"Question and Answer"
October 7, 1999


PROFESSOR HOLLINGER: For the purpose of facilitating questions from the audience, we do have a portable microphone. So if someone wants to address a question or a comment to Professor Schrecker, I will recognize you and then suddenly there will appear in front of you a microphone. Any questions or comments?

QUESTION: Yes, my name is Peter Schrag, I'm a journalist. You listed a number of current threats to academic freedom and free speech. Would you include threats from the left as well, like speech codes, like the firing of faculty members for harassment, of faculty members who are on the right rather than on the left, which has been, I think, certainly something that is heard from time to time in the 80's and the early 90's?

PROFESSOR SCHRECKER: There don't seem to be quite as many threats from the left as from the right. This is something of a myth that has been perpetrated, I think, in large part by a number of conservative journalists. The real threat to academic freedom that I see does come much more from this commercialization of the Academy. There were some free speech codes that were a little over broad, many of them are being revised. I mean, there's no question but that at certain points there was a kind of overreaction. But the notion that there was at any time a kind of left-wing terror on the nation's campuses is just not the case.

QUESTION: Ann Ginger. I wondered if you had studied at all the actions of the FBI in relation to the University of California during the period that you're talking about? I worked for the University from 1960 to 1970, and when I was fired in 1970 by a new boss, I found out that every six months the FBI had asked the Continuing Education of the Bar Director about me and one other person. And we were both fired in 1970. So I wondered if you had any information on the way in which the FBI operated when the Loyalty Oath was adopted and thereafter?

PROFESSOR SCHRECKER: The main information I have is with regard to this Responsibilities Program, whereby the FBI would give information about individuals to governors and college presidents. This is the kind of stuff that, you know, if you could find it in your own FBI file, that would be the most useful way to find it. Because the FBI was extraordinarily self-protective, and really tried to keep as low a profile as they possibly could. So it's by putting together individual people's... you know, a little piece of information from an individual's files, you can create a mosaic and begin to get a sense for what kind of surveillance there was. The situation changed, by the way, in the '60's, in that the FBI became less active in this kind of black listing, and local police departments and Red Squads became more active, especially when it became a question of campus unrest. The FBI was really much more focused on anti-communism and let other people take care of other problems in the '60's.

QUESTION: I wondered whether Professor Schrecker was aware that there have been amends made by institutions in the Northwest since the point at which she left the story. For example, this past year, Reed College held a day-long convocation about the Stanley Moore case, to which he was invited, and he contributed by telephone--he wasn't able to come, and since then he has died. But at least Reed College has made some kind of apology to him for the way he was then treated. And the University of Washington, President Gurbiding, who before he became our president was a Professor of Political Science, I believe at UCLA, Professor Gurbiding has made a formal apology for the way in which the University treated the six people and the three who were fired back in 1948. And furthermore, has gone so far as to establish a Harry Bridges Chair in Labor History. If you wonder how that could come about, remember that presidents are inclined to accept money and that in this case, the ILWU, International Longshoreman and Warehousemen's Union, collected dollars from their individual members to establish this chair.

PROFESSOR SCHRECKER: I actually was at the University of Washington, I think it was two years ago, for one of these convocations commemorating, I guess it was, the Canwell Committee. So I do know about it. In New York City, for example, the people who were fired in the '50's got their back pay. This is something, you know, a number of schools... I think the University of Vermont gave an honorary degree to the professor they fired. So this was beginning in the '70's and continuing up until now. There is a reconsideration, almost universally, among all the institutions that had fired people. I mean, there may be a few that haven't done anything, but on the whole, people know they did wrong.

PROFESSOR HOLLINGER: Let me observe that the audience will have an additional opportunity to engage Professor Schrecker at tomorrow afternoon's wrap up session at the end of the conference.


 

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