The Harvard-hating segment of the nation's press has been handed a new chance to snipe at the Veritas banner. The papers have just learned that last February Edwin B. Newman of the Psychology Department told Bloomfield College in New Jersey that he did not think psychologists at Bloomfield or elsewhere should be selected for their political or economic beliefs. And the press has also heard that Newman said Bloomfield flouted freedom of speech and conscience when it insisted on orthodox opinions. Hearing all this, they have given Newman harsh publicity in the last month.
Poking Harvard in the ribs has always been a source of primitive pleasure to many American writers who never came within smelling distance of the Charles. But in this case the journalistic sneerers have poked deeper than the ribs. They have suggested that Harvard and much of the country no longer know how to use the English language.
For instance, Newman has been called "fuzzy-minded" because he opposes Bloomfield's policy of putting "reds, pinks, near-pinks, and 'fellow-travelers'" all in the same basket of questionable loyalty. Similar accusations of mental mushiness were tossed at the opponents of the Barnes Bill last year. The Barnes Bill would have made it illegal for a teacher to approve any Communist Party doctrines--doctrines which include both dictatorship of the proletariat and support of the United Nations. This should make it clear who is "fuzzy-minded" and who is not.
Thanks to editorials on the Bloomfield episode, everyone should also know who is "American" and who is not. One newspaper in Oklahoma stated, "Time was when Harvard was American." This means, of course, that Newman's position is "un-American." It also means that making a man swear fealty to a particular economic belief in order that he may teach, making him broadcast his private political fancies before his professional competence may be proved, is "American."
When Newman spoke out against the Bloomfield doctrine, Harvard silently agreed with him, and a portion of the rest of the nation did also. But perhaps this was only because they were mistaking certain meanings, meanings often misunderstood in the days of Thomas Committees and Barnes Bills. Perhaps these people defined such phrases as "fuzzy-minded" and "American" in certain ways, and thought they knew which phrase to apply to whom. But the word now is that Newman's supporters are wrong about their adjectives. They have been caught napping, and while they have slept, these phrases and other outmoded expressions such as "academic freedom," "freedom of speech," and "freedom of conscience" have gone through a strange metamorphosis.