To the Editors:
Professor Sigmund Diamond’s account (NYR, April 28) of his relations with the Harvard administration in the spring of 1954 is seriously misleading. He quite erroneously asserts that his conversations with administrators were recorded, and he pays no attention to the crucial fact that the job at issue was administrative, not academic.
What actually happened is this. Sometime earlier in that year, at a time when none of those concerned had any knowledge of Mr. Diamond’s past as a Communist, Professor David Owen, the Chairman of the History Department, told me that the Department was not going to recommend him for an academic appointment. As often happens when a young scholar does not get an academic appointment, Mr. Diamond’s friends thought about other possibilities. There was a vacancy on the administrative side, and he seemed highly qualified to fill it. So I offered him appointment as Counsellor for Foreign Students and Dean of Special Studies. He accepted, and I recommended the appointment to the President and Fellows.
I must underline the difference, in the Harvard I knew, between an academic and an administrative appointment. An academic appointment carried all the immunities of academic freedom, and action on such an appointment was the shared responsibility of the faculty, the administrators, and the Governing Boards. Administrative appointments, on the other hand, were made by the Governing Boards on the recommendation of the President and other administrators. Such recommendations were made on the basis of one’s judgment that the individual recommended would be highly qualified to carry out specific administrative responsibilities. Sometimes, of course, individuals held dual appointments; a professor might serve also as a dean. In such a case, while the administration might decide for itself whether the person continued as a dean, it must respect the appointment as a professor. But an individual whose central appointment was administrative must be judged on administrative standards—was he or she the right person for the job from the standpoint of the effective conduct of the University’s business? The Governing Boards correctly insisted on a sharp distinction between one kind of appointment and the other.
Mr. Diamond’s was to be an administrative appointment. The relevant department was not interested in recommending him for an academic appointment. The distinction was fundamental to my handling of his case. It is true that like many young scholars turning for a time to administrative work, Mr. Diamond wanted to go on teaching, and the History Department was glad to have him do some tutoring. I initially thought he could have the title of Tutor, but I found that it no longer existed. But with or without that title, it was an administrative job he was offered and the administrative budget that would have paid his whole salary.
This was the situation on May 3, 1954, when I learned from a colleague that Mr. Diamond might have a past connection with the Communist Party. I no longer remember who told me that, nor whether that colleague told me how the matter had come to his attention.
I asked to see Mr. Diamond and learned from him essentially what he describes in his account—that he had been a Communist from about 1942 to 1950, why he joined and why he left the Party, and that since he knew of no illegal activity by anyone he had known in the Party he was inclined against “naming names” to the FBI, although willing to talk about himself. I reached a prompt decision that he should not be Counsellor for Foreign Students, and on two grounds. I thought it was a bad mistake for him not to have told me of his situation when I offered him the job. I also believed that the Harvard Corporation would not want an ex-Communist with these attitudes in any administrative job. Even in cases of academic appointments it had weighed similar behavior negatively in publicly explained decisions a year earlier (before either Mr. Pusey or I was in office).
I told Mr. Diamond of my decision and I wrote to the Corporation with-drawing my recommendation. The decision was based entirely on what Mr. Diamond told me and had failed to tell me earlier. In such cases no information was ever sought from or given to the FBI. I interviewed a number of such individuals in 1954 and 1955, and I never found one who did not seem to me to be doing his best to tell the truth about himself.
I believed that it would be wrong to have in an administrative job a man who had not thought it necessary to tell me he was an ex-Communist when I offered him an appointment which made that fact highly pertinent. In 1954 Harvard was indeed embattled with Senator McCarthy, and precisely because it was engaged in defending its academic freedoms it was under an obligation not to behave foolishly in its administrative appointments. The man in charge of advising foreign students necessarily worked on their behalf with agencies of government. A man in Mr. Diamond’s position would certainly have been an unlikely choice for such a job in 1954, and Mr. Diamond undoubtedly knew it. But he needed the job, and so he had not been able to bring himself to tell us of his predicament. The failure was understandable, but it was not one I could ignore.
I explained this position not only to Mr. Diamond but also to every professor who asked me about it at the time; I never heard one who disagreed. Nor did anyone, including Mr. Diamond, ever suggest at the time that the prospect of some tutorial work made the appointment in question anything but administrative. Such a suggestion would have been recognized as nonsensical.
Mr. Diamond is right when he says that his friends tried to find some other solution for him. While none was now ready to urge that he be recommended for any administrative appointment, there was discussion of the possibility of an academic appointment. I remember telling David Owen that I could not support such a proposal. I believed that this question had been decided on its merits earlier in the year, when the History Department did not include Mr. Diamond in its proposed appointments. He held its doctorate, and it knew him well. If it had not proposed him at the usual time, on what ground would it propose him now? It could not be argued that his academic claim was better in May than it had been earlier, and I was sure that this would be the view of the Governing Boards.
The choices Mr. Diamond faced that spring were obviously agonizing. If he had clearly made a mistake in not telling me a relevant fact, he was not so clearly wrong in his choice of candor about himself along with refusal to name other names to the FBI. That position was one that I not only respected but strongly defended in other cases; it was indeed the crucial issue in the crucial case, that of Professor Furry. I was one of those who had helped in persuading Professor Furry to move to that position from his earlier reliance on the Fifth Amendment; it was more dangerous from the standpoint of possible prosecution, but it was morally superior in every way.
So it was no pleasure to be placed where I had to tell Mr. Diamond that if he held to this position he could not have the administrative job of Counsellor for Foreign Students. I think I did tell him that if he changed his position I would try to persuade the Corporation to overlook his earlier failure to tell me of his problem, but I doubt if I pressed him hard to take this course. He faced a decision that honorable ex-Communists were deciding in different ways that spring, and it was much debated in Cambridge. Though I myself believed generally in full disclosure, there were people I respected on both sides of the issue.
The pressures on Mr. Diamond were cruel, and this is where I look for the cause of the most blatant error in his account. He must have come to his interviews with administrators in a state of great stress, and so indeed I remember it. Nothing else could account for his wholly erroneous recollection that Mr. Pusey and I recorded our conversations with him.
Neither Mr. Pusey nor I, either at Harvard or anywhere else, has ever recorded any conversation with anyone, either face-to-face or over the phone. (I suppose some may be surprised today that one could work for five years in the White House on this basis, but it is the simple fact.) It is totally unbelievable that either of us would have made a once-in-a-lifetime exception for Mr. Diamond.
What Mr. Diamond saw on the table behind my desk was what any other visitor saw, a dictating machine. That machine used green discs, but to dictate to them you had to speak directly into the microphone that was attached. If it had any other capability, I would be surprised. What I know is that I never used it for anything but dictation. What Mr. Diamond now remembers simply never happened, either in my office or in Mr. Pusey’s. I do not doubt his belief in his memory, but his memory is wholly wrong.
It is not easy to reconstruct these matters across twenty-three years. I have been helped in this case by the kindness of the present Harvard Administration, which gave me access to a long letter that I wrote at the time to Mr. Pusey, reporting my talk with Mr. Diamond and my resulting recommendation. I have relied on that letter in this account, and I have shown it to Mr. Diamond. Its last paragraph shows what I thought then and think now.
I wish I could recreate for you the impression made upon me by Mr. Diamond in our long interview. I find myself quite able to understand the pressures which led him in the first instance to join the Party. While it seems extraordinary that any man of sense should have stayed a member as long as he did, I believe the explanation of this is to be found in his statement, which I believe, that membership in the Party never dominated his life. I understand and approve the energy and zeal with which Mr. Diamond has tried in recent years to put his past behind him. I think it wholly plain that his record at Harvard is as good, taken by itself, as I have said it was in earlier recommendations to the Corporation. We then come to the question of his failure to let us know that he had a past in the Party at the time when we recommended him for administrative work. He made a serious error, and one which we cannot overlook, but I think it is also clear that pressures which worked upon him as he faced this decision were of a magnitude which not many of us have to face. He knew that what he did was not right, and the fact that he knew this was plain from his eagerness to respond to my first question at the beginning of our interview. But he knew also that this was the best and perhaps the only chance for him to make a record and even a career in our profession. Whatever may be the view of others, Mr. Diamond honestly believes, I think, that there is nothing shameful in his past. Mistakes, yes, but criminal error, no. In concealing his past membership from us, he made a wrong decision, and I think that our own necessary course is clear, but I cannot find much pleasure in the result.
It remains only to remark that as far as I know no one at Harvard ever tried to give Mr. Diamond any trouble in his successful pursuit of an academic career. On the contrary, his friends at Harvard remained steadfast, as indeed he recognizes. In his interest, and obviously with his heartfelt approval, none of them gave any publicity to his situation. I myself, who had to make the decision that he should not be Counsellor for Foreign Students in 1954, never believed that this decision should be held against him for any later academic appointment. I remember that we were glad when Mr. Diamond received such an academic appointment at Columbia a year later, and I regret that his article, at this late date, has required this account of an unhappy incident.
(Mr. Bundy was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard from 1953 to 1960.)
To the Editors:
Those who value academic freedom and appreciate its fragility can only welcome Sigmund Diamond’s memoir of life at Harvard during the 1950s. Whatever its failings, it provides a valuable picture of the Establishment’s liberal style of purge and hooliganism. Regrettably, however, he fails to note that institutions like Harvard and men like Mr. Bundy did much more damage than Joseph McCarthy had the power to do and that their methods, not his, set the style for the quiet purge on the campuses today.
Mr. Diamond demands that S.M. Lipset answer some hard questions, but he has a few to answer himself. He comes close to saying that if he had remained a member of the Communist Party, then Harvard would have been justified in sacking him. Does he in fact mean that or, as one would hope, was it an unfortunate error in presentation? If he does mean it, then would he explain the basis for his position? And would he also tell us if he wants to petition the governments of England, France, and Italy to sack the many communist professors in their universities.
Mr. Diamond presents an Honor Roll of Heroes who defended him. He tells us that his Heroes assured him of support whether he played the infomer—in time, place, and context, behaved like a swine—or stood on principle. What a splendid example of how “Anglo-Saxon decency” is understood at Harvard! Still, Mr. Diamond does not seem to notice that those good gentlemen were in fact defending his right to sit on the Mourners’ Bench and not at all his right to teach at Harvard while being a Communist, Marxist, or anything else unpalatable to Joseph McCarthy and the Harvard Corporation.
Mr. Diamond surely knows about, and indeed alludes to, other cases at Harvard, which belie its pretensions to having upheld academic freedom. We can only regret, therefore, that he had no space even to mention such names as Sweezy. Very well. But then, what exactly is the point he wishes to make?
Eugene D. Genovese
Sigmund Diamond replies:
Mr. Bundy ends by quoting the final paragraph of his letter of May 6, 1954, to President Pusey. In the first paragraph of that letter, which Mr. Bundy has kindly made available to me, he wrote:
Dear Mr. President:
I wish to withdraw my recommendation of the appointment of Sigmund Oscar Diamond to be Counsellor for Foreign Students and Dean of Special Students from July 1, 1954. If the Corporation has approved this recommendation, I recommend that it rescind its approval.
The central facts of the case are now quite clear: Bundy made an offer of appointment; he withdrew that offer after learning of my past political affiliation; he offered to reconsider the withdrawal—as his letter to The New York Review says—if I changed my position and agreed to name my former political associates. These facts are the crux of the matter, and I would have thought further controversy about them unnecessary; however, Mr. Bundy raises some additional problems that I should like to comment on.
Two matters above all concern Mr. Bundy: I “quite erroneously” assert that my “conversations with administrators were recorded,” and I pay “no attention to the crucial fact that the job at issue was administrative, not academic.”
Let me deal with the irrelevant issue first: Whether Mr. Bundy and Mr. Pusey recorded their discussions on a machine or in long-hand notes or not at all is hardly important, especially since I have never accused them of recording our discussions secretly. We know from the documents provided by both Mr. Bundy and me that the episode did occur, and I doubt whether a recording would cast it in a different light. But since Mr. Bundy makes so much of the matter, I must say that I have a powerful recollection of seeing a recording device—in full view—in Mr. Bundy’s office and in President Pusey’s office; during our discussions, the records on both machines were revolving. On April 21, 1954, the two FBI agents who questioned me in my office placed a recording machine on the desk between us. It is not unlikely that, a few days later when I was summoned to Bundy’s office, I was especially sensitive to the presence of the machine. Mr. Bundy says that it “is totally unbelievable that either of us [he or Pusey] would have made a once-in-a-lifetime exception for Mr. Diamond.” Perhaps it was a once-in-a-lifetime exception for President Pusey. As for Mr. Bundy, Professor David S. Landes of the Harvard History Department, who saw him on my behalf in May 1954, also remembers their conversation being recorded. He has authorized me to quote the following statement:
When I went into Bundy’s office and told him that I had come to speak to him about Sig Diamond, he got up and turned on a recording device. It had a record which revolved.
As to the more important of the two matters that concern Mr. Bundy: The sharp distinction that he attempts to make between administrative and academic positions has an important bearing both on policy and on the facts of this case. “An academic appointment carried all the immunities of academic freedom,” Mr. Bundy says—and he is silent about the immunities of administrative appointments. Is he trying to tell us that those who hold administrative positions may be fired for their political beliefs and associations? Is there a class of university employees who do not have the political freedoms guaranteed to others? The distinction Mr. Bundy suggests is one which might rid him of embarrassment in this case, but it is not, I think, one that commands universal assent.
For an administrator like Mr. Bundy, the distinction is clear: academic appointments—which carry the immunities of academic freedom—are the shared responsibility of the faculty, the administrators, and the governing boards. Administrative appointments—which presumably are not protected by such immunities—are made by the governing boards on the recommendation of the president and other administrators. But what in fact would I have done if what Bundy calls my administrative appointment had gone through?
That appointment involved two positions, Counsellor for Foreign Students and Dean of Special Students. I had never worked with foreign students, and so I cannot speak from direct knowledge of what my duties in that job would have been. But I can speak of the other part of the job, since during the academic year 1953-1954, on invitation of Mr. Bundy, I had, among other tasks, served as Adviser to Faculty Fellows. These were young faculty members from universities throughout the country who had received fellowships from the Fund for the Advancement of Education of the Ford Foundation to improve themselves as teachers; they comprised the largest group of “special students” at Harvard. When I accepted Bundy’s offer, he said that there could be no administration without content, that my task would be to organize a “program” for these people. And that is what I tried to do.
As I write this letter, I have before me the report I wrote to the Fund for the Advancement of Education at the end of the academic year 1953-1954, summarizing the work I had done. I interviewed each Fellow when he arrived to advise him “as to his program at Harvard and the special academic facilities” available to him; “record cards” were kept on each of the Fellows indicating the advice he was given on a range of problems “in addition to professional and academic.” My report mentioned, among other activities, a series of discussions I arranged for the Fellows with several Harvard teachers to talk over problems of general education, graduate school instruction, etc. Such meetings took place with Francis Keppel, Dean of the Graduate School of Education; Dr. Philip H. Rhinelander, Chairman of the Committee on General Education; Dr. Stephen Graubard, Executive-Secretary; Professors Charles H. Taylor, E.H. Kemble, Thomas Kuhn, Norman Ramsey, and Howard Mumford Jones, among others.
“I urged Fellows in any given field,” I wrote in my report,
not to confine their activity to that field alone but to explore the possibility that deeper knowledge of their own area of specialty might come from a very different one. For me, the most intellectually stimulating conversations of the year were with Fellows who spoke not of the most recent book they had read in their field or a lecture they had just heard on the very subject they deal with in their own university, but with those who were trying to relate knowledge and methods gained in some other field to their own….
To plan programs, to advise scholars concerning the courses they should take, to discuss curriculum and reading lists, to organize conferences—that is to participate in forming educational policy and to guide the educational development of the scholars concerned. It is of course what many administrators do and what I would have continued doing if the job offer had not been withdrawn. Lecturing is not the only form of education; but is it to be the only one that has the immunities of academic freedom? If Mr. Bundy would look at the work people do in a university, instead of at who has the power to make appointments, he would see what most university people know—that the distinction he now proposes is untenable.
But the application of this distinction to the facts of my own case is especially curious, for Mr. Bundy is on record as saying that my position was to include teaching duties. His letter to me of April 9, 1954, quoted in full in the April 28 issue of The New York Review, was written to explain why “the fact that you will not hold any formal appointment in the Department of History does not in any way affect our understanding that you will do some tutoring in that field…. If, in another year, as I hope may be the case, you are able to do some lecturing in History, we can then add the title of ‘Lecturer’ to your other appointments.”
Mr. Bundy now says that it was the administrative budget “that would have paid [my] whole salary.” I have always felt that people should be paid for the work they do; that is more important to me than the budgetary line from which the salary comes. It is clear that the position Mr. Bundy offered me included teaching duties: I never even thought about who would pay the bill. But perhaps on this matter, too, as in his effort to distinguish between academic and administrative positions, Mr. Bundy looks at pages in a ledger, not at work performed.
It is sobering to consider the consequences of Mr. Bundy’s dictum that “an individual whose central appointment was administrative must be judged on administrative standards—was he or she the right person for the job from the standpoint of the effective conduct of the University’s business?” Mr. Bundy is suggesting that he who makes the appointment and pays the bill—his criteria for administrative appointments—sets the qualifications for the job and determines its freedoms and immunities. Do educational administrators have no rights—like the right of political association or the right to privacy—which may not be abridged by presidents and deans? Do these rights take second place to “administrative standards”?
In connection with his discussion of the difference between academic and administrative appointments, Mr. Bundy notes that the History Department “was not going to recommend me” for a teaching position and that, following interventions from my friends, he kindly offered me an administrative appointment. The reader may well conclude that since I was not going to be recommended for a teaching position, I had been rejected. This was not the case. On June 8, 1954, Professor Frederick Merk of the Harvard History Department wrote to Professor Paul F. Lazarsfeld of the Columbia Sociology Department:
In my thirty-five years of service at Harvard I have never known a graduate student more promising as a scholar or as a teacher. If we had any prospect of a permanence in the Harvard History Department in the national period of American history I would have fought to keep him here, and I would have had much support within the Department.
After discussing his reasons for withdrawing his offer, Mr. Bundy writes: “I explained this position not only to Mr. Diamond but also to every professor who asked me about it at the time; I never heard one who disagreed.” From Mr. Bundy’s letter it is not entirely clear what he means by “this position,” but I would find it hard to believe that all the faculty members he talked to agreed with his handling of my case. Since my article appeared, Professor Merk has written to me giving a quite different view:
Thank you very much for the copy of The New York Review containing your account of Veritas at Harvard. It vividly recalls the exciting brush you had with McGeorge Bundy and President Pusey. I remember especially the meeting in Bundy’s office of the friends who gathered there to protest the rescinding of your appointment, and Bundy’s dismay at the number who crowded the office. He commented uneasily at the number. He made clear at the same time that he had made up his mind. He justified his decision by the argument that Harvard had a limited amount of capital for defense against McCarthyism and that it had already been expended. He is probably still uneasy at the decision he reached. It was good luck for you that Columbia had more capital.
Mr. Bundy’s letter is important above all for the opportunity it gives us to understand the McCarthy period better than we do and to see something of the problems we must face when we try to explain that period.
- Mr. Bundy says that he “thought it was a bad mistake” for me not to have told him of my “situation” when he offered me the job. He also “believed that the Harvard Corporation would not want an ex-Communist with these attitudes in any administrative job.” He says that since Harvard in 1954 was “indeed embattled with Senator McCarthy, and precisely because it was engaged in defending its academic freedoms it was under an obligation not to behave foolishly in its administrative appointments…. A man in Mr. Diamond’s position would certainly have been an unlikely choice for such a job in 1954….”
But why was it a “bad mistake” not to have told him of my past political affiliation when he offered me the job? Why was I obliged to tell him that? I had done nothing illegal. To those who believed in applying political tests, what I did was a “bad mistake”—but the application of political tests was the essence of McCarthyism. Is Mr. Bundy suggesting that he had already accepted the McCarthyite definition of the situation?
Why does Mr. Bundy say he believed that the Harvard Corporation would not want an ex-Communist “with these attitudes in any administrative position”? The Harvard Alumni Bulletin of January 23, 1954 prints the address made by Judge Charles E. Wyzanski Jr., then president of the Harvard Board of Overseers, on the evening before President Pusey received an LL.D. from Yale. Judge Wyzanski said:
Furthermore, men should not be disciplined for beliefs which they are not prepared to translate into pernicious action. The freedom to believe as one wills…has become the touchstone for determining the true character of a society: if absent, the so-called democratic structure has a false façade….
But I hear someone object that Harvard or Yale…is a social as well as an intellectual community…. And we are told that we have the right to exclude those who are not like ourselves, and others who embarrass us by their manners, or their lack of patriotism, or their low concept of civic duty, or their philosophies, or their effect on our financial supporters, or the hostility they arouse toward our institution and ourselves. If the trouble-makers are persons we would not have as partners, why must we have them as associates incurring liabilities at our expense?
To this the answer lies in the basic noble conception of a university. It is not and must not become an aggregation of like-minded people all behaving according to approved convention. It is the temple of the open-minded. And so long as in his instruction, his scholarship, his relations with his associates and juniors a teacher maintains candor, and truth as he sees it, he may not be required to pass any other test. Veritas is his shield and defender.
If this was the position of the Harvard governing boards, as Judge Wyzanski believed it was, why did Bundy say that the Corporation “would not want an ex-Communist with these attitudes in any administrative job”? That was McCarthy’s position, not the stated position of the president of the Board of Overseers. Perhaps Bundy was right in believing that his action reflected the views of the governing boards. Why then did Judge Wyzanski say otherwise?
Finally, why would it have been “behaving foolishly” for Harvard to have appointed me—or anyone like me—to an administrative position while “it was engaged in defending its academic freedoms”? Does the fight for freedom require that it be abandoned? To have made the appointment would appear to be foolish behavior only to those whose notion of how to fight McCarthyism was to have a university composed of people whose records would not be attacked by McCarthy.
I agree with Mr. Bundy when he says that someone in my “position would have been an unlikely choice for such a job in 1954,” but that is a statement which says at least as much about the choosers as it does about me. Had Mr. Bundy and President Pusey accepted the notion that there were other courses of action than theirs—as some members of the Harvard faculty urged upon them—I would have been a reasonable choice, not an unlikely one, a case to be defended on principle had it become an issue in the fight against McCarthy.
- Mr. Bundy quotes the final paragraph of his letter to President Pusey of May 6, 1954. He says, speaking of my “serious error” in not mentioning my past Communist Party membership when he had first offered me the job, that I knew that my later admission “was the best and perhaps the only chance” for me “to make a record and a career in our profession.” He implies here that former Communists who refused to acknowledge their past had a dim future in academic life, if any at all, and that I was therefore trying to save my career by answering his questions frankly. He should not, however, impute to me his own conception of the available choices: that is how he looked at the world; it is not how I did. What is particularly chilling is Mr. Bundy’s apparent confidence at the time that some sort of confession was a condition for rising in “our profession.” I would hope he would repudiate such a standard now.
- Mr. Bundy’s views on the matter of “naming names” can tell us much about the reactions of many people in the McCarthy period. He says that while it was a mistake for me not to have admitted my past membership in the Communist Party when the job was offered to me, I “was not so clearly wrong in [my] choice of candor about [myself] along with refusal to name other names to the FBI.” He claims credit for having been among those who had convinced Professor Furry to take that position rather than to rely on the Fifth Amendment; it was a more dangerous position, “but it was morally superior in every way.” And then he continues:
So it was no pleasure to be placed where I had to tell Mr. Diamond that if he held to this position he could not have the administrative job of Counsellor for Foreign Students. I think I did tell him that I would try to persuade the Corporation to overlook his earlier failure to tell me of his problem, but I doubt that I pressed him hard to take this course. [my italics]
But why would Mr. Bundy have been willing to overlook my earlier immorality in not speaking about myself if I would now speak about others? My position was the one that he calls “morally superior” in the case of Professor Furry. Although he himself “generally” believed in “full disclosure,” he “respected” some of those who did not. Why did he tell me that he would try to persuade the Corporation to overlook my earlier failure if I abandoned a “morally superior” position? Why was that the price of forgiveness? Mr. Bundy does not say.
p class=”initial”>I “needed the job,” as Bundy says, “and so he had not been able to bring himself to tell us of his predicament.” In his letter to President Pusey he speaks of the “obviously agonizing” choices I faced and the “cruel” pressures on me. I am glad to acknowledge the compassion that Mr. Bundy shows in his letters, but there are two points which should not be overlooked. The first is that no matter how badly I did need a job, I did not need one so badly as to do what Mr. Bundy wanted me to do. The second is that I wonder what were the “cruel” pressures that Mr. Bundy himself faced—which led him to urge me to abandon the “morally superior” course that he had helped Professor Furry to accept? To this day Mr. Bundy does not seem to understand that if the pressures on me and the choices I faced were “cruel” and “agonizing,” it was his action that helped make them so.
In my article I asked six questions that were raised by this episode and suggested that what appeared to be Harvard’s policy may not have been its policy. Mr. Bundy’s two letters underscore the importance of three of those questions and suggest another I could not have thought of earlier.
Mr. Bundy says that he learned on May 3, 1954, “from a colleague that Mr. Diamond might have a past connection with the Communist Party. I no longer remember who told me that, nor whether that colleague told me how the matter had come to his attention.” In the Harvard Crimson of April 16, 1977, Bundy says that “he could not remember how he discovered that Diamond had been a Communist Party member, and that he had ‘no recollection’ whether he had learned about Diamond’s former Communist Party ties through the FBI.” In his letter to President Pusey of May 6, 1954, written only three days after he claims to have heard about my former political affiliation and therefore the closest in date to the event itself, Bundy says only that the information had come to him; there is no mention of a colleague as the source. I still wonder how the Harvard authorities got “derogatory information” about me and others? From the FBI?
I asked how many faculty members were actually fired by Harvard or forced to resign. In his letter to The New York Review, Mr. Bundy says that he “interviewed a number of such individuals”—former Party members, presumably—in 1954 and 1955. How many? How were their cases disposed of?
I also asked if there could not have been at Harvard a “public” policy and a “private” policy, one governing the cases of people called before congressional committees, the other governing the cases of people not called before committees. In his letter to President Pusey, Mr. Bundy recommends that my then two current appointments at Harvard—as Adviser to Faculty Fellows and as Research Fellow in Entrepreneurial History—be allowed to run their course: “If he were removed now, we should not be able to avoid extensive public discussion of his situation. If his appointment is allowed to expire, we may well be able to end his connection with the University without publicity which would be unpleasant to us and extremely damaging to Mr. Diamond personally.”
Publicity would have been extremely damaging to me. It is also true that publicity would have been embarrassing to Harvard, because Harvard was publicly denying that previous Communist Party membership was a basis for dismissal. Bundy’s decision to rescind the offer of a new job while maintaining me in my current one to avoid “public discussion” reinforces the suggestion that Harvard’s policy during the McCarthy period was based to an important degree on political expediency, rather than on notions of justice, academic freedom, or any moral principle.
The opening paragraph of Mr. Bundy’s letter to President Pusey suggests still another crucial question which I did not ask before. Bundy proposes that the Corporation rescind its approval of my appointment if it had already been made. Had it been made? Was it rescinded? If it was rescinded, on what information did the Corporation base its decision?
p class=”initial”>I’m sorry that Professor Genovese feels that I come close to saying that Harvard would have been justified in firing me if I had remained in the Communist Party. I didn’t say that and I don’t think I came close to saying it. I should also like to assure him that I have not forgotten the name of Sweezy. I was writing about some events at Harvard at the time I was there; I thought that was clear. For the rest, I can only say that Professor Genovese and I are different people; I did what I did, he would have done it differently.
May 26, 1977