WASHINGTON (Oct. 15)
President Eisenhower today deplored the use of the name “Confederate Underground” by attackers of synagogues, saying that they had nothing in common with the true Confederacy. They should be compared with gangsters AL Capone and “Baby Face” Nelson and that kind of hoodlum, he said.
The President was asked at his press conference this morning the following question: “Mr. President, over a period of months there have been bombings, explosions in the South and the Middle East directed against Jewish churches and Jewish community centers. Some of these have been attributed to people who describe themselves as a Confederate Underground. Do you feel there is anything you can do to halt or discourage these incidents, and do you relate them in any way, sir, to the school integration issue?”
PRESIDENT EISENHOWER’S REPLY WAS:
“Well, that is a pretty broad question. I went out of my way on Sunday afternoon when I heard about the bombing in Atlanta to speak extemporaneously about my feeling about these bombings. Now you had certain phrases in your question to which I want to advert. You said these people described themselves as part of the Confederate Underground. From babyhood I was raised to respect the word ‘Confederate’ very highly, I might add, and for hoodlums such as these to describe themselves as any part or any relation to the Confederacy of the mid-19th Century is, to my mind, a complete insult to the word. Indeed, they should be described as nothing but Al Capones and Baby Face Nelsons and that kind of hoodlum.
“Now what I have done and what I will do is to continue to speak out against this, well knowing that the police power is centered primarily in the state, but still doing what we can and making certain, as already indeed, has been done, that the facilities of the Federal Government that are asked for by local police agencies and governors and so on, proper officials, will always be available.
“And I add one more word. From my own people, the Justice Department, I had a report that the efficiency of the Atlanta police force was of the highest order, and under Chief Jenkins was doing the finest kind of work that they could possibly conceive of.”
The President also told his press conference he deplored the “hate-mongering” of Joseph Kamp, reactionary and anti-Semitic pamphleteer supporting the Republicans in the current election campaign. Kamp has been repudiated by Sen. William F. Knowland running for Governor of California. Kamp’s writings have backed Knowland and attacked the Democrats.
The National Jewish War Veterans Organization today asked the House Committee on Un-American Activities to investigate a “sudden upsurge in financial backing” of anti-Semitic propaganda. The JWV told the committee that in the past six months anti-Jewish hate sheets have increased “fantastically.”
President Eisenhower last night asked the FBI to enter the synagogue bombing in Peoria, III., in addition to the Atlanta bombing. He again characterized the bombing of synagogues as “shocking and deplorable. “
White House press spokesman James Hagerty told newsmen that the President has received written reports from FBI chief J.Edgar Hoover on the week-end bombing of an Atlanta synagogue and yesterday’s bombing in Peoria. After the Peoria report was received by the White House, Mr. Hagerty told reporters, “the President just thinks these bombings of places of worship are shocking and deplorable things. “
In Peoria, police ruled out anti-Semitism as a motive in the bombing of the Anshe Emet synagogue yesterday. They said the blast was the work of a “crackpot” or a “screwball. ” No arrests have been made in the Peoria attack, which caused relatively little damage. Peoria Police Chief Bernard Kennedy called it “the lowest, rottenest thing a mortal can do” and promised unrelenting efforts to bring those guilty to justice.
Bishop William Cousins of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria termed the act “an attack upon the freedom of worship which people of all faiths must protect. “A similar statement was issued by the Rev. H. C. Bradshaw of the Peoria Area Council of Churches.