“During the long reign of J. Edgar Hoover, Leonard Bernstein was a person of considerable interest to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” writes Alex Ross on Monday (8/10) on the New Yorker’s blog. “Although Hoover’s operatives began tracking Bernstein’s left-wing activities as early as the mid-nineteen-forties, the first serious inquiry came in March, 1949, when David Niles, President Truman’s administrative assistant, asked the Bureau to look into the young musician’s background. Niles wanted the information because Truman and Chaim Weizmann, the first President of Israel, were scheduled to attend an event at which Bernstein was slated to perform. A memo from D. M. Ladd to Hoover states that Bernstein was ‘connected, affiliated, or in some manner associated’ with various organizations described as Communist fronts. … Matters took a more serious turn in the early nineteen-fifties, as McCarthyism reached its height. In 1951, Bernstein’s name showed up in the Prominent Individuals section of the Security Index. … After several quiet years, the Bernstein file roars back to life with the entrance of the Black Panthers. … When the Bernsteins hosted a fund-raising party for Black Panther associates who had been charged with criminal activity, the Bureau immediately took an interest.”

Posted August 11, 2009