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Newstalgia Reference Room - The Mundt-Nixon Bill - 1948

(Tricky Dick - even early on) [media id=17590] When the Red Scare was picking up steam just after World War 2, then-Congressman Richard Nixon co-a

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(Tricky Dick - even early on)

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When the Red Scare was picking up steam just after World War 2, then-Congressman Richard Nixon co-authored with Congressman Karl Mundt of South Dakota a bill that would have prevented known Communists from seeking employment in government jobs, force members of the Communist Party of the U.S. to identify themselves and generally round up anyone thought to be or suspected of being a Communist or engaging in "anti-American" activities. Kind of broad and pretty loose as far as interpretation was concerned. The Bill, known as the Mundt-Nixon Bill passed the House but died in the Senate where it was eventually given new life as The McCarran Act of 1950.

But in 1948, flush with their success in the House, the sales pitch took place via the airwaves, and one such debate over the pros and cons of the bill was held as part of the University Roundtable, a Sunday interview/Public Affairs program run on the NBC Radio Network. This debate from June 6th featured Representative Charles Kersten (R-Wisc.) and University of Chicago Legal Professor Malcolm Sharp.

It was lively, but like most discussion programs of the period, remarkably civil.

Rep. Charles Kersten: “The Mundt-Nixon bill is a measure to meet this international phenomena, this international conspiracy. It has not remained merely a conspiracy but has gone into action to such an extent within the last few years so as to overcome the independence of about eight European countries and threatened the independence of other countries.”

Malcolm Sharpe (U of Chicago Law School): “I’m opposed to the bill because it seems to go much further than is necessary in view of what I conceive to be the present danger presented by this small group in this country, with its traditions so different from those of Europe. It’s great wealth. It’s freedom from the ravages of war. It doesn’t seem to me that the danger’s anything like what you people in Washington say it is. Seems to me you’ve got a little excited down here. Out in the Great Plains of the Middle West, I have some difficulty in getting alarmed. It seems to me, on the other hand, that the bill is a violation of our traditions. It goes a long way in the direction of what’s called “thought control”, it sets bad precedence which some time of crisis are apt to affect almost any minority you can think of. In some unpredictable way we’re a very volatile people.”

Bears a strange resemblance to SB 1070, doesn't it?

Well . . .that's another can of worms.

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