Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Martin Dies

My wife is presently working out of Houston for hurricane relief. She was telling me last night that they may have to visit the area around Martin Dies State Park. No one knew who he was so she asked me. That made me realize that very few people know who Martin Dies is anymore.

Martin Dies was one of the worst people to ever be a powerful member of the House. On this day when Tom DeLay steps down from Majority Leader, I thought it would be a good time to discuss a fellow Texan.

Dies founded the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1937 and served as its chairman from 1937-44. This of course was the committee that Richard Nixon used to prop up his career as a red-baiter. Dies, who didn't see much value in the New Deal, used his chairmanship to destroy the Federal Writers Project and other New Deal programs that employed artists and other commies. He claimed that the CIO was full of communists and came out against them and labor as a whole. A staunch segregationist, he was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan and spoke at several of their rallies. He hated the liberalism of Franklin D. Roosevelt and supported a group called the Texas Regulars in 1944 that wanted to deny FDR a majority in the electoral college. They were not successful but were a precursor to the Dixiecrats in 1948.

Dies is almost forgotten about today. He is an example of America's dark side that needs to be brought into the light. A truly evil man.

On the other hand, his state park is right next to Jasper, Texas, where James Byrd was lynched in 1998 by white supremacists who tied him up and dragged him behind their pickup. A very fitting locale for a man like Dies.

Quotes from a few critics of Dies:

Dorothy Parker: "The people want democracy - real democracy, Mr. Dies, and they look toward Hollywood to give it to them because they don't get it any more in their newspapers. And that's why you're out here, Mr. Dies - that's why you want to destroy the Hollywood progressive organizations - because you've got to control this medium if you want to bring fascism to this country."

Emanuel Celler: "Bluntly then, the present committee can make its choice. It can either adopt the Dies course of unfounded character assassinations, lynch-law, prosecutor-jury and executioner all in one - or it can proceed in a manner consonant with the American tradition of the right to be heard, the right of counsel and the right of confrontation of witnesses, placing emphasis on investigation of all foreignisms with honest judicious objectivity."