There was such a thing as HUAC


Established in 1938, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives that conducted investigations through the 1940s and 1950s into alleged communist activities.

Its actions resulted in several contempt-of-Congress convictions and the blacklisting of many who refused to answer its questions. Highly controversial for its tactics, it was criticized for violating First Amendment rights.

The following transcript of an excerpt from the interrogation of screenwriter John Howard Lawson by HUAC chairman J. Parnell Thomas gives an example of an alternative wording of the question and a sense of the tenor of some of the exchanges:

Thomas: Are you a member of the Communist Party or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?
Lawson: It’s unfortunate and tragic that I have to teach this committee the basic principles of Americanism.
Thomas: That’s not the question. That’s not the question. The question is—have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?
Lawson: I am framing my answer in the only way in which any American citizen can frame his answer to …
Thomas: Then you deny it?
Lawson: … a question that invades his… absolutely invades his privacy.
Thomas: Then you deny… You refuse to answer that question, is that correct?
Lawson: I have told you that I will offer my beliefs, my affiliations and everything else to the American public and they will know where I stand as they do from what I have written.
Thomas: Stand away from the stand…
Lawson: I have written for Americanism for many years…
Thomas: Stand away from the stand…
Lawson: And I shall continue to fight for the Bill of Rights, which you are trying to destroy.
Thomas: Officer, take this man away from the stand.

Howard Lawson’s testimony before the HUAC (October 29, 1947)

Advertisements

One thought on “There was such a thing as HUAC

  1. It was a sick time in America, as were the Japanese interment camps during WWII.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s