Editorial: Let the WAACs alone (6-13-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (June 13, 1943)

Editorial: Let the WAACs alone

Nothing is more malicious than an untrue rumor.

Because war times are times of extraordinary excitement and national tension and because information is often restricted by military necessity, there are more rumors, they spread faster and nearly always they are farther from the truth.

By the same gauge, they are inevitably more harmful.

We have had enough lessons, in this war alone, to learn that rumors heard in barrooms, over backyard fences, on streetcars or wherever, are usually unfounded and generally disastrous.

Because of rumors, we have had craven hoarding which has disrupted our wartime economy, cheated civilians and members of the Armed Forces and compelled the government to resort to rationing.

Rumors, gossip and reckless talk have sunk ships, lost battles and cost the lives of uncounted soldiers and sailors.

For vicious mischief, however, there have been no more dastardly rumors than those spread recently about the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Fictitious stories reflecting on the morality of the daughters, wives and even the mothers of America have made the rounds, in many cases repeated and exaggerated by intelligent, otherwise responsible people, including some Army officers.

If these rumors were not started by Axis agents, they are as effective, for Axis purposes, as any they could have started.

In the midst of this wave of ugly rumors, a Washington writer for the New York Daily News – an isolationist paper that has been constantly critical of our war efforts – sank to the depths by writing a story that contraceptives and prophylactics were to be issued to be WAACs. Col. Oveta Culp Hobby promptly denounced the story in its entirety and no foundation for it has been revealed. Nevertheless, it did cruel damage to the WAACs and thereby helped the Axis.

As Secretary of War Stimson said:

When they [the WAACs] are maligned, when vicious rumor destroys their reputations, the effects could reach into our very frontlines, injuring the morale of the Army itself.

The WAACs represent a cross-section of American womanhood. Like the Army and Navy, they are the flower of this generation. They are subject to Army discipline and they are making huge sacrifices to play their part in winning the war. They deserve the respect and admiration of the nation. The rumor-mongers deserve a punch on the nose.