Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Donald R. Norland
NORLAND: I looked upon it as a real challenge. I defied the McCarthyist idea. I had done so while teaching, by the way; I had given college lectures, to the point that I antagonized a lot of people, saying that McCarthy was a fraud. And when I got into the Foreign Service (luckily I suppose), I didn't change my thinking that he was a menace. I couldn't understand why the American public was so slow to react. There was a momentum that was sweeping away even the General Eisenhowers of the world. Remember, he refused to defend General Marshall publicly. It was a terrible thing, and we talked about this, and we worried about the influence this would have. It was eroding morale. There were people who were being hurt. And people who were taking positions of responsibility, like Scott McLeod, were known henchmen. (He was in charge of security.) So it was a time of great concern.
Q: Were you getting the feeling, gee, you better watch out what you report? How was this affecting you?
NORLAND: I would not say that we were affected in that way. There was a kind of underlying defiance, a feeling that this man McCarthy and his ideas could not prevail, because there was no substance to it. And I know, privately, we were absolutely convinced this could not last. But how you go about combating it—only in little ways. We probably wrote letters, maybe even a petition, to get people to stand up more strongly. No one can remember what we actually did but I had the feeling that it was terribly wrong. We were, as you say, mature people and veterans. I think the average age of the class was 29 or 30; I was 28.
And, worse, my first assignment was Morocco. To pursue this McCarthy business, my first duties were as assistant public affairs officer. The public affairs officer soon left, and while I was in charge the team of Cohn and Schine made a trip to Europe and threatened to come to Morocco. I got a telegram saying that, in anticipation of their visit, I should remove from the shelves of the library all books by Dashiell Hammett, the murder mystery writer, and a couple of other names.
Q: Lillian Hellman.
NORLAND: Right. It was unbelievable—in America.