Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Personal Asides: Terry’s Trivia Question…and Huh? Colonel McCormick an Anti-Semite? I Don’t Think So!


Terry’s Trivia.

Terry Przybylski’s trivia question on the presidency—and remember, no search engines goes like this: While the Republicans will hold their 2008 convention in St. Paul which hasn’t voted for a Republican president since 1972, the Democrats will hold their convention in Denver, Colorado. Colorado has voted for a Democratic president only once since the LBJ landslide of 1964. Who was it?

Colonel McCormick an Anti-Semite?

I have great respect for Michael Miner, the conductor of the “Hot Type” column in “The Reader”…and enjoy a good feature story as well as the next man but the “Roll Over, Colonel” story is contrived. Miner enjoys thinking that Colonel Robert R. McCormick would be incensed because his paper is now owned and run by Sam Zell. In order to make the story fun, he portrays McCormick as an anti-Semite. Well this is, I think, based on an overstrained, politically correct but fallacious theory that if one opposes a certain foreign policy stand that does not square with modern fashion you stand condemned as a race baiter. In other words, because Germany was persecuting Jews, anyone who opposed our going to war without provocation to the U. S. was an anti-Semite. It’s a favorite theory of some writers Miner cites but it is just as wrong to say anti-Semitism guided the 1930s peace movement as it is to call today’s anti-Iraq movement anti-Semitic. There are anti-Semites on the Left as there were on the Right but I think Miner takes too easy a tack by spraying tar on McCormick.

A great many people in the late 1930s and early `40s opposed our joining World War II without provocation; among them was McCormick and his Tribune as well as the “America First Committee” headed by an old boss of mine, Bob Stuart and composed of such people as the young John F. Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, Gore Vidal (no less), Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Amos Pinchot, Gerald Ford, Kingman Brewster, Charles A. Beard, Eddie Rickenbacker, Oswald Garrison, Robert Maynard Hutchins and Gerald Ford.

Apart from their quality, there are two reasons why I don’t believe McCormick was anti-Semitic. The main one: he sold the “Washington Times-Herald,” a D. C. clone of the “Tribune” to Eugene Meyer, the father of Katherine Graham. Meyer owned the Washington “Post,” was a prominent Jew and a supporter of World War II intervention. When conservatives questioned the sale to a political opponent, McCormick said that Meyer was an excellent newspaperman and he wished the “Times Herald” to be run prudently by a man of great stature. His chief editorial writer was George Morgenstern, an observant Jew as was the chief publicist for the Committee incidentally was Sydney Hertzberg, father of Hendrik Hertzberg, former editor of “The New Republic” and now political editor of “The New Yorker.”

Look, while Charles A. Lindbergh declared correctly that Jews were in the forefront of the drive to get us into war and may have been impolitic or immature enough to not adequately defend himself against charges of anti-Semitism, Miner doesn’t prove that McCormick was--except to recycle some stories that he was by quoting Joseph Aaron, editor of the “Chicago Jewish News” and a few others. But it centers around the same question I have always had about some arguments defending the Iraq War. I support the war but I have always resented those who say we were right to go to war because Saddam Hussein was a tyrant. Sorry but the only reason to go to war is to protect the peace and liberty of the American people. There are ample reasons to show that by invading Iraq, Bush did exactly that no matter whether WMDs were there or not. But for anyone to say that our obligation is to go to war to save the Iraq people is, I think fallacious.

It was for that same reason that I once told Grace Kaminkowitz that we had no business going to World War II if the only reason was to spare the Jews, no matter how horrific the persecution was…and that was certainly not in any of the arguments FDR or Churchill used. They argued we should go to war to save the West. Polls showed that Americans disagreed with them until Pearl Harbor occurred. So, respectfully, Michael Miner, I disagree with your assessment of Colonel McCormick and will until and unless you produce quotations and editorials that verify your position. For starters—did either he or his editorials remotely say New York is Hymie-town which Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson said—disparagement of whom, incidentally, I fail to find in “The Reader”?


  1. Tom,

    Read Miner's article. It certainly was Revisionism, albeit generally accepted Revisionism. Didn't the NY Times also oppose intervention?

    Didn't Roosevelt, Churchill, and pretty much every Western Leader (outside of Franco and Salazar) severely restrict Jewish (and Eastern European)immigration in the Pre-War years?

    As you have pointed out WW2 did not break down simply on Left/Right lines, despite the best attempts of the press today to convince us otherwise.


  2. Lovie's LeatherApril 18, 2007 at 7:46 PM

    Clinton in 1996? That is my guess.