August 1954—August 1958
NOT EVERYONE SHUNNED me. Szilárd recognized the right of dissent. 1 Perhaps even more important, agreeing with the majority had always made him uncomfortable. Eugene Wigner and Johnny von Neumann seemed to believe that I had done the right thing; they even seemed embarrassed by my predicament. Fermi didn't care whether I was right or wrong— he simply wanted to help me heal the schism. Maria Mayer, Harold Urey, Lothar Nordheim, Johnny Wheeler, Papa Franck, Richard Courant, Emil Konopinski, Nick Metropolis, Harold and Mary Argo, and many others judged me innocent of bad motives. But those friends were far away, and many others who knew me less well—or not at all—saw me as a villain.
I continued to hope for a way to clarify my actions and beliefs. Thus, in early July, after a suggestion from Johnny Toll, I decided to issue a statement:
Some people have misinterpreted my testimony in the hearings of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. I, therefore, make the following statement:
I was asked to testify at the hearings and was asked to give my full opinion on Dr. Oppenheimer's advice. It was my duty to do so.
In my testimony I did not imply that the right to disagree should be limited. I consider that right as essential in a free society. That my testimony in this connection should have been misinterpreted is a matter of greatest concern to me.
I am happy to see that in its determination of Dr. Oppenheimer's clearance the Commission reaffirmed explicitly his right to voice his opinion.