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Worst of the attitudes taken against American expressions of change and progress is that of a cheap, sensational press, of which the Boston American, especially because of its play-up of Granville Hicks, seems to be a hideous example. To increase its profits and effect the destructive editorial policy of a medievalist, the Hearst papers distort and lie about liberal activities to an audience unfortunately always ready to be deceived and aroused.
In the past week, the American has printed three stories, all maliciously untrue to begin a campaign which as its end obviously has the routing of Mr. Hicks from the University. They first trumped up the issue by stating that local patriotic organizations once more were decrying the Hicks appointment. The second implied that as a counsellor Mr. Hicks advocated the reading of Communist books. The third quoted the President of the Student Council as saying that this body would take action on a "controversy" entirely manufactured by the American.
There is no denying that Mr. Hicks stuck out his head in representing the New Masses last week. Although many students, particularly those in the social sciences, favor the policy of encouraging instructors to participate in outside affairs, because it gives nourishment of a practical kind to their teaching, it is apparent that for the sake of Harvard such men must recognize a limit to their actions. They are in the same position as the President of the United States, who is always regarded as President whether he is speaking in behalf of the Democratic Party or the Warm Springs Foundation. Remembering their connection with Harvard, these instructors should use good sense and tact. For one who has lived in the Cambridge community less than a month, Mr. Hicks has jumped too quickly into the troubled sea of outside affairs. The result has been to make his won life twenty-four hours of torture and to madden some 300,000 readers of the Boston American, including the Cambridge Council.
For his rashness, Mr. Hicks is receiving his due, but this leaves the horrible fact of the American unresolved. And now the paper has induced a professor emeritus of Harvard to declare that Mr. Hicks was "a voluble propagandist for an alien social philosophy." The least Professor Hart could have done was to keep his sentiments out of the American; instead, he had to drag the spectre of a house divided into a situation evolved from a newspaper's antagonism to one man. That an inactive member of the Faculty should have been added to the mess is more than unfortunate; it proves to what gamut the American can run to create a public clamor out of falsehood and sensationalism.
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