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Press Lauds F.b.i. Action on ‘christian Front’ Plot

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Consensus of editorial comment today on the arrest of 17 Christian Frontists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a plot to overthrow the Government was that while the conspiracy itself did not appear to be dangerous, it was important for the authorities to nip such movements in the bud.

At the same time, L.M. Birkhead, director of the Friends of Democracy, made public a telegram to Charles E. Coughlin in which he challenged the radio priest to cite any repudiations he had made of the Christian Front. “The Christian Front is your child,” the telegram said. “You have fostered and encouraged it. Your magazine Social Justice is the official magazine of the Christian Front. You cannot evade responsibility for the organization.”

Extracts from representative newspapers comment on the Christian Front situation follow:

New York Times: “The Republic stands and will continue to stand against such threats. If ever it falls it will fall for more imposing reasons. But it is a good thing that fanatics who like to play at revolution should realize that the minute they overstep the line they will be stopped under the prevailing laws of the land.”

New York Herald Tribune: “…fantastic as the whole thing sounds, we can be glad Mr. J. Edgar Hoover’s agents are on the alert to nip it in the bud. American soil is no place for a putsch however ridiculous.”

New York Daily News: “If, in proportion to the total population of the country, these peculiar young men do represent a movement for militant action against those whose racial or religious affiliations they dislike, then this movement should naturally be checked before it spreads. If this country loses its tolerance or its religious freedom, it loses something most precious. Without tolerance, the name and purpose of America are worthless.”

New York Post: “Mad as the whole conspiracy may be, every circumstance, every detail of its origin should be brought to light and every person convicted of taking part in it should be given the treatment prescribed by law.”

New York World Telegram: “Nothing could be more fantastic than the plot attributed to these youngsters, except that it has already been equaled by the sight of an ordained man of God preaching hate and strife. Father Coughlin doubtless is shrewd and sophisticated enough to see through the absurd game these lads are playing, but the fidelity with which they acted upon his suggestions make his rhetorical disclaimers highly unconvincing.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, in her syndicated column, published in the World-Telegram: “A Christian Front might reasonably be supposed to indicate that the members are followers of Christ, and he was a Jew. He never used force to overthrow evil. How strangely muddled in their thinking people of this kind must be, or else how easily they must be led by people who can make them think whatever they desire.”

New York Sun: “Those who cannot persuade themselves to take the case seriously might recall that only a handful of men were active in the overthrow of the Kerensky government, that for years Hitler was a joke, that the Irish Republican Army has posed a difficult problem for Great Britain…Not that these are parallels…But they suggest waiting for the facts.”

Philadelphia Record: “The F.B.I. is to be congratulated on rounding up this group before someone was hurt. But there is no basis for an alarmed belief that the Government was in danger. There are 130,000,000 people at large in the United States and some of them should not be.”

Washington Post: “It is a healthy thing that this childish plot was exposed before any damage was done. The prosecution of all those responsible for it should help prevent other absurd conspiracies of this sort. And, what is of equal importance, it should show the preachers of intolerance the logical conclusions which immature minds draw from their bombastic utterances.”

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