Texan Blackout

America's bristling cactus from Texas, Martin Dies, is about to exact his pound of flesh for the fifth time from Congress. Four times before he's stymied any opposition to his special investigating committee, charging that anyone opposing it was so facto un-American. Would-be opposers were afraid of consequences back home where local papers would scream they had voted against the "great un-American Activities Committee." Cagey Dies knew his game well. He yelled he was saving America from catastrophy, let the anti-Red press give him free publicity in every corner of the country, and then dared any Representative to vote against his super self-publicity stunt. This kind of coercion has worked well for four years-- almost as well as its parent in Berlin.

Now, again, the Texan is holding his colleagues up for another $100,000. This time it should be refused. What has he accomplished in four years with nearly a million dollars in public funds behind him? Certainly he never informed the country about Japanese espionage, and it was a mere two months after Pearl Harbor that he started preparing a "Yellow Paper." The damage was done, but Martin, in a confidential way, wanted to tell us that the Japs were a menace. Did he ever question Coughlin about his well-organized attempt to stir up racial hatred and internal dissension --undoubtedly the best attempt in the last 75 years? No. Instead he shared platforms with many of Coughlin's stalwart fascist supporters. Did he ever come out with his promised exposure of a plot by Italian Fascists? Never, but he excused himself nobly with the trite phrase that it might "irritate the Italian government." What happened to all the evidence he had on a "huge organization to promote Nazi ideology?" Only fourteen months ago he claimed to have inside dope on Nazi money-raising campaigns in this country and a list of 220,000 names connected with such activities. That was the last anybody heard from Dies on that score. In a radio speech, September 1939, he said he had evidence the Bund and native fascist groups were working in close co-operation. George Deatherage, former head of the fascist Knights of the White Camelia, was implicated. But nothing more was done by Dies about this domestic threat. It took the newspaper PM to expose Deatherage, who had planned a fascist coup, as a potential spy who had risen to be an executive engineer in one of our most important naval construction projects. The Navy fired Deatherage while Dies sulked in his office. He has done nothing about the Ku Klux Klan, General Moseley, Pelley, McWilliams, all avowed fascists. In four years Congress hasn't deemed it wise to pass any one of the nine bills offered by the Dies Committee. Why then should it grant another $100,000?

Paradoxically, while the unactivities committee dreamed the last one out, it has done great harm to the nation. In the name of democracy it has smeared "decent, progressive and loyal Americans" with false evidence while overlooking local Fascists. Dies has used his committee attempting to hamstring the social gains of the New Deal. Anything that meant a forward step toward greater democracy has been automatically denounced by this Southerner. A poll tax Representative himself, he has no conception of what is real democracy. In his language, anyone who is progressive, anyone who wants to see our democracy grow and strengthen is a dangerous communist. In short, he has done the same kind of harm to this nation that French fascists did to theirs. They all sing democratic tunes, but to Nazi lyrics.

This week Congress can speak. It can take away some of the power of one of America's greatest demoralizers. Rep. Thomas H. Eliot has had the courage to oppose Dies' latest request. If only in respect to what we're fighting for, his stand should be espoused by his colleagues.