In response to:
Crime of Silence from the October 12, 1967 issue
To the Editors:
In his letter to NYR (Dec. 7), Robert Halsband, president of PEN American Center, defends his organization as one which is “not guilty of the ‘Crime of Silence’ ” for the tyranny and censorship in Greece. The fact prompts me to congratulate the officers and the members of the International PEN.
But my charge against our “uncensored intellectuals” [NYR, Oct. 12] still remains. The PEN American Center was unknown to me until this moment, and therefore, I could not have had the group in mind when I made my accusations. Those against whom my charges were leveled were writers who had conscientiously written against the sentencing of Daniel and Sinyavsky; they were, for example, leveled against that most impressive list of 120 artists and writers (few or none of whom, I dare say, belong to PEN) who in a 1965 issue of Partisan Review wrote an “Open Letter” to Premier Kosygin, protesting the conviction of Daniel and Sinyavsky.
In fact, the PEN American Center’s own resolution—“no mere platitude of liberalism,” Mr. Halsband informs us—was anemically made known in the one and only sentence on the subject that Mr. Halsband quotes from his own article in The New York Times Book Review of Sept. 3, 1967. Indeed if the PEN American Center had a real concern for the plight of Greek writers, it had a most delicate way of concealing the fact.
But to conclude, though congratulations are forthcoming to Mr. Halsband, the PEN American Center cannot be acquitted because it was really never condemned.
Department of English
University of California
Santa Barbara, California
January 18, 1968