Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Murfin Takes on Another Winger in Letter to the Editor

Socialist Norman Thomas

As long time readers of this blog may have noticed sometimes, against my better judgment, I respond to some particularly offensive letter to the editor in my local rag, the Northwest Herald.  

 I resist most opportunities because, frankly, these missives are about as common as fruit flies on forgotten plums and just about as welcome. 

I get to the paper a little late some weeks.  This morning I just read the following missive published Monday.

To the Editor:
For those too old to remember, those too young to have known and were never taught, and those who know but refuse to acknowledge it, a history lesson:
Norman Mattoon Thomas (Nov. 20, 1884 to Dec. 19, 1968) was a leading American socialist, pacifist and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America. As the Socialist Party candidate for president of the U.S., he purportedly said this in a 1944 speech.
“The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”
He went on to say: “I no longer need to run as a presidential candidate for the Socialist Party.  The Democratic Party has adopted our platform.”
The Democrats have gone from using the term “liberal” to “progressive.” Do you want a socialist nation? Nazi Germany and the USSR were socialist. They both did a very good job of killing off millions of their citizens, either through starvation or just plain murder!
Think it can’t happen here? I hope you’re right. This will anger certain people, but hopefully it will cause some of you to pay attention to what is going on. Wake up Americans.
Frank M. Garner
Lake In The Hills

Here’s my reply, which I will probably have to cut down to 250 words for publication in the paper.  At least I can get it off my chest in full here.

To the Editor:
On September 19 Frank Garner of cited former Socialist Party leader and Presidential candidate Norman Thomas in a letter to the editor.  Kudos to Garner for knowing who he was.  Most of his ideological brethren seem to have a very hard time with history. 
Although I have been unable in any reliable source to find the quote attributed him, for the sake of argument we’ll accept it as a general proposition.  It is an undisputable fact that the New Deal and subsequent  Democratic Congresses did adopt much of the Socialist Party Platform of 1916 when Eugene V. Debs, not Thomas, as the candidate.
Just what were those planks?  Social Security, unemployment insurance, child labor laws, the minimum wage, the 40 hour work week, the right to organize and establish unionsregulation of food and drugs for public safety,  regulation of banks and the stock market to prevent the endless short cycle of panics and depressions which had marked the American economy.
Show of hands now.  How many of readers want to give up the “socialist” reforms?  Ah, I didn’t think so.
Garner typically goes down the familiar right wing path of equating this form of mild American socialism to the Nazis and Russian Communists.  The Nazis assumed the name of socialism in their official party name to fool German workers into supporting them.  In fact they were fascists who commingled the interests of the German state with the great industrialists.  They were servants of the rich and powerful. 
The Russians went down the road of total State ownership of the means of production and a ruthless one-party dictatorship.  Neither of these things were remotely a part of the Socialist platform.
Mr. Garner, stop trying to frighten people into giving up their long cherished protections.
Patrick Murfin
Crystal Lake

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