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Senate Bill Would Bar Race, Religious Incitement from Mails

An “anti-fifth column” bill that would bar the mails to matter tending to incite religious and racial hatreds was introduced today by Senator W. Warren Barbour (Rep., N.J.) and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In submitting the measure, Senator Barbour warned of forces “at work in the United States which threaten our internal security” and cited the betrayal of the Norwegian people to the Nazis.

“While the spirit of tolerance lives,” Senator Barbour said, “America lives. “When it dies, America dies. Like the freedom of which it is a part, it cannot be attacked from without, but only from within–eaten away by vermin who work in darkness and live by destruction.”

The Senator said he had been “appalled” to find that material of an inflammatory nature had found its way “even into the Congressional Record.” The reference obviously was aimed at Rep. Jacob Thorkelson (Rep., Mont.), many of whose anti-Semitic statements have been carried in the Record as “extension of remarks.”

The bill was framed as an amendment to Section 211 of the Criminal Code, providing that: “The term ‘indecent,’ within the intendment of this section, shall include matter of a character tending to incite arson, murder or assignation or riot and also forgeries or matter of a character fraudulent or scurrilous, tending to incite hate against any religious sect or creed or race.”

Introducing the bill, Senator Barbour said: “For many months now we have witnessed a constant procession of events and seen much evidence which permit no other conclusion than that forces are at work in the United States which threaten our internal security. These forces attack our institutions, our standards, and groups of our population. At times they attack all religion, at other times particular faiths.

“Regardless of origin or purpose, these movements have as their evil effect the rousing of fear, hatred and distrust among our people. They are intended to set citizen group against citizen group, ‘religious faith against religious faith, and to weaken our solidarity as a nation. They fan flames which, unless checked, could in time consume us all. Some of these activities appear to spring from a purpose to divide and rule. Others as clearly are a natural growth of man’s inhumanity to man, the harvest of the seeds of intolerance.

“I have been appalled to find material of this character finding its way even into the Congressional Record. The pages of the Record abundantly support what I say. They have contained forgeries such as the spurious letter signed by ‘Colonel Edward M. House,’ attacks on individuals which if uttered elsewhere would have been punishable under the libel laws, and material which, if not of foreign and hostile origin, had all the earmarks of having been inspired and prepared by enemies of our own country. Much of it is so plainly unworthy of credence as to be dismissed with contempt by any person of intelligence. Placed in the hands of those who are unable or unwilling to subject it to analysis, however, it becomes inflammatory and dangerous. It could lead to betrayal of our own country by some American Vidkun Quislung, subjecting our own people to the fate of those who were sacrificed by this betrayer of the Norwegian people.

“In my opinion the time has come to put the sponsors of these poisonous, vicious and unscrupulous attacks on notice that they may not henceforward pursue their activities with impunity, so far as they involve the use of the mails. I see no reason why we should close the mails to other indecencies, and to matter tending to incite to murder and arson, while allowing matter to be mailed which certainly incites mass hatreds and could lead to mass murder and arson.

“Those who are guilty of these activities have never heard the voice of America, or they are this country’s enemies. If there is one thing which sets Americans apart from less favored peoples of the world, it is their heritage of freedom. Tolerance is a part of that freedom. Though we have in our population all of the bloods of the world, and the faiths of the world are our faiths, we have learned to live together in peace and understanding, and on the foundations of freedom and tolerance have built the soundest social structure the world has seen.

“While the spirit of tolerance lives, America lives. When it dies, America dies. Like the freedom of which it is a part, it cannot be attacked from without, but only from within–eaten away by vermin who work in darkness and live by destruction. It is in recognition of this danger that I have prepared this bill. It is intended to deal with a condition which, if ignored, could become a threat to all that America means.”