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Emanuel Garrett

Los Angeles in a Dither
Over Mysterious (Ssh!) ‘Air Raid’

(March 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 10, 9 March 1942, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The people of the Los Angeles area last week were subjected either to a monstrous illustration of inefficiency or some plain and fancy chicanery which might have had dire results. You no doubt read about, the big “air raid” in this area last week and the ensuing contradictions that issued from the offices of Secretary of the Navy Knox and Secretary of War Stimson. One or the other is guilty of misrepresentation. Which it is, is no small matter to the people out here.

If Knox stated the facts accurately then the Army is guilty of having menaced the lives of countless people in unbridled anti-aircraft firing.

Shrapnel was spattered into the air, a good deal of it falling on or near houses. A heavy piece of shrapnel is sufficient to pierce the roof of a house, as some of it did. Unexploded shrapnel, of which there was some, is perhaps a greater danger. In effect, therefore, the Army action – assuming the air raid to be a false alarm, as claimed by Knox – was equivalent to exposing a large section of this area to machine gun fire.

On the other hand, if the air raid was legitimate, then the Army has to account for the fact that no planes were brought down, despite the fact that they were allegedly caught in the anti-aircraft light beams. Also it has to explain what the alleged planes were doing. They were presumably not bombers; in any case there was no bombing. Some plausible explanation has to be given for the presence of the planes. That such an explanation is difficult to find was evidenced by the columns upon columns devoted in the newspapers of the next two days to the “air raid.”

After the flurry of the first two days, during which the “air raid” dwarfed all other news, the issue seems to have been dropped – for all anybody can tell, “on suggestion.” Be that as it may, the issue is not yet settled so far as the great mass of people is concerned.

As a postscript, I’d like to add this: much has been made by the jingo brass hats and other reactionaries of the man hours of work lost in strikes. However, more man hours of work were lost in this “air raid,” which may well have been a phoney, than were lost during the North American strike which aroused the, government sufficiently to send the Army with bayonets drawn against the strikers. In virtually every plant in this vicinity, night work came to a halt, the day shifts began an hour or two late in every case and, in the resulting confusion, many workers never did get to work that day.

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