From Fourth International, vol.4 No.2, February 1943, p.34.
Transcribed, Edited & Formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for the ETOL.
The main problem of the Business Manager these days is the Washington censorship. The January issue of Fourth International was released to subscribers by the Post Office Department only after a delay of two weeks. The December issue of Fourth International was ordered destroyed by Washington. This arbitrary action is similar to that suffered by The Militant, our sister weekly.
Since the beginning of its campaign in November to silence critical voices in the labor press, the Post Office Department has destroyed our issues of The Militant and released the other issues for dispatch only after delays ranging from four to fifteen days.
Then in an order dated January 5, The Militant was notified to send its representative to Washington to appear at a hearing, “to show cause why the authorization of the admission of The Militant to the second-class of mail matter, and the accordance to The Militant of second class mailing privileges ... should not be suspended, annulled, or revoked.”
The notice to appear was accompanied by a list of twenty-seven excerpts which were included in the case by the Post office Department as Exhibit A, to show that The Militant is “non-mailable ... Because it is in violation of section 3 of Title 1 of the Espionage Act of 1917.” That section of the Act prohibits willfully making false statements with intent to interfere with the operation of the armed forces, or willfuly attempting to cause insubordination or mutiny in the armed forces, or willfully obstructing the recruitment service of the US.
Actually, as The Militant has ably demonstrated, not one of the twenty-seven excerpts cited by the Post Office violates any part of the Espionage Act.
The hearing – an administrative and not a judicial proceeding – was held on January 21. Albert Goldman represented The Militant and Osmond K. Fraenkel represented the American Civil Liberties Union which joined with The Militant against the move. The Board before which the evidence was presented consisted of three persons – designated by the Postmaster-General. Each side presented argument and the Board granted the attorney for the ACLU until the first of February to file a brief. The Board will then present its recommendations to the Postmaster-General who will render his decision.
Anyone knowing the history of the suppression of labor papers in the First World War – decisions cited by the postal authorities in this case – will not be optimistic about the decision to be rendered. And if The Militant is the first labor paper to be suppressed, others will shortly follow.
With free speech and free press at stake, every sincere believer in democratic and civil liberties should rally in support of this fight.
A West Coast seamen who – perhaps on a trip East – managed to secure a copy of the December Fourth International, which contained the article about the West Coast Longshoremen and the Bridges Plan, sent us a letter which we think all of you will be interested in reading:
“While working aboard ship a few days ago, I met a longshoreman who had previously been a shipmate of mine a few years ago. He had taken a trip at that time because work was slack on the front.
“This fellow worker had gone through the 1934 and 1936 strikes on the Pacific Coast waterfront. We got to discussing the policies being followed now by the Bridges leadership in the longshoremen’s union. He was definitely opposed to the surrender of conditions that had been won only after a bitter struggle against the bosses and stated that there was considerable opposition to the Bridges policies but that the opposition lacked a leadership with a correct program.
“I gave him a copy of the December issue of the Fourth International which contained the article, West Coast Longshoremen and the Bridges Plan. He took the magazine with him when the longshoremen knocked off to eat. When he got back from dinner I asked him what he thought of the article and he told me that it had confirmed in his mind what he and a lot of other longshoremen had been suspecting for some time – that Bridges and the Stalinists were selling out to the shipowners.
“He asked whether I could get him some additional copies so that he could pass them along to his fellow workers.
“It would be my suggestion that if the article is reprinted for wide distribution among the longshoremen that it contain an introduction or something, that would explain the reasons for the reactionary policies of the Stalinists in the present period in the trade unions of this country – particularly among the seamen and longshoremen.”
We have received many protests about failure to receive the December Fourth International.
A friend in Idaho shows his sympathy in saying “the least that I can do now is to subscribe to The Militant and Fourth International.”
Our agent in Cleveland asks us to “please send a complete statement – including those issues destroyed by the government. We are continuing efforts for subs and contributions.”
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Last updated on 25.8.2008