To the Editor

You have performed a first-rate public service by publishing Mr. Irving Kristol’s trenchant and illuminating article on ‘”Civil Liberties,’ 1952—A Study in Confusion” (March 1952). One has no trouble with Communists. One doesn’t, as a rule, even meet them. Our present difficulty is with the equivocal liberal who, as Mr. Kristol says, “never was a Communist nor ever will be,” but who poisons the intellectual life, on and off campuses, by his tireless innuendo that the Soviet dictatorship is in some way allied to libertarianism. It is he, of course, who plays into the hands of the McCarthy forces by being, when sought out and probed, precisely what in his coarser way McCarthy wants him to be.

May I add two observations on this crucial matter? One is that the equivocal liberal, while repudiating the present results of certain theories and techniques in Soviet Russia, continues to preach and, as a teacher, to inculcate those identical theories and techniques. He speaks of convicted traitors as doubtless constructively guilty but heroic and idealistic in character. He shows no awareness of the grave circumstance that these people betrayed not only their country but the entire tradition of humanism, of freedom, of what simple-minded persons still call goodness.

My second observation is this. It is this equivocal liberal, pursuing his old means while strategically repudiating the ends to which they have demonstrably led, who raises the hue and cry concerning the loss of freedom to teach and freedom to learn in American colleges and universities. The only teacher and scholar, the only type of student who is still forced into a defensive position on American campuses today, is the conservative teacher or student, the religious teacher or student; such are still at least atmospherically made to feel that they are “reactionary” in the silly sense, “old hat,” and that what is “new” and “progressive” is that group of now withered fallacies and fanaticisms which, first in the guise of National Socialism, next in the guise of later Soviet empire, have produced crimes and horrors without parallel in history.

Ludwig Lewisohn
Chairman, Department of English
Brandeis University
Waltham, Massachusetts

To the Editor

As one who considers himself a radical, not a liberal, I agree with Irving Kristol in his blasting of those who, as someone once said, “are so open-minded that their brains fall out.” I feel however that one question should be asked, a question which Mr. Kristol seems to handle too lightly. That question is: what happens to the men and women of integrity “with unpopular views” who do express themselves “stubbornly, in disregard of the consequences,” as he advises?

Mr. Kristol knows of such cases. He writes of the “less than a handful of cases where non-Communists have been unjustly fired as ‘Reds.’” He mentions that at the University of California “several dozen. . . teachers found the idea of a special loyalty oath. . . so offensive and intolerable that they exercised their constitutional right to refuse to swear it, and consequently had to seek other employment.” Tsh, tsh, his attitude seems to be, there is nothing sinister or dangerous in such happenings.

I feel a bit deeply on this subject because two of my friends lost their jobs because of the loyalty oath. One, a man who as far back as 1942 led a successful intra-organizational fight against Communist domination, refused to sign and thereby lost his job with a county weed-eradication crew! The other, a teacher, signed but was fired because he appended a statement giving his reasons for opposing the oath. I wonder how many hundreds of other “unknowns”. . . have been sacrificed thus. . . .

Joseph Gunterman
Gridley, California

To the Editor

Kristol’s article is a real contribution which I have read with deep interest and profit. I think it goes to the heart of our basic problem. I agree heartily with his thesis, while venturing to reserve judgment as to some of his comments on the particular citations—this latter as a matter of detail only.

Ernest Angell
Chairman, Board of Directors
American Civil Liberties Union New York City

To the Editor

First of all, let me congratulate you on Mr. Kristol’s really brilliant article. It represents the kind of honest, tough-minded thinking that can do much to clarify the difficult and challenging issues that we now face.

My office is ordering for distribution to our Information Offices in Western Europe and Southeast Asia a number of reprints of your four excellent articles on Communism in the March issue.

Herbert Harris
Chief, Planning and Research
Office of Information
Mutual Security Agency
Washington, D. C.

To the Editor

I was glad to read Mr. Irving Kristol’s article on “Civil Liberties.” Quite apart from its substance, it was extremely well written. Congratulations.

Herbert Bayard Swope
New York City

To the Editor

Your managing editor’s article on “Civil Liberties” forces on me a disagreeable task—the writing of a “letter to the Editor.” There can no longer be any doubt that Stalinism is an authoritarianism as monstrous as fascism. Nor that Commager is exceedingly naive. But to lump Commager with Chafee, Douglas, and Biddle is to employ the totalitarian amalgam, par excellence.

Since reading Irving Kristol’s article I’ve re-read Douglas and Chafee and heard Chafee lecture. They may lack Kristol’s virulence but they show an awareness of the nature of Stalinism every whit as intelligent.

The really ominous portent in Kristol’s article, however, is his light-hearted casualness about the fate of the nonconformist. He makes no distinction between the “conspirator” who teaches arithmetic in the grade school and the conspirator in the Transport Workers Union working in a power plant. Were not the early Christians in the catacombs of Rome “conspirators”? And why are they not universally condemned? Because we look to the acts they were conspiring to perform. The test in a democracy still should be “clear and present danger to effect an imminent overthrow.” Kristol urges Communists or pro-Communists to gladly forswear their jobs in the propagation of their cause. He is in no danger of being fired, nor am I. It is very easy for us to condemn our ideological opponents to joblessness. But has he forgotten that totalitarianism is always classically enforced by the power to fire the nonconformist—witness Mussolini and Hitler, to say nothing of Stalin?

Conrad J. Lynn
New York City

To the Editor

I have read with keen interest and appreciation your excellent issue of the March 1952 COMMENTARY. You are doing a grand job in getting out a monthly with such invaluable material.

I was especially impressed with the article entitled “Civil Liberties,” 1952—A Study in Confusion.” I don’t know of a single subject or problem confronting our country about which there has been so much confusion—spontaneous as well as deliberate. Mr. Kristol’s article is a permanent contribution to clarification of thought and to sound courageous policy.

Jay Lovestone
Executive Secretary
Free Trade Union Committee
New York City

To the Editor

Mr. Kristol has done a fine job, an effective one, but is not his indictment of the liberals rather familiar these confusing days? I wouldn’t deny anything that he states—perhaps I couldn’t, even if I wanted to! Rather would I like to join hands with him and with good men everywhere, to find the way out of the muck and mess of a world fallen into chaos and decay. We liberals ought to be showing the way, as on occasion we have done before. But a strange apathy seems to beset us, as a result of the failure which we share with mankind. But perhaps we will wake up in time, especially under the shock of such an article as this in COMMENTARY.

John Haynes Holmes
The Community Church of New York
New York City

To the Editor

I find Kristol’s piece provocative all right; it is in line with some of the things that Peter Viereck has been doing, and it is refreshingly free from any insinuations that those who defend civil liberties (even if they defend them in the wrong way or the wrong places) must be tainted. Yet I cannot believe that the civil libertarians, if they follow cliches, are following cliches “invented by the Communists.” They have done their own inventing. But certainly the assumptions need to be continually re-examined.

August Heckscher
New York Herald Tribune
New York City

To the Editor

You have performed a magnificent service in printing the first four articles in your issue of March 1952. It is high time that the case for civil liberties in America, which is very strong, should be stated by people who understand what civil liberties mean in our modern society and how they must be defended. We shall become worse and worse defeated in our defense of civil liberties if we leave them to the rather sentimental professional “liberals” who cannot shake off the emotional complex which affected most of us so strongly in the years between 1917 and 1939. I know from my own experience that the process is a difficult one, but the difficulty scarcely excuses the continuing performance of some of these liberals.

However, I am keenly aware of another necessity in the struggle for civil liberties which you, I hope, in future issues will help us to meet: a vigorous and documented criticism of McCarthy and McCarthyism. Unquestionably McCarthyism is destructive of the values upon which freedom of culture depends. Our cultural war for freedom cannot be won by tactics as nearly imitative of Communism as those of Senator McCarthy and others of his ilk.

I should like to see COMMENTARY develop this thesis as brilliantly as it has developed other pertinent theses in the four articles on which I am congratulating you. What I am saying is doubtless implicit, or, indeed, to some extent explicit, in the articles. But it needs emphasis in the current American situation.

Norman Thomas
ew York City

To the Editor

Irving Kristol’s “‘Civil Liberties,’ 1952—a Study in Confusion” is a first-rate piece of work.

Paul Bixler
Chairman of the Editorial Board
Antioch Review
Yellow Springs, Ohio

To the Editor

Irving Kristol’s article reflects the author’s own confusion far more than that of the “liberal” position on civil liberties which he purports to analyze. What better illustration of his confusion could there be than the author’s proud boast that he is a “displaced person,” a neutral, in the current struggle between Senator McCarthy and such liberal writers as William O. Douglas, Zechariah Chafee, Alan Barth, and Francis Biddle?

The burden of Mr. Kristol’s article is that the American liberal today is not anti-Communist enough to suit him; he accuses the liberal of looking “at Communism out of the left corner of his eye,” having an “irrepressible inclination to wink” at it, rejecting it as “a preliminary gesture” and “floating credential.” But what of the record of Americans for Democratic Action which, having repeatedly excluded Communists and fellow-travelers from its own ranks, led the successful drive to expose and deflate the Progressive party as an arm of Soviet foreign policy? What of the anti-Communist records of the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Veterans Committee? What of the CIO’s action in ridding itself of all vestiges of the Communist influence? Who is this hypothetical liberal Mr. Kristol finds too soft towards Communism? It certainly is no spokesman of organized liberalism in America today.

Is it then such writers as Biddle, Chafee, Douglas, and Barth who are not anti-Communist enough for Mr. Kristol? Since Alan Barth seems to be his pet whipping boy in this regard, let’s see how his charges stack up against Barth’s book on civil liberties, The Loyalty of Free Men.

Take for example this paragraph from the article, which illustrates its general distortion. I quote the paragraph in full:

“Did not the major segment of American liberalism, as a result of joining hands with the Communists in a Popular Front, go on record as denying the existence of Soviet concentration camps? Did it not give its blessings to the liquidation’ of millions of Soviet ‘kulaks’? Did it not apologize for the mass purges in 1936-38, and did it not solemnly approve the grotesque trials of the Old Bolsheviks? Did it not applaud the massacre of the non-Communist left by the GPU during the Spanish Civil War? All this carries no weight with Alan Barth who knows that, though a man repeat the Big Lie, so long as he is of a liberal intention he is saved. On the participation of non-Communists in Communist fronts during the 30’s, he writes: ‘In the main, their participation, while it lasted, was not only innocent but altogether praise-worthy’ (my italics).”

Although I do not have Mr. Kristol’s facility for national nose-counting, there is not a single one of his rhetorical questions which should not, in my judgment, be answered with an emphatic negative. The major segment of American liberalism did not join hands with the Communists in a Popular Front and therefore did not go on record as denying the existence of Soviet concentration camps. Neither did it bless “liquidation” of the “kulaks,” nor apologize for the mass purges, nor approve the trials of the Old Bolsheviks, nor applaud the massacre of the non-Communist left by the GPU during the Spanish Civil War. Insofar as there was a Popular Front, the Communists temporarily, for their own purposes, paid lip service to liberal aims in order to get into the New Deal act.

Mr. Kristol is guilty of gross carelessness, if not something worse, in saying that “all this carries no weight with Alan Barth.” Respecting Russian concentration camps, for example, Mr. Barth had this to say (The Loyalty of Free Men, p. 23): “It can scarcely be disputed, however, that in Russia totalitarianism has ruled by terror, and individual liberty as we conceive it has been extinguished. The real guilt of the American Communists—a guilt they share as individuals in varying degrees—has been their willingness to close their eyes to this reality and to regard the suffering and degradation of millions of human beings as incidents in the journey to their classless Nirvana.”

Respecting the “kulaks,” Mr. Barth’s book contains this passage, pp. 28-29: ‘Taught to believe that the American press printed lies about Russia, the intellectuals refused to credit one story that was documented more fully with each passing year.

“It was the story of the 1932-33 famine in the Ukraine that resulted from one feature of the first Five Year Plan: the forced collectivization of the peasants. For hundreds of thousands or millions of Ukrainians the collective drama had ended in a mass tragedy.”

Respecting the part played by the GPU during the Spanish Civil War, Mr. Barth’s book observes (p. 30): “The part played by Russia in the Spanish tragedy ended ignobly. One can see from the vantage point of a later decade that the Loyalist cause, after being aided by Communist support, was eventually corrupted by it.”

Finally, it seems worthwhile to quote the context from which Mr. Kristol wrenched the single sentence which he quoted respecting the participation of non-Communists in Communist fronts during the 30’s. This is what Mr. Barth wrote:

“Lack of good sense or judgment or experience, not lack of loyalty, is the worst charge that can be brought against most of the men and women who, by the hundreds of thousands, joined various ‘front’ organizations during the 1930’s. They didn’t want to overthrow the government; they wanted to help in good causes, as a civic duty. It is important to remember, moreover, that for the most part these were genuinely good causes at the time these men and women joined them. Some of them subsequently came under Communist domination; and sooner or later the non-Communists, after an attempt to recapture control, left them in disgust. In the main, their participation, while it lasted, was not only innocent but altogether praiseworthy.”

Mr. Kristol’s article is full of a curious misreading of the past. “Mr. Biddle, like Mr. Barth,” he says, “refuses to admit what is now apparent: that a generation of earnest reformers who helped give this country a New Deal should find themselves in retrospect stained with the guilt of having lent aid and comfort to Stalinist tyranny.” The charge is an outrageous one, whether applied, as Mr. Kristol applies it, with his enthusiasm for the large generalization, to the whole of the New Deal generation or to Mr. Biddle and Mr. Barth in particular. The New Dealers I knew were busy drafting, administering, and enforcing progressive legislation to make this country safe from Stalinist tyranny—or any other kind of tyranny for that matter. . . .

Joseph L. Rauh, Jr.
Washington, D. C.

To the Editor

Permit me to express my sincere appreciation to COMMENTARY for the courageous and forth-right analysis of the menace of Communism contained in Irving Kristol’s article. Many persons regard themselves as “liberals” (even I plead guilty) and many others wish to be regarded as “liberals.” In both groups the “confusion” you pose is a danger.

You are to be complimented for your service in making it possible to recognize the danger and defend against it.

Henry Epstein
New York City

To the Editor

I have just put down the March issue of COMMENTARY and I want to tell you how much I enjoyed it, particularly the Irving Kristol article which merits the widest possible circulation. In the arts, the Kristol article has an appositeness because of the unceasing attempt by the Communist party to penetrate trade union organizations like ours and because of an omni-present confusion regarding the state of civil liberties in the performing arts. That is why I would like your permission to reprint the article which combines several virtues—a valid point of view, readability, topicality, and, above all, honest liberalism.

Believe me, it’s wonderful that a magazine like yours is being published in America today.

Arnold Beichman
Director, Public Relations
Associated Musicians of Greater New York
New York City

To the Editor

First, let me compliment you on Mr. Kristol’s brilliantly written article. Its very brilliance, however, adds to confusion in thinking. I feel that he has unwittingly pictured liberals not only as naive and simple but as incredibly stupid.

Some of his statements astound me. He states:

“So long as liberals agree with Senator McCarthy that the fate of Communism involves the fate of liberalism. . . we shall make no progress except to chaos.”

I have yet to hear any American liberal suggest that the fate of Communism involves the fate of liberalism. Quite the contrary.

He further says that we shall make no progress except to chaos if the liberal concept is adopted that “we must choose between complete civil liberties for everyone and a disregard for civil liberties entirely.” Why? The very essence of liberty is that there shall be no discrimination between individuals; that rights should be the same whatever philosophy a man preaches. The Jeffersonian and liberal line is drawn at acts in contradistinction to speech and propaganda, unless these are a direct incitation to violence or violation of law.

With the concluding sentence of his article I believe all liberals will agree:

“He [the liberal] must speak as one of us, defending their liberties.”

This is and always has been the position of the liberals. I remember an incident that occurred in the 20’s, when the Communists asked the help of the American Civil Liberties Union in defense of their right to hold meetings. We wrote them a letter, pointing out that we regarded it as rather presumptuous of them to ask us to defend their liberties when they were breaking up the meetings of Mensheviks and Socialists. To this, they replied: “You fellows defend our rights because you believe in free speech. We break up the meetings of others because we don’t.” Rather impertinent, but logical!

But then he says that the liberals take the risk that they “will be taken as speaking as one of them.” Now isn’t that just too bad! We are likely to be misunderstood. Would he regard this as any reason for us to give up the principle that free speech is applicable to all men, and that we should judge men by their acts, not by their talk or propaganda?

We think history has shown that the American people are to be trusted. We believe in freedom, not freedom but.

Arthur GarfieLd Hays
New York City

To the Editor

I have just completed reading the article by Irving Kristol which the American Committee for Cultural Freedom reprinted from the March issue of COMMENTARY.

I should like to congratulate all three partners in this enterprise—the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, Mr. Kristol, and COMMENTARY. I think he clarifies issues which have been kept in a “mist” far too long. . . .

Milton D. Levine
New York City

To the Editors

The article by Irving Kristol in the March issue of COMMENTARY was excellent. If I have any differences with it, they are slight.

In my opinion, the Communist party and the Communists are out and out conspiratorial agents of a foreign power who act solely on its behalf. We know now that they have always operated on two levels. Overground, insofar as some of their propaganda and recruiting is concerned, but always secretly, and underground insofar as the matters of espionage, sabotage, and, frequently, policy are concerned. The concept that the party has operated in the open because it has never been declared illegal is naive and does not correspond to the facts. It is for that reason that I have, for a number of years, been in favor of direct and simple legislation to make that party illegal. I think legislation can be phrased without being vague and indefinite, or dangerous to any other patriotic movement, be it socialist or even revolutionary, so long as there is no conspiracy or so long as it does not act as an agency of a foreign power. I am opposed to the Smith Act because it is vague and indefinite, and can apply to people other than Communists or agents of a foreign power.

H. William Fitelson
New York City

To the Editor

I want to congratulate COMMENTARY on publishing Irving Kristol’s article on civil liberties. It sets forth with acumen and moderation a position that very much needed such statement. With all the fine contributions COMMENTARY has made to current thinking, this is one of the best.

Paul R. Hays
Professor of Law
Columbia University Law School
New York City

To the Editor

I was delighted that you had the guts to publish Kristol’s article. I happen to agree heartily with most of it, but I don’t think that is the only basis for my applause. The point is that there are great numbers of decent people who are trying to think their way through to a sensible position on civil liberties for Communists, and who find less and less help in the dogmatic, “official” civil libertarian position. The questions Kristol raised need to be openly discussed among the sort of people who are

William C. Bradbury
Department of Social Science
The College of the University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

To the Editor

I believe Mr. Kristol’s article is an immensely valuable contribution to clear-headed effectiveness in the job of safeguarding civil liberties in America. I think my colleagues on the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union will profit from it, and I want to send it to each with a personal letter soliciting their opinions of it.

I would like to congratulate you and the publication committee of your magazine for publishing this significant piece.

Merlyn S. Pitzele
New York State Board of Mediation
New York City

To the Editor

It is difficult to understand what your managing editor, Mr. Kristol, was trying to accomplish in his article about civil liberties published in your March issue. It is, I suggest, trifling with a very serious subject to put so much stress on isolated statements by various liberal writers and yet ignore altogether the positions taken by liberal organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans for Democratic Action. I do not believe that any fair reading of the record of liberals justifies his statement that liberals agree with Senator McCarthy “that the fate of Communism involves the fate of liberalism” or that they believe that Communists “are on our side.”

It is, of course, true that Communists, at various times and in specific situations, and for reasons of their own, have been “on our side”—and in this respect they have differed completely from fascists. But even in the days of the united fronts there was a general realization among liberals that these alliances with Communists were both temporary and uncomfortable. Certainly as early as 1941, when the Communists applauded the application of the Smith Act to the Minneapolis Trotskyites, it was evident that their ways are not our ways. And even if liberals were not then aware of the full extent of the conspiratorial aspects of the Communist movement, they were well aware of its dogmatic character. And they knew that since dogmatism is anathema to liberalism, the success of Communism would be the end of liberalism.

More basically, however, I believe that Mr. Kristol misses the essence of the problem by suggesting that liberals could divert popular support from the McCarthys by defending the civil liberties of Communists on the score of expediency rather than principle or by being blunt about Communists. For the support of McCarthy derives not from liberals’ lack of bluntness about Communists, but from its own narrow views. This was clear as long ago as the time of Martin Dies, when he attacked men like Mr. Justice (then Governor) Murphy. This attitude is part of the Know-Nothing pattern. . . . It can be met only by constant stress on enlightenment.

Moreover, there are important issues of principle involved in the defense of the rights of Communists. When the American Civil Liberties Union and the Americans for Democratic Action oppose the Smith Act, they do so because they believe that the liberties of all are curtailed by any legislation which punishes advocacy and teaching, even the advocacy of revolution. And they have opposed most of the loyalty investigations and loyalty-oath requirements, not because of their impact on the handful of Communists involved, but because of their deadening effect on the freedom of all.

It must again and again be emphasized that the true liberal has no fear of Communism as a propaganda movement, but does fear the current attempts to curtail the activities even of Communists because he finds such curtailment to be largely motivated toward creating conformity. The liberal has always recognized that insofar as Communists attempt sabotage, espionage, or violence, they should be punished. He rejects the prevalent notion that they be penalized merely for attempts to indoctrinate.

And it is here that the line should be drawn between the liberals and the McCarthys. The liberals would preserve the right to be different, the McCarthys would destroy it. It may well be that liberals can be criticized for not having fully made clear to the American public what is at stake. They evidently have not had a leader of sufficient force and magnetism to do this. But any suggestion that the battle can be waged as one of expediency or on any front other than that of freedom is a disservice.

Osmond K. Fraenkel
American Civil Liberties Union
New York City

To the Editor

Irving Kristol’s article comes like a breath of fresh air in the present confused state of mind among liberals. During these serious times, when there is a worldwide struggle going on between the forces of freedom and totalitarianism, it is important for liberals and progressives to maintain a proper balance between the right way and the wrong way of combating totalitarianism. Mr. Kristol’s article is a first-rate contribution to this cause.

Charles S. Zimmerman
Dressmakers Union, Local 22
New York City

To the Editor

Here is another to add to the heap of warmly congratulatory letters I’m sure you received for Mr. Kristol’s article. . . .

Apropos of “conformity”—I and many others who earn our livings in radio and television can attest that he is a foolhardy man who openly opposes Communism in far too many offices and studios. Anti-Communism is not yet a safe subject except under almost conspiratorial conditions!. . .

Paul R. Milton
New York City

To the Editor

My most sincere compliments to COMMENTARY for the courageous and discerning article on confusion on “Civil Liberties:” In its penetrating simplicity it has called the turn on the shibboleth-hypnotized liberal multitude who have been hailing the fake garment the Communist tailors of Dooley Street sold to arbiters of American liberal opinion, until you came along to simply shout, as in the old Chinese tale, that “the emperor is naked.”. . .

Practically unique among the reviews, COMMENTARY has robustly resisted the blight of compromise with Communist tyranny. It is not accidental that you have achieved the highest sustained standard of contribution and editing of all contemporary review literature. It may seem strange to some that an expression of a cultural minority should be our anchor against the drift to intellectual desuetude, but these are times when tough-minded health is only preserved where there is a strong and old tradition of assertion of reason. Hebraism has a long tradition of resistance to the essentially pagan and to the corrupt bastard compromises of those who would mix just a little Baal-worship with the search for the God of righteousness and truth. . . .

Arthur Gladstone Mcdowell
Director, Department of Civic and
Government Affairs
Upholsterers’ International Union
of North America, AFL
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

To the Editor

Mr. Kristol’s piece showed a talent, not common nowadays, for being able to dissect intellectual positions and expose absurdities.

Like him, I have been continually shocked by the double standard of judgment of the “liberals,” and by their extraordinary ignorance of Communism and Communist fronts. . . .

I have one major reservation about his piece. He continually states, in various formulas, that Senators McCarthy and McCarran lump “liberals” with Communists, and are after both groups equally. He offers no proof for this assumption.

Isn’t such a statement in the nature of a “smear”? I have had considerable experience with the McCarran Committee in operation. In my experience, the Senator and his associates were uniformly fair in their investigations and hearings, and absolutely and promptly obviated any tendency on the part of witnesses to make unsubstantiated charges of “Communist” against this or that Communist-fronter. I believe, on the basis of Mr. Kristol’s article, that his charge against McCarthy and McCarran was an unsupported imputation of motives which he believes actuate the two Senators.

Like him, I believe Senator McCarthy made grievous mistakes of method. I likewise believe that his early choice of targets was sometimes inept. I might use stronger words than that, were I more familiar with the field of Communist infiltration in government. I am sufficiently familiar with that field only to use the word “inept,” a word justified by my knowledge of the facts. I refuse, and I hope Mr. Kristol agrees with me, to lay claim to “liberalism” by the simple expedient of damning McCarthy. That is a kind of popularity-hunting which no true liberal would even be tempted to employ. . . .

Vincent W. Hartnett
New York City

To the Editor

May I offer congratulations on Mr. Kristol’s article? I wish it could be reprinted in large numbers. . . . How can you get to the insulated college crowd? That is the tough question. I hope you keep returning to the subject.

Incidentally, I presume that you know that Commager’s article quickly became one of the most anthologized essays in college texts—well over twenty in a year or so and I have no idea what the total is by now—and I have hardly ever encountered any adverse criticism of it. . . .

Henry R. Fuller
Fairfield, Connecticut

To the Editor

I wish to extend my appreciation for the publication of the article by Irving Kristol. The telling was badly needed and comes as a welcome assist to liberals who find themselves in a lonely and rearguard battle against Communist and fellow-traveler machinations in those amorphous organizations in which Communists find it to their interest to be active.

One comes up against them in a men’s club of a temple, a chapter of one or another of the Jewish defense organizations, a parent-teacher association, or in the many innocent-sounding neighborhood councils which Communists create. The Communists and their followers have little trouble getting backing for their seemingly “worthwhile” projects. The issue, of course, is never Communism. The proponent of a particular issue never admits that he speaks as a follower of the Communist party line. The average person is unaware of what is happening, and control of an organization and its policies goes almost by default. . . .

Sol Pemun Bronx,
New York

To the Editor

Congratulations on Irving Kristol’s piece. It is a very incisive essay and, I should think, ought to be a primer for all those liberals who wish, for example, realistically to oppose Senator McCarthy without at the same time unconsciously collaborating with him.

Richard Chase
Department of English
Columbia University New York City

To the Editor

Irving Kristol’s plea for sobriety in the defense of threatened civil liberties makes two salutary points. Of the numerous individuals accused of subversive activities in these troubled days, not everyone is innocent and it is unwise for any liberal champion to rush to the rescue before he knows the facts. We must leave this disregard of facts to the other side, since they seem often to be less concerned with the truth than with the publicity they receive or the political capital they make. Your contributor is justified also in his protest against such “liberals” as exhibit an indulgent attitude towards Communism itself, who somehow are ready to overlook its merciless totalitarianism or to condone the conspiratorial devices of the party.

When Mr. Kristol proceeds to divide the political world into two camps, one the McCarthy attackers and the other the Communist apologists, he makes a very unhappy error. The men whom he criticizes in his article are sincere anti-Communists who have no inclination to defend its doctrines. They are much more genuinely anti-Communists than the McCarthy tribe, for they abhor Communist methods and above all the Communist suppression of civil liberties. If on some occasion they defend the civil liberties of Communists themselves, it is not because they believe in Communism but because they profoundly believe in civil liberties, and they know that civil liberties are endangered when they are denied to Communists and are even more grossly endangered when they are denied to those who are accused of being pro-Communist. We allow criminals a fair trial and we do not brand men as criminals before they have been convicted. Might it not be better if we accorded the same civil rights to those who are charged with being “subversive”?

The difference between Mr. Kristol and the men he assails is not their respective attitudes to Communism but the difference of method they would respectively use to combat it. These men know the dangers associated with the agitation for suppressive measures. They do not, like Mr. Kristol, underestimate the reactionary drive for conformism or fail to appreciate that in some quarters the attack on Communism is made a screen for the ousting of the unorthodox. All the newer loyalty oaths—that is, those that are not content with a pledge of loyalty to the Constitution of the United States and of the particular state in which the oath runs—go beyond the mere banning of the Communist party. They all include some wider and more ambiguous offense than party membership. Not very long ago the chairman of the board of ¾ certain university informed me that the minimum requirement they would make was the exclusion of all “Communists and fellow-travelers.” It is hardly necessary to say that radicals of all kinds and even New Dealers are in certain circles regarded as fellow-travelers. To take another example, a certain state university recently passed a regulation to insure, so it was claimed, that no Communists or “subversive” persons should address the students, and the first person to be banned under the edict was not a Communist but a Quaker.



To support his case, Mr. Kristol directs his power of sarcasm against men of the highest integrity. He accuses advocates of civil liberties of showing “fondness for clichés of Communist manufacture”—a wholly unwarranted statement. They are guided by “bad conscience and stubborn pride.” Even when they cite the wisdom of Mr. Justice Holmes their remarks are snidely characterized as “sonorous repetitions.”. . . When Francis Biddle makes the proper legal point that an organization hardly fits the description of being subversive if its actual behavior has been exemplary, merely advocating desirable social reforms, Mr. Kristol labels the statement “politically naive.” I wonder if Mr. Kristol realizes how distorted is the picture that his article would leave in the mind of any reader who was innocent of knowledge of the matters with which he deals? Would not such a reader come to the conclusion that McCarthy was the bold bad hero who gets away with it every time, while his opponents were a lot of futile, confused, and sometimes trembling apologists? This would make his article indeed “a study in confusion.”

To support his case Mr. Kristol distorts the intent of some perfectly proper remarks made by the defenders of civil liberties. He quotes, for example, a statement from Zechariah Chafee to the effect that “the membership of organizations formed to bring about change should include some persons who want a great deal of change,” and suggests that that shows an intimate agreement between Professor Chafee and the Communists—a totally unwarranted conclusion. In summarizing the viewpoint of Alan Barth in the Hiss-Chambers case he says that for him “Hiss’s guilt is problematic and in any case not important.” In the passage to which he thus refers Barth states that there is always social utility in the disclosure of the truth and remarks also that “the evidence against him [Hiss] was comprehensive and compelling.” He attacks Commager, Barth, and Chafee alike for defending “Lattimore’s pro-Communist record,” as though these gentlemen were defending Communism instead of coming to the support of a man whose loyalty has been challenged because he had ideas concerning Far Eastern policy based on a program of conciliation with the Chinese Communists, a policy that at the time in question seemed reasonable to many intelligent men, and in the longer retrospect may seem so again. We remark in passing that not only did Messrs. Commager, Barth, and Chafee defend Professor Lattimore but so also did the Senate subcommittee appointed to investigate the charges against him. . . .

In the end Mr. Kristol is good enough to say: “The problem of fighting Communism while preserving civil liberties is no simple one.” Indeed it is not and it is decidedly made no simpler by such contributions as Mr. Kristol’s.

R. M. MacIver
Francis Lieber Professor of
Sociology and Political Philosophy
Columbia University
New York City

To the Editor

Mr. Kristol’s article is one of the clearest statements on the subject that I have read.

I should like to comment on his remark that, “There is a false pride, by which liberals persuade themselves that no matter what association a man has had with a Communist enterprise, he is absolutely guiltless of the crimes that Communism has committed so long as he was moved to this association by generous idealism.”

The obligation of the joiner of Communist-dominated groups is proportional to the reputation in the community that he has earned before joining. For the greater his standing in society, the more likely is he to be a guide and model for his humbler fellow citizens, and the more deserving of censure is he for carelessly or foolishly lending his name to false fronts.

Of course, organizers of false fronts seek out just such people of good reputation to act as bellwethers to lead the flocks of “innocents” along devious paths to slavery under a foreign dictator. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Cassius and Casca discuss the importance of getting “the noble Brutus” to join their conspiracy. Says Casca:

O, he sits high in all the people’s hearts;
And that which would appear offence in us
His countenance, like richest alchemy,
Will change to virtue and to worthiness.

Israel Koral
Chairman, Mathematics Department
Boys High School Brooklyn,
New York



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