trial of his col- 
leagues, that the article was "an imaginary treatment" of the ex- 
perience. As a "friendly" witness before the Canwell Committee, 

Professors on Trial 157 

Dr. Winther had shown no scruples about naming some of his 
colleagues as former members of the Communist Party. 

The charges against the six professors were automatically re- 
ferred to the Committee on Tenure and Academic Freedom, the 
committee established to hear all tenure cases. Consisting of eleven 
members, the committee was appointed by the University Senate. 
The faculty committee held closed hearings on the charges from 
October 27 to December 15, 1948. On January 7, 1949, the com- 
mittee filed its report with President Allen, who promptly trans- 
mitted it to the Regents along with his analysis and recommenda- 
tions. Although the transcript consisted of thirty-two volumes of 
testimony and more than a hundred exhibits, the Regents met on 
January 22, considered the entire record, and announced their 
decision forthwith. 

The session at which the decision was reached lasted three 
hours. Although it is possible that the Regents could have studied 
the record before making their decision, since the testimony was 
typed as the hearing proceeded, it is highly improbable that this 
was done. For example, one of the Regents had flown from 
Chicago to Seattle on January 22, arriving just in time for the 
meeting. The fact that the university's budget and the Canwell 
Committee's request for a new appropriation were pending before 
the legislature, which was then in session, may account for the 
swiftness with which the Regents acted. It is admitted that their 
decision represented a compromise verdict rather than a clear- 
cut decision on the merits or a conscious formulation of policy 
on a matter of paramount importance to American education.^ 
The willingness of the Regents to compromise on an issue of this 
importance, to rise as it were "above principle," may also be re- 
lated to the importance of the issues which were then pending 
before the legislature, 

A note or two about the Regents may, perhaps, be in order. 
The Board consisted of Joseph Drumheller, a leading Spokane in- 
dustrialist; Thomas Balmer, vice-president and general counsel of 
the Great Northern Railway, a director of the Seattle National 
Bank of Commerce, the Superior Portland Cement Company, 

^N. Y. Times, February 9, 1949. 

158 Witch Hunt 

Washington Mutual Savings Bank, Pacific American Fisheries, 
and the Crow's Nest Pass Coal Company, and a member, also, of 
the University and Rainier Clubs of Seattle and of the Arlington 
Club of Portland; three lawyers, Clarence J. Coleman, Winlock 
W. Miller, and George R. Stuntz; John L. King, of the Washing- 
ton State Grange, the one liberal on the board; and Mr. Dave 
Beck, vice-president of the International Brotherhood of Team- 
sters, chairman of the Western Conference of Teamsters (290,000 
members), chairman of the Finance Committee of the Board of 
Regents, a rabid anti-Communist who is, perhaps, the most suc- 
cessful exponent of "business unionism" on the West Coast. Mr. 
Beck, who believes that his truck drivers and bottle washers are 
not competent to make "big decisions" affecting union policy, has 
a love of fancy titles and a desire to associate with financiers and 
industrialists described as "childlike in its intensity." ^ So much 
for the Regents; but what of the six professors? 

Joseph Butterworth, fifty-one years of age, an associate in the 
English Department, recognized authority on Chaucer, joined the 
faculty in 1929. Quiet, mild-mannered, soft-spoken, badly crip- 
pled, he has had more than his share of personal sorrows and mis- 
fortunes. Butterworth joined the faculty in 1920. Like PhilUps, 
he admitted to the faculty committee that he had joined the 
Communist Party in 1935 and was still a member; he declined to 
answer this question, however, before the Canwell Committee. 
Herbert J. Phillips, fifty-seven years of age, assistant professor of 
philosophy, joined the faculty in 1920. He likewise admitted to 
the faculty committee that he had joined the Communist Party in 
1935 and was still a member but refused to answer this ques- 
tion before the Canwell Committee. For many years, Phillips 
had made it a practice, at the beginning of each semester, to 
tell his classes that he was a Marxist and that this fact should be 

2 See Fortime, December 1948; and "Labor's New Strong Man," New Re- 
public, August I, 1949. 

Professors on Trial 159 

kept in mind in appraising his personal views and opinions. For 
thirteen years, Butterworth and PhilHps were known to all and 
sundry as the leading "reds" on the faculty. 

Ralph H. Gundlach, forty-six, associate professor of psychol- 
ogy, joined the faculty after his graduation from the university 
in 1924. At the time of his dismissal, he was president of the 
Western Psychological Association. Dr. Gundlach refused to tell 
the Canwell Committee whether he was a Communist but, before 
the faculty committee, denied that he had ever been a member. 
Cited for contempt by the Canwell Committee, he was convicted 
by a jury on March 17, 1949, and his case is now on appeal. As a 
good social scientist, Gundlach could not resist the temptation to 
circulate a questionnaire among his students about his own case. 
Five per cent thought that he was a Communist; the same number 
thought he was a Democrat; 2 per cent believed he might be a 
Republican; and 75 per cent had no opinion as to his political 
affihations. In a statement to President Allen, Dr. Gundlach out- 
lined his political behefs as follows: 

I graduated from the University of Washington in the 
field of poUtical science under Professor J, Allen Smith; and 
from that great man and Vernon Parrington and William 
Savery, I learned that human personality and individuality, 
and kindly human relationships are the important values; 
that human rights are a means of safeguarding the conditions 
for general human development; and that our institutions in 
society are not ends in themselves, but means, for the service 
of the needs of mankind. So, I am anti-fascist, anti-authori- 
tarian; a democrat; a humanitarian; in the broad, deep sense, 
a Christian. I learned that the liberation of the peoples of 
the world from tyranny was retarded more by psycho- 
logical factors than by material ones; and that the direction 
of liberation was the drive toward democracy — in religion, 
politics, and economics. ... I am opposed to the use of 
force and violence. In my personal life, I have never had a 
fight. I firmly believe that peoples should be induced to co- 
operate, not forced to comply. I want people to be mutually 
helpful. I think it is evil to "use" other people for one's selfish 

i6o Witch Hunt 

Butterworth, Phillips, and Gundlach, each of whom had been a 
member of the faculty for approximately twenty years, all en- 
joying permanent tenure status, were summarily dismissed from 
the faculty, without severance pay, on February i, 1949. 

Garland O. Ethel, fifty, assistant professor of English, had been 
a teaching fellow before joining the faculty in 1927. Just prior to 
joining the Communist Party in 1934, he had visited both Ger- 
many and Russia. He admitted that he had been a member of the 
Communist Party but stoutly refused to name any witches he 
might have seen at the Sabbats. He left the party in the fall of 
1 94 1 because, so he said, the danger of fascism had abated. At 
forty-three years of age, he enlisted in the army and was later 
commissioned a captain. He told the faculty committee that he 
did not intend to rejoin the Communist Party but that he still 
considered himself an intellectual Marxist. The entire faculty 
committee made a point of praising his "sincerity and frankness." 

E. Harold Eby, forty-eight, professor of English, joined the 
faculty in 1927 after finishing his graduate work at the univer- 
sity. He admitted that he had joined the Communist Party in 
1935 but refused to name any of his colleagues as members. He 
left the party in the early part of 1946 because, so he stated, "I 
came to the conclusion that I wanted to devote my whole time 
and energy to my research and writing." Melville Jacobs, forty- 
six, associate professor of anthropology, joined the faculty in 
1928. He admitted that he had joined the Communist Party in 
1935 or 1936, but, Hke Ethel and Eby, refused to name any of 
his colleagues as members. Asked why he had joined the part\% he 
said: "In the period of the depression and in the course of visiting 
around the country, riding about in my car and seeing poor 
devils starving or walking along the Bowery of New York, I be- 
came aware of an aspect of life I had never had any occasion to 
be interested in." Another major reason had been, he explained, 
his abhorrence of the racial doctrines of the Nazis. He dropped 
out of the party, rather informally, in 1945. As with Dr. Ethel, 
his interest in Communism seems to have been an aspect of his 
detestation of fascism. 

These, then, are the six heretics. 

Professors on Trial i6i 

Of the group, one gains several distinct impressions. They 
were, first of all, antifascists. By and large, the pattern of their 
pohtical affihations and activities is the same. In varying degrees, 
they were active in: the Washington Commonwealth Federa- 
tion, the Washington Old Age Pension Union, the Teachers 
Union, the Loyalist cause in Spain, free speech and civil liberties 
issues generally, the New Deal, the defense of Harry Bridges, 
opposition to the Dies Committee, independent political action 
committees, and the formation of a labor school. The five who 
admitted having joined the Communist Party became members 
in the period from 1934 to 1936, the period of the popular front 
and the pre-Munich crisis. Having left graduate school in the 
late 'twenties, it is apparent that they had been profoundly dis- 
turbed by the depression and the emergence of European fascism. 
Only one had ever visited the Soviet Union, so far as the record 
indicates. A glance at the list of their affiliations in the Canwell 
report will show that these were men of real courage who, as 
university professors, had never hesitated to support unpopular 
causes. The record also shows that they had signed perhaps more 
than their share of open letters, petitions, and memorials; and that 
they had long taken an active part in the political life of an ex- 
ceptionally liberal community. For over a decade, the six profes- 
sors had been systematically red-baited — a fact which stands out 
from almost every page of the record. 

Most of these men were either graduates of the University of 
Washington (Phillips, Eby, Gundlach) or products of its liberal 
tradition. A protege of Vernon Parrington, Eby had edited the 
third volume of Main Currents in America?! Thought. The lib- 
eralism of men like Phillips, Eby, and Gundlach, therefore, 
can be easily understood. It is part of the tradition of the univer- 
sity in which they were trained; it is part, so to speak, of their 
intellectual inheritance. Of J. Allen Smith, Parrington once wrote: 
"That so outspoken a critic of the Constitution should have suf- 
fered ungenerous attack was, no doubt, to be expected. The 
hornets are quick with their stings if the nest of privilege is dis- 
turbed. The high price exacted of him for his courage and sincer- 
ity, his friends are well aware of, yet none ever heard him com- 

1 62 Witch Hunt 

plain or recriminate. It was part of the price the scholar must pay 
for his intellectual integrity and he paid it ungrudgingly." It is 
not surprising, therefore, that students of Smith and Parrington 
should also be willing to pay a high price for their intellectual 
integrity. What is surprising, however, is that their trial for 
heresy should have been held in Parrington Hall on the campus 
of the University of Washington. 


Just what were the charges against the six heretics? The admin- 
istrative code specified five, and only five, grounds for the re- 
moval of a faculty member holding tenure: incompetency, neglect 
of duty, physical or mental incapacity, dishonesty or immorality, 
and conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude. Millions 
of Americans have been told, in the press and over the radio, and 
by the most responsible observers, that the hearing accorded the 
six professors was a model of fairness. Due process implies the 
existence of valid charges; indeed, the fairness of a hearing be- 
comes irrelevant in the absence of validly grounded charges. Yet 
Butterworth and Phillips were convicted of a "crime" which had 
never been declared to be a crime either under the administrative 
code of the university or under statutes of state or nation. 

At the hearing, the administration withdrew all charges against 
Butterworth and Phillips other than the charge of membership 
in the Communist Party, which both men admitted. Five of the 
eleven members of the trial committee were unable to find that 
membership constituted a ground for discharge under the tenure 
code. In effect, therefore, five of the trial judges found that the 
university had failed to file valid charges and this, it should be 
noted, was the ?najorhy finding. As a matter of fact, three addi- 
tional trial judges concurred in the recommendation against their 
removal although dissenting on other issues. Thus eight of eleven 
members of the trial committee recommended against the re- 
moval of either Butterworth or Phillips. One is therefore driven 
to the conclusion that not only were valid charges lacking against 

Professors on Trial 163 

these men but that their removal from the faculty was in direct 
contravention of a majority finding by the committee which had 
been set up to try them and which alone could try them under 
the tenure code! ^ 

Most American educators seem to believe that a fair trial and 
not a witch hunt took place in Seattle. But the more that is said 
about the fairness of the hearing, the more indefensible becomes 
the action of the president and the Regents in setting aside the 
verdict of the tenure committee. In acting as they did, the presi- 
dent and Regents were guilty of a much greater offense than that 
of having worked a grave injustice to the professors involved; 
what they did, in effect, was to nullify the tenure system. For in 
electing to oust two Communists from the faculty solely because 
they were Communists, the administration, as Dr. Helen M. Lynd 
has pointed out, set aside "all accepted canons of teaching and 
scholarship in judging teachers" and substituted a political test of 
competence.* The substitution, moreover, was accomplished in 
defiance of the code which governed tenure at the university. 

It is difficult, indeed, to understand how responsible officials 
could act so arbitrarily on a matter of this importance. But their 
decision becomes quite understandable if one will concede that 
the six professors were charged with heresy, and not with any 
offenses against the academic code. The inconsistencies disappear 
the moment one is prepared to concede that the real purpose of 
the prosecution was to establish Communism as an inadmissible 
heresy. The six professors were not tried in their professional 
capacit\^; they were tried as heretics. The administration admitted 
as much when it stipulated at the outset of the hearing that 

. . . we will indulge in the conclusive presumption that 
every person here charged is sufficiently learned in his field 

^The minority report on Butterworth and Phillips consists of two opin- 
ions. In the first, two faculty members found that the grounds for discharge 
listed in the code were "merely illustrative"; hence that the administration 
could add to these grounds, from time to time, as need arose. In the second 
dissent, the eleventh member of the trial committee agreed with the five- 
man majority report about the Communist Party but disagreed with certain 

^ Ainerican Scholar, summer 1949, p. 348. 

164 Witch Hwit 

and sufficiently skillful in his teaching, and that he is not 
using the classroom as a forum for the indoctrination of his 
students into communism, or anything similar thereto. 

From this sweeping admission, it is quite clear that the adminis- 
tration was not even interested in the character or professional 
competence of the professors except as a man's character may 
be inferred from his political affiliations and activities. If the pro- 
fessors were guilty of anything, it was not of misconduct or in- 
competence but of heresy or the taint of heresy. 

This conclusion is implicit in other aspects of the trial. For 
example, the committee rejected the testimony of scholars emi- 
nent in the fields of learning represented by the professors on 
trial. When a statement was offered by Dr. Lewis M. Terman, 
chairman of the Department of Psychology at Stanford Univer- 
sity, in support of Gundlach's case, the university's counsel ob- 
jected: "The letter came from no amateur. Terman is listed three 
times in the index of the Un-American Activities Committee." 
It is doubtful if even Canwell would have raised this objection 
to the testimony of an internationally famous scholar and scien- 
tist. The faculty, however, readily accepted the testimony of 
the head of the "red squad" in Portland and listened, with atten- 
tion, to Dr. Sophus Keith Winther, who writes imaginary ac- 
counts of alleged personal experiences and then publishes them 
anonymously. In his summation, President Allen proceeds upon 
the assumption that members of the Communist Part\^ are well- 
nigh incapable of telling the truth; yet the testimony of Dr. 
Edward Strono- of Stanford University, and Dr. Paul Sweezy, 
formerly of Harvard, is characterized as "useless" because neither 
man had ever been a member of the Communist Party! To 
add to the confusion, the testimony of ex-Communists y^as 
freely accepted and given full y^eight, apparently on the 
assumption that a person's ability to tell the truth is immedi- 
ately restored once he resigns or is expelled from the Communist 

"It is hard to avoid the conclusion," y^ites Dr. Helen M. Lynd, 
"that President Allen and those who stand ydth him wanted to 

Professors on Trial 165 

get these six men out of the University, or to discipline them to 
conformity, by whatever evidence or logical devices would serve 
these ends." To the question of how such thinking is possible for 
educated men vested with serious educational responsibilities. 
Dr. Lynd finds the answer in John Dewey's suggestion that 
trained minds reason in an inverted fashion only when influenced 
by some covert factor. But it is not necessary to assume the 
existence of some covert factor, as, say, a fear of the Canwell 
Committee, to explain the bizarre reasoning of President Allen 
and the Regents. Once they had been induced to file charges of 
heresy against the six professors, the perverse reasoning, the de- 
sire to convict by any means, and the rest of it, followed quite 
logically and inevitably. To the Inquisitor, heresy is like a fire. 
One does not scruple about the methods to be used in putting out 
a fire; any methods will do, including counter-fires and demoli- 

The reasoning of President Allen and the Regents is not objec- 
tionable for want of logic; indeed their reasoning is quite logical 
if one accepts the heresy premise. They are not to be charged, 
therefore, with being illogical but with having acted in a manner 
that confuses the points at issue between authoritarian and demo- 
cratic social philosophies. For example, the belief that all Com- 
munists are without honor, morality, or integrity is not only false 
and patently malicious: it ignores the real basis of the conflict 
between Communism and democracy. This conflict arises not 
between our "righteousness" and their "immorality" but between 
two conflicting codes of morality. There is convincing evidence 
in the case that Communists can be persons of honor and integrity 
who make a point of adhering to a code of strict political and 
personal morality. It is precisely because this happens to be true 
that a basic moral conflict arises; otherwise the conflict would 
have no moral implications. The confusion, the embarrassment 
of the Seattle witch hunt, stems directly from the fact that the 
Communists behaved so well, that is, so consistently; while those 
who assaulted their rights in the name of "academic freedom" 
and "safeguarding democracy" behaved so badly. 

The action of the president and the Regents could be de- 

1 66 Witch Hunt 

fended on the score of expediency. True, the defense would be 
ignominious and extremely disingenuous; but it could still pass 
for a defense, of a sort. But both the president and the Regents 
spurn the suggestion that expediency had anything to do with 
their decision: they acted as they did out of an undying devo- 
tion to democratic values, including academic freedom. It is this 
discrepancy bet^veen what they did and what they say in de- 
fense of what they did that reveals, with embarrassing clarity, 
the self-defeating nature of the strategy of fighting Communism 
as a heresy. It is only by clarifying and emphasizing the dif- 
ferences between Communism and democracy that the nature 
of the conflict between the two philosophies can be demon- 

"Democracy and education and truth-seeking," as Dr. Lynd 
has observed, "are serious, time-consuming processes." It is dif- 
ficult to live as a democrat and it is surely difficult to get along 
with Communists, at home or abroad; but neither consideration 
justifies the abandonment of democratic principles. We cannot 
at the same time say that a teacher has a right to be a Com- 
munist if he will only declare this belief openly and then turn 
around and punish him as a heretic when he takes us at our 
word. As Dr. Lynd so rightly insists, we cannot "teach de- 
mocracy by praising freedom while practicing dictation"; we 
cannot open closed minds by confronting them with closed 
minds; we cannot attack the idea of a police state while using 
the methods of a police state. On the record, therefore, the 
real heresy revealed in the Seattle witch hunt was the heresy 
of the avowed democrats. The Communists acted like Com- 
munists; the democrats acted like — dictators. 

The sentence meted out to Drs. Eby, Ethel, and Jacobs is, 
in some respects, one of the clearest indications that the six 
professors were tried as heretics. For it is clear beyond contra- 
diction that these men were punished retroactively — for past 

Professors on Trial 167 

beliefs, associations, and activities. The entire faculty coinmittee, 
without dissent, recommended against their dismissal. Yet they 
were placed on two years' probatio?i and forced to abjure under 
oath any sympathy or connection with Communism. The hu- 
miliation of these scholars is quite without precedent in the his- 
tory of American education. Professors have been discharged 
from posts in American universities for their beliefs just as 
professors have, for the same reason, been demoted and trans- 
ferred. But this is the only known case in which professors 
have been forced to abjure under oath a former belief as a con- 
dition to being placed on two years' probation. But, here again, 
the use of the test oath and the granting of probationary in- 
dulgence is quite in keeping with the best inquisitorial practice. 

Probation of course implies a testing or trial of one's conduct, 
character, qualifications or the like (so reads the dictionary). 
But what quality of these men was being tested? They had 
been members of the faculty for many years and they were 
men of recognized competence in their respective fields. The 
sentence given them, therefore, indicates a clear intention to 
test the sincerity of their withdrawal from the Communist Party 
and to ensure, if possible, their future conformity. According to 
President Allen, the university would not object to the presence 
on the faculty of an "intellectual Marxist"; but President Allen 
accepted and praised as "just" the decision of the Regents plac- 
ing Garland Ethel, an intellectual Marxist, on probation for 
two years. The professors were asked, on several occasions, 
whether they would rejoin the Communist Party should an- 
other depression occur. The requirement of a sworn disavowal 
of Communist membership, coupled with two years' probation, 
would seem to indicate that the Regents sought to guard against 
this contingency. In the case of these men, therefore, thought 
control was applied both retroactively and prospectively — for 
two years at least. Such a sentence betrays, on its face, a de- 
termination to humiliate and degrade heretics rather than to 
safeguard academic freedom or vindicate any right or principle. 

The issue of conflicting moralities is brought out sharply in the 
case of these men. One of the charges against them was that, 

1 68 Witch Hunt 

having taken an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and noth- 
ing but the truth, they had refused to reveal to the Canwell 
Committee the names of former associates in the Communist 
Party. Their refusal, on this score, is denounced as "dishonest 
and immoral." ^ These, indeed, are harsh words. But in what, 
precisely, did the dishonesty and immorality consist? Every day 
hundreds of witnesses take a similar oath in American courts 
and still refuse, without being denounced as either dishonest or 
immoral, to answer questions to which, for example, objections 
are sustained. Is a witness "dishonest" who refuses to testify on 
the ground that his testimony might be self-incriminating? Is 
a physician "immoral" who refuses to divulge, under oath, a 
professional confidence? As a matter of fact, the refusal of Eby, 
Ethel, and Jacobs to name their former associates ^vas the basic 
charge against them; if they had turned informers they could 
have escaped unscathed. And since when did it become "honest" 
and "moral" to purchase one's own freedom by denouncing 
one's former associates? This is Nazi doctrine; it has nothing to 
do with truth or morality. 

President Allen had told the faculty on May 12, 1948, that 
the Canwell Committee was about to investigate the university 
and he had implied that the administration would refuse to de- 
fend any instructor who had been carrying on "in secrecy ac- 
tivities the nature of which was unknown." One of the charges 
against Eby, Ethel, and Jacobs was that they had remained 
"silent" after this statement and had failed to disclose to Presi- 
dent Allen their former membership in the Communist Party. 
But what, precisely, was the nature of the duty which obligated 
them to disclose their personal political beliefs to the presi- 
dent of the university? He was never appointed the keeper of 
their consciences. When they were employed, nothing was said 
about Communism; nor had they ever been told that member- 
ship in the Communist Party would jeopardize their tenure. 
On the contrary, they knew that for thirteen years Butterworth 
and Phillips, who had never denied or concealed membership, 
were permitted to teach and to enjoy full faculty rights and 

^Official Record, p. 123. 

Professors on Trial 169 

privileges. Enlightened moral codes have always avoided any 
suggestion of compulsion where an obligation arises, if at all, 
only as a matter of good conscience. Any obligation which 
these men may have owed to President Allen, arising as a matter 
of conscience and good faith, was forfeited when he threatened 
to abandon those who failed to make disclosure. 

The case of the sixth professor, Ralph Gundlach, Is tragically 
mixed-up and confused. Gundlach, who refused to answer 
questions about membership in the Communist Party before the 
Canwell Committee, denied membership under oath before the 
faculty trial board. But he seems to have been tried, not for his 
conduct before the Canwell Committee, but on the score of 
professional competence, and this despite the fact that the ad- 
ministration had specifically waived any charges of this char- 
acter. Four members of the faculty trial board voted against 
his dismissal but the remaining seven members in three separate 
reports (four, two, and one) voted, for different reasons, that 
he should be dismissed. One finishes a study of the record with 
the feeling that Gundlach, more than any of the other professors, 
was the victim of a complicated plot. Of the six, ironically, 
he was the only one who had never been a Communist! Yet he 
was dismissed while Eby, Ethel, and Jacobs were merely "dis- 
ciplined." It was probably because he had never been a Com- 
munist that his dismissal was justified on grounds unrelated to 
the charges. Gundlach, alas, occupied the dangerous middle 
ground between the two Communists, with their defenders and 
partisans, and the three ex-Communists, with theirs. Unfortu- 
nately he stood alone. 

As a tactical maneuver in the campaign to combat Com- 
munism, the Seattle witch hunt must be pronounced a dismal, 
a disastrous failure. The Communist Party did not suffer, here 
or elsewhere, from this prosecution; on the contrary, the two 
Communists involved acquitted themselves admirably and won 
wide respect for their courage and integrity. In the process 
of ousting these men, who showed real courage under fire, 

lyo Witch Hunt 

serious damage was done the principle of academic freedom, the 
assurance of individual freedom of belief was gravely under- 
mined, and widespread sympathy was aroused for the t^^o 
heretics. In indicting the Seattle professors, democracy indicted 
itself. The damage which the trial caused was not to Communism 
or the Communist Party but to academic freedom and demo- 
cratic values generally. In placing three of the professors on 
probation, the Regents placed the entire teaching profession on 
probation and weakened the morale of democrats everywhere. 
According to President Allen, the ultimate judgment on the 
Seattle case will be made ". . . by the larger forces that will 
shape American education as it deepens and extends the freedom 
of true scholarship." This ultimate judgment, I fear, will be 
that six professors were convicted of heresy in Seattle, Wash- 
ington, in the middle of the twentieth century. 

The belief in witchcraft was built up bv the trick of imposing 
delusion on delusion until the reality out of which the charge 
emerged was hopelessly obscured. This same technique finds il- 
lustration in the handling of the University of Washington case. 
By omitting the essential background facts from the official 
record, the first delusion about the case of the six professors 
was created. The next delusion was produced by the simple 
technique of praising as "fair" a trial based on irrelevant charges 
in which the verdict of the jury had been set aside and the 
rules governing trials of this sort had been deliberately ignored. 
On the basis of the delusions created in this manner, the public 
was then asked to concur in an abstract proposition which, in 
strict legality, had nothing to do with the facts of the University 
of Washington cases. The next chapter deals, therefore, with 
the Great Debate by which the public was asked to acquiesce 
in a serious violation of academic freedom in the guise of pro- 
tecting this freedom. 


The Great Debate 

Not in Utopia, — subterranean fields,— 

Or in some secreted island, Heavens knows where! 

But in the very world, which is the world 

Of all of us. 


The decision made, the struggle for vindication began. Presi- 
dent Allen left immediately for New York to invite an investiga- 
tion by the American Association of University Professors be- 
fore the six professors could file a complaint, and to get the 
official version of the case to the public before the professors 
had prepared their first press release. Indeed the ink was scarcely 
dry on the documents before it became apparent that the issue 
was charged with general political significance and, like most 
political issues, would be resolved by public debate. Since 
February 1949, the Great Debate has echoed in educational 
circles, popular forums, in the press and over the radio. What, 
then, are the merits of the arguments pro and con? How goes 
the debate? 


Variously stated, a major argument for the aflSrmative is this: 
By joining the Communist Party an instructor becomes sub- 
ject to a discipline which is wholly incompatible with the dis- 
interested pursuit of truth. "To stay in the Communist Party," 
writes Dr. Sidney Hook, "they [the members] must believe and 

172 Witch Hunt 

teach what the party line decrees." The argument rests on two 
assumptions: the Communist Party not only claims the power to 
discipline but in fact does discipline its members to the point 
where they are no longer free agents; and for every area of 
thought from art to zoology the party lays down a line to 
which conformity is enforced. The second assumption is vital 
for otherwise it would be difficult to apply the argument, for 
example, to the case of Dr. Joseph Butterworth, a professor of 
Old English. Any person, so the argument runs, is free to join 
or leave the Communist Party, but once a member, and as long 
as he remains a member, he cannot be a free agent. 

But just what types of discipline were available to the Com- 
munist Party in the year 1948, in the United States? The case 
of the six professors throws some light on this question. For 
example, Dr. Sophus Keith Winther testified that while he and 
Mrs. Winther were members of the party, they declined to vote 
for Earl Browder when he was the Communist candidate for 
President. Voting for Browder, however, was supposed to be 
mandatory for all party members. Indeed the chief function- 
ary of the party in Seattle read the riot act to those who had 
refused or failed to vote for Browder. Yet the fact remains that 
only one vote was cast for Browder in the Seattle precinct in 
which the "red" professors lived. Disturbed by this testimony 
from a witness bitterly hostile to the Communist Party, counsel 
for the Can well Committee then asked: "They [the Com- 
munists] had quite an iron discipline then, did they not, in the 
party?" To which Dr. Winther repHed: "It didn't work very 
well." ^ 

The Communist Party has been charged with being a con- 
spiracy to overthrow the government by force and violence. 
Ordinarily the parties to a conspiracy are not free to withdraw 
from the conspiracy whenever they wish. Yet M^hen Dr. Winther 
was asked: "Now, what mechanics did you go through to get 
out of the party?" he repHed: "None, whatsoever, except I 
notified one of the members that I would no longer attend 
meetings." From his own testimony it appears that he dropped 

^Vol. II, p. 16. 

The Great Debate 173 

out of the party as casually and informally as one would cease 
to be a member of a club by failing to pay dues. His examina- 
tion on this point reads: 

Q. Did any of them come to see you and try to get you 

to return to the Communist Party? 
A. No. 

Q. They just let you go and left you alone? 
A. Yes. 

Dr. Melville Jacobs testified that during the time he was a 
member of the Communist Party he was able to retain both his 
critical faculties and his independence of judgment, "When the 
Communists have urged a point for one or another special aspect 
of anthropological science, I have often been in sharp disagree- 
ment." On more than one occasion, scientific considerations had 
forced him to come to conclusions "other than theirs." ^ Both 
Dr. Butterworth and Dr. PhilUps, praised by their colleagues as 
men of honesty and sincerity, testified that they were never haled 
before "control commissions" or told what to think or say. Doubt- 
less the Communist Party in this country has disciplined members 
who were instructors and doubtless it claims the power to impose 
an intellectual discipline on its members. But the facts of the 
Seattle case simply do not support either contention. It may well 
be that the Seattle functionaries were lax in the matter of disci- 
pline or that Butterworth and Phillips were regarded as "sacred 
cows," but these suppositions do not take the place of proof or 

The fatal weakness of the discipline argument, however, con- 
sists not in the absence of proof but in the absence of power. "In 
the Soviet Union," writes Dr. Alexander Meiklejohn, "Mr. Stalin 
and his colleagues can, and do, enforce orders by police and mili- 
tary might. But by what form of 'might' do they control an 
American teacher in an American university?" To be sure, the 
teacher can be expelled from the party; but expulsion, in terms 
of the social realities of 1948, would be a boon, not a penalty. 
Under the forms of discipline available here, a member's accept- 

2 See N. Y. Ti?nes, February 9, 1949. 

174 Witch Hunt 

ance of the doctrines and policies of the party is voluntary, not 
required. To say that beliefs are required as conditions to mem- 
bership is not to say that beliefs are required by force unless it 
can be shown that membership is enforced. If membership is free, 
then the beliefs are free. And so far as the evidence shows, the 
Seattle professors \vere ". . . free American citizens who, for 
purposes of social action, have chosen party affiliation with other 
men, here and abroad, whose beliefs are akin to their own. In a 
word, they do not accept Communist behefs because they are 
members of the Part)^ They are members of the Party because 
they accept Communist beliefs." ^ 

In the years from 1934 to 1948 membership in the Communist 
Party was clearly an enormous professional handicap to any in- 
structor. If the affiliation were known, the instructor could hardly 
hope for promotion and might well forfeit his professional career. 
In fact, membership impHed a form of social and professional 
ostracism. On the other hand, resignation or expulsion from the 
Communist Party might lead to tangible rewards: a sinecure at 
some Catholic university; lush royalties from autobiographical 
"revelations"; handsome fees for "expert" testimony in various 
hearings and prosecutions; and fees for motion picture scripts. 
Dismissal implied, moreover, automatic rehabilitation in the good 
graces of society. As a matter of fact, ex-Communists enjoy a 
unique exemption from the suspicion of heresy in contemporary 
American life and the status is probably desirable per se. It is 
difficult to see, therefore, how the threat of dismissal could be 
an effective means of enforcing discipline. 

In the Seattle case, moreover, the discipline argument is clearly 
refuted by the facts. "Three of the five men whom they con- 
demned as enslaved by party orders," writes Dr. Meiklejohn, "had 
already, by their own free and independent thinking, resigned 
from the party. How could they have done that if, as charged, 
they were incapable of free and independent thinking? Slaves do 
not resign." Furthermore, if the discipline of membership in- 
capacitates, by w^hat magic rite of purification does nonmember- 
ship suddenly reinvest a person with integrity, independence of 

^Anicle by Dr. x\lexander Meiklejohn, N. Y. Times, March 27, 1949. 

The Great Debate 175 

mind, and the love of truth? Indeed the discipline argument can 
become a two-edged sword. Either Drs. Eby, Ethel, and Jacobs 
were "free agents" when they resigned from the Communist 
Party or they felt compelled to resign by reason of the pressures 
for conformity imposed by American society. 

The discipline argument rests on a familiar fallacy. In a clash 
between rival ideologies, the apostate is always regarded as a 
"captive"; the only reason he does not return to the true faith is 
that he has ceased to be a free agent. That the apostate might 
actually prefer the rival ideology is an assumption too frivolous 
to be investigated. Critics of the Catholic Church like to believe, 
and usually insist, that converts have surrendered their intellectual 
independence; they are no longer "free men." To support this 
belief, various Catholic texts and pronouncements are cited which 
are seemingly in point. On the other hand, many Catholics doubt- 
less believe that the love of a Mason for his fellow Masons is 
stronger than the love of profit or personal advantage and doubt- 
less there are passages in the Masonic ritual that give credence 
to the belief. Yet the fact is that individual Masons place their 
own interpretations upon the Masonic ritual and respect their 
Masonic obligations with every variation of fidelity and recu- 

With rival political Ideologies, the temptation to believe that 
the nonconformist is imprisoned in the enemy's camp is particu- 
larly strong. I have known Communists who have expressed a 
truly fanciful belief in the unanimity which is supposed to pre- 
vail in "capitalist circles." On occasion, I have had direct, first- 
hand knowledge that the community's capitahsts were violently 
at odds on a particular issue. Yet I have been gravely assured that 
these same leaders were necessarily of one mind on the particular 
issue since "the necessities of the situation" would not permit 
them to hold independent views. One reason for this delusion, of 
course, is that feuding capitalists, like feuding Communists, usu- 
ally keep their feuds to themselves. Whatever the reason, the 
reality of membership in any social organization simply cannot 
be deduced from a study of its bylaws, ritual, or best-known 

176 Witch Hunt 

In all fairness, it must be recognized that an element of disci- 
pline attaches to membership in almost any form of social organi- 
zation. Medical associations rigorously discipline members who 
favor compulsory health insurance and the Young Republican 
Club that came out in favor of the Welfare State would not long 
retain its charter. Social groups are driven to assert a discipline 
which is invariably less effective than the power to discipline 
would imply. In our time, surely, no Mason has been "disem- 
boweled" for seducing a fellow Mason's wife. So long as mem- 
bership is voluntary, all social groups must act with caution in 
the matter of discipline. If the discipline is oppressive, the group 
will disintegrate; on the other hand, if some discipline is not im- 
posed, the group will soon cease to have any meaning or identity. 
This is perhaps the most commonplace observation that can be 
made of social groups outside an authoritarian state. 

The discipline imposed by social groups always looks quite 
different to the members than to outsiders. To the hostile out- 
sider, the members are either morons or weaklings who lack the 
"guts" to resign. But the members experience the discipline im- 
plicit in membership as a pressure to win their acceptance; they 
are not conscious of being "enslaved" or "disciplined." The fact 
is that almost all social groups are to some degree coercive. The 
members constantly balance the advantages of membership against 
the disadvantages, the agreements against the disagreements, just 
as the group itself must constantly balance the risks of discipline 
against the risks of freedom. It is sheer nonsense to contend that 
this inner debate is unknown to Communists. The turnover in 
membership alone provides abundant evidence to the contrary. I 
happen to believe that the structure of the Communist Party, as 
an organization, tends to minimize the force of this inner debate; 
but this does not mean that no freedom whatever attaches to 

It is extremely difficult for the outsider to understand the real- 
ity of Communist Party membership as it must be sensed by 
many, if not most, members. On occasion, I have been furious 
with Communist friends for going along with some program or 
policy of their party with which I knew they disagreed. Yet it 

The Great Debate 177 

must be kept in mind that one cannot accept the Communist 
ideology without taking certain propositions on credit, as an act 
of faith. For example, there is no evidence to support the belief 
that the dictatorship of the proletariat will eventually "wither 
away." Yet there are people who believe that this will happen 
and who act on this belief. The test of their good faith, and of 
their independence, is not to be found in the credibility of the 
belief but in the sincerity with which it is held. Obviously there 
are opportunists in the Communist Party who believe because it 
pays to believe. It is also possible that there are members who are 
so thoroughly labeled and smeared that they are now afraid to 
resign because they probably could not find employment outside 
the orbit of the party's influence. But, by the same token, the 
fact that there are members of trade unions whose membership 
is coerced does not mean that membership in a trade union con- 
stitutes "proof" that an individual has surrendered his intellectual 

For many years the belief was widespread that the Mormon 
Church severely punished apostates. Always implicit in this belief 
was the notion that most Mormons wanted to "escape" into the 
Gentile world. To the Gentiles, it seemed quite clear that the 
saints and bishops coerced rank-and-file Mormons; otherwise how 
could "sane people" beheve such "nonsense"? To many anti- 
fascists, it seemed clear that the German masses were coerced 
into an acceptance of the Nazi ideology and no doubt coercion 
was an important factor in recruiting members. Yet more than one 
antifascist was surprised to discover that an embarrassingly large 
number of Germans freely accepted the Nazi ideology long after 
the last Nazi had been disarmed. The same fallacy was always 
implicit in the notion that the witch was "possessed" — that she 
could not shake off the Devil's dominance. 

There is, indeed, something ironic in the spectacle of a society 
engaged in the act of bringing great pressure on a small political 
sect to conform, yet insisting, all the while, that the members of 
this sect are "captives" and "prisoners" of the sect's discipline. 
If members of the Communist Party, in this country, are captives 
in any sense, then they are clearly captives of the overwhelming 

1 78 Witch Hunt 

majority sentiment which, in effect, will not permit them to 
escape from the party without visiting serious disabilities upon 
them. The captive theory, however, does make a perverse kind 
of sense. Otherwise, how is one to account, so the argument runs, 
for the amazing loyalty of the heretic to his unpopular sect? 
Again and again, in the various un-American investigations, the 
committeemen have paused to express their utter amazement that 
any person could freely accept membership in the Communist 
Party when the disadvantages of membership are so apparent. 
There is, therefore, a sort of "common sense" presumption which 
implies that all heretics are either crazy, corrupt, craven, or 
captive, for otherwise how is one to account for their stubborn 
adherence to the unprofitable enterprise of being a heretic? 

There is a humorless, Talmudic quality about the reasoning of 
those who take a Communist text, study it, and then proceed to 
deduce the character of all Communists, in all lands, and under all 
circumstances, from this text. For example, Sidney Hook quotes a 
passage from a Communist publication in which some part}^ 
pundit, in the. year 1937, urged all party members who were 
teachers to take advantage of their positions and to give their 
students "a working-class education." The passage is quoted in 
a manner that implies that it expresses, not a pious hope, but a 
universal fact. In other words, since "the book" says that sorne- 
thing is true, it must be true. If we judged every organization by 
this standard, America would be a madhouse. 

Over a century ago, Macaulay pointed out the dangers of 
seeking to read men's characters by studying the bylaws of the 
organizations to which they belong. "To charge men," he wrote, 
"with practical consequences which they themselves deny is dis- 
ingenuous in controversy; it is atrocious in government. The 
doctrine of predestination, in the opinion of many people, tends 
to make those who hold it utterly immoral. . . . But would it 
be wise to punish every man who holds the higher doctrines of 
Calvinism, as if he had actually committed all those crimes which 
we know some Antinomians to have committed? ... It is alto- 
gether impossible to reason from the opinions which a man pro- 
fesses to his feelings and his actions; and in fact no person is ever 

The Great Debate 179 

such a fool as to reason thus, except when he ivajjts a pretext for 
persecuting his neighbors.'' ^ (Emphasis added.) 

Dr. Henry Steele Coinmager has made the same point with 
specific reference to the case of the six professors. "Now what 
is the difference," he asks, "between the view of the faculty com- 
mittee [at the University of Washington] and of President Allen? 
It is a difference of method that involves, or symbolizes, a differ- 
ence in philosophy. The committee subscribes to the inductive 
and pragmatic method; President Allen to the deductive and the 
a priori. The committee looks to the facts, the president looks to 
the theory. The committee is unwilling to deduce unfitness from 
the generalization of membership in the Communist Party; the 
president first establishes his premise that membership in the 
Communist Party is a priori evidence of unfitness, and then con- 
cludes that all members of that party are, of necessity, unfit. The 
committee's method is that of the scientific investigator; the 
president's is that of the doctrinaire. It is not wholly facetious to 
add that the committee's method is one we have come to think 
of as characteristically American, the president's as un-Ameri- 
can." ' 

Certain educators, however, have said that it is not discipline 
per se that is objectionable but only "secret" discipline. But how 
is the existence of a secret discipline established? If the discipline 
is secret, it will not be apparent; if it is not apparent, then it 
must be estabhshed by investigation, surveillance, and espionage. 
Would the person subject to secret discipline be likely to reveal 
this discipline by his conduct as a teacher? And if the discipline 
were not revealed — if it did not affect his teaching in some ob- 
jective manner — then how could it be dangerous enough to war- 
rant the risks involved in using a political police to identify its 

Appreciating these risks, Dr. V. T. Thayer has suggested that 
Communists should not be barred as teachers until a public warn- 
ing has been issued. But if his assumptions are sound, then past 

* Critical and Historical Essays, 1872, the essay on the "Civil Disabilities 
of Jews." 

s New Republic, July 25, 1949. 

i8o Witch Hunt 

membership in the Communist Party cannot be ignored as irrele- 
vant. In dealing with this awkward problem of the former heretic, 
Dr. Thayer writes: "The essential in instances of this character 
... is to judge as well as we can the motives and intentions of 
the individual as distinct from what we may consider to be the 
validity of his conclusions." ^ But what could be more disastrous 
to academic freedom and tenure than inquiries into the motives 
and intentions of those who hold unpopular beliefs? Dr. Thayer 
then goes on to suggest, quite casually, that there may be 
". . . ground for requiring non-membership as a condition for 
induction into teachi?ig." (My emphasis.) Thus the investigation 
has now been pushed back one step further, from teaching to 
learning to be a teacher. One is amazed, here, by the apparent 
assumption that "membership" can be proved without an inquiry 
into subjective beliefs and attitudes; and, second, by the innocent 
notion that delicate issues of conscience and belief can be probed, 
investigated, and "tried" without destroying the foundation of 
intellectual freedom. 


A purge of Communist teachers is justified, one is next told, in 
order to protect academic freedom. This argument has at least 
the merit of audacity. The argument proceeds upon the assump- 
tion that academic freedom imposes an obligation to teach only 
what the instructor himself believes or has found to be true. As 
developed by Dr. Arthur O. Love joy, the argument rests on the 
following theorems: 

1. Freedom of inquiry, of opinion, and of teaching in uni- 
versities is a prerequisite if the academic scholar is to 
perform the function proper to his profession. 

2. The Communist Party in the United States is an organi- 
zation whose aim is to bring about the establishment 

^Harvard Editcatio?ial Review, January 1942. 

The Great Debate 


here of a political as well as an economic system essen- 
tially similar to that which now exists in Russia. 

3. That system does not permit freedom of inquiry, of 
opinion, and of teaching, either in or outside of univer- 

4. Therefore a member of the Communist Party is engaged 
in a movement which has already extinguished academic 
freedom and would — if it were successful — result in 
the abohtion of this freedom in American colleges and 

5. No one, therefore, who desires to maintain academic 
freedom in America can consistently favor that move- 
ment, or give indirect assistance to it by accepting as fit 
members of the faculties persons who voluntarily adhere 
to an orcranization one of whose aims is to abolish aca- 
demic freedom.'^ 

Before analyzing this argument, it is extremely important to 
note how Dr. Lovejoy qualifies its apphcation to the case of the 
six professors. He insists, in the first place, that the argument re- 
lates to -future appointments; he would therefore presumably 
favor a warning or policy statement. Faced with the problem of 
"present members of faculties who are on permanent tenure," 
Dr. Lovejoy visibly staggers under the weight of his argument. 
Drs. Butterworth and Phillips, he writes, appear to be "unortho- 
dox Communists." But by his own argument unorthodox Com- 
munists cannot exist. In a final effort to hold on to tenure while 
undercutting the principle of academic freedom, he suggests that 
certain questions should have been put to Butterworth and 
Phillips in default of which he is really not in a position to judge 
their cases! Here are the questions: 

■^ "Communism versus Academic Freedom," Aniericmi Scholar, summer 
1949, p. 332. Dr. Lovejoy, incidentally, helped to initiate the movement 
which resulted in the formation of the American Association of University 
Professors; he also contributed the article on "Academic Freedom" to the 
Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. For an interesting account of his views 
on academic freedom during the First World War see Are Ainerican 
Teachers Free?, p. 24. 


Witch Hunt 

1. Are you aware that the political program of the Com- 
munist Party is the setting-up of a one-party dictator- 
ship, and that, wherever it has attained power, it has 
established such a dictatorship? 

2. Do you reject this program, and will you publicly de- 
clare that you reject it? 

3. Do you also reject the teaching of Lenin that a party 
member should, when it will serve the interest of the 
movement, resort to any ruse, cunning, unlawful 
method, evasion, and concealment of the truth? 

4. If you reject these features of the Communist doctrine 
and practice, are you willing to give proof that you do 
so by resigning from the party? 

Dr. Love joy frankly admits that negative answers to these ques- 
tions would be evidence of "incredible ignorance" or "falsehood" 
and then adds that either would be a sufficient ground for dis- 
missal in itself! Thus he admits that he has prepared a set of 
questions to which there can only be one answer. In short, what 
he has done is to devise a catechism to catch heretics rather than 
a formula to test the truth. What Dr. Lovejoy's questions amount 
to is simply this: Communists should not be permitted to teach 
but since Butterworth and Phillips have permanent tenure — a 
most embarrassing fact — they should be given a chance to pro- 
tect this tenure by resigning from the Communist Party. Should 
they prove to be stubborn — a fatal weakness with heretics — 
then they should be dismissed for "incredible ignorance" or 
"falsehood" and not, of course, for their beliefs. 

This argument, it will be noted, is really the reverse of the 
argument advanced by Sidney Hook. Hook insists that member- 
ship in the Communist Party is punishable as a?i act; but Dr. Love- 
joy is concerned with beliefs. He insists that Butterworth and 
Phillips should be compelled to convict themselves; he wants a 
confession of heresy on the record. Hook would not favor the 
dismissal of a teacher who believed in the Russian system but was 
not a member of the Communist Party; but Love joy would make 
belief the basis of dismissal. To be true, he uses the phrase "a 
member of" in Theorem No. 4; but his argument would apply 

The Great Debate 183 

with equal force to the individual who subscribed to the tenets 
of Communism but was not a member of the Communist Party. 

The Love joy argument is really the modern version of the 
familiar "tit-for-tat" delusion which has been used to justify 
every witch hunt in history. Communists do not believe in free- 
dom from compulsory self-incrimination; therefore members of 
the Communist Party should be denied this right. The Com- 
munists do not believe in academic freedom as we define the 
concept; therefore Communists should be denied the protection 
of this right. By the same token the right to practice law should 
be denied to those lawyers who have shown an interest in social 
systems which do not guarantee the civil rights set forth in the 
first ten amendments to the Constitution. Similarly the right of 
suffrage should be denied to those who believe that this right is 
not always and everywhere and under all conditions enforceable 
or practical! 

To protect his argument against this extension, Sidney Hook 
has given wide currency to Justice Holmes's famous remark 
about the New Bedford policeman. A policeman may have a 
constitutional right to talk politics, said Holmes, but he has "no 
constitutional right to be a policeman." By analogy, therefore, a 
citizen may have a constitutional right to be a Communist but 
no Communist has a constitutional right to be a teacher. But what 
were the facts in McAiiliffe v. New Bedford? * Called to testify 
as a witness before a grand jury in a criminal investigation then 
pending, a policeman declined to testify on the ground that his 
testimony might be self-incriminating. For his refusal to testify, 
under these circumstances, he was later disciplined as a police- 
man. Now, if a teacher employed to teach history were to refuse 
to explain what he was teaching, on the ground that his testimony 
might be self-incriminating, the application of Justice Holmes's 
remark would be pertinent. Hook, of course, clearly quotes the 
remark out of context. The issue in such cases, as Justice Harry E. 
Schirick of the New York Supreme Court has pointed out, is not 
whether there is a constitutional right to teach, but whether the 
ground asserted for denying this right or privilege, whatever it is, 

^29 N. E. 517. 

184 Witch Hunt 

is one which is protected by the Constitution against legislative 

The confusion about the New Bedford policeman is part and 
parcel of the fallacy that it is possible to abrogate the political 
rights of a minority without giving the minority a chance to 
raise constitutional objections. This might be described as the 
"one right removed won't hurt" fallacy. The British Protestants, 
as Macaulay pointed out, were addicted to the notion that "the 
Catholics ought to have no political power. . . . Give the Cath- 
olics everything else; but keep political power from them." But, 
as Macaulay demonstrated, the distinction between civil privi- 
leges and political rights, is a distinction without a difference; 
^^privileges are power.'''' To say that an American citizen shall be 
protected in all his rights except that he shall not be a teacher, a 
policeman, a government employee, or a writer in the motion 
picture industry, is in effect to abrogate his citizenship. The 
totality of these and other privileges is what makes citizenship 

Once heretics have been stripped of political rights, they might 
as well be stripped of all rights. "If it is our duty as Christians to 
exclude Jews from political power," wrote Macaulay, "it must 
be our duty to treat them as our ancestors treated them, to mur- 
der them, and banish them, and rob them. For in that way, and 
in that way alone, can we really deprive them of political 
power." Forcing the Communist Parry off the ballot would not 
deprive Communists of political power; as long as they could 
raise funds or influence votes they would have political power. 
To be effective, therefore, the curtailment of rights must be 
total. "If we do not adopt this course," wrote Macaulay of the 
Jews, "we may take away the shadow, but leave them the sub- 
stance. We may do enough to pain and irritate them; but we shall 
not do enough to secure ourselves from danger, if danger really 
exists. Where wealth is, there power must inevitably be." 

It is dangerous, therefore, merely to harass and irritate a 
minority. Although they may not realize it, the advocates of 
second-class citizenship for Communists and other heretics, based 
on a piecemeal denial of rights, would put the state in the position 

The Great Debate 185 

of having declared war upon certain categories of citizens. That 
the state may elect to wage this war within certain limitations of 
severity, or that it may seek to mask its warlike intentions by 
"testing the loyalty" of heretics before issuing edicts of out- 
lawry, does not change the consequences which arise when the 
state withdraws its obligation of protection from certain groups 
of citizens. The principal consequence, of course, is to make 
outlaws of those from whom rights have been arbitrarily with- 

When the exercise of rights is made to turn upon the posses- 
sion of "proper" beliefs, the effect is to divide society into war- 
ring factions; into citizens and outlaws; into "we" and "they." 
This consequence appears with startHng clarity in Dr. T. V. 
Smith's version of the Lovejoy argument. '"''We do not owe any- 
body the right to destroy what it is our dntv to maintain. But 
loe may owe ourselves as democrats a duty which toe do not owe 
those who warn us in advance of what they'' II do to us and our 
schools when their suborned teaching enables the crouching com- 
rades to seize our power. . . . Duties ■w\\ich. we owe merely to 
ourselves are of course limited to our advantage. . . . Our duty 
is in fact to maintain for ourselves the freedoms without which 
nve cannot be good teachers. To make their rights the first line 
of defense of our freedom foredooms us to lose that fight." ^ 
(Emphasis mine.) 

The great merit of this argument is that it is utterly devoid of 
double-talk. It states, with complete candor, the proposition that 
the question of what rights shall be accorded citizens who are 
Communists is solely a matter of expediency. Having determined 
what rights we shall allow them, "we can move to co-operate 
with the un-American activities committees of nation and state; 
for they are within their rights even when they are off their 
manners. . . . We do not need to be on the defensive about 
Communists. We owe them nothing." We should sacrifice them 
with a good conscience when it is inexpedient to defend them 
and with gladness when it serves a purpose which we owe to 
ourselves "professionally and to our kind patriotically." This 

^ Aniericcm Scholar, supra, p. 343. 

1 86 Witch Hunt 

places the whole question of civil rights for Communists on about 
the same footing that the Nazis placed the question of what 
should be done with the Jews. From this point of view, it might 
be politically expedient to retain Communists on university fac- 
ulties if it served our foreign policy or if they were few in num- 
ber, nationally, and were behaving themselves properly. That 
there might be any difficulty in distinguishing between the "we," 
with rights, and the "they" without rights is a matter apparently 
of little concern to T. V. Smith. But it might disturb him very 
much someday if the political pendulum were to swing to the 
other extreme and he suddenly found himself in the "they" 

In a period of great political tension, it is impossible to purge 
faculties of partisans from both extremes. What then passes for 
"impartiality" and "objective teaching" is an intense partisanship 
of the right. "If it were possible," writes Dr. Robert P. Pettengill, 
"to purge college faculties of all external restraint upon free in- 
quiry and free teaching, I would favor action toward that end. 
But it is impossible. You can only purge one group. And the 
purge frightens those who remain so that the total amount of 
external restraint increases. The fear of being accused of heresy 
causes professors to lean over backward to avoid teaching any- 
thing which might make them suspect. . . . And those in the pay 
of approved groups or dependent upon their favor will continue 
as now to violate the standards of free inquiry and free teaching 
in the name of which wc would purge Communists." " 


The basic argument for the purge of Communist instructors is 
that a state university must yield to the demands of the legisla- 
ture however outrageous these demands may be. As one member 
of the trial committee in the Seattle case observed: "The people 
are sovereign in respect to American public education. They 
have the right to establish the policies governing the conduct of 

^° Los Angeles Twies, May 19, 1949. 

The Great Debate 187 

educational institutions." The argument, in fine, is that since the 
legislature has the power to oust Communists from the faculty, 
the administration must take this action whenever the legislature 
indicates that it should be done. 

Underlying this notion that a legislature has unlimited control 
over a state university is the idea that the policies of a state uni- 
versit^" must conform to the climate of political opinion as meas- 
ured by a public opinion poll. This idea in turn, as Dr. Henry 
Nash Smith has pointed out, ", . . rests on a conception of primi- 
tive tribal cohesion that \\'ould restrain intellectual diversity and 
disagreement for the sake of organic integrity in the social group" 
whereas it is the primary responsibility of a university to main- 
tain *'. . . that constant play of mind over all the possibilities of 
human existence which is the life of culture." When a fear of the 
future spreads throughout a society, the fear often gives rise to 
a desire to mobilize for defense, "to strengthen the society's 
powers of survival at whatever cost to its powers of growth and 
flexibility." At such moments, societies react almost reflexively; 
exposed parts are quickly pulled under the shell of "securit)^" as 
society "freezes," taut and tense. It is at such moments that un- 
reflecting spokesmen invariably demand that differences of opin- 
ion should be suppressed for the sake of security .^'^ 

There is always a special quality about this fear of the future. 
It is not a fear of any one thing but of everything and anything, 
of war, economic disaster, "alien" philosophies, "foreign ene- 
mies," the exhaustion of resources, and many minor phobic fears. 
The very ambience of these fears endangers the whole domain of 
free thought. The least tolerable are those differences of opinion 
which imply some agreement "with the enemy." Hence the first 
effort to enforce orthodoxy always takes the form of punishing 
supposed agents of the enemy but, as Dr. Smith has pointed out, 
"the fear to which these efforts give expression is much broader 
and vaguer than a simple fear of Russia. It is of any sort of vital 
disagreement — in short, of heresy.^'' (Emphasis mine.) In the 
very nature of things, this fear can never be appeased. Every 
yielding to it only further distorts the image of "the enemy" 

"^"^ Pacific Spectator, summer 1949, p. 329. 

1 88 Witch Hunt 

and each distortion brings new demands for additional repressive 

Here, then, was the real situation in Washington: "The legis- 
lature grows fearful, and seeks relief from its fears in the standard 
device of an investigating committee. The committee, presumably 
with ample help from the newspapers, sets about purifying the 
University. This situation, and not the prese?ice of a fezu Com- 
TJiimists on the faculty, contains the really serious threat to higher 
education." (Emphasis mine.) It is this fear which threatens not 
merely academic freedom but the whole structure of civic free- 
dom in America today. The schools and colleges, however, have 
a special relevance to the fear since they are so highly prized by 
the people. Merely to suggest that the schools are being sub- 
verted will always bring forth a protest from the people. Hence 
universities must be specially safeguarded against this fear which 
can stampede a legislature into the most absurd, and dangerous, 
measures. And the way to shield a university from the endless 
restraints and impositions of a fear-ridden legislature is to see to 
it that the process of legislative intervention is checked at the 
outset by defending the right of Communists and non-Com- 
munists alike to responsible freedom of opinion and freedom of 

This does not mean, of course, that academic freedom is an ab- 
solute right or that teachers enjoy complete freedom. The vexing 
question of the teacher's responsibility was given brilliant analysis 
by Dr. Alexander Meiklejohn some twenty years or more ago 
and his conclusions have stood the test of time. The question, as 
he pointed out then, has two aspects: "responsible for" and "re- 
sponsible to." The teacher is responsible for his students; not to 
them. He is responsible on behalf of parents but not to them. No 
teacher worthy of the name would ever agree that the success 
or failure of his teaching was to be judged by what parents 
thought of it. Nor is the teacher responsible to the public. "More 
than anything else," wrote Meiklejohn, "the public interest of a 
democracy demands that its learning and teaching shall be free, 
shall not be subject to popular pressure or review. . . . No de- 
mocracy can afford to have either its courts or its learning subject 

The Great Debate 189 

to its own whims, its caprices, its ignorances, or even its common 
sense." ^" 

Is the teacher, then, responsible to the donors, the fund raisers? 
The question answers itself for if the donors retained the power 
of control, they would deny their own competence; they make 
donations because they think other persons are more competent 
to instruct the young than they would be. Is the teacher respon- 
sible to the trustees, the regents? Legally yes, since they have the 
power; but "a college in which the faculty and president were 
overruled on academic issues would be something other than an 
institution of learning." To the state, then? "No state is safe either 
for itself or for its people, unless its basic principles as well as its 
customary procedure are open to the free and unhindered criti- 
cism of its citizens. And in this sense our schools and teachers are 
foremost in the work of critical understanding. Every free people 
knows that its state is an instrument of its will which must be 
constantly studied and examined, which must be kept true and 
made even more true to the purpose which it serves. It follows 
that no free people will allow its state to restrain its scholars and 

To whom, then, is the teacher responsible? And here is the 
answer: "As against the truth which scholars have there is the 
truth for which they strive." This truth is rarely achieved but 
to it the teacher is responsible, for ". . . somehow in the very 
nature of the world itself there is a meaning which M^e seek, a 
meaning which is there whether we find it there or not. That 
meaning is the final standard of our work, the measure of all we 
do or hope to do or fail to do. To it we are responsible." 

'^-Freedom and the College, 1923. 


The Verdict of the Educators 

As THE GREAT DEBATE moved foiward it became increasingly im- 
perative that the educational organizations should take a position. 
Of these, the National Education Association is the largest and, 
by all odds, the most influential. With an active membership of 
400,000 — made up of teachers, principals, superintendents, and 
other school officials — it claims a total or affiliated membership 
of twice this number. "Its policies," according to Benjamin Fine, 
"are frequently put into practice in schools throughout the na- 
tion." The manner in which the N.E.A. decided the Communist 
issue, it was generally recognized, would constitute the verdict of 
American educators on the Great Debate. 


In June 1949, the Educational Policies Commission of the 
N.E.A. issued a report on American Educatio7i and hiternational 
Tensio7is which was clearly intended as a brief in support of the 
campaign to put the membership on record against the employ- 
ment of Communist teachers. The major premise of the report, 
which was released on June 8, is to be found in the statement that 
the cold war "will continue indefinitely without armed con- 
flict." ^ And its most important recommendation is simply that 
"members of the Communist Party of the United States should 
not be employed as teachers." 

The verdict, of course, was exactly what the public expected. 
Dr. Earl J. McGrath, U. S. Commissioner of Education, promptly 
presented the report to the President and briefed Mr. Truman on 

1 Page 4 of this report. 

The Verdict of the Educators 191 

the politics of American education. The next day Mr. Truman 
pubhcly endorsed the report, referring specifically to the recom- 
mendation on Communist teachers. On the basis of this careful 
build-up, the adoption of the report by the membership was a 
foregone conclusion. Failure to endorse now would be tanta- 
mount to a vote of censure of the nation's foreign policy and a 
rebuke to the President. 

One month later, the 87th Annual Convention of the N.E.A. 
was called to order in Boston. At a special session called to discuss 
the report in a preliminary way, some 250 delegates insisted on 
endorsing the recommendation that Communists should be barred 
as teachers. When a representative of the Teachers Union spoke 
against the recommendation, she merely succeeded, according to 
the press report, in making the chairman "very angry." "You 
should know," he informed the delegates, "that the lady who just 
spoke represents an organization that consistently follows the 
Communist Party hne." ~ 

The next day the report came before the main body of the 
delegates and was overwhelmingly adopted. In taking this action, 
reported Benjamin Fine, "the teachers made American educa- 
tional history." More than one editorial referred to the vote as 
the most important ever recorded by American educators. As the 
delegates prepared to vote, Dr. John K. Norton of Teachers Col- 
lege made a speech in which he said that "nothing so important 
as Communists being permitted to teach has come before the 
N.E.A. in the last thirty years. . . . The country is looking at 
what we do in the next half hour." Actually the report was 
scheduled to come before the convention at another time and 
both the debate and the vote were out of order and took place 
under circumstances described as "tumultuous and confused." 
Later the convention voted approval of a resolution barring Com- 
munist teachers from membership in the association. A standing 
vote was ordered when one educator demanded that the dis- 
senters "stand up and be counted." Five delegates stood up. 

"The educators recognized that it would be a difficult task to 
detect and ferret out Communist teachers from either the N E. A. 

^See N. Y. Times, July 6, 1949. 

192 Witch Hunt 

or the classroom," reported Benjamin Fine, "and they insisted 
that the campaign against Communist teachers be conducted in a 
thoroughly democratic fashion; that no one should be unjustly 
accused; that no 'witch hunts' should take place. Only the bona 
fide dues-paying Communist teacher, the educators held, should 
be hounded out of the schools." ^ Communist teachers — and note 
the phrasing — are to be "hounded" out of the schools in a 
"thoroughly democratic fashion." At some future convention, 
the N.E.A. may be called upon to define the procedures by which 
this resolution can be implemented. Will it approve, for example, 
the suggestion made by a spokesman for the Board of Higher 
Education of New York that the screening process should start 
with the admission of students to the teachers' colleges? * 

The same convention that considered the Communist issue 
heard the report of the Committee on Tenure and Academic Free- 
dom which brought out these facts: (i) that 22 states have 
adopted oath-of-allegiance requirements for teachers; (2) that 
8 states in 1949 considered bills to authorize the dismissal of 
teachers because of membership in "subversive" organizations; 
(3) that 5 states in 1949 adopted laws which involve new re- 
straints upon the intellectual freedom of teachers; (4) that 38 
states have general sedition laws, 2 1 states forbid seditious teach- 
ing, and 31 states forbid teachers belonging to groups which 
advocate sedition; (5) that 12 states authorize the dismissal of 
teachers for "disloyalty," undefined; and (6) that 2 states author- 
ize "checks" on the loyalty of teachers. 

Viewing these developments "with alarm," the N.E.A. went 
on record against loyalty oaths. Still more recently the Educa- 
tional Policies Commission has issued a sharp warning against the 
dangers of loyalty oaths for teachers. But how can an organiza- 
tion on record against the employment of Communists as teach- 
ers logically object to loyalty oaths and investigations? Mrs. 
Johanna M. Lindlof, an influential member, has attempted to 
explain the contradiction by saying that loyalty oaths are inef- 
fective in ousting Communists since "a disloyal teacher will not 

^Ibid., July 10, 1949. 
^Ibid., September 16, 1949. 

The Verdict of the Educators 193 

hesitate to sign any kind of oath." But what are the facts? In 1942 
the Rapp-Coudert Committee reported to the New York Legisla- 
ture that 69 Communists were teaching in the pubUc sciiools. Sub- 
sequently these teachers either resigned or were removed and in 
virtually every case the ouster came about as a result of false 
denials under oath of Communist Party membership. It would 
seem, therefore, that loyalty oaths can be effective in weeding 
out Communist teachers.'^ By going on record against loyalty 
oaths, the N.E.A. has put itself in the curious, position of refusing 
to implement its policy statements on the employment of Com- 
munists and their disqualification as members. Just what, then, 
was the meaning of the adoption of these resolutions? 

Some valuable clues to an understanding of the N.E.A.'s in- 
consistent behavior may be found in Dr. Howard K. Beale's study, 
Are A?nerican Teachers Free? (1936). According to Dr. Beale, 
the N.E.A. has never shown much interest in academic freedom 
(it first appointed a committee on the subject in 1934); and for 
many years, the organization was largely responsible for blocking 
the tenure movement for teachers in the United States.^ "During 
the days of red-baiting (after the First World War)," writes 
Dr. Beale, "one waited in vain for a pronouncement from the 
N.E.A. in defense of 'radical' teachers." Instead the N.E.A. 
proceeded to join with the American Legion, and other organiza- 
tions, in a general witch hunt. Its current policy statements, 
therefore, would seem to be in line with a traditional policy 
adopted long before the present crisis in Soviet-American rela- 

Today more than half the nation's 900,000 public school teach- 
ers lack even the simplest tenure protection and can be dismissed 
without explanation, notice, or a statement of reasons.'^ In this 
fact may be found, perhaps, the real explanation for the N.E.A.'s 
hysterical resolution of the question: "Should Communists Be 
Permitted to Teach?" Lacking tenure, how could the members 

^See article by Leon Egan, N. Y. Tmies, September i8, 1949. 
^ See pp. 683-695. 

'^See "Education in Review" by Benjamin Fine, N. Y, Times ^ October 2, 

194 Witch Hmit 

of the N.E.A. fail to concur in a policy statement which was 
put up to them, in effect, by the President of the United States? 
By adopting these statements, the members were proving to the 
public, and to their employers, that they were loyal, trustu'orthy, 
and opposed to heresy. In the guise of declaring war on Com- 
munism, they were seeking a measure of security. What they 
feared was not the presence of a handful of Communist teachers 
but the possibility of their being caught up in the surge of anti- 
Communist demagoguery. According to a Gallup Poll of Sep- 
tember 2 1, 1949, 73 per cent of the American people believe that 
Communists should not be permitted to teach, even in colleges 
and universities. Naturally the public school teachers were afraid 
of being put in a position of even apparent opposition to this 
majority sentiment. On the other hand, many of the people who 
participated in the Gallup Poll unquestionably voted against the 
employment of Communists because they, too, feared the slight- 
est identification with the heresy of Communism. As in all witch 
hunts, the fear of being mistakenly identified as a witch stimulates 
and sustains the belief in witchcraft. 

The economic insecurity of teachers, however, has a further 
relevance to this fear. By "pure coincidence," according to the 
press, the report of the Educational Policies Commission was re- 
leased on the same day, June 8, that the House Committee on Un- 
American Activities acknowledged that it had sent out requests to 
81 colleges and high schools for lists of textbooks in the follow- 
ing fields: literature, geography, economics, government, phi- 
losophy, history, political science, "and any other of the social 
science groups." Could it be that the N.E.A. had decided to 
launch an attack against Communist teachers as a means of 
avoiding, if possible, a textbook investigation? ^ 

The N.E.A. is on record, of course, against the proposed text- 
book investigation. But if a Communist teacher is objectionable, 
then surely a Communist text is objectionable. If teachers cannot 
be trusted politically, then they cannot be trusted to eliminate 
Communist texts. The recommendation that Communists should 
not be permitted to teach implies that there are teachers who are 

^See story by Bess Furman, N. Y. Times, June 9, 1949. 

The Verdict of the Educators 195 

Communists. If there are teachers who are Communists, there may 
well be Communist texts and teaching materials. Yet the N.E.A., 
while denying the right of membership to Communists, and op- 
posing their right to teach, is against loyalty oaths, textbook in- 
vestigations, and denounces as "thought control" any attempt to 
restrict the political activities of American teachers! 

Simultaneously with the N.E.A. convention in Boston, the 
American Association of University Professors reaffirmed its tra- 
ditional stand that membership in the Communist Party, so long 
as the party is a legal party, should not preclude one from being 
a teacher.'' Although the A.A.U.P. has had vastly more experi- 
ence with academic freedom issues than the N.E.A. its position 
was lightly glossed over by the press. Editorial writers who had 
endorsed the stand of the N.E.A. uniformly opposed the stand 
of the A.A.U.P.^« 

At the same time, still another related issue failed to attract the 
public's attention, namely, the right of members of various Catho- 
lic religious orders to teach in the public schools. On March 10, 
1949, Judge E. T. Hensley, in New Mexico, handed down a de- 
cision permanently barring 143 priests, nuns, and brothers from 
teaching in 26 tax-supported schools in the state.^^ These indi- 
viduals were barred, however, for specific reasons: the teaching 
of sectarian doctrine, the installing of crosses and religious pic- 
tures, the hanging up of emblems and statues and the like. Some- 
what later an initiative measure requiring members of Catholic 
religious orders to appear in secular garb if they were to continue 
teaching in the public schools was adopted in North Dakota 
(where 75 Catholic sisters were teaching in a public school sys- 
tem that included 6500 teachers). In both cases, the arguments 
used were very similar to those advanced to justify the ouster of 

^N. Y. Tinier, July ii, 1949. 

^*^See two editorials in the Denver Post: "They'll Keep the House in 
Order Themselves," July 8, 1949, praising the N.E.A.'s position, and "The 
Professors Confuse Our Academic Freedoms," July 13, criticizing the posi- 
tion of the A.A.U.P. Also see San Francisco Chroni'cle, July 7 and July 18, 

^^ See "Church and State in New Mexico" by R. L. Chambers, the Nation, 
August 27, 1949. 

196 Witch Hunt 

Communist teachers. Members of the CathoHc religious orders 
were not "free agents"; they failed to distinguish between teach- 
ing and advocacy; they had "dual loyalties," and so forth. 

The fact that these issues were not related to the question dis- 
cussed in the Great Debate indicates that the resolution of the 
problems of Communist teachers by the N.E.A. was not so much 
a reaffirmation of faith in democratic values as a tactical maneu- 
ver designed to align educators and teachers with the forces sup- 
porting the foreign policy of the administration in power. This 
tendency to demand ideological conformity from all profes- 
sional and occupational groups exists today, in varying degrees, 
in almost every nation and the demand is being voiced in this 
country with a steadily increasing arrogance and insistence. For 
we live, as Stephen Spender has pointed out, in a world in which 
"everything follows automatically from the dominant policy," 
whatever that policy may be. Total diplomacy seems to imply 
total conformity. 

Just how far this tendency has gone and how arrogant the de- 
mand for conformity has become may be illustrated by a recent 
development in the New York schools. Following the suspension 
of eight teachers for failure to state whether they were or were 
not members of the Communist Party, the Board of Education, 
by a vote of 7 to i, barred the Teachers Union, Local 555, United 
Public Workers, from all official dealings w^ith the cits^'s public 
school system. The eight suspended teachers \^'ere all members 
of this union. In a brilliant but lonely dissent, Mr. Charles J. 
Bensley pointed out the meaning of the majority's decision: "If 
the privilege of representation by the Teachers Union is denied 
now, what then is the next logical step? Conceivably, any member 
of the Board of Education who finds himself in disagreement on 
any issue with any teachers organization, may then introduce a 
similar resolution on the grounds that such organization is dis- 
ruptive. The issues of the moment, ho^^^ever grave they be, must 
not blind us so that we would sweep aside basic rights inherent in 
our American democratic heritage," ^^ 


^^N. Y. Times, June 2, 1950, story by Murray Illson. For other stories by 
Mr. Illson see same source, May 4, 5, 19, and 20, 1950. 

The Verdict of the Educators 197 

The deterioration in democratic rights for teachers has there- 
fore followed this path: (a) the denial that a teacher, otherwise 
competent and properh^ accredited, can teach if the teacher is a 
Communist; (b) the denial to such teachers of the right of mem- 
bership in associations of teachers and educators; and (c) the 
denial to teachers of the right to be represented by unions of 
their own choice. For example, the American Federation of 
Teachers, meeting In Milwaukee, revoked the charter of Local 
430 — the Los Angeles local — on a charge that that union fol- 
lowed left-wing policies; and, in similar fashion many unions 
have expelled members on a charge that they were Communists.^' 

Thus any teacher can be placed in mortal danger by any super- 
visor who cares to hurl the charge of "Communist" and the 
whole structure of rights, including the right to be represented 
bv unions of the teacher's choice, comes tumbling down. For 
there is really no defense to the charge in the present climate of 
opinion; and just how, indeed, does one go about the task of 
proving that he is not a Communist? In short, any opposition — 
to the government's policies, to the school board's policies, to 
trade union policies — can be silenced simply by hurling the 
charge of heretic. No finer technique was ever invented for silenc- 
ing an opposition and for ruling without argument, debate, dis- 
cussion, or consent. 


"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first 
— verdict afterward." 

— Alice In Wonderland 

Shortly after the Regents had acted in Washington, Governor 
Thomas E. Dewey signed the Feinberg Law by which the New 
York Legislature in effect re-enacted the notorious Lusk Laws 
of 192 1. Declared constitutional by the Appellate Division, Second 
Department, on March 3, 1950, the Feinberg Law warrants atten- 

'^^Ibid., August 28, 1949. 

198 Witch Hunt 

tion as the outstanding antiheresy enactment of 1949. The legisla- 
tion was rushed through the closing hours of the session without 
public hearings and with little debate. So slight was the considera- 
tion given the measure that it was assumed that the governor 
would request the Regents or the Department of Education to 
submit an analysis of the bill before he signed it. As a matter of 
fact, a memorandum urging a veto was actually being prepared 
by the Department of Education when word arrived that Gov- 
ernor Dewey had signed the bill almost as hurriedly as it had been 
rushed through the legislature.^* 

Here is Judith Crist's explanation for the extraordinary ease 
and dispatch with which the measure was adopted. "Although 
there are three reliable liberals on New York City's nine-man 
school board, only one dared speak openly against the Feinberg 
law . . . and when the law was under consideration by the board, 
he had voted in approval. The State Commissioner of Education 
and many members of the Board of Regents were known to be 
opposed to the proposed bill from the start, but were silent. The 
individual teacher knew of course that he could not with any 
safety speak out against a law that in the future could be applied 
against him. But why did so many liberals choose to sit this one 
out? Because the Communist Party, by leading the fight against 
the Feinberg law, had put the kiss of death on all others who 
opposed it. Who dared to ally himself with the Communists?" ^^ 
Doubtless this was the explanation offered by the liberals but the 
fear of being allied with Communists manifests a fear of anti- 
Communist demagogues. Mere aversion to Communism and 
Communists would hardly account for the failure of teachers 
to oppose such drastic legislation. The teachers, the major interest- 
group involved, were obviously intimidated by the fact that active 
opposition could be cited as evidence of subversive inclinations 
should the legislation be enacted. 

At the time the Feinberg Law was passed, New York already 
had a law requiring teachers to take an oath of loyalty. Indeed 

^* See N. Y. Thnes, April 2, 1949. 
^^See the Nation, December 10, 1949. 

The Verdict of the Educators 199 

the declaration of policy in the Feinberg Law recites, as one of 
the reasons for the act, that "the propaganda disseminated by 
Communists in classrooms is frequently so subtle as to defy de- 
tection.'' (Emphasis added.) Witches, it will be remembered, were 
supposed to practice a necromancy too subtle for ordinary lay- 
men to fathom. If classroom propaganda is too subtle to be de- 
tected by experts listening to recordings, could it possibly be 
effective propaganda? 

The Feinberg Law, of course, fails to define the word "sub- 
versive." To remedy this defect, the Regents created a commit- 
tee to study the matter and to define their responsibilities. Only 
five organizations had been placed on the list when the law went 
into effect on July i, 1949: the Communist Party; the Socialist 
Workers Party; the Workers Party; the Industrial Workers of 
the World; and the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico. At first the 
Regents refused to hold open hearings but they finally consented 
to hear from these organizations. The hearing, however, was held 
after the organizations had been listed as subversive. This, of 
course, is in line with the novel current theory of due process: 
sentence first and then the verdict. 

Having settled the problem of what organizations were "sub- 
versive," the Regents then adopted a set of rules and regulations 
of which the following are the pertinent provisions: (i) Before 
appointing any superintendent or teacher the nominating official 
shall make a personal investigation of the "loyalty" of the appli- 
cant. (2) School authorities are required to designate one or more 
officials to prepare written annual reports on the loyalty of each 
teacher or employee. (3) The school authorities, in turn, are 
ordered to report on the superintendents. (4) Membership in 
any organization listed as subversive shall, within ten days after 
the organization is listed, constitute "prima facie evidence of dis- 
qualification." (5) Past membership in any such organization 
shall be "presumptive evidence" that membership has continued, 
thereby casting on the teacher the burden of proving termination 
in good faith. Dr. Francis T. Spaulding, State Commissioner of 
Education, commented on these regulations as follows: 

200 Witch Hunt 

The writing of articles, the distribution of pamphlets, the 
endorsement of speeches made or articles written or acts 
performed by others, all may constitute subversive activity. 
Nor need such activity be confined to the classroom. Trea- 
sonable or subversive acts or statements outside the school 
are as much a basis for dismissal as are similar activities in 
school or in the presence of school children." 

Shortly after the law went into effect, Dr. William Jansen, 
Superintendent of Schools in New York, announced that 6 of a 
total of 40,000 teachers and employees were under investigation. 
Can it be that this drastic legislation was called forth by such a 
ludicrous disproportion betu'een "loyal" and possibly "disloyal" 
employees? "Principals," reads the news account, "will file re- 
ports with Dr. Jansen on all teachers and clerks in their schools. 
The principals will, in turn, be checked on by assistant superin- 
tendents. Bureau heads will file reports about janitors. The Board 
of Education, as a whole, has the responsibility for ascertaining 
Dr. Jansen's loyalty." ^' But what about the loyalt)^ of the board? 
And who tests- the loyalty of the voters? 

Despite the stringency of the rules and regulations, Mr. John P. 
Myers, Vice-Chancellor of the Board of Regents, gravely reas- 
sured the teachers that ". . . nothing under these rules will in 
any way interfere with the freedom of any individual to join, 
affiliate or associate with, support, or oppose any organization, 
liberal or conservative, which is not disloyal to our form of gov- 
ernment."^^ This reassurance will be of slight comfort to the 
teachers of New York now that the act has finally been upheld in 
the courts. Drastic as were the Lusk Laws of 192 1, they were mild 
by comparison with the strait-jacket provisions of the Feinberg 
Law. Yet when an effort was made to set up a committee to work 
for the repeal of the law, the Catholics refused to work with 
representatives of the American Labor Part}^; the Teachers Guild 
(AFL) refused to participate with the Teachers Union (CIO); 
and the movement soon collapsed. Both the enactment of the 

^^N. F. Thnes, July 23, 1949. 
^'^ Ibid., September 13, 1949. 
^^ Ibid., July 16, 1949. 

The Verdict of the Educators 201 

Feinberg Law and the failure to repeal it may be traced to the 
dangerous susceptibility of democratic leaders to the hypnotic 
power of anti-Communist demagoguery. In this crucial test, the 
democratic leadership capitulated without a struggle and with 
scarcely a protest. 


In Dubious Directions 

Today we are living in an ideological 
devil's cauldron, with ourselves and all our 
values tossed about and obscured. This 
... is one of the great historical eras of 
institutional change ... a time when the 
institutional chunks of our culture grind 
against each other in a movement so vast 
as to dwarf the individual. Never before in 
our national life have the will and the voice 
of a single man of integrity and good will 
seemed so impotent; only group action 
any longer counts for social change, and 
the middle class man can find no group 
with whom to move except those carrying 
old banners in dubious directions. 


In recommending the ouster of two Communists from the fac- 
ulty. President Raymond B. Allen took occasion to point out to 
the Regents of the University of Washington that the pursuit of 
truth must be not only "so objective that it will withstand the 
fire of criticism" but so impartial as not to offend "the tough, 
hard-headed world of affairs." This is tantamount to saying, of 
course, that the pursuit of truth must lead to socially neutral con- 
clusions or to conclusions that find support in the tough, hard- 
headed world of affairs. In placing this severe limitation on the 
pursuit of truth. Dr. Allen is the victim of a false idealism. 

It is, of course, no answer to the problem of Communism to 
point out that we have permitted this tough, hard-headed world 
of affairs to control the higher learning in America; but, if true, 

hi Dubious Directiojis 203 

this fact should warn us against "carrying old banners in dubious 
directions." It should also demonstrate that the removal of a hand- 
ful of Communist teachers will not "free" American education. 
The idealists who have urged the removal of Communist instruc- 
tors in the name of "academic freedom" have maintained a truly 
remarkable silence about the encroachment of the tough, hard- 
headed world of affairs on the freedom of American colleges and 


The commissars who direct the higher learning in the Soviet 
Union do so by forms and processes that are as plainly coercive 
as a club in the hands of a policeman. But there are several differ- 
ent kinds of clubs, some visible, some invisible, and comparisons 
are generally invidious and futile for each society uses the type 
of club it finds most effective. The discussion of clubs, moreover, 
can skid off into a comparison of the relative disadvantages of 
different forms of coercion. On this basis alone, one may sensibly 
conclude that coercion by commissars is much worse than coer- 
cion by trustees. 

Under any form of government, the control of education is a 
basic public question and "the higher learning" is the crucial phase 
of the problem of control. For example, it is significant that the 
debate about Communist teachers has been largely addressed to 
the question of Communist teachers in colleges and universities. 
Control of higher education has always implied control of the en- 
tire education system for it implies control of what shall be 
taught, by whom, and by what methods. But, of recent years, the 
control of higher education has acquired an even greater strategic 
significance. In the first place, the number of students has greatly 
increased: from 237,592 college students in 1900, constituting 
4 per cent of the college age youth, to 1,494,203 students, or 15.6 
per cent of the college age youth, in 1940. Today some 2,354,000 
students are enrolled in American colleges and universities.^ The 

^ Vol. VI, Report President's Commission on Higher Education, p. 19. 

204 Witch Hunt 

great expansion in all types of scientific research, and the rele- 
vance of this research to industrial requirements and military 
strategy, have given the control of higher education an entirely 
new significance. And these factors, of course, merely serve to 
emphasize the increasingly significant role which institutions of 
higher learning have come to play in influencing social change. 
On this score, too, the importance of the social sciences can hardly 
be overemphasized. Slight wonder, then, that the control of 
higher education has become a major strategic objective in the 
struggle between rival ideologies and conflicting social forces." 

Between the Civil War and the turn of the century, the control 
of American colleges and universities passed from the hands of 
clergymen into the hands of businessmen and politicians. In i860 
clergymen comprised 39 per cent of the trustees of private insti- 
tutions of learning; but by 1930 they made up only 7 per cent 
of the board members. In a study made in 1936, Dr. Earl J. 
McGrath pointed out that "the control of higher education in 
America, both public and private, has been placed in the hands 
of a small group of the population, namely, financiers and busi- 
nessmen. From tu^o-thirds to three-fourths of the persons on these 
boards in recent years have been from this group." ^ 

One is told, of course, that it is entirely "natural" and "neces- 
sary" that businessmen should dominate the boards of American 
educational institutions. The inference, obviously, is that busi- 
nessmen are selected as trustees because of their business acumen 
and their ability to stimulate the flow of funds. But Veblen was 
the first, perhaps, to discover that businessmen are selected as 
trustees primarily to enforce conformit)^ to orthodox opinions 
and observances; whereas the clergymen, ironically enough, are 
extremely active and effective fund-raisers. The function of the 
businessman as trustee is to exercise close surveillance over the 
college in the interest of the business world. 

Dr. Hubert Park Beck recently analyzed the backgrounds of 
734 trustees making up the governing boards of 30 leading i\meri- 
can universities (carefully selected on the basis of accepted cri- 

2 See comments by Harold J. Laski, the Nation, August 13, 1949. 
^Educational Record, Vol. XVII, April 1936, pp. 259-272. 

In Dubious Directions 205 

teria of excellence and leadership). Of this number, only 36 were 
"educators" in any sense; only 6 came from the fine arts; 7 were 
farmers ( i per cent of the total) ; 48, or 6.6 per cent, were clergy- 
men; while 71 per cent were businessmen, proprietors, managers, 
lawyers, or officials holding key directorships in business. In short, 
two thirds of the trustees came from the world of business. Only 
one of the 734 trustees had a trade-union background; and there 
was no representation from the white collar or clerical group or 
from the world of the small tradesman. It should be noted, more- 
over, that both private and pubUc institutions were included in 
the survey.^ 

Identification with the business community does not neces- 
sarily imply class bias; but the businessmen in this study were not 
just ordinary businessmen — they represented the elite of the 
business world. The average net taxable annual income of half 
the trustees included in the survey was $102,000. Nearly half the 
total were sixty years of age or over; only 35, or 3,4 per cent, 
were women; 417 were Protestants, 54 Catholics, and 9 Jewish; 
and, of half the group, 259 were Republicans, 161 Democrats, and 
22 belonged to some other political category. Approximately 437 
were club members and one third were listed in the Social Reg- 
ister. These and other facts cited in the study justify Dr. Beck's 
conclusion that the control of the higher learning in America 
shows "a biased class structure. . . . Unavoidably, the heavy 
dominance of a single major social class . . . provides an oppor- 
tunity for subtly perverting the great resources and potentialities 
of higher education from the service of society as a whole to the 
service of a special class — the highly privileged class to which 
the board members principally belong." ^ 

It will be said, by way of reply, that this state of affairs merely 
reflects the sudden emergence of business as a system of power 
and that, later on, better balanced boards will be elected. But 
trustees, unfortunately, are not "elected"; they are either ap- 
pointed or "co-opted." Co-optation is, by all odds, the most com- 
mon method — that is, the filling of a vacancy by vote of the 

* The Men Who Control Our Universities by Hubert Park Beck, 1947. 
^ Ibid., p. 143. 

2o6 Witch Hunt 

remaining trustees or board members. As a consequence, Dr. Beck 
points out that the places of deceased members, and those who 
resign, tend to be filled by men of the same generation and the 
same political, religious, and social outlook. "Practical experience 
. . . shows conclusively that self-perpetuating boards are exposed 
to the risks of becoming devitalized through active and inactive 
conservatism which comes from social and class inbreeding." ^ 

Most anomalous in a democracy is the fact that American trus- 
tees exercise their po^^'ers without the consent of the governed. 
Neither the faculty nor the students can review or veto board 
decisions. The omnipotence of the trustees, in fact, is so com- 
monly the rule that we tend to accept it as a universal aspect of 
higher education; actually the practice is almost unknown outside 
the North American continent. Elsewhere both students and 
faculty have always been given a real voice in the control of 
university affairs. The general European practice, in this respect, 
has always been more "democratic" than the American.'^ 

Nor are American trustees figureheads or dummies. They have 
real power. They select the president who, in the American sys- 
tem, has important executive powers. The trustees generally can 
approve or veto the president's recommendations for appoint- 
ments, promotions, transfers, demotions, and dismissals. The presi- 
dent proposes; the trustees dispose. Their control of the budget 
is crucial. It is this control which creates the illusion of unlimited 
freedom; only those research projects, for example, can be carried 
forward for which provision is made in the budget. It is more 
polite, of course, to limit the range of inquiry in advance but it 
gives the instructor the illusion of a freedom which, in point of 
fact, he does not possess. 

The president, in the American system, has increasingly come 
to occupy a role analogous to that of the chief executive in a 
factory or business. His functions, as a "captain of erudition" 
rather than as "a captain of industry," are largely strategic. To 
this end, he must have an administrative staff which is loyal to 

^Ibid., p. 117. 

''The American Democracy by Harold J. Laski, 1948, p. 345; also Beck, 
supra, p. 30. 

In Dubious Directions 207 

him; the whole university personnel must be organized along 
much the same lines as the management staff of a large corpora- 
tion, while the academic staff tends to become, as Veblen noted, 
"a body of graded subalterns" with no decisive voice in policy. 
As the key executive, the president is supposed to be "a strong 
man" but he is strong, as Veblen so shrewdly observed, only 
insofar as he is enabled "to move resistlessly with the parallelo- 
gram of forces" — witness the amazingly high turnover in the 
office. The real function of the president is that of "transmission 
and commutation" rather than "genesis and self-direction." 

This ambiguous distribution of power — the fact that power 
does not reside where it seems to reside — accounts for the fact 
that relatively few cases involving academic freedom have arisen 
in American universities. The absence of cases, in turn, re-enforces 
the illusion of complete freedom. "The cases in which there is 
open and clear interference with freedom of speech," writes 
Dr. Beck, "will be few. The more bafHing cases are those in 
which a steady and powerful, but ahnost invisible and impalpable 
pressure of an academic hierarchy suppresses, discourages, and 
seriously interferes with the usefulness and development of the 
independent and original thinker." ^ (My emphasis.) "The re- 
sponse to these fears of injury," writes Dr. Edmund Ezra Day, 
formerly president of Cornell, "is a policy of avoidance. . . . 
Care is exercised to see that no fighting issues are raised. The 
means that are employed to this end are usually well disguised — 
conservative methods in the recruitment of staff, systematic dis- 
crimination in the matter of promotions and increases of pay. . . . 
Open dismissals on the score of radicalism are, of course, avoided; 
restrictions on academic freedom must not be thought to play any 
part in institutional policy." ^ 

The precarious economic status of the American college and 
university instructor, which is much worse than is generally 
realized, however favorably it may compare with other systems, 
is an important factor in limiting academic freedom. During the 

^ See also The American Colleges and the Social Order by Robert Lincoln 
Kelly, 1940, p. 128. 

^Safeguarding Civil Liberty Today, 1945, p. 154. 

2o8 Witch Hunt 

1930's, salaries for university professors "varied from genteel pov- 
erty to comfort," but since then professors' salaries have risen less 
than half as much as livincr costs and about one fifth as much as 
the nation's per capita income. A recent study at Rutgers showed 
that 6^ per cent of the faculty found it impossible to live on 
their pay; living costs exceeded salaries by $708 on an average; 
1 7 per cent were barely solvent; and only 1 8 per cent were able 
to report savings. Of the 40 per cent who had been compelled to 
take outside work, two thirds reported that this activity had 
lessened their usefulness as instructors.^" 

The more the instructor's income is augmented by outside re- 
tainers, the more conscious he becomes of the limitations of 
academic freedom. The more successful he is, in the sense of 
increasing his income, the more rapid his rise within the academic 
hierarchy is likely to be. The swifter his rise, and the higher he 
rises, the more sensitive he will become to the intangible pressures 
for conformit)^ Before long, he will be justifying himself to 
himself by attacking the work of those scholars, for exam.ple, 
who refuse to write slovenly historical monographs for Life. And 
this crisis of the individual instructor, of course, merely parallels 
the larger financial crisis which now so gravely imperils the free- 
dom of American education. Costs have soared; the scale of re- 
search has greatly expanded; the number of students has sky- 
rocketed; tax-exempt dodges have been eliminated; and the num- 
ber of donors, and the size of their donations, have been reduced 
by the general tax situation. In 1950 the federal government will 
finance research in American colleges and universities to the tune 
of $100,000,000, and by the end of the decade the subsidy, it is 
estimated, will have jumped to more than $600,000,000 annually. 
The more dependent the colleges become on handouts from the 
federal government, the more sensitive they will be to political 
pressures and to the demand for conformit)^^^ 

^° "The Crisis in Higher Education" by Donald W. Mitchell, the Nation, 
December 11, 1948, p. 669. 

^^ See, generally: "The Threefold Crisis in Our Universities" by SevTnour 
E. Harris, N. Y. Ti77ies, October 30, 1949; "Fund Study Shows Crisis in 
Colleges" by Benjamin Fine, ibid., November 3, 1949; "More Colleges in 
Business, Imperiling Tax-Free Status" by Benjamin Fine, ibid., January 12, 

In Dubious Directio?2s 209 

The same illusion of freedom also appears when one examines 
the question of the extent to which higher educational facilities 
are really open to all Americans on a basis of equality. The em- 
barrassing fact is that whereas 80 per cent of the upper and upper 
middle class children go to college, only 20 per cent of the lower 
middle class and only 5 per cent of the lower class children get 
there.^^ Although these facts are well known, it remains inherently 
difficult to assimilate such information for the simple reason that 
the visible reality seems to refute the facts. American colleges 
appear to be "open"; the campus gates are not locked; anyone can 
walk in. Similarly the extent of academic freedom is consistently 
distorted by reason of the fact that it is primarily in one field only, 
in the social sciences, that the restrictions are seriously vexatious. 
It should not be forgotten that the American Association of Uni- 
versity Professors came into being in 19 14 because of the special 
concern for academic freedom that was then sensed by the Ameri- 
can Economic Association, the American Sociological Society, 
and the American Political Science Association. If an instructor 
is not teaching in the social sciences, or if his views happen to be 
conservative, he can enjoy an illusion of almost complete freedom 
on the average American college campus. 


As the history of the higher learning in Germany shows, illu- 
sions of the kind described above can completely blind a people 
to encroachments on academic freedom. The concept of aca- 
demic freedom, of course, was born in Germany and was much 
more securely and consistently safeguarded there, for many years, 
than anywhere in the world.^^ Yet all the while the reality of 
freedom was being steadily undermined. Even when the Nazis 

1950; "U. S. Giving $100,000,000 for Research in Colleges" by Benjamin 
Fine, ibid., December 5, 1949; "Choosing College Presidents" by Dr. Monroe 
Deutsch, School and Society, October 25, 1947. 

'^^ Social Class in America by Dr. W, Lloyd Warner, 1949, p. 25. 

^^ "Academic Freedom," Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. I, pp. 


Witch Hunt 

came to power in 1933, and promptly insisted that every teacher 
take an oath of fealty to Hitler, illusion-blinded instructors failed 
to sense any threat to their freedom. At first, the Nazis ignored 
the "practical" or "applied sciences" and concerned themselves 
primarily with the disciplines related to molding public opinion: 
history, sociology, psychology, and anthropology. But it was 
not long before Hitler told the head of the Kaiser Wilheim 
Society for the Advance of Science, which specialized in theoreti- 
cal scientific research, that "if the dismissal of Jewish scientists 
means the annihilation of contemporary German science, then we 
shall do without science for a few years." 

By 1937 a new institution, "the political university," had been 
fashioned in Germany. The semiautonomous administration and 
traditional liberties of the German university were arbitrarily set 
aside; a pall of petty revenge descended upon institutions of 
world-wide renown; the university atmosphere was poisoned at 
its sources; freedom of discussion was subjected to wholesale 
annihilation; and classrooms were thoroughly politicized. Stu- 
dents spied on teachers and "loyal" instructors informed on their 
colleagues. Long before the Nazi regime was destroyed, the 
German universities had experienced a degradation without par- 
allel in the history of education.^* 

The destruction of the freedom of the German university was 
a comparatively simple task as a brief glance at the mathematics 
of the Nazi purge will indicate. The Nazis dismissed 14.35 P^^ 
cent of the university faculties; but these dismissals gave them full 
control. The number of professors dismissed approximately 
equaled the number who, at the outset, had gone over to the 
Nazis (estimated at 960 or 11 per cent of the total). In other 
words, about 11 per cent were ardently pro-Nazi; about 14.35 
per cent were either anti-Nazi or Jewish or both; while the bulk 
of the instructors, perhaps 75 per cent, simply acquiesced in the 
-putsch. Illusions or no illusions, this element should have seen the 
mounting peril to academic freedom in Germany. For example. 
Dr. Frederic Lilge points out that the dismissal of Professor 

'^^ The German Ufiiversities and National Socialism by E. Y. Hartshome, 
1937; The Abuse of Learning by Dr. Frederic Lilge, 1948. 

hi Dubious Directions 


Gumbel at Heidelberg and of Professor Dehn at Halle, in 1925, 
clearly" foreshadowed the demise of academic freedom; yet no 
significant protest was organized. 

The key to this abject acquiescence of scholars in the abuse of 
learning is to be found in their blindness to the way in which 
the Nazis used an attack on Jewish professors as a cover for their 
attack on academic freedom. "The Jewish question," wrote Dr. 
Best, "is the dynamite with which we explode the forts where 
the last liberalist snipers have their nests. People who abandon the 
Jews abandon thereby their former way of life with its false 
ideas of liberty." ^^ Jew or Communist, the technique of using an 
attack on certain instructors to cover an attack on academic free- 
dom is essentially the same. The instructors selected as targets 
are never identified with powerful groups or associated with 
major parties. They are selected precisely because they are politi- 
cal untouchables, that is, without significant influence. To believe 
that those selected as targets constitute a "menacing" group is not 
only to miss the point of the tactic but to co-operate in its 

If the target, the victim, is a political untouchable, without 
much influence on the campus or in faculty councils, the chances 
are that his colleagues will not spring to his defense. The fear of 
being identified with heresy, however, rather than the political 
untouchability of the target per se, is the real measure of their 
reluctance to act. If these colleagues stand by and witness the 
destruction of the target without protest, their ability to resist 
later aggressions will be greatly weakened. By abandoning their 
unpopular associate, they have established a precedent and, at the 
same time, destroyed the basis of any real faculty solidarity. 
Though they feel compromised as individuals, their guilt will be 
rationalized in a manner that will later make it possible for them 
to abandon less unpopular associates. Crusades against academic 
freedom are not launched by a formal declaration of war; they 
proceed by a stealthy testing out of the reflexes of those whose 
moral duty it is to guard this freedom. One can rest assured, there- 

^^ Quoted in The Higher Education in Nazi Germany by A. Wolf, 
London, 1944, p. 29. 

212 Witch Hunt 

fore, that the first victim in any campaign of this character is 
certain to be the least influential member of the faculty however 
much he may be respected as a person. To accept the propaganda 
that this person is a "menace" to academic freedom is to demon- 
strate a political gullibility that is wholly indefensible in a world 
that has been offered the opportunity to study the archives and 
minutes, the memoranda and directives, of the Nazi chieftains. 

Dr. Leo Szilard, distinguished professor of biophysics at the 
University of Chicago, has explained the tactic of the unpopular 
target in a manner that demands quotation: 

A few months after the Hitler government was installed 
in office, it demanded that instructors of the Jewish faith be 
removed from their university positions. At the same time, 
every assurance was given that professors who had tenure 
would remain secure in their jobs. 

The German learned societies did not raise their voices in 
protest against these early dismissals. They reasoned that 
there were not many Jewish instructors in German univer- 
sities anyway, and so the issue was not one of importance. 
Those of the dismissed instructors who were any good, so 
they pointed out, were not much worse off, since they were 
offered jobs in England or America. The demand of the 
German government for the removal of these instructors 
did not seem altogether unreasonable, since they couldn't 
very well be expected wholeheartedly to favor the nation- 
alist revival which was then sweeping over Germany. To 
the learned societies it seemed much more important at that 
moment to fight for the established rights of those who had 
tenure, and this could be done much more successfully, so 
they thought, if they made concessions on minor points. 

In a sense the German government kept its word with 
respect to those who had tenure. It is true that before long 
most professors who were considered "undesirable" were 
retired; but they were given pensions adequate for their 
maintenance. And these pensions nrere faithfully paid to 
the?7i zmtil the very day they ivere put ijjto concejitration 
caiiips, beyond which time it did not seem practicable to pay 
them pensions. Later many of these professors were put to 
death, but this was no longer, strictly speaking, an academic 

In Dubious Directions 213 

matter with which the learned societies needed to concern 

The German scientists could not, of course, have saved 
academic freedom in Germany even if they had raised their 
voices in protest in the early days of the Nazi regime when 
they still could do so with impunity. They could not have 
changed the course of history, but they could have kept 
their hands clea?i. . . . 

It is well to remember that there was a wave of persecu- 
tion of Communists after the first World War ... in many 
ways the persecution then was worse than anything that 
has happened this time — so far. But this time, the scientists 
are being asked to sanction persecution by accepting stu- 
dents into their laboratories on the basis of a selection that 
is not free from political bias. . . . 

Federal aid to education may be a necessity, but federal 
political control of education is an evil. This evil our uni- 
versities will not be able to resist unless scientists take a stand 
based on the major principle which is involv^ed, and on 
which they are united. Once nve give up this stand and re- 
treat, there is no secojid line of defense behind ivhich ive 
can wiite. . . . 

Those who reconcile themselves to the first breach of our 
tradition will in due time reconcile themselves to a second 
breach. Those who follow the principle of the lesser evil will 
have to retreat again and again. . . . Those of us who do 
not wish to fight can at least refuse to help dig the grave.^^ 

i«"The AEC Fellowships: Shall We Yield or Fight?" by Leo Szilard, 
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June-July, 1949, p. 177, emphasis added. 


Freedom Is the Word 

The great American word is freedom, and 
in particular, freedom of thougtit, speech 
and assembly. 


There are always inquisitions, as Hendrik Van Loon once 
pointed out, and never an inquisition. In time of storm, heresy 
is everywhere; it lurks in the most innocent guises; it appears in 
the most unexpected sources. When Mr. Adolphe Menjou as- 
sured the House Committee on Un-American Activities that a 
Communist actor can import "subversive" meaning into the most 
innocent line of dialogue, by a clever use of emphasis or gesture, 
he was speaking in the tradition of the Great Inquisitors. A brief 
glance at a number of heresy hunts in institutions located in 
Oregon, Michigan, Illinois, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire will 
show the amazing ubiquitousness of heresy in a period of social 

On February 15, 1949, about two weeks after the Regents of 
the University of Washington had passed judgment on the six 
professors. Dr. A. L. Strand, president of Oregon State College 
at Corvallis, announced that the contracts of Dr. L. R. LaVallee, 
an assistant professor of economics, and of Dr. Ralph W. Spitzer, 
associate professor of chemistry, would not be renewed. LaVallee 
and Spitzer promptly charged that they were being released solely 
because they had supported Henry Wallace in the 1948 election. 

Freedom Is the Word 215 

Up to this point, however, the issue of academic freedom re- 
mained purely speculative since neither LaVallee nor Spitzer had 
permanent tenure and might have been discharged for any reason. 
But Dr. Strand, perhaps encouraged by the humiliating defeat of 
Mr. Wallace, proceeded not merely to drive the heretics from the 
campus but to tell the whole world why he had done so. 

On February 23, the faculty was summoned into extraordinary 
session to hear Dr. Strand discourse on the subject of modern 
heresy. He had decided, so he said, to give a "partial" public ex- 
planation of the reasons which had prompted him to sack Dr. 
Spitzer. Denying that Spitzer's support of Wallace had anything 
to do with the case. Dr. Strand proceeded to make the issue one 
of academic freedom by launching a vigorous attack on Spitzer's 
politics and his integrity as a scholar and scientist. "Exact proof," 
he said, "of a person's loyalties and beliefs is difHcult and often im- 
possible to produce. About the only way is to choose an area in 
which the person has undeniably committed himself, if that can 
be found, and examine that area thoroughly to discover what such 
commitment signifies."^ Curiously enough, the area which Dr. 
Strand had chosen to examine, in an effort to convict Spitzer of 
heresy, was not chemistry, which is Dr. Spitzer's field, but ge- 
netics. In essence, his heresy consisted, according to Dr. Strand, in 
defending Lysenko's defense of Michurin's genetics. 

After reading a letter which Spitzer had pubhshed in the 
Chemical ajid Efigineering News of January 31, 1949, Dr. Strand 
went on to say: "He [Spitzer] supports the charlatan Lysenko 
in preference to what he must know to be the truth. He is no 
amateur scientist. He went far out of his way to combat the influ- 
ence of Dr. Muller (Dr. H. J. Muller, the famous biologist, who 
had attacked Lysenko), or to make such attempt as might fool 
a good many people. Why should a chemist bother to stir up 
controversy in the field of genetics? I can tell you. It is be- 
cause he goes right down the party line without any noticeable 
deviation and is an active protagonist for it. Did some one men- 
tion academic freedom? How about freedom from party-Hne 
compulsion? Any scientist who has such poor powers of dis- 

^ Chemical and Engirieering News, March 28, 1949, p. 908. 

2i6 Witch Hunt 

crimination as to choose to support Lysenko's Michurin genetics 
against all the weight of evidence against it is not much of a 
scientist, or, a priori, has lost the freedom that an instructor and 
investigator should possess." 

This denunciation of Spitzer obviously rested, for whatever 
validity it possessed, upon one crucial premise, namely, that 
Spitzer had in fact "supported the charlatan Lysenko." Incredible 
as it may sound. Dr. Spitzer had done nothing of the sort. His 
letter was reprinted, in its entirety, along with Dr. Strand's state- 
ment, in the Chemical and Engine emig News of March 28, 1949, 
pages 907-908. It is too long to reprint here but anyone can check 
the reference and read the by now famous letter. Nowhere in this 
letter does Dr. Spitzer defend, support, or accept Lysenko's views. 
The stated purpose of the letter, written by a chemist to the editor 
of a chemical journal, was merely to suggest that American scien- 
tists should study the Lysenko papers, then just published in this 
country, before coming to any final conclusions about the merits 
of the controversy. The letter does suggest that there might be 
some truth in the Lysenko theories but it does not defend these 
theories. It also points out that since research is socially planned 
and publicly financed in the Soviet Union, any comparison of 
freedom of research in the two countries should be based on a 
recognition of this fact. Wise or foolish, false or true, partisan or 
objective, the letter simply does not warrant Dr. Strand's inter- 

Somewhat later Dr. Linus Pauling of the California Institute of 
Technology wrote a letter to Dr. Strand in which he suggested 
that the failure to renew Spitzer's contract might constitute a 
violation of academic freedom. To this letter. Dr. Strand replied: 
"If by this action, Oregon State College has lost your respect and 
support, all I can say is that your price is too high. We'll have to 
get along without your aid. . . . How far need we go in the 
name of academic freedom? How stupid need we be and just 
how much impudence do we have to stand for to please the pun- 
dits of dialectical materialism? As well as the right of free expres- 
sion, academic freedom entails some discipline in regard to truth, 
some loyalty to the ethics and logic of scientific inquiry. . . . 

Freedom Is the Word 217 

The notice to Spitzer and LaVallee . . . was no violation of 
academic freedom. On the contrary, it was a move in the direc- 
tion of such freedom." 

Needless to say, Dr. Pauling had said nothing about withdraw- 
ing his respect or support. He had, moreover, every right to ex- 
press himself on the issue as ( i ) an alumnus of Oregon State Col- 
lege; (2) president of the American Chemical Society of which 
Dr. Spitzer was a member; and (3) chairman of the division of 
chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology 
where Dr. Spitzer got his degree. Incidentally, it is interesting to 
note that Dr. Pauling refers to Spitzer, in this letter, as being "in 
the upper group of the able younger physical chemists in the 
country." In view of these facts, the tone of Dr. Strand's reply 
was hardly warranted. 

The gagging, bitter irony of this episode is to be found in 
Dr. Strand's adoption of an attitude toward heresy which cannot 
be distinguished from the dogmatism of which he complains in 
Lysenko and other Communist dialecticians and commissars. Com- 
menting on the Spitzer case. Dr. Alfred Henry Sturtevant, world- 
famous scientist at the California Institute of Technology, had 
this to say: "The news accounts indicate that his [Dr. Spitzer's] 
support of Lysenko, in the letter here under discussion, was stated 
by the administration to be a reason for the dismissal. If this ac- 
count is correct, I am certain that the great majority of geneticists 
will agree with me in wishing to present the strongest possible 
protest against an American university adopting the very policy 
of making academic tenure dependent on conformity, that we 
so strongly object to in Russia." ^ Obviously nothing could have 
a more sterilizing influence on scientific inquiry in America than 
the imposition of Lysenko-like orthodoxies on American scien- 
tists. But is it not equally obvious that the policy of aping Russian 
methods is also strategically self-defeating and disastrous? Instead 
of allowing Soviet dogmatism to beat itself against the wall of 
scientifically verifiable fact. Dr. Strand proposes to combat Soviet 
dogmatism with counter-dogmatism. 

Such is the strategy of the anti-Communist — the strategy of 

" Ibid., p. 936. 

2i8 Witch Hunt 

fighting Communism as a heresy — and it is self-defeating on its 
face. As Justice Robert Jackson has pointed out: "The iron cur- 
tain is more disastrous to those it shuts in than those it shuts 
out. . . . What we might need to fear would be an open-minded, 
tolerant and inquiring Soviet Union, thirsting for truth. ... If 
they want to handicap themselves by closing the Soviet Union's 
eyes and ears to the actions and thoughts of the western world, 
I do not think it strengthens them against us. . . . If they want 
to send their scientists to Siberia because they do not make the 
cold facts of science, such as genetics, support Soviet political 
theories, I condemn it as inhumane; but I don't think it imperils 
our security. . . . The Nuremberg evidence is that the seeds of 
eventual annihilation for Hitler's power were sown when he 
began burning books, exihng scientists and scholars, persecuting 
students, and closing down on information." 

To bring this incident to a close, it should be noted that the 
Corvallis affair stemmed directly from the excitement at Seattle. 
Commenting on the Seattle case, the president of the Associated 
Students at Oregon State College was quoted in an AP dispatch 
of January 23, 1949, as saying: "Communism is a real factor on 
the Oregon State campus and certain people are on this campus 
for the sole purpose of converting students to the cause of Com- 
munism." (Emphasis added.) Clearly the conviction of the here- 
tics at Seattle had stimulated the consciousness of heresy at Cor- 
vallis. In a dispatch of the same date, Dr. Strand was quoted as 
saying: "While we probably have less of this sort of activity 
[Communism] than the average campus, we undoubtedly have 
some. Hence it is gratifying to see the responsible student leaders 
recognizing the situation and thus taking steps to guard against 
it." If students were able to sense, with a little prompting from 
the press, the presence of heretics on the campus, surely the presi- 
dent must be equally alert. Catching a long forward pass from 
President Allen, Dr. Strand turned and galloped the length of the 
field for a touchdown, but alas! he crossed the wrong goal line, 
standing up, alone. 

Freedom Is the Word 219 

Olivet College, in central Michigan, was founded by Father 
Shipherd, a revivalist minister, in the same year that James Polk 
was elected President. Father Shipherd's favorite texts: "Be not 
conformed to this world" and "Dare to do what we acknowledge 
to be right" survived, under Dr. Malcolm Boyd Dana, in the form 
of a famous "unified study plan," a fine tutorial system, and a 
college remarkably free from racial or religious discrimination. 
In the spring of 1946, when Dr. Dana resigned, Olivet had about 
300 students and 35 instructors and boasted of the exceptionally 
close relationship which prevailed between instructors and stu- 
dents, as well it might with a ratio of one instructor for every 
eight students. 

To succeed Dr. Dana, the trustees selected Aubrey L. Ashby, 
Olivet '08, former vice-president and general counsel of the Na- 
tional Broadcasting Company, just the man, so the trustees 
thought, to extricate the college from a difficult financial situa- 
tion. At the meeting on July 2 1 at which he was selected, Ashby 
told the trustees, in a two-hour speech, that part of his policy 
would be "to 'DDT' those erring termites." The termites turned 
out to be Dr. T. Barton Akeley, who had taught political science 
at Olivet for twelve years, and his wife, who had long served as 
college librarian. The Akeleys were dismissed without a hearing 
or the filing of charges and were denied the usual sixty-day period 
in which to vacate the home which had been assigned them on the 
campus. A person of liberal views. Dr. Akeley carried his non- 
conformity to such subversive extremes as the wearing of a beret, 
the sporting of a great tuft of a goatee, and, on occasion, strolling 
down the main street of Olivet in shorts. President Ashby charged 
that the Akeleys had been indoctrinating students with "their 
own peculiar ideas of democracy." His ideas about democracy, 
also peculiar, may be suggested by his dictum that "a college is 
like a business — plus." 

To the trustees, the Akeleys complained that their dismissal 
was based "on an appeal to curiosity, to prurience, to fears of 

2 20 Witch Hunt 

involvement . . . not justified in your constitution, nor in Chris- 
tianity, nor in ethics." The American Civil Liberties Union found, 
after an investigation, that the dismissals "flagrantly violated even 
the shabby tenure poHcy of the college."^ On September 17, the 
day of registration, student picket lines formed around the ad- 
ministration building and sixty or more students refused to reg- 
ister. Throughout the fall, the faculty continued to press for a 
real tenure plan and to urge the reinstatement of the Akeleys. At 
an alumni dinner in Detroit on December 9, President Ashby at- 
tempted to divert attention from the real issue by charging that 
students on the picket lines were "largely from one race and one 
localit).\" The students immediately wanted to know what race 
and Ashby flippantly replied: "The human race." Both students 
and faculty, however, construed the remark as being aimed at 
Olivet's Jewish students from New York. On December 17, four 
members of the faculty were fired and a fifth was given a year's 
notice. Those fired were Tucker P. Smith, president of the Olivet 
Teachers Union, Julian Fahy, Arthur Moore, and Herbert Hodge. 
Dr. Carleton Mabee, winner of a Pulitzer Prize in history, was 
given a year's terminal notice. All five were active in the Teach- 
ers Union and had protested the dismissal of the Akeleys. 

When the new dismissals were announced, 140 students signed 
a petition pledging themselves not to return to the campus until 
the dismissed professors were restored to their positions, and on 
January 28, 13 faculty members decided to organize a new college 
and to secede, as it were, from Olivet. On that day Tucker Smith 
placed an ad in the Lansing State Journal which is doubtless 
unique in its relevance to the higher learning in America: "College 
faculty for hire as unit. Prepared to offer balanced and advanced 
curriculum for small, liberal arts college. Substantial upper class 
student body and alumni group wish to accompany to aid in 
transplanting unique educational tradition." 

The trustees promptly offered a few faculty pets life tenure 
but the exodus continued. Three instructors resigned on Janu- 
ary i; another dropped out on March i; two more on March 3; 
another on March 9; another on March 11; and so it went. At the 

^ Nation, November 27, 1948. 

Freedom Is the Word 


end of the school year, Olivet had lost i8 of 35 faculty members; 
a majority of its student body was determined not to return in 
the fall; and the college faced the likelihood of being blacklisted 
by the American Association of University Professors. Later a 
planning committee of students, faculty, and alumni selected 
Sackett's Harbor, New York, as the site of the new Shipherd 
College and laid plans for a fund-raising campaign. Still later, 
Dr. Malcolm Boyd Dana filed suit to recover $22,078 which he 
had loaned the college to pay debts and salaries three years before. 
Father Shipherd would no doubt be proud to realize how firmly 
he had planted the nonconformist tradition at Olivet. 

The Olivet incident, full of drama, lively characters, and a 
most exciting plot, received nothing like the attention devoted 
to the University of Washington dismissals. In none of the edito- 
rials on the Seattle case which I have examined is any reference 
made to Olivet College, although the excitement at Olivet was 
parallel in time, significance, and general relevance. The failure 
to correlate the two cases throws considerable light on the mean- 
ing of the issue so prominently featured in the Seattle case. For 
it is conceded that the Akeleys were not Communists and Tucker 
Smith, Socialist Party nominee for the Vice-Presidency in 1948, 
is yet to be accused of being a Communist. But this did not save 
these instructors from the charge of heresy; out they went, along 
with most of the faculty, the student body, and a large section 
of the alumni. 


Subversive activities investigations never "just happen"; there 
is always a plot and the same characters often reappear. The 
"father" of the Canwell Committee's investigation of the Univer- 
sity of Washington was Fred Niendorif of the Hearst Post-Intel^ 
ligencer; while John Madigan of the Hearst Herald- Ajjierica?! 
master-minded the investigation of the University^ of Chicago 
conducted by the Broyles Committee of the Illinois Legislature. 
It will be recalled, also, that among the experts who appeared in 


Witch Hunt 

Seattle was Howard Rushmore, of the staff of the Hearst Jourjial- 
American in New York, who reappears as the key witness in the 
Chicago plot. But this is getting a bit ahead of the story; first the 
setting, then the plot. 

The Seditious Activities Investigation Commission, better 
known as the Broyles Commission, came into being as a commit- 
tee of the Illinois Legislature in 1947. For two years the commit- 
tee failed to hold any hearings or to issue any reports. Sponsored 
by Governor Dwight Green, the committee seems to have been 
inspired by certain recommendations of the American Legion, 
Illinois Department, and the ever-vigilant Chicago Herald- 
American. On February 15, 1949, the same day that Dr. A. L. 
Strand discovered heresy at Corvallis, the Broyles Commission 
suddenly came to life after two years of profound inactivity. 
Senator Broyles proceeded, on that day, to introduce a series of 
bills to curb "seditious activities" which w€re almost identical 
with a similar series of bills, introduced at almost exactly the same 
time, by Senator Jack B. Tenney, then chairman of California's 
Un-American Activities Committee, in the California Legislature. 
That the Broyles Committee had held no hearings and issued no 
reports would indicate that its sudden discovery of heresy must 
have been prompted by the Chicago Herald-American or some in- 
stitution equally alert to the dangers of heresy. 

Suddenly, without prior notice, public hearings were scheduled 
on the Broyles bills for one day only, March i, 1949. A hundred- 
odd students from Chicago, representing such organizations as 
the Young Progressives of America, Americans for Democratic 
Action, and the Student Republican Club, got wind of the hear- 
ing and appeared in Springfield to lobby against the bills. Only 
a few of them got a chance to testify, however, since only an 
hour had been set aside for the hearing. The delegation then ad- 
journed to the office of Governor Adlai Stevenson and got from 
him a promise to request additional hearings. Even as the stu- 
dents were conferring with the governor, however, came word 
that the committee had voted out three of the bills with a "do- 
pass" recommendation. Vastly annoved, the students improvised 
some crude signs and placards and paraded through the streets 

Freedom Is the Word ii'^ 

in protest against the action of the committee and against the 

The parade annoyed some of the legislators but they were more 
annoyed when the students staged a sit-down strike in, of all 
places, the Abraham Lincoln Hotel, where one of the group, a 
Negro, was refused service. The next day the Chicago papers, 
including the liberal Sim-Times, carried stories of wild demon- 
strations in Springfield and editorials about "student hooliganism" 
and other evidences of subversive activities. In a flurry of indigna- 
tion, the legislature promptly voted an investigation of Roosevelt 
College and the University of Chicago, these being the two 
schools from which most of the students had come. One legislator 
announced that he would not send his pet dog to the University 
of Chicago, while still another legislator said that the students 
were "so dirty and greasy" that they could not possibly be "clean 
Americans on the inside." As soon as the investigation was voted, 
John Madigan began a series of pieces about heresy at the Uni- 
versity of Chicago for the Herald- America?! and J, B. Matthews 
was summoned from New York to take charge of the investiga- 

The hearings which got under way in Springfield on April 2 1 , 
1949, were in remarkable contrast to the Canwell Committee 
hearings in Seattle. In Springfield, Dr. Edward Sparling and Dr. 
Robert M. Hutchins lost little tim€ in seizing and holding the 
initiative. Instead of genuflecting before the committee, Dr. 
Hutchins promptly denounced the Broyles bills as an un-Ameri- 
can attempt to impose a pattern of thought control on the people 
of Illinois. "The University of Chicago," he said, "does not 
believe in the un-American doctrine of guilt by association. . . . 
It is entirely possible to belong to organizations combating fas- 
cism and racial discrimination, for example, without desiring to 
subvert the government of the United States." He then went on 
to say: 

The Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom 
of speech and the right of the people peaceably to assemble. 
The American way has been to encourage thought and dis- 
cussion. We have never been afraid of thought and discus- 

2 24 Witch Hunt 

sion. The whole educational system, not merely the Uni- 
versity of Chicago, is a reflection of the American faith in 
thought and discussion as the path to peaceful change and 
improvement. The danger to our institutions is not from 
the tiny minority who do not believe in them. It is from 
those who would mistakenly repress the free spirit upon 
which those institutions are built. The miasma of thought 
control that is now spreading over the country is the great- 
est menace to the United States since Hitler. ... It is now 
fashionable to call anybody with whom we disagree a Com- 
munist or a fellow traveler. So Branch Rickey darkly hinted 
the other day that the attempt to eliminate the reserve 
clause in baseball contracts was the work of Communists. 

In all such hearings, the primary tactic of the Inquisitors is to 
shake the assurance and poise of the heretics by placing them 
under a cloud of suspicion by either inference or direct statement; 
to frighten them with the angry vehemence with which their 
heresies are denounced; and to get them involved in the self- 
defeating business of explaining, apologizing, and alibi-ing. The 
purpose of the hearing is to stage an ideological ordeal or duel 
of wits in which the heretic can be made to grovel and recant. 
If the heretic can be defeated, the rival ideology suffers a sym- 
bolic defeat and is thereby discredited. A rout of the witness 
serves, in other words, to symbolize the rout of the doctrine with 
which he is identified. Hearings of this sort are essentially like 
Indian wrestling matches and it is this fact which makes them 
newsworthy and invests the testimony with such importance from 
a propaganda point of view. By controlling the hearings, the in- 
quisitors have a marked advantage. Then, too, the very nature of 
the inquiry — into "seditious activities" — has a tendency to place 
many witnesses on the defensive. It is embarrassing to be sum- 
moned as a witness in an investigation of red-light districts even if 
one is called, say, as an expert on gonorrhea. 

At Springfield, however, the duel soon developed overtones of 
high farce. Matthews simply could not force Chancellor Hutch- 
ins to take a defensive position. Hutchins not only avoided the 
bear traps that were set for him: he used them to trap Mat- 

Freedom Is the Word ii^ 

thews. The fact that the federal government had prosecuted Com- 
munists in New York indicated, did it not, that the Communist 
Party was a criminal conspiracy? "As a lawyer," replied Hutch- 
ins, "I would hesitate to say that the government can be identified 
with the Attorney General." Was Dr. Maud Slye still a member 
of the faculty? "Dr. Slye," replied Hutchins, "retired many years 
ago after confining her attention for a considerable time exclu- 
sively to mice. . . . She was one of the most distinguished spe- 
cialists in cancer we have seen in our time." Then the following 
dialogue occurs: 

MR. MATTHEWS. Are you acquainted with the fact that 
Dr. Slye has had frequent affihations with so-called 
communist front organizations? 

CHANCELLOR HUTCHINS. I have heard that she has had so- 
called frequent associations with so-called communist 
front organizations. 

MR. MATTHEWS. Is it the policy of the University to ignore 
such affiliations on the part of the members of the 

CHANCELLOR HUTCHINS. As I indicated, Dr. Slye's associa- 
tions were confined on our campus to mice. . . . To 
answer your direct question, however, I am not aware 
that Dr. Slye has ever joined or advocated the over- 
throw of the government by violence. 

MR. MATTHEWS. I Said nothing about mice. I am sorry you 
misunderstood me. In your theory of education is there 
not such a thing as indoctrination by example as well 
as by precept? 

CHANCELLOR HUTCHINS. Well, Dr. Slye never gave an exam- 
ple of overthrowing the government by violence. 

• * * 

MR. MATTHEW^s. I havc here a copy of Life magazine for 

April 4, 1949. 
CHANCELLOR HUTCHINS. I have secn it. I think it is disgraceful. 
MR. MATTHEWS. You refer to the double-page spread? [Of 

so-called fellow travelers.] 


2 26 Witch Hunt 

MR. MATTHEWS. Do you recall the manner in which Presi- 
dent Truman characterized Communist Party members 
when he was asked about it? 


MR. MATTHEWS. His Statement was that they were all 

CHANCELLOR HUTCHINS. I recall his statement. 

MR. MATTHEWS. Do you concur with the President? 


MR. MATTHEWS. No, not at all, but I think it would be a 
matter of interest to the people of the United States 
to know your views on that subject. 

CHANCELLOR HUTCHINS. Doubtlcss Mr. Truman's information 
is superior to mine. Doubtless your information is supe- 
rior to mine. If it is true that all members of the Com- 
munist Party are traitors I should suppose they would 
be proceeded against as such and that we should not 
go through miscellaneous media and make charges that 
have not been established by due process. 

Summing up, Hutchins defined the issue with great clarity: 
"The University does not believe that an individual should be 
penalized for other acts than his own. The University believes 
that if a man is to be punished he should be punished for what he 
does and not for what he belonged to or for those with whom he 
has associated." 

The Broyles Commission had made much of a "secret witness'* 
who was to appear at the hearings. This witness turned out to be 
Howard Rushmore, who had insisted that his appearance be kept 
secret until the day he was called. Apparently he did not care to 
face the individuals he intended to "finger" as reds and radicals; 
or perhaps he wanted to deny these individuals a chance to work 
up a dossier on his background and former associations. Later uni- 
versity officials presented affidavits showing that Rushmore had 
given grossly misleading testimony. For example, of 50 instances 
of alleged "fellow-traveling" on the part of 7 professors, men- 
tioned in his testimony, only one case involved current member- 

Freedom Is the Word iij 

ship in an alleged "subversive" organization. Specifically Rush- 
more had listed 38 organizations as "subversive" although only 
II of these appeared on the Attorney General's list; 21 of the 
organizations either did not exist or were utterly unknown to the 
professors. The release of these affidavits forced the committee 
to reopen the hearings and gave the seven professors a chance to 
enter corrections on the record and, also, to confront the bashful 

Upset by all these goings-on, Representative William Horsley 
(R., Springfield), a member of the Broyles Commission, released 
on June 23 a 23-page booklet in which he gave his analysis of the 
testimony. From this booklet it would appear that sex and sub- 
version are intimately linked. Citing figures to "prove" that 27 
cases of "sex crimes and troubles," involving University of Chi- 
cago students, had occurred over a period of some years, Mr. 
Horsley proceeded to quote an informant as follows: "Of course 
there is a university rule forbidding girls in men's rooms, but that 
is a relatively easy thing to happen." Summing up, Mr. Horsley 
found that "sex plays a hearty role on the campus of the Univer- 
sity of Chicago"; that Communists use sex in obtaining recruits; 
and that "shocking moral conditions" prevail along the Midway.^ 

In the Springfield investigation, unlike the sorry Seattle affair, 
the trustees of the University of Chicago took a firm stand with 
the chancellor. "In the spirit of academic freedom," the trustees 
said in a statement, "the men of the university work today to find 
a cure for cancer, to harness atomic energy for peaceful pro- 
ductive use, to widen our knowledge of the social, political and 
cultural forces in all human experience, and to train the teachers, 
the scientists, the scholars and the enlightened citizens of tomor- 
row. To be great a university must adhere to principle. It cannot 
shift with the winds of passing opinion. Its work is frequently 
mystifying and frequently misunderstood. It must rely for its sup- 
port upon a relatively small number of people who understand the 
contributions it makes to the welfare of the community and the 
improvement of mankind; upon those who understand that aca- 

*See N. Y. Times, April 30, 1949; May 20, 1949. 
^Chicago Tribune, June 24, 1949. 

2 28 Witch Hunt 

demic freedom is important not because of its benefits to pro- 
fessors but because of its benefits to all of us. Today our tradition 
of freedom is under attack. There are those who are afraid of 
freedom. We do not share these fears." 

Largely because of the courageous stand of Robert M. Hutch- 
ins and the trustees of the University of Chicago, the Broyles bills 
were permitted to die in the legislature and the Broyles Commis- 
sion died with the bills. Senator Broyles and Representative 
Horsley were even unable to file a resolution threatening various 
reprisals against the University of Chicago and Roosevelt College.^ 
Although the Springfield investigation fizzled out, it might well 
have succeeded if the chancellor, the students, the faculty, and the 
trustees had not taken a stand for freedom. As the chairman of 
the student committee has pointed out: "There is nothing very 
funny about the intention or effects of this sort of investigation, 
and many of us who witnessed the hearings found it difficult to 
reconcile the tragedy of the situation with the comedy of the 
evidence or cross-examination." 

Nor is there anything funny about the final report of the 
Broyles Committee which included the following recommenda- 
tions: (i) expulsion from any tax-exempt or tax-supported school 
of any student who refuses to say whether he is a Communist; 
( 2 ) further investigation of the University of Chicago and Roose- 
velt College by "private" agencies; (3) prohibition of the sale on 
campuses of Communist propaganda; (4) survey of textbooks to 
eliminate theories and doctrines of Communism "or other sub- 
versive doctrines"; (5) dismissal of professors who refuse to 
resign from known Communist or Communist front organiza- 
tions; (6) investigation of new campus organizations to determine 
whether they should be denied campus "privileges"; and (7) de- 
nial of tax exemption to any school which allows Communist 
front professors to teach or which allows Communist front groups 
to "flourish" under faculty sponsorship. 

Certainly Chancellor Hutchins has not been misled by the ease 
with which he unhorsed Mr. Horsely and embarrassed J. B. 
Matthews. In a magnificent Commencement address on June 22, 

^Chicago Sun-Ti?nes, July 5, 1949. 

Freedom Is the Word 229 

1949, he pointed out that there is less difference between pressure 
and prejudice and purges and pogroms than some Americans 
imagine. "We do not throw people into jail," he said, "because 
they are alleged to differ with the official dogma. We throw them 
out of work and do our best to create the impression that they 
are subversive and hence dangerous, not only to the state but also 
to everybody who comes near them. . . . To pressure people 
into conformity by the non-legal methods popular today is little 
better than doing it by purges and pogroms." In times like these, 
the educated man must show the fruits of his education ". . . by 
showing that he can and will think for himself. He must keep his 
head, and use it. He must never push other people around, nor ac- 
quiesce when he sees it done. He must struggle to retain the per- 
spective and the sense of proportion that his studies have given 
him and decline to be carried away by waves of hysteria. He must 
hold fast to his faith in freedom. He must insist that freedom is 
the chief glory of mankind and that to repress it is in effect to 
repress the human spirit." 


Shortly after the Regents of the University of Washington an- 
nounced their decision, the Oklahoma Legislature, by a vote of 
102 to 7, passed a resolution demanding a loyalty oath from 
schoolteachers and calling for an investigation of Communist in- 
filtration at the state university. The main speech in the debate 
on the resolution was delivered by Representative Edgar Boat- 
man, of Okmulgee, who stated that he knew of one out-of-state 
student who had come to the University of Oklahoma "carrying 
a Communist card and a pistol in his pocket." The Oklahoma in- 
vestigation was truly a ludicrous affair. The faculty was asked 
to select representatives to appear before the committee for ques- 
tioning. Eleven members of the staff and faculty, accordingly, 
appeared before the committee on February 24, 1949. The chair- 
man of the committee, a farmer with a fourth-grade education, 
conducted the investigation. The first witness, Dr. Laurence Sny- 

230 Witch Hunt 

der, dean of the graduate school, was asked: "Where were you 
borned at? What organizations do you belong to?" (The answer: 
"'Only the Rotary Club and that is not secret.") "Do you know 
anything about Karl Marx and did you ever study his book?" 

After a few witnesses were examined the investigation was 
promptly dropped. However all key administrative personnel, in- 
cluding deans and academic department heads, must now sign the 
following, and most remarkable, oath: 

I, , being first duly sworn, on oath 

state as follows: My position with the educational institu- 
tion indicated above is that of . which 

I have held for years. Except for those whose 

names are hereinafter listed, I am of the opinion that no 
member of the faculty in my department at this institution 
is a member of the Communist Party, a communist sympa- 
thizer or so-called "fellow traveler," is engaged in commu- 
nistic activities of any kind, or teaches communistic doc- 
trines either on or off the campus with a view to instilling 
beUef in the -principles of communism. I use the words and 
expressions communist, communism, communist sympa- 
thizer and "fellow traveler" in their commonly accepted 
connotation and not in any technical or restricted sense. 
My opinion with regard to these persons is based upon per- 
sonal acquaintance or upon inquiry, or both, and my infor- 
mation concerning them and their views regarding commu- 
nism is such that I consider it reliable. Those about whom 
my information is insufficient to enable me to include in the 
above statement, or whom for other reasons I do not wish to 
include, are as follows: 

In this instance the administration was able to ward off a serious 
investigation by a purely ceremonial observance of the ritual of 
purification against ideological heresies. For what possible mean- 
ing can this quaint document possess? Of what probation value is 
the bland assertion, by a chairman, that there are no Communists 
in his department? And what are the commonly accepted conno- 
tations of those much-fought-over words "Communist," "Com- 
munism," "Communist sympathizer" and "fellow traveler"? 

Freedom Is the Word 231 

But Oklahoma — if one may speak without offense — is perhaps 
a special case. Surely Ne^v England, with its unusually rich 
historical experience with witches and heretics, has been able to 
avoid the delusions reported in other regions. But the taint of 
heresy is also prevalent in New England. Early in 1949, two bills 
were introduced in the New Hampshire Legislature, one forbid- 
ding teachers "to advocate the doctrines of Communism" and the 
other providing for the appointment of a five-man committee to 
investigate "Communism" at the University of New Hampshire. 
This particular excitement seemed to have been touched off by 
the pronouncements of James F. O'Neil, former national com- 
mander of the American Legion, and a resident of New Hamp- 

President Arthur S. Adams's statement before the legislative 
committee contains this unique comment on the subject of Com- 
munism: "It is easy enough to talk about the problem but it is 
not so easy to say exactly what the issue is." It was by making a 
similar admission that the saner residents of Massachusets finally 
brought the insane Salem witch hunt to a stop. The question, 
"Should Communists Be Permitted to Teach?" does not define a 
social issue; it calls for a stump speech. If every legislature in 
America were to answer the question in the affirmative, the solu- 
tion of the problem which the question raises would not be any 
nearer. The problem of Communism is not to be disposed of by 
taking various punitive measures against Communists. 

It is impossible to understand the ideological conflicts of the 
Inquisition by a study of the doctrines of the Albigensians, the 
Waldensians, the Fraticelli, and the Cathars. The doctrinal issues 
are not only dead; they are quite incomprehensible. But the social 
and psychological reality of these persecutions still has great 
meaning and pertinence. The doctrines of the heretics did not 
call forth the unrest of the times; the unrest produced the doc- 
trines. Hence the pursuit of heretics is like chasing a mirage. The 
persecution of heretics is more likely to drive the persecutors 
crazy than to convert the heretics. Burleigh, Elizabeth's astute 
minister, posed the real problem of dealing with heretics when he 
said: "We do not wish to kill them, we cannot coerce them, but 

232 Witch Hunt 

we dare not trust them." Faced with this dilemma, most heresy 
hunters have done what Burleigh advised against — that is, they 
have stripped the heretics of political power but have soon dis- 
covered that this, too, is no solution. For the problem is never the 
heretic although the heretic always seem.s to be the problem. 


The Strategy of Satan 

The most frightening study of mankind is 



The Roots of Heresy 

In one sense, all heresy crusades are alike, whether they are 
launched by the reds or the blacks, in Bulgaria or Bolivia. For 
there are certain underlying psychological, social, and political 
factors which make up, so to speak, the constants of heresy per- 
secutions. Just as there is a general theory of neuroses although 
there are many types of neurotics, so one can construct a general 
theory of heresy despite the fact that there are many different 
kinds of heretics. This chapter deals with what might be called 
a sociology of heresy. The three chapters which follow will con- 
sider, and in this order, the social psychology of heresy hunts; 
the semantics of persecution; and the methods by which witches 
are caught, which has to do with the politics of heresy. 


The appearance of heresy is a symptom that social change has 
brought about some basic disturbance in the general system of 
belief. Every society has, of course, some system of belief or 
ethos, however imperfectly defined, by which values, objectives, 
and preferences can be shared. When a society is in its formative 
phases, when it is growing and expanding, this system of ideas is 
taken pretty much for granted. "An idea," writes Dr. Louis 
Wirth, "is implicit in every institution, but it is only in periods 
of change or crisis that we defend its meaning or redefine its pur- 
poses." ^ It is during periods of rapid social change, as through 

^ "Ideological Aspects of Social Disorganization" by Louis Wirth, Ameri- 
can Sociological Review, Vol. 5, p. 472. 

236 Witch Hunt 

migration, war, or revolution, that people suddenly become con- 
scious of ideologies. And the more conscious they become of 
their particular ideology, the more they will insist upon conform- 
Ity. For any major disturbance in the system of belief is Hkely to 
produce mass fears, group anxieties, and weird distortions in per- 
ception. The greater the disturbance, the more rigid the ideology 
becomes and the more slavishly the people conform. At the 
same time, the fears of the people transform the ideology into 
a compulsive mechanism from which escape is almost impos- 
sible; originally a refuge, it becomes a prison, with fear as the 

In such situations, nearly every aspect of social life becomes 
"politicized" since everything has some relevance to the ideologi- 
cal struggle, from the growing of gladiolas to the wTiting of 
novels. The more critical this struggle becomes, the smaller be- 
comes the measure of private life which the individual is per- 
mitted to retain. As Dr. Ley once said: "There is no such thing 
as a private individual in National Socialist Germany. The only 
person who is, still a private individual in Germany is somebody 
who is asleep." Ideas that were once implicit now become explicit; 
values once taken for granted are now taught and propagandized; 
what was formerly vague sentiment now becomes fierce official 
doctrine. The change is from the apolitical to the political; from 
the vague consensus to the rigid ideology. While this process 
makes for a greater degree of internal solidarity, it sharpens the 
tensions between groups holding different ideologies. And it is 
out of this conflict that heresy stems. The literal meaning of 
heresy is "choosing," and the periods in which heresy is reborn 
are the periods in which people must make important choices or 
decisions. Heretics appear only during periods of profound social 
transition. "Where there is no mental activity," wrote Turber- 
ville, "no education, no discussion, there may be faith, there can 
never be heresy." ^ 

The heretic, however, must not be confused with the noncon- 
formist or dissenter. Every society seeks to secure a measure of 
conformity as the indispensable condition of social co-operation, 

-Medieval Heresy and the hiqidsition by A. S, Turberville, 192 1. 

The Roots of Heresy 237 

but in all societies there are some who refuse to respect the norms 
and values of the majority or the right of a majority to impose its 
ideas upon a minority. In normal times, these dissenters can be 
safely ignored. Should the breach between the attitudes of the 
dissenter and those of society become too wide, the dissenter can 
be marched off to a mental institution. For many reasons, how- 
ever, the heretic cannot be ignored. Heresy is a collective phe- 
nomenon which recurs in periods of transition; dissent is an 
individual protest which can always be heard. The dissenter is 
not necessarily resented; the heretic is always keenly resented. 
The heretic rejects the dominant ideology but he does not reject 
the notion of dominant ideologies; the dissenter is a critic of all 
official ideologies and of the principle of conformity. The heretic 
is possessed and driven by an ideology; the dissenter will not per- 
mit ideas to ride him. Heretics are made; dissenters are born. The 
heretic is the apostle of a new ideology, a heretic without an 
ideology being as unthinkable as a minister without a theology; 
but a dissenter may be merely critical of the existing ideology. 
Criticism which assumes the continued existence of the old ideol- 
ogy can be tolerated; but the adoption of a new ideology is a 
"disloyal" act. 

New ideologies are not "thought out" in advance; on the con- 
trary, they are born of a feeling of resentment which arises from 
the fact of alienation or rejection or self-estrangement. Resent- 
ment is "interiorized hatred," a form of self-hatred "that is 
blocked or repressed because the socio-historical situation in 
which the individual finds himself provides no concrete direct 
outlet." ^ Unable to find an outlet for their resentment, the dis- 
affected launch an oblique attack on the ideology of the dominant 
group. Karl Mannheim refers to the ideology of a dominant group 
as a "topia," that of a subordinate group as a "utopia." The clas- 
sification has merit for there is an intimate relation between the 
two ideologies, the relationship of dominant-subordinate, major- 
minor, father-son. One emerges from the other. 

The attack which the alienated direct at the dominant ideology 
is, at the outset, almost entirely negative, that is, it consists in a 

^Society and Ideology by Dr. Gerald L. De Gre, 1943. 

238 Witch Hunt 

negation of the norms and values of this ideology. The disaffected, 
in this respect, practice what has been called "an imaginary re- 
venge" on the dominant element by categorically repudiating the 
values of their ideology. By this denial, the rejected reject their 
rejectors. Symbolically, they strip them of their power and pos- 
sessions by stripping them of their values; it is about the only re- 
venge which the ahenated can take while they are still an insig- 
nificant minority. Later this "imaginary revenge" is given Utopian 
statement, as when the heretics begin to talk about a "new class- 
less society," "a city of God," and so forth. This, too, is a form of 
revenge for it is tantamount to saying. See how much better our 
city is than the miserable city which you possess and from which 
we have been excluded. 

Maladjustment creates new ideologies; new ideologies do not 
create maladjustments. To proscribe the idea, therefore, is to get 
the cart before the horse. Ideologies_are hiirn o£ resentment^and 
resentment is a reaction ^^^OTit. something already in existence. 
Because the resentment cannot find direct expression, it becomes 
Interiorized as. "psychological self-poisoning." This poisoning is 
the real acid that dissolves social bonds. Ideas may give resent- 
ment form and direction; they may inspire it; but they do not 
create it. If a society is healthy, you can hurl ideas at it with great 
violence but they will have little effect. It is the gap, as Max 
Scheler pointed out, between "traditional power" (old or domi- 
nant ideology) and "actual power" (the new conditions) that 
creates an explosive psychological situation. This situation should 
be the paramount concern of the dominant group; but, because 
of their relation to this situation, they see the heretics rather than 
the situation which produces them. In the nature of things, it is 
difficult to see "a situation"; and then, again, social situations are 
often mutually exclusive. Caught in their own situation, the domi- 
nant element cannot see the situation in which the heretic is 

The Roots of Heresy 239 


And hissing factionists with ardent eyes. 


Heresy arises ivithin a society. When the alienated constitute 
a small minority, they are called heretics. Should the alienated 
come to constitute, say, 30 per cent of the population, they will 
be called "rivals." The hatred of the heretic is most intense when 
the heresy is in its incipient phases for it is easier to hate the 
weak than the strong; rivals are fought, heretics are persecuted. 
By the time the heretics have gained the status of rivals, they 
have, so to speak, grown up; they may still be hated, but their 
numbers command respect. The heretic is hated because he arises 
from within the society; he is a bastard, an ingrate, a blasphemer. 

Hatred of the heretic is intense for other reasons, too. For one 
thing, heretics are likely to be disagreeable types. In the Middle 
Ages, according to Turberville, heretics were regarded as "cross- 
grained, cantankerous, dangerous, certainly of some immoral pro- 
pensities and perhaps sexually perverted." Although the descrip- 
tion is stereotyped, it is based, like most stereotypes, on a dis- 
torted reality. A society in disintegration will produce strange 
types among the disaffected. There is often an element of maso- 
chism in heretics; for example, many of the Flagellants were ad- 
dicted to sexual perversions which stemmed from repressions 
which society had originally approved. But if heretics were angels, 
the pressures to which they are exposed would soon convert them 
into obnoxious types. They have to be stubborn, for stubborn- 
ness is a form of idolatry and heretics worship new gods.* They 
are compelled to make virtues of their limitations just as they are 
also compelled to make vices of the virtues of the dominant group 
(the good manners of the aristocrat become evidence of deca- 
dence and depravity). By definition, heretics are "obdurate, con- 
tumacious, and incorrigible." To say that a heretic is obnoxious, 
therefore, is to make an observation, not an accusation. 

* See I Samuel xv, 23. 

240 Witch Hunt 

Throughout history, even tolerant magistrates have complained 
bitterly, and quite properly, of the conduct of heretics. They 
cannot be pleased or placated; they spit on their benefactors; they 
bite the hand that feeds them; they see conspiracies in the most 
friendly overtures. The more the inquisitor browbeats the heretic, 
the more defiant and obnoxious the latter becomes. The relation- 
ship betM^een the two is, indeed, highly complex, resembling, in 
some ways, the relationship between the anti-Semite and the Jew. 
It is impossible to think of a heretic without thinking of his op- 
pressor; they make up, so to speak, one personality. And there is 
no denying the ability which each possesses to bait the other. 

The early Christians were typical heretics, described by tol- 
erant historians as defiant, unreasonable, mean, backbiting, arro- 
gant, and utterly inconsistent. The Puritans, too, w^ere a lawless 
and turbulent lot. Even the Quakers, today so mild-mannered 
and tolerant, were once mean and rebellious. "No other sect in 
the Civil War Period," writes Dr. W. K. Jordan, "was as uni- 
versally or as vigorously hated or feared. . . . Their contempt^ 
for public authority, their apparent irreverence, their disavowal 
of the literal truth of Holy Writ, their strange habit and stranger 
conduct, and their extreme intolerance towards other Christian 
sects made them appear dangerous to civil and religious stabil- 
ity." ^ Throughout the Cromwellian period, Quakerism continued 
to display ". . . the militancy and stubbornness of devotion so 
characteristic of nascent sectarianism. . » . So long as Quakerism 
retained this vitality of immaturity it could scarcely be accommo- 
dated within the religious framework which the Government had 
devised." Eventually this "vitality of immaturity," which is so 
characteristic of heretical sects of all kinds, tends to abate as the 
external pressures are relaxed for it reflects these pressures and 
not the "stubbornness," per se, of the heretic. 

The major indictment against the heretic has always been that 
he claims for himself and his group rights which this group would 
promptly deny to others if it ever came to power. And the charge, 
of course, is always true, for, in this respect, the heretic is his 

^ The Development of Religious Toleration in England by W. K. Jordan, 
1938, Vol. Ill, p. 177. 

The Roots of Heresy 241 

father's child. Born of arrogance, he is arrogant. The arrogance 
of the heretic provides the dominant element with the key to the 
solution of a difficult problem, namely, how is one to banish one's 
own child? How is the heretic, a member of society, to be denied 
the protection of the rules which society has formulated to pro- 
tect its members? The heretic's intolerance enables the dominant 
element to contend that the rules of the game should be sus- 
pended; it enables them, in effect, to place the heretic "beyond 
the pale," which is just where, in their opinion, he belongs. If a 
person denies the rules of the game, so they argue, then the rules 
can be suspended so far as he is concerned. But, conversely, how 
can the heretic be expected to respect the rules of a game from 
which he has been excluded? If he respected the rules, he would 
cease to be a heretic. 

To survive, the new ideology must be distinctive in its slogans 
and symbols and the insistence on distinctiveness brings about the 
necessity of dogma. A slogan cannot be distinctive if it is changed 
or freshly stated every day, for people will forget its meaning. 
It must be distinctive and it must be repeated, over and over, if it 
is to be sharply differentiated from all other heretical slogans. To 
withstand attack, new ideologies must also be compactly con- 
structed around a framework of hard doctrine. For this reason, 
heretics seize upon the concept of heresy, which has been used 
against them, and convert it to their own uses. For example, their 
doctrines are always "infallible," the better to induce people to 
become martyrs to an unpopular cause. It is much easier to organ- 
ize around a hard core of easily remembered doctrine than around 
a method of inquiry or a collection of general principles; besides, 
vague doctrines dissipate under stress and even soft doctrines 
harden under pressure. The hardness, the dogmatic quality, of the 
heresy is what attracts converts in a time of crisis. In a shipwreck, 
the survivors set out for the rocks, not the driftwood. 

Nearly every quality of the new ideology will reflect the situa- 
tion from which it has emerged and with which it must contend if 
it is to survive. The new doctrine will be exclusive, for it cannot 
share truth with its rivals; if it did it would sooner or later lose 
the distinctiveness which it must possess. The heretic will de- 

242 Witch Hunt 

nounce his opponents as beasts and monsters, the better to justify 
their destruction; and, at the same time, he will describe them, for 
other purposes, as weak, corrupt, and diseased — the better to 
encourage others to attack them. The heresy will also be deter- 
ministic, the better to encourage a minority to oppose a majority; 
and it will emphasize discipline and teach the necessity of frequent 
purges, for only in this way can it protect itself against raids and 

Calvinism was a typical heresy. "By the crystallizing pressure 
of persecution," writes Dr. Jordan, "by the act of worshipping 
together; and by the comparison of their holy estate with the 
manifest evil and sentences of damnation which they saw about 
them, the Calvinist congregations soon enjoyed complete convic- 
tion that they were of the Elect. . . . Such confidence, such 
status naturally appealed especially to the rising middle class, 
which suffered keenly from the fact that it had as yet gained no 
status in society. Its activities and its point of view were despised 
by the socially and politically powerful classes." The Calvinist 
leaders sought .to arouse heroic moral energy in their followers by 
making it appear that all mankind moved ". . . in chains inexora- 
bly riveted, along a track ordained by a despotic and unseen Will 
before time began." So long as Calvinism adhered to ". . . the 
awful austerity and the complete certainty of its original religious 
philosophy," it spread with amazing rapidity; but the moment 
the pressures began to relax, the moment the storm began to 
subside, the forces of disintegration set in. "This disintegration," 
notes Dr. Jordan, "in its most important form, occurred at the 
very centre of the Calvinistic philosophy." ^ And this is where 
most ideologies begin to disintegrate, for the relaxation of external 
pressures is first sensed not at the margin, but at the center. 


It is important to note that heresy prosecutions tend to become 
popular with the masses, otherwise it is quite impossible to explain 
^ Op. cit., pp. 203-209. 

The Roots of Heresy 243 

the onrushing, destructive force that they generate. The popu- 
lace, of course, is always enraged when the tribal gods are blas- 
phemed. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, for example, the 
masses loathed the heretics; popular demand, in fact, played a 
part in the creation of the Inquisition. A glance at the majorities 
recorded on the resolution which created the House Committee 
on Un-American Activities and similar resolutions which have 
kept the committee alive should be sufficient to dispel any illu- 
sions on this score: to create the committee, 181 to 41 (June 7, 
1938); to continue it, 344 to 21, i absent, 57 not voting (January 
1940); to continue, 354 to 6, with 71 not voting and 34 paired 
(February 11, 1941); to continue, 331 to 46, 54 not voting and 
26 paired (March 10, 1942). To be sure, the committee was sup- 
ported by virtually the entire press; but the fact remains that the 
votes in Congress correlate pretty accurately with public opinion 

There is, however, an important relation between the "vulgar" 
or popular view of heresy and the "sophisticated" or instructed 
view. "To the vulgar," wrote Sir Frederick Pollock, "Christianity 
appeared as a standing insult to the Gods; to the instructed, as a 
standing menace to the government." ^ Or, as he also pointed out: 
"The seditious intention will appear to the vulgar as self-evident; 
the enlightened and conforming skeptic will consider that no one 
would take the trouble and expose himself to the danger of attack- 
ing the official religion unless there were some sinister political 
object behind his professed scruples." The Jews, it was said, were 
never accused of murdering Christian children except when the 
king was in need of funds although the belief that they did was 
probably constant with the king's subjects. To the masses. Com- 
munists are subversive because they are Communists; to the in- 
structed elite. Communists are subversive because they are "in 
the pay of Moscow." In the vulgar view, Communism is a con- 
stant menace; to the instructed, the menacing qualities of Com- 
munism become extraordinarily dilated on the eve of national 

'^Essays in Jurisprudevce mid Ethics, 1882, the essay entitled "The Theory 
of Persecution," pp. 144-176. 

244 Witch Hunt 

The instructed never make the mistake of confusing heretics 
and dissenters. "The only heresies," wrote Henry Charles Lea, 
"which really troubled the Church were those which obtained 
currency among the people unassisted by the ingenious quodlibets 
of dialecticians." An intellectual may criticize "the free enterprise 
system" to his heart's content, if he writes in a scholarly jargon 
or for a sophisticated elite or with a saving touch of cynicism. 
Heresy, as distinguished from dissent, has the special quaUty of 
being able to arouse loyalty and enthusiasm in the masses. "For a 
heresy to take root and bear fruit," wrote Lea, "it must be able 
to inspire the zeal of martyrdom; and for this it must spring from 
the heart, and not from the brain." Zeal is the mark of the heretic 
who is usually the worker or the peasant, not the scholar. 

Heretics are zealots because the new ideology or heresy makes 
sense in terms of their situation; it reflects their hopes and aspira- 
tions, their fear and frustrations. New ideologies can only inspire 
martyrdom when there is a shocking discrepancy between the 
norms of the dominant ideology and the everyday realities known 
to the people.. The new ideology fits the situation in which the 
heretic finds himself; the dominant ideology does not. The new 
ideology offers a more satisfactory rationalization and, at the 
same time, it gives meaning and purpose and dignity to the lives 
of the disaffected. "iMultitudes were ready to face death in its 
most awful form," wrote Lea, "rather than abandon beliefs in 
which were ent\\'ined their sentiments and feelings and their 
hopes of the hereafter; but history records few cases from Abelard 
to Master Eckhart and Galileo, in which intellectual conceptions, 
however firmly entertained, were strong enough to lead to the 
sacrifice." ^ The true heresy is capable of arousing an evangelical 
enthusiasm and a crusading zealousness. 

The appeal of the new ideology measures the misery from 
which it springs. Underlying every heresy, including the beUef 
in witchcraft, is a basic and unmistakable realit}% namely, misery 
and distress, hunger and fear, insecurity and unhappiness. No one 
who has ever read Michelet's unforgettable account of the dis- 
eases which ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages will doubt, for a 

'^A History of the hiqicisition of the Middle Ages, 191 1, Vol. Ill, p. 539. 

The Roots of Heresy 245 

moment, that the belief in witchcraft was founded on the reality 
of human misery. "In the existing wretchedness of the peasantry 
throughout the length and breadth of Europe," wrote Lea, "reck- 
lessness as to the present and hopelessness as to the future led 
thousands to wish that they could, by transferring their allegiance 
to Satan, find some momentary relief from the sordid miseries of 
life. The tales of the sensual delights of the Sabbat, where ex- 
quisite meats and drink were furnished in abundance, had an irre- 
sistible allurement for those who could scantily reckon on a 
morsel of black bread, or a turnip or a few beans . . . the devas- 
tating wars . . . had reduced whole populations to despair and 
those who fancied themselves abandoned by God might well turn 
to Satan for help." 

At the same time that heresy appeals to the keenly distressed, 
other elements are sufficiently distressed to be looking about for 
some satisfactory account of the public misfortune which has be- 
fallen them. These elements are not so much resentful as they are 
vengeful; they want to be given some rationalization of their 
plight which will enable them to hold fast to the old ideology. 
Sir Frederick Pollock pointed out why it is that these elements 
believe in heresy while clinging to the old ideology. "If we con- 
sider the persecutions that actually took place [in Rome]," he 
wrote, "we shall find that . . . they were mostly connected with 
public misfortunes of some sort. . . . Men sought for an account 
of the famine, the drought, the pestilence, or the invasion of bar- 
barians that had oppressed them; and the account was only too 
easily found. The new and unsociable sect, the despisers of Jupiter 
and doubtful subjects of Caesar, were always with them. It was 
obvious that they had brought the wrath of the Gods on the 
community which tolerated them, and the remedy was no less 
obvious . . . Christians ad leonemr 

The peculiar madness, the driving force, of heresy persecutions 
is to be found, therefore, in this triple aspect of social misfortune 
which: {a) creates a tendency on the part of those who feel them- 
selves abandoned by God to turn to Satan; and (/?) gives rise to 
a tendency on the part of those not quite so keenly distressed to 
find a cause for their suffering which will enable them to hold 

246 Witch Hunt 

fast to a belief in the tribal God; and {c) creates a disposition on 
the part of the dominant element to offer the heretics — those em- 
braced in category {a) — to those embraced in category (b) as the 
"cause" of the public misfortune. There are always causes for dis- 
content; but the ruling elements in a society, from fear, ignorance, 
and self-interest, seek to avoid a recognition of these causes. They 
see heresies, however, wherever they look because their fears are 
reflected in everything they see. Their reluctance to examine the 
causes of the distress which produces heretics is like the neurotic's 
reluctance to face the conflicts in his own personality. 


Just as heresy is to be distinguished from dissent, so heresy 
hunting is not synonymous with scapegoating. Scapegoating is 
universal and perennial; it is based on the simplest form of delu- 
sion. Witch hunting is a form of social madness based on delu- 
sions which are paranoid. Scapegoating is largely an individual 
phenomenon; witch hunting is a product of collective madness. 
The key to the distinction is to be found in the fact that scape- 
goating may be stimulated by mild frustration but witch hunt- 
ing stems only from major social dislocations. Witch hunting, as 
iMarion L. Starkey has pointed out, always comes "in the wake 
of stress and social disorganization"; after wars, disasters, plagues, 
famines, and revolutions. Scapegoating appears in all seasons; but 
witch hunting only reappears in time of storm. The nature of 
witch hunts as such, the manner in which they unfold, and the 
dynamics which they set in motion, form an important chapter 
in the sociology of heresy. 

The psychology of the witch trail is the psychology of the un- 
American investigation. Witches will lie; so will Communists. 
Witches get innocent people to do their bidding; so do Commu- 
nists. One can be a witch without knowing it just as one can be 
a Communist without knowing it. Witches were convicted on 
"spectral" evidence and today a "spectral" use is made of the 
doctrine of guilt by association. Abigail WiUiams, whose fan- 

The Roots of Heresy 247 

tasies damned the innocent in Salem in 1691, can be identified 
today as a fairly obvious psychological type; but even the wise, 
intelligent, and honest Samuel Sewall was taken in, at the time, 
by the antics of Abigail. And so today, equally wise and honest 
men seem quite incapable of detecting the element of fantasy and 
delusion which appears in the neurotically embroidered tales of 
Abigail's modern counterparts, whose passion for truth and pa- 
triotism is reborn simultaneously with the disappearance of their 
fifth column lovers. 

Major social dislocations seem to produce a kind of social hal- 
lucination which makes it possible for simple delusions, based on a 
failure to understand the psychology of chance, to go undetected 
even by ordinarily astute minds. For example: the Polish Ambassa- 
dor holds a reception; the wife of a scientist is invited; at the re- 
ception she meets X, the so-called Soviet agent. A product of 
pure chance, this meeting is put down, in time of storm, as evi- 
dence of a conspiracy. It is the same delusion, however, which 
once caused people to beheve that because the farmer's cow died 
the day Goody Jenkins walked through the barnyard, therefore 
Goody Jenkins, the witch, killed the cow. For in a time of storm 
the line which divides fact from fantasy breaks down or becomes 
hopelessly blurred and shifting. Delusions that would be spotted 
immediately in normal times can then pass as the most self-evident 
and uncontestable realities. In such periods coincidence looms 
larger than logic and life-long reputations can be toppled over by 
a whisper of suspicion launched by an anonymous informer. 

Before social disorganization can produce a witch hunt, how- 
ever, a well-organized system of police terror must be in existence. 
It is this factor which calls forth the mania of denunciation which 
is so characteristic of witch hunts. The motives for denunciation 
are usually mixed — fanaticism, the conforming tendency, covet- 
ousness, fear — but it is police terror which directly inspires the 
mania. The susceptibility of the Germans to the form of witch 
hunt launched by the Nazis is to be explained by the fact that a 
long acquaintance with the methods of a political police, and a 
long political police tradition, had bred in many Germans a pas- 
sion for conformity. In all terroristic regimes, as Bramstedt points 

248 Witch Hmit 

out, ". . . the accused is everybody outside the Hmited circle of 
privileged organizations and the ruling clique"; therefore, those 
outside this hmited circle must constantly prove, by words and 
deed, and principally by denunciations, that they are loyal. The 
mania of denunciation springs not from the fear of heretics but 
from a well-founded and quite realistic fear of the machinery 
which has been set up to catch heretics. 

Although this heresy-catching machinery provides an ingen- 
ious form of social control, it has distinct hmitations. For one 
thing, the price to be paid for the suppression of heresies in 
terms of what it will purchase is clearly prohibitive. If we were 
to enact every measure proposed by the anti-Communists for the 
suppression of Communism we M'ould find that we had destroyed 
the fabric of civil rights and that the number of Communists 
would probably be the same or greater than it is today! The self- 
defeating character of the anti-Communist strategy is reflected 
in the headline of a story by W. H. Lawrence in the New York 
Times of January 2, 1950: "Brazil Reds Busy, Though Out- 
lawed." Outlawed three years previously, the Communists of 
Brazil, Mr. Lawrence discovered, were more numerous and more 
active than ever. Thus those who favor measures to suppress 
heresy must be made to carry a dual burden of proof. They must 
be made to prove: (i) that the dangers are "clear and present"; 
and (2) that repressive measures will actually guard against these 
dangers. It is on the second point that their case Invariably breaks 

Not only are heresy hunts expensive in terms of what they will 
actually accomplish, but they involve a peculiar law of diminish- 
ing returns. At first, only the vulnerable, the easily "fingered" 
victims are selected. For example, the first witches arrested In 
Salem were an illiterate slave, an old crone, and a lascivious grand- 
mother. Carting these victims off to the gallows aroused little op- 
position; indeed it fanned the flames of intolerance. But heresy 
hunts must be kept going; new victims must be found. The second 
batch of victims will be less vulnerable than the first but their im- 
molation will not arouse much protest either because these victims 
are usually unpopular, poor, and lacking In social prestige. By this 

The Roots of Heresy 249 

time, however, the informers, inquisitors, and psychopathic wit- 
nesses have become drunk with the new-found power of denun- 
ciation. They begin to enjoy the notoriety that goes with being an 
expert on witchcraft and a professional "denouncer"; they thrill 
to the feeling of being able to destroy another person by merely 
v^oicing a phrase, or pointing a finger, or whispering an accusa- 

As the accusers become bolder, the range of accusation broad- 
ens and "heresy" ceases to have any definable meaning. Individu- 
als are now haled before the tribunal who have real roots in the 
community, who are generally liked and respected. Doubts then 
begin to arise, for the first time, that the informers are truthful, 
doubts which never arose when the victims were marginal types. 
But by this time the machinery of persecution cannot be stopped, 
much less reversed. To admit error would be to cast doubt on the 
prior convictions and to undermine the concept of heresy. The 
informers, during this second act, usually become frightened of 
the consequences of their perjuries, and the more frightened they 
become, the bolder their accusations, the wilder their denuncia- 
tions. Informers then begin to inform on informers in an effort 
to prevent any possible betrayal of their fraudulent charges and 
counterfeit "revelations." By this time, too, the power of de- 
nunciation has become truly frightening. A destructive self-hatred 
then exists in the societ}% like the fumes of an explosive gas, that 
anyone can ignite by merely striking a match. Sooner or later, 
however, the list of "expendable" victims must be exhausted, and 
at this point societ\^ recoils from the excesses of witch hunting, 
in weariness and horror. "Sound" elements, silent all this while, 
then step forward to exert a moderating influence, and gradually, 
slo-wly, like a patient recovering from a long fever, with its at- 
tendent hallucinations, society begins to recover its sanity and 

But sanity does not always return; sometimes the soclet)'' de- 
stroys itself, for the cost of eradicating heresy is in direct propor- 
tion to the success of the operation. Who would care to estimate 
the price paid for the Salem persecutions? Nor should it be for- 
gotten that Spain was the one nation in which the Inquisition was 

250 Witch Hunt 

really successful and the price, there, was intellectual ruin and 
political and moral decay. Once society starts burning heretics, 
figuratively or hterally, the flames are likely to engulf the whole 
structure of society. Thus the basic reason why heresy persecu- 
tions are futile is the risk that they might succeed and the price 
of success is utter ruin. 


We must not always attach too much 
weight to the confessions of those people 
against themselves, for they have some- 
times been known to accuse themselves of 
having killed persons who turned out to 
be alive and in good health, . . . How 
much more natural and likely it seems to 
me that two men are lying than that a man 
could travel with the wind in twelve hours 
from the East to the West! How much 
more natural that our judgement should 
be misled by the flightiness of our disor- 
dered mind, than one of our kind, in flesh 
and bones, should be borne away by a 
strange spirit up the chimney on a broom- 

— MONTAIGNE on Witches and 

In the history of persecutions, a special relation exists between 
the witch hunting of the sixteenth and the heresy hunting of the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Both persecutions were 
launched to suppress the same popular protest movement but at 
diflterent dates, the latter being the precursor of the former, the 
first act in the drama of protest. Seen in this perspective, it be- 
comes quite clear that the great witch mania of the sixteenth cen- 
tury was essentially an extension of the earlier inquisition which 
had been exclusively concerned with heretics. 

The social meaning of heresy has always been confused by the 
failure to distinguish between the ancient episcopal Inquisition 
and the new pontifical Inquisition created by Gregory IX in 1233. 

The Roots of Heresy 251 

Prior to this time, the bishops had long "cauterized heretical 
growths on the body of Mother Church," but the new papal 
Inquisition was something else again.^ It was, as Henri Pirenne 
pointed out, "a kind of universal police whose function it was to 
watch over the safety of dogma." ^° The new Inquisition was an 
outgrowth of the effective consolidation of papal power. Lord 
Acton characterizing it as "peculiarly the weapon and peculiarly 
the work of the Popes." The secular authorities were eager to co- 
operate because the Church had achieved a new unity and a 
majestic dominion under Gregory IX and Innocent III. Not until 
the Church had reached this pinnacle of prestige had it been pos- 
sible to impose a strict orthodoxy on all men, and on all their 
activities, and to make of every deviation from this norm a crim- 
inal offense. Ironically it was just at this time, when the Church 
had acquired hegemony of the Occidental world, that, as Pirenne 
observed, "a new adversary rose up against it: heresy." ^^ In a 
sense, therefore, heresy became a new and terrible crime because 
the Popes had acquired a new and terrible power to coerce con- 
formity. Without the strict orthodoxy which w^as now imposed 
there would have been no increase in heresy, for the number of 
heresies is always in relation to the strictness with which conform- 
ity is enforced. The emergence of the papal Inquisition, however, 
had another meaning. 

In the first great heresy crusade, the Cathars were hunted down 
and exterminated in every part of Languedoc, with great terror 
and violence and bloodshed, in the period from 1208 to 1235. It 
is not, therefore, without reason that the word which denotes 
"heretic" in the Germanic languages, Ketzer or Ketter, should 
be derived from the name of these unfortunate heretics. Like the 
Anabaptists of a later period, the Cathars were regarded as a 
menace to the social as well as to the religious order for they 
preached a kind of primitive Communism. The Cathars were 
principally recruited from the proletariat of the cities and, since 
the cities were few in number then, the heresy was never widely 

^ The Age of the Reformatioji by Preserved Smith, 1920. 
^^ A History of Europe by Henri Pirenne, 1939, p. 298. 
"^^ Ibid., p. 296. 

252 Witch Hunt 

diffused/^ The relative ease with which the Cathars were crushed 
had the unfortunate effect of encouraging the Church to use 
similar tactics against other heresies of which Catharism was 
simply the first major manifestation. Catharism was a presenti- 
ment of the Reformation. 

Prior to the crusade against the Cathars, the Church had not 
been seriously troubled with heretics. Indeed since the Arian 
heresy of the fourth century, the peoples of the Latin Catholic 
world had professed the same faith and acknowledged the same 
dogmas. Europe, in these centuries, was a world in isolation 
which, unlike the Byzantine world, lacked any intellectual tradi- 
tion to rival that of the Church. But with the revival of com- 
merce, the development of navigation, and the rise of the first 
cities, heresy had been reborn. "By unknown ways," to quote 
Pirenne, "but probably by the trade routes, the Manichaean doc- 
trines were trickling in from the East." ^^ 

The seeds of heresy only sprouted, however, in those areas in 
which the new cities had emerged: in Lombardy, in southern 
France and Rhenish Germany. Before the renaissance of the cities, 
the West had not been troubled with heresy. The first and most 
formidable heresy known to Europe before the advent of Protes- 
tantism was Catharism and Catharism was contemporaneous with 
the urban movement. "Urban piety," as Pirenne noted, "was an 
active piety." The layman insisted on the novel right of par- 
ticipating directly in the religious life and this tendency was 
merely symbolic of the challenge to authority which was im- 
plicit in the new conditions of urban life. "In an age of com- 
merce, industry and increasing use of coined money," writes Dr. 
Henry S. Lucas, "it required unusual vigilance to check unauthor- 
ized opinion." " 

The centers of weaving, it is interesting to note, were the 
centers of heresy. "Alany of the heretics appear to have belonged 
to the crafts which manufactured cloth." ^^ In France, the word 

^- Ibid., p. 297. 

^^ Ibid., p. 296. 

" The Renaissafice cmd the Reformatio?!, by Henry S. Lucas, 1934, p. 594. 

15 Ibid., p. 566. 

The Roots of Heresy 253 

tisserand (weaver) was equivalent to radical and was sometimes 
used to mean heretic, and the German word zettel, meaning 
"warp" of a loom, gave birth to the verb anzettebi, meaning to 
contrive or to plot, literally to warp or twist a movement.^'^ 
Kautsky and others have commented on the close connection 
between the woolen trade and Communistic ideas, and trade and 
heresy were certainly related since the Manichaean doctrines 
found their first and strongest expression in the new trading cen- 
ters. The weavers, an active and intelligent class of workingmen 
throughout Europe, were everywhere associated with "dangerous 
thoughts." ^'^ The looms that wove thread seem also to have woven 
new ideas, new patterns of thought. 

The city-states of the tw^elfth century were, of course, minia- 
tures of the national states which came with the Reformation. 
The society they produced contained, in relative isolation and on 
a smaller scale, the same tensions and problems which later beset 
the national states. Social divisions, for example, quickly devel- 
oped. "Commerce and industry begot towns, towns begot wealth, 
and wealth begot aristocracy. The patriciate and the masters of 
the guilds formed a vast group of hereditary castes." ^^ The castes 
were not at first oppressive but the new urban proletariat soon had 
excellent reasons for resenting their monopolistic rights and privi- 
leges. "Europe," to quote Dr. James Westfall Thompson, "was 
stirred almost everywhere by the spread of radical social and 
pohtical ideas which flared into violent action in Florence be- 
tween 1379-82, in France at Lyons, Paris, Rouen, and in Cologne 
and other cities of the Rhine in 1382." " The unrest, which often 
found expression in the form of religious heresies, was most evi- 
dent, of course, in the centers of the textile industry, notably in 
Florence and in the Flemish towns. 

Throughout the fourteenth century a strange wave of demo- 
cratic agitation, characterized by crude and often violent protests 

'^^ Econovnc and Social History of Europe in the Later Middle Ages by 
James Westfall Thompson, 1931, p. 405. 
'^'^ Ibid., p. 230. 
^^^ Lucas, op. cit., p. 17. 
^^ Thompson, op. cit., p. 403. 

2 54 Witch Hunt 

against tyranny and misrule, rolled over Europe. Historians have 
been impressed by the simultaneity and the universality of this 
movement: what happened in Florence happened at about the 
same time in Ghent and Ypres. The new conditions of urban living 
had created novel problems: diseases multiplied; pestilences deci- 
mated populations; and the alienated sought to establish new social 
unities by identifying themselves with all manner of weird "fads" 
and "crazes." Social protest found perverse expression in such 
strange movements as the Flagellant heresy which swept across 
Europe. "Charlatans, mind-readers, sorcerers, witch-doctors, drug- 
vendors," writes Thompson, "sprang up like mushrooms, along 
with perfervid crossroads preachers and soap-box orators each 
denouncing society and the wrongs around them, and each offer- 
ing his panacea or remedy. . . . The whole population suffered 
from 'shell shock,' from frayed nerves. It is this condition which 
explains the semi-hysterical state of mind of thousands in Europe, 
and accounts for their fevered or morbid emotionalism. The old 
barriers were down, the old inhibitions removed." ^^ "The whole 
of European society," to quote Pirenne, "from the depth to the 
surface, was as though in a state of fermentation. . . . No previ- 
ous epoch had ever furnished so many names of tribunes, dema- 
gogues, agitators, and reformers." ^^ We should have no difficulty 
in identifying these disturbances as symptoms of social disloca- 
tion for many of them are endemic in our time. Heresy was 
simply one of many symptoms that the pre-existing social unity 
of Europe had been disrupted; like the black plague it was a 
by-product of social change. 

Unfortunately this first stirring of the European masses toward 
the end of the long night of serfdom proved to be abortive; by 
1382, according to Thompson, the bourgeoisie were firmly in the 
saddle and the protest had been crushed. This initial protest M^as 
naturally full of confusion and disorder; the world, as Pirenne 
wrote, "was suffering and struggling, but it was hardly advanc- 
ing." About this protest there was little coherence, continuits^ 
or unity, and, also, little secular thought for the leaders M^ere still 

^'^ Ibid., p. 385. 

-^ Pirenne, op. cit., p. 380. 

The Roots of Heresy 255 

dominated by the thinking of the Church which they hoped to 
reform, not to replace. It is not surprising, therefore, that this 
first protest should have taken place 'within the overarching ortho- 
doxy of the time, that is, as a heresy. Its leaders were heretics, not 

After the defeat of this movement, heretical agitation ceased 
for a time in Europe. Not for centuries had there been so little 
in the way of new heresies as during the fifty years that preceded 
the outbreak of the Reformation. Aided by the Inquisition, scho- 
lasticism had done its work well; a logical framework existed 
within which there was an answer for every question if not a 
solution for many problems. In fact it has been suggested that the 
absence of heretics gave rise to the new interest in witches. For it 
was about this time (1484) that Pope Innocent VIII issued his 
famous bull Simimis Desiderantes condemning witchcraft as 
heresy, and that two diligent Dominicans, James Sprenger and 
Henry Kramer, were commissioned to write their great treatise 
on witchcraft. Malleus Maleficarinn or The Witches' Hammer. 
Sprenger and Kramer, it should be noted, had been instructed to 
devote particular attention to witchcraft in the rural areas of 
Rhenish Germany.^^ 

This new interest in witchcraft, like the earlier interest in 
heresy, was clearly social in origin. In the first half of the fifteenth 
century a new class of capitalists had begun to appear who re- 
sembled the mercatores of the twelfth century but were more 
powerful and operated over much larger trade areas. The dis- 
coveries of the period had given an enormous impetus to trade 
and commerce by greatly expanding the market for European 
goods. As the trade areas expanded, the nation-state began to 
replace the city-state; production units expanded with the 
markets. The growth of commerce and trade was followed by 
a sharp increase in population, analogous to that which had 
characterized the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The evolu- 
tion of capitalism, in most of Europe, had tended to convert the 

-^See "The Bull of Innocent VIII" reprinted in Malleus Maleficarmft, 
published by The Pushkin Press, London, with an introduction by Montague 
Summers, 1948, p. XIX. 

256 Witch Hunt 

peasant into a farmer or worker for wages in the city but in 
Germany the reverse was true and there a new serfdom had 

The rural protest which this new serfdom occasioned in Ger- 
many was responsible for the Church's concern with what might 
be called "rural heresy" or witchcraft. The behef in witches, of 
course, had never been supplanted; it was so much a part of the 
folklore of the European peasantry that it was often called "the 
old religion." As the ancient pre-Christian folk religion, upon 
which Christianity had been superposed, witchcraft had always 
retained its devoted if secret adherents."^ Because witchcraft was 
a rural cult — a pagan religion of the countryside — it is not sur- 
prising that, in a moment of social crisis, the rural people should 
have turned to the Devil for aid and comfort, just as their op- 
pressors turned to God in their tribulations. Frightened by the 
prevalence of witches, Innocent VIII had issued his famous bull 
and had sent Sprenger and Kramer into Rhenish Germany to 
conduct an inquisition. Their energies might have been more 
profitably and more charitably employed had they been concen- 
trated on an effort to understand the causes of rural distress in 

There were, however, special reasons why the persecution of 
witches assumed such extraordinary proportions in the sixteenth 
century, a century in which more witches than heretics were 
burned at the stake."* For one thing, the sharpest social protest 
now centered in rural areas — witness the Peasants' Revolt of 
1524 — and witchcraft was the peasants' heresy. Furthermore 
scholasticism had been much less efficient in rural than in urban 
areas. As the power of the Church to put down heresy had been 
augmented by the use of secular authorities, the clergy had grown 
increasingly indolent and slothful and had neglected rural opin- 
ion."' The old belief in witchcraft, which had smoldered for years, 

-^ See The Witch-Cult in Western Europe by Margaret Alice Murray, 
1921; and, by the same author, The God of the Witches. 
-* Lucas, op. cit., p. 358. 
^^ Ibid., p. 151. 

The Roots of Heresy isj 

was now "blown into a devastating blaze by the breath of theo- 
logians who started to try to blow it out," ^® 

The same general areas in Rhenish Germany which had aroused 
Innocent VIII's concern on the score of witchcraft were the areas 
which spawned the first Protestant heresies of the Reformation. 
Indeed the witchcraft of the time had never troubled the Church 
until changing social conditions had suddenly created a challenge 
to its prestige, authority, and privileges. Witchcraft was an an- 
cient phenomenon in 1484. Clearly something had happened 
which suddenly invested the belief in witches with new impor- 
tance in the eyes of the Church. Troubled conditions may have 
been a factor in reviving the beliefs and practice of witchcraft 
but the determination of the Church to prosecute beliefs which 
it had tolerated for centuries can only be explained by the fact 
that its authority was now in jeopardy. Witches were really not 
prosecuted for their beliefs; the great witch mania of the sixteenth 
century was a counteroffensive directed by the Church against 
the people in an effort to maintain its authority and its privileges. 
Witches were merely so much expendable fuel used to kindle the 
passion for conformity in time of crisis.^'^ 

The campaign against Protestantism, of course, gave an added 
zest to the campaign against witches. Protestant heretics were co- 
operative in the sense that they frequently confessed their heresies 
and that they obligingly committed "overt" acts — such as public 
worship and prayer — which made it possible to proceed against 
them with ease and dispatch. But, as Dr. Preserved Smith has ob- 
served, "the crime [of witchcraft] was of such a nature that it 
could hardly be proved save by confession, and this, in general, 
could be extracted only by the infliction of pain." ^ In those 
countries where the Inquisition had least influence — Great Britain 
is an example — fewer "witches" were discovered than elsewhere. 
Indeed the number of witches correlated perfectly with the 
power of the Inquisition and the use of torture; had there been 

2^ Smith, op. cit., p. 654. 

^'^ Lucas, op. cit., pp. 595 and 610. 

'® Smith, op. cit., p. 655. 

258 Witch Hunt 

no Inquisition, there would have been no witches. Each trial only 
bred other trials since the witch usually denounced imaginary 
accomplices in a vain effort to win mercy for herself and the 
denunciations often continued until the whole population of cer- 
tain districts had been implicated. The fury of the witch hunts 
was most intense, of course, in Germany, where the greatest rural 
discontent prevailed. 

Conceding that historical analogies are always somewhat mis- 
leading, one might say that the witches were the "Communists" 
and the Anabaptists and other emergent Protestant heretics were 
the "non-Communist" socialists and liberals of that time. Ana- 
baptism had been a Utopian doctrine at the outset but, as the 
discontent grew, the peasants came to look upon it not only for 
deliverance but also for vengeance and the mystico-social delirium 
which it aroused has been compared, by Pirenne and others, with 
the earlier ferment of Catharism. But whereas certain peasants 
turned to Anabaptism for vengeance, others, perhaps more real- 
istic, sought the aid of the Devil. Witches were simply a tougher 
breed of heretics who managed to get along without God and 
were therefore prosecuted with a special vigor. They were truly 
agents of a foreign power. 

Sir Thomas More was a humanist and the humanists were the 
"liberals" of that time. As a humanist. More included a powerful 
plea for tolerance in his famous Utopia. In 1 5 1 6, when this work 
was written, he had had no direct knowledge or experience of 
heretics. But a revolution was then brewing in Europe; new social 
forces, which could no longer be controlled within the frame- 
work of the old social order, were beginning to create a great 
ferment in society. Once this revolution broke over Europe, witch 
hunting became the order of the day. From the Peasants' War to 
the Peace of Westphalia, Europe resembled a madhouse. 

In 1526, the year following the outbreak of the Peasants' War, 
the Index Librorum Prohibitoru?n was established in England and 
Sir Thomas More was given the dreadful assignment of deter- 
mining which works were heretical. Partly as a result of this 

The Roots of Heresy 259 

experience but more directly as a result of the Lutheran Revolt 
and the verbal violence of the Anabaptists, he changed his mind 
about heretics. Indeed he became convinced that heresy was in- 
curable: "So harde is that carbuncle, catching ones a core, to bee 
by any meane well and surely cured." Branding Martin Luther 
as "an apostate, an open incestuous lechour, a playne limne of the 
deuvill, a manifest messenger of hell," he who had advocated 
tolerance when the concept was unknown became, for a short 
period, the chief heresy hunter and inquisitor of England. Even 
so, however, he was a fairly tolerant inquisitor. "Touching here- 
tics," he said, "I hate that vice of theirs and not their persons." But 
he continued to invent imaginary monsters of error and to be 
troubled by all sorts of delusions. "Germany," he said, "daily pro- 
duces more monsters than ever Africa did. What can be more 
monstrous than the Anabaptists? ... A man may with as much 
fruit preach to a post as to a heretic." 

Then, in the year 1533, Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy 
and, to the Anglicans, Sir Thomas More became just as stubborn 
a heretic as, in his eyes, the Anabaptists had ever been. He could 
have saved his life, if he had cared to sacrifice his principles. But 
once the roles were suddenly reversed, he demonstrated that his 
own heresy was "as hard as a carbuncle"; and that he was just as 
defiant as Martin Luther. And so he was beheaded. Today it 
is clear that the ideas and words of Martin Luther did not create 
the confusion of the period although they may have added to this 
confusion. The "monsters" who were as thick in Germany as in 
Africa were merely the signs, the symptoms, of a storm then 
sweeping over Europe. But Satan had excellent reason to be 
pleased with the manner in which the leaders of the Reformation 
and Counter-Reformation, blinded by delusion, proceeded to 
ignore the storm and engulf Europe in a sea of blood. 


The Strategy of Satan 

It goes without saying that Satan would have been vanquished 
long since were it not for the fact that he is a master strategist. 
His strategy is quite simple. Satan aims at creating "combustions 
and dissensions"; at getting men to fight among themselves. Simple 
as this strategy is, it is difficult to bring off since men have more 
reason to agree than to quarrel; their endless combustions and dis- 
sensions make little sense. The reason man remains so consistently 
vulnerable to Satan's strategy is that he is the victim of certain 
delusions which form the subject matter of this chapter. 


Jacobus Acontius, born in Trent in 1565, later a resident of 
London, was the first man in England to work out a systematic 
defense of tolerance in ideas. Having wearied of man's incurable 
folly of contention, Acontius developed an admirable psychology 
of persecution. The basis of persecution, he concluded, was to be 
'■"''^found in man's arrogant nature. Nothing could be more absurd 
than the persecution of men for the ideas they hold, yet this 
seemed to be one of history's main themes. Pondering the fact, 
Acontius decided that the secret of Satan's strategy consisted in 
man's aversion to contradiction. Under the sway of the peculiar 
passion aroused by contradiction, man is capable of acting like 
a monkey from whose paws a mango has been snatched; he be- 
comes enraged, he screams and claws. Acontius, whose great work 
Satanae Stratage?}7ata should be required reading today, acutely 
observed that man's intellectual arrogance increases in relation to 

The Strategy of Satan 261 

"riches, offices, great benefices, great reputation, and the like." 
Inhibited in the priest, the disHke of contradiction can become 
gross and brutal in the prelate. 

Man's rage, faced with contradiction, is Satan's secret weapon. 
To free man from this hidden dominance, Acontius suggested 
that his thinking should always be tempered by the realization 
that error is the most prevalent evil in the world, and, at the same 
time, the most difficult to detect. Alan should be extremely wary, 
therefore, about accepting this favorite bait of Satan's. Error 
cannot be overcome in the heat of passion; on the contrary, a 
show of anger only drives the error deeper into the mind of one's 
opponent. The use of force to eradicate error, which is man's 
major tactical mistake, flows directly from this state of mind. 
Satan never has anything to fear from the use of force in the 
settlement of disputes; he has sown the seeds of error in the hope 
that force will be used. "Are we so poorly equipped in the Word 
of God for the destruction of error," asked Acontius, "that we 
must needs defend ourselves with a lie, and counterfeit retrac- 

It is not arrogance alone, however, that prompts man to reach 
for a club when contradicted. The confusion of illusion and real- 
ity, which is characteristic of equinoctial times, comes about, as 
Karl Mannheim has pointed out, because what is then "real" de- 
pends upon the point of view of the observer and his relation to 
the "situation." In such periods we no longer perceive the same 
things as being "real" and our disagreements are so fundamental 
that, often enough, we do not even realize how fundamentally we 
disagree. Members of dominant groups — the groups with great 
riches, offices, and benefices — have a fatal proclivity in such times 
to believe, with all honestv^ that "agents," "termites," and "fifth 
columnists" have undermined the ideological structure. Now ter- 
mites do destroy foundations but they never destroy sound foun- 
dations. Satan is nearly always successful, however, in inducing 
man to believe that a holy war upon the termites will strengthen 
the foundation. 

This delusion or trap would be less successful were It not 
for what Edmond Taylor calls the "master-delusion of right- 

262 Witch Hunt 

ness." ^ The burning of witches and the purging of deviationists 
seem to be related to a theological attitude toward truth and 
heresy, a tendency to regard all social happenings in terms of 
rigid categories of good and evil. One and all, the actors in the 
various persecution dramas of the Western World have been 
blinded, as Michelet observed, "by the poison of their first prin- 
ciple, the doctrine of Original Sin. This is the funda?7?e?ital dogma 
of universal injustice.''^ " (Emphasis added.) It is this dogma which 
provides the sanction for the disposition to persecute. Blame other 
men for the ills and storms of the world; don't blame yourself; 
don't trouble to inquire into the causes; just blame the "damned," 
and praise the "elect" from whom all blessings flow. 

It is this ancient fallacy which prompts us to fasten on an inno- 
cent wife and children consequences which attach to the hus- 
band's having once been a member of an unpopular political 
organization. The wife is clearly not to blame, nor were the chil- 
dren born into this world as reds; yet, by an ingenious application 
of the doctrine of Original Sin, we treat wife and children as 
though they were accursed of Satan. Michelet was probably 
wrong, however, in regarding this tendency as a "universal" 
dogma. In India, as Taylor has observed, the Hindus are quite 
successful at "dissociating their feelings about a human being from 
their feelings about his ideas," whereas, with us, "right belief is 
salvation and error is damnation." Our attitude toward error, 
which is clearly theological, is admirably illustrated by a state- 
ment which a young soldier in Franco's armies made to Taylor 
during the Spanish Civil War: 

We don't hate the Communists or want to punish them. It's 
just that Communism is an incurable disease they are spread- 
ing around so we have to put them out of the way. We have 
to rid Spain of this disease and there is no other way of 
doing it. 

This is a typical Western attitude. It springs from the belief, 
as Taylor has pointed out, that "every error is the child of more 

^Richer by Asia, 1947, pp. 141, 232. 

^Satajiimi and Witchcraft, American ed., 1939, p. xii. 

The Strategy of Satan 263 

basic error, every truth the child of shining truth and destined to 
beget hosts of little truths." It is what prompts us, as he says, to 
develop out of our zeal to exalt and safeguard the pedigrees of 
truth and error "rigidly systematic ideologies which often come 
perilously close to those that flourish among the paranoid cases in 
our insane asylums. . . . That clumsy adjective on page 59 of 
Comrade X's new novel is the cryptic footprint of a latent Trot- 
skyism, the League of Nations failed because it did not insist on 
conducting its business in Esperanto, and the weather is less brac- 
ing than it used to be because the New Deal has undermined free 
enterprise." ^ One of the reasons we think in this fashion is that 
we have been taught to accept the psychology of accursed groups, 
that is, to believe in devils and witches. 

f Throughout the Western World, every society seems to have, 
fready to hand, what Yves R. Simon has called "an accursed 
group" upon which to fasten responsibility for the evils which 
perplex it and which can be blamed for every public misfortune.* 
For a group to be "accursed," it must meet certain specifications: 
(i) It must be a small and clearly distinct minority. (2) Rightly 
or wrongly, an exceptional importance or power must be attrib- 
uted to this minority. (3) It is considered certain that the minority 
is perfectly unified: "that all its actions are preconceived and con- 
certed"; and that it has possession of some mysterious rite or 
formula, potion or dialectic, which makes it extremely dangerous. 
(4) The group must also be shrouded in mystery; not too much 
must be known about it. "Its unity," writes Simon, "is secured by 
persons upon whom no one can lay hands and who are usually 
anonymous." yThroughout history, accursed groups have served 
invaluable functions: they have held societies together; and they 

^Taylor, op. cit., p. 140. 
* Co7mnumty of the Free, 1947, pp. 61-72. 

^See also Bramstedt, op. cit., p. 176, for documentation on how the Nazis 
build up in their propaganda precisely this image of an accursed group. 

264 Witch Hunt 

have often preserved social sanity in the face of incredible disas- 
ters. If the bank fails, if the rains are late, if the well is poisoned, 
it is all the fault of the accursed group. 

Whenever misfortune befell the people of the Middle Ages, 
wrote Turberville, they could always find a facile explanation for 
unmerited calamity "in such an intrinsically innocent incident, 
for example, as that of a sinister-looking old woman with a hooked 
nose." Witches could cause abortion by merely laying a hand 
upon a woman, and they could dry up the milk in her breasts if 
she were nursing. Witches raised tempests and hailstorms which 
devastated whole regions; they brought plagues of locusts and 
caterpillars which devoured the harvests; they could make men 
impotent and women barren and cause horses to become sud- 
denly mad under their riders and throw them off. They could 
make hidden things known and predict the future; or bring about 
love or hate at will; cause mortal sickness, slay men with light- 
ning, or even with their looks alone, or turn them into beasts. 
Sometimes thev scattered powders over the fields which de- 
stroyed the cattle. And since all these misfortunes happened, and 
could be proved, what better proof could there be that witches 
were real? ^ 

During the early years of the depression, a score or more of 
states passed laws which were aimed at preventing Communist- 
inspired runs on financial institutions. Banks w^re failing; there 
were runs on financial institutions; these runs had to be organized 
and who would organize them but the Communists? The bankers 
or whoever it was that launched these rumors had an inspired ap- 
preciation of the value of "accursed groups" in time of public 
misfortune. Indeed it is always "proper, prudent, and comforting" 
to have an accursed group at hand, ready to relieve the shock of 
disasters; to make it possible for people to give expression to their 
fears and anxieties; and, often enough, to divert attention from 
the real causes. With the Germans it was the Jews; with us it is 
the reds, the radicals. 

Everyone must admit that the reds make a magnificent accursed 
group. The very fact that we have selected a poHtical rather than 

^Lea, op. cit., Vol. Ill, p. 502. 

The Strategy of Satan 265 

an ethnic minority for this role gives us a feeling of moral supe- 
riority. We do not beat Jews; we have no pogroms; we favor 
"civil rights" — for ethnic minorities. A small and clearly distinct 
minority, contingents of reds are to be found in most of the large 
centers of population. Their propaganda, symbols, and slogans 
are unmistakable. Being a small minority, every politician can 
afford to be against them; in fact, he has to be against them. By 
being against them, he can divert attention from his record and, 
more important, he can give a glib explanation for any public mis- 
fortune. The reds, moreover, provide a universal alibi. They can 
be blamed not only for high divorce rates in California — the 
charge is a m.atter of public record — but for untoward happenings 
all the way from Greenland's icy mountains to the coral-crested 
islands of the South Pacific. Furthermore they provide the poli- 
tician with a "subject" — no small boon in itself. Home, Mother, 
and Flag are safe, popular topics; but alas! they can only be 
praised, and in a season of unrest someone must be damned. There 
can be no doubt, therefore, that the reds are God's gift to the 
American demagogue. 

Knowing this, the demagogues are basically opposed to meas- 
ures which would actually outlaw, for example, the Communist 
Party. They want to harass rather than exterminate the victim. 
A successful extermination campaign would be a major disaster. 
To be sure, the demagogues like to propose the outlawing of 
"subversive" groups, but they make careful hedges against their 
own proposals. Watch the demagogues when a red appears, for 
example, at a legislative hearing on some controversial measure. 
Their features light up with his appearance; their eyes brighten; 
their pulses quicken. They behave like mastiffs who have caught 
a glimpse of a cat. In a political sense, they actually love the reds. 
This passion has reached the point, in my community, where 
councilmen circulate anonymous leaflets charging that the Com- 
munist Party has endorsed their rivals; indeed success seems to 
hinge on which candidate can first accuse the other of wearing 
the Communist colors. 

Aided by the endless revelations of an endless procession of 
former members, the Communist Party has been invested with 

266 Witch Hunt 

most extraordinary powers. For the last three years, 150,000,000 
Americans have been asked to believe that 75,000 Commu- 
nists have the power to undermine the economy and, like ter- 
mites, to nibble away the ideological structure. At every un- 
American investigation, the major strategic objective has been 
to build up this image of the all-encompassing, all-powerful ac- 
cursed group. Huge graphs are exhibited, showing the tentacles 
of this octopus reaching into every hamlet and hamburger stand in 
America. Words are bandied about which seem to suggest secret 
power and mysterious influence: "apparatus," "factions," "cell," 
"operative," "agent," and so forth. Witnesses place Communist 
agents as close to the White House as the laws against libel and 
perjury permit and then go the rest of the way by innuendo. 
The power of this accursed group is, indeed, grotesquely in- 
flated—to its clear advantage. The trade unions, the armed 
forces, the schools, the churches, the government — all are 
"honeycombed" with reds. One would think, therefore, that 
societies in which no Communists are supposed to exist, such as 
Greece and Spain, would be the model communities of this age; 
but the alibi is always adequate, even in these countries, for you 
can never be quite sure that every Communist has been drawn 
and quartered. 

Similarly the reds are described as though their unity were 
fabricated from a special steel. The description, of course, paral- 
lels the anti-Semite's stereotype of the Jews as a powerful, clan- 
nish, unified minority. The myth is essential because, in its ab- 
sence, the size of the minority alone would make the propaganda 
ludicrous. For the same reason, witches were invariably united 
by mysterious bonds and were always highly organized, the bet- 
ter to entrap the faithful. It was the ramifications of the "appara- 
tus" of witchcraft, indeed, that induced thousands of people, 
well-armed and living in castles, to shudder when a frail old lady 
tottered along the trail that led to the woods. The power of the 
papists also consisted in their "unity" and discipline (always care- 
fully contrasted with Protestant disorganization). Thev, too, were 
always in league with a foreign power; but, alas, so -w'ere the hated 
Dissenters, who, of course, were also the mortal enemies of the 

The Strategy of Satan 267 

papists! There was, of course, a witches' international and from 
one end of Europe to the other, witches were regarded as a fifth 
column, the secret enemies that might be found anywhere, even in 
a man's own house/ One thinks in this connection of Sam Wood, 
the nervous Hollywood director who made provision in his last 
will and testament requiring his heirs to execute non-Communist 
affidavits! As a sample of the "power" of accursed groups: when 
the cows went dry in one European village, during the witch- 
craft delirium, the explanation was offered that witches had magi- 
cally milked them from a distance — by the use of straws. 

Lastly the Communists are shrouded in mystery; they are a 
secret party. But, as with most "secret" organizations, there is a 
vast published literature about them; almost as large, in fact, as 
the library of witchcraft which we know, on the authority of 
Montague Summers, is incalculable (one bibliography alone con- 
tains 11,648 items). To the uninstructed, Communist doctrine is 
so much gibberish, as unintelligible as a medieval manual on 
witchcraft. Dialectical Materialimi is, indeed, a witchlike formula. 
The Communists, too, claim a superior knowledge of world af- 
fairs and this contention is deeply resented. Then, just to make 
them the perfect accursed group, they are related to that most 
mysterious country, Russia. Even the Orient is far less mysterious, 
to the average American, than Russia. The folklore about Russia, 
which had reached vast proportions before Lenin was born, is 
now of an impenetrable density. Many American Communists 
just happen to be of Slavic or Russian-Jewish background and 
this, of course, completes the identification. 

It Is one of the functions of accursed groups to invest other- 
wise inexplicable public misfortunes with "a high des^ree of Intel- 
ligibility." A palace revolution In Bolivia, a rice famine In China, a 
strike in Kansas City, all can be readily explained by reference 
to the accursed group. In short, the group provides a si77Q;le cause 
for the multifarious evils of the world. "The high cost of living," 
writes Simon, "crushing taxes, ruinous competition, the difficulty 
of getting ahead, political crises, strikes, riots, wars: the simplest 
way to stand up against the mystery of all these accidents without 

' Witchcraft in England by Christina Hole, 1947, p. 61. 

2 68 Witch Hunt 

losing one's sanity is to recognize in them — in each of them and 
each time they occur — the hand of the Jesuits, concerted action 
by the Jews, the dark plans of revolutionary associations." The 
single cause must act secretly (otherwise the majority could im- 
mediately cure the world of its evils by liquidating the witches) ; 
and the witches must be widely distributed so as to provide a 
plausible explanation for disparate and far-flung disasters. 

Thanks to the accursed group also, we hope, as Simon says, 
"to free ourselves one day from the bitter hardships of a per- 
petual struggle against a multiplicity of difficulties." When the 
last Jew, the last Jesuit, and the last Communist have been dis- 
posed of, we can cease being bothered about the hardships and 
tragedies of human existence. We hope, in this delusion, to be 
able eventually to liquidate all these troubles in a single Herculean 
deed, in one great Napoleonic battle; "the entire coalition will be 
routed in one evening." The temptation to accept this belief is 
very great; everyone has experienced it. For example, the liqui- 
dation of the Russians would be a superb and glorious achieve- 
ment. The problem of world unity would be entirely solved; the 
churches and the granaries would be filled to overflowing; and 
not even John L. Lewis \\-ould be able to disturb the peace, tran- 
quillity and prosperit}'" that would then prevail throughout this 
broad land. A tempting dream, a perfect fantasy. . . . 

Finally the accursed group "serves to maintain the horror of 
our human condition within reasonable limits," thus fulfilling 
Satan's traditional assignment. But this function has, also, another 
meaning. As Karl Mannheim has pointed out, "The scapegoat 
system not only helps to relieve the community" of guilt, but 
prevents hostility from being turned against the leader when dis- 
satisfaction is aroused." ^ Despite the achievements of modern 
science and technology, this is a dreadfully uncivilized world, 
full of endless cruelties and privations. It is a world of anguish 
and bloodshed; of crime and corruption; of perversities, calami- 
ties, accidents, diseases, and violence without end. Merely to get 
up in the morning and, after bringing in the newspaper with the 
milk bottle and returning the emptied garbage pail to its place, to 

^Quoted by Bramstedt, mpra, p. i68. 

The Strategy of Satan 269 

sit down, before one is fully awake, and attempt to digest this 
daily diet of horrors imposes an enormous strain upon anyone. 
This much is attested by the statistics on mental illness in America. 
To be able to £nd a patented explanation for most of these hor- 
rors in the activities of a single accursed group is, as Simon has 
said, "no small thing." 


All things have very different meanings, 
depending upon the meaning you want to 
put upon them. 

— EDMOND TAYLOR in Richer by Asia 

"Accursed groups" are never selected adventitiously; they 
are created. The process by which "accursed groups" are fash- 
ioned is quite similar to that by which racial stereotypes are 
fashioned. Certain traits which the minority possesses, along with 
all other people, are selected and combined to form a composite 
portrait of a most undesirable type. Individual members of the 
minority are then described wholly in terms of this stereotype 
and are believed to possess certain "innate and heritable and 
therefore unchanging and unchangeable" traits solely because 
they are members of that minority. The traits selected are in- 
variably those which impute inferiority and thereby "justify" 
assignment to a secondary social role. The stereotype has the 
further function of making it almost impossible for members of 
the dominant group to get a clear view of the individuals who 
make up the minority. By a curious paradox, the stereotype, 
which is really a systematized delusion, becomes quite "real" 
and tends to influence, and often determine, relations between 
majority and minority. It becomes a "self-fulfilling prophecy," 
a prophecy that comes true although it is based on a delusion.^ 

Much the same process is used in creating a stereotype about 

a political minority. There are, for example, approximately 

75,000 dues-paying members of the Communist Party in the 

^ "The Self -Fulfilling Prophecy" by Robert K. Merton, Antiocb Review, 
summer 1048. 

270 Witch Hwit 

United States. Now despite the fact that a selective process has 
drawn certain personality types to the party and repelled others, 
thereby giving the membership a certain homogeneity, it is per- 
fectly obvious that those members are not alike as human beings. 
If classified trait-v/ise, they would show the widest possible 
divergences. Yet when Communism is discussed we assume the 
existence of some "ideal type" — that is, we have selected the 
worst traits of all Communists and systematized them to form 
"an imaginary monster of error." For certain purposes, the 
creation of ideal types is a justified and convenient procedure; 
but this should not blind us to the fact that ideal types are man- 
made fabrications. 

It is true that the stereotyping of a religious or political mi- 
nority is less absurd than the stereotyping of a racial or ethnic 
minority, since racial identification is purely accidental, whereas 
affiliation with a political or religious organization can imply 
conscious preference. Nevertheless the fact that 75,000 people 
profess to believe the same creed does not make them alike, even 
in the intensity of this belief. For example, there are 423,000,000 
Catholics in the world. Patently they would distribute themselves 
over the widest possible spectrum of traits, including the degree 
of their attachment to Catholicism. Similarly there are 700,000,000 
"Marxists," we are told, in the world today. But this is patent 
nonsense. There are not that many people in the world who 
can identify the name of Karl Marx. Clearly, therefore, it is a 
dangerous delusion to speak, in world terms, of Catholics and 
Communists as though all Catholics and all Communists were 

When a minority is stereotyped, it is always by a dominant 
group with a particular strategy in mind. The stereotv^pe is a 
technique by which subordinate status is enforced, and this is 
particularly true of the stereotypes of religious and political 
minorities. "It is altogether impossible," wrote Macaulay, "to 
reason from the opinions which a man professes to his feelings 
and his actions; and in fact no person is ever such a fool as to 
reason thus, except ivhen he ivants a pretext for persecuting his 
neighbours." Negro maids in the South, as Dr. Hortense Powder- 

The Strategy of Satan 271 

maker discovered in writing After Freedom, have a much more 
realistic understanding of their mistresses than their mistresses 
have of them. The minority cannot afford to be bhnded by too 
many delusions about the majority, and by minority, in this 
sense, one really means the subordinate social groups. Workers 
may talk a great deal of nonsense about "the bosses" but they 
are never capable of quite the same social blindness as spokes- 
men for the upper classes who speak of "mass man" and "the 
working class." Their relation to the situation, the particular 
view that they have of the social scene, prevents this degree of 

Strategically it is utterly stupid to assume that all Communists 
are alike (witness the Tito defection). Those who hold this 
belief indicate that they are, unwittingly, sympathetic to a major 
point of Communist dogma; for this is the way Communists 
reason about non-Communists. The myth of Communism stresses 
the existence of an ideal type, the good Communist, to which 
all other Communists are urged to conform. But this ideal type 
never existed outside the imagination of Communists any more 
than "the good Christian" is to be found anywhere in Chris- 
tendom. The use of such phrases is simply a manner of speaking; 
the type is merely an ideal, an aspiration, a myth. To take this 
myth seriously, for all purposes, strategic as well as propa- 
gandistic, is to be victimized by a serious delusion. 

I know that I shall be told that I have never had to negotiate 
with the Russians at Lake Success. As a matter of fact, I 
never want to be given the assignment for I am painfully aware 
that Communists often act alike even though they are not ahke. 
It is quite true that ideological delusions can deeply color a 
person's thinking about other groups and can influence his be- 
havior toward these groups; but this is merely another illustra- 
tion of the principle of "the self-fulfilling prophecy." Com- 
munists, of course, have their ideological delusions. Taught to 
believe certain things, associating constantly with those who also 
believe these things, they come to act upon the assumption that 
their prophecies about other groups are true. But the mere fact 
that people should act alike in certain situations and relation- 

272 Witch Hunt 

ships does not make them alike and the belief that it does only 
gives vitality to the delusion. For when we act toward them as 
though their delusions about us were real, we convince them, as 
nothing else could convince them, that their delusions are real. 

Edmond Taylor has shown a wonderful insight into the na- 
ture of "institutional delusions" of this sort and the relationship 
between ideology and behavior.^" When they first came to In- 
dia, he points out, the British civil servants were not alike nor 
did they think alike, although they may have been blinded by a 
similar stereotype about Indians. But the business of being a 
British civil servant, and the situation in which this placed all 
those who held this relation to Indians, built up, over the years, 
an occupational ideology which eventually blinded a majority of 
British civil servants to the most unmistakable Indian realities. 
The British were well trained; they had long experience in deal- 
ing with Indians and firsthand knowledge of things Indian. In- 
deed the experience was so overwhelmingly "real" that they 
ridiculed any suggestion that there might be aspects of the situa- 
tion which they did not understand. 

Yet on investigation, Taylor found that an amazing amount 
of misunderstanding and delusion existed which he traced to 
the relationship in which British civil servants knew Indians 
most intimately— namely, that between the Sahib and his 
bearer or servant. This relationship, of course, was calculated to 
create gross delusions in perception on the part of both groups. 
The British went about looking for "insolence" in the Indians, 
the way the Indians looked for "insults" from the British. The 
white man's "anti-native" political ideology was matched, point 
by point, by the native's "anti-white" racist ideology. The 
British could no more understand that their rudeness provoked 
the "insolence" of which they complained than the Hindus 
could understand that their threats and insults had anything to 
do with the hostility of the Moslems. 

Similarly, there can be no doubt that the business of being a 
Communist, of associating largely with other Communists, and 
of seeing and describing events in terms of the Communist 

^^ Richer by Asia. 

The Strategy of Satan z'jy 

ideology, does make for the acceptance of certain similar atti- 
tudes, of a similar manner of reacting to events, and of certain 
feelings of hostility toward other groups. This is merely to say» 
however, that the Communist ideology can blind people to cer- 
tain aspects of reality, just as our "success ideology" can blind 
us to certain aspects of American life. This juxtaposition of de- 
lusions leads to the double paradox that an "idealistic" people, 
the American, are much more realistic, in some respects, than 
those "materialistic" Russians; and, conversely, that the material- 
istic Russians have more social idealism, in some respects, than 
the idealistic Americans. After all, Russians see Americans, and 
vice versa, within the limitations of a certain situation and hence 
neither's view of the other is free from delusion. In this case, 
moreover, cultural differences fuse with ideological conflicts 
to create a formidable barrier to understanding. But if we suc- 
cumb to the delusion that the Russians are "monsters of error," 
then an international witch hunt or third world war is made 
more likely than the situation, however grave, might indicate. 

Institutional delusions always contain a perverse or distorted 
reflection of reality. Take, for example, the delusion of claustro- 
phobia from which great powers have been known to suffer;, 
in which they fear, at the pinnacle of their powers, that they 
are being "encircled" and "surrounded." One explanation for 
this acute delusion is that great powers suffer, occasionally, from 
unrecognized ills, of which "gigantism" is, perhaps, the most 
important. Great powers have been known to attempt a solu- 
tion of this problem by a further expansion in territory or in- 
fluence when it is precisely gigantism from which they are 
suffering. Great-power delusions, moreover, are an aspect of 
the relation of these powers to each other and to the rest of the 
world; they can only see the world, so to speak, from one win- 
dow. And this relationship is historical as well as geographic. 
The Russian suspicion of foreigners is certainly not Communist 
in origin; and the American identification of socialism and so- 
cialist ideals with "foreigners" and "aliens" has little to do with 
"free enterprise." 

The members of social groups which harbor delusions about 

274 Witch Hunt 

other groups will act toward the members of these groups as 
though the delusions were real. At one time, seamen in the West 
Coast ports feared that longshoremen were being used to dis- 
place them from various port jobs which they had traditionally 
performed. And since longshoremen were actually being used 
in this manner, the delusion arose that all longshoremen were 
"scabs." Actually, of course, the longshoremen were victims of 
a situation which made them appear to be "scabbing" on sailors. 
This occupational delusion is in part responsible for the con- 
tinuing friction between the seamen, under Harry Lundberg, 
and the longshoremen, under Harry Bridges. When groups are 
found locked in opposition, we need to inquire, as Edmond 
Taylor puts it, what there is about the sitiiatioji that makes 
"mask meet mask" rather than man meet man. Sometimes, too, 
the collision is caused by a storm which is blowing up in the 
world of which the parties are unaware. In any case, it is the 
storm, the situation, that we need to study, for there are no 
"damned" in this world, and no monsters or witches. The Devil 
is a situation. . 


We are living in a paranoid age in which 
people fail even to understand that they 
do not understand each other. 


There is a sense, however, in which the Devil is in every 
man. That a belief in witchcraft should survive in the atomic 
age is in part to be accounted for by the fact that man's mecha- 
nism for social perception is inherently faulty. People can be 
victimized by social illusions in much the same sense that they 
can be deceived by optical illusions. In some periods, this mecha- 
nism functions with fair efficiency; but in periods of storm 
and stress, the mismated bifocals by which we try to perceive 
social reality become weirdly out of focus. Merely to glance at 
the headlines should be enough to convince us that we live in 

The Strategy of Sataji 275 

a paranoid age; but those who want further proof can read, as 
Edmond Taylor has suggested, the headlines in some newspaper 
published by a party, nation, or social group with which their 
group is in conflict! 

Social delusions, of course, are much more a disease of society 
than of the individual; nevertheless man's perception of social 
reality is, as Dr. Gustav Ichheiser has demonstrated, inherently 
defective/^ With Dr. Ichheiser's exposition of the technical prob- 
lem, I am not concerned; but one or two of his conclusions have 
a direct bearing on the belief in witchcraft and witches. Nearly 
all of us believe, he notes, that we observe other people in a 
correct, factual, unbiased manner. It seldom occurs to us that 
our vision might be distorted, as, in some degree, it always is. 
For one thing, it is the visible in social relations that impresses 
us; the invisible factors, which may be of great moment, we do 
not see. The failure to make allowance for these invisible fac- 
tors can lead to the gravest distortions and delusions. 

For example. Dr. Ichheiser notes that coercion is usually recog- 
nized as coercion, by those not directly involved, only when 
it "takes the visible forms of outright violence." Hence "visible" 
coercion is always more objectionable, in the eyes of the ob- 
server, than "invisible." The first type impresses us as "real"; 
of the second, we are seldom even aware. In recognition of this 
principle, shrewd ruling groups in society "have always been 
very eager to replace visible forms of coercion by invisible 
forms, knowing very well that this procedure creates the peculiar 
social illusion that there is no coercion operating in a given 
social order" — an illusion that is clearly apparent in most cur- 
rent disputes about civil rights. 

Congress has passed no laws limiting the freedom of the 
press, yet this freedom is being further limited all the time. 
Since 1909 the number of daily English-language newspapers 
has fallen at a fairly constant rate despite a great increase in 
literacy, population, and total circulation. Only one out of 
twelve of the cities in which daily newspapers are published 

^^ Misunderstandings in Human Relations: A Study in False Social Per- 
ception by Gustav Ichheiser, 1949. 

276 Witch Hunt 

have competing dailies; of an estimated daily newspaper circula- 
tion of 48,000,000 some 40 per cent is noncompetitive. These 
figures have a clear relevance to "freedom of the press"; yet we 
find it far more objectionable when a totalitarian regime openly 
suppresses a paper than when one disappears by merger in this 
country. Today civil rights are being robbed of meaning by in- 
visible pressures, and restraints which, if they continue, can 
make certain civil rights as meaningless as the "freedom of sac- 
rifice" which the Nazis sloganized following their defeat at 

The same mechanism which makes it possible for us to see 
some factors in human relations but not others also tends to 
blind us to the situational factors influencing the behavior of 
"other people." Many attitudes, motivations, and aspects of be- 
havior lie "beyond the range of our psychological comprehen- 
sion because other people are placed in a situation which is 
radically different from our own." ^^ Suppose, suggests Dr. Ich- 
heiser, four windows open on the same scene but each window 
has a different color. The scene will appear red, green, yellow, 
or purple, depending on which window you are looking through; 
the actual setting may be black. These situational factors are 
often responsible for conveying an utterly distorted meaning of 
such concepts as "freedom" and "liberty" to particular groups. 
For example, privileged groups have been known to call an 
economic insecurity bordering on wage slavery, freedom. Con- 
versely, these groups denounce as slavery social arrangements 
which, in terms of the situation of the people involved, may 
actually represent a form of liberation from prior oppression. 

This particular form of social blindness — the failure to see 
the life situation of the other person — leads to the most inac- 
curate judgments. When the other person protests his life situa- 
tion, we charge him with being "aggressive"; when he fails to 
protest it, he is "inefficient and helpless," or, as we say of under- 
privileged nations, backward. The plight of the other person 
is usually interpreted in terms of "moral" characteristics in- 
volving praise or censure. If he is poor, it is because he is "lazy" 

^^Ichheiser, op. ciu 

The Strategy of Satan 277 

or "intemperate" or "backward." We see hiin; we do not see his 
situation. "Many things," writes Dr. Ichheiser, "which happened 
between the two world wars would not have happened if social 
blindness had not prevented the privileged from understanding 
the predicament of those who were living in an invisible jail. 
It would be good perhaps if our justified horror about visible 
concentration camps would not blind us to the horrors of 'invisi- 
ble concentration camps,' of which there are a great many in 
modern society. . . . Finally we should try to understand bet- 
ter than we do that those who commit visible atrocities are 
often only taking revenge for invisible ones of which they them- 
selves were victims." Similarly, wherever the reality of persecu- 
tion has existed, the delusion of persecution remains. 

The tendency to ignore situational and other invisible factors 
is directly related to the belief in witches, ancient and modern. 
As I write these lines, the community in which I live is in a 
lynch mood over the commission of an atrocious sex crime. The 
man who committed this crime is described, in terrifying head- 
lines, as a sex fiend. The newspapers relate, with obvious glee, 
how spectators at his trial have expressed a desire "to tear him 
limb from limb," to mangle and mutilate his body. Yet these 
same newspapers also carry the story of the man's Ufe and from 
this story it is quite apparent that this is a sick human being, not 
a sex fiend or any other kind of fiend. But to many people this 
old man, who is desperately ill, is a fiend, a devil, a witch to be 

A little girl falls, headfirst, into an abandoned well. Here is a 
"visible" tragedy. The community forgets everything, includ- 
ing the Russians and the atomic bomb, and concentrates its con- 
cern on the fate of this beautiful child. Vast crowds gather at 
the scene of the attempted rescue; newspaper extras roll from the 
presses; newsreel cameramen and radio commentators haunt the 
scene; feats of incredible heroism are performed in a desperate 
but unsuccessful effort to rescue the little girl. The circum- 
stances which made this a sensational news story brought to 
light the fact that occurrences of this kind are by no means 
unique; that, indeed, similar tragedies happen all the time. Al- 

278 Witch Hunt 

most every week, in fact, some little girl, somewhere, falls into 
an abandoned well. For a month or so, the newspapers carried 
stories about similar tragedies but they soon ceased to do so be- 
cause these tragedies were remote and therefore "invisible." A 
thousand little girls could perish in abandoned wells in China 
without creating a ripple of interest in Los Angeles. 

If a man is drowning in a lake, his peril is clear and other 
people, including his ideological enemies, will run to his rescue, 
regardless of the risk. But, as Dr. Ichheiser points out, if this 
same man is drowning in the "invisible" ocean of unemployment, 
his predicament is likely to be ignored or rationalized in con- 
formity with the prevailing "ideology of success," one tenet of 
which is that the thrifty and competent never fail. Even the 
victim, who better than anyone else should know that his failure 
is due to impersonal causes, may actually develop feeUngs of 
profound "guilt" and "blame" himself for a situational tragedy. 
Here, again, one notices the principle of the self-fulfilling 

Closely related to these "illusions" is the form of self-decep- 
tion described by Dr. Ichheiser as "the mote-and-the-beam 
mechanism"; that is, the tendency to perceive in others, as 
something peculiar to them, certain traits which we are unable 
or unwilling to perceive in ourselves. It is only the Russians, of 
course, who are suspicious of foreigners. Gromyko is "rude" 
but Senators Butler, Wherry, and Ferguson are models of Amer- 
ican politeness. This tendency is the reverse of that by which 
we attempt to project on others the impulses of which we wish 
to rid ourselves; here we identify traits in them of which we 
are unaware in ourselves. The mote-beam mechanism consistently 
undermines the belief in the unity of human nature by making 
other people appear "inhuman" or "beyond the pale" or victims 
of monstrous errors. This, of course, is the way heretics are 
marked for persecution. 

Dr. Ichheiser lists other sources of distortion which have a 
direct bearing on heresy hunts and similar forms of social delu- 
sion. There is, for example, the tendency to overestimate the 
unity of personality (each Communist is of one piece and all 

The Strategy of Satan 279 

Communists are alike) ; the tendency to interpret other people in 
terms of our norms of success or failure (the Hindus are "back- 
ward" although India is one land that has never indulged in a 
witch hunt); to rely upon stereotyped classifications of all sorts, 
occupational, racial, and socioeconomic (a tendency which 
leads directly to the doctrine of guilt-by-association); the tend- 
ency to stabilize the image of other people and to make this 
image more "definite" by conveniently forgetting inconsistent 
details; not to mention the distortions that come from looking at 
other people through the glasses of some particular ideology. 
And then there are the delusions which arise from the fear of 
"the storm" — the fear of approaching war, of economic col- 
lapse, of revolution — fears that distort reality by creating a de- 
lusion — the phrase is Taylor's — of "the boundless hostility" of 
the hypothetical enemy. 

Each of these delusions, and all of them combined, interact 
upon reality; they are all self-fulfilling prophecies. What many 
people, over a period of years, expect will happen generally hap- 
pens. After 1905, the residents of the West Coast "just knew" 
that we were "destined" to fight Japan; and many of them pro- 
ceeded to act toward resident Japanese-Americans as though 
war had been declared, thereby making the eventual declaration 
of war that much more certain. It is dangerous for an individual 
or a group to carry about a distorted image of some other 
person or group; the image may turn into a real monster. By 
making the other person worse than he is, we not merely de- 
ceive ourselves; we often encourage him to act the part which 
he plays in our delusions. Wherever ideological and cultural fac- 
tors play a major part in a conflict situation, the resulting ten- 
sions, as Edmond Taylor puts it, are "less because men's values 
clash than because their delusions collide." 

There is always a discrepancy between ideological norm and 
social reality but, in fairly stable periods, the discrepancy is 
kept at a minimum; there is, as astronomers would say, little 
"atmosphere wobble" to interfere with perception. But the 
greater the discrepancy becomes, the greater also becomes the 
distortion in social perception. Heresy is a symptom of this 

2 8o Witch Hunt 

discrepancy. Its appearance suggests that some people in the 
society have become conscious of the prevailing ideology, and 
to be conscious of an ideology is to be potentially critical of its 
myths. Heresy is an evidence of ideological derangement which 
finds reflection, also, in the estrangement or alienation of the in- 
dividual. But as Dr. Ichheiser emphasizes, "A deeply intrenched 
ideology . . . never disintegrates by merely rational considera- 
tion or purely intellectual criticism." The failure to recognize 
this truth is at the root of most heresy prosecutions. 

Although our ability to understand other people is inherently 
limited, the possibilities of misunderstanding reach fantastic pro- 
portions in an age such as ours in which unlike peoples have been 
thrown into an entirely new intimacy and when the discovery 
of atomic power has invested the horror of war with an entirely 
new dimension. Furthermore, the specialization, depersonaliza- 
tion, and compartmentalization of occupations and modes of liv- 
ing have created endless possibilities for misunderstanding since 
each major occupational and social group tends to develop its 
own ideology. Within the same society, people today can live 
in a dozen "difl!"erent" worlds, each with its own ideological pre- 
suppositions. Even where two groups are supposed to be in 
sympathetic accord, as the leaders of the resistance movements 
and the masses they were supposed to represent, the distance be- 
tween the two may be so great as to make, as it did make in 
many European countries, for an almost total failure of under- 

Merely to point out a few forms of misunderstanding based 
on delusion is to emphasize the importance of a scrupulous re- 
spect for civil rights in a paranoid age. When two large nations 
indulge in fairly well systematized delusions about the other, 
both nations can be as dangerous as though they were individuals 
suffering from acute forms of paranoia. They hear voices and 
see visions. They are pushovers for Satan's strategy. What, then, 
is the paranoia from which this age is suffering? Here is Edmond 
Taylor's definition: 

^^See Bramstedt, op. cit., p. 195. 

The Strategy of Satan 281 

Described in political terms, paranoia is the madness 
which makes individuals behave like states, which' makes 
them self-patriots, self-chauvinists and self-racists. It is the 
self-sovereignty which makes the aggressions of others al- 
ways seem persecutions, while sanctifying one's own perse- 
cution of others. It is the condition of being perpetually 
worried about one's status, perpetually suspicious of the 
designs of others. It is the feeling that murder to defend or 
even to enhance one's sovereignty is somehow not murder 
but a necessary sacrifice for a great cause. It is the habit 
of being one's own espionage service, of turning speech into 
political propaganda for the furtherance of self. 


The Semantics of Persecution 

One of the techniques of successful witch hunting consists in 
an amazingly dexterous use of certain slippery words and 
phrases. Invested with all sorts of dark meanings and sinister 
implications, these words and phrases are used as command sig- 
nals. Indeed a choruslike ritualistic use of the particular word 
or phrase, over a sufficiently long period, and with the proper 
sanctions behind it, can produce a conditioned reflex in an en- 
tire people. In such cases, social therapy requires that the victim 
be urged to play with certain semantic blocks. Once he has 
learned to manipulate these symbols, they no longer have the 
power to distort reality. In this chapter, I want to examine three 
witch phrases of our day: "a member of," "force and violence," 
and "agent of a foreign power." 


The question of how witches are to be identified is one of the 
most vexatious problems of any inquisition. The key to the 
problem, however, is always found in the fact that witches love 
company — at the Sabbats or elsewhere. Where there is one 
witch, there are always others. The way to catch witches, there- 
fore, is to identify one witch and then see with whom this witch 
associates. In modern times, with association being much more 
informal and "freer" than ever before, it has required clever 
rationalization to invest the mere fact of association with this 
significance. To this end, a dogma has been made of the assump- 
tion that every member of an organization wholeheartedly ac- 

The Semantics of Persecution 283 

cepts all of its doctrines in the sense in which these doctrines 
are interpreted by persons not members of the organization. To 
make this large assumption plausible, the phrase "a member of" 
is bandied about as though it had a single, precise, unalterable 
meaning, or, stated another way, it is assumed that "member- 
ship" can be determined by simple one-dimensional objective 

At the outset, one notes that to be "a member of" has two 
meanings: technical or legal membership; and membership in 
some broader sense, as of identification or sympathy. The first 
refers to the type of proof that would satisfy a court for the 
purpose of attaching legal consequences to an act. Intention is 
not necessarily a controlling factor in this conception of mem- 
bership. In the legal sense, one can be a member of an organiza- 
tion with which one feels little identification or about which one 
knows nothing whatever. What a court does in passing on ques- 
tions of legal membership is simply to read the evidence in the 
light of the definition of membership to be found in the bylaws. 

In the current witch hunts, it is quite clear that "a member 
of" is not used in this sense. Congressman Richard Nixon is 
obviously not concerned with whether Mr. X is a member of the 
Communist Party in the sense, for example, in which a court 
might hold Mr. X responsible for a judgment entered against 
the party or for an assessment levied in its name. In questioning 
witnesses before the House Committee on Un-American Ac- 
tivities, he uses the phrase in an entirely different sense and it is 
this special usage which creates the first slight distortion in per- 
ception. What he really wants to know, although this is not 
made clear, is whether Mr. X subscribes to any of the stated 
aims of the Communist Party or feels sympathetic, in the slightest 
degree, to the party, its program, or its philosophy. 

But even in this ideological or political usage "a member of" 
is essentially ambiguous. It has, in fact, many meanings. This 
is necessarily true since an ideology or a program cannot com- 
mand the same degree of acceptance, or even the same kind of 
acceptance, that would be involved, for example, in accepting 
the bylaws of a fraternal lodge or a social club. In the legal sense, 

284 Witch Hunt 

membership is objective; in the political sense, it is subjective. 
Subjective adherence to a party or its program is basically a 
question of degree. In this sense, membership measures the 
degree of solidarity, which may be complete or partial, tem- 
porary or permanent, whimsical or serious, past or present. If 
objective, legal membership were the issue in witch hunts, it 
would not be necessary to create special tribunals to inquire 
into heresy. 

It will be countered, of course, that "a member of" has a clear- 
cut, simply understood meaning which can be applied to poKtical 
as well as other types of membership. But, if this is true, then 
why are so many different uses and meanings to be found in the 
proceedings of the various un-American investigations? From 
these sources alone, it appears that the phrase "a member of" 
can have any of the following, and many other, meanings: 

1. Admitted membership. In this sense, the phrase means a 
registered, dues-paying, self-acknowledged, fully convinced 
member of the particular organization. In effect this is the 
"legal" type of membership. 

2. Concealed membership. Here Mr. X has joined the Com- 
munist Party. He subscribes to its doctrines; he pays dues; he at- 
tends meetings. But he never took out a membership card or, 
if he did, it was under another name. With this type of mem- 
bership, however, the degree of concealment may vary. For 
example, Mr. X may not, and usually does not, conceal his 
real identity from either the officials or the members of the party 
that he knows. 

3. Strategic nonmembership. The strategic nonmember sub- 
scribes to the doctrines and perhaps pays dues; but he is not 
known to the public as a Communist nor is he known to rank- 
and-file Communists as a member nor does he take part, in any 
guise, in party activities or functions. It is quite probable that the 
strategic nonmember, whatever his conscious convictions, ex- 
periences considerable difficulty in identifying himself with the 
party. The nature of the relationship, in fact, impHes some 
reservation. For example, can a person fee/ any real identifica- 
tion with a mass organization in which he has never participated 

The Semantics of Persecution 285 

as a member? Can you feel like an Episcopalian if you have 
never attended church services or participated in the rites of the 

4. Membership by interest. This type of membership assumes 
that one can be a member of a particular organization merely 
by reason of an intense interest in its doctrines and activities. 
This may seem to be a fanciful notion but the psychological 
and also the political reality is incontestable. A certain degree 
of interest, sustained over a sufficiently long period, might well 
be tantamount to membership. Here, of course, the legal con- 
ception of membership is completely misleading. 

5. "Subject to the disciphne of." This is a form of member- 
ship long recognized by all the professional "experts" on Com- 
munism. It refers to a relationship which is distinguishable from 
those noted thus far. A person can be subject to the discipline 
of an organization without being a member, in the legal sense, 
or, for that matter, in any other sense. For example, a person, 
for a variety of reasons, can be subject to the discipline of an 
organization that he intensely dislikes. Examples: the politician 
who hopes to pick up a few Communist votes; Louis Budenz 
after he decided to leave the Communist Party but while he 
was still on its pay roll; the young lady who travels in left- 
wing circles to keep her job as the secretary of some organiza- 
tion or her "friend," who is a party functionary. 

6. Membership by assumption. The various un-American in- 
vestigations are full of instances in which witnesses have iden- 
tified other persons as being Communists on the basis of pure 
assumption. "I never attended a meeting with him," testified a 
witness before the Canwell Committee; "or even a closed meet- 
ing. I just assumed that he was because he was accepted by the 
leadership ... as one of the good fellows." ^ The ambiguities 
here are as thick as a swarm of bees: what does "accepted" 
mean? how "good" must one be to be a "good fellow"; and, 
in both cases, whose standard of "acceptance" and "goodness" 
is being applied and for what reasons and motives? It is not 
to be assumed, however, that this concept is meaningless. If other 

^ Canwell Committee Hearings, Vol. II, p. 63. 

286 Witch Hunt 

members assume that Mr. X is a member, and he acts as though 
the assumption were true, knowing of the assumption, isn't it 
apparent that, in a sense, he is indeed "a member of"? A judge 
would say that X is "estopped" to deny membership. Under 
these circumstances, also, Mr. X might actually have a feeling of 
identification as strong, and as real, as though he were a mem- 

7. Membership by reputation. This type is a variant of the 
one above. If Mr. X is consistently discussed as though he were 
"a member of," the experts would say that the real members 
were justified in regarding him as a member; hence merely be- 
cause of the reputation he bears, he should be regarded, for 
purposes to which the most serious consequences attach, as "a 
member of." Indeed, under the spell of this sorcerer-like doc- 
trine, witnesses have sworn, under oath, that people were "mem- 
bers of" the Communist Party. In this instance, the belief that 
X is a member can be based upon a pure delusion. His "repu- 
tation of membership" may be fictitious, maliciously inspired, or 
deliberately assumed, as for espionage purposes, or indeed many 
other purposes. 

8. Lapsed membership. Many examples of this type are to be 
found in the perjury-stained pages of the un-American inquisi- 
tions. For example, the Communist apparatus in Connecticut 
once completely collapsed, as a result of some internal dissen- 
sion. When the apparatus was reconstituted, certain former 
members were unknown to the new officials and were never ap- 
proached to rejoin the party — more accurately, to resume their 
activities and the payment of dues. But could a person who 
was "a member of" at the time of the debacle testify today, 
under oath, that he was no longer a member of the Communist 
Party? He ivas a member; he never resigned; he was never 

9. Fellow traveler. To the experts, the fellow traveler is merely 
another type of member. The test, here, is not "subject to the 
discipline of," but the taking of parallel political positions over 
a long period of time. This category, a favorite of the experts, 
makes very little sense, for the taking of parallel political posi- 

The Semantics of Persecution 287 

tions can be accompanied by an active dislike of the party and 
all its works. 

10. Former member. The hearings are full of cases in which 
individuals who, at one time, gave a vague assent to the idea of 
membership later just as vaguely dropped out of membership. 
In many of these cases, the individual would have as much 
difficulty in proving that he was 7io longer "a member of" as it 
would be difficult to prove, affirmatively, that he was ever a 
member. The former member may have repudiated some phase 
of party doctrine although continuing to accept most of its 
teachings. Is he still a member? The experts would say yes; 
because, to them, one cannot purge the taint of heresy except 
by formal abjuration. To them, a former member remains a 
member until he formally repudiates the heresy. Leaving an 
organization is, indeed, a process with as many gradations as 
joining. A witness before the Canwell Committee testified that 
she had "gradually left" the Communist Party.^ The un- 
sophisticated will deny that it is possible to leave an organiza- 
tion "gradually"; you are either a member or not a member. But 
the obvious truth is that membership, in the political sense, has 
almost as many gradations of meaning as there are individual 
members of any particular organization. For the reality of mem- 
bership, in this sense, is really subjective; it is a question of feel- 
ing, of identification, of attitude. 

It is for this reason that complete credence can be given to 
the stories of individuals who, although they once "carried a 
card," have later contended, in all seriousness, that they "never 
really were members." One of the witnesses in the Canwell in- 
vestigation testified that he had always felt like "a spectator" 
at party meetings; that he had never really thought of himself 
as a member; yet he readily admitted that he had gone through 
all the rites of membership. The truth is that people join or- 
ganizations for all sorts of reasons and sometimes for no par- 
ticular reason. Sometimes, for example, a person joins an or- 
ganization out of a sense of personal loyalty. Mabel Winther, 
wife of Dr. Sophus Keith Winther of the University of Wash- 

''Ibid., Vol. II, p. 305. 

288 Witch Hunt 

ington, testified that she joined the Communist Party "because 
my husband had been inducted into the Party." ^ 

To "have been" a member is to mark a person as a continuing 
suspect since it clearly indicates the existence of the disposi- 
tion or tendency which is heresy. But prior membership can 
have a thousand connotations: a person could have belonged 
to the proscribed organization one, five, ten, or twenty years 
ago; and, similarly, a person's prior membership could have been 
for an hour, six months, or ten years. Yet the consequences which 
attach to having been "a member" are not, needless to say, ad- 
justed to this complex scale of identification. 

Nor are these distinctions Talmudic; on the contrary, they 
measure an unassailable reality. Bona fide legal membership in 
the Communist Party can be utterly devoid of political sig- 
nificance, as in the case of morons, informers, and me-too wives 
who have followed their husbands into the party. And it is 
precisely for this reason that the witch hunters have always had 
a better grasp of the reality of membership than common-sense 
observers and. trained jurists. The heresy hunter knoM^s that, 
to bell the cat, he must conduct a personal inquisition. He is 
well aware that, if he is to catch the witch, he must cross- 
examine the suspect, in minute detail, as to his beliefs, his at- 
titudes, and his most intimate personal convictions. For this is 
the only way by which the political or ideological significance 
of membership can be explored. The heresy hunter is also en- 
tirely logical in insisting that the suspect undergo certain or- 
deals; that he be subjected to a war of nerves. For the inquisitor 
proceeds upon the assumption that those who have espoused 
heresy for frivolous reasons will not hesitate to abandon or de- 
nounce it; only the confirmed heretic will remain defiant. Hence 
any inquiry into membership must necessarily turn into a personal 
inquisition if it is to succeed in its prime purpose. Today as yes- 
terday, inquisitors know their business. It is foolish to talk 
about "reforming" their procedures; the procedures are what 
they are because of the nature of heresy. To say, therefore, that 
joining the Communist Party is "an act" which can be deter- 

^Ibid., Vol. II, p. 28. 

The Semantics of Persecution 289 

mined without an inquiry into the suspect's deepest beliefs and 
convictions is sheer nonsense. If the members of un-American 
committees are not to be accused of being frivolous or insincere, 
it must be admitted that the nature of their assignment requires 
them to probe consciences, to inquire into beliefs, to test con- 
victions. In a period of great social crisis, the belief that needs 
to be taken seriously is the belief that cannot be shaken even 
in the shadow of the gallows. 

Paradoxically, the heresy hunters, who have developed the 
various "types" of membership, of which only a few illustra- 
tions have been given above, refuse to recognize the reality 
which they themselves have discovered— namely, that member- 
ship is like a spectrum; that it has many gradations of meaning; 
and that the real test goes to the intensity of feeling, which is 
purely subjective. 

It often happens that even the politically sophisticated are 
unaware of the real meaning of certain words and phrases which 
they have discovered can be used with great emotive force. To 
certain of these phrases, people respond as a neurotic might 
respond to some forgotten image or symbol of his childhood. 
The real meaning having been lost, or perversely pushed to one 
side, the person responds without knowing how or why the 
phrase has come to have some strange, despotic power over his 
imagination. Such a phrase, with us, is the ominous expression 
"by force and violence." 

The real meaning of this phrase is buried deep in the collective 
unconscious of all peoples living in industrial societies, for it 
identifies a traumatic experience through which all such peoples 
have passed. With us, the phrase has a most specific history. 
Prior to the Civil War, the phrase was either unknown or 
wholly lacked its present connotations. Today one is shocked 
by the free-wheeling, uninhibited, patriotically blasphemous 
candor of pre-Civil War political discussion in the United States. 

290 Witch Hunt 

No Communist orator ever dreamed of denouncing the Consti- 
tution of the United States as it was denounced by Wilham 
Lloyd Garrison. The long shadow cast by the phrase "force and 
violence" on the concept of free speech had not then fallen 
across the intellectual life of America. Governors, Senators, and 
Congressmen thought nothing of defying the federal govern- 
ment and of advocating that it be overthrown or superseded. 

The guarantee of free speech, which for the first time in his- 
tory found formal sanction in the First Amendment, is wholly, 
and intentionally, unequivocal. It was intended to mean pre- 
cisely what the amendment states, namely, that Congress shall 
make no law abridging the freedom of speech. And it meant 
just this until about the fourth day of May, 1886, when a bomb 
was thrown in Haymarket Square in Chicago, killing eight 
policemen and wounding many spectators. The person who 
threw the bomb, of course, was never arrested. But the state 
of public opinion being what it was, it became necessary to 
convict someone and the conviction had to be based, not on an 
overt act, but on words, incitement, and an alleged conspiracy. 
Accordingly the prosecution invented the fiction that inasmuch 
as Spies and Parsons and Fielden had advocated the use of force 
and violence, not once but many times, and had even urged the 
manufacture of bombs, their culpability was clear. Thus eight 
men were convicted of a murder with which the evidence con- 
nected none of them and the conviction was sustained by the 
Supreme Court of Illinois and by the United States Supreme 

At the thue, it was clearly recognized that the convictions 
had been secured by the use of a new doctrine, namely, "ad- 
vocacy by force and violence," whereas today we accept this 
doctrine as though it had always been a part of the Anglo- 
American legal tradition. Robert Ingersoll, among others, im- 
mediately recognized the precedent as a new departure. "It will 
be," he said, "a great mistake to hang these men. The seeds of 
future trouble will in this find soiir Governor Richard Oglesby, 
who saved two of the defendants from the gallows, had been an 
active Abolitionist and a great friend of Lincoln's. Referring to 

The Semantics of Persecution 291 

the decision of the Illinois Supreme Court, he once told a friend: 
"If that had been the law during the anti-slavery agitation, all 
of us Abolitionists could have been hanged long ago." And 
there can be no doubt that he was right. Even Judge Joseph 
Gary, who presided at the trial, later admitted that the con- 
victions were based upon "new law." "They were hanged," he 
wrote, "not for opinions but for horrible deeds." But once words, 
and words alone, are used to connect people with "horrible 
deeds," it is a delusion to believe that words do not form the 
basis of the conviction. What then had happened, in American 
life, that had made it necessary to place a brake on free speech 
and the agitation for social reform? 

In 1886 a majority of the American people doubtless be- 
lieved that the reality of the Haymarket case was to be found 
in the rhetorical violence of the Chicago anarchists. Just as 
these anarchists were deluded enough to believe that revolu- 
tion was imminent in the America of 1886, so the American 
people were sufficiently deluded to believe that there was a real 
danger of their institutions being overthrown by the advocacy of 
"force and violence." Both beliefs were weirdly unreal. The half- 
dozen anarchists who harangued the lake-shore meetings drew 
crowds of only fifty or sixty people during a period of great in- 
dustrial unrest and America was then at the beginning, not the 
middle or the end, of a period of great industrial expansion. 
Nevertheless the delusion under which the American people were 
suffering, their fear of force and violence, had, like most delu- 
sions, a reality of its own. 

For the Haymarket case was one of the great forerunners of 
industrial strife in the United States. It was one of a series of 
dramatic events which, in the i88o's, symbolized the birth of a 
new social order. This new social order, in the United States 
as elsewhere, was born in force and violence. The people were 
quick to sense that some profound change had taken place; that 
values which they deeply respected were being violently up- 
rooted; that some dreadful crime was being committed of which 
the Haymarket affair was a symbol; that, somehow, the "do- 
mestic tranquillity" had been irrevocably shattered. In short, 

292 Witch Hunt 

the force and violence with which the industrial revolution 
came invested the phrase with a lasting meaning and significance. 
And among the feelings which the phrase evokes today is a 
feeling of guilt which is all the more powerful because it is not 
recognized as guilt; a feeling which relates to the fact that in- 
nocent men have gone to the gallows in America because they 
selected the wrong words to express their aspiration for social 
justice. It is this buried, long-forgotten, once-pregnant meaning 
of the phrase which P. A. Brown had in mind when he said 
that in Great Britain "force and violence" related back to 
some half-buried tradition.^ Thus to latch an indictment with 
this ominous phrase has always meant more than the words 
would seem to imply. 

To be sure, the "domestic tranquillity" had been broken in 
the United States on many occasions prior to the Haymarket 
affair; there had been strife and unrest, slave revolts and tenant 
riots, Abohtionists and Copperheads. But there was a special 
quality about the strife which came into being with the rise 
of industrial capitalism. The ideology of Socialism, which came 
with the new social order, seemed to be foreign-inspired and, in- 
deed, was first advocated by "foreigners." But the real dif- 
ference consists in the quality of the uneasiness and insecurity 
that came with the transformation of the economy. Enemies that 
can be seen can be opposed but those that cannot be seen can 
only be feared and hated. The difference is best expressed, per- 
haps, in the troubled feelings that Tom Joad and Muley, the "ol' 
graveyard ghos'," voice in the opening scene of The Grapes of 

Neither Tom nor Muley could identify "the thing" that had 
set man against man. The secretary to the warden had told Tom, 
before he left the prison, that "it don't do no good to read books. 
Says he's read ever'thing about prisons now, an' in the old 
times; an' he says she makes less sense to him now than she did 
before he starts readin'. He says it's a thing that started way to 
hell an' gone back, an' nobody seems to be able to stop her, an' 
nobody got sense enough to change her. He says for God's sake 

^The French Revolution m English History, 191 8. 

The Semantics of Persecution 293 

don't read about her because he says for one thing you'll jus' 
get messed up worse, an' for another you won't have no respect 
for the guys that work the gove'nments." And Muley then points 
to the difference between "her" and all other predicaments and 
contentions, "When you're huntin' somepin," he says, "you're a 
hunter, an' you're strong. Can't nobody beat a hunter. But when 
you get hunted — that's different. Somepin happens to you. You 
ain't strong; maybe you're fierce, but you ain't strong. I been 
hunted now for a long time. I ain't a hunter no more. I'd maybe 
shoot a fella in the dark, but I don't maul nobody with a fence 
stake no more . . . there's one thing about being hunted. You 
get to thinkin' about all the dangerous things. If you're huntin' 
you don't think about 'em, an' you ain't scared." But from "this 
one," how do you escape? Which way do you turn? Where do 
you go? What to do? Who, as Muley asked, do you shoot? 

It was, indeed, the peculiar nature of the new social crisis that 
brought about the necessity of reading a limitation into the 
unequivocal guarantee of free speech contained in the First 
Amendment. After 1886 the limitation was clearly implied: one 
could still speak freely except that one could not "advocate the 
overthrow ... by force and violence." After 1886 the phrase, 
unknown prior to the Civil War, began to echo in court de- 
cisions, state enactments, city ordinances, injunctions, criminal 
syndicalism acts, and, during the First World War, in the Sedition 
Act. Actually the phrase did not need to be repeated; it was 
always there, deeply embedded in the American unconscious, 
added by implication to the First Amendment. 

Now the fact is that it is not a crime to advocate anything 
whatever in the United States, including the overthrow of the 
government by force and violence despite the possibility that the 
Supreme Court may uphold the American unconscious when it 
rules on the Smith Act. But the nearest the court has come to 
doing so, in the past, has been to raise up the "clear and present 
danger" doctrine as a test of permissible speech. Yet this phrase 
has little meaning. As Alexander Meiklejohn has pointed out, why 
must the danger of speech be present before the police power 
can be evoked? If speech is that dangerous, it ought to be sup- 

294 Witch Hunt 

pressed. In conjuring up the "clear and present danger" doctrine 
Dr. Meiklejohn accuses Holmes and Brandeis of following the 
procedure described by James Stephens: 

I would think until I found 
Something I can never find; 
Something lying on the ground, 
In the bottom of my mind. 

That, indeed, is where they found the "clear and present danger" 
doctrine: in the bottom of their minds; deeply buried in the 
American unconscious. The First Amendment does not say any- 
thing about "force and violence" or dangers "clear and present"; 
it says, Congress shall make no law.^ 

The effect of these qualifications about "force and violence," 
and "clear and present danger," as Zechariah Chafee has observed, 
was to make "the traditional language of socialism" subversive, 
and this was, indeed, the intention. The traditional language of 
Socialism was European in origin and it had been coined under 
circumstances which clearly called for the revolutionary over- 
throw of the established social order by force and violence. In 
countries lacking a deeply seated democratic tradition, how 
could Socialists ever expect to come to power short of "force and 
violence"? Even so, by a curious paradox, they borrowed most 
of their violent rhetoric from the anarchists, who are less inclined 
to the actual use of force and violence, their words to the con- 
trary, than any "leftist" group. The importation of this inflam- 
matory rhetoric to the America of the post-Civil War period was 
grotesquely inept and, to a degree, is still responsible for the 
traditional antipathy to the words "force and violence." 

But there is more to these words than their history implies. 
Suppose two factions are at war; the Blacks and the Blues. Sup- 
pose, also, that the Blacks hold possession of a strategically well- 
located fortress, stocked with ammunition, which commands the 
entire terrain over which the two factions have gone to war. A 
prior rule makes it illegal for any ideological contender to ad- 

^See Free Speech and Its Relation to Self-Govermnent by Alexander 
Meiklejohn, 1948, p. 52. 

The Semantics of Fersecution 295 

vocate "assault"; both the act and its advocacy are banned. The 
effect of this seemingly impartial rule, under these circumstances, 
is to leave the Blacks in possession of the fortress from which 
they cannot be dislodged. The Blacks do not favor the rule be- 
cause they abhor force and violence in the abstract. If the Blues 
held the fortress, the Blacks would be advocates of force and 
violence. What the phrase "to advocate the overthrow by force 
and violence" means, in actual social practice, is that any ad- 
vocacy of social change, carried beyond a certain point, is danger- 
ous. But the real difficulty is that any "urging," in the face of 
adamant opposition, wdll tend to become violent and the violence 
will then be related back to the advocacy. 

Almost any strike will illustrate the social meaning of force 
and violence. A picket line, to be effective, must interfere with 
production or sales or both. The irate employer then sends for 
the "metropolitan detail" or "red squad." The moment the 
police appear on the scene, the possibility of force and violence 
exists. From this point on, it is usually idle to attempt to fix re- 
sponsibility for what happens or to name the parties who "cause" 
the violence. The possibility of violence is inherent in the situa- 
tion. In most strikes, labor must take the offensive, or it appears 
to do so, even when, as in the case of a lockout, the employer 
has made the first move. The public cannot "see" a lockout; but 
it can see men on a picket line. The employer can usually afford 
to wait out the union; he has possession of the plant; the initiative, 
in most cases, rests with him. Thus labor will be forced to push 
for a settlement, or to appear to be pushing, and any pushing 
beyond a certain point is likely to result in force and violence. 
The relation between the parties to the conflict, not the words 
they use, creates the danger of violence. 

The doctrine of force and violence, in short, is a partisan 
weapon used in a two-sided conflict in which both sides are 
attempting to convince the public that the other is using a club. 
Force and violence, the phrase, is never a cause of conflict; it is a 
legal cliche which indicates the existence of a conflict. The real 
violence in the Haymarket affair — and it was this case, more 
than any other, that fixed the meaning of the phrase — was not 

296 Witch Hunt 

to be traced to the anarchists shouting by the lake front but to 
the police who, for a decade or more, had been attempting to 
suppress the right of free speech, and all trade-union activity, in 
Chicago. Today, in retrospect, we are appalled by the failure of 
the public, blinded by delusion, to see the real situation in the 
Haymarket affair. But the disturbing fact is that a majority of the 
people still reach for a rope when the signal "force and violence" 
is sounded. 

The continuing emotive force of the phrase "force and vio- 
lence" is closely related to the psychology of the "cinch" ques- 
tion which, since the beginning of time, has been used by 
conformists to bludgeon nonconformists. A cinch question, of 
course, is a question which can only be answered in one way 
by all God-fearing, sober, hard-working, right-thinking people. 
By its very nature, the cinch question is a weapon which can 
only be used by conformists, by the spokesmen for a large ma- 
jority opinion. Those who have watched the behavior of a city 
council or a state legislature over any period of time know how 
effective the cinch question can be. The conservative majority, 
wanting to hold the conformist line, will wait until a suitable op- 
portunity arises and then introduce a resolution reciting that it 
is the opinion of the council that husbands should not beat wives 
or condemning the use of force and violence. The effect of the 
resolution is to whip the opposition into line; either they vote 
yes or they will be branded as advocates of wife-beating or force- 
and-violence. Hearst editors have developed this weapon to its 
ultimate effectiveness. A "cinch" question never poses an issue; 
it is never intended to raise an issue; its real purpose is to club 


When a majority sets out to fight a minority as heretics, the 
minority is, with rare exceptions, promptly branded the "agent 
of a foreign power." Example: "The Communist Party is not 
an American political party. It is a Russian party with branches 

The Semantics of Persecution 297 

in other countries which work under direct orders from Mos- 
cow; one of its basic principles is the necessity for the violent 
overthrow of all non-Communist governments." ^ By inference, 
the Communist Party would be "an American political party," 
and therefore acceptable, if it were not Russian-controlled. 
Polemically, this is a superb argument: it is simple; it is massive; it 
is fear-inspiring; it is dogmatic. This is just the kind of argument 
to use in fighting a heresy for the heretic is not an honorable 
opponent; he insists on fighting by his rules and not by the rules 
of the majority. Since the majority has already made up its mind 
to crush the heresy, by any means, the clever thing to do, of 
course, is to brand the heretics as "agents of a foreign power," 
since this puts them, immediately, in the position of being 
"enemies" in a state of war and, therefore, opponents to be de- 
stroyed, if need be, by warlike methods. 

The charge against the Communist Party may be true but it 
has nothing to do with its members' indictment as agents of a 
foreign power. For this is a cliche of all heresy persecutions. 
Every heretic is guilty of two crimes; these crimes, indeed, are 
what make him a heretic. In the first place, he is a malicious in- 
grate, a fifth columnist, who seeks to disturb the freedom and 
order of the society which gives him freedom and security; and 
in the second place he is always "an agent of a foreign power." 
Even the witch was the loyal agent of the Prince of Darkness. 
Macaulay, who had a most remarkable insight into the inquisi- 
torial mind, outlined the "foreign-agent" syllogism in this manner: 

A Papist believes himself bound to obey the Pope. 
The Pope has issued a bull deposing Queen Elizabeth. 
Therefore every Papist will treat her grace as an usurper. 

Therefore every Papist is a traitor. 
Therefore, every Papist ought to be hanged, drawn, and 


To this logic, as he added, "we owe some of the most hateful laws 
that ever disgraced our history." 

® The Social Studies, May 1949, p. 225. 

298 Witch Hunt 

The answer to this logic-of-delusion, as Macaulay pointed out, 
"lies on the surface" of the proposition itself. For as he said: 

The Church of Rome may have commanded these men 
to treat the Queen as a usurper. But she has commanded 
them to do many things which they have never done. She 
enjoins her priests to observe strict purity. You are always 
taunting them with their licentiousness. She commands all 
her followers to fast often, to be charitable to the poor, to 
take no interest for money, to fight no duels, to see no 
plays. Do they obey these injunctions? Do we not know 
that what is remote and indefinite affects men far less than 
what is near and certain? Does the expectation of being re- 
stored to the country of his fathers make him [the Jew] 
insensible to the fluctuations of the stock-exchange? 

The fallacy here is that of confounding prophecy with precept. 
Besides there is a still more searching answer to the "foreign 
agent" bombast: 

Nothing is so offensive to a man who knows anything of 
history or of human nature as to hear those who exercise 
the powers of government accuse any sect of foreign at- 
tachment. If there be a proposition universally true in poli- 
tics it is this, that foreign attachments are the fruit of 
domestic misrule. It has always been the trick of bigots to 
make their subjects miserable at home, and then to com- 
plain that they look for relief abroad; to divide societ)% and 
to wonder that it is not united; to govern as if a section of 
the state were the whole, and to censure the other sections - 
of the state for their want of patriotic spirit. . . . There is 
no feeling which more certainly develops itself in the minds 
of men living under tolerably good government than the 
feeling of patriotism. . . . To make it ground of accusa- 
tion against a class of men, that they are not patriotic, is the 
most vulgar legerdemain of sophistry. It is the logic which 
the wolf employs against the lamb. It is to accuse the mouth 
of poisoning the source. 

The statesman who treats them [the Jews] as aliens, and 
then abuses them for not entertaining the feelings of natives, 

The Semantics of Persecution 299 

is as unreasonable as the tyrants who punished their fathers 
for not making bricks without straw. 

Rulers must not be suffered thus to absolve themselves of 
their solemn responsibility. It does not lie in their mouths to 
say that a sect is not patriotic. It is their duty to make it 

The New Inquisition 

An urban, sophisticated people, we do not believe in witches: 
nor do we sanction witch hunts. Our loyalty oaths, un-American 
investigations, and civil service purges have no relation, of course, 
to the persecutions of yesteryear. The parallel is ridiculed because 
the precedents seem utterly remote: the penal laws against witch- 
craft were swept away in 1763. For more than a century, now, 
it has been the fashion to regard the witchcraft delusion as being 
no longer quite comprehensible, despite the fact that Hitler cre- 
mated more "witches" in a week than were burned at the stake 
in a century. "So thoroughly has the ancient specter been exor- 
cised," writes Christina Hole, "that the majority tend to regard 
the whole tradition as little more than proof of our ancestors' 
credulity." ^ 

The belief that the witchcraft delusion has been overcome arises 
from a failure to compare modern witchcraft and heresy prose- 
cutions with those of the Inquisition. Fashions in heresy change 
but the methods of prosecuting heresy cannot change. Once any 
government attempts to punish "crimes of the intellect," it is 
driven to adopt certain techniques and procedures which were 
standardized centuries ago. That a New Inquisition is now upon 
us can best be established by comparing the methods currently 
used to banish heretics by bell, book, and candle with those in- 
spired by Innocent the Third's enthusiasm for liquidating heretics. 
To establish the similarity in method is not to indulge in a purely 
academic exercise. The horror of all inquisitions, ancient and 
modern, consists primarily in the methods used. The inquisitorial 

^ See Witchcraft in England, 1947, p. 6; also, The Devil in Massachusetts 
by Marion L. Starkey, 1949, p. 282. 

The New Inquisition 301 

process is an unmitigated evil in itself: it can never be used to 
achieve good ends for its use will defeat the finest purpose. Just 
what, then, are the basic characteristics of this process? 


Inquisitions date from the setting up of special and centralized 
tribunals to deal with heresy. Every inquisition implies the ex- 
istence of a Star Chamber, an Un-American Committee, or some 
special centraHzed tribunal before which heretics can be haled 
and questioned. There must be a centralized tribunal for the 
simple reason that it would never do to have two or more in- 
quisitions, of equal authority, operating at the same time. The 
function of the tribunal is to organize total conformity of belief 
by creating a morbid fear of the consequences of nonconformity. 
This can only be done by a centralized agency with the power to 
make authoritative pronouncements on the subject of heresy and 
to consolidate, in one agency, the power of denunciation. 

G. G. Coulton, for example, dates the inception of the Inquisi- 
tion from the setting up of a special and centralized tribunal to 
investigate heretics." There had been earlier inquisitions but it 
was not until a special tribunal was created that the real terror 
began. Heretics could be lightly admonished as long as the au- 
thorities felt secure in the possession of their corrupt privileges 
and powers; but as the volume of disaffection mounted a sharper 
weapon had to be forged, a weapon especially designed to cut 
down heretics. The creation of special antiheresy tribunals, there- 
fore, is always an indication that the fight against heresy has en- 
tered a decisive phase. Once established, the tribunals remain in 

A heresy tribunal must be specialized in function, that is, it 
must deal exclusively with heresy. For one thing, the work of 
such a tribunal cannot be fettered in any manner; it must have the 
widest and most unrestricted freedom of action. It must be in- 
vested, for example, with the unusual power of defining the crime 

^The Inquisition, 1929, p. 23. 

302 Witch Hunt 

it was created to punish and, also, of making its own rules. The 
tribunal must exist "outside" the common or customary law for 
the reason that accepted legal procedures and rules of evidence 
must be set aside. The accused, by way of illustration, must be 
saddled with a presumption of guilt since neither thoughts nor 
attitudes can be satisfactorily appraised unless the accused can be 
made to talk. 

The creation of tribunals with these unique powers is invari- 
ably justified in terms of the existence of some extraordinary 
political emergency. "He has suspended the laws of the country," 
wrote Hazlitt of Lord Castlereagh, "to save us from anarchy! We 
deny the danger and deprecate the remedy. If ministers could 
afford to fan the flames of insurrection, to alarm the country into 
a surrender of its Hberties, w^e contend that a danger that could 
be thus tampered with, thus made a convenient pretense for seiz- 
ing a power beyond the law to put it down, might have been put 
down without a power beyond the law." 

In heresy prosecutions there can be no acquittals. One or more 
acquittals would destroy the atmosphere of fear and terror so 
indispensable to the success of any well-considered thought- 
control program. The functions of judge, jury, and prosecutor 
must, therefore, be combined so that the inquisitors may control 
the entire proceeding, including the verdict. Remy, the famous 
Inquisitor of Lorraine, who consigned 800 witches to the stake, 
made the perfect comment on inquisitorial justice \^'hen he ob- 
served: "So sure is my justice that sixteen witches arrested the 
other day never hesitated but strangled themselves inconti- 

The people must be made to fear the tribunal and its processes; 
the very thought of the tribunal must arouse foreboding and ap- 
prehension. If the tribunal is to be feared, it must be fearsome: 
hence its reputation becomes more important than its accomplish- 
ments. To function as the silent censor of the people's thoughts, 
the tribunal must acquire the reputation of being a silent, ruth- 
less, and incredibly efficient machine from which there is no 
escape. The victim, in short, must be made to feel his utter help- 
lessness before a power which seems as strong and inexorable as 

The New Inquisition 303 

fate. This impression can best be created by special tribunals 
which deal exclusively with heresy and heretics. If heresy prose- 
cutions are to succeed, the people must be made to take heresy 
seriously; that is, they must be made to fear the consequences of 
being identified with heresies or heretics. Special heresy tribu- 
nals stimulate and organize this fear. 

A tribunal that is concerned only with heresy is able to keep 
meticulous and detailed records. Every fragment of evidence is 
carefully husbanded and the most casual gossip is jotted down in 
the heretic's record. By the use of modern indexing, filing and 
coding machines, we have perfected the techniques of political 
surveillance. In "the dossier state" in which we Hve, a man can 
no more escape from his dossier than he can elude his shadow; 
whether he journeys to Kansas or Kenya, the dossier is certain to 
pursue him. Just as every tribunal of the Inquisition had a notary 
with a large stafi^ of clerks and scriveners, forever poring over 
their bloodstained documents, jotting down the tips and reports 
of informers, recording fragments of conversation, preserving 
intimacies acquired in the confessional, so in the great central 
fihng room of the FBI, with its lofty domed ceiling, hundreds of 
clerks scurry about, taking dossiers here and there, as the heresy- 
proof machines sort and code, file and index, mechanically "fin- 
gering" victims from one end of the continent to the other. The 
more elaborate and efficient this surveillance machine becomes, 
the more fear it inspires and the more insecurity it breeds. Even- 
tually it becomes the f ountainhead of the very fear and insecurity 
which it was originally intended to allay. 

The House Committee on Un-American Activities is the special 
centralized tribunal which has organized the New Inquisition. It 
is a permanent antiheresy tribunal which determines guilt and 
metes out punishment. The committee, it should be noted, did 
not come into being overnight; it was only set up, in fact, after 
other and more conventional methods of dealing with heresy had 
been tried and abandoned. For example, an attempt had been made 
in the early 1920's to deal with social, economic, and political 
heresies in the regular criminal courts as specially defined crimes; 
witness the various "criminal syndicalism" statutes of that period. 

304 Witch Hunt 

But criminal courts, like the secular or "earthly" tribunals of the 
Middle Ages, deal with overt acts, not with thoughts and feelings; 
and, besides, regular criminal prosecutions are slow, cumbersome, 
and inefficient. 

Special heresy tribunals require a special, nonjudicial personnel. 
The successful inquisitor must be "ardent with the fiery and 
formidable zeal of fanaticism"; he cannot be judicial in tone or 
manner. He, too, must be fearsome. The great inquisitors of an- 
other age, Bernard Gui, Nicholas Eymeric, and the incredibly 
diligent James Sprenger, were men of this stamp. They thought 
of themselves, as A. S. Turberville has pointed out, "as servants 
of God surrounded by that aureole of sanctity which gave their 
court the name and reputation of the Holy Office." ^ Their mod- 
ern counterparts obviously think of themselves in similar terms. 
Indeed such men as Dies, Thomas, Canwell, Broyles, Tenney, 
and the others, were selected as chairmen of our various un- 
American heresy tribunals precisely because they are self-right- 
eous political zealots with a passion for conformity. Half-hearted 
inquisitors are rare and when one does appear, as in the case of 
ex-Congressman Jerry Voorhis, he soon sickens of the task and 
resigns in disgust. 

During his term of ofHce, the medieval inquisitor enjoyed what 
was known as "plenary indulgence," that is, he could not be ac- 
cused of heresy. The reason is clear: if inquisitors could be 
charged with heresy, there would be no one to investigate the 
investigators. Faced with the same problem, we follow a similar 
rule. For example, many of our inquisitors, including Rankin, 
Dies, and Thomas, have been guilty of numberless heresies against 
the democratic faith; yet no one could charge them with heresy 
or impeach their authority so long as they served as inquisitors. 
The medieval inquisitor possessed another special power which 
we, too, have conferred upon our modern inquisitors — namely, 
the power to grant indulgences. The indulgences granted Eliza- 
beth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers — who readily confessed 
their guilt as former heretics and violators of the law — are merely 
two of many similar illustrations that might be cited. Once a 

^Medieval Heresy and the Inquisition, 192 1. 

The New Inquisition 305 

heretic becomes a "friendly" witness or turns informer, he there- 
after enjoys a complete immunity for past crimes, however grave, 
nor can he be charged with heresy. The very existence of this 
power places a high premium on perjury and endangers the lib- 
erties of every law-abiding citizen. 

Although there are striking similarities between modern in- 
quisitorial tribunals and those of the Middle Ages, there is one im- 
portant difference. Heresy tribunals were then financed from 
the fines and fees assessed against heretics and from the proceeds 
received from the sale of confiscated properties. For example, as 
early as 1375 one finds Eymeric complaining bitterly that there 
were no more "rich heretics" left to persecute. The Nazis, of 
course, followed the medieval practice of confiscating the prop- 
erty of the heretic and the same practice apparently prevails in 
the Soviet Union and its satellite provinces; but we, as though to 
emphasize our freedom from such undemocratic phobias, insist 
that the general taxpayer foot the bill. 


Saint Thomas Aquinas insisted that a person in ignorance of 
the truth could not be adjudged a heretic without proof of previ- 
ous instruction in the faith. When Prynne, Bastwick, and Burton 
were convicted of heresy on June 14, 1637, the Star Chamber 
ordered that they should be branded on their foreheads with the 
initials "S. L." — meaning Seditious Libeler — and that their ears 
should be cut off. But at least they had been warned of the con- 
sequences of error and, as the record shows, they had been ex- 
posed to the truth. Nowadays, however, one can be branded with 
the letter "S" for Subversive without any showing that one has 
first been instructed in the truth about "free enterprise." In point 
of literal fact, heresy is actually a more arbitrary conception with 
us than it was in the Middle Ages. 

Generally speaking, however, we have adopted the medieval 
definition of heresy. A medieval heretic was a person who, on any 
grounds, had separated himself from the traditional faith. Separa- 

3o6 Witch Hunt 

tion did not have this effect in theory but in practice it did since 
every schism argued an error in belief. The basis of heresy has 
alvv'ays consisted in a challenge to the existing order^ Heresy is 
the disposition to be critical of the existing social order in time 
of storm. Hence no charge is easier to bring and none so difficult 
to disprove. The vagueness of the offense and the impossibility 
of acquittal have always made heresy the perfect political weapon 
to use in maintaining a social order in which many people have 
ceased to believe. "When employed politically," wrote Henry 
Charles Lea, "the accused had the naked alternative of submission 
or of armed resistance." ^ "It created," writes Coulton, "a veritable 
scramble for heresy, and even a systematic manufacture of heresy, 
for, if your enemy was a heretic, then you were sure of your 
cause against him." ^ 

Inherently vague, the definition of heresy was greatly expanded 
in the Middle Ages by the practice of thinking of heresy as a 
catalogue of beliefs, activities, and affiliations. Thus new crimes 
could be created, so to speak, by simply adding new items to the 
catalogue. With us, too, heresy is defined catalogue-fashion. The 
catalogue, of course, is never completed; the list of errors is 
never final. There is real logic in this method, too, for heresy is 
basically a crime of the intellect, a matter of the state of a man's 
mind and disposition, and thus it cannot be defined categorically. 
Although heresy is sometimes revealed in an act, it more often 
consists in a secret intention, a covert and latent rebelliousness. 
Thus, as Turberville points out, the inquisitor ''must be a searcher 
of the heart and a prober into the obscure workijjgs of the 77ii?id" 
(Emphasis added.) 

The Devil conceals heresy, of course, in strange places so that 
its detection requires skill and training and rare imagination. In- 
quisitors pride themselves on their ability to detect heresy in the 
most unlikely guises and in the strangest forms. Heresy tribunals 
soon accumulate a body of dogma of such vast proportions that 
only the professional inquisitor is competent to identify heretics 

*See Turberville, op. cit., p. 13. 

^ A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, Vol. HI, 1921, p. 191. 

Op, cit., p. 93. 

The New Inquisition 307 

and to ferret out heresies. For heresy may be revealed in the lift- 
ing of an eyebrow (so Mr. Adolphe Menjou assured the House 
Committee on Un-American Activities), the slightest ideological 
deviation or emphasis, a barely perceptible nuance of meaning, 
the faintest equivocation. Each inquisitor, of course, has a patent 
on his favorite divining methods and none has ever been known 
to testify without a fee. Indeed the higher the fee, the keener the 
discernment of the expert, the more subtle his inferences, the more 
audacious his conclusions. 

Heresy tribunals rarely exonerate a person charged with heresy. 
The intangible nature of the offense makes it almost impossible 
for a person to be "cleared" of the charge. Since nearly everyone 
harbors a tendency to be critical of the existing social order, 
nearly everyone is guilty of heresy to some degree. Besides, just 
how is a person to refute a charge based on "spectral" evidence? 
The logic of the inquisitorial process, as Marion Starkey has 
pointed out, is "a stern mad logic, a closed circle," a logic which 
admits of only one reality: the affliction of witchcraft; the patent 
unrest which the heretic is supposed to have caused. A person 
charged with murder can be exonerated: either he committed the 
crime or he didn't. But who knows whether a person actually har- 
bors a disposition to be critical of the existing social order? And, 
if you are charged with such an offense, just how do you prove 
that you are innocent? How do you prove, in other words, that 
you are not a witch? 

Special heresy tribunals are more concerned with heretics than 
with heresies and, curiously enough, they are more interested in 
the person suspected of heresy than in the self-acknowledged 
heretic. In fact the logic of heresy makes "suspicion of heresy" 
a crime. The extension Is entirely logical since any connection 
with heresy implies contamination. If ideas as such cause unrest, 
then any exposure to certain ideas is likely to lead to further 
unrest. To the inquisitorial mind, a person is an object of suspi- 
cion either because the suspicion is well founded (although the 
proof may be lacking) or because the suspect has, in fact, been 
guilty of some indiscreet behavior or careless remark. In either 
case, it seems entirely logical to afford the suspect an opportunity 

3o8 Witch Hunt 

to abjure the heresy. Of course the suspect is tainted by the 
mere act of abjuration; but this is no concern of the inquisitor. 
Thereafter it can be said of the suspect, "He denied it but . . ." 
The denial can also be used to convict the suspect of perjury if, 
at some later date, two or more professional perjurers can be 
induced to swear that he was in fact a heretic. If the suspect 
abjures the heresy, he places himself under a sentence of indefi- 
nite ideological probation; if he fails to make the abjuration, he 
stands convicted by implication. Since Sir Thomas More went 
to the block, suspected heretics have been trying, without suc- 
cess, to find some escape from this dilemma. 


The function of the inquisitor as missionary rather than as 
judge provides an important key to an understanding of the in- 
quisitorial process. His primary function is not so much to pro- 
nounce judgment as to guard the faith. The heretic must be 
forced to renounce his heresy, that is, to confess his error. The 
inquisitor is, therefore, really a confessor, a spiritual guide. "He 
was more than a judge," wrote Lea, "he was a father-confessor 
striving for the salvation of the wretched souls perversely bent 
on perdition." ' The real purpose in the questioning of heretics 
is to bring the accused to a right state of mind; to secure a public 
confession of error and recantation. Hence it is always preferable, 
as Turberville observed, "that the lost sheep should voluntarily 
return, or allow itself quietly to be led back into the fold, than 
that it should have to be forcibly driven in." 

Every opportunity and encouragement is given the heretic to 
recant. If he will only abjure heresy and denounce his former 
colleagues, he can expect to receive kindly treatment. The tone 
and manner of the interrogation is promptly modified upon the 
first showing on the part of the heretic of a desire to recant. To 
wring a confession from a heretic implies a victory for the faith; 
but to force him to recant is a personal triumph for the inquisitor. 

'^Op. cit., Vol. I, p. 6j. 

The New Inquisition 309 

Once a witness has recanted, he is then treated with much the 
same tenderness and deference shown the sinner who has finally 
seen the light. 

The inquisitorial process must be easily set in motion in order 
to encourage denunciation. Under Roman Law, a prosecution 
could only be instituted by the accusation or denunciation of an 
official; but an inquisitio could be started simply by the fihng of 
a diffamatio or general report of the inhabitants of a village or 
parish. The diffmjiatio was based on a form of organized gossip 
or rumor. "Synodal witnesses," or, as we would say, "patriotic 
citizens," vocalized local rumor in preparing the report. In our 
time, these synodal witnesses are the chairmen of the various 
"Americanism" committees, the busybody spokesmen for the 
patriotic societies, and the zealots who make a business of "re- 
searching Communism." The ease with which the charge of 
heresy can be brought explains the mania of denunciation which 
accompanies an inquisition. Denunciation is a common feature 
of all inquisitions and often reaches, as it did in Nazi Germany, 
wholly unmanageable proportions.^ 

In addition to the diffamatio, the Inquisition developed two 
ingenious techniques to flush out heretics, both of which are 
widely used today. The first was the mquisitio gejieralis. Here 
the inquisitor or his vicar would suddenly descend on a village 
and, in a dramatic speech, demand that the villagers deliver up 
the heretics known to be in their midst. A period of grace, usually 
a fortnight, was ordinarily stipulated. Should the villagers remain 
silent, an army of spies would be assigned to flush out the heretics 
and a fine would be assessed against the village. In our time, the 
inquisitor (chairman) or his vicar (field agent) simply denounces 
a certain organization as Communist-dominated. The officials then 
know that they must either launch a purge or face pubhc inves- 

Once the heretics were flushed out, the procedure could take 
the form of the inquisitio specialis or the purgatio cafiomca (dat- 
ing from 803 A.D.). The latter was a plea of innocence supported 
by the oaths of friends and neighbors who acted as compurga- 

^See Bramstedt, op. cit., p. i8i. 

3IO Witch Hunt 

tores, bearing witness to the good character if not to the inno- 
cence of the accused. The plea survives in the form of the letters 
and affidavits presented to the various loyalty review boards on 
behalf of those regarded as "bad loyalty risks." In the Middle 
Ages, as today, it was quickly discovered that the procedure is 
inherently defective. An inquisition cannot proceed upon the 
basis of charges and denials; the accused must be examined, his 
conscience must be probed. Hence the inquisitio specialis, or 
preliminary examination, which precedes the formal public hear- 

In the public interrogation, the heretic is always at a marked 
disadvantage. Even when the heretic is stubborn and clever, the 
contest takes place under grossly unequal conditions. For one 
thing, the inquisitor is at the same time prosecutor, judge, and 
jury. His rulings cannot be appealed; his denunciations must be 
endured in silence. The accused, of course, is presumed to be 
guilty since the mere fact of defamation carries the taint of heresy. 
But the major difficulty for the accused is that of proving a nega- 
tive issue. Historically this difficulty has always been so formida- 
ble that many heresy suspects have pleaded guilty rather than run 
the risk of involving themselves in additional heresies in the course 
of their examination or, even worse, inadvertently incriminating 
other persons. 

In this most unfair of all intellectual duels, it is considered 
entirely proper for the inquisitor to disconcert the heretic by 
means of disingenuous subtleties and subterfuges. It is presumed, 
of course, that the heretic will lie since he is coached by the 
Devil and this presumption is used to justify any methods that the 
inquisitor cares to employ. Heresy, moreover, is a vastly com- 
plicated subject; it is not easy for the accused to distinguish 
between subversive and nonsubversive doctrines. The inquisitor 
always has the advantage of having access to great storehouses of 
heretic writings which have been carefully indexed and arranged 
the better to trap the unwary suspect. "It was held to be legiti- 
mate," writes Turberville, "to surprise and confuse the defendant 
by a multiplicity of questions, which would involve him in con- 
tradictions." Small wonder, then, that it should have been said 

The New Inquisition 3 1 1 

that the Inquisitors could have shaken the orthodoxy of Saint 
Peter or Saint Paul. 

Nor is the heretic ever given sufficient information upon which 
to build a defense. A person haled before the Inquisition, like a 
person haled before a loyalty review board, was merely given a 
resume of the charges, never the charges themselves. He was 
told that he was suspected of heresy but he was never allowed 
to read the evidence or to see the complaint or to face his 
accuser. It is a basic characteristic of the inquisitorial process 
that the names of informers are never revealed. Where the in- 
former is protected as a matter of policy, almost any person will 
serve as an informer for the reputation of the informer cannot 
be made an issue. Similarly the rules barring certain types of 
witnesses are never followed by inquisitorial tribunals. The in- 
quisitors accepted the testimony of persons who would have been 
instantly barred from testifying in the secular courts. Convicted 
heretics were permited to testify against suspected heretics despite 
the fact that heretics were presumed to be incapable of telling the 
truth. In the same manner, we readily accept the testimony of ex- 
Communists against those charged with being Communists while 
purporting to believe that all Communists are liars. The Inquisi- 
tion encouraged husbands to testify against wives and vice versa 
(the charge of witchcraft being widely used as an inexpensive 
way to secure a divorce). Children were encouraged to testify 
against their parents, servants against their masters, and evidence 
obtained in the confessional was accepted without the slightest 
hesitancy — that is, where the evidence was offered against the 

One of the dramatic points in the Canwell Committee hearings 
was marked by the testimony of a father against his son, and 
before the House Committee, of a sister denouncing her brothers. 
To date, however, we have not had a case like that of the famous 
Infant of Montsegur who, six years of age, was permitted to 
denounce his parents and a large number of relatives, all adults. 
Criminals, harlots, thrice-confessed perjurers, spies, thieves, and 
pimps are welcome witnesses before inquisitorial tribunals. A 
glance at the backgrounds of the "friendly" witnesses who have 

312 Witch Hunt 

appeared before the various un-American investigations is suffi- 
cient to demonstrate that the popular loathing of the informer 
is based on a sound inference as to his character. 

Since only a witch can catch a witch, it follows that inquisi- 
tions must largely rely upon the testimony of ex-witches. The 
matter of proof, moreover, is greatly simplified by the practice of 
using the ex-witch as a witness in many prosecutions. The testi- 
mony of the former witch thus acquires, by constant rehearsal 
and repetition, a fine gloss and finish and can be repeated easily, 
glibly, and with dramatic effect. Every inquisition turns up loath- 
some professional perjurers, such as Titus Oates and the infamous 
Castles and Oliver. In our time, certain individuals have made a 
nice living for some years by testifying as informers in various 
prosecutions; one, it is estimated, has testified in some twenty-five 
or thirt)^ prosecutions. If the witness testifies on "Communism," 
he can be paid special fees as an expert. One witness in the 
Bridges case, for example, was paid $ioo a week, over a period 
of many months, on the flimsy pretense that he was being re- 
tained as an expert. This particular witness, it might be added, 
was originally most reluctant to testify for the government. 

Ordinarily a reputation for truth, honor, and integrity would 
protect an innocent person against the slanders of disreputable 
informers and professional perjurers; but once an inquisition is 
organized, it is presumed that the more reputable a person is the 
less he can be expected to know about witchcraft. The matter of 
identifying witches then becomes the exclusive privilege and 
profitable profession of the ex-witch. The more disreputable the 
ex- witch — the more she revels in her former high crimes and 
treasons — the more credible and impressive she becomes as a 
witness. The inference, of course, is that such a truly spectacular 
moral monster must have acquired deep insights into the nature 
of witchcraft. With these witnesses, therefore, a bad reputation 
for truth, honor, and integrity adds weight and impressiveness to 
their testimony. In time of storm, the word of even the craziest 
ex-witch will often be given more credence than the word of a 
person with a lifelong reputation for honesty and integrity and 
an unblemished record as a good citizen. By the nature of the 

The New Inquisition 313 

situation, a belief in heresy carries with it a will-to-believe in the 
mysterious power, the unbounded evil, the treachery and talent 
for deceit of heretics. By telling a story that everyone wants to 
believe, and which echoes the official propaganda of the period, 
the ex-witch seems to speak as an oracle. Indeed her tale can 
hardly be questioned without calling in question the official 

"Yet another serious disability," writes Turberville of the plight 
of the heretic, "was that the accused was not allowed the assist- 
ance of counsel." Innocent III, like Martin Dies, expressly forbade 
the appearance of advocates. The mischievous Eymeric, on the 
other hand, often encouraged the appearance of counsel since, 
by appearing for a heretic, the attorney automatically convicted 
himself of "constructive heresy" or fautorship. The role of the 
advocate in heresy prosecutions is dangerous and there is little 
inducement to compensate for the risk. And if the theory of the 
inquisitorial process is accepted, there is really no occasion for 
the appearance of counsel. "If the inquisitor be considered as a 
confessor," writes Turberville, "the accused as a penitent pater- 
nally exhorted, lovingly urged to reconciliation, pardon being 
assured for the truly repentant, what possible need can there be 
for an advocate? The tribunal gave every facility for escape of 
the prisoner from all possible unhappy consequences of his defa- 
mation, down o?ie avenue — confession, penance, reinstatement." 

In preparing a defense, the heretic has only a limited choice of 
pleas. "Ignorance," of course, Is no defense. A special plea was 
often used in the Middle Ages which is still quite popular, namely, 
the plea of lapsus linguae — th^Lt is, that the heresy was spoken 
thoughtlessly, on the spur of the moment or in idle jest. Still 
another standard plea is "great perturbation of mind" — that is, 
that the heresy was spoken or committed under circumstances of 
unusual stress. However, the madness of love (Judith Coplon) is 
never accepted as a defense unless the heretic has also recanted 
and come forth with denunciations (Elizabeth Bentley). Indeed 
about the only defense to a charge of heresy consists in being 
able to point out that your accuser, if you can discover his name, 
was motivated by malice. 

314 Witch Hunt 

When all else failed, the inquisitors of another age could use 
physical torture to secure confessions. With stunning verbal in- 
genuity, the doctrine was evolved that torture could not be 
repeated but that it might be continued. Thus in the famous case 
of the Forty Witches of Arras, the inquisitors were allowed to 
torture the accused forty times since each successive application 
was regarded as merely a continuance of the first. Being a humane 
people, we do not tolerate the use of direct physical torture 
(except in the form of police brutality and the third degree). 
Torture was used, however, in Nazi Germany on a scale, and 
with an ingenuity, that would stagger the good Bishop of Bam- 
berg, who boasted of having sent 600 witches to the stake in a 
year, or his still more distinguished colleague, the Bishop of 
Wiirzburg, who managed to achieve the magnificent record of 
900 executions in a comparable period. Psychological torture and 
the agony of insecurity generally suffice where direct physical 
torture runs counter to the mores. 


Acquittals being unknown, the original inquisitors had to in- 
vent an ingenious system of penalties. Since the fiction prevailed 
that the Inquisition was concerned with "errors" rather than 
crimes — indeed that the tribunals were pubhc confessionals 
rather than courts — most of the penalties imposed were expatia- 
tory in character. Convicted heretics were ordered to go on pil- 
grimages, to perform missions, to do penance. The penalties, also, 
were often pecuniary. A favorite, perhaps the most common, 
form of punishment consisted in requiring the heretic to wear 
some mark of heresy on his clothing — say, two crosses of yellow 
felt, a red tongue, a hammer, or the figure of a demon. 

Although we do not send heretics on pilgrimages or impose 
fines or confiscate their homes, we do indulge in the use of the 
symbolic badge designed to warn the innocent of the danger of 
contamination by exposure. In a figurative sense, heretics go forth 
from our tribunals branded as social pariahs, mugged, finger- 

The New Inquisition 315 

printed, indexed, cross-indexed, smeared, and blacklisted. In the 
Middle Ages, the heretic's symbol had to be worn continuously 
indoors and out and for an indefinite period. As long as it was 
worn, it was difficult for the penitent to find employment. And 
so, of course, it is with us. We deny heretics important civil 
rights and privileges while insisting that they have never been 
accused of "crime." Branded with the yellow cross of sub- 
version, a heretic cannot work for the government; hold public 
office; teach in the public schools; serve as a grand juror; find 
employment in certain branches of industry; or receive instruc- 
tion in certain fields of science, and so on. 

In the Middle Ages, heretics were classed as contumacious, 
impenitent, and relapsed. The relapsed heretic was one m ho, hav- 
ing once done penance, resumed his former sinful ways. If Louis 
Budenz were once again to espouse Communism, we would re- 
gard him as a relapsed heretic. The penalty for the relapsed heretic 
was death. In the curious nomenclature of the Inquisition, the 
word "abandon" had a terrible connotation. The inquisitors de- 
nied that they had ever sentenced a heretic to death and they 
were technically correct for the death sentence was pronounced 
in this manner: "We abandon thee to the secular arm, beseeching 
it affectionately, as canon law requires, that the sentence of the 
Court judges may spare you death or mutilation." In a similar 
sophistical vein, modern inquisitors contend that it is quite all 
right to strip citizens of basic civil rights and to brand them as 
traitorous and subversive, all without a hearing or due process, 
since they are not being accused of the commission of a "crime"! 

In all inquisitions, the fiction prevails that the purpose of the 
procedure is not to punish heretics but to root out heresies. The 
only difficulty with this fiction, however, is that it is quite im- 
possible to root out heresies without punishing heretics. Never- 
theless it is true that many inquisitors labored long and hard to 
save as many heretics as possible from the stake. During seven- 
teen years as an inquisitor, Bernard Gui only found it necessary 
to "abandon" forty-five heretics to the secular authorities. And, 
in our time, many inquisitors are more concerned with the preva- 
lence of heresies than with the burning of witches. "The Inquisi- 

3i6 Witch Hunt 

tion," writes Turberville, "did not aim at making great holocausts 
of victims; it desired only to make a few examples. Except in 
Languedoc, where the heretics were a majority and powerful, a 
few examples always sufficed. The Inquisition sought not ven- 
geance, which was a synonym for failure, but reconciliation, 
which meant success." 

However the inquisitors never hesitated to impose the death 
penalty on the obdurate heretic and, again, no exception can be 
taken to their logic. For, if you believe in heresy, just what 
remedy can be suggested for the confirmed heretic? To those 
who believe in heresy, a confirmed heretic is more dangerous 
than a mad dog or a carrier of bubonic plague. Should he be 
banished from the realm? Banishment will only spread the in- 
fection. Should he be imprisoned? But to what end? The man 
is irredeemably damned. "It is a strange obtuseness," writes Tur- 
berville, "that does not see that the whole attitude of the Inquisi- 
tion to the heretic points logically, and indeed inevitably, to 
death as the fate of the obdurate." 

Prior to the. rise of Fascism in Italy and Germany, the West- 
ern World had dismissed the Inquisition as part of the nightmare 
of history people were trying to forget. But with the current 
prevalence of witches, we are once again making the fatal mistake 
of punishing, as crimes, errors in intellectu. In our innocent but 
unpardonable neglect of history, we still cannot understand how 
it was possible for decent, warmhearted, law-abiding Germans to 
acquiesce in the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. But, 
as Turberville has pointed out, "once granted the point of view 
that heresy is a more heinous offense than coining or than treason 
and the penalty of death for heresy appears not shocking and 
horrible, but something eminently just and proper." This con- 
cession, which seems hard for us to understand, is based upon 
a form of paranoid delusion which it is one of the major resoonsi- 
biUties of this age to overcome. 

The New Inquisition 317 

The belief in witches rests on what is, perhaps, the oldest 
fallacy of proof. Ordinarily we regard a confession as the most 
convincing evidence of guilt. It seems conclusive, irrefrangible, 
completely "real." The penalty for witchcraft was, of course, 
about the most dreadful that can be imagined. Yet thousands of 
human beings freely "confessed" that they were witches know- 
ing that the penalty was death at the stake. What, then, could be 
more convincing proof of the reality of witchcraft than this 
steady flow of confessions? Indeed the evidence seemed to be 
overwhelming. "Statements of disinterested eye-witnesses," wrote 
Henry Charles Lea, "complaints of sufferers, confessions of the 
guilty, even after condemnation, and at the stake, when there 
w^as no hope save of pardon of their act by God, are innumerable, 
and so detailed and connected together that the most fertile 
imagination would seem inadequate of their invention."^ 

The more witches carted off to the stake, the more terrified 
the community, the more numerous the denunciations, the more 
perfect the delusion of guilt. "In such an atmosphere of uncer- 
tainty," writes Christina Hole, "suspicion naturally flourished, 
and any chance coincidence or untoward happening was enough 
to set men looking askance at some hapless individual. ... A 
witch could work so much evil that it was easy to believe every 
misfortune was the result of witchcraft. It was often simpler to 
think it so than to admit it might have been caused by the care- 
lessness or stupidity of the sufferer." ^^ When a witch could 
stand up in a courtroom crowded with people she had known 
all her life, and confess the most monstrous crimes, without ap- 
parent coercion or duress and well knowing that a confession 
would send her to the stake, what stronger proof could there be 
that witchcraft was a terrible reality? 

And witches confessed every imaginable crime, without coer- 
cion, with the greatest ardor. Most of them doubtless confessed 

^Op. cit., Vol. Ill, p. 544. 
^^Op. cit., p. 61. 

3i8 Witch Hunt 

/ in the hope of receiving mercy or of buying their freedom by 
denouncing some more important person as a witch; but it is also 
clear that many witches confessed because they suffered from 
the same delusions that had made sadists of their persecutors. 
"When the peasant wise-women came to be examined as to their 
dealings with Satan," writes Lea, "they could hardly help . . . 
from satisfying their examiners with accounts of their nocturnal 
flights. Between judge and victim it was easy to build up a co- 
herent story, combining the ancient popular behef with the 
heretical conventicles. . . . The consentaneity at the time was 
an irrefragable proof of truth." " The terror of the charge itself 
was sufficient, in most cases, to frighten confessions from the 
accused. But it was always the combination of some real act with 
the social hallucination that witches existed that, when related to 
the confession of the witch, created the perfect illusion of guilt. 

Why do so many persons charged with heresy confess their 
guilt? The theories are legion but there is little scientific evi- 
dence to support any of them. Fear and a sense of guilt unre- 
lated to the particular act of witchcraft are, perhaps, the basic 
reasons. Often, though, the suspect half wishes that he were 
a witch or wizard. The confession doubtless voices this identifi- 
cation. Or, again, the witch may be genuinely deluded; she 
may really believe that she did what she is charged with doing. 
By confessing to difficult and daring acts, the witch may enjoy 
a vicarious sense of power and take revenge upon those by whom 
she has been rejected. Whatever the reason, witches have "con- 
fessed" every imaginable crime and neither fear nor torture is an 
entirely satisfactory explanation for these confessions. Surveying 
the century and a half of delirium and delusion during which 
30,000 witches were sent to the stake. Lea was moved to ask: 
"Could any Manichaean offer more practical evidence that Satan 
was the Lord of the visible universe?" It is still a good question. 

The delusion of guilt, which false confessions create, is always 
based on a reality, although the confession distorts the meaning 
of this reality. The point can be illustrated by an incident related 
by Lea. In the year 1586 the spring was tardy in the Rhineland 

^^ Op. cit., Vol. Ill, p. 500. 

The New Inquisition 319 

and the cold of winter was prolonged until June. This could 
only be the result, of course, of either sorcery or witchcraft 
and so the Archbishop of Treves ordered 118 women and two 
men, from all of whom confessions had been obtained, to be 
burned at the stake. "It was well that he acted thus promptly," 
wrote Lea, "for on their way to the place of execution they [the 
witches and the two wizards] stated that had they been allowed 
three days more they would have brought cold so intense that 
no green thing could have survived, and all the fields and vine- 
yards would have been cursed by barrenness." Here, then, is the 
syllogism on which the delusion rests: a late freeze had unde- 
niably taken place; this unusual freeze must have a cause; witches 
had vast powers and could doubtless delay the coming of spring; 
therefore, the witches having confessed, the proof of witchcraft 
was invulnerable. 

There is, however, a further elemmt in the confessional delu- 
sion that needs to be emphasized.f At the outset, the Church 
condemned the belief in witchcraft as a heresy; but as the social 
chaos of the times mounted the witchcraft delusion seemed to 
square with reality. For so much evil, the people reasoned, there 
must be a cause; and thus, by a roundabout process, the Church 
found itself in the position of having to accept as real the behef 
it had originally condemned as a delusion. For unless the evil of 
the times could be blamed on witches, it might be blamed, in 
part, on the Church. The moment the Church began to prosecute 
witches, however, it gave a terrible impetus to the belief in 
witchcraft«,!Every prosecution was a public demonstration that 
the belief was not a delusion. Neurotics then began to imagine 
that they had actually witnessed scenes in which foul mysteries 
were demonstrated and, to these, the myths of witchcraft became 
articles of orthodox belief. Others found a wonderful intoxication 
in proclaiming their powers as witches and in exploiting, often 
quite profitably, the popular fear of witches. Throughout this 
dreadful period, confessions continue to invest the delusion of 
witchcraft with the appearance of reality. With us, too, there 
can be no doubt that the various un-American investigations and 
hearings have spread the fear which they were supposed to arrest. 

320 Witch Hunt 

The confessional delusion was used effectively in Nazi Ger- 
many; a "witch," it will be recalled, confessed to having set fire 
to the Reichstag. The detailed and circumstantially ingenious 
"confessions" which accompanied the 1937 "purge" in the Soviet 
Union are also in point. The same element of delusion, however, 
is clearly present in the "confessions" of some of the witnesses 
who have appeared in the Un-American hearings and the pros- 
ecutions which have arisen out of these hearings. It seems hard 
to beheve, in some cases, that there could be an element of delu- 
sion in these confessions. Why should apparently "normal" in- 
dividuals seek to destroy their reputations in this manner? But, 
in a season of terror, delusion thrives as an aspect of the "distor- 
tion" which seems to pervade every phase of life. In recent trials 
in Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria, and elsewhere, political 
heretics have "confessed" various crimes with apparent freedom, 
knowing that the chances of a pardon or commutation were 
negligible and that their confession would only add to the politi- 
cal confusion of the times. Why, then, have they forfeited a 
chance to defy their persecutors and to appeal their case to the 
bar of world opinion? All one can say is that) in periods of great 
social crisis, illusion and reality tend to be transposed. The social 
chaos interacts upon the personal neurosis and vice versa. In the 
last analysis, the delusion upon which the belief in witches rests 
cannot be explained in terms of the fantasies of witches or the 
terror which the charge of witchcraft inspires; the real delusion 
is social, it is part of the confusion and distortion that come 
when men, in fear and desperation, "pluck up mercy by the 

The Boughs and the Storm 

Heresy prosecutions are truly an invention of the Devil for 
they are based on a cruel transposition of illusion and reality 
in which angry devotions become locked in mortal combat over 
doctrinal issues which conceal rather than define the source of 
conflict. The more violently a heresy is combated, the vaguer 
become the doctrinal issues which blind both parties to the dis- 
pute. Combating heresy is like trying to drive devil grass from 
a California garden: the more you weed it, the more it grows. 
Banished in one guise, heresy promptly reappears in a new form. 
No sooner are heretics defeated in battle than their heresy crops 
up in the ranks of the victors. It is not by chance that heresy 
crusades are endlessly protracted and generally inconclusive. 
Looking back on these long dark nights of delusion and mad- 
ness, one can see that the doctrinal issue was never the source of 
the conflict; but, at the time, the parties could see only this issue. 
That a similar delusion underlies the rebirth of heresy becomes 
apparent the moment one attempts to pin down and define the 
modern heresy. 


As some day it may happen that a victim must be found, 

I've got a little list — I've got a little list 

Of society offenders who might well be underground. 

And who never would be missed — who never would be missed! . . . 

The task of filling up the blanks I'd rather leave to you, 

But it really doesn't matter whom you put upon the list, 

For they'd none of 'em be missed — 

They'd none of 'em be missed! 

— Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner, in The Mikado 


Witch Hunt 

Just what is the heresy which, in this time of storm, we are 
fighting with purges and persecutions, by total diplomacy and 
global encirclement? The leaders of the anti-Communist crusade 
contend, of course, that Communism is the heresy. In order to 
appreciate that Communism is not the real heresy, however, all 
one needs to do is to listen attentively to the anti-Communists. 
In the course of the argument about the loyalty oath at the 
University of Cahfornia, which was aimed specifically at Com- 
munists, Mr. C. C. Teague, a member of the Board of Regents 
and one of the most powerful and influential business leaders in 
the state, addressed an open leter to President Sproul defending 
the oath. "I have a profound conviction," he wrote, "that free- 
dom in the world is being destroyed by Communism, of which 
Socialism is the first step. Freedom has been destroyed in Eng- 
land by Socialism, and the United States has traveled a consider- 
able distance along the same road. It has been demonstrated many 
times that Socialism destroys incentive and reduces production." ^ 

For some reason the argument that Communism is the heresy 
of our time invariably veers off in this direction if it is pursued 
closely and logically. Indeed the official propaganda of Big Busi- 
ness has now begun to develop the theme that Socialism, not 
Communism, is the real heresy. Following the election of Novem- 
ber 1948, full-page ads sponsored by various business and indus- 
trial concerns began to elaborate on the theme that Socialism is 
a more serious threat to the "free enterprise system" than Com- 
munism because, as a heresy, it is more insidious and beguiling. 
The shift in emphasis, of course, was partly tactical. For one 
thing, the Communist theme had been overworked (the election 
returns showed that); besides, how could an administration 
which had sponsored the loyalty program and proclaimed the 
Truman Doctrine be accused of harboring Communists in high 
office? Even reaction's joint chiefs of staff were finally compelled 
to recognize that it was more plausible to attack "the welfare 
state" directly than to attempt to pin a Communist label on it. 

This new orientation is set forth with admirable bluntness and 
candor in John T. Flynn's The Road Ahead, a condensed ver- 

^ Los Angeles Times, March 2, 1950. 

The Boughs and the Storm 323 

sion of which appeared in Reader's Digest for February 1950. 
According to Mr. Flynn, the real heresy is not Communism but 
"National Planning" or Socialism. True, the Communists are "a 
traitorous block in our midst" but "if every Communist in 
America were rounded up and liquidated, the greatest menace 
to our form of social organization would be still among us." 
And clearly Mr. Flynn is right. The mass execution of the entire 
personnel and membership of the Communist Party in the 
United States would not abate the current agitation against 
"reds" in the slightest degree. Nor would the enactment and 
vigorous enforcement of every "anti-Communist" measure pro- 
posed during the last quarter century allay the fears upon which 
this agitation rests. 

The reason, of course, is that our reactionaries are the victims 
of paranoid delusion. In political history, deep fears take the form 
of a delusion of encirclement in which, as Max Lerner has written, 
"the threats from within are only threats from the shadows cast 
by the fears themselves." This delusion, as he points out, "leads 
logically to witchhunting within a nation, and to militarist and 
imperialist adventures without. In the measure that the fearful 
men grow panicky of the liberal state, they call upon it in the 
name of encirclement to set up a watch and ward over dangerous 
thoughts. In fact, the very people who most violently protest 
against a Domesday Book of entries of wealth, income, wages, 
profits are the people who are most passionately in favor of a 
Domesday Book of entries of ideas and their professors." ^ These 
are the people, of course, who have their little lists of society 
offenders although it really does not matter to them whose names 
appear upon the list. 

Anti-Communism is a typical heresy trap — that is, it is not an 
argument against heresy but a highly versatile weapon to catch 
heretics. Note, for example, the ease with which Mr. Flynn is 
able to manipulate the stereotype of an "accursed group" — the 
stereotype of the heretic — to suit the changing tactical require- 
ments of reaction. The new accursed group is not the Socialist 
Party (this would be patently ridiculous). No, the real heretics, 

^Safeguarding Civil Liberty Today, 1945, p. 55. 

324 Witch Hunt 

as one might expect, are "a small group ... of mysterious Fa- 
bians," who, guided by a secret program and strategy, operate 
clandestinely in the labyrinthine bureaus of Washington. Amaz- 
ingly enough the "apparatus" through which these conspirators 
function is Americans for Democratic Action! So obsessed is 
Flynn with the plottings of the sinister Fabians that he vehe- 
mently insists that all the talk about Communism and the Com- 
munist Party simply confuses the real issue. And, once again, he 
is clearly right. 

Long before Flynn made this discovery, however, Max Lerner 
pointed out that the big ideological specter of our time — the 
specter that haunts the men of power, the specter that is driving 
us in the direction of a police state — is Socialism. In doctrinal 
terms, Socialism is no doubt the real heresy. The forces that seek 
to whiplash the American people into a blind acceptance of the 
anti-Communist police state, in the guise of fighting the Com- 
munist police state, are by their own admissions primarily con- 
cerned with the threat of Socialism. But they would oppose any 
movement that threatened their privileges with the same vigor 
that they oppose Communism and Socialism. Socialism is only 
the doctrinal name for a set of ideas; by any other name these 
ideas would still be heretical. The theological definition of heresy 
as "the obstinate adherence to opinions arbitrarily chosen in 
defiance of accepted ecclesiastical teaching and interpretation" is 
still the best definition. For the real nature of heresy consists in 
the stubborn will and perverse defiance of the heretic. It is pre- 
cisely because heresy consists in the defiance of the heretic that 
no attempt has been made to provide a clear-cut definition of 
such terms as "disloyalty," "subversive conduct," and "un- 
American activity." ^ 

An illusion widely propagated by professional anti-Communists, 
that is, by those whose social philosophy consists of an intense op- 
position to Communism and nothing else, makes it difficult to ac- 
cept the proposition that Socialism is the real doctrinal heresy of 
our time. Communism is basically objectionable, so insist the anti- 

^ "The Real Danger — Fear of Ideas" by Henry Steele Commager, N. Y. 
Times Magazine, June 26, 1949. 

The Boughs and the Storm 325 

Communists, not because of its ideas or program but because of 
the manner in which the Communist Party is organized, that is, as 
a societas perfecta, a society-within-a-society which is destined to 
destroy the society it is within,* The argument carries the infer- 
ence that if Socialism, were advocated by some other type of 
part)^, it would not be heretical. But this is clearly an illusion. 
Heresy does not consist in organizational forms; witches were 
persecuted, not because they belonged to the society of witches, 
but because they rejected the one true faith. The Albigensians 
were not disobedient because they had an "apparatus"; they had 
an apparatus because they were disobedient. If the form of the 
Communist Party were all that mattered, recent heresy cam- 
paigns would have taken an entirely different direction. What 
does the form of the Communist Party have to do with Owen 
Lattimore's views on China? Or with the quality of Ring Lard- 
ner's work as a screen writer? The argument that the "anti-red" 
crusade is directed not against the idea of Socialism but against 
the Communist Party as such is as fallacious as it would be to say 
that gangsters are prosecuted not for what they do, but for the 
way in which gangs are organized. There are many organizations 
in our society that are organized no less undemocratically than 
the Communist Party; for example, corporations with nonvoting 
stock, certain religious organizations, and others. We do not 
harass these organizations or their members for the reason that 
their objectives meet with tacit approval. But Socialism advo- 
cated by angelic missionaries preaching nonviolence and prac- 
ticing the purest democracy would still be objectionable, would 
still be a form of heresy. 

Heresies cannot be defined in doctrinal terms for the simple 
reason that the doctrinal issue masks the real dispute. No one can 
understand the doctrinal guises in which the heresy crusades of 
another age found expression; the reality of these crusaders is to 
be found in the struggle of privileged groups to suppress any 
challenge to their authority in time of storm. It is the rise of 
new ideas, brought into being by changing social conditions, that, 
as Lerner points out, makes the free discussion of any ideas 

^Yale Law Journal, Vol. 58, p. 12 18. 

326 Witch Hunt 

dangerous. Communism is heresy, Socialism is heresy, Planning 
is heresy. Welfare is heresy, indeed it would be quite impossible 
to complete a listing of the doctrinal guises and forms in which 
modern heresy finds expression. Jazz music and abstract art are 
heresies. Any idea can be heretical if it registers nonconformity. 

If the real nature of heresy consisted in doctrinal differences 
and ideological deviations, then heresy hunts would logically 
be conducted in the form of doctrinal debates. But heresy is never 
debated: it is suppressed. The characteristic weapons of a heresy 
hunt are those of the police state and the inquisition. And it is 
by their choice of weapons that heresy hunters betray their real 
intention, which is not to win a debate but to control thoughts 
and stop the free discussion of ideas. Their first impulse is to 
reach for a club; they want the opponents locked up, silenced, 
terrorized. What they really fear is not doctrine but disobedience. 

Late in 1949 a young minister scheduled a series of panel dis- 
cussions for the enlightenment of his congregation. The first 
panel was to be devoted to a discussion of the topic: "Is 
Socialism or Capitalism More Consistent with Christian Values?" 
Despite the fact that the particular denomination stems from the 
great tradition of Protestant dissent and that the congregation 
enjoys a reputation for liberality, the discussion was canceled 
at the insistence of influential members of the church. The morbid 
fear of ideas which the cancellation implies cannot be explained 
by the statement that Socialism is a doctrinal heresy. What the 
congregation feared was not Socialism but miy significant dis- 
cussion at this time. Nowadays meetings are canceled not be- 
cause the speakers are "radical" or the topics forbidden but 
because, in the present political atmosphere, any significant dis- 
cussion is likely to be "controversial." Controversy is per se 
taboo because it implies disobedience or nonconformity. Any 
group that sponsors a meeting devoted to the discussion of a 
controversial subject runs the risk of being branded Communist; 
therefore, the way to avoid the risk is to avoid controversy, to 
practice total conformity. 

It is this fear of heresy rather than heresy itself that needs to 
be defined. Heresy is tolerated in all societies, in all times, so 

The Boughs and the Storm ^zj 

long as it does not assail the privileges of some dominant group. 
Spokesmen for such groups talk a great deal about "authority" 
and "order" and "freedom" and "discipline"; but they are not 
interested in any order they do not control or in freedom except 
as it serves their purposes. Witch hunts never restore social 
order; they are a form of disorder u^hich breeds further disorder. 
"Bigots," wrote John Goodwin (1594-1665), "exalt the power or 
authority of the ruler only when they are quite certain that this 
power will be exercised in their own interests." When they talk 
about discipline, they really mean "persecution calculated to sup- 
press the spread of truth." Heresy hunts produce conformity, not 
unity; indeed they destroy the basis of unity by insisting on total 
conformity. The basic aim of heresy crusades is to create a single 
official ideology. Anything that does not square with this ide- 
ology or that fails to support it is automatically denounced as 

If an emergent heresy becomes the official ideology, the heresy 
concept is frequently applied in reverse. "Capitalism" and "Lib- 
eralism," "Free Speech" and "Zionism," then become dangerous 
heresies which must be fought with police-state methods. For 
the truth seems to be, as Gilbert Murray once pointed out, that 
"the limitations that have to be imposed, or at any rate are im- 
posed, on free speech and thought in various societies are usually 
in exact proportion to the degree in w^hich that society has lost 
its reserve of security and thus fallen away from civilization. The 
more truly a society Is civilized, the more fully speech and 
thought within Its precincts are free." ^ A regime that has failed 
to acquire "reserves of security" can act as arbitrarily, in this 
respect, as an older society conducting a delaying action against 
forces pressing for social change. 

In the latter case, however, it is often difficult to see that the 
loss of these reserves of security Is what really Inspires the fear 
of heresy. It Is hard to believe, as Lerner has pointed out, that 
"freedom can die as effectively from exhaustion of the air in a 
closed chamber as from a dagger thrust by an avowed enemy." 
The dagger can be seen and is therefore real: "the exhaustion of 

^ Liberality and Civilization, 1938. 

328 Witch Hunt 

the air" is invisible and therefore an illusion. Actually the fear 
of heresy always manifests a prior loss of freedom. A free people 
will not fear heresy. There are many people in our society who 
are so fearful of their precarious status, their marginal security, 
that they dare not examine ideas which have been branded hereti- 
cal. With them the officially banned heresy becomes a synonym 
for all the things they fear and, since it is difficult to hate an idea, 
the "accursed group" becomes the symbol of everything they 

The fear of ideas, in turn, is based on the belief that ideas re- 
flect absolute truths which exist independently of the real world 
and are capable of being divided into neat categories marked 
"good" and "evil," "safe" and "dangerous." This belief has al- 
ways given rise to the suggestion that there should be an official 
guardian of the truth; that some infallible authority should sort 
out the good ideas from the bad; and that the people should be 
protected from "false" ideas by political censorship. It is a belief 
which seems to experience a rebirth whenever a social order is 
under serious attack for it provides an excellent ideological prop 
for the contention that social relationships should be cast in a 
permanent hierarchical order because ideas can be arranged in 
this order. Just as ideas have their neatly prearranged places in a 
timeless hierarchy of values, so each man has his proper place and 
each social group its ordained social role. Under various names, 
the belief has always been the cornerstone upon which the con- 
cept of heresy rests.^ 


It is proper for a cruel religion to live 
upon blood. For us, we will save whom we 
can; but whom we cannot, we will not kill. 


Crusades against heresy are organized on the assumption that 
ideas cause social storms and that the suppression of the idea or 

® See Ideas Have Consequences by Richard Weaver, 1948, one of the more 
interesting elaborations of this doctrine. 

The Boughs and the Storm 329 

heresy will cause the storm to subside. The attempt to suppress 
ideas, however, leads to the adoption of methods which are 
essentially self-defeating. Heresies, for example, cannot be liqui- 
dated by force. "Unless every Catholic in England can be de- 
stroyed," wrote Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (1571-1631), "and that 
with one blow, it is fruitless to cut down a few for the sake of 
an example." Heresy prosecutions spread the storm by arousing 
the undying enmity of those against whom they are directed. The 
heretic lives for the day when he can stalk his inquisitor as a 
heretic. The more viciously the heretic is attacked, the more re- 
sentful he becomes. Even the disappearance of a particular heresy 
will not abate the storm, for heresy is a symptom and not a cause. 
If one symptom disappears, the patient will promptly develop 
other symptoms. Put the heretic to death, and you make a martyr 
of him; cut off his tongue, and he will write with his hand; cut off 
his right hand, and he will write with his left. Even the threat 
of the death penalty will not dissuade him for men will die, un- 
fortunately, almost as readily for error as for truth. 

Heresy prosecutions have the disastrous effect of dividing a 
society into irreconcilable camps. At the outset of the storm, 
there is usually a party of "moderates" between the inquisitors 
and the heretics; but if the inquisition is prolonged, this party is 
quickly depleted for most of the moderates will be compelled to 
take up a position in one camp or the other, not upon the basis 
of conviction or preference but simply because they fear or 
dislike one extreme more than the other. The effect of heresy 
prosecutions, therefore, is to weaken and often to immobilize the 
only elements that enjoy a relative immunity from the delusions 
of both extremes. 

In heresy inquisitions, also, the temptation arises to use the 
charge of heresy in an indiscriminate manner. Inquisitors seldom 
bother to define the heresies they condemn. The effect is to 
spread error and confusion and to add unwilling recruits to the 
camp of the heretics by applying false labels. "Take heed," 
warned Thomas Fuller, the church historian, "of trying to kill 
all in a dragnet." The persecution of heretics also deprives the 
persecuting party of whatever moral advantage this party may 

530 Witch Hunt 

initially have enjoyed by reason of its rejection of police-state 
methods. Once the Protestants began to persecute Catholics as 
heretics it was said; "Wherein now are the Protestants more 
merciful than the papists, or the papists than the Turks?" It is 
the peculiar evil of heresy prosecutions that they are invariably 
justified by sentiments of the deepest piety, a circumstance which 
makes possible the use of the most savage reprisals. "In effecting 
their ends," wrote Jacobus Arminius, "a persecuting party spares 
no injury, which either human ingenuity can devise, the most 
notable fury can dictate, or even the office of the infernal regions 
can supply. Those who differ from the persecuting part)^ are 
attacked with all kinds of weapons; with cruel mockings, calum- 
nies, execrations, curses, excommunications, anathemas, degrading 
and scandalous libels, prisons, and instruments of torture." ^ 

The persecution of heretics also has the paradoxical effect of 
weakening the solidarity of the persecuting parry by spreading 
confusion in its ranks. Some will believe that not enough violence 
is being used; others will conclude that less violence would be 
more effective. Some, out of sympathy, will begin to identify 
with the heretics. Unfortunately, also, power always tends to 
gravitate, in heresy persecutions, into the hands of irresponsible 
extremists. The more brutally heretics are persecuted, the more 
guilt the persecutors will feel; and the guiltier they feel, the less 
scruples they will have about the use of violence. 

The human mind being fallible, the persecution of heresy Is 
really tantamount to a condemnation of human nature and a 
betrayal of one's humanity. The theologians of another age, who 
had seen oceans of blood shed in holy wars against heretics, 
recognized more clearly than we do that there Is a saving grace 
in all men, regardless of their views, and good In all things, even 
those that appear to be entirely evil. Sir John Selden argued, 
some centuries ago, that It Is Idle to persecute heretics since men 
choose their opinions for reasons which too often have little to 
do with the truth. Most men, moreover, are quite sincere when 

'Quoted by Jordan, op. cit., Vol. Ill, p. 326. The three volumes making 
up Dr. Jordan's study — The Development of Religious Toleration in 
England — contain materials indispensable to the study of heresy. 

The Boughs and the Storm 331 

they espouse a new social doctrine however mistaken this doc- 
trine may be. "It would indeed be a strange man," wrote Acontius, 
"who would deliberately incur hatred and danger if he were not 
sincere. To condemn him is like condemning God for not en- 
dowing him with good sense." 

Once, when the pathology of the disease was not understood, 
the victims of St. Vitus's dance were beaten wdth sticks and 
stones, as a therapeutic measure. The beatings, of course, only 
aggravated the disease. Much the same is true of attempts to beat 
heresies out of heretics. "In a learning way," wrote Richard 
Baxter, "men are ready to receive the truth, but in a disputing 
way, they come armed against it with prejudice and animosity. 
. . . Nothing so much hindreth the reception of truth, as urging 
it on men with too harsh importunity, and falling too heavily on 
their errors. For thereby you engage their honour in the business, 
and they defend their errors as themselves, and stir up all their 
wit and ability to oppose you." 

In the course of a war against heresy both parties stray further 
and further from the truth; indeed the truth becomes entirely 
irrelevant and the doctrinal differences become utterly meaning- 
less in view of the similarity in methods. Divisions are enlarged 
by the fury with which conformity is demanded and fear so 
distorts the image of "the enemy" that this image soon bears no 
resemblance to reality. There is, as Charles Horton Cooley once 
pointed out, a real subservience in contradiction. 

To use coercive methods to force heretics to abandon their 
heresies before they have attained a measure of truth is, as Jere- 
miah Burroughs (i 599-1 646) observed, "to seek to beat the nail 
in by the hammer of authority, without making way by the 
wimble of instruction. Indeed, if you have to deal with rotten, 
or soft, sappy wood, the hammer only may make the nail enter 
presently, but if you meet with sound wood, with heart of oak, 
though the hammer and hand that strikes be strong, yet the nail 
will hardly go in. It will turn crooked or break; or, at least, if it 
enter, it may split that wood it enters into; and, if so, it will not 
last long." 

Heresy prosecutions can have a somewhat different effect in 

332 Witch Hunt 

new societies, which are seeking to prevent attacks upon social 
structures not yet fully formed, than in older societies seeking to 
prevent social change. If the former are really developing new 
"reserves of security," they may show a greater long-range re- 
sistance to the disintegrative effects of heresy prosecutions than 
the latter. The appearance of heresy in a society whose social 
relations have become historically obsolete is an indication that 
some essential social truth has been too long neglected in that 
society. The passion and fury with which heretics are attacked 
would indicate that there is usually some central truth in their 
dogmas. Heresy prosecutions tend to divert attention from the 
discovery of this truth, and at the same time they destroy the 
unity and consensus necessary to carry through major social 
reforms. The longer the heresy hunt lasts, the greater the disunity 
it creates. Soon people are being denounced not for their heresies 
but simply because they refuse to denounce the heresies of others. 

This is not to argue that heretics should be treated with special 
solicitude. The question is: By what means are heresies to be 
opposed? Essentially the question relates to the problem of how 
to deal with conflict in society, of how to reconcile conflicting 
ideologies. Perhaps the most important tactical point is one em- 
phasized by Edmond Taylor. "Instead of attempting the hopeless 
task of removing irremovable delusions in others," he writes, "we 
should concentrate on the difficult but possible task of preventing 
them from begetting new delusions in us. . . . It is our inability 
to free our own minds from delusions that blinds us to the tre- 
mendous power for dispelling delusion exercised by a mind which 
is itself free from delusion. The key to the problem of combating 
delusion therefore appears to be mainly a question of trying to 
acquire this power." Essentially this is what Max Lerner had in 
mind when he wrote in Ideas Are Weapons: "If we are to be 
successful in retaining democratic institutions and expanding their 
meaning, we must be clear about the meaning of democratic ideas, 
we must make these ideas persuasive, and we must above every- 
thing make them an integral part of our daily lives." ^ 

The anti-Communist ideology is shot through and through with 

' 1939. P- 10. 

The Boughs and the Storm 333 

elements of pure delusion. For example: that freedom of the press 
cannot be undermined by the economics of newspaper publish- 
ing in a "free enterprise" system or that free enterprise means 
anything other than the freedom of corporate management from 
social controls. Or the delusion that academic freedom is in 
greater danger from Communist infiltration than from the eco- 
nomic pressures which have begun to undermine the security and 
independence of American colleges and universities or the twin 
notion that the best way to prepare young minds to live in a 
world of dangerous ideas is to protect them from all such ideas 
while they are in college. Artists are "regimented" in Socialist 
regimes but enjoy, of course, complete freedom in a free enter- 
prise system, just as Socialism imperils civil liberties while mon- 
opoly capitalism does not. Russia, of course, is interfering in the 
affairs of eastern European countries; but we are merely "help- 
ing" the nations of western Europe. The basis for this last and 
most similar delusion is suggested in Howard K. Smith's comment 
that "Russian influence over other governments is crassly visible; 
American influence is like an iceberg, only the smaller part can 
be seen by the naked eye." ^ 

If we were to examine our relations with the Russians after 
freeing our minds from these and many similar delusions, it is al- 
together possible that we might see the problem in somewhat 
different terms. It is equally possible, also, that we might then 
say and do some of the things which would dispel rather than 
confirm the delusions which the Russians entertain about us. It 
has been pointed out again and again that the Russians are the 
prisoners, in this respect, of their official dogmas; but we seem 
determined to confirm these dogmas. "Godly opposites," wrote 
a sixteenth-century theologian, "have a tendency to regard one 
another as monsters." 

Another tactic recommended by Taylor Is this: "Never attempt 
to combat delusion by using the subversive, disintegrative, and 
delusive technique of psychological warfare against those who 
are afflicted with it." This, if you please, from the foremost 
American authority on psychological warfare. Heresy inquisi- 

^ State of Europe, 1950. 

334 Witch Hunt 

tions are a form of psychological warfare directed by a govern- 
ment, not against "enemies" abroad, but against the people in 
whose name the government functions. The use of the tactics of 
psychological warfare against a people already suffering from 
the effect of these tactics is doubly dangerous. Once men have 
lived under the yoke of oppression, anywhere, at any time in their 
lives, either as individuals or as social groups, they will be likely, 
in less oppressive circumstances, to be self-assertive, arrogant, and 
suspicious. The delusions of persecutions from which they suffer 
must not be circumstantially confirmed; time alone will cure re- 
sentments stemming from prior persecutions and repressions. Any 
attempt to encircle or contain a nation which is already suffering 
from delusions of encirclement can be an extremely dangerous 

Taylor's formula for dealing with paranoid delusion is simply 
this: the delusion may be denounced but not the deluded one. 
On this score we might well borrow a page from the Hindus, 
who seek harmony rather than truth in social relations. "They 
try to dispel their group-delusion," writes Taylor, "by seeking 
to eliminate the element of hate from group relationships." In 
this respect they retain a feeling which we seem to have lost of 
the reality of the oneness, the unity, of human nature. To them 
the intensity and sincerity of a person's longing for truth matters 
more than the "correctness" of his views. But with us, as Taylor 
points out, "all truth proceeds from God and all error from 
Satan." It is either appeasement or unconditional surrender; de- 
featism or counter-fascism; Communism or anti-Communism. 
Either we want to burn witches or we go off and bury our heads 
in the sand. Taylor was surprised to discover that the Hindus 
actually seemed to listen to one another in the course of political 
discussions; they really seemed to hear what a political opponent 
had to say and to be interested in his views. But we merely pause, 
with obvious impatience, until we can regain the floor and resume 
our favorite political monologue. 

In ideological conflicts, the first task is to attempt to free one's 
own mind from delusion and then to seek to identify the element 
of delusion in the opponent's point of view. Often this element can 

The Boughs and the Storm 335 

best be exposed by emphasizing the discrepancies between the 
heretic's ideology and his behavior; by calling attention to the 
prophecies that have gone unfulfilled and the promises that re- 
mained unredeemed. It is usually a mistake, however, to undertake 
a frontal attack upon an ideology. The ideology can be analyzed, 
dissected, criticized, and rejected in toto without denouncing it 
as a heresy. The professional anti-Communists, who are totali- 
tarians in a thin disguise, would have us believe that he who says 
A must say B: that those who oppose Communism must be will- 
ing to fight it as a heresy. But heresy campaigns have certain 
strategic limitations apart from the fact that they involve the use 
of self-defeating methods. It is implied, for example, that any 
idea or measure which is in any manner associated or identified 
with the heresy must be rejected simply for this reason. The 
anti-Communists have even carried their obsession with heresy 
to the point of denouncing any criticism of capitalism as sub- 
versive. Yet, with Congress appropriating billions "to fight Com- 
munism," the Federal Trade Commission reports that certain 
trends in the American economy, if permitted to go uncorrected, 
will eventually lead us into some form of collectivism.^" Pre- 
sumably, however, any attempt to deal with these trends in a 
radical manner would be automatically ruled out of considera- 
tion by our prior commitment "to fight Communism," although 
a radical reform of capitalism might be one means of countering 
Communism. It is a serious mistake to commit America to an 
anti-Communist strategy for the choice confronting this country 
is not between Communism and anti-Communism but, as Lancelot 
Whyte has pointed out, "between a social order which the whole 
world accepts as just, and no order at all." However if Com- 
munism is to be fought as a heresy, then the anti-Communists 
are entirely correct, and having said A we must then proceed to 
say B, C, and D, that is, we must buy the whole anti-Communist 

A basic objection to this program — prepared by those who 
have made a career of "fighting Communism" — is that in time 
of storm the fear of heresy is exploited in the most unscrupu- 

^''See The Merger Movejnent: A Summary Report, 1948. 

336 Witch Hunt 

lous manner and for the most diverse purposes. Whatever the 
purpose, however, the effect is always to stimulate the fear it- 
self. A major problem in deahng with heresy, therefore, is to 
minimize the fear of heresy: to keep it within manageable 
bounds. For sooner or later, and generally sooner, the fear of 
heresy becomes more troublesome than the agitation denounced 
as heretical. Every measure taken to suppress heresy — each 
yielding to the fear of heresy — only augments the fear and 
arouses further apprehension which in turn leads to the demand 
for additional and still more repressive measures. Soon the meas- 
ures w hich are proposed — which are in fact demanded — bear 
no relation whatsoever to any real or imagined risk. Thus a 
government that launches a heresy prosecution, either from a 
fear of heresy or to win an election, will eventually discover that 
the imaginary monsters of error it helped to create have turned 
into real monsters who are quite capable of destroying the gov- 
ernment that brought them into being. 

Repressive measures will never allay the fear of heresy, for 
these measures describe, in statutory terms, the fears of their 
sponsors. For example, the requirement of non-Communist affi- 
davits will only lead to the demand for more comprehensive 
abjurations at frequent intervals. We were originally told that the 
loyalty program was primarily designed to protect certain "sensi- 
tive" positions in the government service and that it was tempo- 
rary in character. Today the program has been expanded to cover 
virtually the entire field of government service, state and local as 
well as federal (in Los Angeles, street cleaners must abjure the 
Communist heresy). The suggestion is now made that loyalty 
review boards should be set up as a permanent agency of govern- 
ment and that the whole loyalty program should be "broad- 
ened."^^ But the program can never be broadened enough to 
quiet the fears of those who fear heresy. 

The main tactical point to observe in dealing with the fear of 
heresy is that repressive measures stimulate this fear; if the 
measures are necessary, so the people reason, then the situation 
must be even worse than it is described. One of the best ways, 

^^ See story by Cabell Phillips, N. Y. Ti/Jies, February 19, 1950. 

The Boughs and the Stor?n 337 

therefore, to cope with the fear is to throw special safeguards 
around the exercise of civil rights. "The greater the importance 
of safeguarding the country from incitements to the overthrow 
of our institutions by force and violence," as the late Chief 
Justice Hughes pointed out in the De ]onge case, "the more im- 
perative is the need to preserve inviolate the constitutional rights 
of free speech, free press, and free assembly, in order to maintain 
the opportunity for free political discussion, to the end that 
government may be responsive to the will of the people." And to 
the further end that the fears of the people may be quieted: for 
free political discussion is the best medicine for the fear of heresy. 

A program to combat the fear of heresy would include such 
steps as the following (the list is not intended to be inclusive): 
the early enactment of the President's civil rights program; the 
abrogation of Executive Order No. 9835, of March 22, 1947, 
setting up the loyalty program; the removal from the Attorney 
General of the power — if it is finally ruled that he has the power 
— to list, in a purely ex parte manner, organizations which in his 
opinion are "subversive"; the abolition of the House Committee 
on Un-American Activities, and the various state committees 
created in its image, and all similar inquisitorial bodies; a strength- 
ening of civil service guarantees which have been disastrously 
undermined in the last three years; the strengthening, at every 
point, of teacher tenure and of the principle of academic free- 
dom; the rejection of the test oath in all its forms, including the 
non-Communist affidavit required by the Taft-Hartley Act; a 
prompt reversal of the tendency to use the FBI as a political 
police; a reaffirmation of the right of free political association; 
and a firm rejection of the notion that political conformity can 
be a test of loyalty or of the right of a citizen to receive an edu- 
cation or to exercise any other right of citizenship. 

Such a program should also stress the necessity of restricting 
special security measures, including all forms of security censor- 
ship, to an absolute minimum in accordance with the urgent 
recommendations which have been made by virtually every 
scientist who has been associated, in any manner, with the atomic 
energy program. Scientists simply cannot function in what David 

338 Witch Hunt 

Lilienthal has called "the neutron-infested squirrel-cage atmos- 
phere" which is immediately created when security becomes an 
obsession. Security is not incompatible with freedom; on the con- 
trary, our freedom is still the best measure of our security, 
"Secrecy," writes Hanson W. Baldwin, "is not security. . . . 
Security above all is spirit and morale and progressive, ad- 
vanced and imaginative thinking and secrecy is the enemy of 
these." ^" Security regulations and loyalty investigations will 
seldom if ever reveal the potential traitor, nor are they likely to 
turn up the spy or agent. Besides, democracies are committed 
to certain risks for the reason that freedom itself is a commit- 
ment. Police state methods do not provide insurance against these 
risks. They increase the risk by destroying the morale and unity 
of the people and by spreading, far and wide, the fear of heresy. 
They create, as Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer has pointed out, "a 
morbid preoccupation with conformity, and a widespread fear 
of ruin, that is a more pervasive threat precisely because it arises 
from secret sources." ^^ "Many of our best scientists left Nazi 
Germany because science was not free," Dr. Arthur H. Compton 
told the closing session of the Rotary International on June 16, 
1949, "and the tenor of political thought today is leading many 
a scientist to ask himself whether this situation is not repeating 
itself in America, whether even in the United States thought can 
be free and humane motives be supreme." The freedom of the 
scientist has become, indeed, the key test of whether we intend 
to solve social, economic, and political problems by free discus- 
sion and the application of scientific methods; or whether ^ye 
intend to permit a manipulated fear of ideas to silence all dis- 
cussion and to make prisoners of modern scientists. 

In dealing with heretics and the fear of heresy, the basic tactic 
is to cope with situations rather than symptoms; or, as Acontius 
said, "with problems not with doctrines." If Protestants and 
Catholics had tried to reconcile their doctrinal differences, the 
religious wars of Europe might well have been carried over to 
this continent. Fortunately they decided to co-operate in the 

^-IV. F. Times, May 26, 1949. 
^^Neiv Republic, June 6, 1949. 

The Boughs and the Storm 339 

upbuilding of the American nation, and in the course of this 
undertaking they learned to practice a measure of doctrinal for- 
bearance. This margin of tolerance, however, is beginning to 
vanish as new problems beset the nation and its churches; the 
more acute these problems have become, the more sharply the 
doctrinal differences have once again come to be emphasized. 
If a team of social scientists had been asked to arrest the belief 
in witchcraft, they would certainly have concerned themselves, 
not with the doctrines and delusions of witches, but with what 
Michelet assigned as the real cause of the belief in witchcraft, 
namely, "the instability of condition and tenure, this horrid, 
shelving declivity, dow^n which a man slips from free man to 
vassal — from vassal to servant — from servant to serf." By f aihng 
to be concerned with "this horrid, shelving declivity," Europe be- 
came, by the time of the Reformation, "a vast subterranean vol- 
cano, an unseen lake which, now here, now there, betrayed its 
existence by outbursts of fire and flame." Doctrinal disputes 
doubtless aggravate conflicts but the conflicts antedate the quarrel 
over doctrine. 

The belief in heresy is tantamount to the belief in original sin. 
It is a variation of the notion that people can be divided into 
categories of the "damned" and the "elect" for it implies that 
there are "good" ideas and "bad" ideas and that problems are 
merely the result of bad ideas. Thus problems are not to be 
solved by the application of scientific method but by the applica- 
tion of thought control, for if enough people have the right ideas, 
how can there be any problems? The heresy manual of the 
inquisitor with its neatly graduated scale of punishments for a 
vast specification of heresies was the counterpart of the medieval 
conception of a purgatory in which endless special punishments 
had been worked out for an unending catalogue of minutely de- 
fined sins and punishments. The belief in heresy is a form of 
intellectual predestination utterly incompatible with a belief in 
freedom and, as such, it is the one real heresy. 

By a strange but understandable paradox, the more we yield to 
the anti-Communist hysteria, the more we minimize the dif- 
ferences between democracy and Communism. The more vio- 

340 Witch Hunt 

lently we "fight Communism," as a heresy, the more we are 
compelled to borrow and apply the methods of the police state. 
Already a note of official "correctness" has begun to invade even 
informal political discussions and nearly everyone is nowadays 
concerned to avoid, if possible, any criticism of the main tenets 
of the anti-Communist ideology. Today it is quite clear that any 
criticism of social conditions is likely to be met with a charge of 
Communism and the knowledge that this can happen has had a 
clear tendency to stifle social criticism. The differences between 
democracy and Communism are still great; but they need to be 
clarified, not confused. 

Before we proceed any further along the road that leads to 
the police state, it might be well to consider a figure of speech 
suggested by Jeremiah Burroughs which can be read today as a 
parable. "It is with the saints here," he wrote, "as with the boughs 
of trees in time of storm. You shall see the boughs beat one upon 
another as if they would beat one another to pieces, as if armies 
were fighting; but this is but while the wind, while the tempest 
lasts; stay awhile, you shall see every bough standing in its own 
order and comeliness; why? because they are all united in one 
root; if any bough be rotten, the storm breaks it." The boughs 
grind against each other because the storm drives them; they do 
not drive the storm. It is with the storm, not with the beating of 
the boughs, that we should be concerned; for it is only while 
the wind, wliile the tempest lasts, that the boughs beat one upon 
the other. 



A.A.U.P. See American Association 
of University Professors 

Abelard, Peter, 244 

Abolitionists, 74 

Abraliam Lincoln Hotel, Springfield, 
Illinois, 223 

ACA, American Contemporary Art 
Gallery, 125 

Academic freedom, purge of Com- 
munist teachers as protection of, 
II, 180-186; problem of, 11-13; 
defense of violations of, 22; teach- 
ers and scholars as guardians of, 
116, 117; implications of, 117-118; 
threats to, 118-119, 188; economic 
factor in, 208; restriction of, in so- 
cial sciences, 209; in Germany, 
209-213; techniques of attacks on, 
211-213. See also Education, Free- 
dom (s). Teachers 

Accursed groups, psychology of, 
263-269; creation of, 269-274. See 
also Scapegoating 

Acheson, Dean, McCarthy's charges 
against, 19 

Acontius, Jacobus, psychology of 
persecution, 260-261; quoted, 331, 

Act of Supremacy, English (1533), 


Acton, Lord, quoted on papal In- 
quisition, 251 

Adams, Arthur S., quoted on Com- 
munism, 231 

Adams, John, 40, 42 

Adams, John Quincy, 86 

AEC. See Atomic Energy Commis- 

After Freedom (Hortense Povi^der- 
maker), 271 

Agent of a foreign power, cliche of 
heresy persecutions, 296-299 

Agitator, modern, 133-135 

Akeley, T, Barton, case of, 219- 

Albigensians, 231, 325 

Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Car- 
roll), quoted, 197 

Alien and Sedition Acts, 27, 41-43 

Alienation, malaise of, 60-64 

Allegiance, American and English 
conceptions of, 28 

Allen, Raymond B., President of 
University of Washington, 141, 
154-159, passim, 164-171, passim, 
179; on investigation of Univer- 
sity of Washington, 143-144, 149, 
152; on pursuit of truth, 202 

Allied Artists of America, 125 

American Artists Professional 
League, 125 

American Association of Univer- 
sity Professors, 171, 221; cited on 
academic freedom, 11; position on 
testing of teachers, 116; position 
on Communist Party members, 
195; organization of, 209 

American Bankers Association, 105, 

American Civil Liberties Union, 149; 
annual report (1947) quoted, 5; 
balance sheet for civil liberties, 
7-8; quoted on dismissals at Oli- 
vet College, 220 

American Contemporary Art Gal- 
lery, 125 

American Economic Association, 

American Education and hitema- 
tional Te7isio7is, 190-191 



American Federation of Teachers, 

American Jewish Congress, report 

quoted, 9-10 
American Labor Party, 200 
American Legion, Illinois Depart- 
ment, 222 
American Political Science Associa- 
tion, 209 
American Russian Institute, 19 
American Sociological Society, 209 
American Watercolor Society, 125 
American Youth for Democracy, 

147. , 

Americanism, absence of official ide- 
ology and creed in, 54-55 

Americans for Democratic Action, 
222, 324 

Anabaptists, 251, 258, 259 

Anarchists, 294 

Anglo-Saxons, 57 

Anthony, Earle C, 120 

Anti-Communism, as heresy trap, 
322-326; delusions of, 332-333, 
335. See also Communism 

Anti-Defamation League of B'nai 
B'rith, 9 

Antifascism, on American cam- 
puses, 142 

"Apologie for the Oath of Alle- 
giance" (King James I), 30 

Aquinas, Saint Thomas, 305 

Are American Teachers Free? 
(Howard K. Beale), 193 

Argonne Laboratory, Chicago, ura- 
nium lost and found, 82, 96 

Arian heresy, 252 

Arminius, Jacobus, quoted, 330 

Armory Show (1913), 123 

Art, modern, attack on, 1 21-126; 
counteroffensive on, 126-128; im- 
plications of attack, 128-133 

Art Institute of Chicago, 125 

Artists Equity Association, 125, 126 

Ashby, Aubrey L., President of Oli- 
vet College, 219-221 

Assembly, right to freedom of, 74- 

Assent, submission and, 69, 71 

Association, right to freedom of, 
74-75. See also Membership 

Atomic bomb, effect of secrecy con- 
cerning, 100 

Atomic Energy Commission, 114; 
sponsorship of Freistadt, 82, 83, 
84; research and training financed 
by, 88, 90; loyalty oath and FBI 
clearance required of fellows, 89, 
95-96; Edelman case, 90-91; reac- 
tion to loyalty oath requirement 
from fellows, 92-94; reduction of 
research fellowships, 95-96 

Aumack, Mrs. Charlene, quoted, 

Bailey, Dorothy, case of, 18, 20 

Baldwin, Hanson W., quoted on se- 
crecy, 338 

Balmer, Thomas, 157-158 

Bamberg, Bishop of, 314 

Baxter, Richard, quoted, 331 

Beal, Maud, 156 

Beale, Howard K., quoted on Lusk 
Laws, 36-57, on N.EA. and aca- 
demic freedom, 193 

Beck, Dave, 158 

Beck, Hubert Park, study of con- 
trol of higher education, 204-206, 

Behavior, relation of ideology to, 

Belief, right to freedom of, 74-75; 
heresy a symptom of disturbance 
in system of, 235-238 

Bensley, Charles J., quoted on rep- 
resentation by Teachers Union, 

Bentley, Elizabeth, 62, 304, 313 

Benton, Thomas Hart, quoted, 129 

Berger, Victor, 38 

Berkeley crisis. See University of 

Bernal, J. D., cited on scientific 
workers, 97 

Best, Dr., quoted on Jewish ques- 
tion, 211 

Big Business, civil liberties and, 9; 
control of higher education by, 



204-205; supposed threat of Social- 
ism, 322 

Bill of Rights, 132; provision against 
indirect intimidation, 70; individ- 
ual freedoms guaranteed by, 99 

Birmingham Riots (1789), 48 

Black, Justice Hugo L., 8i 

Board of Higher Education of New 
York, 192 

Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles, 
test oath of, 39 

Boatman, Edgar, 229 

Boleyn, Anne, 29 

Bolshevism, denunciation of, 37 

Books. See Publications 

Bowers, Claude G., quoted on Dem- 
ocratic Clubs, 40; on Alien and 
Sedition Acts, 41, 42 

Bowra, C. M., cable to University 
of California quoted, 120 

Bramstedt, E. K., quoted on men- 
tal climate of dictatorship, 76-77; 
on accused in terroristic regimes, 

Brandeis, Justice Louis D., 294 
Braque, Georges, 127 
Braxfield, Judge, quoted on sedition, 

Brazil, Communists in, 248 

Bribery, in modern dictatorships, 76- 

Bridges, Harry, 21, 274 

Bridges case, 312 

Brogan, D. W., cited on govern- 
ment by consent, 68; quoted on 
argument and force, 69 

Bronk, D. W., position on Freistadt 
case, 88-89 

Browder, Earl, 172 

Brown, P. A., quoted on British re- 
action to French Revolution, 45; 
on Pitt and ministers, 45; on 
Birmingham riots, 48; on force 
and violence, 292 

Broyles, Senator, 222, 228, 304 

Broyles Commission, investigation 
of University of Chicago, 221-229 

Budenz, Louis, 285, 315; testimony 
of, in Lattimore case, 20 

Burke, Edmund, reaction to French 

Revolution, 43 
Burleigh, Baron, quoted on heretics, 

Burroughs, Jeremiah, quoted, 331, 

Business. See Big Business 
Butler, Hugh, 278 
Butterworth, Joseph, case of, 158- 

163, passim, 168, 172, 173, 181, 


California, 1946 election, 140. See 
also University of California 

California Committee on Un-Amer- 
ican Activities, 102, 104-105, 112, 

California Institute of Technology, 
216, 217 

Calvinism, 242 

Canwell, Albert F., 141, 148, 149, 
151, 154, 164, 304 

Canwell Committee, creation of, 
140; investigation of Washington 
Old Age Pension Union, 140- 
141; investigation of University of 
Washington, 142-154, 157, 221 

Capitalism, American doctrine of, 
53; supposed unanimity of, 175; 
rise of, in fifteenth century, 255- 

Captive theory, of sect and party 
membership, 177-178 

Carlyle, Thomas, quoted, 3 

Carr, Edward Hallett, quoted on 
government by consent, 68 

Carr, Robert K., quoted on civil 
liberties and civil rights, 9 

Carroll, Charles O., 1 50-1 51 

Castlereagh, Lord, 302 

Cathars, 231, 251-252, 258 

Catholic religious orders, member- 
teachers in public schools, 195- 

Catholicism, conversion to, 175 

Catholics, 270; English, persecution 
of, 29-30, 184; imposition of test 
oath in England, 30-3 1 ; position on 
Feinberg Law, 200; power of, 266; 



Catholics (Contimied) 
Protestants and, in America, 338- 


Censorship, by pressure, 1 30-1 31 

Centers, Richard, on contemporary 
social groupings, 62-63 

Chafee, Zechariah, quoted, 294 

Chambers, Whittaker, 304 

Chapman, John Jay, quoted on sup- 
pression of free speech, 72 

"Charges of Freedom Curbs Rising 
in Nation's Colleges" (Benjamin 
Fine), 11 

Chemical and Engineering News, 
215, 216 

Chicago Herald-American, 221, 222, 


Chicago Tribune, 13 

China, 21 

Christians, early, as heretics, 240 

Churchill, Winston, 129 

Cicero, quoted on ballot, 73 

Cinch question, 296 

City-state, rise of, 253. See also Na- 

Civil Disobedience (H. D. Thoreau) , 

Civil liberties, distinguished from 
civil rights, 8-10; separation of, 
into categories, 10; report of 
President's Committee, 4-6 

Civil rights. President Truman's pro- 
gram, 5, 8; illusion and reality in 
field of, 6-8; of economic and 
political minorities, 8, 10-12; dis- 
tinguished from civil liberties, 8- 
10; state of American public opin- 
ion on, 12-13 

Civil Rights in the United States in 
1949, quoted, 10 

Class consciousness, in present-day 
America, 62-64 

Claustrophobia, delusion of, 273 

Coercion, in modem dictatorships, 
76-80; visible and invisible, 275- 
276. See also Conformity, Perse- 

Cold war, as source of loyalty ob- 
session, 28 

Cole, W. Sterling, 82 
Coleman, Clarence J., 158 
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 45; 

quoted on British reaction to 

French Revolution, 44 
Colleges, growth of enrollment, 203. 

See also Education 
Cologne, radical ideas in, 253 
Commager, Henry Steele, quoted 

on loyalty, 50, 57-58; on trial of 

Washington professors, 179 
Commerce Department, employees 

of, removed, 17 
Commerce Department Loyalty 

Board, 17 
Commission on Freedom of the 

Press, report of, 5; quoted on 

management of public opinion, 

71 . 

Committee for Examination and Ad- 
justment, Hitler's loyalty review 
board, 83 

Committee for the First Amend- 
ment, 67 

Committee on Tenure and Aca- 
demic Freedom, University of 
Washington, 157, 192 

Communism, in academic life, 10- 
II, 13, 21-22, 142-143; fear of 
identification with, 22; loyalty to, 
51-52; American loyalty and, 52- 
54, 56; deceptive logic in destruc- 
tion of, 75, 76; aided by loyalty 
oaths, 119; basis of conflict with 
democracy, 165, 166; vulgar and 
instructed views of, 243. See also 

Communist Party, 38, 199; member- 
ship in, 92-93; fallacy of discipli- 
nary power of, 1 71-175 

Communists, alleged infiltration of 
State Department, 13-15, 17; sec- 
ond-class citizenship advocated 
for, 184-186; as cover for attacks 
on academic freedom, 211-212; as 
accursed group, 264-269; stereo- 
typing of, 269-274 

Compton, Arthur H., quoted, 



Conant, James Bryant, opposition to 
loyalty oaths, ii8 

Conformity, ardor for, 76; pressures 
making for, 76-80; coercion of, in 
University of California contro- 
versy, 107-108; ideological, of 
professional and occupational 
groups, 196; pressures for, in 
higher education, 208; German 
passion for, 247-248; basis of 
heresy hunts, 326-328. See also 
Coercion, Freedom, Heresy, Non- 

Congress, under government by con- 
sent, 69-71; power to force dis- 
closure of political beliefs, 72- 
74, See also Government by con- 
sent and House Committee on 
Un-American Activities 

Cojigressional Record, 82 

Consent. See Government by con- 

Constitution of the United States, 
First Amendment, 5-6, 7, 52-53, 
96, 290, 293, 294; described, 18; 
Fourteenth Amendment, 28; Ar- 
ticle VI, 106, 108 

Contradiction, as basis of persecu- 
tion, 260-261 

Cooley, Charles Horton, cited, 331 

Coolidge, Calvin, 38 

Co-optation, 205-206 

Coplon, Judith, 313 

Corley, James H., 112 

Corvallis, Oregon. See Oregon State 

Costigan, Howard, 140 

Cotton, Sir Robert Bruce, quoted, 

Coulton, G. G., quoted on Inquisi- 
tion, 153, 301; on heresy as polit- 
ical weapon, 306 

Crist, Judith, quoted on enactment 
of Feinberg Law, 198 

Crump machine, 73 

Cults, in American life, 61 

Curti, Merle, cited on loyalty in 
America, 57, 58 

Czechoslovakia, no 

Daily Worker, 90 

Dali, Salvador, 127 

Dana, Malcolm Boyd, 219, 221 

Darwin, Charles Robert, 97 

Davies, Lawrence E., quoted on in- 
vestigation of University of Wash- 
ington, 143 

Day, Edmund Ezra, quoted on re- 
strictions on free speech and in- 
quiry, 77-78; on control of edu- 
cation, 207 

Dehn, Professor, 211 

De Jonge case, 337 

De Lacy, Hugh, 140 

Delusions, of anti-Communism, 332- 
333, 335. See also Social delusions 

Democracy, basis of conflict with 
Communism, 165, 166 

Democratic Clubs, Federalist oppo- 
sition to, 40, 41, 42 

Democratic Party, position on 
claims of Senator McCarthy, 14 

Demonic possession, 134 

Denver Post, quoted on Freistadt, 

Der Abe77d, Berlin, 83 

Devil-as-Agitator, 133-135 

Devree, Howard, on attack on mod- 
ern art, 124, 127 

Dewey, John, 38, 39; quoted on 
Lusk Laws, 37; cited on trained 
minds, 165 

Dewey, Thomas E., 153; signs Fein- 
berg Law, 197 

Dialectical materialism, 93, 267 

Dickson, Edward A., quoted on test 
oath at University of California, 

Dictatorships, rise of, 35-36; plebi- 
scitarian, 68; coercion, bribery, 
and propaganda in, 76-80 

Dies, Martin, 304, 313 

Dies Committee, 142, 143 

Dies index, 122 

Discipline, of Communist Party, 171- 
175; in social organization, 176- 

Discrimination. See Racial discrimi- 



Disloyalty. See Loyalty 

Dissenters, 266; distinguished from 
heretics, 236-237, 244 

Dondero, George A., attack on mod- 
ern art, 1 21-128; implications of 
attack, 128-133 

Dossier state, 303 

Douglas, Justice William O., 81 

Drumheller, Joseph, 157 

DuBridge, Lee A., quoted on loy- 
alty oath for AEC fellows, 92 

Dulles, John Foster, 85 

Dykstra, Clarence, 104, 118 

Earle, George, President Truman's 
letter to, 7 

Eby, E. Harold, case of, 145, 146, 
160, 161, 166-169, '75 

Eckhart, Master, 244 

Economy, dictatorial, dissension un- 
der, 22 

Edelman, Dr. Isidore S., case of, 

Edgerton, Justice, quoted on Dor- 
othy BaUey case, 18 

Edmundson, Charles, quoted on 
Crump machine, 73 

Education, higher, growth of col- 
lege enrollment, 203; control of, 
203-206; role of college president, 
206-207; economic status of col- 
lege instructor, 207-208; pressure 
for conformity, 208; availability 
of, 209; academic freedom in Ger- 
many, 209-211 

Educational Policies Commission 
(N.EA.), opposes employment of 
Communist teachers, 190-191, 194; 
warns against loyalty oaths for 
teachers, 192-193 

Educators. See Teachers 

Edwards, Willard, 13 

Elections, under democracy, 73 

Electors. See Voters 

Embree, Edwin R., quoted on Uni- 
versity of California, 102 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, quoted on 
office of America, 66 

Encirclement, delusion of, 323 

England, conception of allegiance, 
28; persecution of Catholics, 29- 
30; imposition of test oath, 30- 
31; economic revolution and re- 
ligious controversy, 33-34; reac- 
tion to French Revolution, 43- 
48; witchcraft in, 257; Act of 
Supremacy (1533), 259 

Ernst, Max, 127 

Error, prevalence of, 261 

Ethel, Garland O., case of, 145, 146, 
160, 166-169, 175 

Executive Order 9835, creates Pres- 
ident's loyalty program, 16, 19, 

27, 337 
Exodus, Book of, quoted, 68 
Eymeric, Nicholas, 304, 305, 313 

Fabians, 324 

Fahy, Julian, 220 

Farley, James A., quoted on Soviet 
of Washington, 140 

Fascists, revival of test oath by, 35; 
rise of, 60 

FBI. See Federal Bureau of Investi- 

Fear, in loyalty obsessions, 37, 64; 
exploitation of, by politicians, 
loo-ioi; in imposition of test 
oaths, 109; In motivation of Uni- 
versity of California controversy, 
1 1 4-1 15; legislative, as threat to 
academic freedom, 187-188; of 
heresy, 327-328 

Federal Bar Association, President 
Truman's speech to, 19 

Federal Bureau of Investigation, 303, 
337; clearance of AEC fellows, 
89, 90, 94, 95-96 

Federal employees, loyalty of, tested, 

Federal Protection of Civil Rights 
(Robert K. Carr), 9 

Federal Trade Commission, cited, 

Federalist Party, reaction to French 
Revolution, 40-43, 48 



Feinberg Law, 197-201 

Fellow traveler, defined, 286-287 

FEPC, io 

Ferguson, Homer, 278 

Fermi, Enrico, cited on joining Com- 
munist Party, 92-93 

Fifth columnists, 36 

Fine, Benjamin, quoted on dismissal 
of Communist teachers, 11; on 
opposition to loyalty oaths, 11; 
on National Education Associa- 
tion, 190; on adoption of report 
of Educational Policies Commis- 
sion, 191; on detection of Com- 
munist teachers, 191-192 

First Amendment, 5-6, 7, 52-53, 96, 
290, 293, 294 

Flag salute, campaign for, 38 

Flagellants, 239, 254 

Florence, radical ideas in, 253 

Flynn, John T., The Road Ahead, 

Fogg Museum, 125 

Force and violence, use and signifi- 
cance of phrase, 289-296 

Forty Witches of Arras, 314 

Fouche, Joseph, 80 

Fourteenth Amendment, 28 

Fox, Irving David, case of, 107 

Fraticelli, 231 

Free speech, guaranteed by Consti- 
tution, 97; influence of Haymar- 
ket case, 290-292, 295-296. See also 
First Amendment 

Freedom of the press, 13; report of 
Commission on, 5; measure of, 
131; limitation of, 275-276 

Freedom (s), image and reality of, 
in contemporary America, 22; 
American tradition of, 54-55, 59; 
of association and belief, 74-75; 
weakening of idea of, 75-76; of 
scientific research, 96-101; social, 
problem of, 99; individual, pro- 
tection of, 131; legislative fear as 
threat to, 187. See also Academic 
freedom, Civil liberties. Civil 
rights. Conformity, First Amend- 
ment, Social freedoms 

Freistadt, Hans, charges against, 82; 
background and life, 82-84; Com- 
munist affiliation, 84, 90; appear- 
ance before Joint Committee on 
Atomic Energy, 85-86; position of 
University of North Carolina on, 
87; aftermath of hearings, 88-90, 
91-96; real issues in case of, 96- 


French Revolution, reaction to, in 
United States, 40-43, 48; in Eng- 
land, 43-48 

Friedrich, Carl J., quoted on test 
oath, 36 

Fuller, Thomas, quoted, 329 

Galileo, 244 

Gallery-on- Wheels, 122 

Gallup Poll, 97; on Communist 
teachers, 194 

Garrison, William Llovd, 290 

Gary, Judge Joseph, quoted on Hay- 
market case, 291 

Genauer, Emily, 126 

Germany, Nazi revival of test oath, 
35; academic freedom in, 209-213; 
democratic agitation in, 254; 
witchcraft in, 255-258 

Giannini, Lawrence AL, quoted on 
test oath at University of Cali- 
fornia, 114 

Gigantism, of great powers, 273 

Gitloiv case, 52 

Goebbels, Joseph, 35 

Gonzalez, Xavier, 123 

Goodwin, John, quoted on bigots, 


Government, impersonality in, 60- 
61; electors and representatives in, 

Government by consent, problems 
of, 68-71; assumed hostility of se- 
crecy to, 72-74; Freistadt case an 
attack on, 98-101 

Government employees, civil rights 
for, 8 

Grapes of Wrath, The (John Stein- 
beck), 292 



Great-power delusions, 273 

Green, D wight, 222 

Gregg, Alan, cited on loyalty test 
in AEC program, 93-95 

Gregory IX, Pope, 250, 251 

Gromyko, Andrei A., 278 

Groups. See Accursed groups 

Gui, Bernard, 304, 315 

Gumbel, Professor, 211 

Gundlach, Ralph H., case of, 159- 
160, 161, 164, 169 

Gunpowder Plot, 29 

Gunther, John, quoted on State of 
Washington, 140 

Guterman, Norbert, quoted on pres- 
ent-day malaise, 61-62; on attack 
on modern art, 124; cited on 
Morse code of modem agitator, 

Guthman, Edwin O., 154 

Hall, Bishop Joseph, 133; quoted, 
121, 328 

Hallowell, John H., quoted on Nazis 
and liberalism, 79 

Hamilton, Alexander, 42, 43 

Harper's, 156; quoted on Crump ma- 
chine, 73 

Harvard Medical School, 90 

Haymarket case, 290-292, 295-296 

Hays, Arthur Garfield, quoted on 
Abolitionists, 74 

Hazlitt, William, 45; quoted on Lord 
Castlereagh, 302 

Hearst press, campaign against "rad- 
icals" in schools and colleges, 

Hensley, Judge E. T., 195 

Heresy, loyalty program and control 
of, 17, 21, 49-50; nature and mean- 
ing of, 22, 239-241, 324; concept 
of, incompatible with American 
tradition, 54-56; use of, as weapon 
to police thoughts, 1 09-1 10; incon- 
sistency in application of principle 
of, 121; Canwell Committee and 
doctrine of, 152-153; at University 
of Washington, 162-166; underly- 
ing factors in persecution of, 235; 

symptom of disturbed belief, 235- 
238; rise of, 239, 250-255; slogans, 
dogma, and doctrine of, 241-242; 
instructed and vulgar view of, 242- 
246; hunting of, distinct from 
scapegoating, 246; social disorgan- 
ization in production of witch 
hunts, 246-248; price of suppres- 
sion of, 248-250; rise of interest in 
witchcraft, 255-258; symptom of 
discrepancy between norm and 
reality, 279-281; centralized tribu- 
nals in prosecution of, 301-305; 
logic of, 305-308; function of in- 
quisitor, 308-310; technique of in- 
quisitorial process, 310-314; penal- 
ties of, 314-316; confessional delu- 
sion, 317-320; effect of prosecution 
of, 321, 328-332; supposed threat 
of Socialism, 322-326; conformity 
as basis of crusades against, 326- 
328; problem of dealing with, 
332-337; program for combating 
fear of, 337-339; belief in, 339-340. 
See also Accursed groups, Com- 
munism, Conformit\% Inquisition, 

Heretics, recantation of, 80; associa- 
tion of, with loathsome images, 
124; advocacy of second-class citi- 
zenship for, 184-186; problem of 
persecution of, 231-232; distin- 
guished from dissenters, 236-237, 
244; nature of, 239-241 

Heretics, The (Humphrey Slater), 
76 _ 

Hewitt, George, 145, 150-152, 153, 

Hickenlooper, Bourke B., 97; reac- 
tion to Freistadt-Edelman hearings, 
88, 91, 94-95, 96 
Higher education. See Education 
Hildebrand, Joel H., quoted on Uni- 
versity of California case, 113; on 
Communists in American colleges, 

Hillenbrand, Martin J., quoted on 

free expression, 69 
Hindus, 262, 272, 279, 334 



Hinshaw, Carl, quoted on testimony 
before Joint Committee on Atomic 
Energy, 94-95 

Hitler, Adolf, 300; attack on modem 
art, 124; undermining of academic 
freedom, 210 

Hodge, Herbert, 220 

Hole, Christina, quoted on witch- 
craft, 300, 317 

Hollywood Ten, confusion of issues 
in case of, 67-68; government by 
consent in relation to, 68-71; in- 
vestigation of, 71-72; importance 
of case, 76; application of pres- 
sure, 77-80; fate of, 80-81 

Holmes, Justice Oliver Wendell, 
294; quoted on dictatorship and 
free speech, 52; on McAuliffe v. 
New Bedford, 183 

Honig, Nat, 145 

Hook, Sidney, 178, 182, 183; quoted 
on Communist discipline, 171-172 

Horsley, William, 228; quoted on 
moral conditions at University of 
Chicago, 227 

House Committee on Un-American 
Activities, 10, 107, 128, 214, 337; 
indirect intimidation by, 7 1 ; inves- 
tigation of Hollywood Ten, 71-72, 
77, 80-81; list of college and high 
school textbooks requested, 194; 
voting on, 243; centralized tribu- 
nal of New Inquisition, 301, 303- 

Hughes, Chief Justice Charles Evans, 
quoted, 337 

Huie, William Bradford, 90 

Humanists, 258 

Hunt, Leigh, 45 

Hurley, Carl Robert, 114 

Hutchins, Robert M., quoted, 214; 
in investigation of University of 
Chicago, 223-229 

IcHHEisER, GusTAv, quoted, 274; on 
man's perception of social real- 
ity, 275-280, passi?n 

Ideas, attack on, through individuals, 
75; fear of, 328 

Ideas Are Weapons (Max Lemer), 

Ideologies, nonexistence of official, 
in America, 53; a form of delu- 
sion, 56; symptom of present-day 
malaise, 61-64; destruction of, 75; 
discipline argument, 175; dominant 
and subordinate, 237-238, 244; re- 
lation to behavior, 270-274; recon- 
cilement of, 332. See also Con- 
formity, Heresy 

Illustrators Society, 125 

"In the Shadow of Fear," report of 
American Civil Liberties Union. 

"In Time of Challenge," report of 
American Civil Liberties Union, 8 

Independence, distinguished from 
freedom, 59 

Index Librorum Frohibitonmi, 258 

India, 279; British civil servants in. 

Indiana Medical School, 90 
Indulgences, granting of, 304-305 
Industrial Workers of the VVorld. 


Industry, political opinions and, 22; 
research development expendi- 
tures, 98. See also Big Business 

Infant of Montsegur, 311 

IngersoU, Robert, quoted on Hay- 
market case, 290 

Injustice, dogma of, 260-263 

Innocent III, Pope, 251, 255, 256, 257. 

300. 313 
Innocent VIII, Pope, 255 
Inquisition, 133, 153, 243; ideological 

conflicts in, 231; in Spain, 249-250; 

papal, emergence of, 250-255; 

witchcraft and, 257-258. See also 

Intimidation, indirect, 70-71 
Irish, Alien Act aimed at, 41-43 
Issei, in World War II, 64-66 
Italy, revival of test oath by Fascists, 


Jackson, Justice Robert, quoted on 
iron curtain, 218 



Jacobs, Melville, 145, 160, 166-169, 
175; quoted on Communist disci- 
pline, 172 

James I, King of England, quoted on 
Catholics, 30 

Jansen, William, 200 

Japanese-Americans, abrogation of 
constitutional rights, 6; treatment 
of, in World War II, 64-66; World 
War II intelligence agents in 
United States, 66 

Javits, Jacob K., 126 

Jefferson, Thomas, 41, 43, 48 

Jenkins, Goody, 247 

Jessup, Philip, quoted on disloyalty 
charges, 19; McCarthy's charges 
against, 21 

Jesuits, 29; as accursed group, 268 

Jewish Children's Agency, sponsor- 
ship of Freistadt, 83, 84 

Jews, 184, 186, 243; as cover for Nazi 
attacks on academic freedom, 210- 
213; as accursed group, 264-265, 

Johnston, Eric, quoted on trial of 
Hollywood Ten, 80-81 

Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, 
Freistadt hearings, 85-86 

Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Com- 
mittee on Un-American Activities. 
See Canwell Committee 

Jordan, W. K., quoted on Quakers, 
240; on Calvinism, 242 

Journal- American, New York, 222 

Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the 

Advance of Science, 210 
Kandinsky, Vasili, 123, 127 
Kansas, loyalty statute, 11 
Karl Marx Study Group, 84 
Kautsky, Karl Johann, cited on 
woolen trade and Communistic 
ideas, 253 
Kees, Weldon, 127 
Kemenev, Stalin's art critic, 127, 130 
Kennan, George, quoted on McCar- 
thy attack on State Department, 1 5 
KFI, Radio Station, loyalty oath re- 
quired from employees, 120 

Kilpatrick, Carroll, quoted on 
McCarthy campaign against State 
Department, 15 

King, John L., 158 

Knowland, William F., 21 

Kramer, Henry, 255, 256 

Krock, Arthur, cited on McCarthy 
attack on State Department, 15 

Kuniyoshi, Yasuo, 123 

Langer, Susanne K., cited on key 
issues, 22 

Languedoc, Cathars in, 251-252; 
heretics in, 316 

Lansmg State Journal, 220 

Lardner, Ring, 325 

Laski, Harold Joseph, quoted on 
loyalties, 65; lecture invitation 
withdrawn at Los Angeles, 103- 

Lattimore, Owen, 325; accused of 
espionage by Senator McCarthy, 
14; Budenz's testimony on, 20; 
heresy of, 20-21 

LaVallee, L. R., 214, 215 

Lawrence, Ernest O., 88, 102 

Lawrence, W. H., quoted, 248 

Lawson, John Howard, 81 

Lea, Henry Charles, quoted on her- 
esy, 244, 245, 306; on inquisitor, 
308; on confessional delusion, 317, 
318, 319 

Lee, Michael, removed from Com- 
merce Department, 17 

Lenin, Nikolai, 182 

Leningrad Literary Group, 27 

Lemer, Max, 324, 325; quoted on de- 
lusion of encirclement, 323; on 
freedom, 327; on democratic ideas, 

Levy, Judge Aaron J., 151, 153, 


Lewis, Clyde A., President Truman's 
letter to, 19-20 

Lewis, Fulton, Jr., 82 

Lewis, John L., 268 

Ley, Dr., quoted on private individ- 
ual in Nazi Germany, 236 

Liberalism, Nazis and, 79 



Life, 208, 225 

Lilge, Frederic, 210 

Lilienthal, David E., position on 
Freistadt case, 88, 89; Edelman 
case, 90; quoted, 337-338 

Lindlof, Mrs. Johanna M., 192 

LitvinoflF, Maksim, 39 

Livingston, Edward, quoted on Alien 
Act, 41-42 

Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, 

Los Angeles Realty Board, no 

Los Angeles Times, 109; quoted on 
pledge of loyalty, 107; endorses 
test oath, no 

Lovejoy, Arthur O., position on 
Washington professors, 180-183, 

Lowenthal, Leo, quoted on present- 
day malaise, 61-62; on attack on 
modem art, 124; cited on Morse 
code of modem agitator, 127 

Loyalty, President Truman's pro- 
gram, 5-7; obsession with, 27, 36- 
38, 60, 95; campaign of 1934-1935, 
39; Soviet influence on obsession 
with, 39; meaning of, 50-51; attack 
on, an act of disloyalty, 51-52; 
coercion of, 56; two traditions of, 
in America, 56-^50, 62; self- 
estrangement and problem of 
present-day malaise, 60-64; Japa- 
nese-Americans in World War II, 

Loyalty oath, opposition to, by edu- 
cators, 11-12, 13; historical back- 
ground of, 30-33; modem revival 
of, 35-36; of Board of Supervisors 
of Los Angeles, 39-40; reaction to 
requirement of, from AEC fel- 
lows, 92-94; at University of Cal- 
ifornia, 102-103, 104-109, 110-115; 
prohibition of, under Article VI 
of Federal Constitution, 108; vi- 
ciousness of, 109-110; implications 
of, n9-i2o; invasion of private 
enterprise, 120; opposed by 
N.E.A., 192-193; at University of 
Oklahoma, 229, 230 

Loyalty order. President Truman's 
of March 22, 1947, 5, 7, 11, 16, 49 

Loyalty program, investigation of 
federal employees, 16; control of 
heresy, 17, 21; witch hunt stimu- 
lated by, 17-18; instruments of, 28; 
influence of economic-ideological 
confusion, 33-36; motivation for, 
36-40; of Board of Supervisors of 
Los Angeles, 39-40; example of 
French Revolution, 40-48; punish- 
ment of heresy, 49-50 

Loyalty Review Board, activities of, 

Lucas, Henry S., quoted on check- 
ing unauthorized opinion, 252 

Lumping-together device, 123-124 

Lundberg, Harry, 274 

Lusk Laws, 36-37, 39, 197, 200 

Luther, Martin, 259 

Lynd, Helen M., quoted, 144, 150, 
163, 164-165, 166 

Lynd, Robert S., quoted, 202 

Lyons, radical ideas in, 253 

Lysenko, 21, 126, 215, 216, 217 

Mabee, Carleton, 220 

Macaulay, Thomas Babington, 
quoted on test oath, 32; on rea- 
soning from opinion to action, 178- 
179, 270; on civil privileges and 
political rights, 184; on foreign 
attachments, 297-299 

McAuliffe V. Ne'W Bedford, 183-184 

McCarthy, Joseph R., attack on al- 
leged Communists in State De- 
partment, 13-14; support of, 14-15; 
loyalty obsession, 16-17; quoted on 
Secretary Acheson, 19; adminis- 
trative reaction to charges of, 19- 
20; charges of, against Lattimore 
and Jessup, 21 

McCausland, Elizabeth, cited on in- 
come of artists, 130 

McGrath, Earl James, 190; quoted 
on loyalty oaths, 12; on control 
of higher education, 204 

Macleish, Archibald, 13 

McMahon, Brien, 89, 93 



Madigan, John, 221, 223 

Madison, James, quoted on censorial 
power, 68 

Magazine of Art, 130 

Main Currents in American Thought 
(Vernon Parrington), 161 

Maladjustment, 238 

Malaise, background of present-day, 

Malleus Maleficarum (James Spren- 
ger), 121, 255 

Manichaean doctrines, 252, 253 

Mannheim, Karl, quoted on topia 
and Utopia, 237; cited on confu- 
sion of illusion and reality, 261; 
quoted on scapegoat system, 268 

Marshall, George C, disposal of ex- 
hibit of contemporary paintings, 

A'lartyrdom, 244 

Marxists, 270 

Maryland, loyalty statute, 11 

Masons, 175, 176 

Alassachusetts, loyalty statute, 11 

Matthews, J. B., 223, 224-226, 228 

Meiklejohn, Alexander, cited on 
loyalty in America, 59; quoted 
on fear of self-betrayal, 59; on 
America after World War I, 60; 
on control of university, 116; on 
Communist power of discipline, 
173, 174; on teacher's responsibil- 
ity, 188-189; cited on speech, 293- 

Membership, meanings of term, 282- 

Menjou, Adolphe, 307; cited, 214 

Michelet, Jules, cited on disease in 
Middle Ages, 244-245; quoted on 
doctrine of Original Sin, 262; on 
cause of belief in witchcraft, 339 

Michurin, 215 

Mikado, The (W. S. Gilbert), 
quoted, 121 

Miller, Winlock W., 158 

Minorities, racial, civil rights for, 
7-8, 9, 10; rights of economic and 
political, 8, 10-12; persecution of, 
65; coercion in government by 

consent, 69, 70, 71; stereotyping of, 
269-274. See also Accursed groups 

Miro, Joan, 127 

Modem art. See Art, modem 

Moley, Raymond, 144 

Montaigne, Michel de, quoted, 250 

Moore, Arthur, 220 

More, Sir Thomas, 108, 258-259, 308 

Mormon Church, 177 

Morse, Philip M., quoted on single 
scientist, 98 

Morse, Wayne, 89 

Morse code, of modem agitator, 127 

Mote-beam mechanism, 278 

Motion picture industry, 128. See 
also Hollywood Ten 

MuUer, H. J., 215 

Murray, Gilbert, quoted on free 
speech and thought, 327 

Museum of Modern Art, New York, 

Myers, John P., quoted on Fein- 
berg Law, 200 

N.A.M. See National Association of 

National Academy of Design, 125 

National Academy of Science, 88; 
reaction to clearance of AEC fel- 
lows, 95-96 

National Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Colored People, re- 
port quoted, 9-10 

National Association of Manufactur- 
ers, 107 

National Education Association, 
128; membership and influence, 
190; opposes employment of Com- 
munist teachers, 190-192, 194, 196; 
Communist teachers barred from 
membership, 191-192; opposes loy- 
alty oath, 192-193; inconsistent be- 
havior of, 193-195; opposes text- 
book investigation, 194 

National Research Council, spon- 
sorship of scientists by, 88, 89; 
selection of AEC fellows, 96 

National Resources Planning Board, 



National rivalries, 34 

National Science Foundation, 100 

Nationalist Party, Puerto Rico, 199 

Nation-state, rise of, 255-256. See also 

Native Sons of the Golden West, 

Naval Hospital, St. Albans, New- 
York, 122 

Nazi-Soviet Pact (1939), 142 

Nazis, 305; revival of test oath, 35; 
liberalism and, 79; attack on mod- 
ern art, 124; acceptance of ideol- 
ogy of, 177; undermining of aca- 
demic freedom, 210-213; German 
susceptibility to witch hunts of, 

N.E.A. See National Education As- 

New Deal, fear of reforms of, 39 

New Jersey, loyalty statute, 11 

New York City, suspension of teach- 
ers, 196 

New York Council on Education, 
quoted on membership in Social- 
ist Party, 38 

New York Daily News, 82 

New York Herald Tribune, 126, 143 

New York State, loyalty statute, 11; 
Feinberg Law, 197-201 

New York Times, 118, 127, 143, 248; 
quoted on support of Senator 
McCarthy, 15; on loyalty issue, 16; 
on Berkeley professors, 108-109 

New York World Telegram, 125, 

Newspapers, decreased number of, 

Neylan, John Francis, 114; quoted 
on loyalty oath at University of 
California, iii 

Niendorff, Fred, 151, 221 

Nisei, in World War II, 64-65 

Nixon, Richard, 283 

Nonconformity, American doctrine 
of, 55-56; distinguished from 
heresy, 236-237. See also Con- 

Norton, John K., 191 

Oates, Titus, 312 

Oath. See Loyalty oath 

Oglesby, Richard, quoted on Hay- 
market case, 290-291 

Olivet College, 219-221 

O'Neil, James F., 231 

Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 88; quoted 
on AEC program, 93; on police- 
state methods, 338 

Oregon State College, 22, 127, 214- 

Original Sin, dogma of injustice, 262 

Paine, Tom, 45 

Palmer raids, 6 

Papists. See Catholics 

Paranoia, political, 280-281. See also 
Social delusions 

Paris, radical ideas in, 253 

Parrington, Vernon, 159, 161; quoted 
on J. Allen Smith, 161-162 

Pasteur, Louis, 97 

Pauling, Linus, 216-217 

Peasants' War (1524), 256, 258 

Pellegrini, Angelo, 156 

Pennsylvania, loyalty statute, ir 

Pepper, Claude, quoted on Senate 
rider on AEC fellows, 89 

Periodicals. See Publications 

Perlman, Philip B., cited on civil 
rights and civU liberties, 9; quoted 
on totalitarian government, 10 

Persecution, logic of, 65 ; witch hunt- 
ing and heresy hunting, 250; psy- 
chology of, 260-263; reality and 
delusion of, 277; semantics of, 282- 
299. See also Coercion, Heresy 

Pettengill, Robert P., quoted on 
purge of college faculties, 186 

Phi Beta Kappa, quoted on loyalty 
oaths, 119 

Phillips, Herbert J., case of, 147, 
158-163, 168, 173, 181, 182 

Pirenne, Henri, 258; quoted on rise 
of radical ideas in Europe, 251, 
252, 254; on urban piety, 25Z 

Pitt, William, 45 

Plebiscites, 68 

Plenary indulgence, 304 



Plumley, Charles A., 126, 130 

Political rights, civil privileges and, 

Political university, German, 210 

Politicians, threat of, to freedom of 
science, 96-101 

Pollock, Sir Frederick, quoted on 
test oath, 30; on heretics and in- 
fidels, 46-47; on attack on religion, 
243; on persecution of early 
christians, 245 

Popular front, in State of Washing- 
ton, 140 

Post-Intelligencer, 151, 221 

Powdermaker, Hortense, cited, 270- 

Power, problem of, 116 

President's Committee on Civil 
Rights, report of, 4-5; threat to 
freedom of conscience and expres- 
sion neglected, 5-6 

Press. See Commission on Freedom 
of the Press and Freedom of 
the Press 

Pressure, application of, in modern 
society, 76-80; censorship by, 130- 
131; visible and invisible, 275- 

Price, Melvin, at Freistadt hearing, 

Privileges, civil, and political rights, 

Probation, 167 

Professors. See Teachers 

Propaganda, in modem dictator- 
ships, 76-80; tricks of, 123-124 

Prophets of Deceit (Lowenthal and 
Guterman), 61, 128 

Protestants, persecution of, 257- 
258; Catholics and, in America, 

Public opinion, management of, 71 
After Freedom (Hortense Pow- 
dermaker), 271 
Are American Teachers Free? 

(Howard K. Beale), 193 
Bible, Exodus, 68 

Federal Protection of Civil 

Rights (Robert H. Carr), 9 
Grapes of Wrath, The (John 

Steinbeck), 292 
Heretics, The (Humphrey 

Slater) , 76 
Ideas Are Weapons (Max Ler- 

ner), 332 
Main Currents in American 

Thought (Vernon Parring- 

ton), 161 
Malleus Maleflcaru?n {The 

Witches'' Hammer) (James 

Sprenger), 121, 255 
Prophets of Deceit (Lowenthal 

and Guterman), 61, 128 
'Rejections (Edmund Burke), 

Richer by Asia (Edmond Tay- 
lor), 139 
Rights of Man, The (Tom 

Paine), 45 
Road Ahead, The (John T. 

Flynn), 322-324 
Satanae Stratage?nata (Jacobus 

Acontius), 260 
Utopia (Sir Thomas More), 258 
Civil Disobedience (H. D, Tho- 

reau), 68 
Periodicals, Yearbooks: 
Chemical and Engi?ieering 

News, 215, 216 
Chicago Herald- American, 221, 

222, 223 
Chicago Tribune, 13 
Congressional Record, 82 
Daily Worker, 90 
Denver Post, 86 
Der Abend, Berlin, 83 
Harper's, 73, 156 
Journal- American, New York, 

Lansing State Journal, 220 
Life, 208, 225 
Los Angeles Times, 107, 109, 

Magazine of Art, 130 
New York Daily News, 82 



New York Herald Tribune, 1 26, 

New York Times, 15, 16, 108- 

109, 118, 127, 143, 248 
New York World Telegram, 

125, 126 
Post-Intelligencer, 151, 221 
Reader's Digest, 323 
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 85 
San Francisco Chronicle, 15, 87, 

Seattle Times, 151, 153, 154 
Social Register, 205 
Sun-Times, Chicago, 223 
Tar Heel, University of North 

Carolina, 84 
University of Pennsylvania Law 

Review, 78-79 
Washington Post, 15 
Puritans, 240 

Quakers, 240 

Questions, phrasing of, 22 

Race Riots (1943), 6 

Racial discrimination, improved pub- 
lic opinion on, 7-8, 9 

Rader, Melvin, case of, 146-147, 
1 50-1 5 1 passim 

Rader, Virginia, 153 

Rankin, John, 304; quoted on Frei- 
stadt, 83 

Rapp-Coudert Committee, report of, 
on Communist teachers, 193 

Reactionaries, delusion of encircle- 
ment, 323 

Reader's Digest, 323 

Recantation, 80 

Reds. See Communists, Heresy 

Reflections (Edmund Burke), 43 

Reformation, 252, 253, 255, 257, 


Regents of state university, power 
of, 116. See also University of Cal- 

Religious vicars, fanaticism of faith 
and avarice in, 33-34 

Remington, William, removed from 
Commerce Department, 17 

Remy, Inquisitor of Lorraine, 

quoted, 302 
Representatives, intimidation by, 70 
Republican Assembly, California, 

Republican Party, position on claims 

of Senator McCarthy, 14, 15 
Research, influence of, on control 

of higher education, 203-204, 208 

Resentment, 237-238 
Reston, James, quoted on Senator 

McCarthy, 15 
Revenge, imaginary, 238 
Richards, A. N., position on Frei- 

stadt case, 88-89 
Richer by Asia (Edmond Taylor), 

Rickey, Branch, 224 
Rights, individual, distinguished 

from social freedom, 11 7-1 18; 

political, civil privileges and, 184- 

Rights of Man, The (Tom Paine), 


Rivals, distinguished from heretics, 

Road Ahead, The (John T. Flynn), 

Rockefeller Foundation, 93 

Roman Law, inquisitorial process un- 
der, 309-310 

Roosevelt, Franklin D., 142 

Roosevelt College, investigation of, 
223, 228 

Rosen, Nathan, 84 

Rouen, radical ideas in, 253 

Royce, Josiah, definition of loyalty 
quoted, 50, 51; cited on loyalty in 
America, 58; quoted on loss of 
social unity, 60, 61 

Rushmore, Howard, 145, 146, 222, 

Russia. See Soviet Union 

Rutgers College, 208 

Sabbat, 245, 282 
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 85 
Salem, Massachusetts, persecution of 
witches, 246-247, 248-249 



San Francisco Chronicle, quoted on 
McCarthy attack on State Depart- 
ment, 15; on Freistadt, 87; cited 
on test oath at University of Cal- 
ifornia, III 

Sanctions, application 'of, 79-80 

Satanae Stratagemata (Jacobus 
Acontius), 260 

Savery, William, 159 

Sawyer, Charles, Secretary of Com- 
merce, 17 

Scapegoating, heresy hunting and, 
246. See also Accursed groups 

Scheler, Max, quoted on traditional 
and actual power, 238 

Schirick, Justice Harry E., 183 

Schools, drive for patriotic con- 
formity in, 38-39. See also Edu- 

Science, role of, in present-day life, 

Scientific research, freedom of, 96- 
loi; expenditures for, 98 

Scientists, reaction of, to Freistadt- 
Edelman hearings, 91-94 

Scotland, disaffection in, 46 

Seattle, radicals in, 140. See also 
University of Washington 

Seattle Times, 151, 153, 154 

Secrecy, assumed hostility of, to 
self-government, 72-74 

Secret ballot, 73 

Sects, in American life, 61 

Security, loyalty and, 16 

Sedition Act. See AHen and Sedition 

Seditious Activities Investigation 
Commission. See Broyles Com- 

Selden, Sir John, 330 

Self-estrangement, problem of, in 
present-day America, 60-64 

Self-government. See Government 
by consent 

Seligman, 127 

Sewall, Samuel, 247 

Seymour, Charles, opposition to loy- 
alty oaths, 118 

Shipherd, Father, 219 

Shipherd College, 221 

Simon, Yves R., quoted on ac- 
cursed groups, 263, 267-268 

Slater, Humphrey, quoted on urge 
to conform, 76 

Slye, Maud, 225 

Smith, Gerald L. K., 15 

Smith, Henry Nash, quoted, 187 

Smith, Howard K., quoted on Rus- 
sian and American influence, 


Smith, J. Allen, 159, 161-162 

Smith, Lieutenant General Walter 
Bedell, cited on internal tensions 
in Soviet Union, 27 

Smith, Preserved, quoted on crime 
of witchcraft, 257 

Smith, T. v., 144; quoted on Com- 
munists in colleges, 143; version 
of Lovejoy argument, 185-186 

Smith, Troy, 153 

Smith, Tucker P., 220, 221 

Smith Act, 293 

Smyth, Henry D., 88 

Snyder, Lawrence, interrogation of, 

Social classes, differentiation of, in 
United States, 62H54 

Social delusions, visible and invis- 
ible coercion, 275-276; blindness 
to situational factors, 276-278; 
mote-beam mechanism, 278; other 
sources of, 278-279; as self-fulfill- 
ing prophecies, 279; result of dis- 
crepancy between norm and real- 
ity, 279-280; political paranoia, 

Social freedoms, problem of, 99; 
individual rights distinguished 
from, 1 1 7-1 18; protection of, 131- 


Social groups, discipline in, 176-178 

Social sciences, restriction of aca- 
demic freedom in, 209 

Social Register, 205 

Socialism, 34; denunciation of, after 
World War L 38; ideology of, 
292; language of, 294; assumed 
threat of, 322-326 



Socialist Workers Party, 199 

Southey, Robert, 45 

Soviet Union, 305; obsession with 
loyalty, 27, 39; nationalism of, 34; 
influence of, on American loyalty 
obsession, 37, 38, 60; recognized 
by United States, 39; art in, 127; 
control of education in, 203; In- 
quisition in, 249-250 

Sparling, Edward, 223 

Spaulding, Francis T., quoted, 199- 

Spender, Stephen, quoted, 196 

Spitzer, Ralph W., case of, 127, 214- 

Sprenger, James, 121, 135, 255, 256, 

Sproul, Robert Gordon, 104, 118; 
imposes test oath at University 
of California, 103, 105; reverses 
position on test oath, 111-112 

Standard Oil Company, 61 

Star Chamber, 301, 305 

Starkey, Marion L., quoted on witch 
hunting, 246; on logic of inquisi- 
torial process, 307 

State Department, attacked by Sen- 
ator McCarthy, 13-15, 17; pur- 
chase of contemporary paintings, 

State university, power of regents, 
116; legislative control of, 186- 

Steinbeck, John, 292 

Stephens, James, quoted, 294 

Stereotyping, of minorities, 269-274 

Sterling, Wallace, 118 

Stevenson, Adlai, 222 

Stimson, Henry L., quoted on 
McCarthy campaign against State 
Department, 15 

Stone, Edward T., 151 

Strand, A. L., President of Oregon 
State College, 214-218 

Strong, Edward, 164 

Student Republican Club, Chicago, 

Students, screening of, 94. See also 
Atomic Energy Commission 

Stuntz, George R., 158 

Sturtevant, Alfred Henry, quoted 
on Spitzer case, 217 

Subjugation, economic, 79 

Submission, distinguished from as- 
sent, 69, 71 

Subversive organizations, banning of, 

Summers, Montague, 267 

Simnnis Desiderajttes (Innocent 
VIII), 255 

Sun-Times, Chicago, 223 

Supreme Court, as guardian of civil 
rights, 70, 71; review of case of 
Hollywood Ten declined, 81 

Sweezy, Paul, 164 

Szilard, Leo, quoted on academic 
freedom under Nazis, 212-213 

Taft-Hartley Act, 121, 128, 337 

Tar Heel, University of North Car- 
olina, 84 

Tawney, R. H., cited on religious 
wars in Europe, 33 

Taylor, Edmond, 275; quoted on 
private delusions and public real- 
ities, 139; on professional and clin- 
ical paranoid, 145-146; on master- 
delusion of Tightness, 261-262; 
statement of Spanish soldier 
quoted, 262; quoted on error and 
truth, 262-263; on meaning, 269; 
on British civil servants in India, 
272; on groups in opposition, 274; 
on delusion of hostility, 279; on 
political paranoia, 281; on delu- 
sions, 332, 333, 334 

Taylor, Glenn, 89 

Teachers, effect of Lusk Laws on, 
36-37; loyalty oath requirement, 
39; guardians of principle of aca- 
demic freedom, 116, 117; Com- 
munist purge as protection of 
academic freedom, 180-186; re- 
sponsibility of, 188; Communist, 
position of N.E.A. on, 190-192, 
194, 196; lack of tenure protection, 
193; Communist, position of 
A.A.U.P. on, 195; deterioration in 



Teachers (Continued) 

democratic rights for, 197; Fein- 
berg Law, 197-201 
Teachers Guild (AFL), 200 
Teachers Union (CIO), 191, 196, 

Teague, C. C, 322; quoted on So- 
cialism and Communism, 322 
Tennessee, Crump machine in, 73 
Tenney, Jack B., no, 222, 304; 
"thought control" bills proposed 
by, 102-103, 104-105; replaced on 
Un-American Committee, 1 1 2- 

Terman, Lewis M., 164 

Termites, 36, 271 

Test oath. See Loyalty oath 

Textbook investigation, of House 
Committee on Un-American Ac- 
tivities, 194 

Thayer, V. T., quoted on problem 
of former heretic, 179-180 

Thomas, J. Pamell, 62, 67, 80-81, 304 

Thompson, Dorothy, 144; quoted 
on Lattimore, 2 1 

Thompson, James Westfall, quoted 
on rise of radical ideas in Eu- 
rope, 253, 254 

Thoreau, Henry David, quoted on 
free exercise of judgment and 
moral sense, 55, 68 

Thurber, James, quoted, 333 

To Secure These Rights, report of 
President's Committee on Civil 
Rights, 4-5 

Topia, 237 

Tories, political use of French Rev- 
olution by, 44-48 

Town Meeting of the Air, cited on 
Japanese-Americans, 64 

Trade-union leaders, testing of, for 
heresy, 121 

Treves, Archbishop of, 319 

Trotsky, Leon, 146 

Truman Doctrine, 322 

Truman, Harry S., 39, 129; civil 
rights program, 5, 8; loyaltj'' or- 
der of March 22, 1947, 5, 7, 11, 
16, 49; quoted on loyalty pro- 
gram, 16; reaction to McCarthy- 

ism, 19-20; endorses report of 
N.E.A., 191 

Trumbo, Dal ton, 81 

Truth, pursuit of, 202-203 

Turberville, A. S., quoted on faith 
and heresy, 236; on medieval no- 
tions of heretics, 239, 264; on 
medieval calamit)', 264; on inquisi- 
tors, 304, 306, 308, 313; on In- 
quisition, 315-316 

Un-American investigations, na- 
ture of, 141 

UNESCO, Charter quoted, 137 

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. 
See Soviet Union 

Universities. See Education 

University of California, size and 
standing of, 102; test oath con- 
troversy, 102-103, 104-109, no- 
li 2; Laski lecture invitation with- 
drawn, 103-104; capitulation to 
anti-Communists, 1 1 2-11 3 ; effects 
of controversy, 11 3-1 14; fear of 
motivation of controversy, 114- 
115; issues involved in controversy, 

University of Chicago, Freistadt at, 
83-84; investigation of, 221-229 

University of Illinois, 119 

University of Michigan, 119 

University of New Hampshire, in- 
vestigation of, 231 

University of North Carolina, Frei- 
stadt at, 82, 84, 87 

University of Oklahoma, investiga- 
tion and loyalt)^ oath at, 229-230 

University of Fennsylvania Law Re- 
view, quoted on forces making for 
conformity, 78-79 

University of Washington, ousting 
and disciplining of faculty'' mem- 
bers, lo-ii, 23, 102; Regents' rec- 
ord of controversy at, 139; polit- 
ical background of controversy, 
140-141, 171; Canwell Committee 
investigation, 142-154; Regents' 
trial and verdict, 156-158; victims 
of trial, 158-162; heresy as basis 
of charges, 162-166; probationary 



thought control at, 166-169; esti- 
mate of indictments, 169-170; fal- 
lacy of Communist power of dis- 
cipline, 1 71-180; Communist purge 
as protection of academic freedom, 
180-186; investigation of, a re- 
sult of legislative fear, 188 

Uranium, lost and found at Ar- 
gonne Laboratory, 82, 96 

Urban movement, heresy in rela- 
tion to, 252-254 

Utopia, 237 

Utopia (Sir Thomas More), 258 

Van Loon, Hendrik, cited, 214 

Veblen, Thorstein, quoted on con- 
trol of education, 204, 207 

Vienna, anti-Semites in, 83 

Violence. See Force and violence 

Vishinsky, Andrei Y., 21 

Voorhis, Jerry, 304 

Voters, as representatives of the 
people, 70; right of, to freedom 
of association, 74-75 

Wadham College, Oxford Univer- 
sity, 120 

Waite, Chief Justice Morrison R., 
quoted on allegiance and protec- 
tion, 28 

Waldensians, 231 

Wallace, Henry, 214, 215 

Waltz, Jay, quoted on State De- 
partment loyalty board, 17 

Warner, W. Lloyd, quoted on 
American social system, 62 

Warren, Earl, opposes test oath ul- 
timatum at University of Califor- 
nia, 1 1 1 

Washington, State of, political back- 
ground, 140-141; activities of Can- 
well Committee, 140-154. See also 
University of Washington 

Washington Commonwealth Feder- 
ation, 140 

Washington Old Age Pension 
Union, investigation of, 141-142 

Washi?igton Post, quoted on 
McCarthy attack on State Depart- 
ment, 15 

Weaving, heresy in centers of, 252- 
Western Psychological Association, 

Wheeling, West Virginia, Senator 
McCarthy's speech at, 13 

Wherry, Kenneth S., 21, 278 

White, Bishop, quoted on opposition 
to Alien and Sedition Acts, 42 

White, WUliam S., quoted on Sen- 
ator McCarthy's attack on State 
Department, 1 5 

Whyte, Lancelot, quoted, 335 

WUberforce, William, 45 

Williams, Abigail, 246-247 

Winther, Mabel, 172, 287 

Winther, Sophus Keith, 156-157, 
164, 172-173, 287 

Wirth, Louis, quoted on idea, 235 

Witch hunt, illusion and reality in, 
3-4; victims of, 23; defined, 246, 
See also Heresy 

Witchcraft, rise of interest in, 255- 

Witches, medieval notions of, 264; 
as accursed group, 267. See also 

Witches^ Hammer, The (James 
Sprenger), 121, 255 

W.O.A.P.U. See Washington Old 
Age Pension Union 

Wood, Sam, 267 

Wordsworth, William, 45; quoted, 
25, 95, 156, 171, 239 

Workers Party, 199 

World War I, loyalty obsession dur- 
ing and after, 36, 60 

World War H, civil rights in, 6-7; 
treatment of Japanese-Americans, 
64-66; Japanese intelligence in 
United States, 66 

Wiirzburg, Bishop of, 314 

Yale, William, quoted on rise of 

dictatorships, 35 
Yearbooks. See Publications 
Young Progressives of America, 222 
Ypres, democratic agitation in, 254 

Zealots, heretics as, 244 

Ddif'^ Due 




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