The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003

John Gunther - a sorry association indeed!

As a source for detail on American life around the end of World War 2 - stuff that mostly isn't online or otherwise easily accessible - I've long been accustomed to turn to Gunther's Inside USA. Without ever having read its 900-odd pages from cover to cover.

Well, I'd got up to page 52 - in one of his chapters on California - when I read:
My friend Walter Duranty suggests a point here.

Oh dear, oh dear. Duranty furnished more evidence for the old notion that America's idea of achieving an equable climate was to have one's head in the oven and its feet in the freezer.

First, there had been Woodrow Wilson's police-state, the Espionage Act and the Palmer Raids. Then, when a certain current in society drifted off to Hiram Evan's KKK, red-baiting went out of fashion. It started coming back with the Depression in the form of the Committee on subversion of 1930 chaired by Hamilton Fish , followed by the McCormack-Dickstein Committee [4] which started work in 1934, and thence to the Dies Committee [2]. (My dead-tree source for what came to be known as HUAC is The Committee by Walter Goodman (1968))

Now, since the end of the USSR, we find that Communist activity in the US was something more than a figment of the conservative imagination [3]. But Walter Duranty was hailing a Soviet paradise in the columns of the New York Times in the early 30s, for heaven's sake! No wonder they want to take his Pulitzer Prize away.

But, evidently, the solid citizens of New York were far from outraged to read pleasant reportage of their ideological foes at the breakfast-table. Something requiring explanation there, at least to little me.

All told, rather disturbing to learn that Gunther was pals with the guy in 1947!

  1. Chairman John McCormack (D-MA12), Vice-Chairman Samuel Dickstein (D-NY12).

  2. With a wide remit to investigate un-American propaganda activities in the United States. This was Dickstein's aim; he worked with Martin Dies (D-TX2) to get the resolution passed; whereupon Dies became chairman and Dickstein was kept out. Of course, some of Dies' best friends...

  3. Stuff on The Haunted Wood by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev here, here, and here. for instance. Oh, and Dickstein? Also spied for Uncle Joe...

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