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Villard Foresees Academic Freedom Ended by Censorship, Passion, and Evidence of Red Scare

University Now Has Too Little Freedom but Harvard Best of All


This article was written for the Crimson, by Oswald Garrison Villard '93, who will speak at an open meeting of the Liberal Club tonight at 8 o'clock in Lowell House.


There is no graver portent in American life today than the determined effort to create a 'red' scare and exercise a censorship over our colleges and universities. If this campaign of terrorism and hysteria should succeed it would sound the death knell of academic freedom everywhere. Censorship by government, such as ruined the German universities overnight, is dreadful enough, but censorship by an irresponsible press which stops to dishonesty, trickery, and deceit to achieve its ends and by self-appointed super-patriotic guardians is worse; for that means censorship, passion, and prejudice and the beginning of an academic lynch law. We have too little freedom in our universities now; some of them, like the University of Pittsburgh are unfit for any intellectually honest teacher and have sold out to big business. To permit the success of these efforts to ferret out so-called radicals with the students or teachers would be treason to the entire teaching profession. It is as base as it is un-American. Harvard, which, under Lowell, upheld the tradition of academic freedom during the World War better than any other university, will not yield now.

As for the efforts in Maine and in the southern states to deprive the Communists of their rights to go on the ballot that again is disloyalty to our American principles. It will drive the movement underground and make of its leaders martyrs. It is the more uncalled for, because the Communist movement constitutes today no menace whatever--I am told that there are not 500 Communists in Maine. But if there were 50,000 they have the right to their opinion and to political activity as long as they do not counsel overt acts against the government. It is folly to legislate against a state of mind however erroneous. The only way to cure error in this field is to demonstrate its falsities on 10,000 platforms. Repression was never yet a remedy for anything.

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