It was fascinating to read The Times reprise on Frank Wilkinson versus the FBI (Part I, Oct. 18). It reminded me of a particular incident that in retrospect fits into the pattern mentioned in the story.
In the late 1970s I was teaching a course entitled "Politics and Film," which one particular year had a subtitle of the "Communist Menace." Among the films shown was a documentary dealing with the House Un-American Activities Committee and one of those shown in the film was Wilkinson. I managed to get in touch with Wilkinson and asked him if it would be possible for him to come to the session and say a few words after the film. He agreed.
As I recall, there was little if any off-campus publicity for that particular evening. Yet when I introduced Wilkinson after the film, several people considerably older than most of the students in the class started to yell and then interrupt the speaker. The heckling continued as long as Wilkinson spoke to the students.
While I deplored the behavior of the few unruly members of the audience, I must say that I did not give the evening much more thought. In light of the article and the lengths to which the FBI went to harass and discredit Wilkinson, that evening now takes on a much more ominous cast.
Cal Poly State University
San Luis Obispo