Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 20, Number 2, Fall, 2008 Page: 41 of 68
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Even if, as critics maintained, colleges and universities were far too willing
to explore Communist ideology through the use of literature and
speakers sympathetic to Communism, those institutions were merely
serving their purpose as centers of learning and inquiry-of both
popular and unpopular ideas.
the thinking of many, but it would be inadequate
to dismiss the concern over Communism's reach
into American life simply as that. Many people
were genuinely afraid, and this fear was borne
out in countless ways nationwide-demanding
revisions to school curricula to eliminate subversive
readings, barring suspected Communists
from teaching, even making membership in the
Communist Party of the United States a crime.
Some took this fear to extremes. Only two
days after SMU's President Lee announced his
referral of Beaty's pamphlet to the Board of
Trustees for further possible action, the state of
Texas was asked to make Communist Party
membership punishable by death. On February
15, 1954,Texas Governor Allan Shivers asked the
Texas legislature to convene a special session to
pass legislation making such membership illegal,
and those convicted of it subject to the electric
Nor was this a fear only of Communists.
Fear of Communism tended to extend itself to
other political beliefs that seemed to drift too far
leftward. As suggested earlier in the Daily
Campus article on suspected "liberal" trends at
SMU, it was not only Communists who were
suspect. Suddenly, liberals appeared to become a
threat, even though there were certainly many in
the initial postwar years who would have
described themselves, with pride, as liberals. And
as was true with McCarthyism on the national
stage, even affiliation with one of the mainstream
political parties could be troublesome. Beaty
reserved harsh words for President Truman, but
he seemed to think President Eisenhower was
just as capable of selling the country out. And
because the Democratic Party was condemned
so harshly for supposedly giving away so much
to the Soviet Union even before World War II
was finished, supporting a Democrat for elected
office became a sort of liability. Professor Boiler,
for example, recalled the outcry among some in
Dallas after several SMU faculty members and
students organized a rally for Democratic Party
presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1952.
Supporting one of the two mainstream political
parties in the country was now almost as bad as
"advocating" Communism in a class lecture, and
although the rally was not an on-campus event,
pressure from many in Dallas eventually forced
the rally organizers to call it off.33
In such an atmosphere, it seems unlikely that
SMU could have overlooked or simply dismissed
Beaty's accusations. Smaller institutions were
overall more likely to respond to pressure from
the surrounding community to eradicate suspected
subversion, and although Beaty's work
had been attacked for anti-Semitism and, thus,
already discredited by early 1954, the school
would have faced even greater criticism from
either his supporters or his critics if it did nothing.
Herein lies one effect of McCarthyism on
education. Accusations of turning college students
into Communists, while silly if they had
been made in another era, had to be taken seriously.
Had the Beaty affair taken place, say, in
Fall 2008 LEGACIES 39
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Dallas Heritage Village. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 20, Number 2, Fall, 2008, periodical, 2008; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth46806/m1/41/: accessed February 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.