In a letter to the "Alumni Bulletin," Walter B. Cannon '96, George Higginson Professor of Physiology, defends his support of aid for Spain as follows:
To the Editor of the Bulletin:
In your issue of October 14, Dr. R. H. Miller announced that a letter had been sent to him by "The Medcal Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy"; that it presented an appeal for a contribution to a fund; and that the contribution was to be in my honor as a "champion of democracy" and to go to Dr. Juan Negrin, Prime Minister of the Spanish Republic. Dr. Miller wrote, "I wish to protest against this." Just what he meant by "this" is not clear.
Is there any good reason why he, a doctor, should protest against receiving a letter from an organization sponsored by such well known members of the medical profession as William Park, Florence Sabin, Haven Emerson, and Evarts Graham?
Or does Dr. Miller protest against being asked to contribute to a fund to be sent to Dr. Negrin? Unfortunately, in the protest the purpose of the fund, to succor stricken people in Spain, was omitted. More than 3,000,000 women and children in Loyalist territory are homeless, destitute, and hungry. Already the ravages of disease due to malnutrition have begun to appear. It is reported that at least 4,000 cases of pellagra have developed in Madrid alone. The Medical Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy is doing what it can to mitigate the plight of these innocent victims of the war. Dr. Miller, as a humane physician, surely does not protest against that effort.
Or does he protest because the fund is being raised in honor of a "champion of democracy"? No true American should object to that classification. Nor should it be an obstacle to the expression of good will to a host of human beings in dire need.
Dr. Miller continued, "Every well informed person knows that this so-called Spanish Republic is not a democracy, but a communist state aided both materially and spiritually by the present regime in Russia." May I point out that the legitimate government in Spain was placed in power by democratic process in February, 1936; that of the 473 deputies then elected to the Cortes only 16 were communists; and that when Franco revolted in July, 1936, there was in the government neither a communist nor a socialist. The revolt, aided from the start by Hitler and Mussolini, did, indeed, force a coalition of parties to defend the state; consequently two communists--a small minority--have been admitted to the ministry. The well recognized right of a country to purchase munitions of war, denied to Spain by England and France in the face of opposition of the aggressive dictators, was respected by other countries, including Russia. The Spanish Republic did not become communist because it bought arms from communist Russia any more than the American colonies became royalist because they obtained aid from royalist France. To call the Spanish Loyalists "Reds" and "communists" is current fashion, but quite unjustifiable. In the bandying of prejudicial epithets, now in vogue, the Medical Bureau has been defined by a New England journal as "a bolshevist organization with headquarters in Moscow." Lest the credulous believe, let me, as national chairman of the Bureau, hasten to testify that it is an American organization with headquarters in New York.
It happens that Dr. Juan Negrin, the Premier of the Spanish Republic, is an old friend of mine. Apparently there were persons in the Medical Bureau who thought it would be a gracious gesture to use our friendship as a basis for collecting money to buy much needed food, clothing, and medical supplies for a people in sore distress. The enterprise was started without my knowledge; when it was under way I did nothing to check it, because the purpose was primarily humanitarian. Despite the protest, the enterprise still seems to me to be in accord with the ideals of helpful service cherished by the profession to which Dr. Negrin, Dr. Miller, and I belong.