Red College Alumnus, Elected Arkansas Governor, Called ‘Violent Radical’

Westbrook Pegler

Shreveport Times/January 4, 1955

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Jan. 3—Orval Faubus, the governor-elect of Arkansas, and Sid McMath, who served two terms as governor from 1949 through 1952, are violent political radicals and mutually complementary.

Faubus was “educated” at Commonwealth College, a Communist institution which struggled along for a few years at Mena, and finally was liquidated in an ignominious trial before a justice of the peace.

In comparison with the colossal legal brawls in which Harry Bridges, the New York first-string Red and Alger Hiss were defended as martyr heroes of the cause, this was an unworthy end of an institution which snarled and scratched along in poverty and, after its demise, has planted one of its alumni in a state capitol.

Harvard men have occupied higher positions wielding power more dangerous to the American Republic. But Harvard has never been adjudged a Communist school.

Faubus does not claim to be a Communist nor even admit that he is one. The fact that he admittedly was a student at a college which was declared by numerous official authorities to be a subversive Communist institution, the fact that an issue of the school’s undergraduate paper, in 1935 named him as student orator for May Day. are purely coincidental. These facts, however, suffice to characterize him in the estimate of his opponents without resort to epithets.

With those facts no longer disputed nobody calls him a Communist. He is what he obviously is and, by fascinating circumstances, not necessarily paradox, the Arkansas Gazette, owned by a rich, old Arkansas family, views him without alarm.

McMath has certain personal distinctions. The most dramatic is the fact that his wife shot and killed his father in 1947 just after he had announced his intention to run for governor. He was then county prosecutor in Little Rock, where he had grown up. The grand jury took a chivalrous attitude. Mrs. McMath was not reproached.

Certain political opponents were not too noble to refer to Mrs. McMath as “Pistol Packin’ Mama.”

But he was elected governor the next year nevertheless. A variety of versions of the killing are given but the approved form now is that a man, twice elected governor, repudiated his father as a drunken bum who got what he had coming when his daughter-in-law drilled him.

All accounts agree that old man McMath, a barber, while plastered, rode his boy’s horse to a lather and that his son’s wife killed him after some dispute.

The common reputation which McMath has created by his deportment are reminiscent of the late Huey Long. To my independent observation of this resemblance, John F. Wells, publisher of a weekly independent political paper, the Arkansas Recorder, replied:

“Yes, McMath imitates Long. After he came back from service with the Marines in the Pacific and became governor, reporters noticed biographies of the Kingfish on his desk.”

The hitch in the Marines in battle was a break with the Long tradition. Huey was not martial. Seymour Weiss, for a long time one of Huey’s counsellors but now a decorous hotel man, said even when Huey was at the height of his audacity:

“I would just as soon hit a woman as hit Huey Long. He has no physical courage whatever.”

This may account for Huey’s failure to go to the war of his generation.

But it is possible that, like F. D. Roosevelt, he decided that the personal inconveniences and loss of privacy amid masses of men were too much to pay for a service record.

Roosevelt was a public official, assistant secretary of the Navy. So was Huey. He was a notary public. Each went far without a discharge. And, in a politico-pagan sense, they are gods, for their graves are seriously termed shrines and occasional mourners are mingled among the tourists who go to eat peanuts and eskimo pie.

I am a stranger in these parts and I am reporting on spectacular persons and strange editorial behavior by rich capitalistic newspapers in the Southern tier with a cautious regard for my verdancy.

The conduct of the Louisville Courier-Journal and Times and their radio station, altogether a monopoly, in slashing a county attorney for convicting one of their employees of sedition in a bomb conspiracy that might have cost a hundred lives, is no private house hold problem of the nation’s newspapers.

It is a public issue and should be covered as such by the press.

How can the people of Raleigh look to Jonathan Daniels’ News Observer with confidence when Daniels proudly depicts himself as coat-holder to the scurrilous little alumnus of the Pendergast machine who as President of the United States slept the night through as persons unknown blew the vault in the courthouse a few blocks away and stole the documentary proof of the theft of another election?

The details are like threads in a tapestry. There are millions of them to be learned and related to one another. The reason why the mighty, tax-exempt foundations are bellowing against the Reece committee’s expose are apparent in relations between revolutionary politicians, all either Fabian or Marxian; between colleges and newspapers and their editors.

The abusive and utterly dishonest attack on the Reece committee by certain papers is, in every instance known to me, the reaction of a guilty beneficiary or a political accomplice of a mighty campaign to degrade the American people to the status of subjects.

Faubus and McMath seem paltry and ephemeral clowns in a commonwealth of acorn-eaters. But they may actually be men of giant significance.

Had Huey Long lived he probably would have beaten Roosevelt before 1940 and God only knows with what results, whether good or bad for the people of the United States. He was a genius, no worse than the genius who aggrandized Soviet Russia and then, at Yalta, ceded the victory to the enemy.

The great foundations missed a golden chance when they underestimated Huey but they are not now neglecting the mercenary hacks of a journalism eager to be debauched as new Hueys rise in the Southern hinterland.



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