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a true American hero
November 21, 2007 11:44 PM   Subscribe

Milo Radulovich, RIP --thrown out of the Air Force during the Red Scares, he fought back--Radulovich's case (and the new medium of TV) showed millions the impact McCarthy was having and the absurd lengths he was going to. He himself wasn't ever accused of being a Communist himself tho:

... His sister had picketed outside the Book Cadillac Hotel when it refused a room to black entertainer Paul Robeson. His father subscribed to newspapers from his native Yugoslavia and had participated in a sit-down strike at Hudson Motor Car Co. ...

1998: Michigan Legal Milestone--"Milo Radulovich and the Fall of McCarthyism"

NYT Obit: Milo Radulovich, 81, Dies; Symbol of ’50s Red Scare--...“the first time any of us appreciated the power of television.” ...

The Red Scare revisited: inside McCarthy files

HUAC Army-McCarthy hearing transcript
posted by amberglow (32 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
(oops--one too many "himself"s there)
posted by amberglow at 11:45 PM on November 21, 2007


and, his posts at Participate.net
posted by amberglow at 11:50 PM on November 21, 2007


Good post, amberglow, thanks. I didn't know about the more recent release of McCarthy documents - I'll have to do some digging because that whole thing fascinates me. But as recent as that was, we are revisiting so many of the issues again today, sigh.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:33 AM on November 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the character in Bloom County was named after him? There can't be too many "Milo"s, after all.
posted by yhbc at 5:45 AM on November 22, 2007


HUAC Army-McCarthy hearing transcript

HUAC had nothing to do with the Army-McCarthy hearings.
posted by loquax at 8:19 AM on November 22, 2007


A true patriot.

Take note Mr. President.
posted by Mick at 8:51 AM on November 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


We just watched Good Night and Good Luck on Tuesday. I thought the character of Milo Radulovich was invented for the movie, so I was surprised to hear his obituary yesterday! A true American hero indeed.
posted by lukemeister at 9:22 AM on November 22, 2007


I'm sorry to hear this.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:47 AM on November 22, 2007


I never quite understood the outrage about some some of this. This was not a matter of a private citizen being arrested and jailed for his beliefs, or his associations. He was in the military, presumably privy to some sensitive information, and getting his paycheck from the US government. Since when does the government not have the right to fire someone that they believe to be a security risk? Or discharge them for whatever reason? Hell, your country doesn't even have mandatory notice periods for terminating employment, let alone allowing an employee to associate with whomever they wish to. As far as I know, discrimination on the basis of association and political affiliation is legal in the US under federal law, and in most states. Is there any doubt that you can't get a job today in the CIA if you're from particular countries, or have any association with a variety of groups, or ever attended an anti-war march?

I realize that this case became a microcosm for the whole red scare debate at the time, but McCarthy's targeting of government employees (in particular state department employees, which was in some cases justified despite his theatrics) is nothing compared to the HUAC's persecution of the film industry and private citizen activists, communist or not.
posted by loquax at 10:20 AM on November 22, 2007


Loquax:

We believe that the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, even though that iniquity be proved, and in this case it was not.
- Murrow
posted by evilcolonel at 11:04 AM on November 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


loquax, you're bringing out the same rhetorical trap that dios usually does, namely equating legality with justice, or even correctness.

wrt evilcolonel's follow-up to you above, I do disagree (on some level) with Murrow's framing the issue as being punitive and not the self-defeating CYA paranoia that it truly was.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:26 AM on November 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Evilcolonel - It's nice that Murrow believes that, but US law clearly doesn't. Your constitution, bill of rights and laws define what rights a citizen is entitled to. Those rights do not include security clearance as a member of the air force, the state department, or any other area that involves the security of the country. The air force violated no law or regulation (as I understand them) in discharging him on the basis of his associations, and pulled back only in the face of Murrow's chastisement.
posted by loquax at 11:26 AM on November 22, 2007


loquax, you're bringing out the same rhetorical trap that dios usually does, namely equating legality with justice, or even correctness.

Fine, then I think it was quite correct in the 1950's for the US government to fire anyone with demonstrable connections to the Soviet Union or communists (but not to target actors or private citizens). Not arrest them, or deport them, just not employ them. Just like if you were a member of the Nazi party circa 1939-1945, you probably shouldn't have access to state secrets. Or if you were a Hezbollah sympathizer today. Is it a stretch to discharge this guy on the basis of his father reading commie papers and his sister being involved with pinko labour unions? Maybe. Although at the time, I can somewhat understand the US military not wanting to take chances with Uncle Joe and the Red Army. Given of course that the US was, in fact, crawling with Soviet agents at the time.
posted by loquax at 11:34 AM on November 22, 2007


Your constitution, bill of rights and laws define what rights a citizen is entitled to

whoah, whoah, whoah -- back up a little there, chief.

The proper reading of that stuff is the enumeration and limitation of state powers.

OK, continue . . .
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:39 AM on November 22, 2007


yeah, well, the American people, thanks to patriots like Murrow, finally had enough of this circular firing squad political witchhunt bullshit.

The sane ones, at least. We're seemingly stuck with that 25-35% part of the nation that doesn't understand what liberty, freedom etc. entail.

jeez, Bush has falllen below McCarthy's polling. That's some talent there.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:45 AM on November 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Not arrest them, or deport them, just not employ them.
That's exactly right, and they already had cleared him for sensitive work--until McCarthy started this shit. If his sister and father didn't matter when he was first investigated and given clearance they never should have later.

A sidenote: this stuff lasted well past McCarthy himself--my mother when she started teaching iat the end of the 50s had to sign papers stating she wasn't a Communist--Many millions and millions of Americans were forced to do stuff like that--let alone those whose lives were actually ruined.

And also, much of Don't Ask Don't Tell today is run exactly like what they did to Milo ages ago. Guilt by association--remote or otherwise, and simple lies are enough.

and regarding the Constitution and rights--We already have rights--it's the government's job to protect and ensure that they're bestowed on us and that we can actually exercise them.

HUAC had nothing to do with the Army-McCarthy hearings.
Oops--i always associate all Red Scaren hearings with that Committee.
posted by amberglow at 12:21 PM on November 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Your constitution, bill of rights and laws define what rights a citizen is entitled to.

Nope. We have far more rights than just those directly spoken of in the Constitution. It's explicitly stated--the 9th Amendment . And free assembly--which certainly covers family members associating -- is in the 1st.
posted by amberglow at 12:30 PM on November 22, 2007


.

(Great post.)
posted by orthogonality at 12:41 PM on November 22, 2007


and regarding the Constitution and rights--We already have rights--it's the government's job to protect and ensure that they're bestowed on us and that we can actually exercise them.

That's exactly my point amberglow. You don't have the right to associate with any group you want and keep your job. You don't have the right to have any political leanings and keep your job. That goes double for government jobs. You can't be arrested on that basis in the US, but the government doesn't have to hire you, or keep you employed if it doesn't like the company you keep. That's the law, and those are your rights.


That's exactly right, and they already had cleared him for sensitive work--until McCarthy started this shit. If his sister and father didn't matter when he was first investigated and given clearance they never should have later.


Why not?

Nope. We have far more rights than just those directly spoken of in the Constitution. It's explicitly stated--the 9th Amendment . And free assembly--which certainly covers family members associating -- is in the 1st.

Oh sure! I didn't say you didn't have the right to free assembly and association in the constitution. Knock yourself out! Join the KKK! NAMBLA! ELF! Nobody will break down your door and arrest you. But nor are they forced to hire you in spite of the dubious company you keep. As opposed to being disabled, of a particular sex, skin colour or national origin. Check out federal employment law and prohibited forms of discrimination. Political affiliation and association are not on the list (in general), nor should they be.
posted by loquax at 12:50 PM on November 22, 2007


The 'Silent' Ninth Amendment Gives Americans Rights They Don't Know They Have
posted by homunculus at 1:01 PM on November 22, 2007


but the government doesn't have to hire you, or keep you employed if it doesn't like the company you keep. That's the law, and those are your rights.

But it's not that simple. For sensitive jobs, once you're cleared, you can NOT be simply fired just like that because you or a relative do or say something that someone somewhere thinks is wrong. Clearance is a very exhaustive process, and not taken lightly. If one Senator is whipping up a frenzy, that's actually not enough to get you fired legally. They have to prove what they say--and McCarthy and the Air Force never ever did. They have to hold hearings before simply firing you. That's the law.

No one here or anywhere in the world or involved in Radulovich's story believes that any govt. is "forced to hire" anyone. That's a strawman and a gigantic distortion of what this is about. This is about firing without cause. The military and all Govt agencies all have legal procedures that must be followed and they weren't during the Red Scares--and they're not today in some cases.

You cannot be fired even from the military for associating with "undesireable" people of any sort--related or not. By law they must investigate and hold hearings and gather testimony, etc, and prove you've become a risk when you weren't one before. You cannot be fired from a sensitive Government job without the same sort of process occuring. The Government and the Military have far more rules and laws regarding this sort of thing. They're not private employers who can and do fire and hire "at will".
posted by amberglow at 1:08 PM on November 22, 2007


If one Senator is whipping up a frenzy, that's actually not enough to get you fired legally. They have to prove what they say--and McCarthy and the Air Force never ever did.

As far as I know the story (and at least Wikipedia seems to agree), McCarthy himself never had anything to do with this specific case. I have no idea why the Air Force decided to discharge Milo, or what evidence they had for their suspicions beyond what was mentioned (if any). I also have no idea what Air Force procedure is here. You make a lot of claims about the burden on the military and the government to prove that a soldier or an employee is a security risk at the time of employment and during their employment. I have no idea if you're right. I suspect you're not from what I know of US federal employment law and anecdotally concerning security clearance and so on.

They have to hold hearings before simply firing you. That's the law.

The air force has to hold a hearing before discharging a reservist? Did they in 1953?

By law they must investigate and hold hearings and gather testimony, etc, and prove you've become a risk when you weren't one before.

Can you cite this law?
posted by loquax at 2:02 PM on November 22, 2007


Here are tons of the current laws and regulations and procedures for Military Discharges

I'll hunt down the ones from the 50s.
posted by amberglow at 2:13 PM on November 22, 2007


None of the relevant links that I tried to follow off that page work. I found this which lists a bunch of reasons for separation for the air force. I'm certainly no military lawyer, but I continue to highly doubt that an air force reservist cannot be summarily discharged because of his associations. Or an employee of the state department for that matter.
posted by loquax at 2:43 PM on November 22, 2007


here's the Air Reserve Personnel Center A-Z fact sheets (i have to go to Thanksgiving--i'll search more later. Radulovich was given a letter stating they were "resigning" him because of his family's reading and other activities, and he chose to fight it after the fact. He lost in a Military Tribunal (sealed evidence and he and his lawyers were never allowed to see it at all), then they appealed, then the Secy of the Air Force got involved because of the publicity and reversed it.)
posted by amberglow at 3:06 PM on November 22, 2007


Here's the current Air Force regulation from this PDF. (I have no idea how to find the rules from 1953, but I bet they were even less nice).

3.22. Discharge in the Interest of National Security. A member whose retention is clearly inconsistent
with the interest of national security may be discharged. Discharge action according to this paragraph is
not initiated until all actions required by AFI 31-501 are completed.
3.22.1. When the member is unable to obtain the level of clearance for an assignment or projected
duty assignment the characterization of service will be Honorable, Under Honorable Conditions (General),
or UOTHC under the guidelines provided in Attachment 2. If the member is in entry level status,
describe the separation or discharge as an entry-level separation or discharge. Appropriate
authorities must review and ensure members recommended for discharge under this section are processed
entitled to a hearing by an administrative discharge board (Chapter 4, Section B). Counseling
and rehabilitation procedures do not apply.
3.22.2. The unit commander:
3.22.2.1. Prepares the commander's report (Attachment 6).
3.22.2.2. Sends the documented case, through channels, to the appropriate authority. The transmittal
letter states whether the member has been promised or led, by implication or representation,
to believe that the discharge to be issued would be better than the worst type authorized, and
includes evidence of the action required.


I don't have time to go through all this either, but it seems quite clear to me that his was not a simple case of wrongful dismissal, but a case where the air force, acting with a broad definition of "national security" stretched a little too much perhaps, and got caught up in Murrow's attack. It didn't matter what the law or the evidence against Milo was once he became a cause celbre, the air force just had to make the whole thing go away. Does that mean that they acted illegally in discharging him in the first place? I don't think so judging by this (and the loooooong list of reasons they can discharge you for even in 2007). Does it mean they acted immorally or unethically? My opinion is no, given the threat that the Soviet Union posed at the time, the presence of KGB/FSB agents in the US and in government and the fact that all the government did was fire him, not arrest, torture or imprison. If you think that communism or the Soviet Union was a joke in 1953, I can see how your opinion would differ.

In any case, I'm not condemning Milo here, I'm just saying that I think that to a large extent, people no longer understand what the world was like in 1953, and how dangerous the Soviet Union and communism were. Just ask the Hungarians, East Germans, Poles, Czechs, and so on. There were, literally, spies everywhere. McCarthy was a crank, and a clown, but that doesn't mean he wasn't at least partially right. What distinguishes him from the HUAC was that he went after government employees, not civilians, a far more insidious action by the government. The right of a citizen to believe what he wants and associate with whom he wishes without harassment from the government I agree with wholeheartedly. The right to employment of a sensitive nature is a far more complicated issue, and I don't think it does or should exist. Clearly abuses of termination on those grounds are unacceptable, but does anyone assert that this is the case here? Was there a vendetta against Milo or did the officials in charge simply believe that he was a risk (to whatever extent) to national security?
posted by loquax at 3:26 PM on November 22, 2007


oh, interesting interview with him from SerbBlog--... And I wasn’t sure what to do – or what I could do. If I accepted less than a full Honorable Discharge from the Air Force, then I couldn’t work in the profession I was trained for. Meteorology was very much a government-run field back then. But I also knew that if I fought, I’d have to drag my whole family through it all. I did ask my father what he wanted me to do, -- and he told me “Fight this, Milo. This isn’t right.” But if he had said,”Drop it”, I would have, too. Because this wasn’t just about me. This affected my entire family – and our family name. Cutting off ties with my family – especially with my parents -- was never “an option” to me. Yet finding an attorney to fight for me wasn’t easy, either. I can’t tell you how many doors I knocked on and was rejected. Ultimately I found Charlie Lockwood and Kenneth Sanborn....
posted by amberglow at 3:30 PM on November 22, 2007


and how dangerous the Soviet Union and communism were.

Oh, please. The Soviet Union was a threat in one *and only one* way -- they had a capable nuclear deterrent.

They had no more the ablitlity to conquer the United States than we did them. Period.

As to the "threat" of communism? Give me a fucking break.
posted by eriko at 7:49 PM on November 22, 2007


Yeah, you're right. Stalin wasn't such a bad guy. You just had to get to know him better. And the USSR? Pussycats! Just ask the Hungarians. And Czechs. And so forth. And communism did amazing things for humanity. Collectivization. Great leaps. What a bunch of pussies those clowns were in the 50's. Good thing you're here 50 years later secure in your hindsight to tell us all what's so obvious.
posted by loquax at 8:21 PM on November 22, 2007


As to the "threat" of communism? Give me a fucking break.

You fool, they were going to sterilize us!
posted by homunculus at 8:31 PM on November 22, 2007


just like it is today, the language was incredibly vague. so, any ridiculous tripe could be hammed up to be "a security threat."

some have argued that the "lavendar scare*" was even 'worse' than the red scare. all i know is that it was an ugly, ugly page in US history.

*where nearly twice as many people lost their government employment -- and a whole lot more -- because of accusations of being gay.
posted by CitizenD at 10:21 PM on November 22, 2007


A member whose retention is clearly inconsistent
with the interest of national security may be discharged. Discharge action according to this paragraph is
not initiated until all actions required by AFI 31-501 are completed.


AFI 31-501: (pdf link there--125 pages total--Chapter 8 lists the many other regs that need to be followed and the procedures)
posted by amberglow at 4:04 AM on November 23, 2007


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