Plastrik (Judd/Stanley) Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Henry Judd

Post-Office Department Dictators
Bar Mailing of Labor Newspaper

(November 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 48, 30 November 1942, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

NEW YORK CITY, Nov. 24 – At the time of this writing, for the third time within three weeks, The Militant, a weekly labor and socialist newspaper, has been banned from the mails by the postal authorities in New York City and Washington.

The most astounding and reactionary aspect of this blow against the democratic rights of American labor and American labor publications has been the absolute refusal and failure on the part of the officials to give an explanation for their actions! Apparently, under the terms of the military dictatorship which the postal authorities seem to have set up for themselves, they can just ban a paper from the mails AND THEN REFUSE TO GIVE AN EXPLANATION.

Under ordinary circumstances The Militant, is delivered to the main post office in New York City, from which center it is shipped out to various parts of the country, under second-class mailing rights.

Now, it appears, the paper cannot be mailed out unless permission and approval are first obtained from the WASHINGTON postal authorities, involving a delay of several days, even if the permission is granted.

The Washington officials had disapproved of four issues of The Militant prior to the banning from the mails of the last three issues, but these four issues had already been distributed throughout the country. Thereupon, the authorities gave their order that prior approval was necessary.

The editor of The Militant, George Breitman, only learned of the delay and ban placed on the paper when complaints and telegrams began to pour into his office. The authorities did not even consider it necessary to notify him! Such high-handed behavior is almost without precedent, even from the notoriously reactionary postal authorities.

Why the Ban?

An examination of the last three issues of The Militant can offer no serious reason or explanation for this move. There are no “military secrets” revealed, or any other news that could fall into a similar category.

Could it be that the ban was placed on The Militant for its references to examples of Jim Crowism in the American Army; its illustrations of how the capitalist class of America is making huge war profits; its criticism of the recently adopted tax program that places the burden of the war effort on labor?

We are of the opinion that The Militant is under attack for exactly these reasons. If this is true – and there is still no statement from the Washington officialdom responsible for this disgraceful action – then it means that a labor paper representing a certain political point of view can be banned at any time that its opinion doesn’t FULLY coincide with that of Roosevelt and the American ruling class. Could there be a greater illustration of totalitarian action, of an anti-democratic blow against the American labor movement?

Defend the Militant!

These steps against The Militant are a blow against every American labor-paper including Labor Action. The right of political criticism, the right of a free labor press, the rights of labor organizations themselves are deeply involved. Everyone understands that this action is but the beginning! The next blow of the post office reactionaries may well be directed against Labor Action which has also, as everyone knows, taken its stand for labor and against the capitalist war.

Then, if these totalitarians are not halted in their tracks right now, there will be additional measures taken against labor publications, not excluding the trade union papers of the AFL and the CIO. Defense of labor’s rights to enjoy a free press demands complete solidarity and support to The Militant in its fight to have the ban withdrawn at once and the three issues that have been held up released without any delay.

As The Militant has stated in a press release issued this week (a release which was completely ignored by the boss press), we must “preserve the right of all labor papers for a free press unhampered by reactionary bureaucrats!”

Labor Action stands solidly with The Militant and demands that the Washington authorities restore its full mailing rights. HANDS OFF THE LABOR PRESS! FOR A FREE PRESS IN AMERICA!

Plastrik (Judd/Stanley) Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 23 September 2014