The Smear Terror - John T. Flynn

III. Dark Waters

The man is bold indeed who dares to discuss the delicate subject of the religious provocateur. This provocateur works upon the emotions of some religious group, frightening them with stories of their wrongs in order to get their support for some objective of his own. Religious divisions are old; they flare up at times. But I believe it to be true that since the break-up of the old Klan in the twenties, these divisions have subsided.

Religious prejudices are like a dust on the spirit. That dust had not been purged out of us. But it had certainly settled down. However, it lay like a deposit upon the minds and hearts of millions. The gains we have made in clearing the atmosphere would he quickly lost by any movement that would stir up that dust, blow it about and make it once again a factor in our thinking.

I am convinced that nothing has done so much to stir up that dust as the incredibly inept so-called defense of our Jewish citizens these last eight years. Some of it has originated in the ill-advised activities of some Jewish organizations. A tolerant man can excuse that because the ruthless persecutions by Hitler had deeply troubled the Jewish people. But much of it has been promoted by the activities of intellectually corrupt political groups who see the Jews not as distressed human beings exposed to grave spiritual vexations but only as so many votes in a ballot box.

Also there are the revolutionary groups which have a program for making our society unworkable. Part of that plan is to discredit, our social system by introducing disorder into every part of it. Those Who understand this program know its purpose is to set all the elements in the community into hostile clashes against each other—Catholic against, Protestant, both against the Jews and the Jews against them; to inflame employer against labor, labor against employer, farmer and worker against each other—to so manage as to have every man's hand raised against some other man.

In the preceding chapter I have described an organization devoted to frightening and arousing our Jewish citizens. Now lot us look at one devoted to arousing hatreds against the Catholics. The public instrument of this organization is a magazine called the Protestant. It is led by a man named Kenneth Leslie. He was born in Nova Scotia, studied for the ministry in Canada, served as assistant minister in two Baptists churches and at one time went in experimentally for Catholicism! He has been a stock salesman, a jazz-band leader, a would-be poet, has done some propaganda folk-song crooning on the radio, has run a restaurant, and has taken a fling as a song publisher in Tin Pan Alley, He is now editor of the Protestant and the head of Protestant Digest, Inc,, which controls his various enterprises in religious hatreds under the guise of tolerance. His real occupation is glorifying the Soviet Union and reviling the Catholic Church. In eight issues of the Protestant I counted 29 articles attacking the Catholic Church and 26 glorifying Russia.

Leslie's position may be quickly illustrated by the following tribute to Russia, quoted in the Communist organ, the Daily Worker:

"If there is a heart of justice in the universe it is beating now in thq Red Army. I believe in that heart. I call it God . . . "

Of course this queer journal could not fail to get a boost from Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. She wrote as follows:

"Perhaps you subscribe to the 'Protestant Digest'. It is not just a Protestant magazine, but it does try to awaken those of us who happen to be Protestants to a realization of our responsibilities and interests in the world. I found it interesting. It is always stimulating to realize that if you belong to a certain religious faith there is a responsibility to make sure your thinking is constantly progressive and that you are a living force, not a static one."

And of course she had to recall her testimonial after it had done its share in promoting Leslie's adventure in hatred.

One enterprise of the Protestant is publishing a popular edition of Hewett Johnson's "Soviet Power," a Red propaganda book originally published by the Communist Party.

Another enterprise of Leslie is the 'Textbook Commission to Eliminate Anti-Semitic Statements in American Textbooks'. Full-page ads containing the names as endorsers of 1100 Protestant ministers were printed at a huge cost in many American newspapers. Where did the money come from? Did the preachers who signed the ad know the background of its sponsor? American textbook publishers vigorously protested against the charge, whereupon Leslie admitted he was aiming chiefly at textbooks in Catholic schools.

The names of the editors are indeed singular in a Protestant magazine. Among them are Joseph Brainin and Albert E. Kahn. Strangely enough, we find the names of Joseph Brainin and Albert Kahn as editors of the Jewish New Currents. Both of these gentlemen are Communist fellow-travelers and can be found in all sorts of Communist activities, constantly defending the most appalling Soviet infamies; yet they turn up as editors of a Jewish magazine and a Protestant magazine.

The origin of this enterprise betrays its real purpose. It began with what was called the Protestant Digest. A group of practical gentlemen were promoting a magazine called the American Hebrew. A man named S. S. Eichen was pushing its circulation. December 27, 1939 he wrote on a letterhead of the Protestant Digest to the men employed by him in pushing the American Hebrew. In that letter he said:

"Many of the better grade men who formerly worked for me on the American Hebrew, have come with the Protestant Digest and are more than doubling, their weekly earnings. Should you decide to join my sales force, write me immediately, etc."

Thus in one moment you see the gang pushing their adventures with the American Hebrew as their weapon. In the next the whole outfit moves over to another office and under the name of the Protestant Digest pursues the same objective with a mere change in the incidental music.

In short order Leslie and his collaborators were able to display a list of 1100 Protestant clergymen and religious leaders. These smear enterprises require two things: (1) reputable sponsors and (2) money. There is available a large collection of chronic sponsors and inveterate committee men and women; an odd assortment of gullible softies, publicity and celebrity-hunters who love to see their names on a letterhead with a few well-known writers. Some of these softies can be found roosting in as many a dozen or more of these committees, leagues and councils, Their names add prestige to the particular enterprise in defamation that is under way, very heavily disguised as a "movement" or "crusade" to save democracy, to promote tolerance or defend religion—sometimes with a bunch of Red atheists managing the show. And with this window-dressing of sponsors they can collect a good deal of money in addition to whatever sums they get from those groups who secretly encourage and support them.

The Noble Thief

Of course the Protestant kept up a continual smear attack against all the opponents of Soviet Russia and the New Deal. Here is an example. In July, 1944, a meeting was held under the auspices of the Protestant at Swan Lake in the Catskills. The speaker was William S. Gailmor. Although the audience was entirely Jewish, Gailmor was there to solicit funds for the Protestant. He told the audience that at the Republican Convention in 1914 a Resolution was offered before the Resolutions Committee to make anti-semitism a crime. He said Senator Taft was chairman of the committee, that a number of people appeared against it, and that their spokesman was the "notorious fascist" Merwin K. Hart, who spoke for an hour and attacked Frankfurter, Rosenman, Lehman and President "Rosenfeld by name," His talk, Gailmor said, bristled with anti-semitism. When he was through he was "vociferously applauded by the Resolutions Committee presided over by Taft," who let Hart speak for ail hour and held the proponents of the measure to only a few minutes.

Practically every one of Gailmor's statements was an outright lie. Hart never appeared before the committee on this resolution, but on another matter, purely economic. He spoke only a few minutes, never once mentioning the names of Frankfurter el al. The committee did not applaud his talk. Senator Taft did not give him an hour but only a few minutes. This infamous attack came to light only because a gentleman present, a prominent Jewish lawyer, was shocked at it believing it to be false. It was he who brought it to my attention. But Gailmor collected for the Protestant several hundred dollars on the strength of this speech.

Gailmor's real name is Margolis and he changed it to conceal the fact that he was a convicted automobile thief. When sentencing him the judge said:

"This man is suffering from a mental ailment and has impulses to repeat the act which he has committed in the past. For this reason, this man at this time would be unsafe to be allowed to roam the highways and the city streets."

He was sent to a psychiatric institution for a year. Despite this he was later employed as a news commentator by the American Broadcasting Co, for its New York station. This network is owned by Edward J. Noble, former New Deal Under-Secretary of Commerce under Hopkins. Westbrook Pegler brought Gailmor's criminal record to Noble's attention. Instead of firing him, Noble put him on a national hook-up. The criminal courts held Gailmor to be unsafe to roam the public highways and streets, but Noble thought it safe for this mentally disturbed thief to roam the highways of the air helping to form public opinion on grave national issues attacking reputable citizens.

Here is a test of the sincerity of these outfits. The Leslies and their allies stir up hatred of the Catholics, which is one of the poisons on which the old KKK fed. While thus providing Klan-minded groups with ammunition, they denounce the Klan for the intolerance they help to breed. Even Protestant leaders who counsel tolerance are defamed by them.

Pierre Van Passen, one of the Protestant editors, at its annual banquet, attacked Bishop Manning and Harry Emerson Fosdick for advocating closer inter-faith relations. This, said Van Passen, "numbs the sensitivity of Jews and everybody else so that the Church can put it over on the Russians in the Polish border dispute," He denounced the American Jewish Committee because of its Cooperation with Catholic groups for tolerance.

This crew has evoked a reaction which has in it the germ of the best remedy for this grave evil. The National Community Relations Council which represents leading Jewish organizations recently issued an appeal to its groups "to discourage support of the Protestant Digest, Inc., of its magazine, the Protestant and of its other enterprises" because "it contributed to inter-group dissension" and "has made irresponsible attacks upon Jewish agencies."

AH the leading Jewish organizations concurred. The American Jewish Congress, the largest, concurred in the criticism but not in the recommendation to the constituent societies to stop contributing to the Protestant. It urged that contributions be stopped if the attacks on the Jewish agencies were not ended.

Since this the editors have quarreled among themselves. Pierre Van Passen has led a revolt against Leslie on management—not policy—and has formed a new group and has announced with amazing assurance that they will continue their fight against anti-semitism, anti-Negroism and—wonder of wonders!—"against anti-Catholicism."