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Chandler Davis - The Purge (HUAC)

Chandler Davis - The Purge (HUAC)

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Published by Michael Drew Prior
Documents a small portion of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC 1938-1975) activity.
Documents a small portion of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC 1938-1975) activity.

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Published by: Michael Drew Prior on Jul 24, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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7/24/11 6:10 PMChandler Davis - The PurgePage 1 of 48file:///Users/michaelprior/Desktop/Chandler%20Davis%20-%20The%20Purge.webarchive
The Purge
Chandler Davis
(first printed in
 A Century of Mathematics in America
, 1988)
As a child I thought it was up to my generation toestablish world socialism. My mentors reassuredme that to follow my inclination and become ascientist would not be letting the cause down,because scientists would be needed after therevolution. Things like the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 — and even more the bombing of civilianpopulations in Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and
7/24/11 6:10 PMChandler Davis - The PurgePage 2 of 48file:///Users/michaelprior/Desktop/Chandler%20Davis%20-%20The%20Purge.webarchive
Nagasaki by armies nominally on the side of progress — obliged me to see that issues of goodand evil are complicated; but however hard itbecame to know what needed to be donepolitically, I never stopped wishing to do it.Between 1947 and 1960 it was even harder thanusual for left-wingers in the United States to getby. If you were active on the left, or were thoughtto be, there were more ways then than now thatyou could be arrested or threatened with arrest, orhave civil rights such as the right to travel abroadwithdrawn. But for would-be mathematicians, thepunishment for leftism was meted out not only bygovernment but also by university administrations.You could lose your job, or be passed over for a job; even at the student stage, you could lose afellowship or in rarer cases be expelled fromschool.For me and many of my contemporaries, thesewere lessons we imbibed, not exactly with our
7/24/11 6:10 PMChandler Davis - The PurgePage 3 of 48file:///Users/michaelprior/Desktop/Chandler%20Davis%20-%20The%20Purge.webarchive
mothersmilk, but with, say, the PlancherelTheorem.We all got pretty accustomed to the danger. Wewatched press accounts of firings all over — witha view of protesting where feasible, but also toacquaint ourselves with the morphology andmethodology of the purge so as not to be caughtoff guard when it struck next.We used the networks we had with political allies,but we also made new contacts quickly withtargets of successive attacks. In the late 40s, civillibertarians reached deep into their pockets tofinance lectures on many campuses by targettedprofessors at the University of Washington and UCBerkeley. Why, at Harvard in 1948 I even helpedorganize a meeting which publicly deplored thedetention incommunicado, without charges, of amathematician way up in Canada. And then (notaltogether unexpectedly) some of those organizingthe visits and protests became the targets in the

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