Re: [sixties-l] Re: new ground: The Sixties and the Right

From: William M Mandel (
Date: 10/04/00

  • Next message: William M Mandel: "Re: [sixties-l] Re: new ground: The Sixties and the Right"

        It just isn't true, or, to be properly academic, it is simply a misapprehension
    that the Right was more active than the Left in the early 60s. It is becoming
    embarrassing for me to refer endlessly to my autobiography, Saying No To Power, but
    I simply know of no more specific and convincing source on the matter under
    discussion than two chapters in it, "'Honorable Beaters of Children'" and
    "Traveling Gadfly and Diplomat."
        The point is that the 60s among whites began with the San Francisco hearing of
    the House Un-American Activities Committee. Its defeat there by the student
    demonstration of thousands and the vocal resistance of witnesses was responded to
    by a film, "Operation Abolition," put together from subpoenaed TV news footage,
    KPFA radio footage, and truly laughable interviews with HUAC members, one of whom
    chomped on his dentures as he accused the students of "toying with treason." A
    student committee, BASCAHUAC (Bay Area Student Committee Against HUAC), functioned
    nationally to combat the film, which was put out in 1,000 prints and seen, its
    promoters claimed, by 18,000,000. Students nationwide saw it, reacted in exactly
    the opposite way that its makers desired, and turned against the system. Bob Dylan
    is one on whom it had that effect.
        Its influence was such that the ACLU made a film titled, "Operation
    Correction," to demonstrate that "OpAb" was a fraud based on reversal of time
    sequences. In turn, a  Hollywood indie, Robert Cohen, made yet another, in
    docudrama form, with the deliberately deadpan title, "House Committee on
    Un-American Activities." It is by far the best of the three, although "OpAb" is the
    best-known. All are still available in university film libraries.
        The reason my observations are meaningful is that people regarded my subpoenaed
    testimony at the San Francisco hearing as spectacular and I was invited by students
    all over the country to speak with and against "OpAb." Were the view of the early
    60s as more Rightist than Leftist accurate, that would have been revealed in
    audience and outside behavior during my appearances. But picket lines against me
    were few and sparse (they produced some great signs, though: "Brainwashing -- By An
    Expert"), while audiences were huge. The John Birch Society, in that
    pre-desktop-publishing age, brought out a beautifully printed four-page leaflet
    detailing proofs of my Leftism, which audiences dutifully accepted, put in their
    pockets, and sat down to hear what I had to say.
        At the University of Chicago, students, unable to get a speaker against me,
    actually hired an actor to do that, not telling me or the audience. When I later
    learned of that, I demanded that the fact be made public so that I could not be
    accused of having been party to a fraud.
        At the University of Ohio, I was barred from the campus, spoke in the back yard
    of the brand-new Ph.D. in English who had invited me ("because you are in the
    classic tradition of English utterance"(!)), and students then literally hung into
    the windows of the Unitarian Church to the number of 800 to hear me there. My
    host's first teaching contract, at Nebraska's Wayne State, was cancelled because of
    his sponsorship of me, the  AAUP investigated this for three years, and then
    formally censured that university. The incident got into Atlantic Monthly and a
    couple of books. For months thereafter the Ohio State student newspaper ran an
    endless number of letters about this matter.
        More remarkable than my experiences were those of Frank Wilkinson, a man of my
    generation, happily still alive in Los Angeles, who was sentenced to a jail term
    for taking the First Amendment at an earlier HUAC hearing. He lost his final appeal
    shortly after the San Francisco hearing. In consequence, his deliberately slow
    journey to Washington to surrender into custody was a triumphal procession of
    student rallies acorss the country, larger than mine. The point is that there was
    no significant opposition to those meetings, peaceful or violent. Young Americans
    for Freedom didn't amount to a hill of beans.
        When the Free Speech Movement developed at Cal. in 1964, it had sense enough to
    want off-campus support, and I was elected to its Executive Committee to represent
    that support, fundamentally on the basis of my reputation from 1960. In Berkeley,
    the Right never made any headway except among the gangster component of motorcycle
    outlaws. Genuine conservatives were part of the FSM.
        I am sure that others can contribute both reminiscences and documentation to
    reinforce this picture as the Left as being far stronger than the Right in the
    first half of the Sixties. That it was also in the latter half is, as far as I
    know, hardly a matter of debate.
                                                    William Mandel
    John Andrew wrote:
    > Ted Morgan wrote, in part:
    > >
    > >John raises interesting points about the Right and the 60s.

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