1945 January 3

HUAC Made a Permanent Committee; Assault on Freedom of Beleif and Association Continue

 

In a surprise move by Rep. John Rankin (D–Mississippi) that outmaneuvered House leaders, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was made a permanent committee of the House of Representatives on this day. Most observers had expected the committee to expire. HUAC was first established on May 26, 1938, and was finally abolished on January 14, 1975. Rep. Rankin was one of the most vicious racists and the leading anti-Semite in Congress (see, for example, his anti-Semitic rant on April 23, 1952).

HUAC had a 37-year history of attacking people, almost exclusively leftists, liberals, and civil rights activists, because of the political beliefs and associations. The victims of HUAC abuses included many famous Americans: the noted playwright Arthur Miller (June 21, 1956), folk singer Pete Seeger (August 18, 1955), the African-American singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson (June 12, 1956), and many others.

One of the most insidious aspects of HUAC investigations was the demand that witnessed “name names” of alleged Communists they knew or had once known. It was a degrading ritual that forced people to become informers. The alternative was to refuse to testify and by cited for contempt of Congress.

Read a letter by Rep. John Rankin supporting HUAC: http://www.lib.usm.edu/legacy/spcol/exhibitions/anti-comm/activism_political-4.html

Read: Kenneth O’Reilly, Hoover and the Un-Americans: The FBI, HUAC, and the Red Menace (1983)

Watch a documentary about HUAC and the Hollywood Ten: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taancRcLQ8o

Learn more about HUAC: http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/huac

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