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Myra Tanner Weiss

SWP Candidate Exposes American Fascists

(25 March 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 14, 7 April 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by
Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

We publish below part of the third Sunday evening broadcast of the Trotskyist candidate, Myra Tanner Weiss, in her campaign for mayor of Los Angeles. This speech was delivered Sunday, March 25 over Station KFAC.

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Last week I discussed with you the problem of the rising cost of living. We saw how the government froze wages while prices have continued to rise. I contrasted this with the profits of the cost-plus patriots. While labor’s hands have been tied by the nostrike pledge, vast fortunes have been amassed by the bosses. The vast majority of the American people have only heavily-taxed pay-checks, which they vainly try to stretch to meet increased prices. In the post-war period millions face the prospect of no paychecks at all.

The bosses know it will not be easy to reduce us to the status of starving paupers. As long as the workers are organized and free to fight for their rights, the capitalists cannot carry their program into action. That is why, in the middle of the second world war, we see developing a vicious anti-labor drive. They want to crush the labor movement so that there can be no organized threat to their ruinous rule of society.

Divide and Rule” has been the method of reactionary ruling classes since the ancient days of Roman slavery. Here in America the government itself fosters race prejudice against the Negroes in the South by poll-tax laws which disfranchise millions. They have refused to pass a Federal anti-lynch law. They condone racial discrimination by Jim Crow practises in the army and navy, assigning Negro soldiers to the most menial tasks and services. For a country which is supposed to be fighting the race supremacy theories of the Nazis, these practises are a scandal and an outrage.

The capitalists do not begin their campaign against labor with frontal attacks against the trade-unions. They begin by diverting social unrest into channels of prejudice and hate directed against those sections of society which at the, moment are weak and defenseless. In California it is the Japanese-Americans who are being terrorized by secret bands. These bands somehow always escape the police. The homes of Japanese-Americans are burned, shots are fired, the sheriff’s office reports none were apprehended.

Suppose This Proposal Were Made in Japan

There seems to be no limit to the barbarity of this campaign of race hatred. I want to quote to you a statement made by a United States Congressman, a Democrat, Representative Johnson of Oklahoma. Now, mind you, I am not quoting Hitler, Goering, or even an ignorant, unknown American, but one who sits in the highest body of the nation. His statement was released by the House Appropriations Committee. Referring to the Japanese aliens held in United States segregation camps, he said “I will say for the record that we should make an appropriation to sterilize the whole outfit.”

One would think this vile proposal, taken from the Nazi book, would provoke a cry of indignant protest throughout the nation. Were this proposal made in Japan as treatment for Americans held there, it would have become the atrocity story of the war.

I have written to both the CIO and the AFL, calling upon them to protest the vicious lynch attacks against the Japanese-Americans. If these attacks are not met by the united opposition of all labor, these secret gangs, successful in their first attempts, encouraged by their first victories, will tomorrow strike against other minorities and finally against the labor movement itself.

I have heard many say: “But these forces are small and isolated. They are not important.” How familiar are these words! Was that not said of the Nazis before 1933, before they took power and crushed a labor movement proportionately far stronger than ours? These gangs are the first recruits of the American fascist party of tomorrow.

Here in Los Angeles we can observe all the symptoms of an incipient fascism. Race discrimination is one of those symptoms. More than a year ago there were riots in Los Angeles against the so-called Zoot-suiters. In actuality this was mob terrorization of the Mexican and Negro youth. It was prepared long in advance by city conditions and laws which drive Mexicans and Negroes into the poorest districts, into over-crowded slums, by discriminatory practices which sentence them to the most menial jobs. To prevent race riots we must fight against every law and usage which makes second-class citizens of any section of the American people.

Anti-semitism, persecution of the Jews, is not limited to Nazi Germany. I have been shocked to witness in the last year at least three instances of attack against the Jews, despite the fact that officially we’re supposed to be fighting against such prejudice in Europe. One frequently hears that the Jews control everything. Therefore we should kick out the Jews. When I have proved to such people that the overwhelming majority of the big capitalists, the real controlling powers in this country, are Christians, somehow, they never switch their argument to say that the Christians should be kicked out.

No! Jew, Christian, or Mohammedan – it is not any race or religion that rules society. It is a class – a profiteering class which owns the means of production. It is this class which must be kicked out. If they like, we can let them have some distant island where they can exploit each other, have their monopolies, their depressions, and their wars. And then we shall harness our vast technical resources to the service of man instead of to his destruction.

Labor Alone Can Stop the March of Reaction

The only force which can stop the march of reaction is the labor movement, united firmly by the bonds of exploitation and oppression. The Trotskyists will lead this struggle. We have proven our ability to act as well as to speak. In February 1939 when the Nazi Bund, the Ku Klux Klan, the Silver Shirts and the Coughlinites held a fascist demonstration in Madison Square Garden, it was the Trotskyists who called the workers to picket and protest. More than 50,000 people answered the Trotskyist call. In Los Angeles, in that same period, again it was the Trotskyists who led an anti-fascist campaign when a similar meeting was held here.

My opponents in this election have had little to say on the many manifestations of fascist reaction. Supervisor Roger Jessup, a candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, according to a report published in the Municipal League Bulletin predicted “increased need for firearms in the post-war period, which might result from economic disturbances.” This pointed prediction of repressions from a capitalist politician should serve to warn and alert all workers.

There are two roads ahead, for America as for Europe: The fascist road or the socialist road. There will be no other choices. Either the capitalists will finally crush the labor movement, or the workers must take power, nationalize the means of production and plan economy for use instead of profit. In this municipal election you have the opportunity to indicate your choice. Shall we be slaves or shall we be free men and equal? WE MUST make this choice. Begin now by voting socialist on April 3rd. Join with the Trotskyists in the fight against race discrimination! Join with us in the task of creating a new and better world – a socialist world – in which all men and women will truly be free and equal!

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