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Masses & Mainstream
July, 1948, inside covers

Howard Fast writes

An Open Letter to the American People

June 15, 1948


In a sense, it is presumptuous of me to attempt to speak to all the millions of good people who inhabit this land. For many months now, almost all of our newspapers have been closed to me; the magazines too, and the radio as well. To slander a man; then to permit him no answer, no defense; there is the simple rule of "free press" in today's America.

Yet I would be remiss indeed if I did not raise my voice concerning the refusal, yesterday, of the United States Supreme Court to hear the appeal of the board of the Joint Anti-fascist Refugee Committee. This is not a time for silence and forebearance.

In a few day, eleven men and women will go to prison. Their crime, for which they are being punished, is twofold. First, they are anti-fascists; second, they have devoted years of effort to healing the sick, to feeding the hungry, to aiding the lame and the halt who have fought for Republican Spain. For this, they are branded criminals.

For two years, we, the board of the Joint Anti-fascist Refugee Committee, have been hounded and persecuted and questioned, and no other facts but those I list above emerged.

Hundreds of pages of sworn committee and court testimony have been taken. Yet no other facts but those I list above emerged.

There are those who say we are foreign agents. They lie in their teeth! There are those who say we are un-American. I call them un-American – for I know of no better Americans than my fellow members of this board, none more loyal, none more devoted to those splendid principles that once made the very name America such a good sound in the ears of all men.

That we are going to jail is not a matter of great consequence. We personally accepted these jail sentences rather than surrender our principles and the principles of the nation to the ethics of the Un-American Committee. But the reasons why we go to jail are a matter of great – indeed tragic – consequence to all Americans.

For, with our imprisonment, anti-fascism becomes a crime under the law of the land. Charity becomes a crime. To aid the sick and the hungry becomes a crime – if the politics of those you aid are not the politics of the Un-American Committee.

This is the burning, terrible shame of America today! This is what we cannot and must not accept! I need not and will not apologize for my native land. I know it too well and love it too deeply. Tens of millions of you have read my books; I need not testify to you that I have never written a word except out of love and concern and respect for the land which gave me birth and sustenance. I cannot remain silent while a group of evil men attempt to make that land an abomination in the eyes of free people everywhere.

My voice will be heard. The voices of the ten brave men and women whose sentence I share will be heard. And yours must be heard too – for this is a long step toward the beginning of the awful night, that terrible and inhuman night which has descended upon so many nations, and which men call fascism.


This issue was already on the press when we received this message. We urge our readers to wire or write President Truman immediately, asking for an executive order cancelling the jail terms of Howard Fast and his ten colleagues. – The Editors.