The whispering campaign against Charles A. Levine, first trans-Atlantic air passenger, was denounced by James Walker, Mayor of New York, and Hamilton Fish, Republican Representative to Congress from New York, during one of the functions held on Monday for Charles A. Levine upon his return to America on the steamer Leviathan. Charles Levine was taken aboard the Macom from the steamer Leviathan at Quarantine. His wife, his daughter Eloyse and a welcoming committee headed by Grover Whalen, greeted him on the Macom. At City Hall Mayor Walker made him officially welcome and presented him with a scroll recounting his achievements. At the Hotel Astor a luncheon was given in his honor.
In a frontal attack against "a campaign of whispered detraction" Mayor Walker, in his address at the luncheon, led the demand that Levine’s achievements be adequately recognized. Speakers threw aside all pretense that there had been no criticism of Mr. Levine, roundly condemned Federal Officials, though they did not specify the Post Office or War Department, who had made trouble over contracts, and demanded for him the same recognition as he had won in Europe.
Mayor Walker started his address with a reference to his earlier talk at City Hall.
"I just let my mind and heart think out loud," he declared. This is a fast moving town, ready for all rumors. There are men and women living in our city who haven’t much affection for you or me because of things to which we are loyal. But we’ll survive even as we have survived for generations, even though unjust criticism be heaped upon yours and mine. Our answer has always been to smile and do something. I don’t know but that half the impatience and rancor against you and me, speaking of our kind, is born of jealousy. If that is true, you and I ought to be satisfied, for jealousy will not undo us, not immediately any how. For they can’t stop the fact that you did it. Every time they complain you may say, ‘Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is the Atlantic and there is the air. Europe is still where it was when I landed and there are no traffic cops in the air.’ Then throw them a kiss, keep your feet on the ground and show what it means to have ideals of sportsmanship. Any time they think they can make it let them try it. And after all, when you and I go away, Charlie, we have the satisfaction of knowing a real handclasp when we come home."
Representative Hamilton Fish added his voice to the protest. "He typifies courage, 100 per cent, unadulterated courage," Mr. Fish said. "He represents what the Jewish people have been all through their history right down to the time when their boys in the Twenty-seventh Division died in France for their country. As an American he deserves the welcome in this country that he received all over Europe, not only from the Jewish people but from all Americans.
"Let’s put an end to these rumors, to these attempts to belittle him for one reason or another. Let’s get behind him to congratulate him and assure even greater things for American aviation through his efforts.
"He gambled with his life and won," Mr. Fish continued. "No one can take a jot off his achievements, but even the New York newspapers don’t seem to realize their vastness. Where were the editorials that should have greeted him and his feat? This was one of the great events not only of the year, but of the generation, and why is it not recognized? We ought to know the personal courage it required. We know what happened to those who tried to follow him.
"But what we hear is veiled criticism of his dealings with the Government. The only thing I have been able to learn about those contracts is that he saved the governments millions of dollars. I also know that he submitted a bid for the airline between Chicago and New York which was less than any other. It was rejected by officials, one reason being that he was looking out for the interests of his aviators by giving them stock in the concern. He ought to have been commended for that instead. When that excuse was exposed, then something else had to be raked up. Since then others have tried to minimize his standing and repute. As a Federal representative I say that this does not represent the views of Congress. As far as I am concerned in his dealings he is to be congratulated and commended. Not a single war contract, but some dispute has arisen. It is time Charles Levine got a square deal."
In an interview after his arrival on board the Macom, Mr. Levine said he intended to make an East-to-Weast flight across the Atlantic next year, but in the meantime he would start manufacturing airplanes.
Mr. Levine was asked by the representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "Is it true that while visiting Poland you denied to newspapermen that you were a Jew?"
"Why should I?" he said.
"You were born in this country, weren’t you?"
"At North Adams, Mass. On St. Patrick’s Day."
The representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency stated that his purpose in asking the question was to establish Mr. Levine’s denial of this report, based on the fact that while in Warsaw, Mr. Levine declined to have a separate interview with the Yiddish press, saying. "I am here as an American, not as a Jew."
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.