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Cabbage and Kings

II: The Foul Wind

By William Surden

"What is the Supreme Court worry about the constitutionality of this bill? It's about time we took some positive action!!" This was Rep. Meyer Peterson's answer to the question of constitutionality as the afternoon session of the public hearing on the Dorgan-McCarthy anti-Communist Bill opened in the State Houses last Wednesday.

The first witness was Mrs. Harry Ross from the League of Women Voters. Mrs. Ross arranged her papers with an air of brisk efficiency. In a clear voice she explained that the new law would not take care of anything that is not covered by the Smith Act of 1940, which makes it a crime to advocate overthrow of the government. "But," said Mrs. Ross, "we are not entitled to deny any group a place on the ballot, or the right to express their opinions."

"Do you know that Alger Hiss and Fuchs could destroy the whole world?" asked a representative Mrs. Ross replied that she didn't quite see the point of this question. Representative Keene then tried to "clarify the situation" for Mrs. Ross-"Are the boys that get killed in Korea sacrificing their lives for you or some other country? I don't like to see the bodies of boys brought home from Korea." Witness Ross was slightly rattled by this burst of oratory. She repeated that Communist subversion was already handled by Federal laws. Then she sat down. "These Communists are very clever," said a representative.

The next witness introduced himself as Daniel Booner Shermer, Chairman of the Boston Communist Party. Mr. Shermer registered his opposition to the bill and introduced Michael Russo, head of the New England Communist Party. "No introductions," said the committee chairman, "besides, we'd like to ask Mr. Shermer a few questions." Mr. Shermer was asked if he believed in a Supreme Being. He dodged this question by giving a short speech on the crimes of "big business." Then Shermer stated that the Dorgan-McCarthy Bill was an unfair persecution of his party, and mentioned that the bill was titled "The Anti-Communist Bill." The title has nothing to do with the law," answered the Chairman. After asking Shermer for details of his education and background, the committee dismissed him and Russo took the stand.

Representative Edmund Donlan rose to the attack. "We know why you were sent here," shouted Donlan, "they sent you here to purge Shermer, didn't they? You feel he's mentally incompetent, don't you?" As Russo smiled and turned toward the audience, someone shouted, "Why don't you get down to business?" Two policemen moved forward and ushered the heckler out of the room.

Suddenly, Representative Keene asked Russo what the meaning of "cosmopolitanism" was. Before Russo opened his mouth Rep. Donlan screamed, "It means a man's a JEW, doesn't it?" (Hisses from the audience.) "The Hitler-Stalin pact came from a desire to slaughter the Jews. You're dripping with Jewish blood, aren't you?"

Then Keene offered Russo some fatherly advice, "You look like a nice fellow, you ought to go back to the Catholic religion and see your mother and dad. 'I'll say a prayer for you." Finally, Russo agreed to meet the representatives at the Parker House for a class in Marxist theory. This symposium will take place at 4.00 p.m. next Thursday.

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