A literary note announced yesterday that on the day of publication of his new book, “Treatise on Right and Wrong,” H. L. Mencken returned from Europe on the Europa. It is stated that in order to complete his book, which is published by a Jewish publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, Mr. Mencken had resigned the editorship of The American Mercury.
At a time when liberal, right-thinking people are stirred by the inhuman Nazi outrages perpetrated especially on intellectuals, the author of the new “Treatise on Right and Wrong” chooses to defy decent public opinion by travelling on a German boat. In quest of the sensational and the paradoxical, Mr. Mencken does not hesitate to hurt the feelings of his literary colleagues who are being hounded and persecuted by the Hitler regime. He has furnished proof that he is a very poor authority on what is right and what is wrong.
Hanfstaengel, the Hitler lieutenant, is not coming to the Harvard commencement, after all. Whether Hanfstaengel declined the invitation after having accepted it or whether the authorities of Harvard University devised a way of revoking the invitation, there is cause for Harvard University to feel gratified at the result. The presence of the rabid apologist of Hitler at the Commencement would have marred the occasion and would have brought forth widespread and merited criticism of the great American university.
KAHN AND COMMUNISM
I have received the following curious and interesting letter:
“I am writing to inquire in what way the life or death of Otto Kahn was so significant to the Jewish people as to warrant the large headline and columns of biography on the occasion of his death. Aside from fashionable contributions to Jewish charities, wherein has Otto Kahn merited the attention you gave him? His Jewishness was diluted to the vanishing point, and all his children married in the church.
“On the other hand, one wonders why you completely ignore the doings of an ever-growing and significant sect in Jewish life–I have reference to the Jewish communists as represented by the “Freiheit” and other publications. Middle-class Jews ought to be apprised of the existence of a class-conscious Jewish proletariat who are in active rebellion against the bourgeois culture-pattern of respectable middle and upper-class Jewish life. The influence of this group is making successful and decisive inroads upon Jewish life, and the readers of the Bulletin ought not to be kept in ignorance of the activities of this class of Jews. As a case in point, you might have apprised your readers that this group held an anti-religious meeting on seder night where the bourgeois notion of political freedom and democracy, sanctioning as it does, economic slavery, was derided.
“SINCERELY, “MICHAEL ALPER.”
The Jewish Daily Bulletin devoted much space to the biography of Otto H. Kahn on the occasion of his death for the reason that, though he was not identified with any specific Jewish activities, he attained great distinction as a philanthropist, financier and patron of the arts. One of the most brilliant students of economics and finance, he devoted his life and a great part of his fortune to the promotion and elevation of the arts and to the generous encouragement of struggling talents and experimental art institutions he helped were initiated by Jews.
The second complaint in Rabbi Alper’s letter is rather strange. He wonders why the Bulletin ignores “the doings of an ever-growing and significant sect in Jewish life,” referring to the Jewish communists in New York as represented by the “Freiheit” and other publications, and as a case in point, he specifies that the Bulletin might have apprised its readers that this group held an anti-religious meeting on Seder night “where the bourgeois notion of political freedom and democracy was derided.”
There is nothing new in these demonstrations against the Jewish religion staged on Jewish holidays. Years ago the Jewish anarchists used to demonstrate regularly on Yom Kippur on the East Side of New York. The offensive against all religions in Soviet Russia no longer constitutes an element of unusual news.
When the report came from White Russia that Jewish farmers were urged not to stay away from the field during Pesach, and that al: foreign campaigns for Passover supplies for Russian Jews were regarded as attempts at counter-revolution by the Jewish bourgeoisie, I said in my editorial comment that there is no official anti-Semitism in Soviet Russia, that whatever anti-Semitism still prevails in Russia is a remnant of Tsarist and Black Hundred days, is being rigorously suppressed by the Soviet government, for it is properly regarded as a dangerous, reactionary prejudice. I also pointed out that while anti-Semitism is being stamped out in Soviet Russia, Judaism, too, is being exterminated there; that while the Soviet government is strongly opposed to all religions, without discrimination, the Jewish communist leaders are more energetic than their non-Jewish comrades in their efforts to uproot Judaism.
The Jewish communist group in this country, to which Mr. Alper refers, is merely echoing the voice of the Jewish communists in Soviet Russia, and in a measure copying their methods.