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In respect to the six American History counselors appointed for the Houses, it is a wholesome compliment to Professor Jones, who heads the Faculty program committee, and to President Conant that such a variety and excellence can be found in the group. More significant, however that the quality of these new Fellows, is the at first startling fact that Harvard has added an admitted Communist to its staff. But Granville Hicks is better known as a scholar than as a political radical, and on an academic basis only should the merit of his appointment be judged. In selecting Mr. Hicks, the University took into account that he has produced the best historical attempt at American literature, since the Civil War and has done other valuable research work. Nowhere along the official line was there opposition to him, which is proof enough that Harvard has determined to give substance to its oft-mentioned shadow of liberalism.
The hiring of Hicks is perhaps the most positive academic step that the University has taken forward this year. It tears away the shirt of jingoistic hysteria which covers the breast of every unenlightened politicians. It establishes the worthy principle of hiring teachers who openly admit their radicalism and shames men who, while propagandizing in their classrooms, try to conceal their political sentiments. Recognizing Marxism as a serious and possibly worthwhile approach to literature and history is an intelligent action that cannot be successfully assailed by uninformed and fanatic political reactionaries such as exist in the Massachusetts legislature.
Next it will be desired, if Hicks proves a success as a counselor, that Harvard grant him a regular position on the Faculty. At present there seems little chance of this, since there are no professorial openings in his field and certain elements in the Faculty would strongly object. But even the granting of an appointment demonstrates the sincerity of the University in professing the ideal of unbiased liberalism in education, and in praising this it should be declared that to the ranks of notable Harvard liberals, like novelist Dos Passos and lawyers Brandeis and Frankfurter and writer Lovett, must be added scholar Granville Hicks.
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