Marquette University recently wrote that it would be happy to argue with any Harvard debaters touring the Wisconsin area. But the alma mater of Senator Joe would not quibble over such dry topics as Free Trade. Let us debate "McCarthyism," they suggested, and the old home town will pack the house. Their idea was modified to read, Resolved: That All Investigations of Subversives Should Be Restricted to the FBI. The Harvard team packed its evidence and headed West.
Before them loomed rumors of a Police Force mobilized to prevent personal injury, "Joe-must-stay rallies," and a somewhat discomforting letter from the Chairman of the debate: "We can assure you that Harvard's gentlemen will receive an 'interesting' reception here in Wisconsin. In line with this situation there is certain information which we will need immediately. Who are the bold students who dare enter the wilds of darkest McCarthyland? Could we have some biographical information on these gentlemen for publicity purposes and programs? (and obituaries if necessary). The debate is in formal attire. (We think you will look better laid out that way.) In all seriousness, we hope we can make your stay in Milwaukee a pleasant one.--Allan Swoboda, Chairman.
P.S.--Rumor has it that the campus Young Republicans are planning to riot when you arrive; but don't worry, we'll protect your baggage."
An undefeated Harvard team crept into Milwaukee before dawn. As the sun rose the Marquette campus filled with loudly articulate groups. Those not discussing beer or the Braves were blasting the "Harvard pinks."
"Did you see that TV program with a guy from the CRIMSON, some kind of a managing editor named Lokas or Locust--a real subversive."
"How do you know he is?" asked a friend.
"How do I know? Didn't he say he was a friend of Professor Furry?"
In another group a small fellow with a suede jacket was speculating on the coming debate, "Yeh, I bet those Harvard characters attack McCarthy. They'll never convince me he isn't an all right Joe. Take those lies about his war wound."
"Well when he was in town he let me feel the scar."
All the little discussion groups massed together that night in Marquette's new auditorium. Before long the debaters filed in, carrying large briefcases and wearing somber tuxedos. The wife of the Speech Director looked worried. "They can't be Harvard men," she said, "they look too young." But a man next to her argued they must be from the East because of their "tweedy overcoats." Reassured, they marched the debaters onto the platform and the Director rapped for order.
After introductions he explained that he had assigned Harvard to argue this particular topic, "because the Speech Department needed a debate that would bring in some money." The crowd thought that was pretty funny-all twelve hundred paying customers, including Mrs. McCarthy.
Representing Marquette were the Brothers Kersten, sons of Congressman Kersten.
When some faithful Harvard alumni mustered up applause for their own team the Brothers became slightly flustered. But a deafening round of approval from the home town dispelled any of their fears, and unnerved one of the Harvard debaters who nearly dropped his water pitcher.
For an hour and a half the arguments flew back and forth while the crowd restrained itself to goodnatured shouting. "Do you realize," quizzed Marquette, "that men like Harry Dexter White would still be in the government if it were not for Congressional committees." Among other points, the Harvard team reminded them that White died some time ago of natural causes. But the Brothers concluded with a fiery approval of all committee activities, unmoved by any talk of abuses.
Immediately following the debate the Chairman rushed about gathering the three ballots. Meanwhile the debaters stuffed quote cards into their briefcases and prepared to make a hasty departure. A local speech instructor and the Information Director of the pro-McCarthy Sentinel voted against the Harvard team's conclusion to outnumber the debate coach from a neighboring town who cast an affirmative ballot. The Harvard men appeared more relaxed when the doors to the auditorium were unlocked and the crowd began to pour out. As the photographers snapped flash shots the Marquette debate coach rushed up to the rostrum.
"We're going to double your twenty dollar honorarium," he informed the Harvard team. "We want you to come back every year."