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James M. Fenwick

Off Limits

A GI Dad Talks to Sonny

(16 December 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 50, 16 December 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by
Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.

A GI dad and his young son go a few fast rounds over U.S. foreign policy in Germany:

SONNY: Daddy, can I be a moron when I grow up?

DADDY: Of course not. What do you want to do – run for Congress?

SONNY: You shouldn’t talk like that in front of your son, Daddy. I’m at a very impressionable age.

DADDY: And I’ll trouble you not to sandbag your father with such leading questions. The last time I took one of these socrotic strolls with you I wound up reading Labor Action.

SONNY: Where does it hurt worst, daddy?

DADDY: That will be about enough from the post World War II generation. Now tell me – why do you want to be a moron when you grow up?

On the Meader Report

SONNY: Because the more I think about the people who run this world, the more I read about what they do, the crazier they seem. Better to be a moron – and be happy.

DADDY: But when you’re a moron there’s always the risk of becoming a southern senator or a three-star general.

SONNY: Yes, I know, but that’s one of the occupational hazards of the moron’s life which you have to accept.

DADDY: But what has prompted these cynical observations?

SONNY: I’ve recently been reading excerpts from the Meader report oh conditions among our occupation forces in Germany. It bristles with anti-Jewish, anti-Negro, and anti-enlisted man prejudice and rails against some of the unsavory aspects of our rule of Germany: officers who possess eight personal servants, engage in white slavery, buy hotels with black market profits, “burgermeisters threatened and beaten, civilian police disarmed and beaten with their own weapons, women being publicly molested, and civilians being stopped at night by soldiers who examine their passes, then calmly slug them senseless.” The report concludes with some recommendations which it hopes will remedy the situation.

Now, daddy. I’ve a simple solution which will really end all these abuses once and for all.

DADDY: What’s that?

SONNY: Withdraw all our occupation forces from Germany!

DADDY: But you know what the answer to that is: Germany has to be punished and policed for starting the war.

SONNY: But if that’s so, why did the army officially just end the Hate-the-German program among our troops? If the German people really were guilty of starting the war, they should be treated with contempt and loathing.

DADDY: Well, it seems that the capitalists have found out that the Germans aren’t so bad after all. The real danger is the Russians. That’s why we’re beginning to mobilize the Germans against Russia.

“Your Logic Is Formidable”

SONNY: But isn’t that Hitler’s program of creating a bulwark in Eastern Europe against bolshevism?

DADDY: Your logic, as my friends from the maquis used to say, is formidable.

SONNY: And so the Russians, our dearest friends of yesterday, are now our deadliest enemies?

DADDY: I drop my eyes in pretty confusion.

SONNY: And the coming war, unlike the last one, will no doubt be a genuine war for democracy against the totalitarianism of our former allies?

DADDY: Anyone who doubts that must be a Russian agent.

SONNY: Doesn’t it all seem a little crazy to you, daddy?

DADDY: It certainly does ... yes ... yes ... Say, go over that moron philosophy of yours again, will you?

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