Come Now, Mr. Fadiman!

Westbrook Pegler

Rutland Daily Herald/August 4, 1941

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 Well, well, here we are again and here is our smart friend who knows all the answers, and I am sure we are all very glad to have him with us again, so I want you all to give a great big hand to our old friend—Mr. Clifton Fadiman.

Now, Mr. Fadiman, a little information please?

The first question, Mr. Fadiman, will be who wrote in the New Masses, the Communist propaganda weekly, in September, 1932; “My particular turn to the left was a simple matter. History, mainly in the form of The Crisis, became my teacher, while I was still young enough to learn?”

Come, come, Mr. Fadiman, surely you are not going to let that one stump you. I will give you a little clue The man who wrote that was a very, very smart young intellectual book reviewer for a very, very small New York weekly who dealt with the works of Communist and non-Communist authors with the typical impartial artistic objectivity of the ultra-smart left-wing intellectual.

Think hard, Mr. Fadiman. Concentrate. Maybe you would like another clue. In the same essay, or profession of political faith, the same ultra-smart book reviewer wrote further: “Another thing; for many years my work has been mainly in the field of business. You can accept business (another word for America); you can be cynical about it (civilized in the New York manner); or you can take a good look at it. Unless you are a big shot in business and even then, frequently, accepting business or being cynical about it makes you a damned fool. I got tired of being a damned fool.”

Oh now, Mr. Fadiman, you surely are not going to let us down on this question. I gave you quite a clue in mentioning the New Yorker. But I will give you another. This declaration of political faith was published in a symposium entitled How I Came to Communism, and the ultra-smart young literary critic complained that this title tricked and misrepresented him, although further on in the same explanation of his turn to the left he said, “as I am temperamentally indisposed toward the Black Shirt, there was only one other point of view possible.” In a Communist publication, he said, the only alternative to the Black Shirt, or Fascism, was, well, the left. At any rate, he didn’t come out for American Republicanism or American Democracy as another possible point of view. I think there is a clue to what he meant by “my turn to the left” in the fact that his statement was printed as a contribution, by this Communist paper.

Think sharp, Mr. Fadiman. A little information please, Mr. Fadiman. Perhaps, this will help you.

Some years later the very, very smart left-wing literary critic who so wittily exposed cheapness and trashy insincerity in literature, suddenly came in the world of business. I don’t want to give the answer away by saying too much, but I can say that he got on the air as an amazingly smart authority on many things. He worked on a program which plugged such a vulgar article of commerce as a ginger ale and then he worked for another sponsor, a brand of cigarettes manufactured by a great soulless business corporation. He began to make as much as $1000 a week and about this time he discovered that he was not as far over the left as he thought he was. In as he began to make big money, he turned to the right. He now says that the declaration in the Communist publication no longer represents his views. Doesn’t that tip you off, Mr. Fadiman?

Well, maybe some more quotes will help you. We want you to have a fair chance—the same fair chance all left-wing critics give non-left-wing authors in their very very -intellectual reviews for the very smart magazines. “The present left turn of any one person, any small group is of minor importance and should not be exaggerated. The American class struggle, it seems fairly clear, has still produced and inevitably will produce its intellectual leaders. Does that assumption that there was class struggle in the United States, little ballyhoo for the Communist’s dream of conflict of classes, bloodiest and most horrible of wars, doesn’t that recall anything to you, Mr. Fadiman?

What’s that? Yes, yes. to be sure. wrote it yourself, Mr. Fadiman. was you who wrote that for the New Masses before you became high-salaried radio pundit, in an issue which carried on its cover a Communist cartoon of the American businessman, the same of businessman who pays your enormous wages, as a swinish monger eating a huge steak and drooling gravy.

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