The Press: Crackdown on Coughlin

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Father Coughlin, well-known in America for his undaunted struggle against Bolshevism and Jewry, has once again been given a taste of the method of oppression so common in the world's freest democracy. . . .

Thus radio Berlin tried to make capital of the news that the Coughlinite weekly Social Justice had been barred from the U.S. mails. The crackdown on Coughlin was not going to stop there. Attorney.General Biddle announced that he would ask a Federal grand jury (the same jury which nailed Nazi Propagandist George Sylvester Viereck and Ham Fish's Secretary George Hill) to indict Social Justice for sedition, on grounds of peddling "enemy propaganda" and "a systematic and unscrupulous attack upon the war effort of our nation, both civilian and military."

If indicted and convicted under the sharp-toothed Espionage Act of 1917, Social Justice will not only be put out of business, but Father Coughlin may also face a $10,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison. For the Government intends to make this case the beginning of a drive against some 95 "vermin" publications — just as the Wilson Government's suppression of the left-wing American Socialist and later of Victor Berger's Milwaukee Leader set the pace for suppression of some 400 publications in World War I.

Biddle's job will be to prove that Social Justice has committed sedition by efforts to "interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States." His case, as far as he has revealed it, is that in ten recent issues Social Justice has echoed the ten major propaganda themes of the Axis since Pearl Harbor. Samples:

Jan. 5-". . . Our foreign policy, devoid of all fine phrases, was one blueprinted to defend international capitalism and British imperialism, no matter what the cost might be in traditions, in dollars and in blood to the citizens of our country." Feb. 23-..."Was Pearl Harbor an accident? Was the scuttling of the Normandie an accident? Was the diabolical program of Government muddling an accident? Or was all this planned that way?-planned from within; planned by men who prated of democracy while blueprinting chaos."

March 23-". . . Will the American people want to listen to reason and terminate a war which now no one can win completely, and which Americans can lose completely?"

One Biddle exhibit, to show that Social Justice is guilty of Axis propaganda: an editorial appearing in Social Justice (Dec. 25> 1938) which is identical, almost word for word, with a savagely anti-Semitic speech made by Goebbels, three years before.

At the offices of the Social Justice Publishing Co. in Royal Oak last week a few female Coughlinites puttered around in silence. Coughlin's aged parents, Thomas J. and Amelia Coughlin, listed as sole owners of Social Justice, were visiting "a relative out of the State," according to the colored maid in the $25,000 house bought for them a few years ago by their sensational son.

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