The ultimate test of Reed's singularity, however, came during the summer of 1954, when the House Un-American Activities Committee held hearings in Portland and focused its investigatory attentions on Reed College. When the two-day parade of "friendly" and "unfriendly" witnesses had concluded, three current members of the Reed faculty--Leonard Marsak, Lloyd Reynolds, and Stanley Moore--had been accused of communist party associations. And the college, led by its president, Duncan Ballantine, and its board chairman, Henry Cabell, was faced with the problem of how to react to these much-publicized charges of communist infiltration on campus. |
Though Reed had been relatively free of the most serious manifestations of McCarthyism up to that time, the official custodians of the institution's welfare decided that the college could not afford to appear indifferent to, much less to oppose outright, the national crusade against communists, even if that decision meant violating Reed's much-vaunted tradition of academic freedom.
On June 20, 1954, President Ballantine suspended Professor Reynolds from teaching his scheduled summer-session course, explaining that the popular art history and English professor had "created an emergency" for the college by citing the Fifth Amendment (the constitutional guarantee of freedom against self-incrimination) during his HUAC testimony. Then, in the course of statements made during July and early August of 1954, the Reed president and trustees made clear that all three teachers--Reynolds, Marsak, and Moore--would be fired unless they could assure college authorities that they were not presently communists.
However, because of the decisive support expressed by Reed's faculty, students, and alumni for the three besieged teachers and for the principle of academic freedom, Reed College's experience with McCarthyism stands apart from that of most other American colleges and universities. Elsewhere in the academic world both tenured and untenured professors with alleged or admitted communist party ties were fired with relatively little fuss or protest. At Reed, however, opposition to the political interrogations of the teachers was so strong that some believed the campus was in danger of closure.
In the end only Professor Moore, arguing consistently and publicly throughout the period of controversy that employers have no right to question employees about their political ideas and associations, was fired by Reed College.
Stanley Williams Moore was born in Oakland, California, on July 24, 1914. Before he decided on philosophy as a career, he considered ranching: "We had a family ranch near Mission Peak, not far from San Jose. It was a gathering place for different parts of our family." Fond memories of time spent on the Mission Peak ranch led young Stanley Moore to fancy himself a rancher, but then he was told that ranching "was a way to lose money rather than gain it."
His first significant clash with established authority and received wisdom came while he attended Piedmont High School, where he was president of his class. "I didn't get along with the principal," Moore said, "so I went down to see the district attorney, whose name was Earl Warren, and complained." Although the future governor of California and chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court "brushed off" the dissenting student at the time, it was probably not for lack of a cogent argument on Moore's part.
When it came time for college, Moore chose the University of California at Berkeley. Most of the college-educated members of his family had gone to the University of California, and, since these were the years of the Depression, cost was a major consideration. "The price was right," Moore recalls.
Moore did not start out as a philosophy major: "When I went to the university, I assumed I would major in literature; but when I got to taking courses, I concluded that the ideas in literature were taught in the philosophy department. The rest of it was just quantitative experience. So I moved over to major in philosophy."
Two Berkeley faculty members influenced Moore most strongly as he began his new major: George P. Adams, who taught ethics and social philosophy, and Jacob Loewenberg, who specialized in historical figures, such as Kant and Hegel. The first two or three undergraduate years at Berkeley, Moore remembers, were a time of intellectual formation: "I was absorbing things then rather than judging them."
He first became interested in Marxism as an undergraduate who was at the time actively sharpening his skills of argumentation and reasoning by way of formal debate. Moore recalls that "there was a great deal of interest in Marxism in those days. I was a member of the debating team at the university, and one of the things that got debated was Marxism."