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Response to lindysalsagal (Reply #6)

Sun Aug 19, 2018, 01:11 PM

7. In 1962, I had a first-hand example of the horror that was McCarthyism.

Someone in my little town sent an anonymous letter to the school board, accusing one of my favorite teachers of being a Communist. The teacher taught Spanish and French in school, and I was in his French classes for several years. I never once heard him utter a single word about politics, philosophy, or anything other than to attempt to teach hormone-crazed teenagers conjugation of verbs.

Despite the letter being anonymous, my teacher was in real danger of losing his job. A special meeting of the school board was held to decide his fate. It was the very first time I ever spoke publicly in front of such a body. I went there, and was the only current student to speak. I had written my comments beforehand, and delivered them emphatically, recounting the students' point of view of this excellent and extraordinarily patient teacher. I also spoke about anonymous accusations and questioned why the accuser did not speak for himself at this meeting. I asked the public who attended why the accuser was not there in the room to restate his accusation.

I was 16 years old. Several other townspeople also vouched for him, and my objection to anonymity was repeated by a number of people. A few were there, too, spouting the John Birch Society line. In the end, the teacher kept his job. I hope I was helpful in that. He thanked me for my appearance, later on.

No, politics were not much raised in my school, but they intruded on the school at times.

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