When E. J. Kahn some months ago wrote a New Yorker article telling how his black horn-rimmed glasses had got him branded as a Communist, the anecdote was good for a big giggle. But today, with President and Republican opposition elbowing each other energetically in a scuffle to see whose version of "radical" will be publicized in the upcoming purge, Kahn's article could at best draw only sickly smiles. For now, when the questions of the reconstituting of Europe, the possibility of new wars, and whether we Americans are going to be eating hearty a few years from now, are actual and pressing, both these factions are wasting foot pounds of mental energies, and millions of dollars in a just with a convenient, fabricated Menace.
Even veteran444 anti-Red Congressmen have been smirking uncontrollably at the rhetoric got off in recent House debates about examining federal employees' loyalty. Because for one thing, the deity complex called Atomic Security cannot be invoked as justification for the current bill. All employees in "sensitive" areas have been checked and surveyed till one wonders why they are allowed to mate, since their children may through some idealogical mutation prove subversive. And since the State, Army, and other security-involved departments are screened, then verified by the FBI, the main direct threats are already taken care of.
This leaves a residue of perhaps two million typists and filing clerks who have scarcely more opportunity to affect the national weal than their counterparts at Sears Roebuck's. Even if a good percentage of them were Muscovite zealots, they could still be no more effective than their fellow employees' morale allowed. The Presidential and Republican pretense that the more exposure of Federal workers to such employees' Marxism means automatic conversion, is something less than believable. The question here is academic, of course, because few modern Communists publicize their affiliations. This evasion has provided a field day for the witch hunters, who now define a Communist as anyone who is friendly with anyone who is a Communist--who is in turn defined as a Communist because . . . and thus these Congressmen who often despise modern cultural movements begin to rival Gertrude Stein.
The explanation is easy: derring-do, however fabricated the target, titilates the public. To devote President Truman's projected 25 millions, and staff of bright people, to promoting the economic solidity and self-assurance that make Communism look silly to workers, would be a much too unsensational way out.
Once at an investigation of Aubrey Williams' loyalties, Senator MacKellar stumbled over the word "symphony" and when it was explained to him, mumbled that he couldn't be responsible for knowing all this Communist terminology. The future of Harvard graduates in government jobs when such hatchet men get going, is a prospect interesting to contemplate.