III. WAR ON THE MIND
BY ALBERT E KAHN
Chapter 3 from The Game of Death
An immense piece of work. . . In five months we had to examine the political loyalty of more than 160,000 officials, about 120,000 of whom were elementary school teachers.IN THE early summer of 1949 an extraordinary document, which boded portentous changes in the lives of countless young Americans, was published in the United States. Entitled American Education and International Tensions and printed in the form of a 54-page booklet, the document consisted of a report issued under the auspices of the National Education Association, the largest and most influential educational body in the country. The report advanced the startling thesis that the time had come to revamp completely the traditional function of the nation's schools as institutions of objective instruction and free inquiry, and to convert them into agencies of political indoctrination and instruments for producing un-questioning adherence to the official policies of the U. S. Government.
One of the members of the Commission was General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, then president of Columbia
1. Shape of Things to Come
University, who was destined three years later to be elected President of the United States. . .
"It is becoming clear," stated the Foreword to the Commission's report, "that conditions of the postwar years are likely to continue into the adulthood of the children now in school. For these reasons the time appears appropriate to endeavor to forecast the general shape of things to come and to indicate the way in which schools may respond."
Envisioning a future of bitter international dissension and fierce conflicts, with the nations of the world divided into irreconcilably hostile camps, the report declared that the over whelming probability was that "East-West tensions will . . . keep the world in a state of Cold War for years to come" and that "our children will continue to live under an oppressive shadow of fear."
Under such circumstances, asserted the report, the wholenation would have to undergo "a basic psychological reorientation" and sweeping changes of a social, political and economic nature. There would also have to be "profound and lasting changes in the educational emphasis."
In a section outlining general techniques for mobilizing the schools behind the Cold War effort, the report indicated that in addition to the "urgent task" of propagandizing children with material designed to convince them of the nation's "duties in the area of foreign policy," it would be essential to inculcate them with a militaristic and nationalistic ideology:
.. the need for healthy young people to wear uniforms and man machines tells the schools to intensify their programs of health and vocational education. . . .
The schools of the United States will certainly be expected and required to continue their work in developing strong national loyalties . . .
Nowhere did the report indicate the desirability of teaching children there was any chance of peacefully resolving current international tensions. On the contrary, it bluntly declared: "The development of an ardent desire to live at peace with the rest of the world is the least of the educational problems. . . . Teaching that peace is desirable is one thing. Disapproval of war, of any kind, and under all and any circumstances, is another. A far better education goal is the ability to distinguish between different kinds of wars." (1)
What General Eisenhower and the other authors of the report considered to be the overriding duty of American educators was concisely summarized in these words:
"We must maintain our part in the Cold War."
"Every teacher, every pupil and every parent should read this report," warned Mrs. Rose Russell, legislative representative of the New York Teachers Union, on July 5, 1949, at the annual meeting of the National Education Association. "It is ill conceived because it tends to continue the Cold War. It is ill timed because it fans friction and hysteria. It is ill omened because it is going to cause the destruction of education as we have known it."
That's the important phrase: "an instrument of national policy." A State Department an Army, a Department of Commerce are instruments of national policy; but not surely, in a democratic society should education be an instrument of national policy. The purpose of education is to teach people to think in order that they may have informed views on many things, including national policy; they may in their wisdom or folly decide to change that policy.
An instrument is used by the people who control it . . . The concept of education as an instrument of national policy was the dusty contribution of Mussolini and Hitler to the destruction of freedom in Europe. (2)
2. Process of Indoctrination
WITH THE inception of the Cold War, American national policy had come to be dominated by two basic concepts, both of which were identified with the name of President Truman. In the field of foreign affairs, the Truman Doctrine -characterized by the Chicago Daily News as "an open invitation to war with Russia" - proclaimed a policy of aiding reaction and counterrevolution abroad in the name of halting "world Communist expansion." On the home front, the Truman Loyalty Order promulgated a program of thought control and repression in the name of combatting an internal "Communist menace." One act complemented the other. Both bore witness to the words of the Wall Street Journal: "The crusading days of the New Deal. . . are over."
Within an incredibly short time after the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the last vestiges of the New Deal were swept away before a mounting wave of stringent anti-labor laws, inquisitorial investigations and trials, and unprecedentedly fierce attacks on traditional American freedoms. As early as November 1947, twenty-two faculty members of the Yale University Law School soberly warned in a letter addressed to the President of the United States, the Secretary of State and the Speaker of the House of Representatives: "A pattern of suppression is today evolving at the highest levels of the Federal Government. . . There are alarming signs that persecution for opinion, if not curbed, may reach a point never hitherto attained even in the darkest period of our history."
Regarding the postwar years, an American Civil Liberties Union report stated:
A general retreat to nationalism, militarism and defense of the status quo increasingly marked the country, Excitement bordering on hysteria characterized the public approach to any issue related to Communism . . .
Nowhere have these sinister trends been more pronounced than in the schools of the nation.
Since the Educational Policies Commission of the National Education Association drafted its plan for converting education into an "instrument of national policy," American schools have gone far toward becoming agencies for indoctrinating children with the dictums of the Cold War. "Controversial issues" have virtually disappeared from public-school curricula. Liberal or independent views are rarely to be heard expressed by faculty members or pupils. Intensified nationalism, jingoistic glorification of "the American way of life" and an indiscriminate sanction of the Government's domestic and foreign policies have become commonplace in the classrooms of the land.
"Today," observed Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas in a statement sent to the National Jewish Youth Conference in February 1952, "fear of free thought, fear of free speech, fear of the market place of ideas have reached the campuses and the classrooms. The censor looks over the shoulders of many teachers. . . . The military mind has pressed our thinking into a standard mould." ·(3)
To make sure that not only the thinking but also the teaching of faculty members fitted into the "standard mould," a unique practice was initiated in many schools during the early days of the Cold War. Through various journals, bulletins and memoranda, and at periodic briefing sessions with school authorities, teachers began to be advised what to teach regarding American-Soviet relations, the rearmament of Germany, U. S. war preparations and kindred topics. The content of these directives was generally such that they might well have passed for official pronouncements of the U. S. State Department. (4)
Here in part is a typical memorandum which was distributed among teachers at the Samuel J. Tilled High School in New York City by the office of the principal following the outbreak of the Korean war:
The unprovoked attack upon the Republic of Korea by the communist inspired North Korean invasion constitutes a signal challenge to the forces of freedom. . . .
Is it to be wondered at that Korea has been transformed into the bastion of democracy for Asia. and the world?. . .
Believers in peace and democracy must cheerfully and unequivocally make every possible sacrifice that democratic civilization may survive.
There were of course many persons in the United States who would have given a somewhat different appraisal of the Korean war. Nevertheless, a memorandum of this sort was tantamount to a command; and any teacher having the temerity to question its categorical assertions or failing, for that matter, to propagate its content among his pupils, was liable to find himself the object of a loyalty investigation and, before very, long, out of a teaching job. . .(5)
Not that teachers have been expected to display no personal initiative or originality in propagating the doctrines of the Cold War. An example of the ingenuity developed along these lines is this excerpt from a reading comprehension test prepared by the English Department at Midwood High School in Brooklyn:
As for our conduct, we must accept for ourselves the implication of the present crisis. If a draft of 18-year-olds is needed, our sons must go, and instead of shrinking from the possibility, we must discover the positive values of military training.
The devices by which American school children have been educated in Cold War principles are almost endlessly varied. The following episodes demonstrate a few of them:
In an elementary school in Los Angeles, a teacher had his pupils listen to a radio broadcast of one of the speeches made by General Douglas A. MacArthur after he had been recalled from his command in Korea. When the speech was over, the teacher led the children in applause. One girl failed to applaud. The teacher strode to the child's desk, seized her by both wrists and forcibly struck her hands together.
Children in a class in an elementary school in New York City were introduced to a new game by their teacher. The game consisted of several children in the class being "Communists" and the other children being FBI agents whose task it was to discover the "Red fifth columnists" by things they said. The same teacher also told her pupils that they should report the names of any children or adults they knew who made "un-American remarks."
In an elementary school at Yonkers, N. Y., a teacher asked his pupils to raise their hands if they thought the "atom bomb spies," Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, should be electrocuted. All of the children raised their hands, with the exception of one nine-year-old boy. The teacher then shamed this child into also raising his hand. (6)
Supplementing the regular classroom indoctrination of American children with the concepts of the Cold War has been the propaganda of privately printed magazines and newspapers, written especially for children and distributed in hundreds of thousands of copies throughout the nation's schools. Along with their stories and articles about sports, travel, hobbies and youth activities, these publications have devoted more and more space to glowing accounts of the exploits of the U. S. armed forces, glamorized portrayals of American military leaders, and "exposes" of "Communist plots," "Red imperialism" and the evils behind the "Iron Curtain."
"Children are full of wonder and excitement . . ." notes a promotional bulletin issued for teacher consumption by the publishers of one of these children's journals. "Children have intense interest in the far reaches of the world and its problems. . . . News of the modern world must come into the classrooms."
The sort of "news of the modern world" these publications have been presenting to gratify the "wonder and excitement" of their youthful audiences is indicated by these excerpts:
Dream Rest Camp in Korea, U. S. soldiers pulled out of combat in Korea can hardly believe it when they reach a special rest camp well back of the front lines. . . .
In the first place, there are no rules. When a G.I. gets to the camp he can go to bed when he likes, get up when he likes and eat when he likes. . . . When the G.I sits down for dinner, a waiter brings him such choice items as roast beef, steak or turkey. As much as he wants.
Young America, The National News Weekly for Youth, April 16, 1951
During the war Spain claimed to be neutral. Actually some of her men fought for Germany. . . Spain is a dictatorship. . . .
The United States knows that Spain does not like Communism. We would like to have Spain on our side in case of possible war with the Communists.
That is why we recently sent an ambassador to Spain.
Young America Reader, The News Weekly for Boys and Girls,April 21-25, 1952
How strong is Russia? What are her weaknesses? Getting the right answers to these questions is very important today. Because Russia is trying to spread her dictatorship throughout the world . . .
Our advantages. Atomic bombs and the long-distance planes to carry them to Russia's cities give us a big advantage over the Soviet Union now. We nave bomb-sights and radar devices which, our military men say, are far better than Russia's.
The Junior Review,February 25, 1952
New U. S. Weapons; The Army, Air Force and Navy all have guided missile programs. They are known to have developed true guided missiles . . . that can carry "baby" atom bombs. . . . we know that these weapons are being improved. . . .
We live in an amazing age. . .
Read and Young America Magazine, November 15. 1952
If we don't have an H-bomb now, we soon will. . . .
How destructive is the H bomb? The Hiroshima A-bomb destroyed everything over an area of less than a square mile. . . Our present A-bombs destroy everything in an area of more than three square miles. The H-bomb probably can destroy everything over an area of about 78 square miles.
Read Magazine, The Current Magazine for Youth, January 15, 1953
While the mass distribution of publications containing such propaganda is not only officially sanctioned but systematically promoted by school authorities, school boards and self-appointed committees of private citizens in every state are feverishly "screening" textbooks and school libraries with the proclaimed objective of protecting children from "seditious" and "un-American" literature.
Such is the extent of this campaign that the American Text books Publishers Institute has seen fit to warn parents to be on guard against "whisperings that your child's textbooks are subversive, that they advocate Socialism, Communism, Collectivism or 'New Dealism,'" a definition of subversion which in itself sheds light on the embracing scope of the censorship that is afoot.
Among the books which have been removed from the library shelves of a number of Los Angeles schools, according to a report of the American Civil Liberties Union, are works "by such authors as Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, J. B. S. Haldane and Bertrand Russell." Books banned or dropped from approved reading lists by the New York Board of Education include Citizen Tom Paine by the noted novelist, Howard Fast; Gentleman's Agreement and Focus, two novels which attack anti-Semitism; This Way to Unity, a collection of short stories, essays and poems expounding the brotherhood of man; and Mark Twain's famous classic, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the content of which is said to have offended certain Catholic dignitaries.
In Sapulpa, Oklahoma, Charles Hartman, vice-president of the Board of Education, announced not long ago that a selection of books in the Sapulpa High School library had been burned because of the way in which they dealt with "sex and socialism." The books in the library had been so thoroughly checked, Hartman boasted, that even the backgrounds of their authors had been investigated.
It is significant, if not surprising, that such zealous censors and patrioteers make little or no effort to prevent school children from reading books which contain fascistic and racist propaganda. (7)
The constant talk of U. S. war preparations, the incessant barrage of anti-Soviet propaganda, and the growing emphasis on nationalism and militarism have not been without effect on the minds of school children. Ever-growing numbers of them have come to believe that Russians are their implacable enemies, that war with the Soviet Union is inevitable, and that the sooner atomic bombs are dropped on Russian cities, the better.
Illustrative of this attitude is the following experience related by a teacher in a New York public school:
In my social studies class a pupil asked: "Is Russia in the United Nations?" When I said "Yes," he retorted. "Well. . . why are they? Why don't we just drop a bomb on them?" When I attempted to indicate that wars bring misery and that we should try to settle international differences by peaceful means, another pupil added: "Aaah, Russians aren't human beings."
Advocacy of peace has become increasingly suspect in the nation's classrooms. Many deeply troubled parents have been asking themselves the question which a mother voiced in a letter to the New York Daily Compass columnist, Dr. Alfred Blazer: "Shall I tell my child what I really believe about such things as armament races, war and peace-and expose him to animosities and ostracism on the part of other children, or shall I protect him by teaching him to believe only that which is currently acceptable?"
According to Dean Millicent C. McIntosh of Barnard College: "Girls are becoming afraid to advocate the humanitarian point of view because it has become associated with communism." (8)·
"A struggle is going on for the souls of the children," writes columnist B. Z. Goldberg of the Jewish Day. "Those who already have the press and radio in their grasp want to take over the schools and mold the children in their political spirit. . . . They are not satisfied in controlling what a teacher does and what he says. They want to decide what he should think. Even deep in his soul he is not permitted to resent the Cold War."
3. Freedom to Conform
ON DECEMBER 22. 1948, Mrs. Minnie Gutride, a middle-aged widow and teacher at Public School 21 in Staten Island, New York, was discussing the Christmas holidays with her first grade pupils when she was abruptly summoned from the classroom by the principal of the school. The principal conducted Mrs. Gutride to the teachers' room and there introduced her to two men she had never seen before. They were Dr. John Conroy, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, and Nicholas Bucci, Law Secretary of the Board of Education. They told Mrs. Gutride, much to her surprise, that they had come to the school for the express purpose of asking her certain questions. They had, moreover, brought along an official stenographer to record her answers.
Without more ado, Dr. Conroy and Bucci began belligerently interrogating Mrs. Gutride about her political beliefs and associations. Had she attended "certain Communist meetings" in 1940 or 1941?
A quiet-spoken, rather shy woman, Mrs. Gutride was in tensely disturbed by the inquisitorial questions about her private life and personal opinions. She refused to answer these questions. The representatives of the Board of Education threatened her with charges of insubordination. Possible court action was hinted at . . .
After school, Mrs. Gutride hurried to the offices of the Teachers Union for advice and help. The legislative .representative of the union, Mrs. Rose Russell, did her best to calm the agitated teacher. The next morning, Mrs. Russell went to see the President of the Board of Education to protest against the treatment of Mrs. Gutride.
The protest came too late . . .
On leaving the Teachers Union headquarters, Mrs. Gutride had gone to the small apartment where she lived by herself. She wrote a letter to Superintendent of Schools Jansen, which began with these words:
A shocking thing happened to me in school today. Shortly before my first-year class was scheduled to go home, my principal sent for me. I was taken to the teachers' room, where my principal introduced me to Dr. Conroy, Mr. Bucci and a stenographer. In this terrifying atmosphere I was questioned . . .
I had no inkling that anything like this was to take place. I was not told why I was being questioned . .
That night, in the quiet and loneliness of her room, Mrs.Gutride turned on the gas jets and lay down on her bed.
The body of the teacher was found two days later, on Christmas Eve. Near her body were neatly stacked the toys and decorations she had bought for the party she had planned for the children in her class . . .
"She was a sensitive and unassuming teacher who for seventeen years taught children with love, sympathy and quiet effectiveness," wrote a group of former associates of Mrs. Gutride. "No complaint had been made against her in all these years."
But times had changed. An exemplary record such as Mrs. Gutride's was no longer considered adequate qualification for a teacher. Other factors were determining who was fit to educate American children . . .
Since the advent of the Cold War, investigations of "communism," denunciations of "left-wingers" and "Reds," frenzied witch hunts and purges have swept like a contagious psychosis through educational institutions in every part of the country. One state after another has enacted laws requiring special loyalty oaths of public-school teachers or stipulating the dismissal of teachers suspected of "disloyalty" or "subversive affiliations." A number of state legislatures have established their own little un-American Activities Committees to probe "Communist infiltration" of schools and colleges. Everywhere, teachers have been called upon to give an accounting of their social and political beliefs; and everywhere, in the name of defending democracy and freedom, teachers whose views seem at variance with Cold War dogma have been systematically driven from the schools. (9)
In the words of an American Civil Liberties Union report:
Teachers are being discharged because they hold, or are said to hold, unpopular political and economic views, or because they associate or are said to associate with persons holding such views. The proper criteria of responsible citizenship and teaching competence have been thrust aside.
From institutions of learning and enlightenment, the schools of the land are being converted into hotbeds of bigotry, fear and frantic inquisition.
This ugly metamorphosis was epitomized in the trial and dismissal of eight New York City school teachers in 1950.
The eight teachers who were suspended by Superintendent of Schools Jansen on May 3, 1950, had certain things in common. Each had a long and distinguished teaching record. None had ever been accused of incompetence. All were active members of the Teachers Union, an organization known for its militant progressive policies; and all were Jewish.
The teachers were charged with "conduct unbecoming a teacher" and "insubordination" when they refused on constitutional grounds to answer questions put to them by Superintendent Jansen concerning their political beliefs.
These were the teachers:
Isadore Rtlbin: English teacher for thirteen years; World War II veteran; awarded first prize in an U. S. Army contest in 1944 for an essay best expressing the ideals and objectives for which American soldiers were fighting. (10)
Abraham Lederman: mathematics teacher for twenty-three years; President of the Teachers Union; World War II veteran; originator of special methods for teaching mathematics to slow learners and to gifted pupils.
Mrs. Celia Lewis Zitron: teacher of Greek, Latin, Hebrew, English and French for twenty-seven years; Secretary of the Teachers Union; praised in reports of school principals for "deep sympathy, profound loyalty and business-like efficiency" and "inspiration and guidance to her pupils."
Alice Citron: teacher for eighteen years in Harlem; known not only for her unusual talents as a teacher but also for her indefatigable efforts to improve the deplorable school conditions in Harlem.
Mark Friedlander: teacher of science for eleven years; World War II veteran; released from Army in 1945 at request of principal of the Manhattan High School of Aviation Trades, where Friedlander had formerly taught, who wrote Army authorities: "We cannot obtain a teacher to replace him. . . . We need this man for the proper education of our children."
Abraham Feingold: mathematics teacher for twenty-eight years; chairman of his school union chapter; reports of school principals and supervisors described him as "not just a good teacher but the best I have ever seen" and as "having the kindliest manner I have ever seen in the classroom."
David Friedman: English teacher for twenty-four years; appointed by four successive principals at Junior High School 64, Manhattan, as Chairman of the English Department.
Louis Jaffe: teacher of social studies for nineteen years; contributor to such journals as Harvard Educational Review and Social Education; regarding his suspension, Dr. Frederick Kershner, Dean of Religion at Butler University, wrote in the Christian Evangelist, "Instead of being persecuted, Mr. Jaffe should be commended by the school board for his intelligent and courageous efforts to maintain world peace,"
The proceedings against the eight New York teachers had profound and far-reaching implications for the country as a whole. The basic issue at stake was this: were political tests henceforth to replace tests of professional competency in determining the fitness of persons to teach children?
"All over America," declared Professor John J. De Boer of the College of Education of the University of Illinois, "there will be people who will look to New York today to read the future of their own schools and the future of their liberties". . .
Public trials of the teachers commenced on September 18,1950, in the Hall of the Board of Education in Brooklyn, N. Y. The presiding Trial Examiner, who had been appointed by the Board of Education, was an affluent corporation lawyer named Theodore Kiendl. (11)
The handful of prosecution witnesses who appeared at the trials during the ensuing weeks were a motley lot. There was not a single principal, teacher or parent among them. Almost without exception, the witnesses against the eight distinguished teachers were notorious labor spies, professional informers, renegade Communists or police agents. They included such individuals as Louis Burdens, the renegade Communist and periodic Government witness who at a previous court proceedings had refused, on the grounds that his testimony might incriminate him, to answer twenty-two questions relating to the practice of White Slavery and the violation of the Mann Act; Joseph Confider, a renegade Communist and FBI informer; Stephanie Horvath, a professional spy for the New York City Police Department who had joined the Communist Political Association in 1944 and was later expelled from the organization; Leonard Patterson, a renegade Communist with a police record, whose memory was such that he could describe in minute detail incidents which allegedly occurred twenty years before in the Communist movement but could not recall the exact circumstances of a hit-and-run accident court proceeding in which he had been involved in 1949.
Only two of these witnesses claimed ever to have been acquainted with the teachers on trial. All had much the same to say on the witness stand. Testifying as "experts" on Communism, they told hair-raising tales of "Red plots" to subvert American democracy, "Moscow-directed plans" to infiltrate the schools, and alleged discussions held in past years with Joseph Stalin himself.
Soberly citing the testimony of these witnesses, New York City Corporation Counsel John P. McGrath, who was acting as prosecutor for Superintendent Jansen, charged that the teachers were "fifth columnists" in the schools, whose secret aim was to foment "a spirit of rebelliousness" in their pupils.
The only school official to testify was Superintendent Jansen. Questioned by defense counsel, Jansen admitted he had con ducted no inquiry into the classroom records of the teachers. To the best of his knowledge, he conceded, their teaching records were unblemished. The sole "offense" of which he accused them was their refusal to answer questions regarding their private political beliefs and affiliations.
"I suppose you know," Jansen was asked, "that under the Civil Service Law you are forbidden to inquire into the political affiliations of any employee of the Board?"
"Yes," said Jansen, "I know that. . . "
The witnesses for the defense included school principals,superintendents, department heads and teachers, who testified to the exceptional teaching abilities and outstanding accomplishments of the eight teachers. Parents whose children had been taught by the defendants related in warm and vivid detail how greatly their children had benefited and been enriched by this experience. (12)
If Trial Examiner Kiendl was at all moved by such testimony, he did not show it. On December 12, he announced his decision. Stating that he had found the teachers guilty of "conduct unbecoming a teacher" and "insubordination" as charged, Kiendl recommended to the Board of Education that the eight teachers be "dismissed forthwith" from the New York City school system.
At their next meeting, the members of the Board of Education voted unanimously to accept Kiendl's recommendation. The eight teachers were discharged . . .
The Board of Education had accomplished the prime purpose for which it had staged the trials. A precedent had been established for dismissing teachers whose principles and beliefs failed to conform to Cold War standards. More dismissals, based on the same grounds and effected in the same manner, were to follow. (13)
While municipal and state agencies in all parts of the country have been industriously conducting school probes and purges like those in New York City, congressional investigatory bodies have by no means been neglecting this publicity getting field of inquiry. The House Un-American Activities Committee, the Sub-committee on Internal Security of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Senate Permanent Investigating Committee have undertaken nationwide investigations of "Communist penetration" of the school system. Extensively publicized congressional hearings have occurred in a number of cities.
Characteristic of these hearings was one conducted by the Un-American Activities in February 1952 in the city of Detroit.
The first witness to take the stand at the Detroit hearings was a former Government spy in leftwing and labor circles in the auto city. Charging that the "Reds" had systematically penetrated the city's school system, he declared that among the Communists he had personally known was an art instructor named Mrs. Elinor Maki, who had been teaching in Detroit schools for twenty-two years. . .
Promptly, banner headlines in Detroit newspapers blazoned the news of "Red infiltration" of the city's public schools; and, when the Un-American Activities Committee could not immediately locate Mrs. Maki to serve her with a subpoena, the press front-paged lurid reports that the "Communist suspect" had gone "into hiding."
Reporters visited the elementary school where Mrs. Maki taught. One of them described the visit in an article in the Detroit Free Press:
It was quite a blow to teachers and pupils. . . that Mrs. Elinor Maki had been called a Communist.
And it was exciting, too-particularly for the children. . . .
Reporters were on hand to question them before school began. . . .
The children were restless because reality had come into their lives and headlines were shouting about somebody they knew. Mrs. Maki was their art teacher, known to all 916 of them. And, frankly, they liked her.
Up in the seventh and eighth grades hands poked up and the children asked questions. . .
"If they catch her," one little girl asked, "will they electrocute her?"
But a boy saw it another way.
"Do you think the Communists will catch her first and kill her so she won't talk?" he asked.
The principal of the school told the reporters, "Mrs. Maki was an exceptionally good art teacher." He hastened to add that if she were a Communist, she had completely concealed the fact at school. "Of course," he said, rather apologetically, "we recognized her as a liberal. . . . Among teachers you'll find quite a few inclined to be liberal. Teachers study economics and sociology and get that way at universities. . ."
The following day, Mrs. Maki appeared voluntarily at the Un-American Activities Committee hearings. She submitted a written statement. It read in part: "Nothing I have done has been inconsistent with the true ideals of our American Democracy. The hysteria whipped up by this Committee has subjected me to the most vicious kind of persecution. It is directed against me as a teacher as part of the campaign to stifle freedom of thought for teachers throughout the country."
The chairman of the hearings, Representative John S. Wood of Georgia, pontificated: "If you are a Communist then you have done a grave injustice to every child who has come under your jurisdiction."
The Committee failed to elaborate on the nature of the "grave injustice" that the talented art teacher had done to her pupils. Nevertheless, even before Mrs. Maki took the stand, the Detroit Board of Education had announced she had been dropped from the school payroll.
Under its own supervision, the Board added, there would be immediately launched a special investigation of "Communist infiltration" of the Detroit public-school system . . .
Against the frenetic probes and purges in the schools, and the all-out drive to impose rigid thought control on teachers and pupils, a vigorous counter-offensive has been conducted by teachers and educators deeply concerned with the fate of democracy and academic freedom in their land. In one instance after another, teachers under "investigation" have courageously fought back against their inquisitors and refused to be intimidated into forsaking their principles.
"Virtue comes before all else, before money, before security and position," declared Barrows Dunham, the former chair man of the Philosophy Department of Temple University, who had been suspended for his defiance of the Un-American Activities Committee, in a moving address at the 17th annual conference of the New York Teachers Union in March 1953. The two thousand union members and guests who attended the conference made clear their intention of continuing an unremitting struggle against the widespread campaign to crush freedom of thought in the schools.
The practical problem which confronts professors, school teachers and students today is political freedom to discuss public affairs in classrooms or at lunch or during a "bull session" without fear that someone may make a record which may be investigated secretly, upon which he may be tried secretly, and also be convicted secretly, either by a governmental official or prospective employer.
Meeting in Chicago at the 39th annual conference of the American Association of University Professors, four hundred delegates representing forty-three thousand faculty members in nearly a thousand colleges and universities adopted resolutions denouncing school probes and teachers' loyalty oaths as "among the most dangerous enemies of a free 'society" and defending teachers against dismissal for invoking the Fifth Amendment; . .
The growing apprehension felt by many Americans over the nationwide witch hunt in schools was eloquently expressed by Mrs. Agnes E. Meyer, wife of the publisher of the Washington Post, in a major address delivered in Atlantic City on February 17, 1953, at the annual convention of the American Association of School Administrators.
Speaking before the seventeen thousand teachers, superintendents and key educators who attended the convention, Mrs. Meyer warned that the Congressional committees investigating schools and colleges threaten not only education but the fundamental principles of American democracy. In a scathing denunciation of Representative Harold H. Velde and Senators William E. Jenner and Joseph R. McCarthy -respectively, chairmen of the House Un-American Activities Committee, the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security and the Senate Permanent Investigating Committee- Mrs. Meyer declared:
The American people as a whole must now realize that they are the ones who make the climate of public opinion and that they must come to the defense of our public schools and of our institutions of higher learning. For the independence of our whole educational system will be jeopardized if Velde, Jenner and McCarthy are not stopped in their tracks before they get under full sail.
The very fabric of our society will be loosened and the noble ideals that have made this nation great will be shattered unless the American people now rise in their might to preserve the freedom of the mind.
Neither Mrs. Meyer nor other convention speakers who heartily endorsed her words, however, pointed out that the frenzied onslaught against academic freedom in the United States is an inseparable part of the policies of the Cold War.
As Professor John J. De Boer of the University of Illinois has warned: "The drive against free teaching is being very carefully coordinated with the drive toward war."
Interesting contrast to this viewpoint on war was a resolution adopted by the National Education Association in July 1934 at the time of a revolt of peace-minded classroom teachers against administrators' control of the organization. The resolution read: "War is the greatest menace to civilization. As an important step toward the elimination of war, legislation should be passed by the United States Congress prohibiting profits on the manufacture and sale of armaments and other war equipment. Children should be taught the truth about war and its costs in human life and ideals and in material wealth.
(2). In the early days of Hitler's regime, Hans Schwemm, Bavarian Minister of Education, made this promise: "We will, .Adolf Hitler, so train the German youth that they will grow up in your world of ideas, in your purposes and in the direction set by your will. That is pledged to you by the whole German system of education from the people's school to the University."
The fulfillment of this promise, of course, played a major role in Nazi preparations for the Second World War.
(3) A revealing study of the extent of fear and thought control in American colleges was presented in an article in the New York Times on May 10. 1951, under the title, "college Freedoms Being Stifled by Students' Fear of Red Label." Reporting his findings from a survey of conditions in seventy-two major colleges, the author of the article, Kalman Siegel, wrote:
"A subtle, creeping paralysis of freedom and thought and speech is attacking college campuses in many parts of the country, limiting both students and faculty in the area traditionally reserved for the free exploration of freedom and truth."
Many campuses, stated Siegel, were becoming "barren of the free give-and-take of ideas." More and more students and faculty members were falling prey to forms of "censorship, wariness, caution and inhibition" such as these:
"A reluctance to speak out on controversial issues in and out of class.
"A reluctance to handle currently unpopular concepts even in class room work . . .
"Neglect of humanitarian causes because they may be suspect in the minds of politically unsophisticated officials. . . .
"A shying away . . . from any association with the words 'liberal,' 'peace: 'freedom' …"
(4) On November 12, 1936 Dr. Bernard Rust, Reichminister of Science. Education and Culture in Nazi Germany declared:
"Up to the present a certain amount of elasticity has been permitted teachers. Now there must be complete uniformity of outlook and teaching . . . The national outlook and the German view of history taught the youngsters must be absolutely uniform . . ."
(5) For details on the investigations and purges of teachers, see pages 62-74.
(6) **Indicating the type of mentality being produced among many school children by Cold War teachings is a shocking incident which was recounted to this writer by the father of a nine-year-o]d girl. The incident occurred at the time of the atomic explosion test conducted in March 1953 near Las Vegas, Nevada, in which "families" of life-like dummies were placed in two houses near the blast in order to ascertain the effect of the explosion upon them.
"My girl came home one afternoon," the father related, "and told me about a conversation she had had with two of her playmates, a seven year-old boy and his ten-year-old sister. These two children had said they thought it silly to use dummies in the test in Nevada. They said that the Rosenbergs were going to die anyway, so why didn't the Government use them in the test? My girl wanted to know what I thought about the idea."
(7) Books replete with racist and reactionary propaganda are readily obtainable in many public school libraries and are often used as textbooks. Most commonplace are books slandering the Negro people. As the American Council on Education reported after making a study of some 400 school books used throughout the country: "A very large proportion of the references to Negroes put before pupils treats Negroes as slaves or as child-like freedmen. . . The plantation mammy and Uncle Remus stereotypes tend to be perpetuated both in social science and literary materials. . . . The illustrative materials of the texts deal even less adequately and sensitively with Negroes than do the printed words."
Typical of this propaganda are the following passages dealing with the period of Negro slavery in the United States, which occur in text books recommended for use in public schools by the New York City Board of Education:
"Most planters treated their slaves fairly. . . . The owners were kindly, humane men. The Negroes had to be encouraged to work because many of them were irresponsible, if not lazy; but there were ways of doing this, short of actual force." -From Story of America by Ralph V. Harlow. "It was true that most of the slaves were happy. They did not want to be free. The people of the North did not understand this." -From Our America by Herbert Townsend.
"The planter, generally speaking, was intelligent enough to know that he, like the animal trainer, could get the best results through kind treatment." -From A History of the U. S. by Unit Plan, Yatbrough and Bruner.
(8) Other insidious trends in the thinking of young Americans were indicated by a poll conducted in 1951 among 15,000 high-school students by the Purdue Opinion Panel, a survey agency at Purdue University. The purpose of the poll was to establish what high school boys and girls were thinking about democracy and freedom. These were some of the findings of the pool:
60% believed that conscientious objectors should he deprived of the right to vote; .
66% believed that all Government employees should have to sign loyalty oaths;
49% believed that large masses of people are incapable of determining what is good for them;
37% believed that immigration of foreigners into. the United States should be drastically restricted "since it may mean lowering national standards";
58% believed that police may be justified in giving a man the "third degree" to make him talk;
75% believed that obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues that children should learn.
(9) Public-school teachers in more than thirty states are now compelled by law to take loyalty oaths. The Pennsylvania Loyalty Act decrees that no applicant for a teaching post is to be accepted if there exists "a reasonable doubt as to his loyally"; and, with appropriate logic, the law fails to define what constitutes "loyalty" or represents "a reasonable doubt." The New York Feinberg Law directs the state board of regents to compile its own independent list of "subversive organizations," membership in which automatically disqualifies a teacher from employment in the public schools.
Regarding a Massachusetts statute to bar "Communists and their supporters" from the teaching profession, the noted authority on constitutional law. Professor Zechariah Chaffee, Jr., of the Harvard Law School has observed: "Spying may be stimulated. Jealous teachers may report against associates. Students and parents may twist the presentation of unfamiliar points of view in class into charges of Communist doctrines. Private conversations and letters will not be immune, since statements in them constitute grounds for ineligibility . .
(10) Widely quoted in the nation's press, Isadore Rubin's prize-winning essay was read by the famous actor Walter Huston over a coast-to-coast radio hook-up on Christmas night, 1944. Editorialized the New York Post at the time: "The Senators who complain they don't know what we're fighting for might consult Isadore Rubin."
(11) Theodore Kiendl is a partner in the law firm of Davis, Polk, Wardwell, Sunderland and Kiendl, which numbers among its clients such concerns as J. P. Morgan &: Company, Mutual Life Insurance Company, American Telephone and Telegraph Company, United States Rubber Company. During the Roosevelt era, the firm played a leading role in combatting New Deal labor legislation and in defending large corporations against charges of unfair labor practices.
Senior partner in the firm is John W. Davis, millionaire director of several Morgan companies, who in 1934 was one of the founders of the bitterly reactionary American Liberty League. After the advent of the Truman Administration, Davis gave personal advice on the drafting of such repressive Federal legislation as the McCarran Act.
(12) Not all of the defense witnesses were permitted to testify. When the defense attorneys sought to place on the stand six nationally renowned university professors and educators who had come to New York to testify on the issue of academic freedom and its relation to the trials, Prosecutor McGrath objected on the grounds their testimony would be "certainly not relevant. ..
Trial Examiner Kiendl sustained the objection. "I don't see that academic freedom is even remotely involved," he said.
(13) In the fall of 1952 eight more New York City school teachers were placed on trial and dismissed for refusing on constitutional grounds to divulge their political beliefs. A number of other suspensions occurred at about the same time.
On November 26, 1952, the New York City Board of Education announced that it was "investigating" the cases of an additional 193 teachers.
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