Chairman of the Anti-Defamation League
Men who are the leaders and spokesmen for various Jewish organizations and also individuals who assume such roles have recently indulged in much publicity.
To be the spokesman of Jewry, or any part thereof, is a responsibility not to be underestimated.
It requires personal sacrifice and the highest degree of caution.
Jewry at this time, as never before, is on trial in the court of public opinion. This great court is easily swayed, particularly against that group most in need of its beneficent protection.
Much of the publicity indulged in by these spokesmen and leaders is injurious.
No doubt that some is well intentioned but most of it is unwise. In the present emergency there is hardly a mistake which they have failed to make.
Our spokesmen and leaders should practice self-forgetfulness. There can be no great leader without this necessary virtue.
The continuous barrage by our leaders in the public press frustrates efficiency and strangles the real efforts for favorable public response.
HITLERISM AND FREE SPEECH
The Swastika will not fly tonight in New York.
Not over nor within the 165th Regiment Armory; not at any other public building under the jurisdiction of the City of New York.
Hitler may have Hitlerized Germany, but not New York â€” not yet.
The co-ordinated United German Societies will not hear the co-ordinated German Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Hans Luther, expatiate on the virtues of Hitler and Hitlerism.
The co-ordinator-in-chief, Heinz Spanknoebel, the Hitlerian combination rubber stamp and phonograph record, will miss the fought-for opportunity to shine forth on the Armory platform and announce to the not so assimilated Americans of German descent what are their duties to the Fatherland.
The vigorous Herr Spanknoebel is either in hiding in the United States or on the high seas, aboard the Deutschland, en route to Germany to explain to a number of his employers, one of whom, Goebbels, has already officially repudiated him, why he made such a mess of his job.
Perhaps German Day would be celebrated tonight, with Swastika, Luther and all, had Spanknoebel and his gangsters, as Victor Ridder characterizes Heinz’s assistants, done their work in more tactful manner. Spanknoebel, who is rather over-Teutonic in his methods, might have been instructed to put an American accent on his Hitlerism, instead of smashing his way through in the spirit of a revengeful Nazi “co-ordinating” a Jewish shop in Berlin.
But Herr Spanknoebel’s face should be red for another reason. So should the face of any Nazi anywhere who has not yet had stamped out of him the last streak of decent feeling.
For at the hearing at City Hall upon the basis of which Mayor O’Brien decided to adhere to his decision, reached earlier in the week, not to permit the Nazi celebration of German Day in a city-owned armory, those who argued shoulder-to-shoulder with the Nazis for the right of Spanknoebel to speak tonight at the 165th Regiment Armory were Jews. New York was faced by the anomalous spectacle of Bernard and Victor Ridder, German Americans, who had previously expressed their admiration for Adolf Hitler, presenting the burden of evidence against Spanknoebel as co-ordinating gangster, taking their place side by side of Samuel Untermyer, unofficial chief of the boycott movement against Hitler Germany, while ranged on the side of the pathetic pastor Popcke, who entered an ineffectual and bleary plea and of the conveniently absent Spanknoebel were …. American Jews.
Eugene Kaplan, of the Steuben Society was one of them. But, more surprisingly, there was Harry Weinberger, Jewish attorney, representing the American Civil Liberties Union and more often a spokesman for Communists than not. Earlier in the week there had been heard, for the American Civil Liberties Union, another American attorney of Jewish race, Morris Ernst, who, by bespeaking the right of free speech gave the impression that he was on the side of the devil. And on Thursday, particularly, at the hearing in City Hall one was treated to the spectacle of Samuel Untermyer losing patience with Harry Weinberger, a willy-nilly Nazi pleader.
The free speech case may be summed up in the general concept that while any group is denied the right of free assembly, free speech and free press, a precedent has been established by which you and your group may be denied any one or all of these rights. This reasoning is not invalidated by the possibility of violence, for that possibility may be turned into a pretext on future occasions to deny freedom. Specifically, Mr. Ernst put it in this phrasing:
“The best protection of the Jews is to allow these people to meet and speak freely and show themselves up publicly and thereby destroy themselves by ridicule as the Ku Klux Klan did.”
By these assertions in the name and the cause of free speech, these three Jews â€” Weinberger, Ernst and Kaplan â€” made plain again the inclination of the Jew to justice, fair play and tolerance, the judicial attitude. Fascists and Hitlerites have put away in moth balls such notions as that of giving the other fellow a chance to be heard. But they are not honest enough, at least the Hitlerites are not, to disown the alliance of men to whom they would deny a shadow of the right that is argued for them. Nazi “chivalry” consists in using the platform which hospitality extends to them, concerning it, and then converting it into the uses of the scaffold for their enemies.
This fact does not, however, invalidate the fundamental reasoning of the Civil Liberties Union. But the denial was argued, and won, on the basis not that the Nazis constitute a menace to public safety, which they do, but that they would turn into false propaganda uses the fact that they had been allowed the use of a city-owned Armory in New York City and had thus, by inference, won official status and sanction in the greatest metropolis of the Western world.