Placing U.S. Army in False Light

Westbrook Pegler

Press and Sun-Bulletin/March 9, 1945

In the light of Judge Phillip L. Sullivan’s decision that the seizure of Montgomery Ward’s property was a lawless act, let us refer to a gratuitous statement by Frank P. Graham, ostensibly a “public” or impartial member of the War Labor Board (WLB), on Dec. 17.

The very designation “public” member reveals a serious fault in the spirit of government these days, for all government officials should be “public” officials. That is to say they should be impartial and just. Yet we have labor senators and congressmen and Mr. Biddle, the attorney general, has announced, in effect, that the Roosevelt Government is a “labor” government. That means that the Roosevelt Government is partial to unions which are subordinate groups of his political party and in just that degree, is unfair to the rest of the nation.

To be sure that is democracy majority rule, but it is not equal justice under law.

Mr. Graham denounced Montgomery Ward, a private citizen, so to speak, and taxpayer, for “blasting at the foundations of maximum production” and spoke of the “no strike” agreement of “patriotic labor.”

An impartial member of this board, if he felt called on to make any statement at all, might have felt that fairness required him to recall that the “no strike” agreement of “patriotic labor” had been violated by thousands of strikes, which had blasted “at the foundations of production” in works vitally essential to the war. On the other hand, Ward’s actual connection with such production is slight, if not wholly imaginary.

James Byrnes, the director of war mobilization, also attacked Ward’s in an affidavit and the army moved in by order of President Roosevelt, executed by the secretary of war.

The army seized the company’s private property, including its receipts, and made disbursements, including wages, according to the decisions of the War Labor Board. It has just as much right to take the money out of your pockets.

By now we have the President, the War Labor Board, the director of war mobilization and the army itself all arrayed against a citizen defending his rights. He may not be a popular citizen but neither was Captain Dreyfuss.

The army, of course, is not “public” in the sense of impartiality. The President is commander-in-chief and all the officers are obliged to obey his orders and uphold him in his contentions. An officer might have some vague and theoretical legal right to publicly criticize an order given to him by authority of his commander-in-chief, but this simply is not done.

Examining the situation now, we find the army enforcing an illegal order to uphold a “policy” of a government which is admittedly partial to Ward’s opponent in a case at law. The army, too, has propaganda services whose duty is to justify the army’s position which in this case violates a citizen’s rights. The army is, in practical effect, the client of its own propaganda specialists and obviously will suffer no criticism at their hands.

All this puts the army in a false position and imposes on its propaganda services the duty of defending indefensible acts.

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