In September 1950, Under General Lucius D. Clay’s name, an invitation was sent to “college men and women to join the Crusade for Freedom.” In part this invitation read:
· STATEMENTS from the president of your college and from the president of your student body will help put the CRUSADE FOR FREEDOM into action, enhance its importance, thus helping to assure its success. These statements can also be publicized in your campus press, and in the local press and radio.
· ARRANGE to have Freedom Scrolls and Contribution Boxes in each dormitory or residence including Sorority and Fraternity houses, and in all buildings on campus.
· ENLIST students to man tables for the signing of the Freedom Scrolls and to supervise collection of contributions.
· RALLIES or meetings in stadium or auditorium to arouse general enthusiasm.
· ARRANGE for news stories in your college newspapers and other publications to cover the CRUSADE. Most college newspaper editors have been sent releases, giving full information, enclosing a one-column mat of the Freedom Bell, and offering glossy photos on request. Urge them to use these releases in whole or in part and add a running news account of your own CRUSADE activities: names of leaders, where and how signatures may be signed, groups obtaining largest percentage of signers, etc.
The Crusade for Freedom was not universally accepted at the college level in the United States in 1950. Below we will look briefly at Barnard College, founded in 1889, where President Obama gave the commencement speech to graduating students last week.
In September 1950, Barnard College, “The Liberal Arts College for Women in New York City”, affiliated with Columbia University, where Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, publicly questioned the true background of both Radio Free Europe and the Crusade for Freedom. The editorial staff of the college newspaper Barnard Bulletin wrote on September 28, 1950:
· Precisely what is this crusade and what are its objectives? The organization's publicity material calls it "a mobilization of million of Americans in the battle against Communist propaganda and aggression." These are vague, innocuous terms, as are those of the "Declaration of Freedom." We are skeptical of platitudes — and of their possible interpretations.
· Who runs the National Committee for a Free Europe, and who decides its policies? It is a private organization, with prominent supporters, asserting itself "uninhibited by government protocol and able to meet Communist propaganda on its own terms." But what terms do its directors stress on delicate issues, where private supporters may disagree with official policies?
· What is the tenor of "Radio Free Europe's" broadcasts? Its programs feature expatriates from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Rumania, speaking to the people of their homelands. But what political elements do these exiles represent?
In a letter to the editors published in the October 12, 1950, edition, one student wrote,
Both the Student Council and student-newspaper of Cornell University have rejected official sponsorship of the campaign. The newspaper of Wayne University, the Collegian, pointed out that the Freedom Scroll can quite easily be turned into a nation-wide loyalty oath where those who refuse to sign, for whatever personal reasons, could be considered not to be in support of the freedom of which the Scroll so fluently speaks.
Frank Altschul, Treasurer of the National Committee for Free Europe (NCFE) and Chairman of the Radio Committee (responsible for Radio Free Europe) also was a Trustee of Barnard College. In response to the skepticism expressed at the college, Atschul gave an interview to the Barnard Bulletin:
In approach, Mr. Altschul explains, RFE programs attempt to "mix the maximum amount of entertainment with propaganda." A typical device is the dialogue, between pre-Communist "Old John" and Communist-indoctrinated "New John," which points up the changes in ways of life and thinking. Satire is frequent, and Mr. Altschul notes that it can be sharper than in "Voice of America," since it is not attributable to a government source.
The main policy thread of the 'broadcasts is attacks on Communism, rather than advocacy of any program. "We're not trying to proselytize the American system," Mr. Altschul asserts, and broadcasts stress the particular internal problems of the Iron Curtain nations. In line with this political approach, RFE avoids stands on partisan policies or fractional questions that will arise if the Communist regime is ended.
Broadly stated, RFE's attempt is to direct propaganda against Communist satellite regimes, stressing the problems of the particular country. Within this theme, Mr. Altschul indicates... that anyone entering a controversial field must expect to make mistakes and be criticized.
At the end of the Crusade campaign at Barnard College, a total of only 50 out of approximately 1000 (5 %) students had signed the Freedom Scroll and 85 faculty members out of 135 (63 %) had signed it. Among the reasons given for the low number of student signatures were:
· Insufficient publicity and information on the Crusade
· The labor Youth League had passed out leaflets in opposition
· Disapproval of the backers
· Skepticism as to constructiveness of the Crusade’s purposes
· Opposition to the employment of propaganda in today’s international situation