“Let’s Not Be Beastly to the Japs”

Walter Winchell

St. Petersburg Times/February 3, 1944

The Japs enjoy treachery so much that they can’t help turning rat on their buddies . . . Look what they did last week to Peace Now. That outfit, soliciting membership from Bundists, Christian Fronters and others, who have been hiding under rocks since Pearl Harbor, had just got rolling on a let-us-love-the enemy routine . . . At that point the civilized world was shocked and outraged by the report of the wanton murder of the American soldiers taken prisoner at Bataan and Corregidor. A day earlier spokesmen for Peace Now were accosting chumps with the claim that the Nazis and the Japs are as good as anybody . . . Just as the Japs’ sneak and punch on Pearl Harbor temporarily closed the traps of the America Firsters, the new outrage has exposed the phoniness of the Peace Now claims . . . It’s almost as if the Japs were kind of particular as to who peddled their wares over here. The Japs are savages, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. They know it won’t help them to be tied up with some of the discredited, lunatic riff-raff that Peace Now is rallying to its banner. Even a Jap has to draw the line SOMEWHERE.

But the tale of the atrocities was more than Japan’s order to Peace Now to “get off our side.” It was the answer of the soldiers of Bataan and Corregidor to the unity-disrupting leaders of Peace Now. Here is the substance of the message from those dead to Peace Now: “You people, many of you agents of all the forces we are fighting on the battle front, presume to say what the peace shall be. You dare to say, in the light of what we dead soldiers know, that Japan has a right to a peace now, so it can strengthen itself for new murders of the helpless. You leaders of Peace Now are joined with the same forces that gave Japan its present power. The men whose help you seek are the same men who fought against conscription, against the fortification of our Pacific bases, against the unity of the people at home. You are being stupid and vain and power-greedy at the cost of soldiers’ lives. Stop helping this enemy against us soldiers. How many generations of Americans do you want them to murder?”

The revelations of the Peace Now recruiting drive have confirmed one of this columns repeated claims. That there are no ex-isolationists . . . After Pearl Harbor, the most blatant of the isolationist spokesmen begged to be taken into the fold. We’re all in this together now, they whined, and immediately hurried off to their back alley cronies to kick up new disunities . . . This reporter has seen letters from one senator, one of the slipperiest, which belied all the pious mouthing he was getting off in the senate. That senator never for a second quit being an American Firster and an opponent of the war effort. Everything he had championed before Pearl Harbor, including the hates, stayed right with him . . . Peace Now knew where it had to go for its membership—to the groups that sickened the world with their hoodlumism before Pearl Harbor made them wary.

The newspaper accounts of the Peace Now hustlings report that some of the members of congress are a little skittish about getting their feet wet until they see how things go . . . One congressman is reported “tired of sticking his neck out” . . . There’s a set of statesmen for you! It isn’t a question of whether Peace Now is right and honorable, but whether it’s easy candy. How do you like that for statesmanship in wartime? It’s a fine commentary on the men they look to for leadership. They say, in effect, show us what it’ll get us and we’re your stooges. These are the dummies to whom they would intrust the making of the peace.

Since a riff-raff demagogue outfit has no special plan for making sense, let’s kick a few holes in their claims that Germany and Japan are blameless in this war . . . Fortune points out that in the years leading up to the war Nazi Germany spent from four to six billion dollars annually arming itself . . . Japan, thanks to our generosity, stocked up enough scrap and oil to carry it through the campaign that put it in possession of all the oil in the south Pacific . . . If, as Peace Now has the audacity to claim, the American government pushed those nations into war, why did it give them all that warning? And why didn’t the congressmen, to whom Peace Now looks for leadership, suspect those alleged aims if the Japs and Germans, way across the oceans, could? . . . It speaks pretty badly for their gray matter . . . That might be another reason why the Japs keep pulling tricks to make them look foolish. They probably feel that not only are they socially revolting, but dopes in the bargain—and a liability all around.

Another thing: Peace Now, or anybody else, can’t give peace to the Germans. They don’t want it. They didn’t want it in 1918 and they don’t want it now. They want the world, and they won’t settle for les . . . Whipped to a frazzle in 1918, they nevertheless didn’t lose a day getting ready for 1939. Capt. Roehm, the pervert who got too big for Hitler and had to be murdered, stole arms right out from under the noses of the Allied peace committee . . . Read Konrad Heiden’s “Der Feuhrer” and you’ll learn the Germans and peace are deadly enemies. Their answer to the last peace was the prompt murder of Erzberger, the minister who okayed the signature of the Treaty of Versailles. Right away, 200,000 officers, who had no trade but war, began to plot one . . . This time you’d have millions of war plotters—the whole Nazi party, who have to have the war lust kicked out of them. They have got to be so soundly beaten that the thought of war is as repugnant to them as Peace Now tries to make it to us—while we’re winning . . .  Where was Peace Now’s passion for peace while Hitler was winning?

Very special $64 question for Congressman Rankinsteen: If any American’s last name is important—what’s Uncle Sam’s?

(Source: The Daily Mirror, https://ladailymirror.com/2014/02/03/1944-in-print-walter-winchell-on-broadway-feb-3-1944/)

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