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Life and Death


Time was when any self-respecting American magazine that did not draw its leadership mostly from the South would have treated the farce of trials and retrials that characterized the case of Willie McGee as a rather disgraceful exhibition of American justice, and commended the people of this country to clean up their own house before spreading their philosophy abroad.

Pictorial, widely-read Life magazine however, chose to emphasize the Communist campaign to make McGee a "pawn in the world propaganda war." According to Life, McGee's "bare chance" of escaping the electric chair after his first sentencing vanished when the Communist took up his cause. Whether McGee was guilty or not (and Mr. Luce seemed pretty sure that he was), it is hard to see how Life could so blithely overlook the fact that McGee's first two trials were so badly conducted that they not even satisfy the high court of Mississippi.

If Life merely vaunted to supply one more argument to people who are already anti-Communist, then it succeeded. But if it was hoping to counteract the world-wide Communist propaganda blast about McGee, it was far off the track. If people flee from any cause to which the Communists attach themselves (and the Communists try to attach themselves to almost everything) then it is likely that little constructive work will be done in cleaning up this country's sore spots.

The only way to get rid of the raw material out of which the Communists distill their conception of America is to shout louder than the Communists about injustices and persecutions, even when they are practiced on people who may be guilty of crimes. If we begin to associate "Communist cause" with "bad cause" we shall lose much of our capacity for self-improvement and default the propaganda war to the who have no real interest in self-improvement at all.

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