From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 21, 25 May 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
May 18, 1942
May I reply to your May 7 editorial attacking Labor Action? I believe that it is a grave distortion of the facts, containing slanderous innuendos about the character of Labor Action.
First, your editorial is inaccurate as to the sponsorship of Labor Action. It is not, as you state, “the official organ of the American Socialist Party,” nor does it have any connection with the Socialist Party. This obvious factual error, which your writer could have checked had he been interested in establishing the facts instead of slandering a paper because he disagrees with its point of view, is merely indicative of the carelessly inaccurate manner in which the entire editorial is written.
It is a vile slander, of the kind which we had believed possible only in such rags as Coughlin’s Social Justice or the Stalinist Daily Worker, to say that Labor Action is “deliberate fascist propaganda.” It requires either monstrous ignorance or deliberate lying to say such a thing. Let me inform, you that Labor Action and its supporters were fighting against fascism when many others advised an ostrich policy. We were in the lead in the famous anti-Nazi demonstration at Madison Square Garden in February, 1938. We were fighting against Nazism when Winston Churchill praised it (see his speech of November 6, 1938) and when the American government was tolerating the shipment of scrap steel to Japan (which today lands in the bodies of American boys).
Our paper has taken the lead in exposing the fascists, native and foreign. The writer of your editorial need but have glanced over a few copies of Labor Action to see that!
The same process of misstatement and distortion is used in your editorial with reference to our position to the war. Since when does a belief that this is an imperialist war on the part of both sides, mean that we are hi favor of “letting the Japs win”? Since when does a belief in the “Third Camp of socialism” mean that Labor Action “plays Hitler’s game”? Now you may disagree with our position; you may think it ineffective or incorrect; that is your right. But it hardly warrants the abandon with which you hurl the epithet of “fascist” around. It hardly warrants the amalgams which you attempt to create by insinuating that those who believe in socialism are partners of Hitler – the greatest enemy of socialism!
We must likewise categorically reject your insinuation that we are in favor of a victory of fascism. On the contrary. We are in favor of the defeat of fascism. We believe, however, that an indispensable prerequisite for that defeat is the establishment of workers’ and farmers’ governments in the Allied countries, which, by freeing the colonial peoples now enslaved by the Allied imperialist powers and extending the hand of socialist brotherhood to the German workers oppressed by Hitler, can alone effectively fight a revolutionary war to smash all forms of fascism.
Your charge that Labor Action “means to stir Negroes against whites, whites against Negroes, capital against labor, labor against capital” is absolutely preposterous. Labor Action doesn’t try to set workers against the capitalists; they’re set against each other already; they’re in deadly opposition already in this society in which we live. Labor Action tries to teach the workers how to achieve liberation, how to throw off the yoke of capitalist oppression.
Likewise with the question of Negro-white relationships. If your editorial writer had been interested in the truth instead of concocting gross slanders in the fashion of the Gestapo or GPU, he would have seen that week after week Labor Action tries to teach Negro and white workers that their salvation lies in UNITY. But those antagonisms which do undoubtedly exist, how dare you say that we “mean to stir” them?
Why don’t you read your own paper? Why don’t you look at the front page of the very issue in which you slander Labor Action? Read your headlines: “2,000 U.S. TROOPS GUARD RIOT AREA.” “YOU HAVE TO BE WHITE TO VOTE IN TEXAS.” “BLOODY RACE FRICTION IS RACE RIOT RESULT IN DETROIT,” etc., These are the facts of racial antagonism; Labor Action reports some of these facts, just as the California Eagle reports them in more detail. By what peculiar logic do you infer therefrom that we wish “to stir Negroes against whites, whites against Negroes?”
Labor Action has constantly championed the struggle for full equality for Negroes. It has tried to educate both white and Negro workers to the need for cooperation and unity. Thus, our program says:
“Down with Jim Crow and anti-Semitism! All discrimination against Negroes in the Army and Navy, or by employers in industry, must be made a criminal offense!
“For full political, social and economic equality for Negroes.”
You say that “Labor Action’s policy appears to this paper as fascist as Father Coughlin’s.” In that case, how do you explain the fact that Labor Action has just finished printing a series of articles attacking Father Coughlin and that Coughlin’s paper has often attacked the Trotskyist point of view with which Labor Action is associated?
Let me say one more word. I believe that you are playing with fire by launching this kind of unsubstantiated, slanderous attack against a minority radical paper merely because you disagree with it. A paper such as yours – speaking for a minority group, the Negro people, and itself only recently under the surveillance of the authorities because you were so aggressive (and rightly so!) in the fight against Jim Crowism – should be the last in the world to unleash the hysteria of intolerance against groups and papers with whom you disagree.
I hope that you will be fair enough to print the above reply in full in your paper.
I am also requesting the West Coast representative of our paper to visit you personally in order to discuss the matter in full.
Last updated: 14.6.2013