The Negro’s Fight, Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 18, 5 May 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
“Oh, Judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
This, is what Shakespeare makes Mark Anthony (that great faker) say in the famous speech over Caesar’s dead body. Often when one looks at capitalist politics today one is tempted to say the same thing.
Friends, Americans and countrymen, lend me your ears. This war is a war for “democracy.” It is a war to preserve “a way of life,” it is a war against tyranny, persecution, aggression. It is a war for freedom. So our modern Mark Anthony, Franklin Roosevelt, says. And all the liberals and the labor leaders follow him shouting “Hosannah!”
Now one of our most precious “free” institutions is Congress, and in this Congress is one solitary Negro, Representative Arthur W. Mitchell. Brother Mitchell tried to travel in a Pullman coach in the South and was kicked out and made to go into another carriage. He filed an action. The case is before the Supreme Court. So far, nothing unusual. This happens regularly. (Since this column, was written, the Supreme Court has upheld the right of Negroes to travel in Pullmans. We will comment on this decision next week. – Ed.)
But note now what has been the result. The attorney generals of ten states, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, these men who are the expounders of the laws of democracy, they drew up an appeal and sent it to the Supreme Court, asking it not to take any decision on this question. These lawyers of democracy say that the Jim Crow jungle laws (most elegantly called, “segregation statutes”) “were enacted for the purpose of promoting the welfare, comfort, peace and safety of the people of both races.” And these attorney generals of “democracy” say that “it” is a matter of common knowledge, which this court probably knows, “that in those states which are parties to this brief, where large numbers of both races reside, such statutes do, in truth and in fact, promote the welfare, comfort, peace and safety of the people of both races.”
In other words, these men of “democratic” law say this:
“If Representative Arthur Mitchell or any black man travels with whites, he is personally offensive to the whites. We don’t want him. He offends our welfare and our comfort.
“If he insists on traveling, we southerners are going to beat him up. That will offend his peace and safety. In the course of beating him up of lynching him, he and his friends may hurt some of us. That offends OUR peace and safety. So the laws are for the benefit of both of us. Therefore, Supreme Court, do not interfere.”
Is it any wonder that Hitler laughs at Franklin Roosevelt’s pretentious to being a defender of “democracy”? There are ten million Negroes in the South whom these and similar laws directly affect. There were only about half a million Jews in Germany. If Hitler had said that the laws against the Jews were passed for their comfort, peace, welfare and safety, how. Mark Anthony Roosevelt would have thundered. Hitler, however, says simply and plainly: “We don’t want you Jews. Get out.” But these southern democrats say that their fascist types of racial laws are FOR the BENEFIT of the Negroes; and the men of law, the attorney generals, write to the Supreme Court and say the same thing.
We began by quoting the passage from Shakespeare, saying that men had lost their reason. Have these southerners lost their reason? Oh, no! They want to keep the Negro where he is in order to exploit him, to work him hard and pay him cheap. That is why they tell these abominable lies and talk this abominable legal nonsense. They SEEM to have lost their reason. In reality they have very good reasons for saying what they do. But the Negroes have very good reason for saying:
“You and your holy war against fascism may suit you, but they don’t suit me! I have my war. And it is against you, Messrs. Attorney Generals, to break that system which is so rotten that it compels its defenders to talk like men who have just come out of a lunatic asylum.”
Last updated on 27.12.2012