Introduction: America’s Controversy with the Guardian Class
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Ku Klux Klan leader Hiram Wesley Evans referred to them as the morally suspect and culturally decadent “strangers” of the 1920s. Farm activist John A. Simpson pictured them as members of a powerful political trust whose policies threatened to leave the rural Depression economy in permanent ruin. Monetary inflation­ ist, business advocate, and New Deal opponent William A. Wirt equated them with the despised “inner circle of Washington” and questioned their loyalty to American institutions and democratic rule. Texas representative Martin Dies, Jr. condemned them as “strangers to the American way” and sought to purge them from the federal government agencies of the World War II era. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy viewed them as a members of an over-educated, effete, and privi­ leged elite whose treachery had betrayed the nation’s ideals. A special committee of the House of Representatives associated their involvement with tax-exempt foundations of the 1950s as symptomatic of an emerging “interlock” -a shad­ owy intellectual cartel said to be exerting thought control over government, education, and politics. Alabama governor George C. Wallace saw them as the “bearded beatnik bureaucrats” alleged to be running 1960s Washington. And Ronald Reagan and his successors dismissed them as “margin scribblers” who defied the common sense of the people.1