Friday, July 12, 2013

Heins reviews Braukman on the Johns Committee in Florida, 1956-1965

Via our friends at H-Law, we have a review of Stacy Lorraine Braukman, Communists and Perverts under the Palms: The Johns Committee in Florida, 1956-1965 (University Press of Florida, 2012). Here's an excerpt, from reviewer Marjorie Heins (New York University):
When the Florida legislature created a committee in 1956 to investigate organizations that advocated violations of state law, the clearly understood purpose was to brand the NAACP, the state’s leading proponent of ending segregation, as communist-run and un-American. Using anticommunism to discredit the civil rights movement was hardly a new tactic during the McCarthy era, but the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee (FLIC), or Johns Committee (named in honor of its sponsor, state senator Charley Johns) was conspicuously unsuccessful in its efforts to stigmatize or intimidate the NAACP.
So, seeking to maintain its political credibility and its funding, the committee soon turned its attention from the assumed evils of communism and race-mixing to those of homosexuality. It initiated a witch hunt that was unique in U.S. history for its combination of prurience, invasion of privacy, twisted moralism, and psychological ignorance. Stacy Braukman’s Communists and Perverts under the Palms, despite its questionable title, provides a useful, straightforward account of the campaign.
The full review is available here.

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