I Dare Say – The shape of things to come (8-4-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (August 4, 1944)



The shape of things to come

By Florence Fisher Parry

New York –
The New York papers have carried front-page broadsides about Mr. Dewey’s Pittsburgh visit, which only points the important place which Pittsburgh is regarded as occupying in the coming presidential campaign.

And this attached to the people of Pittsburgh a special responsibility. What we think, what we say, how we act, what example we set, has suddenly become important. It can easily add its featherweight to the scales of history. And to think and speak and act wisely, we must be informed.

So, it will behoove us to reach out, in a spirit of real humility and open-mindedness, for fair appraisals. Prejudices and bitter partisanship will not serve us now.

It will be a bitter enough campaign, even if waged upon its higher issues; it must not become contemptible. Already low malicious and utterly cheap campaign “material” is being circulated by unworthy members of both parties; vulgar verses, ugly stories, cruel caricatures; let us be quick to put this down and stamp it out, even when it purports to “promote” our own party and candidate. Such bad taste works always to the harm of the very one it seeks to elect.

‘State of the Nation’

On the other hand, the intelligent voter has need of greater equipment than ever before with which to stand his ground against the attacks of his assailants. Fortunately, there has never been accessible so much material for him! The bookstalls are crowded with stunning reading.

Particularly deserving are John Dos Passos’ State of the Nation, which gives a disturbing but accurate montage picture of the kind of country we are, at the most crucial moment of decision in world history!

Sumner Welles’ The Time For Decision is a masterpiece. His review of our national attitude during the “phoney” war is stunning; we read and cannot believe that we could have been so blind to the doom that was already swirling upon Europe and Asia. Particularly important is that portion devoted to Mr. Welles’ warning that it is the German General Staff which must be annihilated before peace can ever be secure. His sweeping blame of the military in Germany, which ever now has gone underground in preparation for its reassumption of power, mounts almost to a prophecy of doom! No other book upon the marts today gives so sharp reminder of how much greater our task, after the war.

John T. Flynn’s As We Go Marching will be regarded as partisan writing. It draws a deadly parallel between Fascism as it first took shape in Europe and the pattern of our own government as it is functioning today; and so could well be repudiated as strictly as anti-New Deal book. Nevertheless, I recommend its reading to those who expect to vote the Democratic ticket this November, just as I recommend Henry Wallace’s handbook on utopia for the Republican voters.

Rest of their lives

It seems to me that Joseph Grew’s Ten Years in Japan should be considered required reading for all Americans; for there is still prevalent more inaccurate thinking about the Japs than any other distortion of opinion.

We hate Japs and we want to kill ‘em off – and we end right there. Well, it just won’t serve, when the war is over. We can’t kill ‘em off and they’re to be here, closer to us than ever before. Better learn something about them, then; and Joseph Grew is the one to tell us.

The Rest of Your Life, by Leo Cherne, provided me one of the most depressing evenings I have spent in an armchair for some time. Better rad it, though; for it’s high time we gave some thinking to what will be the mood and temper of our returning 11 million men now in the Armed Forces.

Let’s face it: they’ve been made over into a different breed. Listen to the conversation of those already returned from combat, as they try to talk with those they love but no longer understand…

“Skip it.”
“Forget it.”

“What does it matter?”
“Okay, okay!”

You feel this urgent nervousness in all of them. A kind of impatience, as though we were taking up too much time over nothing…

“Hurry!” they keep saying, “Let’s get a move on!”

As though life as they find it on their return has slowed up druggily…

Well, Leo Cherne tells it. It’s bitter reading. We’ve a lot cut out for us, here on the home front. Better get started knowing more about it.