From International Socialist Review, Vol.24 No.3, Summer 1963, p.66.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Three officers of the Young Socialist Alliance chapter at Indiana University were indicted on May Day under a state sedition act of McCarthy vintage. The law declares its aim is “to exterminate Communism and Communists and any or all teachings of the same.” Conviction under this law could bring up to three years imprisonment.
Ralph Levitt, 25, and James Bingham, 25, both of Indianapolis, and Tom Morgan, 22, of Terre Haute (Ind.) were indicted on the basis of remarks made at a public meeting sponsored by the YSA at Indiana University on March 25. Leroy McRae, YSA National Organization Secretary, spoke on the topic of the increasingly militant Negro struggle for equality.
McRae, himself a Negro, endorsed the use of self-defense against racist attack. His remarks on this issue were twisted and torn out of context by the Monroe County (Ind.) prosecutor, Thomas A. Hoadley, and presented as “evidence” that the three defendants advocated violent overthrow of the government. That they should be indicted for remarks that support the right of Negroes to defend themselves against racist attack is only one indication that the prosecution is not aimed at any crime, but at the active and open espousal of political ideas.
Another circumstance further shows the prosecution’s intent of political victimization. Prosecutor Hoadley’s campaign against the YSA stems from a demonstration last October 24 against Kennedy’s blockade of Cuba, in which Bingham, Levitt and Morgan participated. That action drew nationwide attention when thousands of “patriotic” students and townspeople broke up the small demonstration and tore up the signs.
The first official act of newly-elected prosecutor Hoadley was to dismiss charges against two hooligans arrested for acts of violence during that demonstration. He then opened up a campaign to pressure Indiana University’s administration into denying campus facilities to the YSA. When the University refused, Hoadley took another step and indicted the students.
Hoadley’s election was backed by right-wing Republicans. They represent the unsavory tradition of Indiana, once a stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan; a state where a “right-to-work” law exists as a curb on union activities; a state which enjoys the dubious distinction of being the birthplace of the John Birch Society.
But in the past Indiana has also been the scene of great labor struggles. It was the home state of Eugene V. Debs. In fact, one of the defendants, Torn Morgan, is from Debs home town, and last year became national secretary of the E.V. Debs Foundation, which restored Debs’ home as a museum.
These young people are battling to uphold the progressive radical tradition of America. They need help. The fullest mobilization of American socialists and radicals can bring victory and help advance the right to advocate the socialist alternative in this country.
The Emergency Civil Liberties Committee is providing legal counsel, but the defense costs are still great. Capitalist “democracy” means that unless you are rich, any indictment is a heavy financial blow – even if you are cleared of the charges. Thousands of dollars are needed just to fight this case.
National Chairman, Young Socialist Alliance
What You Can Do
The Committee to Aid the Bloomington Students urgently needs the help of all who believe in democracy and free speech. Funds are needed for legal expenses and to publicize the case.
Join the CABS and help beat back the witch hunt. For more information, press releases, and the complete background of the case write to the CABS. Send all letters and donations to the Committee to Aid the Bloomington Students, P.O. Box 382, Bloomington, Ind.
Last updated on 22 May 2009