Written by Walter and Victor Reuther in 1961, distributed around the Kennedy administration and indeed put into practice by the IRS, this is the classic strategy statement of how postwar American communism—aka ADA liberalism—in the mid-century era dealt with the ever-present threat of genuine political opposition. There was no clean copy of the Reuther memorandum on the net, so I thought I’d dig it out of hideous obscurity and repost it here. (I’m still looking for the related “Fulbright memorandum,” aka “Propaganda Activities of Military Personnel Directed at the Public.”)
Note the appearance of none other than Richard Nixon as a good team player on the Republican side. The “Katanga operation” is the US-supported UN assault on Katanga, then regarded by all responsible authorities as a crucial step in freeing the backward colonial despotism of the Belgian Congo to grow into a prosperous and independent democratic republic. It was critical to prevent ignorant Neanderthals from Mississippi from interfering with this sort of enlightened and progressive foreign policy—or any other policy for that matter.
Indeed it’s interesting to note the abject failure and/or disappearance of almost all the dissident organizations mentioned in the memo, along with the rest of traditional American anticommunism. Harding College (now University) still exists, though I had to look it up, and the JBS keeps limping along. Meanwhile, William Ayers’ office boy is President of the United States. It is also hilarious, even for the time, to note the juxtaposition of the breathless paranoia with the ridiculous shoestring funding of the dissidents—a million dollars a year! One million dollars!
There is also an interesting discussion of Eisenhower and American communism at Foseti’s, which is what prompted me to post this document. Suffice it to say: unless you’re over 78, America is a communist country and has been for your entire life. What is communism? Democracy without authentic political opposition. How does communism eliminate opposition while maintaining the appearance of a genuine political contest? See below.
(This is not to say America is a Stalinist country, except as an assignment of retrospective guilt for the “Mission to Moscow” era. Mainstream American liberalism of course broke with Russia after FDR’s death. This “Anglo-Soviet split” produced the phenomenon known to our communist historians as “the Cold War.” If communion with Moscow is your definition of “communism,” there was no such thing as communism before 1917 or after 1989, and Mao Tse-tung (after 1961) was a staunch anti-communist. I hope there aren’t any little boys in the room once you’ve finished raping the English language.)
What’s nice about the Reuther memorandum is that, since it was written for insiders only, it is relatively transparent, though it still uses the propaganda language of the time. Thus “democracy” is American communism (i.e., Cold War liberalism), “international Communism” is Soviet communism, and “domestic Communism” is Americans who are so dense they didn’t get the message and are still working for Moscow. Since only true believers are meant to be reading, the memo doesn’t work too hard to disguise this reality. “Although the radical right poses a far greater danger to the success of this country in the battle against international Communism than does the domestic Communist movement, the latter have been branded subversive by the Government and the former have not.”
My sourcing is extremely tenuous but I believe I have basically the correct text. I’ve fixed some apparent typos, removed irrelevant front matter, and attempted interpolations in brackets. This certainly reads as an authentic internal document of the period. Here it is:
December 19, 1961 The Radical Right in America Today
President Kennedy’s address to Seattle and Los Angeles on November 16 and 18 evidenced both a deep concern with, and a profound understanding of the serious problems injected into American life by the growning strength of the radical right. A spate of articles in responsible newspapers and periodicals reflect this same concern and understanding. Perhaps therefore this memorandum will prove but a repetition and restatement of suggestions already under consideration by the Administration. Since, however, the public discussion to date concerning the radical right has produced little in the line of suggested policies and programs for dealing with the serious problems raised, this memorandum may have some value in focusing attention upon possible Administration policies and programs to combat the radical right.
Initially, it needs to be said that far more is required in the struggle against the radical right then simply calling attention to present and potential dangers. If the Administration truly recognizes this as a serious problem, as it certainly appears to do, it is most important that President Kennedy’s addresses in Seattle and Los Angeles be implemented. Speeches without action may well only mobilize the radical right instead of mobilizing the democratic forces within our nation. It is with this consideration in view that there is set forth below an estimate of the extent of the problem and suggested Administration policies and programs for dealing with the problem.
Extent of Problem
The radical right or extreme right-wing, or however it may be designated, includes an unknown number of millions of Americans of viewpoints bounded on the left by Senator Goldwater and on the right by Robert Welch. The active component of these radical right millions would, of course, be only a small fraction of the total. But, whatever may be the difficulty of ascertaining their numbers, these radical right groups are probably stronger and are almost certainly better organized than at any time in recent history. More significant yet, they are growing in strength and there is no reason to expect a turning of the tide in this regard during the foreseeable Cold War period ahead. And, possibly most significant of all, their relationship to and infiltration of the Armed Service adds a new dimension to the seriousness with which they must be viewed.
New radical right organizations have sprung up like weeds in the last few years; it is estimated by the Anti-Defamation League that almost a hundred such organizations have been organized in 1961 alone. Welch’s Birch Society, Schwarz’ Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, and Hargis’ Christian Crusade, are among the most powerful of the new groups. Benson’s Harding College and National Education Program and H.L. Hunt’s Life Line have earlier histories, but they have expanded along with the growth of the new groups. But all of these groups together are only part of an even larger and constantly growing movement which is well manned and even better financed.
The Birch Society alone probably has a million dollars a year at its disposal; so does the Christian Crusade (which is just one of 3 Hargis ventures). The radical right as a whole—and estimating conservatively – must have twenty or more times this much on call. There are vast quantities of literature, films and records emanating from the radical right and even such things as radical right bookshops are beginning to spring up. (General Walker gave one of these bookshops, The Bookmailer in New York, a big plug on national television December 3rd).
The Birch Society may be the best known today. But others are equally strong and perhaps more influential. Take a look at Schwarz’ Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, for example. In the Anti-Communist School he ran in St. Louis earlier this year he was backed by the St. Louis Globe Democrat and was sponsored by the Mayor and Chief of Police of St. Louis and both United States Senators. Governor John M. Dalton even officially proclaimed this “Anti-Communism week in Missouri.” The New York Times eyewitness report from St. Louis asserted that one of the most striking things there was “the large proportion of younger people.”
Schwarz’ Hollywood rallies are even more disturbing than his St. Louis and other schools. His Crusade had a three-hour rally before some twelve to fifteen thousand persons in the Hollywood Bowl and an estimated four million more watched the program over television on 33 stations in six states. Actors John Wayne, James Stewart, Pat O’Brien, and George Murphy were there, as were such top “movie-makers” as Jack Warner of Warner Brothers and Y. Frank Freeman of Paramount. The gross take at the rally (plus the week’s Hollywood Anti-Communist School) was $214,796.
Even more significant was the presence of C.D. Jackson, a top executive of Life Magazine. In early September Life had run a disparaging story about Schwarz. The kickback at Life was sufficient to induce Jackson to fly to Los Angeles to appear in the Hollywood Bowl and offer a public apology. Jackson told the audience, “I believe we were wrong and I am profoundly sorry. It’s a great privilege to be here tonight and align Life Magazine with Senator Dodd, Representative Judd, Dr. Schwarz, and the rest of these implacable fighters against communism.” Only recently the Los Angeles rallies were re-telecast in New York City for three full evening hours with the Schick Safety Razor Company picking up the tab. (Richfield Oil and Technicolor Corp., as well as Schick, appear to be regularly available to Schwarz as television sponsors).
Take a look, too, at another one of these groups—Harding College and the National Education Program (both headed by Dr. George S. Benson). The propaganda operation, exclusive of the college, is budgeted at $200,000 a year. They produced some 30 movies of which “Communism on the Map” is the most famous and has been seen by 10 million persons. Dr. Benson’s weekly column has wide distribution and one version is sent in bulk mail to a thousand business organizations. He has a monthly newsletter with 50 thousand subscribers, he has outlets in a great many Farm Bureau monthly state papers (the effect of which was seen at the recent Farm Bureau Convention). He has a series of high school study outlines in “American Citizenship Education” sent free to schools requesting them.
The Life Line Radio Program, now on about 200 radio stations (some run the program twice), is planning to branch out into television. Businessmen all over the Nation are sponsoring this program. H.L. Hunt, one of the richest oil men in the country and owner of Life Line, boasts that “the Free World cannot be saved at a profit.”
All of these radical right organizations have the same general line. The danger to America is domestic Communism. While their particular traitor will vary from Harry Hopkins to George Marshall, from President Truman to President Eisenhower, from Senator Fullbright to some labor leader, there is no question that anybody even slightly to the left of Senator Goldwater is suspect. They traffic in fear. Treason in high places is their slogan and slander is their weapon. They undermine loyal Americans’ confidence in each other and in their government.
Their appeal is for “total victory” (note that Goldwater is with them all the way on this) and they thrive on every defeat, retreat, concession, or even negotiations. Americans feel they are “losing” for the first time in history. Since Americans intuitively tend not to believe they ever lose fairly, the radical right’s charges that we are “losing” (itself a dubious assumption) because of treason in high places falls on fertile soil. In Schwarz’s Southern California meetings, as shown in the New York re-telecast a couple of weeks ago, Senator Dodd’s and Representative Judd’s heavy-handed foreign policy polemics received little applause, but when W. Claus Skousen (author of “The Naked Communist”) charged treason in high places, the place went up in a roar of applause.
The suggestion is being made in some quarters (e.g., Reston in the Times of November 19, 1961) that the radical right is primarly a “Republican problem” because it utilizes money that might otherwise be available to Republican Party candidates. Former Vice President Nixon shares this view.
Yet on reflection, this would appear quite superficial. The growing strength of the radical right may indeed be an inconvenience to the Republican Party, but it is far worse than that for the Nation and the Democratic Party—for it threatens the President’s programs at home and abroad.
By the use of the twin propaganda weapons of fear and slander, the radical right moves the national political spectrum away from the Administration’s proposed liberal programs at home and abroad. By vicious local pressure campaigns against teachers or preachers or any one else who supports anything from negotiation in foreign affairs to governmental programs in domestic affairs, they frighten off support for much-needed Administration programs. Pressure tactics on already-timid Congressmen are reinforced with fanaticism and funds. The pressure campaign against the Katanga operation is only one example of what is ahead. Any hard-boiled realistic appraisal of the situation evokes this conclusion: The growing strength, organization and financial resources of the radical right is not something that can be wished away or that can be confidently ignored as a Republican problem.
Action On The Problem
As the radical right cannot be wished away or ignored, likewise its demise is not something that can be readily accomplished. The struggle against the radical right is a long-term affair; total victory over the radical right is no more possible than total victory over the Communists. What are needed are deliberate Administration policies and programs to contain the radical right from further expansion and in the long run to reduce it to its historic role of the impotent lunatic fringe.*
* Private agencies can do much too, to identify and expose the radical right. Indeed, in the long-run the extent of participation by private agencies in this struggle is more likely to determine its outcome than anything the Government can do. The press, television, church, labor, civic, political and other groups whose constitutional freedom is directly involved must carry the prime burden in this struggle. But the purpose of this memorandum is to consider possible Administration policies and programs rather than those of private groups. Furthermore, affirmative Administration policies and programs can set the backdrop against which private activity is most likely to succeed.
As the radical right today feeds like a leech on the frustrations of the American people, so reducing these frustrations by accomplishments at home and abroad is the most important part of the long-range battle against the radical right. Indeed, in the long run, only democratic initiative in the world struggle against Communism will roll back the radical right to its traditional insignificance. But the Nation cannot look the other way and wait for this to happen. The radical right organizations threaten to render impossible the very steps (action and negotiation) that need to be taken by the Administration if our nation is to survive and succeed in the world struggle; they must never be permitted to become so strong as to obstruct action needed for democratic survival and success.
As we gird ourselves for a long struggle against world Communism, so we must grid ourselves for a long struggle against the radical right. But there are some steps which can and should be taken now to halt the growth of the radical right and possibly to turn the tide against it. There are other steps of a more long-range nature. Among the programs and policies of both types which the Administration might consider are the following:
1. The radical right inside the Armed Services presents an immediate and special problem requiring immediate and special measures.
The problem of radical right influence inside the Armed Services is an immediate one and made all the more so by the up-coming hearings of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee. But even if there were no hearings, this challenge to the basic American concept of separating military personnel from partisan politics must be met now. Tolerance of such a challenge can only embolden those who do the challenging.
It has been widely reported that General Walker’s radical right viewpoint is shared by a substantial number of his colleagues. One observer, Louis J. Halle, has reported that Walker’s position “represents the publicly unexpressed but privately outspoken view of an important part of our American officer corps in all three services” (New Republic, November 20, 1961). Drew Pearson has twice reported without contradiction that a Lieutenant General has leaked secret information to Senator Thurmond in support of the Walker position. The “American Seminars,” espousing radical right doctrine and sponsored or co-sponsored by the Armed Services in various places, could only have been accomplished by radical right officer personnel within the armed forces; the spectacle of the U.S. Army sponsoring Skousen’s reflection on the patriotism of Franklin Roosevelt and the loyalty of Harry Hopkins, could only have been achieved through the connivance of inside military personnel. Former top brass work with all the radical right groups. The recent experience in Algeria demonstrates that the soldiers of an army of a democratic nation may be tempted, out of frustration, to engage in anti-democratic operations; as reports from France make so abundantly clear, the radical right Generals and Admirals continue today to threaten the stability of France’s democratic system.
What appears to support the position of widespread infiltration of the radical right into the Armed Services is the manner in which the Walker case was handled. Indeed, the shocking thing about the Walker case is not that his resignation was accepted in 1961, but that the Armed Services rejected his resignation in 1959 when he tried to resign because of “the fifth column conspiracy and influence in the United States” and the “conspiracy and its influences on the home front.” Whether the resignation was rejected because Walker’s superiors agreed with his views or simply were not shocked by them is not known; but in either event, the failure to accept his resignation constituted a dangerous tolerance of the radical right inside the Armed Services. Even worse was the action towards Walker in 1960 and early in 1961; the Army failed to act against Walker’s insubordination and illegal acts of “radical right politics” until public notice of Walker’s offenses (brought about by a newspaper exposé) forced the Pentagon’s hand. Again, it is not important why this happened; what is important is the degree of tolerance of the radical right inside the Armed Services.
It also appears to have been widespread pressure from right wing Generals and Admirals in the Pentagon which brought about the recall to duty of General Van Fleet. It is common knowledge that General Van Fleet has himself been a member of the extreme right wing (Board member of “For America”; endorser of the Florida Coalition of Patriotic Societies; Board of Advisors of H. L. Hunt’s Life Line). Not only does the Pentagon pressure for the recall of General Van Fleet evidence radical right influence inside the military establishment, but it demonstrates the absolute unappeasability of this group. All that the recall has accomplished is to embarrass the Administration when Van Fleet irresponsibly attacked the Administration’s Ambassador to the United Nations.
Once it is recognized that there is a serious problem of radical right infiltration of the military and that appeasement is not the answer, the indicated course of action becomes clear. The Administration must get off the defensive in the Walker case; it must shift the battleground from the defensive posture of justifying the “muzzling of Walker” to an offensive posture supporting the basic American concept of separation of military personnel from partisan politics. To shift the posture from defense to offense, consideration should be given to requesting Senator Russell to broaden the hearings to cover the problem of radical right infiltration of the Armed Services. As the Washington Post said on November 28th, the hearings “ought to be aimed not to determining whether General Walker and his imitators were improperly silenced by civilian authorities, but at determining how widely the infection they represent is spread in the armed services.”
An alternate to getting Senator Russell to broaden the hearings would be for Secretary McNamara to start his own investigation of radical right Generals and Admirals. Those Generals and Admirals who have lost confidence in democracy and who feel that the danger to our country is treason at home rather than the strength of the International Communist movement abroad, should be warned against political activity in any way, shape or form. This might have the effect of causing the resignation of some of these Generals and Admirals which would certainly be in the national interest. At any rate, political activity after such warnings would be grounds for dismissal from the service. Above all, the suggested investigation would give courage to the officers, old and young, who believe in democracy and in a non-political democratic Army.
Then, too, Secretary McNamara should try to take the offensive at the forthcoming hearings. Secretary McNamara certainly has the right to be the first witness at the hearings. Instead of being on the defensive concerning his muzzling of Walker, he should take the offensive by telling how action against Walker was too long delayed and how there is a serious problem in the Armed Services concerning persons who no longer believe in democracy. If, as suggested in the previous paragraph, Secretary McNamara has by that time instituted his own investigation of radical right Generals and Admirals, he should give his report of his plans in this regard. Whether or not he has instituted an investigation, he should make clear that the Defense Department’s policy rejects these extreme right-wing organizations and rejects the views of those who participate in them. He should have those of the real top brass who share his views get right up behind him at the hearing and back him up. He should get the full support of the President. In this way, the hearings could be turned against those who presently plan to use them to help the right wing embarrass Secretary McNamara.
The strong posture against radical right Generals and Admirals suggested in this memorandum would go far to answer Soviet propaganda that American foreign policy is not in responsible hands and that there is a substantial “preventive war” group in the Pentagon which may ultimately get the upper hand. This strong posture would not only reassure our own allies, but might give support to factions within the Soviet Union that argue for a more flexible position on the Soviet’s part.
2. The radical right and the Attorney General’s subversive list.
The Attorney General’s list of subversive organizations is lending aid and comfort to the radical right. Although the radical right poses a far greater danger to the success of this country in the battle against international Communism than does the domestic Communist movement, the latter have been branded subversive by the Government and the former have not. No one loses his job or is subjected to public obloquy because he joins one of these radical right groups; yet these groups can use the subversive list to get at liberals and moderates who twenty years earlier had joined some Communist “front” organization which looked patriotic and socially desirable. The list today is almost like a Good Housekeeping seal for the radical right. Whatever one’s views may be toward the list, as long as it exists it should not remain one-sided and be permitted to work in favor of the radical right.
Under existing regulations, the Attorney General can only put an organization on the Attorney General’s list if he finds, after notice and hearing, that it meets the standards of the list—i.e., that the organization is “totalitarian, fascist, communist or subversive, or as having adopted a policy of advocating or approving the commission of acts of force or violence to deny others their rights under the Constitution…, or as seeking to alter the form of government of the United States by unconstitutional means.” Certain of the radical right organizations may well meet one or more of these criteria.
For example, the Birch Society appears to advocate the denial of constitutional rights by force and openly seeks to substitute some other form of society for existing democratic forms; to it democracy is “merely a deceptive phrase, a weapon of demagoguery, and a perpetual fraud.” Three of the best known radical right groups are predicated on secrecy: the Birch Society keeps its members secret; Hargis, head of the Christian Crusade, has announced plans for a secret fraternity with Greek letters; and the Minutemen which conduct guerilla warfare maneuvers also keeps its members secret. Then, too, Birch operates on a monolithic or totalitarian system within the organization and other radical right groups may also so operate. These organizations have succeeded in promoting disaffection and, as in the case of General Walker, outright rebellion in the Army. There would thus appear to be adequate grounds for holding a hearing on one or more of these organizations to determine whether they should be listed.
It might therefore be advisable for the Attorney General to announce at this time that he is going to investigate one or more of these organizations with a view to determining whether charges will be filed and hearings held on the questions of listing one or more of these organizations. The mere act of indicating that an investigation will be made will certainly bring home to many people something they have never considered—the subversive character of these organizations and their similarity to the listed groups on the left. To make this announcement before the hearings of the Armed Services Committee on the muzzling of General Walker might well be an additional way to take the offensive against Senator Thurmond and the radical right.
It is not known the extent to which the Federal Bureau of Investigation has planted undercover agents inside the radical right movement as it has inside the Communist Party and its allied organizations. If it has already done so, the information would be readily available upon which to draw up charges for a hearing against one or more of the radical right groups. If the Bureau has not as yet infiltrated these organizations, a longer time will of course be necessary to obtain the information for the charges, although much of the needed information for the charges is available through public sources.
In any event, the announcement of the investigation would have an immediate salutary effect and the later announcement of the hearing or hearings might have an even greater one. It is not unlikely that these groups will refuse information and otherwise act towards the Attorney General’s procedures just exactly as the Communists have acted in the past. Nothing could better reveal to the public the true nature of these groups than defiant resistance to their government.
3. The flow of big money to the radical right should be damned to the extent possible.
The growing power of radical right propagandists and groups is directly related to their expanind ability to secure large sums of money. As funds are a source of power to the radical right, action to dam up these funds may be the quickest way to turn the tide now running in their favor.
Benson’s National Education Program, Schwarz’ Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, Hargis’ Christian Crusade and William Volker Fund, Inc. are among the radical right groups which are reported to have federal tax exemptions. It would appear highly doubtful, to say the least, that any or all these groups properly qualifies for a federal tax exemption. Prompt revocation in a few cases might scare off a substantial part of the big money now flowing into these tax exempt organizations.*
* An additional suggestion in this regard might be considered. This would be the feasibility of including in the publicly available files of these tax-exempt organizations, their annual receipts and expenditures reports which can now be obtained only with great difficulty. Appropriately organized files available to the public would tend to create a little self-enforcement.
Then, too, corporate funds are used to put radical right views on the air for political rather than business reasons; propaganda is peddled far and wide under the guise of advertising. H. L. Hunt openly urges big business not to rely on contributions to finance the radical right but to use their advertising funds. The Internal Revenue Service sometime ago banned certain propaganda ads by electrical utilities as deductible expenses. Consideration might be given to the question whether the broadcast and rebroadcast of Schwarz’ Christian Anti-Communist Crusade rallies and similar rallies and propaganda of other groups is not in the same category.
A related question is that of free radio and television time for the radical right. Hargis Christian Crusade has its messages reproduced by 70 radio stations across the country as public service features, and Mutual Broadcasting System apparently gave him a special rate for network broadcasts. In Washington, D.C. radio station WEAM currently offers the “Know Your Enemy” program at 8:25 pm., six days a week as a public service; in program No. 97 of this series the commentator advised listeners that Gus Hall of the Communist Party had evoked a plan for staffing the Kennedy Administration with his followers and that the plan was being carried out with success. Certainly the Federal Communications Commission might consider examining the extent of the practice of giving free time to the radical right and could take measures to encourage stations to assign comparable time for an opposing point of view on a free basis. Incidentally, in the area of commercial (not free) broadcasting, there is now pending before the FCC, Cincinnati Station WLW’s conduct in selling time to Life Line but refusing to sell time for the UAW program, “Eye Opener.”
In addition to possible misuse of federal tax exemptions and the misuse of corporate funds for propaganda advertising, it seems not unlikely that corporation funds are flowing into the radical right in other and covert ways. The President of Schick Razor Company, for example, has made it clear that “Dr. Schwarz will not lack for money while I’m around.” And, finally, there is the big question whether Schwarz, Hargis, etc. are themselves complying with the tax laws.
Adequate information on the financing of the radical right can only come from the inside of these organizations. As already indicated, it is not known whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation has undercover agents inside these organizations in the same manner and to the same degree as the Bureau has inside the Communist Party and other left-wing groups. Similarly, it is not known what the Treasury Department has done in the way of undercover operations to get at tax violations in the financing of these organizations. Likewise, it is not known whether the Federal Communications Commission has ever assembled information on the degree to which the radical right is getting free time without comparable expression of the opposing point of view. Certainly, there is sufficient public information indicating possible tax violations in this area and possible violations of FCC policies to justify the most complete check on these various means of financing the radical right.
4. The Administration should take steps to end the Minutemen.
Free speech is the essence of democracy, but armed bands are not the exercise of free speech. There is no warrant for permitting groups to organize into military cadres for the purpose of taking the law into their own hands.
It is not known whether the Minutemen will grow or whether they will fade out of the picture. They do, however, represent a dangerous precedent in our democracy. Consideration should be given to the question whether they are presently violating any federal laws and, if not, to the Federal Government calling a conference of States where the Minutemen exist to see what action could be taken under state laws. There is, of course, the additional possibility, as indicated earlier, that the Minutemen might fall within the terms of the Attorney General’s list of subversive organizations.
5. The domestic Communist problem should be put in proper perspective for the American people, thus exposing the basic fallacy of the radical right.
The radical right feeds on charges of treason, traitors and treachery. It has its roots in a very real sense in the belief of the American people that domestic Communism has succeeded in betraying America and threatens its very survival. Putting the domestic Communist problem in proper perspective would do much to expose the basic fallacy of the radical right.
The Administration has inherited an extremely difficult problem and posture in this area. Executive and legislative speech writers have automatically maximized the domestic Communist menace ever since World War II. The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Hoover, although he made an admirable recent statement concerning the radical right, exaggerates the domestic Communist menace at every turn and this contributes to the public’s frame of mind upon which the radical right feeds. Assistant Attorney General J. Walter Yeagley, who continues in charge of internal security matters, has always maximized the domestic Communist menace. There is grave danger that the upcoming legal battle between the Department of Justice and the Communist Party over registration (particularly if there are additional indictments of individuals) will itself fan these same flames.
Each Administration since World War II has mazimized the Communist problems. It will therefore be no easy task for the Administration to turn the corner and take a different attitude. But action along this line is necessary to contain and in the long-run to roll back the radical right. Without minimizing the Communist Party strength or potential in the thirties and forties, it has no capacity today to endanger our national security or defeat our national policies. There is no need for a further effort to dramatize the domestic Communist issue; the need now is to rein in those who have created the unreasoned fear of the domestic Communist movement in the minds of the American people and slowly to develop a more rational attitude toward the strength of this movement. Without forbidding dissenting officials from expressing a contrary viewpoint (and thus evoking charges of muzzling Hoover, etc.), an effort to take a more realistic view of domestic Communism by the leaders of the Administration would probably cause most of the Administration officials to fall into line and even some legislators might be affected thereby. Fifteen years of overstating a problem cannot be reversed overnight, but thoughtful handling can reduce tensions and misconceptions in this area, too.
It would be the easier course to look the other way and say that the radical right will disappear when we solve our problems at home and abroad. But the radical right may, if it is not contained, make it more difficult, if not impossible, to solve our problems at home and abroad.
Efforts to deal with radical right Generals and Admirals and Minutemen, investigation to determine whether to list radical right organizations, efforts to dam the illegal flow of money in their direction, efforts to set the domestic Communist problem in perspective—all will evoke immediate charges of softness on Communism. But this is not a problem that can be swept under the rug. The Administration can no more combat the radical right by being “tough on domestic Communism” or appeasing radical right Generals than the Republican Administration was able to fight McCarthyism by its own excesses in this area. It is very late in the day to start dealing with these problems, but it will never get earlier.