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Harry Strang

Leibowitz Plans Anti-Labor Trial for Scottsboro Boys

(December 1934)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 2, 22 December 1934, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The moment approaches when the United States Supreme Court clerk will call to the bar of the highest tribunal of capitalist justice, the contestants in the historic Scottsboro case. And although the defense counsel must soon make his argument, the working class public is bewildered as to who that counsel will be.

Many weeks ago Samuel S. Leibowitz, reactionary flag waver once employed by the I.L.D., announced his claim to represent the boys. Ever since he has been mum as a clam. The I.L.D. having denounced its former ally as a traitor (because he did just what revolutionaries predicted he would do when he was hired) continues to shout that it represents the boys ... and to offer a united front to Leibowitz, correctly characterized by the I.L.D. as an ally of the Southern lynchers.

United Front With Leibowitz

Why does the I.L.D., which for years would make no united front with reformism represented by Norman Thomas, or with revolution represented by those now in the Workers Party, offer Leibowitz a united front? Can it be that the I.L.D., having lost the support of the defendants, hope by an unprincipled united front with the ally of the Southern lynchers, to get, if not a front seat, at least a back one when the case comes to court?

Leibowitz is silent because he is confident. Having been told by the I.L.D. that it deserved their trust because it had enlisted Leibowitx’s services, the nine defendants came to lean solely upon Leibowitz. Would it be surprising that when the I.L.D. lost its boasted asset, the boys were to leave the I.L.D.?

Leibowitz’s “defense” plans include a furious attack not only on the I.L.D. and the C.P., but on all progressive elements, on all militants and advocates of working class mass action. Although the I.L.D. has not used mass pressure (substituting the opportunistic alliance with Leibowitz while he let them, and covering up with provocative stunts), Leibowitz is in a good position, thanks to the previous boosting of the I.L.D., to give the idea of mass action a black eye.

Leibowitz plans to do more more than attack all shades of militancy and radicalism. He means to whitewash Alabama class justice and sing praises of the Bourbon ruling class of the south. He wants to “put the Negro in his place”, and to beg mercy for the innocent victims of a vicious frame-up.

All the more reason why a mass pressure campaign is needed. Some liberal elements who regarded the I.L.D. as very clever when it hired Leibowitz (and who now naturally prefer Leibowitz to the I.L.D.), oppose further mass pressure. They say mites pressure was helpful in the past but would be harmful now. Aside from the fact that they opposed mass pressure in the period in which they now say it was useful, the fact is that mass pressure is more essential today than ever before.

Every new turn in the Scottsboro fight makes clearer the need to found a militant defense organization with genuine principles and a broad enough base to include all honest working class and progressive elements. Members of all trade unions and workers’ political organizations should consider and prepare to act on this question.

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Last updated: 27 July 2015