Student Fear Here Scored By Professor
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. '38 yesterday accused University students of cowardice in cancelling both the scheduled appearance of novelist Howard Fast and a film featuring Paul Robeson.
In a letter to the CRIMSON, the associate professor of History noted that the Law School Forum cancelled "Communist novelist" Fast's participation in a debate and that (according to the Christian Science Monitor) "some other unnamed organization has cancelled a film starring Paul Robeson, the Communist actor."
"What are the students so frightened about?" he questioned. "Is their faith in themselves and in democracy so feeble that they fear subversion from the dreary imbecilities of Howard Fast or from the cavortings of Paul Robeson as the Emperor Jones?"
Walter M. Ulin '54, president of Ivy Films, last night contradicted the Monitor report, saying that his group had ordered the film "Emperor Jones" from a distributor's catalogue, but that the distributor, Ideal Pictures, Inc., had later withdrawn it. "They thought of some lame excuse," he said.
In his letter Schlesinger commented. "I gather that in these cases the students acted on their own, without orders or even hints from the faculty. It is a stirring commentary on the courage of this new generation that the faculties and governing bodies of a university should be more in favor of free speech than the students."
Martin J. Hertz 3L, president of the Law School Forum, asserted that Schlesinger "made several assumptions which are just not so," but refused to amplify this until he could consult other Forum executives and draw up "a complete statement on the matter."
Hertz did say that the Forum had invited Fast to appear at an earlier debate, but "he couldn't make it then. This shows we're not afraid of him," he stated.
Yale Survived Fast
Schlesinger told of a debate he had with Fast before the Yale Political Union last year. "I am happy to report that the Yale undergraduates seem to have survived the sight of Mr. Fast without fatal contamination; that their sharp and intelligent questions showed how clearly they saw through his arguments; and that they felt by a whopping majority that the anti-Communist side had the best debate."
Schlesinger said that four years ago, when "Communist agent" Gerhart Eisler spoke here, Dean Bender defended the advisability of students hearing views of many political colors.
"Eisler was at least a top party dialec- tician, and Harvard survived. Now the students refuse to expose themselves to second-rate actors and third-rate novelists. What am I to say to my friends in New Haven, who took Howard Fast a year ago without scuttling and running, when they ask what is frightening the students at Cambridge?" Schlesinger asked