To the Editors:
For sixty-four years the League for Industrial Democracy has been a moderate but respected part of the American Left. It has also traditionally had a close association with the Socialist Party, an association which continues today since both Michael Harrington, its chairman, and Tom Kahn, its Executive Secretary, are members of the Socialist Party.
This year, to the general dismay of the democratic Left, the L.I.D. has chosen to present its annual award to Hubert Horatio Humphrey. Humphrey defended Boss Daley and the police riot in Chicago: once publicly gloated that the number of NLF troops killed in battle was so much greater than ours because the NLF forces couldn’t get proper medical attention for their wounded; edged very close to calling the late Robert Kennedy a traitor for suggesting the NLF must be part of any negotiations to end the Vietnam war; linked arms with Lester Maddox; and to this very day has expressed no regret for his consistent defense of the war in Vietnam and the active part he played in conducting that war as Lyndon Johnson’s Vice President.
This is not an easy letter for any of us to sign because we have warm personal regards for some of those leading the L.I.D. and because the Left already suffers from too much internecine conflict. But we have no choice but to protest this award, since the award reflects not only on the L.I.D., but on all those who consider themselves a part of the democratic Left.
Because we believe in the right of free assembly and free speech we shall make no effort to disrupt the award ceremony, nor shall we attend the L.I.D. conference at all. But we are compelled to state that from our position as men and women who consider themselves active within the tradition of democratic American radicalism, the L.I.D. has, by granting an award to Humphrey, ended its relationship to the American Left. In our view it now becomes a part of the Establishment, an ideological front group for Corporate Liberalism.
We call on all democratic socialists and radicals at present part of the League for Industrial Democracy to recognize the change that has occurred and to sever any further connection with the League.
David McReynolds, Jack Newfield, Jules Feiffer, Igal Roodenko, Edward Gottlieb, Allen Ginsberg, David Kirk, Hans Koningsberger, Ned O’Gorman, Grace Paley, Ray Brown, Sol Yurick, Amos Vogel, David Dellinger, Paul Johnson, Tom Cornell, Sam Coleman, Ralph Di Gia, Phyllis Jacobson, Julius Jacobson, and Jim Peck
May 22, 1969