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Nation: The Reopened Book

2 minute read

Apparently in response to President Eisenhower’s Dartmouth speech against book-burners, Senator Joseph McCarthy last week decided to “clarify” the overseas-library situation, reopened the investigation (which was formally ended in May) and haled to the stand some more writers whose works appear in U.S. Government libraries abroad.

White-haired Artist-Author Rockwell Kent, long accused of sympathy with Communism, made an active show at the end of Angler McCarthy’s line.* The artist tried (but failed) to get into the record a statement accusing McCarthy himself of plotting to overthrow the Government by “force and violence” in favor of fascism. Kent admitted sending $800 to the Communist Party in 1933—the money, however, was rent paid for his house by an “insulting” tenant and he had only given it to the Communists because it seemed the most “hateful thing” to do with it. Personally, he said, he knew “very little about the Communist Party.”

But had Kent ever been a Communist? He took refuge in the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer. So did the other two authors, Richard Owen Boyer, onetime New Yorker writer and avowed Communist, and ex-N.Y.U. Professor Edwin B. Burgum.

*U.S. Information Service is not the only arm of the Government in possession of Kent’s work. Congress owns a mural called On Earth—Peace, which Kent painted in the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce committee room.

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