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U.S. Will Tolerate No Fifth Column, Ickes Asserts

Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes asserted last night that America will tolerate no fifth column, even if it “misuse the word Christian’ as part of its name” or is “led by a man in priestly garb or in his country’s uniform.” He addressed a banquet at the Hotel Statler marking the 90th anniversary of The Temple.

Secretary Ickes asserted that “as the sine Qua non of national unity, we must put a stop to all subversive activities anywhere. America will tolerate no fifth column. While we recognize that the present threat is Nazi-Fascism, we care not whether the fifth column be Nazi or Fascist or Communist.

“It will not avail it to misuse the word ‘Christian’ as part of its name,” he continued,”or even to be led by a man in priestly garb or in his country’s uniform. America cannot spare even an inch of its precious soil to be trod by the traitorous feet of those who, in vileness, would Quisling her.”

“But,”he asserted, “it is vitally important that we should keep our heads while searching the dark places for the reptiles that would poison our liberties, for perhaps the most fiendish of Nazi tricks is the planting, among thousands of innocent victims of Nazi terror, of a few vile spies who bring unjust suspicion and distrust upon all refugees in the lands that give them shelter.”

Secretary Ickes warned against “the mistake of believing that every citizen of foreign birth is any less an American than some of us who can trace ancestors back for two or three hundred years.”

“From this day forward,” the Secretary said, “except for well-established cause, there should, so far as our political life is concerned, be among us neither Catholic nor Protestant, neither foreigner nor native- born, neither white nor black, neither Jew nor Gentile, but only Americans, loving our common country to the point of being willing to die for it–believers and sharers in a common destiny, artisans of a common civilization–the effective and necessary tools of whose artisanship are the civil and religious liberties guaranteed to us by our Constitution.”

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