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George Breitman

New Republic on Kutcher

(31 January 1949)

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 5, 31 January 1949, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Elsewhere in this issue we have reported on the reaction by the Stalinists to our exposé of the Louis Weinstock correspondence and of the Communist Party’s sabotage of the fight to smash the Smith Act in the Minneapolis case. But there is another postscript to the Weinstock story that deserves some comment.

Like many other periodicals, the Jan. 24 New Republic, in its column Left of Center, recorded the main facts we had published about Weinstock and the Minneapolis Trial, including the fact that despite the treachery of the Stalinists, we Trotskyists are defending the 12 Stalinists now on trial. Then it added:

“The Stalinists refuse to reciprocate, however. They continue to boycott the defense campaign for James Kutcher, legless veteran fired from the Veterans Administration for his Trotskyite affiliations.”

The author of these remarks evidently feels that such conduct – “boycotting” the Kutcher defense – is reprehensible. We think so too. And we’re not thinking only of the Stalinists.

The Kutcher case is now five months old. As we pointed out in the Jan. 17 Militant: “Virtually all the liberal journals have taken a stand [on it]; only the New Republic and Socialist Call have not yet found space to express their views.”

That was not because the editor of the New Republic did not know about the case. On the contrary. The Kutcher Civil Rights Committee has supplied the New Republic with all the information, just as it has done with other periodicals. Furthermore, the editor of the New Republic is a member of the National Planning Committee of the AVC, which voted unanimously to call “upon all liberal organizations and upon all individuals who believe in our Bill of Rights to come to his [Kutcher’s] defense.”

When the New Republic was approached for a short editorial statement on the Kutcher case last October, its spokesman replied that they were rather crowded for space at the time in covering the election campaign, but they would see what they could do. Perhaps they are still crowded because of preparations for the next election. At any rate the passing remarks in Left of Center are the very first ever printed in the New Republic about the dramatic case of the legless veteran.

These remarks may be regarded as a step forward for the New Republic, but they hardly represent taking a stand on the case. And they certainly don’t give the editor of the New Republic grounds for feeling any moral superiority over the Stalinists because they boycott the Kutcher defense.

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