J.R. Johnson

Beware of Those Who Act for the Boss Class!

(26 August 1940)

The Negro’s Fight, Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 20, 26 August 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Last week, Negro Congressman Mitchell was visited by some youth representatives of Negro organizations who wished to place, before him their opposition to conscription. What happened should make Negroes, and whites too, think long and carefully of the fundamental divisions of this nation on all vital questions.

Mitchell said that he favored conscription. But more than that was the way he treated the delegation. He shouted at them, he wouldn’t listen, he interrupted, and finally left them without giving them a chance to state their case properly. In other words, his attitude was precisely that of a southern Senator. “Get into the army, you louts. Who are you to protest against conscription?” Now, what have ninety-nine percent of the Negroes in this country to gain by conscription? To fight against whom? Against the Mikado? Why should any Negro die to prevent the East Indies passing from the hands of the Dutch imperialists into the hands of the Japanese imperialists? We would like to hear you on that, Congressman Mitchell! If a volunteer army was being formed to help the natives of the East Indies drive out the Dutch and keep out the Japanese, the Americans, the English, and all other imperialisms, a Negro should be glad to go. But what has he to do with whether the Japanese, the Dutch or the British rule in Borneo!

Rockefeller or Morgan or some other Wall Street magnates have interests in the Far East. Good. Let them go and fight for their interests. But what interests have the Negroes to fight for in the Far East, except to have some 60 million of the native inhabitants, poor and oppressed like themselves, establish their independence? And conscription is not for that. When Ethiopia was in trouble, did Roosevelt call for Negro volunteers and offer them places in ships to go fight for African freedom? No, Sir, not on your life!

Talking Through His Hat

Conscription is to defend the country against the aggressor? Brother Mitchell, you are just talking through your hat, and a very nasty old battered hat it is, full of holes. Some years ago, friends, this very Mitchell was driving in his car through the South. He was stopped by some whites whose car was in trouble and commanded to get out and push. They didn’t ask him. They just told him. Come on, darkie. put your shoulders to the wheel. Mitchell protested. “I am a Congressman,” he said. “Congressman or no Congressman, you are just a darkie to us Southerners. So you come out here and push or else – “ Mitchell is a consistent man. He agreed to this form of conscription, and he got out and pushed.

Now there was some very aggressive aggression. If the Congressman was against aggression he could have used his authority to summon his countrymen to form a great Negro defense organization, to publish material, to hold demonstrations – and not stop there, but form special groups who would on such occasions wipe the dust off the road with these aggressive Southerners or, for that matter, whites anywhere who insulted Negroes. But Mitchell didn’t do that. He tried to get a case in court and the whole thing fizzled out.

But now he is for conscripting youth against Hitler. Why? It is because Mitchell has something to defend. He has his seat in Congress and his fat salary and all the opportunities that his position gives to a politician. He wouldn’t have to go to fight. Southerners kick him around a bit, but he can take it. And he needn’t go South at all. So this Negro as good as kicked the young Negroes out of his office, and told them to line up at the USA Jim-Crow army.

The lesson is clear, Negroes. The fight against conscription is a fight of labor, black and white labor, against the capitalist class. Beware of the capitalist hangers-on. They will agitate about a lynch bill and Jim-Crowism, but in every big question they are with the capitalist class. That pays them!

Last updated on 6.10.2012