Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary
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Senator Coudert begins his investigation of the needs of the schools!

A student is summoned to a private hearing. He faces a member of the Legislature, two of the committee’s lawyers, a stenographer. He asks whether he can have his father present. The answer is no.

He is questioned about his private affairs, about his work, about his attitude toward labor unions, about his political views. He is told he is lying, reminded that his future is at stake. Off the record, he is told, “You know what this means, this is perjury.”

He is questioned about his teachers and their activities on the campus.

“Do you know Professor So and So?”

“Is he a Communist?”

“Did you ever hear anybody say he is a Communist?”

“Has he ever said anything in class that would make you think he is a Communist?”

“Have you ever heard him talk about Communism with anyone?”

*      *      *

The Committee searches for the truth!

A college teacher is subpoenaed for the private hearings. He is offered “friendly advice” by the investigator. Off the record he is asked to “confess”, to “play along” with the Committee instead of being guided by a “mistaken loyalty” to the Teachers Union. He is told his future is at stake. He is asked “Are you ready to go to jail for the Communist Party?”

If the witness says he is not interested in off the record discussions on subjects about which he knows nothing, the attitude changes.

The inquisition begins.

He is refused the right to have his counsel present. He is refused a copy of his own testimony. He is asked:

“What newspapers do you read? What magazines do you subscribe to?”

“Are you a Communist?”

“Which of your friends are Communists?”

“Have you heard it said that any of your acquaintances are Communists?”

“Have you ever discussed Communism with anyone?”

“Is Professor X a Communist? Y? Z?”

“Have you heard any rumor at the college about any colleagues of yours who are Communists?”

“Isn’t it true that the Union is dominated by Communists?”

Mervin Jules