Ever since the war, groups which consider academic freedom an elastic commodity have been putting the squeeze on American universities to cleanse their faculties of "radicals" or even "liberal" thinkers. This newspaper recently documented many of these attempts at purification, and last week the chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee requested textbook lists so that he could look for "disloyal" sentiment.
Now three distinguished members of the Harvard family have entered into the controversy. On June 8 the Educational Policies Commission, in a report signed by President Conant, asked for the exclusion of Communist Party members from teaching. Because it also condemned irresponsible labeling of non-Communists as "Reds" and "Communists," the Commission thought its report would strengthen, not weaken, integrity on the campus.
The CRIMSON believed that the Commission was laboring under a misapprehension. This belief was corroborated in a paragraph by Frank Ober from his exchange of letters with Grenville Clark, covered elsewhere in this issue. Said Mr. Ober:
"Mr. Conant's joined in a splendid public statement on Communist teachers today gives the reassurance I was seeking--that Harvard is alive to that menace. Appropriate steps to implement that policy are now in order. I sincerely hope that the principle of our statute, taken from the Federal loyalty program, may contribute to the solution of this exceedingly difficult problem."
Such a statement, calling for a loyalty check and inspired by the Commission's stand, is exactly what the CRIMSON feared. Thus it is heartening to read the statement written by the third of the Harvard men, Grenville Clark, with the approval of the Corporation.
Mr. Clark did not meet squarely the original question of Communists as teachers, but he did show eloquently the danger of Mr. Ober's philosophy: ". . . How could an effective 'closer watch' on 'extracurricular activities' be maintained unless the watch extended to conversations and correspondence? . . . What sort of a place would Harvard be if it went down this road? It would . . . not require six months to destroy the morale of both our teachers and students, and therefore our usefulness to the country."
Mr. Clark and the Corporation have now told Mr. Ober and others who would use Mr. Conant's stand on Communism as an excuse for heresy-hunting that at Harvard "there will be no apparatus of inquiry and 'closer watch.' The harm done by the effort to discover even a single clandestine Party Member would outweigh any possible benefit."
The CRIMSON feared that the report of the Educational Policies Commission would tighten the squeeze on free inquiry in education. We now hope that the Corporation's stand will convince educators and legislators that a university, as the world has known it, is not a collection of timid souls vaccinated by jumpy men like Mr. Ober against ideo-logical disease. A university is a home for men free to grapple with an heretical germ and strong enough to resist the forces of fear and hysteria.