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President in defending the free speech rights of people who were perceived as left-wingers.
And all this involves the Un-American Activities Committee, the Dies Committee, which I
covered for the Washington Post just before the war. And, of course, the subsequent
McCarthy stuff. But I've never thought Truman was a great defender of this kind of human
rights. I've always been interested in this kind of problem.
I started to say that my other special interest was in the terrible problem of displaced
persons in Europe, after the war, and the question of allowing them to emigrate to the
United States -- questions on which we, the United States, were really terribly bad and
restrictive and illiberal. I got involved in human rights from that point of view, too, and
eventually, much later, got involved in a newly-formed organization called Human Rights
Watch. Then there was a new buildup on that problem, after this Central American stuff
we just talked about a few minutes ago; the terrible repression of human rights in Central
America, which came to a head in El Salvador, in the '80s. Of course, it had been going on
much longer than that. So that problem interested me. And I got involved in a couple
organizations. The main one was the Human Rights Watch.
Was there anyone else from the Times editorial board in that group? Or Op-Ed? The
Human Rights Watch?
No, not that I remember. But there certainly were members of my editorial board
who felt very much the same way I did. No question about that. I don't remember that any
of my associates were actually members of this type of organization. I am sure some,
although I wouldn't necessarily have known about it, were members of the ACLU
[American Civil Liberties Union], for example. I should add in this connection that when I
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