NEW YORK CITY, March 14--The latest attack on the House Un-American Activities Committee apparently is going to be based on Yankee traditions and supported with folk songs.
Pete Seeger '40, began the latest round in his six-year battle against the HUAC today quietly but forcefully stating his belief that the privacy of the individual American's politics is sacred. He is under indictment for contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions of the Committee in 1955.
"I will stand on my songs," the 42-year-old balladeer told a news conference, because it is his songs that are public and not his beliefs.
He repeated his statement made originally before the Committee that, "I am not going to answer questions as to my associations, my philosophy or religious beliefs, or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs."
"I have never done anything of a conspiratorial nature," he told ten reporters summoned to hear his side of the case, "and I resented being called before the Committee because my opinions differ from Walter's."
One unusual feature of the trial, expected to begin in Federal Court Monday, will be the calling of Congressman Walter to testify about the Committee's purpose in summoning Seeger. Walter's appearance results from a court decision affirming Seeger's right to subpoena him.
Seeger noted that HUAC had asked him about three songs: "The Hammer Song," "Midnight Special," and "Wasn't That a Time?" but refused to listen to him sing them.
So Seeger sang them today, accompanying himself on his famed five-string banjo. He refused to interpret their political meaning, saying, "It is wrong to pin specific meanings to works of art." He describes his function as a catalyst, "bringing the songs to the people and letting them work their magic."
"I am proud that I have never refused to sing to any group of people because I might disagree with some of the ideas of some of the people listening to me. I've sung for rich and poor, for Americans of every possible political and religious opinion and persuasion, for every race, color and creed," he said.