Daily Worker |
Feb. 25, 1948
Will Authors Guild Let Gallico Speak for It?
The lid is off. It blew off this Tuesday past, in William Randolph Hearst's Journal-American, and all day the phone rang with people wanting to know whether I had read Paul Gallico's column. I had read it, carefully, word by word; and I had that sick, bitter feeling that must have been so common in Germany of 1932. Not because Paul Gallico had penned the most shameless piece of filth of the current year; that is a part of his development, and only to be expected; not because the Journal-American had printed it; that too was the logic of a rag that breeds out of slime and sickness. But because both of these facts together marked the maturing of a far broader conspiracy.
The column itself was most shocking in its lumpen' vulgarity. No pretense of writing or logic or deviousness here, but just the dirty glee with which four-letter words are scrawled on toilet walls, and only the ornamental swastikas were missing. Not in Jewish dialect, but in the special hate-language of the Christian Front, a mocking little dialogue is presented by Gallico, purporting to be a conversation between father and son in the Soviet Union.
The subject is George Washington -- a man deeply honored in the Soviet Union, by the way -- and the piece is well sprinkled with Hebrew and Yiddish words and such cunning hints as "ve" and "vich" and "smot" and "Vashington" and "ven," just in case you should miss the point. The point is that all Jews are Communists and all citizens of Russia are Jews -- and what are you good, loyal readers of the Journal-American waiting for, when you could be out desecrating synagogues and beating up Jews?
Now there have been things of this sort in the gutter sheets of the Christian Front before, but this is the first venture of this kind in a mass circulation daily. The man selected for this cheap and dirty task is a former sports writer of the New York Daily News, a fiction hack, and, unhappily enough, the president of the Author's Guild of America.
In attacking some of his earlier frenetic screaming, I pointed out that he was not only a very bad thinker, but also a very bad writer -- and at this he took umbrage, declaring that I would have done better to attack his politics, but that I had no right to deny him freedom of expression, even by implication.
This is a point worth considering, for his latest piece of "freedom of expression" has been remarked on above; and the only fair comparison I can devise is the relationship of a rabid dog to hungry people. In both cases, a mouth is used; and only the manual exercise of typewriting defines Gallico's work as writing. Traditionally, he belongs with Goebbels and Streicher, but his technique is, as I said before, in the school of the latrine wall. Calling for the crematorium, he whimpers that the left seeks to shut him up.
OWN EDITORS GAG HIM
As a matter of fact, his own editors did that very thing, for after his column ran in one edition, the petty gauleiters of the Journal took fright and yanked it out. Evidently their trial balloon had burst too soon.
But Gallico is not alone in his projection of his sacred right of expression. Upon the appearance of a column of his some weeks ago, I discussed with one of the officials of the Author's League the question of a statement from the council dissociating themselves from the fascist filth of a Guild President.
The said official denied indignantly his or their right to impose censorship, even though the question of censorship had never entered the discussion. However, as a member of the guild of which Gallico is president, I have the right to call upon my fellow members to take appropriate action in this case -- or else to allow it to rest on the implication that Gallico speaks for them.
One thing more must be noted. Like the Jew he attacks, Gallico's people came to America somewhat later than the Mayflower; and they themselves have all too often been the victims of the same contemptible technique he uses. Like the Jews, many of them are Communists, well over three million as a matter of fact, and as with the Jews, this is reason for joy and pride, not for sniveling and frightened denial.
Gallico doesn't speak for them, either. Today, Paul Gallico speaks only for the lunatic vanguard of fascism. He asked that I attack his politics. I don't have to. All of mankind, all that is fair and decent and generous and good on this earth attacks his politics.