William Mandel

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William Marx "Bill" Mandel (born June 4, 1917, in New York City) is an American broadcast journalist, left-wing political activist and author, best known as a Soviet affairs analyst.

Senator McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee[edit]

External video
The Investigation of William Mandel by Sen. Joseph McCarthy on YouTube, Radical Films

Considered a leading Sovietologist during the 1940s and 1950s, Mandel was a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, but lost his position there due to the political pressures of the McCarthy era. He is perhaps best known for standing up to Senator Joseph McCarthy during a televised 1953 Senate committee hearing[1] in which Mandel pointedly told the senator, "This is a book-burning! You lack only the tinder to set fire to the books as Hitler did twenty years ago, and I am going to get that across to the American people!"[2]

In 1960, Mandel was again subpoenaed, this time by the House Un-American Activities Committee. He testified on May 13 in a hearing held at the San Francisco City Hall. Outside the hearing, hundreds of protesting Bay Area college students were blasted with firehoses and dragged down the marble steps by police officers, leaving some seriously injured.[3] Newsreel cameras recorded Mandel's scathing response to the question posed by Lead Counsel Richard Arens, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?":

Honorable beaters of children, sadists, uniformed and in plain clothes, distinguished Dixiecrat wearing the clothing of a gentleman, eminent Republican who opposes an accommodation with the one country with which we must live at peace in order for us and all our children to survive. My boy of fifteen left this room a few minutes ago in sound health and not jailed, solely because I asked him to be in here to learn something about the procedures of the United States government and one of its committees. Had he been outside where a son of a friend of mine had his head split by these goons operating under your orders, my boy today might have paid the penalty of permanent injury or a police record for desiring to come here and hear how this committee operates. If you think that I am going to cooperate with this collection of Judases, of men who sit there in violation of the United States Constitution, if you think I will cooperate with you in any way, you are insane!"[4]

Mandel "spent the remainder of his testimony respectfully telling his inquisitors to go to hell."[5] William F. Buckley later characterized Mandel's testimony as "a histrionic speech."[6]

Recordings of the hearing were aired repeatedly on KPFA and other Pacifica Radio stations in subsequent years, and "literally represented the final hours of the 1950s" for young people who had come of age in the McCarthy era.[5] Scenes from the hearings and protest were later featured in the award-winning 1990 documentary, Berkeley in the Sixties.

Broadcaster and activist[edit]

Mandel began his career as a broadcaster in 1958, with an hour-long weekly program on Pacifica Radio station KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California. Originally called "Soviet Press and Periodicals", the program stayed on the air under various names until 1995, when it was abruptly cancelled due to internal conflicts at the station. Mandel appears in the documentary film KPFA On the Air (Independent Television Service, 2000). Subsequently, Mandel hosted a weekly show on Free Radio Berkeley.[7]

In his book, In Battle for Peace, the noted Black American scholar and activist Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois referred to William Mandel's "defense" of him when Du Bois was "under federal indictment for heading the circulation of a peace petition".[8]

Mandel supported the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, California, in the early 1960s. He continues to write and do limited radio broadcasts.[9]

In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.[10]

Writings[edit]

The introduction to Mandel's autobiography, Saying No To Power, was written by the left wing historian and author Howard Zinn. The book received critical acclaim from notables, including author and senior editor of The Black Scholar, Robert L. Allen; renowned musician and activist Pete Seeger; and the internationally respected poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

The Hoover Institution Archives, Wisconsin Historical Society and the Bancroft Library at the University of California have collections of Mandel's papers.

Books[edit]

  • A guide to the Soviet Union, The Dial Press, 1946
  • Soviet Marxism and Social Science reprint Ramparts Press, 1984, ISBN 9780878670970
  • Soviet Women, Anchor Books, 1975, ISBN 9780385032551
  • Soviet But Not Russian, Palo Alto, Calif.: University of Alberta Press and Ramparts Press, 1985, ISBN 9780878670956
  • Saying No To Power, Berkeley: Creative Arts Book Company, 1999, ISBN 9780887392863

References[edit]

  1. ^ Victor Navasky, Naming Names (New York: Viking, 1980), p. 118
  2. ^ Quote taken from billmandel.net
  3. ^ "The Sixties: House Un-American Activities Committee". PBS. 
  4. ^ U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities, The Northern California District of the Communist Party: Structure, Objectives, Leadership (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960), 2066.
  5. ^ a b Matthew Lasar, Pacifica Radio: The Rise of an Alternative Network (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999), 186.
  6. ^ William F. Buckley, The Committee and Its Critics: A Calm Review of the House Un-American Activities Committee (New York: Putnam, 1962), 198.
  7. ^ Selna, Robert (26 July 1998). "No Longer on the Left of Your Dial: Bill Mandel. Berkeley Radio Legend Still Fighting for Free Speech". San Francisco Examiner. p. D-1. 
  8. ^ Bill Mandel, Saying No To Power (Berkeley: Creative Arts, 1999), 204-205.
  9. ^ (see also the March 24, 2004, San Francisco Bay Guardian article entitled "We Will Not Obey")
  10. ^ “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” January 30, 1968 New York Post

External links[edit]