To the Editor of the CRIMSON:
I Should like to express my disagreement with the stand taken by Professor Mathieasen and his colleagues, and the Harvard Liberal Union regarding in particular the so- called "Minneapolis sedition trials" and in general the property of the Smith Act.
Depriving the Federal Government of the power to suppress the activities of sedition groups, groups, specifically advocating the overthrow of the government by force, must obviously make the government more susceptible to revolution. Surely the HLU and its associates will not contest the right of the government to put down an active revolution. Were there no Smith Act the government would be forced to differentiate between actions which could he construed to mean "advocating" the overthrow of the government and those which would actually constitute participating in a seditious uprising. Not only would such a situation create an extremely knotty legal problem, but it would allow a revolutionary movement to gain considerable momentum, presumably enough so that it would have in the opinion of its proponents, at least, a reasonable chance of success, before the government should be allowed to protect itself. I do not believe that a government's protecting itself by means of a measure such as the Smith Act defines that government as tending towards fascism, as the president of the HLU seems to imply as he is quoted in today's issue of the CRIMSON.
Surely it is the ultimate in hypocrisy for any group, such as the defendants in the Minneapolis trial, to claim immunity to punishment on the grounds of "Free Speech" when presumably such right would be withdrawn were they in power. For if it is necessary for them to overthrow the government by force (as they apparently would like to do--else why do they advocate it?), it follows then that they and their constituents are in a minority. From this fact it is, I thin, reasonable to deduce that in order to remain in power our hypocritically successful revolutionists would themselves find it necessary to suppress freedom of speech.
Possibly the HLU's stand is that the real reason that the defendants in the Minneapolis sedition trials are being prosecuted is because they are Leftish in their leanings. Such a situation is far from improbable. Yet if it is actually the right of free speech that the HLU is defending, why are they not crying out against the suppression of the Bund and various pro-fascist groups? As far as the theory of the right of free speech is concerned, the two cases are identical; there is a difference only in what the Bund and the Socialist Workers Party say in their respective pamphlets and fulminations. If the HLU defends the latter and not the former, the basis for distinction between which the HLU should defend and which it should not defend would seem to lie in what each particular group advocates. If such is the case, then let the HLU come right out and say so in so many words, instead of howling about the right of free speech. R. P. Perry '43.