Nancy: If I grow up to be homely, will you still marry me?
Nancy: If Janie became very rich, would you give me up?
Sluggo: Shh--It's not silly. I'm giving Sluggo a LOYALTY TEST.
Strip from May, 1950. This is an example of a controversial political issue referenced by Bushmiller. So, is a political comment on a political reference fair game?
Loyalty oaths and tests were everywhere. Some were required for jobs in the national or state or city governments. In some cases, that made sense. But the ubiquity of the tests was over the top. In some cases, university professors and public school teachers had to swear never to have held membership in over 100 “suspect” organizations… if they wanted to get or keep a job.
This is the source of those probing questions that begin “Are you now or have you ever been a member of….”
My favorite example was when Lucille Ball attracted suspicion by honestly answering that she had joined the US Communist party. She was finally let off the hook after explaining that she had joined mainly to please her grandfather who had been a believer in Soviet style socialism. It didn’t hurt her case that she was beloved by the public and that FBI chief J. Edgar said he loved “I Love Lucy.” She had actually dabbled a bit more than she let on and had even supported a CP member or two seeking public office.
But while many people were forced to testify publicly before HUAC inquisitors in Congress, she had the favor of a private interview. Lots of those others were squeezed out of jobs or even out of the country. It’s a big, complicated moment in American history, but fun to explore.