Attorney General Clarence A. Barnes cannot understand what Harvard fears from his pending bill to outlaw employment of Communists in educational institutions.
On the objective level, he doesn't believe that there are any Communist employees in the University. And on the subjective level, he believes that his academic opponents have misinterpreted the bill.
In a private interview at the State House yesterday, Barnes repeatedly observed that the bill applies only to people who plot violent overthrow of the government--an observation he used as a basis for whitewashing University personnel and for discounting expected attacks.
"Communists," he said, "are devout followers of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin, desiring a violent revolution. This would not include the lunatic fringe, parlor pinks, and liberal intellectuals, who may want to change the government by constitutional means."
Referring to this definition, Barnes added, "Harvard has some New Dealers who are on the fringe; but they are not Communists. We expect the bill, however, to put such schools as the Sam Adams School out of business."
(The bill reads: "No person who is a member of the communist party or who by speaking or writing advocates its doctrines, or who...advocates the overthrow by force...shall be employed...")
While ignoring the alleged wide implications of the bill, Barnes reiterated that it would "merely prevent Communists advocating the violent overthrow of the government from indoctrinating children." He added, "It is as simple as that; but some people are making it incomprehensible."
The attorney general said that ultimately it would be up to the employer to decide whether he had Communists on his staff. If someone lodged a complaint here, President Conant would be obliged to review the case, decide as he saw fit, and await possible State action if the employee remained.
As to the extent of the bill, Barnes said that even Communist undergraduates should not be employed in any capacity, including part-time work such as waiting on tables. Although there is no guarantee in the bill, Barnes felt that the employer would not be open to prosecution if he is unaware of an employee's political beliefs.
Barnes felt confident of the passage of the bill on the grounds that "nearly everyone supported action against people who wanted to overthrow the government by force." He also believed that a noverwhelming majority in the legislature" would approve.