For Jim McGuinness’ Back – A Knife

Westbrook Pegler

The Dothan Eagle/December 21, 1950

NEW YORK When that great patriot, James Kevin McGuinness, died a little while ago, I reported that he had been whispered out of the motion picture industry as punishment for giving testimony against the Communist treachery at the 1947 hearings of the Committee on Un-American Activities. Jim never knew whose hand plunged the knife into his back. He was tried in absentia, knowing neither the charge nor the name of his accuser, and, after some remote negotiations with the secret terror, contact was broken and he was done for. Meanwhile, actors, writers, producers and others implicated in the treason have gone on to greater wealth and renown. The motion picture industry professes to have cleaned house, but has done nothing of the kind.

Jim was an active leader of the American Legion’s fight against treason, having resumed his dormant membership a few years ago when he decided that organization was necessary to wage the counter-attack. Previously he had dropped out as a silent objection to the shameful misconduct of legionnaires at some of the national conventions in the ’20’s. But he always believed in the original principles of the Legion and so, when he realized that the motion picture industry was infested with actual traitors who were trying to betray his country to Soviet Russia, Jim went back into the fold. During the same period, Jim also lagged in his religious devoirs. I would not presume to discuss this phase of his life except to make the point that when the issue was joined, Jim fought as a Christian crusader and a gallant gentleman. He was deeply religious now, and, in his dying moment, called to his wife, “Lucie, I am dying! Hand me my prayer-book!”

Jim was a fine man, a martyr worthy of the same respect that is due the young men who gave their lives in Korea. He fought in the same cause. Had he been 21 or 25 when this war came, and not 57, he undoubtedly would have joined up as he did in 1917 when he fought in France as an infantry lieutenant.

I recently mentioned a beautiful patriotic pageant which Jim wrote for the national convention of the American Legion which was held in Hollywood under a promise by the movie industry to finance a great show in the Hollywood Bowl. Jim was a political outcast of the movie industry and his script was ruled out. One man even had the effrontery to propose that Edward G. Robinson, the movie actor who had been so mockingly defiant when Jim was fighting the Reds, should be selected for a leading part in the patriotic production under Legion auspices. He was told, however, that Robinson never would be allowed to use the Legion to clear his skirts.

You might savor the beauty of Jim’s devotion to his country by reading these few samples of an oration written by Jim and delivered at the pageant by Father Edward Carney, of Lawrence, Mass., the national chaplain of the Legion:

“Humbly reverent, we lay the wreath of sweet remembrance before those, our comrades, who made the last the utmost payment to establish and preserve the freedom they bequeathed to us as the greatest gift of comradeship and love. We are alive because they are dead. We taste each day the luscious fruits of their sublime generosity. We know each day the brightness of the returning sun; walking in the free breeze of a land still free because of those Who fell so that we might stand erect, owing no man anything but affection freely given. We see each night the silent brilliance of the stars with their promise of eternity; finding sleep in calm surety that no tyrant can shatter our rest by violent intrusions of our homes and seizures of our persons.

“Because of them, the fallen, we are the living. Because of them, the fallen, we are the free. Because of them we are now able to face the foul tyranny now enslaving half the world and say, clearly and without falter: ‘That which was preserved for us by the blood of our brothers is God’s gift to His sons. To fail freedom would be to deny divine grace; to betray our country and to foul the memories of our magnificent dead. Confronting the power your evil has assembled, we are unafraid. Freedom is of God and must endure. Tyranny and evil shall perish . . .’

“The scowling, cynical intellectuals of the left having cautiously evaded the tumult and the agony of battle are our enemies no less than the booted hordes who have trampled down the ideals and the goodness of Christian civilization everywhere they have marched. In the service of hatred they have murdered love. And their agents are many among us. I quote from Archbishop Ireland’s address on patriotism: ‘This country is America; only those who are loyal to her can be allowed to live under her flag; and they who are loyal to her may enjoy her liberties and rights. If that allegiance is not plenary and supreme, he is false to the profession of allegiance; if it is, he is an American.’

“Yes, we have a duty toward our traitors. In our hands is the bright sword of truth. It was put into our hands by those who died for truth. The blood of our heroic comrades has seeped into the earth of every continent and stained the waters of every sea. We are the guardians of a nationhood which has never taken up arms in aggression but only in defense.

“For life and death, for the body and the eternal soul, the war is upon us the war forced by men who want for themselves the powers that belong to God alone.

“In memory of that great and gallant army which poured out the rich, red wine of youth to keep us free, we pledge ourselves to be worthy of their sacrifices and to cherish the duty they so richly performed.

“May Almighty God bless our cause and may He make us truly the sons of His freedom.”

For those sentiments, Jim McGuinness was whispered out of the motion picture industry in his own country, which he had served in battle in France.

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