Let Us Pull Together Again


By ALF M. LANDON, Presidential Candidate in 1936

Delivered over the Columbia Network in Topeka, May 18, 1941

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VII, pp. 494-495

FIRST, I want to protest against the attempt to discredit those who are seeking to continue a realistic discussion of the issues of peace or war for the UnitedStates.

In a recent editorial an anti-Semitic organ attacked me for using the Jewish word "tolerance." That was the first time I knew that the word belonged to the Jews, or to any other race. I know plenty of creeds it does not belong to. It is not any part of the so-called liberal New Deal. It does not belong to the Nazis, Fascists, or Communists. They seek now, since they have become strong enough, to force their horrible beliefs on the world by starvation, by the concentration camp, and by the sword.

But before they became powerful, Hitler and Mussolini in their early days suppressed free speech by discrediting their opponents. Thus the influence of the opposition was weakened, and the effect of what they said was destroyed before they said it. That has been the technique this present national administration has used since its first days in public office.

Always this administration attempts to smear all opposition as a whole and its leaders individually. Also, there has been a steady attempt to undermine the confidence of the people in the newspapers of this country. There has been a steady and persistent attempt to discredit private business in this country. Right now some of the most radical of the New Deal war crowd are attempting to lay the groundwork for the ultimate destruction of private business, by blaming its management for the deficiencies of our national defense efforts. And now, freedom of the air is on the carpet, with apparently the usual broad stretching of administrative powers.

My record on aid to Great Britain speaks for itself. I favored outright subsidies, as a matter of our self-interest, before the lease-lend bill was ever proposed. My opposition to the lease-lend bill was based on its dishonest label, and its vague and limitless grants of power to the President.

I think it is greatly to every American's interest that England win. But I do not think our security depends upon an English victory. To my mind, this is a weak and defeatist attitude. I deplore the long-range effect on our national thinking, either individually or collectively, of the idea that we can not stand on our own, and that our security depends on anyone else. This is the second time within a generation that we have ben told our security depends on England. It is coming too close to a habit of permanent thinking, for a strong, virile people like us.

Now, the President has said convoys mean war. So there is no argument there. But it is a shock to the moral conscience of the nation to see how quickly the campaign promises of last fall are being circumvented in administration circles. They are seeking to do indirectly what the President said he would not do. The end may be the sameŚwar.

If the American people are confused, it is because of this fact. It is because every observant citizen can see there is a direct conflict between the President's own statements and his promises to the American people, and the recent statements of the members of his Cabinet. It is because of the statements of the President in the last campaign, assuring them, among other things, if he were re-elected, of business as usual, and peace for the United States. It is because since then, the lease-lend bill was sold to them as a way to aid Great Britain and remain at peace.

It is because the President talked about taking the "silly old dollar sign" off of aid to England, and turns around and knocks the American citizen silly with an enormous increase in taxes.

It is because the facts of the English shipping situation are clouded.

To convoy presumes a place to deliver our goods. What is our basis at the other end of the line? My information is that England has only two ports available, and that it takes three weeks to turn a ship around in these ports. I mean, by the time a ship enters the ports and is unloaded and started out again, it takes three weeks. This is an important point that we should know more about, before we rush into convoying.

How can we have the national cooperation so desperately needed, until we know some of these facts, and to what we are committing ourselves? The President has been sending his boys to the mill. But we want to hear from the head man, as to any changes he proposes to make in the policies on which he was re-elected.

We were told last fall, "no fighting." And there has been no change in the situation since then, the possibilities of which were not contemplated when those promises were made.

The foreign policy of this country has been decided, rightly or wrongly. It was decided in the last campaign. And before that, Congress had passed the Neutrality Act, giving up our one hundred and fifty years' contention for the freedom of the seas. The President signed this act. Later it was modified, on his recommendation. I supported the modification. But in the modification the theory was maintained that the warring countries must come to our ports to get the materials and pay the cash. As I have said, I early advocated the further modification of the payment, because this did not mean war.

Now the attempt is being made to induce us to deliver these materials. As the President says, this means war. It means, despite assurances to the contrary, another A. E. F. I repeat again, the greatest deception that is being practiced upon us is the implication that we can have war, and not suffer the consequences of war.

1917-18 will seem like a picnic, compared with the demands on us for our money, our ships, and our men, in order to underwrite a Hitler defeat.

We can do the job, in the end. Our natural resources, our industrial production, our splendid American boys, can do the job. But, under the slogan of preserving democracy, everywhere in the world, we will destroy every vestige of it at home, and sacrifice millions of lives.

I say again, that moral conscience and common honesty demand that before the President reverses the policy of the United States, established by the Neutrality Act and its amendment, and established in the last campaign, he should make his recommendations frankly and honestly to the Congress and to the American people. He should tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the facts. And, of course, he should do this before it is too late for Congress to do anything else but declare war.

Any other course will place a stigma for all time to come on his record of honesty and straight dealing with the American people, who have trusted him for one term more than any other President.

But, I am asked, what if Germany wins? From what I have read of the pro-convoy arguments, I am reminded all the time of children telling each other ghost stories. Each one tries to make it worse, so as to frighten the others.

Now I don't mean to say that we are not in dire peril. We are. But the argument that we should go to war because of economic conditions under a German victory is to me a narrow and hateful reason for war. Furthermore, as I havesaid before, free labor will always whip forced labor, and without going to war to do it.

But what of our security if Germany wins? Well, we are facing a nation that was whipped in the world war twenty-three years ago. It has had numerous internal revolutions since then, and currency depreciations, and one and one-half years of actual warfare. It is spread out thin.

But I am no military or naval expert. So let me quote from one of the leading military and naval authorities in the United States, Hanson W. Baldwin, of the New York Times, in his new book, United We Stand:

"The author does not know a single responsible military or naval officer or government official who believes that this nation is threatened by direct invasion. Even if Germany wins we need not fritter away our great strength in foreign theatres, thereby destroying that impregnability that today means virtual security for America. But I do suggest that militarily we are upon sound ground when we assert, with Monroe, that the western hemisphere belongs to the American nations.

"There has been no majority in favor of our entry into the war in Europe, no milling crowds demand war with Japan. But hemisphere defense has the overwhelming endorsement of a considerable majority."

To that I agree one hundred per cent. There is no enthusiasm in America to enter another Peter the Hermit Crusade, to make the four freedoms effective in Europe, Asia, and Africa. There is practically overwhelming agreement to defend the western hemisphere. As I have said before, let us arm ourselves so terrifically that we can lick any nation or combination of nations that are foolish enough to attack us here.

Let us pull together again. Let us destroy our doubts and hesitations in the fire of our convictions in our ability as a people to defend ourselves against tyranny here in the Americas.