First Published: Berkeley Barb, August 12, 1966.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The House Committee on Un-American Activities cast its web into the Bay Area last week to snare activists in the peace movement. Its action jostled a large hornets’ nest. Subpoenas “command” Anatole Anton, Steve Cherkoss, George Ewart, Steve Hamilton, Stuart McRae, Jerry Rubin, Steven Smale, John “Windy” Smith and Harold Supriano to report to HUAC in Washington, D.C. on August 16.
Anton and McRae were co-chairmen of the first Medical Aid Committee, at Stanford. Supriano is a DuBois Club member who traveled to northern Vietnam; he is now in jail as a result of his participation in the 1964 civil-rights sit-ins in San Francisco. The other six were active in the Vietnam Day Committee.
To combat HUAC, a Sunday meeting on the UC campus began to mobilize support. The East Bay Committee to Abolish HUAC, the Community for New Politics, the August 6-9 Committee, and other groups offered help. The meeting organized the Peace Activists Defense (PAD) to coordinate the actions of the various organizations.
The Committee to Abolish HUAC sent a letter to 9000 people. It states that HUAC violated its own Rule XVI:
“No member of the Committee or staff shall make public the name of any witness subpoenaed before the Committee or Sub-Committee prior to the date of appearance.”
The names of the subpoenaed men were published in the SF Examiner before several of the subpoenas were served.
HUAC is considering legislation to make it a felony to obstruct military personnel or transportation, or to “prejudice the interest of the United States” by “giving assistance to hostile powers.”
Last August the VDC was stopping troop trains in Berkeley.
The bill (HR 12047) is proposed by Congressman Joseph Pool, a Texas Democrat. The bill would create a penalty of $20,000 and 20 years in prison, or both, for the activities mentioned. Pool is on HUAC.
The summoned activists agreed that HUAC has called them for no legitimate legislative purpose. They agree that HUAC is trying to discredit and halt the anti-war movement.
VDC founder Jerry Rubin expressed their unanimous sentiment when he said, “HUAC is no longer the terror it was in the ’fifties.”
The subpoenaed men all said they intend to tell it like it is when they appear before HUAC. Each said he would talk freely about his own views and activities, and would plead “an amendment” only to avoid implicating other people.
George Ewart of the VDC and the Progressive Labor Party student club said Sunday, “Taking an amendment makes no difference. The committee is trying to create a scare, and we cannot combat it by being silent . . . We must fight them tit for tat every step of the way.”
PLP organizer Steve Cherkoss pointed out that “there’s no saying how many others will be subpoenaed.”
Anatole Anton told BARB Monday that he had not yet received his subpoena, although his name was already in the mass media. “If they don’t find me, I’ll phone them up,” he said.
He said he thinks the warhawks will soon “pull out all the stops and try to break the back of the opposition.”
Stuart McRae told BARB of a visit from federal men a few weeks ago. “They asked me to cooperate, and said they might have a subpoena for me. They didn’t make any direct offers – but they did ask me my draft status,” he said.
Jerry Rubin showed BARB a letter from his draft board. The letter, dated July 26, orders him to report for a physical examination this month. Rubin is currently 1-A.
Rubin said he plans to appear before HUAC dressed in uniform of a soldier of the American Revolution, “because America was born of revolution.”
He told BARB he had been impressed by basic American ideals as taught during his years in high school, “but the ideals are contradicted by the realities.” He described Lyndon Johnson’s policies as “contrary to American ideals.”
“Windy” Smith called the attention of the Sunday PAD meeting to current administration statements hinting at an invasion of northern Vietnam and, perhaps later, war against China.
Steve Hamilton, expelled from UC for activities in the Peace/Rights Organizing Committee, proposed pointing out the “political motivations of the committee.”
William Mandel, a scholar of Soviet history and politics, who burned HUAC’s ears when he appeared before it in 1960 suggested that the Community for New Politics “go knocking on that Congressman’s (Cohelan) door en masse” to prod him into an anti-HUAC stand. The first rap at the door came in the form of ’’a telegram to Cohelan from once-candidate Robert Scheer. Scheer’s telegram said, in part, “During the recent campaign, you termed yourself a civil libertarian. Now, when the Un-American Committee is attempting to intimidate the peace movement in our district and the Bay Area, you can redeem your campaign oratory.”
UC professor Steven Smale will not receive his subpoena. He is in Moscow attending the International Conference of Mathematicians. Smale is slated to receive an award described as “comparable to the Nobel Prize.”
Peace Activists Defense is circulating a petition. It states, “. . . we publish this declaration that we have worked in the past and will continue to work with those subpoenaed, to end U.S. intervention in Vietnam. And we record our demand that these hearings be cancelled and that HUAC and all such instruments of political repression be abolished.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has offered to supply counsel for the summoned witnesses while they are in Washington.
Three New Yorkers received subpoenas this week: Jeoffrey Gordon of Students for a Democratic Society; Alien Krebs, Director of Free University of New York; and Walter Teague of the Committee to Aid the National Liberation Front.
Peace Activists Defense is now organizing a mass rally to be held sometime next week. Their headquarters is at the Free University of Berkeley, 1703 Grove Street. 841-6794.