Look Over Your Shoulder
When Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy filed an order requiring Advance, an "organization of progressive youth" to file as a Communist-front group pursuant to the McCarran Act of 1950, he cited as evidence a number of issues on which the Advance position ran parallel to that of the U.S. Communist Party. These included:
* Demanding an end to all nuclear tests by the U.S.
* Advocating a policy of "nonintervention in Cuban affairs" and the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and protesting the blockade of October, 1962.
* Opposition to the McCarran Act and the Smith Act.
* Opposing the Universal Military Training and Selective Service Statutes.
* "Urging the United States to accept the offer of the U.S.S.R. to 'negotiate on Berlin.'"
It is ironic that those who would uphold civil liberties in America must rally to the defense of individuals and groups who cannot command their political respect. The CRIMSON, in its inquiries into the present case, has found little proof that the members of Advance are intellectually or ideologically independent. And yet it is with full force that we condemn the technique of prosecution under the McCarran Act.
Parallelism of views is a dangerous legal concept. The particular list that the Attorney General submitted embraces issues on which millions of Americans, and many legislators, would agree with the stated Communist position:
* The achievement of a nuclear test ban is the objective of the U.S. Government.
* Non-Intervention is the principle of conduct in foreign affairs to which the U.S. government has traditionally subscribed.
* President Truman vetoed the Subversive Activities Control Act in 1950, and said "the application of the the registration requirements to so-called Communist front organizations can be the greatest danger to freedom of speech, press and assembly since the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1796." The Act was passed over his veto.
* Attempts to change drastically the Universal Military Training and Selective Service Statutes were made on the floor of Congress during the present session.
* Senate Majority Leader Mansfield has repeatedly called for negotiations on Berlin.
The point is that the application of 'parallelism' is open-ended. The Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, which has taken on the defense of Advance, recently published a "partial check-list of subversive opinions," based on official Communist Party pronouncements. As could be expected, peace, civil rights, and farm subsidies are subversive. Higher wages and the shorter work week are, too. Consumer protection, rent control and reduction of taxes--frequent objectives of the Democratic Party--have also made the blacklist. Better job opportunities and educational facilities for young people, slum clearance, and anti-discriminatory housing provisions are also Communist goals.
For long, liberals in America have had to look over their shoulders in fear that Communists might be agreeing with them. Particularly in the realm of foreign affairs, where limited agreement with Communists could at times represent the short-range aim of the United States consider the circumstances of the test-ban or Laos), parallelism' is an illogical standard for prosecution.
But not only is the method pernicious; Kennedy's indent is questionable. No court of law has assessed Advance as a clear and present danger. No attempt was made in Kennedy's petition to the Subversive Activities Control Board to show that Advance advocated forcible overthrow of the constituted government. Nor has the image of "a world-wide Communist organization" crucial to the passage of the McCarran Act in 1950) been re-examined in reference to the split in the Communist world. Only the extreme right stands to benefit from the continued identification of liberal and communist objectives.
Advance is the first student group to suffer this hangover from McCarthy's heyday. But as Justice Black has warned: "When the practice of outlawing parties and groups begins, no one can say where it will end."