Ralph Graham

Allied Censorship Is Worldwide

(5 May 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 18, 5 May 1945, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

While political spokesmen for the Allied powers continue to babble about a “free press,” as one of the essential guarantees of a “healthy democracy,” the press of the great “democratic” nations becomes less and less free. Government censorship often suppresses news and comment outright. Press dispatches are doctored, mutilated, twisted. Newspapers and news agencies are told what they may or may not publish.

A sharp reminder that censorship in America is more potent than ever was the action taken April 5 by Byron M. Price, director of the Office of Censorship in Washington. Price was appointed by the late President Roosevelt, who made “freedom of speech” (including freedom of the press) one of the celebrated “Four Freedoms” enshrined in the Atlantic Charter.

From Price’s office came a memorandum cautioning against publication or broadcast of speculation “regarding the probable intentions of Soviet Russia toward Japan” in connection with Moscow’s denunciation of the Soviet-Japanese neutrality pact. Price’s censors promptly blocked transmission from this country of Congressional and editorial comment on this new move in the dark diplomatic schemings of the Kremlin oligarchy and the “democratic” imperialists.

Press censorship, introduced at the beginning of the war “for reasons of military security,” has grown into a hardened system. Where originally it was supposed to cover only military affairs, it now pervades the broad spheres of politics and diplomacy.

Censorship System

Eric Sevareid, a CBS war correspondent who has felt the heavy hand of the censors in various parts of the world, describes the system of censorship as an “intricate, cunning mechanism,” worldwide in its scope. He tells some of his experiences in The Nation of April 14.

In New Delhi, on his way to China, he found that British and American military censors “would pass no copy describing the amazing social life that went on this headquarters town ... Full reporting of India’s political problem was out of the question ... American military offices turned over to the British all American dispatches which dealt with British or Indian affairs in any degree ... nobody has been able to tell the whole truth about India.”

When he got to Chungking, Sevareid thought he would be able to send out dispatches on his findings in India, but he felt the hand of the New Delhi censor even in the Chinese capital:

“By arrangement with the American military in Chungking any copy by any American reporter which dealt with far-off India had to be given to British officers in Chungking for approval. If you went back to New Delhi and wrote about China, your stuff had to be passed by the Chinese commissioner there.”

The systematized character of the censorship was impressed on the reporter even more forcibly in Cairo where he “discovered the neat little system of interlocking agreements between governments working without a hitch. Whether you wrote about Egypt or Yugoslavia or Greece or Syria, your material would be passed around to all the interested officials for everyone to get in his whack with the blue pencil. Naturally the full story about the ‘mutiny’ of left-wing Greek soldiers in Egypt did not get out. The detailed story of British plans for Greece was not related, day by day, step by step, during that period.”

When Lord Moyne was assassinated by young Jewish political terrorists, the Cairo censors “refused to let correspondents reproduce the courtroom speeches of the two defendants, dismissing them as ‘mere political bombast,’ of no interest to the world.” Thus the world was permitted to hear only the voice of the British imperialist oppressors. The voices of their opponents were silenced by the censors.

Suppress Truth

Back in America, Sevareid wrote and presented for censorship “a long, carefully documented account of China at war, written, I thought, with full sympathy for a nation I much admired. The War Department refused to pass it.” There were lengthy negotiations which revealed that Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, who frequently protested that his department imposed no political censorship, had asked the War Department “to deliver up to it any dispatches by returning war correspondents which dealt with China.”

Finally, after he had left the country again, Sevareid’s story was passed for publication, but— “so mutilated by the censors it was unfit for print.” The American people were not permitted to know the truth about the vile, reactionary regime of Chiang Kai-shek. Why? Because Chiang is an ally of American imperialism in the great “war for democracy.”

Former Time correspondent Jack Belden, in his excellent book Still Time to Die, told of censorship in Algiers at the time of the North African campaign:

“On the correspondents’ bulletin board in Algiers I saw a notice posted there by the authorities: ‘There will be no more political censorship.’ It was a lie. Should you write a message in any but the official American-British version of events, more often than not, when tracing it down, you would find it streaked with many marks of blue, and pencilled with the legend, ‘as censored by Mr. Murphy.’ Should you question that august personage, that representative of the mighty American state, he would blandly assure you: ‘There is no political censorship.”

Such denials speak volumes for the hypocrisy of the “democratic” imperialists and their censorship servants. Censorship operates, not to eliminate falsehoods from the news, but to hide unpalatable truths about the imperialists and their war aims. Its purpose is to deceive and befuddle the people. Honest politics and honest diplomacy require no censorship. The imperialists and their accomplices employ censorship because, far from carrying on a war in the interests of the peoples, they are conspiring against the interests of the broad masses in every land, including America.

Last updated on 7 November 2018