Bad Faith was conceived as a basic history of the Coudert inquisition, grounded in a systematic reading of the committee’s records, but also focuses on what that history reveals about the gravitational pull that anticommunism exerted on American political culture through the late twentieth century. Feffer has constructed the book accordingly, around the practical and ideological attachment of liberals to the investigation. The first section of the book starts with Rapp-Coudert’s public debut on that cold December morning when the committee held its first open hearings into communist subversion at BC. The second section of the book is a flashback to the early 1930s and the origins of the probe, as the Depression heightened conflicts over schooling in New York City, deepening already- strong hostilities that pitted liberals and social democrats in the teachers union against teacher-activists involved in the growing communist movement. Part III returns to the immediate context of the Coudert probe and chronicles the Coudert investigation’s next and most sensational phase, which unfolded in spring 1941—namely, the probe of communist activism at CCNY that forced out dozens of faculty and staff from the municipal colleges.
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