Linus Pauling and the International Peace Movement Narrative  
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Brave Words
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By the time he was called back before the SISS on August 9, 1960, Pauling’s refusal to provide names to the committee had become a national issue. His petitions, he told the press, "were not Communist inspired. I inspired them." He attacked the committee for attempting to stifle free speech. "Do you think anybody tells me what to do -- with threats? I make up my mind. If I want to take a chance, I take a chance."

His brave words masked deep concern. His refusal to cooperate with the Senate could cost him up to a year in prison. But by this time the McCarthy Era was nearing its end, and public opinion was beginning to swing away from knee-jerk support for anti-Communist witch hunts. The nation’s newspaper editorialists began writing in support of Pauling, with one calling the SISS investigation "superfluous," and another editorialist writing "My blood tingles with pride now as I read Dr. Pauling’s refusal to bow to this bullying committee." Pauling’s lawyer succeeded in postponing the next hearing until October, giving the Paulings time to travel and speak widely about the investigation.

Pauling was behaving more like an honored diplomat than a fellow traveler, speaking across the US and Europe, and meeting in Geneva with the American, British, and Soviet ambassadors. He attacked the SISS in every speech he gave. By the time his second appearance neared in the Fall, Pauling appeared to have marshalled public opinion behind him. On the night of October 10, he was served with a subpoena to appear before the committee the next morning -- and to bring the requested information about his petitions. The hearing room the next day was packed. He was asked again for the names of those who had helped him. "I am unwilling to subject these people to reprisals by the committee," he said. "I could protect myself by agreeing, but I am fighting for other persons who could not make a fight themselves." The committee counsel retreated, then turned in another direction, grilling Pauling for the remainder of the day about his affiliation with suspect groups. In the end the committee leadership, unwilling to make Pauling a martyr, backed down. Pauling never gave the names, and was never cited for contempt. Less than a month later, John F. Kennedy was elected President, and American politics took a new direction.

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Audio Clip  Audio: The Capacity to Destroy the Earth Five Times Over. July 10, 1960. (1:34) Transcript and More Information

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Video Clip  Video: The Folly of the Neutron Bomb. 1960. (2:45) Transcript and More Information

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See Also: Letter from Ava Helen Pauling to Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin. September 23, 1960. 
See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to Otto Bastiansen. October 4, 1960. 
See Also: "Witch-hunters Retreat Before Pauling Stand." October 24, 1960. 
See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to Robert Zachary. November 2, 1960. 

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Page 1
"Suddenly 'Un-American?'" June 23, 1960.


Page 1
Linus Pauling Note to Self re: a death threat made against him. June 1960.

"It was difficult for me to decide that I would refuse to give the names of the people who had returned signatures to me....I had about two hours to think about this matter...during the lunch period. I thought about the fate of the people who had invoked the First Amendment in refusing to conform to the demands of investigating committees, and of the possibility that I would go to jail....I finally decided that I had to decide in such a way as to permit me to keep my respect for myself."

Linus Pauling
September 29, 1960
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