An article which Joseph V. McKee, independent Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City, wrote in 1915, in which he criticized Jewish students as lacking moral principles, revived last week, continued to arouse a storm of protest yesterday among the Jewish population of the city and threw the racial issue squarely into the election arena.
Brought into the open by Fiorella H. La Guardia, Fusion candidate for the mayoralty, the charge that Mr. McKee was anti-Semitic appeared certain to cause serious damage to his candidacy by alienating a good part of the support of Jewish voters and of the liberal and reform elements which had flocked to him as their standard-bearer in the municipal elections.
The article, which appeared in the Catholic World, in 1915, declared that Jews in the high schools “recognize no code of morals and are concerned with no motives higher than those originating from fear of detection and consequent loss of money, etc.”
The article arose openly to plague Mr. McKee when, in response to a telegram he sent Major La Guardia demanding that he disavow Samuel Seabury’s attack on Governor Lehman, the fiery Fusion leader accused Mr. McKee of drawing “a red herring across the cowardly, contemptible and unjust attack that you have made and published against a great race so gloriously represented by our Governor.”
UNTERMYER JOINS ATTACK
Samuel Untermyer, who had previously endorsed the candidacies of Nathan Straus, Jr., for president of the board of aldermen, and of Ferdinand Pecora, for district attorney, both of whom are running on the McKee “Recovery Party” ticket, also joined in the attack on Mr. McKee, describing the article as “a gross libel upon thirty percent of the people of this city,” which “sounds to me like a reverberation of Hitlerism.”
Denying anti-Semitism, Mr. McKee declared the article was a dead issue, that he had convinced the late Louis Marshall, in 1925, that he had not intended an attack on the Jews and had formed a close friendship with the great Jewish leader which lasted until Mr. Marshall’s death. He bitterly denounced Major LaGuardia for “deliberately, viciously and for self-gain,” injecting the racial issue in the election. He was to discuss the question in a broadcast speech last night over WABC.
Commenting on the McKee answer, Mr. Untermyer declared yesterday, “I am sorry and disappointed that Mr. McKee’s explanation explains nthing. This lifelong friendship with my friend and partner, Louis Marshall, is news to me. Knowing Mr. Marshall as I did, I have a pretty lively conception of how he would feel about such a libel on our people as that contained in The Catholic World.
“He is not here to speak for himself.”
Major LaGuardia declined to comment on the answer yesterday. He is to address the Council of Jewish Women today and is expected to make some reference to this at the time.
STRAUS DEFENDS MCKEE
Mr. Straus, speaking in defense of his running mate, declared there is “no man in this city or in this country, in or out of office, who is more completely free from racial or religious intolerance. Joseph V. McKee’s adult life is a record of friendliness and of service to people of all races and creeds whom he could help in this city.”
The first announced defection from the ranks of McKee supporters was that of H. Bennett Salomon, Bronx attorney, who cited Mr. McKee’s alleged anti-Semitism as the reason for his switch to Mayor O’Brien.
The article in the Catholic World has been ripped out of the Public Library files of that magazine, it became known yesterday. The article was published in 1918 and the copy of the publication containing it was placed on file in the usual manner. The mutilation of the file was discovered when newspapermen asked to see the original. At the library, it was said that it is impossible to discover who may be responsible, as the files of that magazine, like any other, are available on request to any reader.