MAY 10, 1961
NORFOLK, Va.—Many of us have felt dissatisfied that the film entitled "Operation Abolition," which is an official production of the House Un-American Activities Committee dealing with the demonstration against it during hearings in San Francisco last May, had never been exposed for what it is—a completely misleading portrayal of what actually occurred.
I was particularly pleased, therefore, to find in the New York Times this week a statement so forthright and so clear that it should be read by everyone who has seen this film. I give you here what I believe to be the most important part of the statement:
"Not only is the film itself questionable, but so also is the way it was made and distributed. It is composed of cuttings—chosen without regard to sequence—from recordings made by the broadcasting company and subpoenaed by the committee. These were turned over to a commercial company to make the film. More than 700 prints have since been sold by the company at $100 each."
The Defense Department has purchased some of these prints for its libraries, and the film also has had a wide general sale.
The violence shown in the film is that of police ejecting from City Hall those who protested against the hearings. But the truth is that the last of the 64 who were arrested by the police were found innocent the other day, as have been all of the others tried by the court.
Undoubtedly there were Communists at the hearing, but the students were demonstrating peacefully against what they felt was wrong. The film, on the other hand, implies that all those who oppose the committee are at least Communist-inspired. This is not true, and it should be underlined by everyone who knows of the committee's methods in promoting this film.
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There is a bill concerning the migrant labor question due to come before the House almost at any time. It is HR 2010 and would extend the Mexican farm labor program for two years, with no reforms to protect employment opportunities and wages of domestic farm workers.
This bill has cleared the Rules Committee and will come before the House for action very shortly, and those interested in the conditions of migratory workers and farm laborers generally should let their representatives know of their opposition to the bill.
On the other hand, C Bill HR 6032 contains important reforms in this field. It provides that to be eligible for hiring of Mexican contract workers, growers must pay wages that keep pace with farm wages generally, and it would offer domestic workers terms and conditions comparable to those guaranteed Mexican laborers. This bill also would permit the Secretary of Labor to limit the number of Mexican workers that could be hired by a single employer so that competition for American workers would be assured.
The Administration is supporting this bill, but it needs the support of the public to defeat the other legislation. Public sentiment should be expressed to Congress, for the American people must oppose the present importation program, which exploits the poverty of Mexican workers and increases privation among American farm laborers.
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The press conference at which Commander Alan B. Shepard Jr. told of his experience in flying through space must have been an exciting one. And President Kennedy must have felt great satisfaction in pinning the Distinguished Service Medal on this young man. These are the moments in the life of a President which compensate for much of the hard work and anxiety.
Like Gagarin, the Soviet astronaut, Commander Shepard found his short period of weightlessness a pleasant experience, and now with his reception over, our space man will go back to work with the hope that, in spite of our anxiety to move quickly in this field, no man's life will be risked unnecessarily.