Anti-Radical Agitation

March 28, 1935

Report Outline
Demands for Suppression of Subversive Activities
Communist Scares in the United States, 1919–1920
The Federal Law and Deportation of Alien Radicals
State Laws on Criminal Syndicalism and Sedition
Revival of Anti-Red Agitation in the Depression
Special Focus

Demands for Suppression of Subversive Activities

Arrest on March 12 of the British author Evelyn John St. Loe Strachey for deportation on the ground of his alleged belief in overthrow of government by force drew national attention to current efforts to strengthen American laws for the restraint of radical agitators and suppression of subversive activities, Although the special committee to investigate Nazi and other propaganda, appointed in pursuance of a resolution adopted by the House of Representatives on March 20, 1934, concluded in a report submitted on February 15, 1935, that the Communist movement in this country was not “sufficiently strong numerically nor an influence to constitute a danger to American institutions at the present time,” indications of increasing Communist activity, particularly in connection with recent labor troubles, have been so frequent as to produce a growing demand for more aggressive treatment of radical agitation.

The House committee itself, of which Rep. McCormack (D., Mass.) and Rep. Dickstein (D., N. Y.) served as chairman and vice chairman respectively, held that unless Communist activity were curbed, it would so increase as to constitute a definite menace. The committee therefore contended that it was “the duty of government to check and control, through appropriate legislation, the illegal actions and methods of such movements, without regard to the improbability of attainment, and to protect itself and its loyal citizens against such subversive attempts.” A committee of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, after a study last autumn of radical activities, made several recommendations for dealing with the situation. Its proposals are to be considered by the Chamber at its annual meeting at the end of next month. The Hearst press for several months has been carrying on a vigorous campaign against Communism.

Measures have been introduced in Congress to carry out recommendations made by the McCormack-Dickstein committee. At the same time, more than the visual number of bills aimed at suppression of radicalism have been offered at this year's sessions of state legislatures, some of them receiving favorable consideration. These efforts have aroused the apprehension of liberals and others, who fear that many of the proposed laws, if enacted, might operate to encroach on the traditional American rights of free speech and assemblage. They regard additional legislation as unnecessary and unwise, and as constituting a temptation to revival of the red-baiting tactics employed in the period immediately following the war.

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Mar. 28, 1935  Anti-Radical Agitation
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