NOVEMBER 28, 1950
NEW YORK, Monday—Last night I saw the opening of the ANTA play series, Judith Anderson playing in "The Tower Beyond Tragedy" by Robinson Jeffers.
This is the old Greek tragedy of Agamemnon, beautifully done. Anyone who saw Miss Anderson in "Medea" will know how well she could play Clytemnestra.
People were there who love the theatre, people were there who had worked long and hard to see an American National Theatre and Academy series actually start. I can remember when the charter was granted by Congress. No money was granted and at the time I couldn't think what good it would do except that gradually Congress might, having granted the charter, feel a certain responsibility for granting money to make a national theatre possible. There is still no money from Congress but a few determined theatre people have begun on their first series of plays.
I found this play tense and dramatic the whole way through, written and acted in what might be called the grand manner. There is so little of this on the stage today that I felt proud we had an actress capable of portraying such a tragic figure.
If you have not seen the December issue of Liberty magazine, I hope you will not fail to read the story called, "The Greatest Lie." Judging from the letters that were sent to the author about this story it must have taken a good deal of courage for Liberty to accept and publish it. Yet it seems a simple enough story, a story that might easily have taken place anywhere in the United States. We should be mindful of it, because such a thing would never be possible if all of us were constantly awake to our responsibilities as citizens of this great democracy of ours.
On my television program yesterday, Senator Homer Ferguson stated categorically that the purpose of the Internal Security Act of 1950 is not to abridge freedom of thought, or speech, or expression.
He pointed to the opening section, Point B, which says "nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize, require, or establish military or civilian censorship, or in any way to limit or infringe upon the freedom of the press or of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and no regulation shall be promulgated hereunder having that effect."
It is comforting to know that the authors feel that these freedoms are guaranteed to us by this act. But it is a little disturbing as you go through the text, which is extremely long, to find the definition of what constitutes a Communist Action or a Communist-front organization. Neither Senator Ferguson nor Senator Owen Brewster seemed at all troubled by the length of time it would take to prove legally whether an organization was one or the other.
In fact, Senator Brewster said that, of course, under any legislation some hardships would probably occur but the good would outweigh the bad. It seems to me that that still remains to be proved.
I had the feeling that the proponents of the bill, particularly Senator Ferguson, because he is so genuinely honest in his beliefs, were expressing what they hoped would happen much more than what really had happened so far and what may well happen under this extremely complicated machinery which has been set up.