Author of “The Plotters” Displayed Excessive Timidity

Westbrook Pegler

Shreveport Times/November 15, 1946

New York. Nov. 14. In reading “The Plotters,” by a young fellow who calls himself John Roy Carlson, I type him as a cops-and-robbers character, troubled by fear. This book is a sequel to a best seller called “Under Cover,” which ran a score of 700,000 during the war and a gross sale at retail of $2,460,000, and was as the author says in the preface to the new book, “prominently displayed on army library shelves.” Although he admits that Carlson is his “pen name” and says he has never made a secret of his real name, I find no mention of his real name, Derounian, anywhere in “Under Cover” or “The Plotters.”

We have had this kind in the newspaper business here and there, fellows who were police buffs or fans and played detective. I remember one whose expense account once contained the item “to disguises, $25” and set the city room to kidding him about false whiskers and nose-putty. He bobbed up In the army as a major, no less, doing “intelligence” work during the war, although honestly the stuff he turned up by Sherlocklng around with a calling list of pickpockets and underworld gossips any city-side reporter with a reasonable personal acquaintance in the police department could have gathered by phone.

I don’t fault our hero for using a monicker here and there in Joining a lot of Kluxy organizations to get their silly secrets, but I am beginning to get just a little petulant over the recurring suggestion that bigotry, racial ferocity and all the ornery traits of humankind are found exclusively among Anglo-Saxons. I could stray off along tome interesting bypaths pursuing this, but let us get back to the reason why I think Derounian has throat trouble, as they say in the baseball business of a man who chokes up with fear in the clutches.

He says he “had a close call’ when he went calling on Bob Reynolds, then a senator from North Carolina and “a strong nationalist and America Firster,” and I will have to interrupt myself again to say that this fellow is dead against nationalism. He even speaks of one person as “a notorious nationalist” in a way to suggest that patriotism were felonious.

This notorious nationalist was a woman employed In Reynolds’ outer office and our boy sort of hid his face and nerved out the ordeal of waiting. He had abused her in “Under Cover” and was afraid she recognized him. His “heart sank” when she passed a note to another woman at a desk and he was “sweating it out” when Reynolds came out to greet him.

“Was Mrs. Washburn,” the notorious nationalist, “waiting until I was with Reynolds before exposing me, or were some of ‘the boys’ being gathered for a little ‘reception’ to their ex-pal?” he writes.

His visit with Reynolds was untroubled, but still “once on the street,” he says, “I made sure I wasn’t followed.”

Well, now, Bob Reynolds is a big fellow, to be sure, and Derounian, I understand, can make 135. But, In the first place, Reynolds is strictly a gab-man, a carnival professor to the life, not a scrapper, and moreover, weight and size are heavily discounted by years and sedentary living. A fairly healthy lightweight of Derounian’s youth probably could scratch him up in a short scuffle and if Reynolds had grabbed him to lean his weight on him, there still have been things a little guy could do. An aggressive little squirt coming at him with a glare and a roar might take the play away from him end run him around the room.

This is not a text on Judo or 63 ways to kill a man by hand without breaking the skin. But, all factors considered, I think Derounian makes himself look silly unnecessarily in revealing his fear of Mistah Bob, suh, and the tortures Inflicted by his imagination as he sat there and conjured a gang of “the boys” coming on the run to do him down. And his fear of being followed on the street confirms my belief that this fellow ought to get out of the young King Brady business and take up coloring Christmas cards at home.

I have had quite a talk with two officials of E. P. Dutton and company, the publishers of both of Derounian’s books, John Edmondson and Elliott Macrae, and I just can’t understand why an old house with a handsome name in the publishing business would let itself in for the comment of Judge John P. Barnes of the United States district court, in Chicago, that Dutton was “willing to publish anything for money,” including “Under Cover,” by a writer of whom the Judge said “I wouldn’t believe him on oath, now or at any time hereafter.”

I don’t believe myself that Dutton has sunk as low as Judge Barnes thought. But I do think its conduct here shows that some of the firm have got themselves into a mental fix which gave them to put the Dutton prestige and imprimatur on books which, on almost every page, take liberties with the reputations of others. Edmondson and Macrae certainly aren’t happy over the judge’s comments on their firm, but they are damned careless of the right of other men to their good character.

This furtive little sneak, Derounian, has a way of lousing up a person without actually accusing him of any wrong, just because he doesn’t like the victim or agree with his beliefs. He speaks of a woman with “a thin, scrawny face.” Meaning no offense, maybe your wife or mother has a thin, scrawny face. Age will do that. He says a man in Reynolds’ office formerly had worked for another fellow who had “a history of ‘promotions’ of Florida swamp land.” Observe that he doesn’t say this guy himself promoted Florida swamps. It was just that he once had worked for a fellow who was alleged to have done so. But Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted German marks and mechanical salesmen to disemploy retail clerks, and a man high in internal revenue told me the other day, now that Roosevelt couldn’t crush him like a bug, that in his professional judgment Roosevelt’s part in the gyp of John Hartford was felonious and should have gone to a grand jury.

Carlson, or whatever you want to call him, says Reynolds sent him a fascist tract entitled, “Here’s How to Become a Political Leader In Your District.” Well, that certainly is sinister, so let’s indict him. But let’s indict Mrs. Roosevelt, too, and everybody else on the C. I. O.’s Political Action committee, because they did it first, and better. When he describes the “thick accents” of a speaker, he does it real mean, the way Father Coughlin used to sneer the word “Jew.” But Dave Dubinsky and Sidney Hillman together could have revived Weber and Fields without script or a rehearsal.

Never me to advocate a boycott or suppression of anyone’s book, except for filth or falsehood. But the 700,000 who bought “Under Cover,” and probably twice that number who read it, probably thought they were reading the truth by an honest and courageous crusader against enemies within. And now a federal judge, after hearing all the evidence in a suit against Dutton. says it made outrageous charges, wholly unfounded, and sends Derounian on his way, soliciting your confidence and your money, for his new book, under the stigmatic sign “I wouldn’t believe him on oath, now or at any time hereafter.”



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