Legality, Morality, and Dragon Thrones
In their next quixotic tilt with the Rhodes Scholar "conspiracy," the Patterson McCormick papers might well point to Associate Professor John W. Fairbank of the History Department, as an example of American Youth subverted by these foreign scholarships. For tall, thoughtful Professor Fairbank, after the good start of being born in South Dakota in 1907, led a clean-cut life till his second year at Wisconsin University. At this point he got mixed up with Harvard, a Rhodes Scholarship, and the question of China's destiny. So that today, or on October 7, 1946, we find him asserting in a "Times" book review, "When we fail to bargain with Chiang Kai-shek and extract from his regime the long-promised reforms which alone can cut the ground from under Chinese communism, and which were implied would be prerequisite to our aid, were seem stupid, and our audience in Asia realizes we can be manipulated by our fears."
Such talks draws a barrage of jeers from those whose thoughts on the Chinese are eulled from the works of Sax Rohmer or the speeches of Patrick Hurley. But Professor Fairbank has no apparent regrets. "After my second year at Wisconsin," he says dryly, "I realized that I could stay on and become a Big Wheel, or go to Harvard, work hard, and get what I wanted. I'm glad I chose Harvard." He is also glad that he went to Oxford later, on that Rhodes Scholarship. "In the third year they let you travel, and I went to China, as I'd always wanted to do." This was in 1932; he has spent half the years since then in China, with the OWI and the State Department.
These years on the scene, combined with his grasp of China's language and history, have given him a view different from that of journalists who hit the country and fly off in a few days. A quick dose of hearty, bluff, American-style democracy, or solid support of the right-wing Kuomintang power-group is not enough, he maintains. "The fact that the imperial tradition had the inertia of three thousand years behind it and was formally abandoned only in 1911 should give us pause. How can we reasonably expect that even a people so politically gifted as the Chinese would remake this ancient tradition in one generation!" he asks.
Meanwhile Professor Fairbank writes magazine articles, then clamps on his battered hat and walks up to Boylston to drive all this home to students in the Far Eastern Area of Regional Studies. His wife is in China with the State Department and at times it must seem a lonely fight indeed.