APRIL 29, 1948
NEW YORK, Wednesday—The recent dastardly attack on Walter Reuther of the United Automobile Workers was a shocking occurrence. No matter how great our disagreements are, if we are to continue to be a country ruled by law and not by violence, we must try to bring the whole force of public opinion against actions of this kind, whether they are individual actions motivated by some personal feeling or whether they are group actions.
Walter Reuther has led some unpopular causes but he has fought honestly and fairly. That anyone should follow him home and shoot at him through a window is such a cowardly method of attack that one earnestly hopes that the assailant will be found and punished.
* * *
I was interested in the recent decision of the Supreme Court upholding the right of Negroes to vote in the South Carolina Democratic primaries. The highest legal body in our land thus has written out rather clearly what are the Constitutional rights of all our citizens to participate in government regardless of their race, creed or color.
While we are talking about legal documents, I wonder how many people have read a pamphlet entitled "Report on a Report of the House Committee on Un-American Activities" by Walter Gellhorn, which is reprinted from the Harvard Law Review, Vol. LX, No. 8. The subject matter of the report made by the Un-American Activities Committee was the accusation against the Southern Conference for Human Welfare.
Mr. Gellhorn does not take sides on this organization. He merely makes a legal analysis of the report, the evidence it presents and the conclusions it reaches. He proves over and over again that the research of the Un-American Activities Committee, either by design or through ineptitude, is unreliably done, and that the presentation of material is misleading because the report uses the well-known method of quoting out of context and is inaccurate as to time and place. In addition, he shows that mere association with certain groups, without any proof of the kind of association, is accepted by the committee as proof of guilt.
* * *
In other words, when you have finished reading this report, you feel that the average organization or individual gets slim opportunity of being heard before this committee, and that, before he is heard, his reputation will be tarnished—which is decidedly an un-American way of going about the processes of justice.
I am opposed to Communism, and I think we need to understand the tactics used by American Communists in order to deal with them satisfactorily. But I am opposed also to allowing fear of anything to lead us into using the very methods which are used by Fascists and Communists alike. The proceedings of the Un-American Activities Committee, as described in this legal study published by one of our best law reviews, could only be equalled by some of the things we know are done by Fascist and Communist tribunals.