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La Folletee Makes Statement on Ku Klux Klan, Immigration, Minority Rights and Zionism

September 15, 1924
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Senator Robert La Follette, Independent candidate for the Presidency, issued the following statement, in regard to questions of interest to the Jews of the United States. The statement reads as follows:

In response to many requests from the American Jewish press for a statement of my position on questions in which Americans of Jewish origin are peculiarly interested, it gives me pleasure, on the eve of the festival of Rosh Hashanah, to convey my most cordial greetings to my fellow citizens and to reply to the various questions that have been asked me on this occasion.

The first and perhaps the most important question is as follows:

While your stand on race prejudice has been clearly outlined in your acceptance speeh, the Jewish voter is anxious to hear from you a definite word on the paramount issue, from his point of view, of this campaign–that of the Ku Klux Klan.

I am unalterably opposed to the evident purposes of the secret organization known as the Ku Klux Klan as disclosed by its public acts. It cannot long survive. Relying upon the sound judgment and good sense of our people, it is my opinion that such a movement is foredoomed. It has within its own body the seeds of its death.

The operation of the Immigration Law is another issue about which my opinion has been sought. The question asked me specifically is:

Granting that the present immigration law cannot be changed, are you in favor of humanizing this law?

I stand firmly on the necessity for controlling the tide of immigration for economic reasons, but I am opposed to the fixing of immigration quotas on a basis of racial discrimination. I have always done everything within my power to see that not only the immigration laws but every law was based upon humans principles.

I cannot too strongly denounce the administration of the existing immigration law. It calls for revision to make to make its operation simple, humane, and free from the misery and disappointment to which would-be immigrants are now subjected. Needless to say, the tearing apart of families and the sending backward and forward across the ocean of men and women are conditions due to incompetent administration of the law. Relief should not have to wait upon the election of a new President. It should be instant and humanity demands it. Whether as President or as a Senator from Wisconsin, it will be one of the first matters to receive my attention when Congress reconvenes.

A third question is asked of me:

Would you, as President of the United States, bring to bear your influence and the influence of the United States government in urging the government of countries where frequent outbreaks against Jews occur to take preventive measures against such outbreaks and also urge that the Minority rights of the Jews in those countries he respected.

Were anti-Semitic outbreaks to occur abroad I should, as President, use the friendly offices of the government of the United States as well as my utmost influence personally to bring them to an end and to secure full equality for the Jewish population of other countries.

I am asked finally:

What are your sentiments in regard to Zionism–the rebuilding of Palestine as the Jewish National Homeland?

This is a matter that seems to me to lie entirely with my Jewish fellow-citizens. It will be decided by them.

I imagine, in accordance with what they conceive to be their best interests. Should it be the opinion of the Jewish World that Jerusalem should be rebuilt and the homeland restored I can conceive of the grounds for opposition by other peoples. On ther other hand, should they seek help in a program of reconstruction it would gratify me were I able to aid their efforts.

I do not wish to close this message of New Year greeting without specific reference to what I regard as the dominant, all-embracing issue in the campaign now being waged. That issue arises from the power of the private monopoly system over the economic and political life of the American people. This power controls every important branch of industry–mining, manufacturing, transportation. It controls the markets and credits and dictates the price of every product necessary to feed, clothe, warm and shelter the people. It is economic slavery. Free men and a free government cannot exist side by side with the economic despotism that has become established in the land.

The program on which I stand is designed to destry that system and to abolish it utterly from the land. The victory of that program means a free people and a free government. It will restore the control of the government to the people, who founded it originally to guarantee freedom and equality to those who live under it, and whose will for justice must prevail over the greed and tyranny of special interests that have usurped power.

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