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The New International, March 1939




From The New International, Vol.5 No.3, March 1939, p.95.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


A Case of Mistaken Identity

Dear Sirs:

I am among the writers attacked in your January issue. A fairly definitive answer – and one that touches the heart of the difference between us – can be made in one sentence, namely:

If the editors of The New International and the authors of the article had a GPU at their disposal they wouldn’t argue with us in print: they would simply have us shot.


Yours truly,
Eugene LYONS
NEW YORK, Jan. 27, 1939

IT IS regrettable that Mr. Lyons, like his successor in the New Leader, Mr. Harrison, does not find it necessary to discuss any of the political questions dealt with in the January article to which he refers, but prefers to evade them. It is more than regrettable – it is understandable.

Just as regrettable, but after all, not unusual, is the slanderous reference he makes in his last sentence to the editors of the review and authors of the article. A charitable construction upon this reference would be that it is a case of mistaken identity, which is unpardonable in so trained a journalist. We are not political assassins and murderers, nor their apologists and associates. In the disorder attendant upon his switching of loyalties, Mr. Lyons has apparently confused us with his comrades of yesterday or of today.

During his six-year residence in Moscow as a foreign correspondent – the period in which we here were bending every effort to expose the preparatory frame-ups of the GPU and its judicial murder of Stalin’s political opponents – Mr. Lyons was engaged in covering up and justifying these crimes. From his own interesting autobiography we learn that he did this knowingly and deliberately, out of a perverse identification of the interests of the Russian Revolution with the interests of the Kremlin Borgias. In his book he describes his own role in rather uncomplimentary but not overdrawn terms:

“Are you a correspondent?” we liked to say to newcomers; “well, I’m a prostitute too.”

Can it be that he has only changed Madames? Throughout his present, social-democratic reincarnation, we do not recall in his voluminous writings any ringing condemnation of his newly-acquired comrades in Spain who refused to “argue with us in print” but, in the name of Democracy, “simply had us shot” by the “GPU at their disposal” – and not only our comrades but hundreds of other revolutionary militants. Nor do we remember a word of protest from him during his close association with the New Leader when the latter continually called upon the government of the United States to prohibit us from arguing with anybody in print by outlawing and suppressing our movement along with several others.

It seems to us that Mr. Lyons might, without losing too much caste as a Democrat, show at least the same concern over the real and present-day violations of freedom committed by his own friends that he shows over the purely imaginary threat to freedom that we will allegedly constitute at some future date.

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