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The Reds'll get you if you don't watch out. Louis Budenz, turn-coat ex-editor of the Daily Worker who makes a near convincing case for a Holy Crusade in the Forties, sees them under every bed and around every corner.
Subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Budenz says that he will not name names until he's face to face with John Rankin. The he'll spill the beans on which union leaders, politicians and public figures are directly or indirectly tools of the Kremlin. For the time being he is playing a cautious game: when a reporter from a top Boston paper asked about the degree of Communistic influence on the Harvard Faculty, he replied that he had "nothing at all" to comment.
For these who don't read the splash headlines, Budenz is the former leading Communist journalist converted to Catholicism and a Fordham professorship by Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen in October of 1945. Hearst's editorial pages with their belligerent captial letters have recently featured his "inside story," and he is presently touring U. S. religious gatherings to reveal "What Every American should Know About Communism." Last night St. Patrick's Youth Center sponsored his appearance at the Cambridge High and Latin School Auditorium.
Budenz declares that although the International may be theoretically nonexistent, it is in fact very much alive. The Communist Party of the United States, furthermore, includes a conspiratorial apparatus which beyond doubt serves hand in hand with the Soviet espionage system.
To Budenz there is no question that this thesis must be conveyed to the public and that "Red Fascism" is the No. 1 menace threatening the general welfare. Conceding that the present Spanish government is undesirable, he claims fiercely that Spain "is now being used as a diversion for keeping the real issues out of reach" and that "I have ways of knowing that a Republican Spain will turn out to be a Red-directed Spain, aimed at the United States through Latin America."
Long affiliated with the labor movement, Budenz once edited "Labor Age," organ for the AFL and the mine workers' union. He was arrested and acquitted twenty different times for participation in anti-injunction activity, and modestly remarks that he was probably the "best informed man" on personalities in the left wing.
What set him to wondering about the makeup of the upper level Commie leadership here during his period of Party membership after 1935 were, he explains, the shadowy figures under seemingly assumed names whom he gradually came to look upon as intermediaries with the USSR (one "Edwards" he feels to be the Gerhart Eisler now in the limelight).
While Burdenz draws a vague line between "liberals," fellow travelers," and "Communists," the precise listener may not learn how to go about distinguishing one from another. In answer to a union member's query about John L. Lewis, he said that it "would be a great mistake to confuse Communism and Labor." Later he termed former Congressman Hugh de Lacy a Communist. You can also tell when "particular demonstrations of a particular sort" occur repeatedly. Budenz warns not to be too harsh upon "soft-hearted, soft-headed liberals and innocents with political hopes," but lets loose his full fury upon "connivers . . . who deliberately make alliances."
Dubious as it may be to the man in the street, the prestige in the "National Leader" title of the CP runs high to those ideologically deep scarlet. For years, Budenz reports, William Foster continually sought to anticipate policy changes (they have been know to be drastic) and "jump the Line" on Browder. Through this period the Editor of the Daily Worker may have been near to getting the goods, but from the standpoint of documentary evidence, he still has to prove that he was not extremely far. It is difficult to swallow cloak-and-dagger melodrama in a land of milk and honey
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