Henry Ford should discard the legal technicalities placed about him as a protective barrier by his counsel and take the opportunity of telling in court all he knows about the “Jewish conspiracy,” alleged by him, if he is an honest man, urges the New York “Times” of Sunday in an editorial headed “Mr. Ford’s Opportunity.”
“Henry Ford’s appearance on the witness stand in the Detroit suit for libel against him,” the “Times” writes, “is expected to be marked by every form of legal technicality. He will be protected by the Judge from questions not strictly in accord with the rules of evidence. This is his lawful right. So it is to employ skilled lawyers who will guard him against any cross-examination which might be held to be irregular. But the case has assumed such proportions and importance that a man of Mr. Ford’s position and great wealth ought not to be willing to take advantage of the intricacies of court procedure. It is perfectly possible for him to cut through all the red tape of the trial and insist upon making his attitude clear in the whole controversy.
“For years through ‘The Dearborn Independent’ he has been pursuing a certain line of policy. His sincerity in so doing need not be questioned. It may be that he has acted upon insufficient information or distorted evidence, but his persistence in causing to be published what he has printed about the ‘great Jewish conspiracy’ indicates that he honestly believes the statements which have been made public under the warrant of his authority. This being so, he now has a wonderful opportunity to take the whole country into his confidence, to set forth the reasons for the course which he has pursued, and to justify, if he can, the assertions which he has caused to be printed. It would seem that a man of his strong convictions would jump at the chance to set the whole matter straight, so far as he is able to do it.
“He has at his disposal an instrument of publicity absolutely unequaled. Through ‘The Dearborn Independent,’ published at a loss and with a limited circulation, he could reach but a comparatively few Americans; but if he were to take the stand in Detroit and tell all that he knows about the subjects in dispute, every word of his testimony would be printed on the first page of every newspaper in the United States. What an opportunity to reach what an audience! To a man with a cause deeply at heart the invitation would appear to be simply irresistible. If Mr. Ford is convinced, as he must be if he is an honest man, that the matter printed in ‘The Dearborn Independent’ truthfully states an abhorrent and appalling menace to the people of the United States, it is hard to see how he can refrain from painting the danger in such colors before the eyes of this entire country, and in fact of the whole world, that the facts will be established beyond challenge, since it is plain that he has complete faith that they can be so established.
“It may be said that for Mr. Ford to undertake anything of this kind would imperil his chances in the suit for libel now being pressed against him. But any such consideration is beneath his notice. Even if the plaintiff made out his case and were able to win the claim of damages to the extent of $1,000,000, this is a sum which Henry Ford could put out of his reckoning with contempt. It would mean nothing to him except a few scratches of a pen on a check. Moreover, it is an amount of money, trifling in comparison with his vast holdings of property, which he might eagerly sacrifice in order to take advantage of his unparalleled opportunity to get the explanation of his anti-Jewish attitude before every citizen of the United States.
“Besides opportunity, it is an obligation that knocks at the door of Henry Ford,” the “Times” further emphasizes. “He has allowed his name to be made sponsor for cruel accusations. His charge that prominent Jews have conspired to bring about a hateful domination of American finance, and a still more hateful oppression of American laboring men and farmers, is not a matter of grave concern to those whom he has immediately attacked. They know how impossible of proof are the allegations, and they also know how to defend themselves. But this tide of race calumny has swept on, in the columns of the ‘Dearborn Independent’, until it has brought pain and suffering to millions of American citizens. They have felt themselves equally hurt and helpless under such sweeping and anonymous attacks. Now the day has come when Mr. Ford, as an honorable and sincere man, might well feel that he is bound either to justify himself or else manfully to retract the charges which have been made in his name. It is an unexampled opportunity now within his grasp. Will he seize it? It is, more than that a solemn duty laid upon such a world figure as he has become. Will he rise to it?”