The Study of Man: Civil Liberties and the American People
Ten or twenty years ago, no one could have predicted that the defense of civil liberties would become the complicated problem it is today. A generation raised on campaigns for the defense of the civil liberties of socialists, pacifists, anarchists, and an outspoken or queer teacher here or there encountered no perplexities to trouble and confuse its mind about defending dissidents. It could even extend its protection to the odd crackpot who supported the Nazis and the fascists; there were too few of them to make a difference.
But now the matter has become more difficult and complex. There is no question that Communism, few as the actual party members may have been at any time, had a far greater influence on American intellectual and cultural life, and in American government, too, than anything that can be legitimately called Nazism or fascism. And there is no question that the American people in general feel more intensely about Communists than they felt about Nazism and fascism. So, since the threat was greater, and the popular antagonism more intense, and, since, too, we live in a democratic country, the last ten years have seen the creation of a whole system of law, administrative regulations, regulative bodies, and private agencies devoted, at one extreme, to putting Communists in jail, and at the other to making life difficult for people who might have been or might now be Communists.
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