News & Politics

The Outrageousness of HUAC


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July 9, 1958, Vol. III, No. 37

Achieving the Obvious

By Nat Hentoff

A Boston city-planner I know recently returned from a Washington conference on metropolitan affairs and reported as the quote of the conference: “Politics is the art of achieving the obvious.” Not only politics, as some of these variations on that theme may indicate.

On June 25 the New York Times finally — and effectively — commented on the outrageous House Un-American Activities Committee hearings. “To what purpose?” — asked the Times — were these scarecrow Congressmen in New York. “To emulate Communist and other kinds of totalitarian societies by persecuting people for holding radical beliefs?” But when will the Times also score NBC and CBS for their quivering collapse before the committee? The Sarnoffs, father and son, William Paley, and Frank Stanton have a lot to make up for. And where were the voices of Murrow and Sevareid? It’s always safer to put down hooligans when your own pay check isn’t affected.

My favorite fantasy of many weeks was Elfrida von Nardoff telling Jack Barry, on camera, before the first question on “Twenty-One” that next Monday evening: “Take your quarter of a million dollars. I’m ashamed to be on a program and a network that fired the director of this program for exercising his Constitutional rights.” But Elfrida frowned and concentrated as usual, giving America her version of the noble, hungry intellectual.

Congratulations to Don Hogan and Peter Braestrup for their Herald Tribune series on the garment district. So where was the New York Post? I’m waiting however, for a Herald Tribune Sunday supplement — with ads, naturally — on Franco Spain. I’m sure Trujillo would take half a page…

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 6, 2008


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