Spider Magazine

William Mandel vs. HUAC: San Francisco, 1960

William Mandel is an expert on the Soviet Union. At the present time, he is offering a series of lectures, under SLATE auspices, on Contemporary Soviet Social Thought at U. C. Berkeley, Wednesdays at 4 P. M. in 11 Wheeler.

MR. ARENS: Kindly identify yourself by name, residence, and occupation.

MR. MANDEL: My name is William Mandel. I live at 233 Lake Drive, Berkeley. By occupation, I am a translator of scientific material, a lecturer, a leader of travel tours, an author, radio and television commentator, and have been a newspaperman at various times until committees such as this made it difficult for me to continue in some of these fields.

MR. ARENS: I will say not facetiously but in earnest appraisal that you have certainly engaged in a number of activities.... You are represented by counsel?

MR. MANDEL: I am, to the degree that a counsel not able to speak for me can represent me.... By the way, if the television people want some news, they can put the lights on. They can put them on if they want something to show their audiences.... I want the fullest glare of publicity on this committee's activity.

MR. WILLIS: Proceed.

MR. ARENS: Where and when were you born, please, sir?

MR. MANDEL: I was born in New York City, June 4, 1917.

MR. ARENS: Give us a word about your education.

MR. MANDEL: I was educated in the public schools, junior high schools and high schools of New York City. I had one semester in biochemistry at the age of 14 at the University of Moscow, U.S.S.R.... I then had one year at City College in New York. I was expelled for opposition to military training in 1933 at age 16. In 1947, the Hoover Institute at Stanford University engaged me as a fellow at postdoctoral stipend (on the basis of two books I had written) for the specific purpose of compiling an encyclopedia of the U.S.S.R. This is my education.

MR. ARENS: Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?

MR. MANDEL: Sir, I am 42 years of age, and have never had to face a jury as defendant or grandjury as witness in my life. My research and writing have been so public that two committees similar to this one, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and the McCarthy committee, subpenaed me as far back as 8 and 7 years ago, respectively, for having writen a book titled "The Soviet Far East and Central Asia." No indictment resulted from those hearings either, or from my continued public speaking or writing since that date.

Clearly, therefore, I have committed no crime under any of the laws of this country and am not engaged in subversion. Consequently, I refuse to testify on the grounds that, as a radio and TV public affairs broadcaster, active in those capacities today, the subpena issued to me interferes with the rights of my stations to schedule informational programs on their merits and is thus a direct violation of the first-amendment guarantee of freedom of speech and of the people's right to hear.

Further, as a scholar with a 20-year record of research in public writing and lecturing in my chosen field, the study of the Soviet Union, a field admitted by all to be one of which this country is in vital need of knowledge, I refuse to testify on the grounds that the subpena is a violation of freedom of inquiry, which can only be expressed through the academic community as to all others. Lastly, I certainly shall not answer questions representing allegations against me made by persons not present and not identified, whom I cannot confront and whom my lawyer cannot cross examine as to their truthfulness.

To rest my case solely on the first amendment would, as 36 cases now in the courts show, condemn me to years of court action at enormous costs. It would cost me my home and impoverish my family for a very long time to come, which of course, is what this committee desires. Therefore, I also refuse to testify under my right not to be a witness against myself, a right originated to protect the innocent. The guilty can be convicted by the testimony of others if there is any real evidence to present.

William Mandel to Sen. McCarthy, 1953: "This is a book-burning. You lack only the tinder to set fire to the books as Hitler did 20 years ago, and I am going to get that across to the American people


MR. ARENS: Do you honestly apprehend that if you told this committee truthfully while you are under oath whether or not you are now, this instant, or ever have been, a member of the Communist Party, you would be supplying information which might be used against you in a criminal proceeding?

MR. MANDEL: Honorable beaters of children and sadists, uniformed and in plain clothes; distinguished Dixiecrat wearing the clothing of a gentleman; eminent Republican who opposes an accommodation with one country with whom we must live in peace in order for all of us and our children to survive, my boy of 15 left this room a few minutes ago in sound health and not jailed solely because I asked him to be in here to learn something about the procedures of the United States Government and one of its committees. Had he been outside where the son of a friend of mine had his head split by these goons operating under your orders, my boy today might have paid the penalty of permanent injury or a police record for desiring to come here and hear how this committee operates.

If you think that I am going to cooperate with this collection of Judases, of men who sit there in violation of the United States Constitution, if you think I will cooperate with you in any way, you are insane.

MR. WILLIS: Proceed, Mr. Arens.

MR. ARENS: Now, sir, were you a lecturer at the California Labor School —

MR. MANDEL: Yes, sir, I was. I lectured on Shostakovich's oratorio "Song of the Forest"; what do you know about that?

MR. ARENS: And were you at that time a member of the Communist Party and did you lecture as a Communist?

MR. MANDEL: As I told you before, sir, if there are laws on the books of this country under which any of the activities in which I have engaged, publicly and openly — and I would be delighted to bring you a list of books literally this long, which either I have written or which have been cited as authority in books written years later in other countries, or journals to which I have contributed, if any of this public record, almost all of it scholarly by anybody's definition, is to be regarded or were regarded by anyone as criminal activity, there are laws on the books under which the proper authorities

of the United States could have taken, or could now take, action against me.

I have never disappeared from my home. I have been available at all times. This question has no purpose other than to harass me. When I was asked this question last in 1943 [sic] by the late Joe McCarthy — and let me say that I am honored when people come up to me on the streets — perhaps I don't deserve the honor — and say "You are the man who killed Joe McCarthy," because I happened to appear on the first day of the book-burning matter and I did my best to conduct myself in the manner I am conducting myself today — If there was any such evidence against me under any law, the proper authorities could move against me. This body is improperly constituted. It is a kangaroo court. It does not have my respect. It has my utmost contempt, and I am not going to answer that question, sir.

MR. WILLIS: Proceed.

MR. ARENS: Do you have information respecting the operations of the criminal conspiracy dedicated to the overthrow of this Government by force and violence, which criminal conspiracy is represented on American soil in part by that entity known as the Communist Party?

MR. MANDEL: My answer is No, sir, and no matter how many ways you ask that question, it will remain the same.

MR. ARENS: Do you have present information respecting the activities of the Communist Party in northeastern California?

MR. MANDEL: Would you kindly define what you mean by present information, sir? Do you mean do I read books or newspapers? I read books and newspapers.

MR. ARENS: Do you know from personal experience in closed Communist Party meetings the identification of persons who, to your certain knowledge, are now, or in the recent past have been, members of the Communist Party active in northern California?

MR. MANDEL: My answer is No, and if I did I would not tell you. But my answer is No.

MR. ARENS: Are you now a member of the Communist Party?

MR. MANDEL: You got that answer before....

MR. ARENS: Mr. Chairman, I respectfully suggest the witness be ordered and directed to answer the question as to whether or not he is now a member of the Communist Party.

MR. MANDEL: If you will look at the record of my statement, you will find that that statement covered this question.

MR. ARENS: Mr. Chairman, I respectfull suggest the witness now be ordered and directed to answer the question as to whether or not he is now a member of the Communist Party.

MR. WILLIS: This is a specific question on that point that has not been technically asked and I order you to answer it.

MR. MANDEL:...This question is an invasion of my political privacy. I answered it at the outset, and no matter how many tricky forms you take to put it again, you will get that same answer. It has been answered.

MR. ARENS: Does the record reflect a clear direction that you have been directed to answer that question as to whether or not you are now, this instant, a member of the Communist Party?

MR. WILLIS: I think you meant to indicate that you are declining to answer for the reasons previously indicated.

MR. MANDEL: Yes, that is correct.

MR. WILLIS: That is what I understood you to say.

MR. MANDEL: That is correct.

MR. ARENS: That is all we wanted to know....

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Title: Vol. I, No. V
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