April 10, 1949
Miss Edna Lonigan
American Writers Assn., Inc.
270 Park Avenue
New York 17, N. Y.
Dear Miss Lonigan:
Thank you for your letters of March 23 and March 29.
I would be glad to write a pamphlet for our Association at some future date, but I cannot undertake to do it at present, because I am working on my new novel and it is such a difficult job that I find it impossible to take my mind off it for any other task of serious writing. Doing a whole pamphlet would amount to writing a book.
I spoke to Morrie Ryskind and asked his opinion about our taking action in defense of the Friendly Witnesses.[*] He agreed with me and said that he approved of our taking such action. He has suffered personally from the political boycott and, therefore, hesitated to suggest action in his own defense, but he does think that we should do it.
Rupert Hughes sent me a copy of the statement on the “Cultural Conference” which you sent him, and I am forwarding it to Morrie. I must say that I do not approve of this statement.
I do not “support the right” of Soviet delegates “to meet in free America and discuss any issue.” To pretend that a man acting at the point of a gun is exercising any “rights” is to corrupt the whole concept of rights and to lend support to the gun-holders.
I do not “understand the tragic dilemma of the Iron Curtain delegates,” and I do not “pity these men.” I despise them. The men I pity are the ones who preferred to go to a Soviet concentration camp rather than make careers under a totalitarian government and go crawling on their bellies all over the world, glorifying their own slavery and their masters.
Miss Edna Lonigan
April 10, 1949
I do not “heartily endorse the attitude of the State Department” and I most emphatically denounce and despise the idea of any “cultural rapprochement between the American and Russian peoples.” I do not wish to seek rapprochement with a people while it is enslaved and to make deals with a slave “culture.” No kind of “rapprochement” or “culture” is possible while the Soviet government remains in existence. To make friends with slaves, while they remain slaves, is to support the regime of their masters. Instead of talking about “rapprochement,” the decent and self-respecting people of all free countries should impose the most rigid cultural blockade and boycott against all totalitarian countries—and thus declare that they do not accept as “culture” any product of a reign of brute force, and that they do not deal on “cultural” terms with bloody mass-slaughterers.
I will not make a public repudiation of our statement at present, since the issue of that Conference is dead, but I would like you to place this letter on the record of our Association, so that I will have proof that I have officially denied the above sentiments. I take pride in my reputation for being totally, completely and uncompromisingly opposed to Communism and to anyone who makes terms with it.
*Morrie Ryskind (1895–1985) was a playwright and screenwriter, whose credits include several Marx Brothers films and the Broadway production of Of Thee I Sing, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. After testifying before HUAC in 1947, he never sold another script but became an anti-Communist political activist.