Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Donald R. Norland
Q: It played such a small role in our business.
NORLAND: Now it seems to play an even smaller role. For example, one of the major subjects which we discussed in 1952 was linguistics and language. We had a man, and I think his name was Henry Lee Smith...
Q: Huxie Smith.
NORLAND: He would listen to you talk for a few minutes and then tell you where you were from, your linguistic influences. Do you remember him?
Q: Yes, oh, yes. Fascinating.
NORLAND: It was fascinating indeed. We also had lectures about the role of the United States in the world.
We didn't do much on the specifics of international organization or international law, something I was interested in. We didn't focus on administration. We didn't practice writing requirements as they do today. And we didn't “bond” in the way that they now do. Young officers spend a lot of time in retreats “bonding.” We got along very well. Only a couple of us were married with the special schedule that entails.
We were certainly aware of the fact that the United States played a key role in the world. And we were all anxious to join in the anti-Communist struggle. I don't think there was anyone who didn't realize this was a very serious undertaking, that we were going to be spending a great deal of time fashioning ways of countering Communist influence.
For example, we traveled to New York, and the person who briefed us there was Bertram Wolfe. Bertram Wolfe had been a Communist who'd gone to Mexico, written about Communism, was a friend of Diego Rivera, who was a Communist. Wolfe then escaped the Communist clutches and wrote a book called “Three Who Made a Revolution.” It was a classic. I had read the book but to be briefed by Bertram Wolfe was an experience. He was actually a very unassuming guy, unmistakably anti-Communist, and doing everything he could to counter it. I think he was a consultant for the VOA at the time. He was certainly a source of motivation.
Another phenomenon of that time really bothered us, namely McCarthyism.