In 1964 the Senate Committee on Subversive Activities came to Portland and I, along with many others, picketed them. The photo above shows a similar protest in San Francisco. Men with cameras I assume were F.B.I. agents were snapping lots of photos, so I suppose my picture is in some government archive somewhere. What was the committee and why my objection?
This group was the offshoot of the House Unamerican Activities Committee, most famously associated with the relentless hunt for Communists or Communist “sympathizers” which operated in the 1950’s. People were under surveillance for activity considered “unAmerican,” and many times lost their jobs without due process. Reed College, in Portland, let some faculty go during that time for suspected “Red” leanings.
Just as I now strenuously object to the speech police who seem to want to suppress views not “liberal” enough to suit them, I objected then to people whose views were not “American” enough. Then a group of lawmakers determined who was or was not “American” enough. Now a movement, mainly of young adults, has decided what is “enlightened” enough. I have lived long enough to see very little difference between the two extremes.
I grew up understanding that one of the key parts of the Bill of Rights added to the United States Constitution was freedom of speech. It seems that there will always be people eager to contest the idea. And I will continue to disagree with them.