AUGUST 13, 1947
CAMPOBELLO ISLAND, N.B., Tuesday—This column will deal with a very serious subject—one that I have been thinking about for a long while. It is not to be written about lightly. In fact, I would rather not write about it, but two things which have happened make me feel that perhaps this is the time to speak. Later on may be too late.
In a recently published article entitled "Bystanders Are Not Innocent," Norman Cousins, editor of the Saturday Review of Literature, tells the story of one of these incidents. A Greek scholar, teaching and studying in one of our great mid-Western universities, was attacked one evening in the coffee shop of a well-known hotel by a group of rowdy undergraduates who, after making some loud remarks against the Jews, pointed at him and said: "He looks like a Jew." As a result of this assault, the man spent ten days in a hospital.
The horrible thing to me is that this could happen when other people were about and that no one seems to have tried to prevent it. I feel sure that even one person with courage and conviction could have brought these young people to their senses. We did not fight a war against fascism in order to allow it to develop here.
The closing two paragraphs of Mr. Cousins' article are the ones I want to bring to your attention, so I quote them here.
"In any event, this is no time for bystanders. Those who persist in looking the other way in the presence of evil or necessity exempt themselves from nothing except membership in the human family.
"This week marks the second anniversary of Hiroshima and the Atomic Age. Happy anniversary, everybody."
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On top of this incident, I received a sheet from the Congressional Record, into which Rep. Adolph J. Sabath of Illinois had read an article by I. F. Stone on the subject of a man called Marzani. This man, a month after resigning from the State Department, was discharged and then indicted under an act of Congress, passed in 1944, which extended the statute of limitations three years after the cessation of hostilities in case of fraudulent war-contract claims. He is not accused of having tried to defraud the government, but he is accused of falsely denying certain statements made in 1940 and 1941. He is now in jail, sentenced to from one to three years and denied bail while waiting appeal of the case.
As to his innocence or guilt I know nothing, but on reading the article I feel that our civil liberties are being endangered. Through fear and undisciplined prejudice, we are becoming the very thing which we have condemned other people for being.
It is time we took a look at ourselves and made up our minds that we can no longer joke about questions of race prejudice or religious differences. And even if we do not agree with the political beliefs held by some, we must not reach a state of fear and hysteria which will make us all cowards! Either we are strong enough to live as a free people or we will become a police state. There is no such thing as being a bystander on these questions!