Wisdom of a Proposal

Westbrook Pegler

The Dothan Eagle/December 19, 1950

NEW YORK Last August 1 my daily piece proposed that the United States should save as many men and as much equipment as possible and get out of Korea. On August 14, a propaganda mill called the Friends of Democracy, run by a preacher named Leon M. Birkhead, issued a “press release” demanding that the Attorney General prosecute me for sedition. Within the last three weeks the wisdom of my proposal has become apparent to President Truman, Congress, many editors and most of the people. The withdrawal now comes only after the worst military disaster in the history of this nation, including the loss of a war, and most of our standing army and casualties beyond our knowledge.

The futile sacrifice was magnified many times after I had the foresight to write: “For God’s sake, why doesn’t some leader, some Republican or even a Democrat, summon the courage to warn us that we can’t beat Russia in a war in which Russia always has the initiative and has, in addition to a new industrial and mechanical genius, literally millions of dark people to throw onto our bayonets until we are simply overwhelmed?”

I do not rejoice in my vision, and the occasion for this article is to call attention to Birkhead, his Friends of Democracy, and other matters.

Birkhead’s open letter to Howard McGrath, the Attorney General, said the effect of my counsel on the parents of the soldiers and on the young men then being recruited “to fight in Korea” would seem to be disastrous. Accordingly he wanted McGrath to prosecute. The sedition act provides a fine of $10,000, ten years in prison and civil disqualification for five years.

This may seem to have been a cheap gesture by a faker, but Birkhead and his Friends of Democracy are in league with other terroristic propaganda groups, two of them dominated by Isidore Lipschutz, the emigre diamond dealer from Belgium. A loyal American may oppose them only at serious risk of prosecution, whether by the abuse of due process or otherwise. A common method is moral blackmail through the infliction of overwhelming costs on the offending patriot plus prolonged harassment through lawsuits. Another one is indictment on trumped-up charges which conceal the fact that the actual offense may consist of irreverence toward the late Roosevelt and his pestiferous wife, “isolationism,” or opposition to the personal foreign policy of Isidore Lipschutz.

I have undertaken to expose Lipschutz and the stealthy works of his Society for the Prevention of World War III and his Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League. I have already revealed that this impudent man has had the effrontery to maintain through his League a pack of sneaks to spy on law-abiding citizens because their opinions conflict with his. I shall now begin to develop Birkhead’s character and methods and his association with Lipschutz.

According to John T. Flynn, an excellent reporter and a very aggressive pro-American propagandist, Birkhead worked both sides of the street in Kansas City by preaching in All Souls’ Unitarian Church and writing anti-religious copy for a magazine called The Militant Atheist. Flynn presented the following quotation from Birkhead’s work: “Religious people are ordinarily narrow, petty, trivial. How could they be otherwise when they are the victims of narrow and. intolerant intellects? Most people who make any pretense of being religious would be better off without any religion.”

“Birkhead has one further grouch about the Christians,” Mr. Flynn writes further. ”They are meddlers, he says, in other people’s affairs. He quotes Wendell Phillips’ sneer that the Christian idea of hell was a place where everyone had to mind bis own business. Yet, we behold his Friends of Democracy hiring snoopers and informers to pry into other men’s lives; ransack their offices and generally meddle in their affairs on a scale no normal meddler ever dreams of.”

This refers to Avedis Boghus Derounian, alias John Roy Carlson, a perpetually frightened professional sneak and notorious liar of whom Judge John P. Barnes, of the United States court, said that he was unworthy of belief on oath. Derounian wrote a book which was found to be false in three formal trials, in a fourth lawsuit he escaped judgment by retracting. This book was “Under Cover,” a lying smear text which received hysterical advertisement for many weeks and absurd approval from The Herald Tribune. Carlson wrote grateful acknowledgment to Birkhead for the use of his “files” and said he had been employed for five years by the Friends of Democracy.

I have no real fear of any of these, concerns, but I do acknowledge the constant danger to pro-Americans of a serious threat of imprisonment. Several other men have been indicted for opposing Lipschutz. Flynn reports that Rex Stout, one of the founders of the Communist magazine New Masses, exhorted the Overseas Press Club to “get” all unrepentant “non-interventionists,” demanding that they be charged with subversive activities and violation of the Mann Act and the income tax law. He reports that Stout proposed a letter campaign to editors to “get” Pegler. Dorothy Thompson reports that such a letter campaign did “get” her.

Stout and Birkhead are on the “advisory council” of Lipschutz’s Society for the Prevention of World War III, although several of the founders got out because they believed it was improperly conducted as a political agency for Lipschutz in our foreign affairs. He wasn’t even a citizen at that time. Circumstantial evidence indicates that the Friends of Democracy acted as a front for a stronger and more highly secretive power in the smear terror. (C-1950).

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