LETTER: UnAmerican assumptions

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The Independent Online
From Mr Ronald Odgers

Sir: I found the following phrase in Richard Neville's article on Oz ("It's too late to stop now", 29 April): "Rubin was a street-smart prankster, whose war-painted pantomimes had knocked the stuffing out of HUAC, the McCarthy-immortalised House UnAmerican Activities Committee."

As an American now living in the UK, the erroneous linking of the late US Senator Joseph McCarthy with HUAC drives me up the wall. Let me explain.

The vile witch hunts were conducted by both houses of the US Congress. In the House of Representatives, the key instrument was HUAC. In the Senate, it was the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Government Relations. The latter was what McCarthy headed during the first two years of Dwight Eisenhower's first term as President, when Republicans controlled Congress.

HUAC was chaired by Representative Harold Velde of Illinois during the time that McCarthy headed the Senate subcommittee. When the Democrats regained control of Congress during the second two years of Ike's first term, Rep Martin Dies of Texas became the HUAC chairman and McCarthy's position went to Senator John McClellan of Arkansas.

Finally, here are a couple of titbits for witch-hunt addicts - a one- time member of HUAC was Richard M. Nixon, who later became a US senator, Vice-president and President; and the minority party legal counsel for McCarthy's committee was Robert Kennedy, brother of the future President John F. Kennedy.



Carleton, North Yorkshire

13 May